Wednesday, May 7, 2014

If you could only choose one

One of the most beautiful things about the sport of boxing is its never-ending material for debate. No matter the time period, the place or the person, someone, somewhere at some point always has an opinion. It's part of what makes this sport so special and unique.

As my friend Carla Duran, daughter of legendary cutman 'Stitch' Duran, so eloquently reminded me on Facebook, today marks the infamous seventh anniversary of the tragic passing of former two division world champion Diego 'Chico' Corrales. My thoughts of Corrales always instantly go back to his legendary battle against Jose Luis Castillo in their first of two fights (pictured above). The second fight was nothing to remember as Castillo knocked out Corrales in four, but the first is an all-time classic.

So much so, that I've always asked the following question of notable boxing fans whose opinion I respect. The question has no important relevance to anything other than I always like to see the expression on their faces whenever I ask it; and more importantly, since I could never do it, I've always wondered what people would say if they could only choose one.

The question is this, "If you could only choose one of these four fights as the greatest of all-time, which would it be; Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo I, Alexis Arguello vs. Aaron Pryor I, Arturo Gatto vs. Mickey Ward I or Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Erik Morales I?" If you're a knowledgeable true boxing fan, I can only imagine what's going through your brain at this moment as you try and process what I just asked.

Now before I get bombarded with comments about other great fights that I did not mention, please note that boxing has been around over 100 years. In that rich history there have been many legendary notable fights. However, for the sake of argument I've narrowed it down to these four, which I all witnessed live at the time they happened and are in recent enough memory, with Arguello/Pryor being the oldest at 32 years ago, that most fans could give an honest opinion.

While each one is a legitimate all-time classic in its own right, each one stands on it's own for varying reasons; yet, each have more in common than their differences. They all had so much drama and evoked so much emotion; it is impossible to forget any of them. Granted the brutality in every one of these would have made a great script to any of the ‘Rocky’ movies. However, this was not Hollywood these were for real.

However, the one thing that stands out the most in all of these is the heart of a champion that each one of these eight combatants displayed during their respective bouts. At any point, any one of them could have quit and no one would have questioned why; but they didn't and in doing so left us with an unbelievable respect for each one of them that has lasted long after their careers. In the cases of Corrales, Arguello and Gatti that respect has lasted beyond their lives as each one has died way too young and tragically.

So with that said, I ask again; if you could only choose one, which would it be? For boxing fans, have fun thinking and debating on it. For the casual or non-boxing fan, I implore you to make an effort and YouTube these four legendary battles and see for yourself what I'm talking about. Your viewing will serve as a tribute to these eight great champions who gave us more than just their blood, sweat and tears; they gave us their heart and soul!

Rest in Peace Diego 'Chico' Corrales, Alexis 'El Flaco' (The Thin Man) Arguello and Arturo 'Thunder' Gatti!

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