Mailbag: Upset special

Kevin Iole

You can follow Kevin Iole on Twitter at @KevinI

Here's a shocker: Not all boxing fans agree with me.

Well, specifically, not all of them agreed with the list of the 20 biggest upsets over the past 50 years.

In this week's boxing mailbag, I include a random sampling of fan opinion on upsets I overlooked, and provide a status update on Andre Berto as well as an opinion on a mythical fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Aaron Pryor.

With no further ado, let's get to your comments and questions – and my responses.

Debating the top upsets

That's a great read on upsets, but where is the love for Manny Pacquiao's 11th-round stoppage of Marco Antonio Barrera in San Antonio on Nov. 15, 2003? Pac-Man was moving up in weight and fighting at featherweight for the first time against a Mexican legend and the undisputed No. 1 guy in that division. The Barrera camp can make excuses, but nobody ever saw what happened that night coming. I was upset that there wasn't even a mention of the fight in the other upsets of note. Certainly that was an upset of tremendous proportions that you overlooked, as it was the start of something special.

Dante Perez
Quezon City, Philippines

The reason that fight was not on the list is that I have too much respect for Manny. Even at that time, he was a world champion – and a very good one at that. True, Barrera was favored and the result was an upset, but because I regarded Pacquiao so highly at the time, I didn't include it on my list. I remember his title-winning effort at 122 pounds about two years prior over Lehlo Ledwaba and I knew he was an outstanding boxer. So it was a bit of an upset but it wasn't a long shot like a lot of those I selected.

Did you consider George Foreman's loss to Jimmy Young for at least your upsets of note list? Foreman fought Young after winning his next five fights by KO (which included a second destruction of Joe Frazier) following his upset loss to Ali (number six in your list). Foreman must have been a decisive favorite against the light hitting, albeit awkward, Young (20-5-2, 6 KOs). The loss derailed Foreman's career and he didn't fight again for 10 years.


Good call, David. It was a fight I considered very heavily, but I just felt the significance of a few of the others beat this fight out. If I did a Top 25 instead of a Top 20, it probably would have made it.

The only glaring upset that I think should have been included on your (and in the top 10, too) is Lloyd Honeyghan's sixth-round knockout of Donald Curry. Where would you rank that upset in terms of the 20 that you listed? Also isn't it crazy to look back at Ross Puritty over Wladimir Klitschko and fully realize what an amazing upset that really was?

Ryan C.

For the same reason I didn't include Pacquiao-Barrera, I didn't include Honeyghan-Curry. Yes, Curry was unbeaten and considered the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer at the time. But Honeyghan was 27-0 at the time of the fight and had quality wins over Roger Stafford and Gianfranco Rosi. It was an upset, but Honeyghan was considered a quality fighter even at the time and so it wasn't as staggering an upset as some of those I chose.

Your list would be more legitimate had you put a side note beside the Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson match. Buster received an extra three seconds to get up after being knocked out; hence, he should have lost the fight. Clearly, the ref didn't pick up the timekeeper's count from the time of the knockdown. It wasn't fate and it wasn't his deceased mom. It was the referee Octavio Meyran's inability to do his job inside the ring. Tyson didn't look his best, but Buster Douglas got a freebie that night.

Jason Baines

I completely, wholeheartedly disagree with you on that. The supposed long count was a creation of promoter Don King, who was trying to find a way for boxing's biggest moneymaker to keep his title. First, the timekeeper's count is not official and is only supposed to be of assistance to the referee. But more than that, the knockdown was a flash knockdown and Douglas was in control at all times. If you watch the tape, as Douglas is down, he bangs his fist on the mat in frustration. He knew he made a mistake and was expressing it. He was simply listening to the referee's count and would have had no problem beating the count.

I am very disappointed in your listing the Roberto Duran loss to Kirkland Laing as No. 2, ahead of Leon Spinks over Muhammad Ali. Something tells me you watched the fight at a point in your life when boxing was, to you, most exciting and you had a certain attitude against Duran, thus you have projected your own personal feelings to exaggerate this defeat of Duran's. If anything, the Tommy Hearns knockout of Duran was far superior, unexpected and worthy of note.

Alex Guggenheim

Roberto Duran is one of the 20 greatest fighters in the history of the sport. He fought a no-name opponent with zero quality wins and lost a decision. Two years earlier, he had beaten Sugar Ray Leonard. Four months later, he would beat Hall of Famer Pipino Cuevas and in the fight after that, he stopped Davey Moore to win a super welterweight belt. Hearns and Duran were both superstars. Laing, though, was essentially a journeyman and no one in his right mind was picking him to win.

Why is there no mention of Sugar Ray Leonard's decision over Marvelous Marvin Hagler? I thought Hagler won, but surely this was a bigger upset than some of the upsets that you mentioned?

Paul Jordan

It was an upset, but again, we were talking two Hall of Famers here. Leonard had wins over Wilfred Benitez, Duran and Hearns, so it's not like he hadn't beaten Hall of Fame opponents before.

Williams poorly handled

Do you think Paul Williams is being misrepresented? He should be fighting in one weight class so that he can get the proper ranking, and then the big fights will come. He believes he deserves a 50-50 split with Pavlik, which is completely laughable because he has no belt or fan base. Now he's thinking of moving back to 147 where all the major players are currently tied up with bouts. Paul needs a new team. A better promoter would help, and so would a trainer to teach him how to fight tall. There's no reason why Carlos Quintana and Sergio Martinez should've hit him that cleanly so often.

Newark, Del.

I agree he hasn't merited earning a 50-50 split with Pavlik. That said, because of Paul Williams' frame and his heavyweight-type reach, not a lot of guys are willing to fight him.

What has Shane done for me lately?

I don't understand how anyone could consider Shane Mosley as the favorite against Floyd Mayweather Jr. Who has Mosley beaten in the last six years? Fernando Vargas? Antonio Margarito? Antonio has always been a sloppy puncher who gets hit and it just so happens he didn't have his back up nukes that night. In retrospect, the win is not very impressive. Mosley was baffled in his prime by Wrinky Wright's defense and was absolutely dominated twice by Vernon Forrest. How is a 38-year-old man going to hit Mayweather? It might be close, but only because Money does just enough to get to win. Mayweather never will be in trouble in this fight. Does the Mosley fight really get Floyd off for not fighting anyone? I feel Mayweather will toy with him. Do you think Floyd will ever actually want to fight the best?

Craig Camara
San Francisco

While I don't think Mosley is the second coming, I think he's far better than you're making him out. He still has very fast hands and he's a strong puncher. Mosley is ranked in the Top 10 by nearly every pound-for-pound poll and he's in the top five in most. I'd say Mayweather deserves credit for taking on a tough fight. I expect Mayweather to win, but it's not because he's picking easy opposition.

What's up with Berto?

I was wondering if you have any kind of a status report on Andre Berto. In all the excitement of the upcoming fights (Mayweather-Mosley and Pacquiao-Clottey), I haven't seen anything about Berto. What he's going through right now must be excruciating. I thought I saw that he was planning to make his way to Haiti to see if he could reunite with some of his family down there. Do you have any news? Berto is a solid fighter, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to see him do well and come back from this tragedy to great success.

Nick Fox
New Orleans

Berto went to Haiti and rescued his sister and a nephew. Unfortunately, he had many relatives who died. He should return to boxing in a bout in Florida in either April or May. Carlos Quintana is the most likely opponent, but Kendall Holt is in the mix.

Pryor vs. Mayweather

Aaron Pryor was noticeably absent from the Floyd Mayweather vs. greatest welterweights article in Ring. This is not a Cincinnati bias, but I think you could juggle Pryor, Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson as the best pound-for-pound of all time and you wouldn't get an argument from me. He seemed to virtually have no weaknesses, and his losses occurred on the back end of a drug-infested career. In his prime, he was unbeatable. How do you think a fight between Mayweather-Pryor would have played out?


If it's not a Cincinnati bias, it's some kind of a bias. Pryor is one of the greatest fighters ever, probably a top 40 fighter. However, to consider him in the top three is a very big reach, in my opinion. I think he would have beaten Mayweather, but Mayweather's elusiveness and defense would have caused him problems. I think his pressure and his power would have eventually worn Mayweather down. Pryor was great, but to consider him the best ever is a stretch, I think.