Any time I read the list of exceptional heavyweight boxers, I always feel so bad that the name of Ray Mercer is not mentioned. He is one American that got to boxing so late, yet he made some good records.
His first professional bout was at 21 and four years after, Mercer won an Olympic gold for the United States.
Nicknamed “Merciless Mercer”, I stumbled on his fight against legendary British Lennox Lewis a few years ago.
For me, Mercer was the only heavyweight I had seen that actually outpunched Lewis but surprisingly he lost the fight via a split decision. That decision, for me was a “travesty”.
However, I’m happy that Lewis agreed after the match that Mercer actually beat him but the judges gave a different result that favoured the Brit.
If it is about boxing, what comes to mind is America but the country has failed to produce good number of heavyweight boxers lately.
For more than a decade now, it has always been the former WBC Heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder as the face of America in the division.
Since he became the undisputed heavyweight champion more than 20 years ago Lewis, has been waiting for a successor.
Unlike in the past when that title won’t last six months with any champion because of the stiff competition in the division, today there is so much crappy and dodgy boxers that won’t even allow it to happen.
It was to happen late this month but Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk could not agree. In the 90s and early 2000s, there were four quality contenders for this title; Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson.
Interestingly, these four won the undisputed title before they stopped punching for money. Three of them Americans and one Brit, Lewis, who has been holding the title for 20 years now.
Even in that era, legendary George Foreman came out of retirement to win the IBF, beating Michael Moorer while Larry Holmes also came out of retirement to beat Mercer.
Why did these Americans come back to fight? It was because they were moved by the quality of boxers in the ring and felt like participating.
Of course they were broke and needed money, the euphoria in boxing attracted them to want to be counted among the greats who threw punches at the period. These were the audacious American pugilists. Where are there types now?
When the Ukranian brothers, Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko took over the stage, many of these Americans had retired and left Lewis to dominate the ring. He fought his last with Vitali and left with the undisputed belts.
For about a decade that the Klitschko brothers ruled, none of them could clinch the undisputed title.
There is just one American, Wilder in the heavyweight top five unlike in the past when the top five were only Americans. Perhaps this explains the poor quality in this division.
It is a big slap for boxing that Usyk is leading the park on the list of the ring magazine, followed by Fury, Wilder and Anthony Joshua, then another British Joe Joyce.
There are three Britons in the first five but only one has got a belt to contest for undisputed title. He is Fury, will he ever ready to do this? Only God knows. Whither the tough American punchers who would fight for titles instead of money?