Boxing is not a sport that readily lends itself to statistics, but one set of numbers is as elemental as a left-right combination: a fighter’s wins, losses and draws. We often overvalue a good record and misinterpret a mediocre one; there are dozens of 10-loss veterans who are better than young fighters with only one or two defeats.
Nothing, however, catches our eye like a perfect record and when one or both undefeated fighters square off, you can count on either the ring announcer or the TV commentators declaring, “Somebody’s ‘0’ has got to go!” or “Maybe tonight his ‘0’ might just go!”
Yet the fascination with a fighter who’s never lost remains strong. For instance, the appeal of Floyd Mayweather, who’s “0” is on the line against Sugar Shane Mosley on May 1 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and live on HBO Pay-Per-View®, can be attributed to his sustained excellence and his star power, but there’s something more. Over the course of his 15-year career, Mayweather’s engaged in 40 fights, and each time he’s proven himself the better man.
Maybe we focus on a perfect record more than the fighters do…
“I don’t think about the ‘0’,” said Mayweather, whose last loss came on July 22, 1996, at the Olympic Games in Atlanta. “I think about winning. Everything takes care of itself if you win.
“Of course it’s a great thing to be undefeated, but I don’t consciously think about it when I’m preparing for the next fight.”
The record against which all others are judged is former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano’s mark of 49-0. In September 1985, then-WBC titlist Larry Holmes was 48-0 when he lost to Michael Spinks.
“I was always tying records, breaking records; it didn’t mean [expletive] to me,” Holmes said. “I didn’t care. What was important was making money, keeping the title, and proving people wrong.
“The undefeated record meant I wasn’t getting beaten up, and that meant a lot to me.”
In November 2008, super middleweight/light heavyweight champion Joe Calzaghe fought for the last time. He retired with a record of 46-0. What made Calzaghe different from most unbeaten fighters is that his toughest tests, vs. Jeff Lacy, Bernard Hopkins and Mikkel Kessler, came toward the conclusion of his hall of fame career.
“I never really dwelled on the ‘0’ until close to the end, when I realized I had only a couple of fights left, I was undefeated and I could retire that way,” Calzaghe said. “I always hated to lose, and when I did so as an amateur, it burned me up inside and created my motivation for winning.
“Taking big fights wasn’t a risk for me because I believed in myself and went for it. I can say, however, that it was a relief when it was all over and I finished undefeated and ahead of the game.”
Calzaghe certainly fought the best available opposition, as did unbeatens Marciano and Ricardo Lopez (51-0-1), but in today’s boxing world, there are four major titles per division and, as a result, champions can protect their records more easily than in the past. That’s largely why alphabet titlists like junior welterweight Terry Marsh (26-0-1), welterweight Michael Loewe (28-0) and junior featherweight Ji Won Kim (16-0-2) were able to retire without having lost. Marsh and Loewe defended their respective titles only once each.
The question remains…is a perfect record a sign of perfection or does an imperfect record reveal anything at all? Consider the following:
*Ninety-nine percent of boxing historians rank Sugar Ray Robinson as the best fighter in history. He lost 19 times.
*Muhammad Ali was “The Greatest” despite losing five fights. In fact, he arguably gained more respect in his first loss, to Joe Frazier, than in building a record of 31-0.
*Since 1900, eight world champions have retired-and stayed retired-without having lost a fight. Even at their respective peaks, five of them never made the pound-for-pound top 10.
*Among today’s elite, Bernard Hopkins lost his professional debut and Manny Pacquiao lost to an opponent who went 2-4-1 in his next seven fights.
THEIR FIRST LOSSES
|Julio Cesar Chavez||89-0-1||1-29-94||L 12 Frankie Randall|
|Nino Benvenuti||65-0||6-25-66||L 15 Ki Soo Kim|
|Ruben Olivares||60-0-1||10-16-70||KO by 14 Chucho Castillo|
|Larry Holmes||48-0||9-21-85||L 15 Michael Spinks|
|Carlos Zarate||52-0||10-28-78||KO by 5 Wilfredo Gomez|
|Ricky Hatton||43-0||12-8-07||KO by 10 F. Mayweather|
|Marco A. Barrera||43-0||11-22-96||L DQ 5 Junior Jones|
|*Sugar Ray Robinson||40-0||2-5-43||L 10 Jake LaMotta|
|George Foreman||40-0||10-30-74||KO by 8 Muhammad Ali|
|Felix Trinidad||40-0||9-29-01||KO by 12 Bernard Hopkins|
|Sugar Shane Mosley||38-0||1-26-02||L 12 Vernon Forrest|
|Mike Tyson||37-0||2-11-90||KO by 10 Buster Douglas|
|Muhammad Ali||31-0||3-8-71||L 15 Joe Frazier|
|Oscar de la Hoya||31-0||9-18-99||L 12 Felix Trinidad|
|Sugar Ray Leonard||27-0||6-20-80||L 15 Roberto Duran|
*Robinson’s only loss in his first 132 bouts
In evaluating recent champions, then, we must look at their body of work, and not just their records. The resume of five-division titlist Mayweather is impressive, making his perfect record all the more eye-popping. Maybe, just maybe, remaining undefeated and keeping his “0” means more than he’ll acknowledge.
“No one wants to lose their ‘0’,” said Floyd Mayweather Sr., a top trainer and Mayweather’s father. “I’m sure he thinks about it and it motivates him. Fortunately for my son, it’s so far so good and I don’t see anyone taking that ‘0’ away from him either.”
WORLD CHAMPS WHO RETIRED UNBEATEN
Note: In no particular order
|Rocky Marciano||1947-1955||Heavyweight||49-0 (43)|
|Joe Calzaghe||1993-2008||Super Middleweight
|Jimmy Barry||1891-1899||Junior Flyweight||59-0-10 (40)|
|Jack McAuliffe||1884-1897||Lightweight||34-0-7 (22)|
|Sven Ottke||1997-2004||Super Middleweight||34-0 (6)|
|Terry Marsh||1981-1987||Junior Welterweight||26-0-1 (10)|
|Pichit Sithbangprachan||1988-2000||Flyweight||24-0 (18)|
|Ji Won Kim||1982-1986||Junior Featherweight||16-0-2 (7)|
|Michael Loewe||1991-1997||Welterweight||28-0 (10)|
Boxing superstar and six-time World Champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather and welterweight mega-star, five-time World Champion and current WBA Welterweight World Champion Sugar Shane Mosley, are set to meet on Saturday, May 1 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas in a spectacular bout which will be produced and distributed live on HBO Pay-Per-View® beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Tickets, priced at $1,250, $1,000, $600, $300 and $150 not including applicable service charges, are on sale now and limited to 10 per person and ticket sales at $150 are limited to two (2) per person with a total ticket limit of 10 per person. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Tickets also are available for purchase at www.mgmgrand.com or www.ticketmaster.com.
HBO’s fast-moving reality series “24/7 Mayweather/Mosley” returns with an all new episode on Saturday, April 17 at 9:30 pm ET/6:30pm PT. The four-episode series chronicles the preparations and back stories of both fighters as they train for their May 1 pay-per-view showdown. Episode one is available on HBO ON DEMAND.
The Mayweather vs. Mosley pay-per-view telecast, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, has a suggested retail price of $54.95, will be produced and distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View® and will be available to more than 71 million pay-per-view homes. The telecast will be available in HD-TV for those viewers who can receive HD. HBO Pay-Per-View®, a division of Home Box Office, Inc., is the leading supplier of event programming to the pay-per-view industry. For Mayweather vs. Mosley fight week updates, log on to www.hbo.com.