My retrospective on the 25th anniversary of the tragic lightweight championship fight between Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini and Duk Koo Kim generated an overwhelming response from Yahoo! Sports readers, most of whom wanted to reach out to Mancini to offer their support.
Kim died as a result of injuries sustained in that bout and Mancini admits he still grieves a quarter of a century later.
I'll discuss that topic, as well as several other hot boxing issues, in the latest issue of the mailbag.
My answers, as always are in italics.
What changes and safety measures were put into place because of the Mancini-Kim fight? Have there been any fight-related deaths as public as Kim's since then?
There hasn't been a death quite as widely seen as Kim's. There were numerous safety features instituted in the aftermath. Championship bouts were dropped from 15 to 12 rounds. The WBC did it immediately and the other sanctioning bodies followed suit several years later. More extensive medical testing is required, both pre- and post-fight, referees are trained better in the warning signs of head injuries and the weigh-in has been moved to 24 hours ahead instead of the day of the fight.
I hope Ray can reach an understanding that he did not kill his opponent and that Kim's death was truly an accident. I've watched some pretty tough sparring matches, and the fighter could have received an earlier blow to his head.
Tyronne L. Conley
Boxing regulators are very concerned about what happens in the gyms during sparring and I have no doubt many fighters have been seriously injured this way. The surgeon who operated on Kim said he thought the injuries came from one or two strong blows late in the fight, but I don't believe we'll ever know for certain.
NO NEED FOR STORY
I do not remember this fight, but I'll probably always remember it now. It's no wonder Mr. Mancini is unable to forget this tragedy, when some writer so eloquently recounts the whole thing for his readers. Any kind of physical competition carries risk. And boxing is one of the more risky physical competitive activities. But give both fighters families a break and let it die. Shame on you.
I don't think the right thing to do about tragic events is to ignore them. It's best to discuss them, learn from them and use them as an impetus to make things better.
Thank you for the well-written story on Mancini and Kim. It brought back a lot of memories of this tragic event. It also reminded me of a time when there at least seemed to be many more great fights and warriors in the ring. Thank you for the stories you write, they are a pleasure to read and often offer more than just mere facts but show the human side of events.
Eric B. Shepheard
Mancini and Kim fought in something of a golden age of boxing. There were so many great fighters active then: Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Wilfred Benitez, Aaron Pryor, Alexis Arguello, Wilfredo Gomez, Salvador Sanchez and others. That Mancini and Kim were among the best in that era says a lot about their skills and toughness.
Mancini was never the same and I feel for him. It has made the sport better despite some fights that were stopped early. But even knowing what could happen, people still get mad when a referee stops a fight.
Fans who pay their money to an event have a right to boo if they choose. But I'd rather see a fight stopped too soon than too late, no doubt.
Ray Mancini and Duk Koo Kim probably could have gone on to be probably the greatest lightweight fighters of their time if there had never been a tragedy.
New Carrollton, Md.
Neither man was close to that good, but they were both tough and fearless and would have been in the title mix for several years had the tragedy been averted.
COTTO'S BIG FIGHT?
I just finished reading an article in a local paper over here in Puerto Rico. Apparently it seems Bob Arum is trying to make the next "big" fight for Miguel Cotto against Antonio Margarito next year. He says he will try to get Floyd Mayweather but if he can't it will be Margarito. To me the "will try" is just to persuade the fan that he is truly trying, which I doubt.
Toa Baja, P.R.
Believe me, Arum is dying to make a Cotto-Mayweather bout because it would be a huge financial bonanza. But Leonard Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, told me a few weeks ago Mayweather would never fight for Arum again. If that's the case, the most likely opponent for Cotto would be Margarito, whom I believe he'd destroy.
I believe Daniel Ponce de Leon, Humberto Soto and Juan Diaz will rise to superstar level in 2008. I also expect Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez and Joe Calzaghe to decline. Do you agree?
Ponce de Leon won't become a superstar because he has poor defense, though he's fun to watch. Soto is coming off a loss, so he won't make it. I really like Juan Diaz and believe he could become a big-time star. I don't agree with any of the three you expect to decline in 2008.
'BABY BULL' ROCKS
I think you should add Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz to Top 10 list. This guy is amazing and will destroy anybody who comes his way
San Jose, Calif.
He's cracked our Top 10 and he's made a believer out of me. No doubt, Diaz is the world's finest lightweight.
Your ratings are super flawed when it comes to Cotto. Cotto wins a razor-thin decision over a 36-year-old Mosley and he jumps to No. 4? Cotto hasn't beaten a Top-10 fighter, yet he's No. 4? That's crazy talk. Bernard Hopkins has beaten two Top-10 fighters in his last two fights (Antonio Tarver and Winky Wright) and you have Cotto ahead of him. Wow. Talk about hopping on a bandwagon.
Take a close look at who Cotto has beaten, Zak, and how he has beaten them. He destroyed previously unbeaten Paulie Malignaggi in 2006. He stopped unbeaten Carlos Quintana in December to win the welterweight title. And after a win over tough Oktay Urkal in March, he's defended the belt twice more, against Zab Judah and Shane Mosley, in impressive fashion. He clearly deserves his ranking.
FLOYD'S NOT DUCKING
Kevin, I respect your opinion, but I have heard you now a couple of times mention that Mayweather is trying to avoid fighting Cotto. That is crazy. Mayweather has taken on the what many have considered the best time and time again. Pretty Boy will fight Cotto at some point and when he does he will destroy him like the rest.
I've long touted Mayweather's ability and I've defended him when he's been attacked for ducking others. But if he gets past Hatton, he needs to make a statement that he wants to face Cotto. Cotto is the biggest threat available to him. I'd favor Mayweather in that bout, but it would be an entertaining scrap.
WHY NO EVEN ROUNDS
During the Cotto-Mosley fight, I scored many of the rounds even. Even the commentators and yourself have said some rounds could have gone either way. Is that not an even round with both fighters scoring 10? Why does boxing shy away from ties?
There is usually something to choose from in a round, Carlan. It's not always obvious, so that's why the judges concentrate. It's not fair to the fighters to pour their hearts and souls into 12 hard rounds and then have a judge afraid to pick a winner. I try not to score more than one or two 10-10 rounds a year. There's always something to choose from between the fighters.
Manny Pacquiao is ranked No. 2 in your Top 10, but I believe that if Pacquiao were to move up in weight he would get knocked out or lose lots of fights. Would Pacquiao be good in the 140-pound division?
Clearly, he wouldn't be as good, but he's a small guy and that's not his weight class. Remember, he started as a 106-pounder.
As in most "greatest fighter of all-time" discussions, a majority of people list Joe Louis as second only to Ray Robinson or Muhammad Ali. Even though I have great respect for the Brown Bomber, he isn't among the top three all-time in heavyweights, let alone top-three all-time. Sonny Liston, George Foreman, Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson would have blown him out of the ring with his plodding style and suspect defense. Ali would have shredded him. I do however believe he would have easily beaten Rocky Marciano in his prime. He was great for his time but not "all-time". My list Ali, Jack Johnson, Larry Holmes.
Lists are subjective and I can't argue with yours, because Ali, Johnson and Holmes were great. I really think Holmes deserves recognition as one of the five best heavyweights ever. But I think you're selling Louis very short.
I'm curious why nobody recognizes Julio Cesar Chavez as one of the greatest boxers and champions of all-time?
I think people do recognize that, Adrian. I have him at least in the top 25-30. The legendary Burt Sugar ranked Chavez No. 17 of all-time in his book, Boxing's Greatest Fighters.
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