Boxing's Michael Jackson Curse: Reality or Myth?
When a prizefighter prepares for battle, the last thing he intends to focus on is his entrance music as he marches down the aisle and takes his initial steps into the squared circle. Unfortunately for some fighters, it could actually mean the difference between a win and a loss.
There is a silent killer in the world of boxing, and it is known within certain circles as the "Michael Jackson Curse". The curse strikes when any fighter enters the ring to any song performed by the late Michael Jackson. When a pugilist makes his traditional stride towards the ring to the jovial sounds of the legendary Motown recording artist, that fighter often experiences something out of the ordinary and often career altering...sometimes, even career ending.
Most casual observers dismiss the phenomenon as mere coincidence or happenstance. But the unfortunate few, who have fallen prey to the curse, are now living testimonials of its severity.
On December 6th, 2003, Heavyweight contender Kirk Johnson fought the current WBC Heavyweight Champion Vitali Klitschko at Madison Square Garden in NYC.
The slick fighter from Nova Scotia, Canada, made the career altering mistake of entering the ring to Michael Jackson's 1979 classic, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough".
Before his date with destiny in the Big Apple, Johnson was considered by many to be the number one contender to former champion Lennox Lewis' title and a legitimate candidate to become the eventual successor to the Heavyweight throne. Many ringside experts predicted that Kirk was indeed too crafty and too skilled to be defeated by his Ukrainian opponent on that snowy evening in 2003.
Poor Kirk got knocked out in just 2 rounds and never again regained his contender status.
Johnson attempted to make a comeback on March 3rd, 2006, against unheralded journeyman Javier Mora. Again the Canadian fighter chose to make his ring entrance to the sounds of the legendary "King of Pop", and again he paid the price.
In the seventh round of their Fox Sports televised bout, Mora stepped on the foot of his unsuspecting opponent and dislocated Johnson's knee in the process; forever derailing the Kirk Johnson Express.
The former heavyweight contender has only had one fight since that unfortunate incident in 2006.
In June of 2009, Victor Ortiz was being showcased by Golden Boy Promotions as the next great Jr. Welterweight fighter and a potential crossover athlete. He was scheduled to face a relatively unknown fighter out of Argentina by the name of Marcos Maidana for the WBO 140 pound title.
After the passing of Michael Jackson, Victor made the ill-fated mistake of entering the arena to a medley of some MJ favorites. Unfortunately for GBP and the many Ortiz fans in attendance, the vicious one was viciously beat-up and ultimately stopped in the 6th round.
It took Victor two years and a trip to the Welterweight division to shake the lingering effects of the MJ Curse.
In October of 2009, Berlin, Germany, hosted the opening bout of the much anticipated Super Six Tournament. The first fight of the tournament paired Jermain Taylor opposite Arthur Abraham, in a clash of two former Middleweight Champions.
According to "Bad Intentions", this fight was his final opportunity to make a statement on the biggest stage of boxing. Unfortunately, Jermain made the tragic mistake of entering the ring to "Bad" by Michael Jackson. It turned out to be a prophetic anthem as poor Jermain was knocked unconscious in the 12th and final round.
Jermain suffered a concussion, short-term memory loss, and a small amount of bleeding to his brain. He has just been approved to fight again and is making his long awaited return to the ring on December 30th.
Another fighter who recently succumbed to the power of the curse was Sugar Shane Mosley when he faced P4P king Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas, NV, in May of this year.
The future Hall of Famer made his ring entrance to the tune of "Bad" by Michael Jackson as well. In the third round, Sugar Shane was dropped by a short left hook for only the third time in his entire career and was uncharacteristically shaken mentally.
Mosley fought tentatively and appeared to be fearful throughout the remainder of the bout. Between rounds 10 and 11, Shane was captured on camera pleading with trainer Nazeem Richardson to stop the fight, stating that he couldn't move. Richardson had to convince Sugar Shane to continue fighting through a losing effort.
Mosley has yet to reveal any future fight plans.
Last weekend, Top Rank Lightweight contender Mickey Bey Jr. faced the unheralded but always dangerous Hector Velasquez in a special 8 round contest on the undercard of the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr./Peter Manfredo Jr. fight card in Houston, TX.
The highly touted fighter made his march down the aisle to Michael Jackson's "Thriller", not realizing the power of the Michael Jackson Curse.
Midway through the first round, Mickey fractured his right hand and was forced to scrap his meticulously prepared game plan. Compelled to continue with only one of his weapons intact, Mickey, preoccupied by the injury, was floored with a perfect overhand right for the first time in his entire boxing career.
Mickey Bey Jr. recollects his thoughts after being dropped for the first time.
"I made a mistake that I've never made before during any other fight. For some strange reason, I completely took my mind off of my opponent and was overly concerned with my broken hand. No disrespect to my opponent, but he shouldn't have been able to land a clean right hand like that against me."
"He got lucky. I don't know why I was out of it mentally in that round, but the knock down woke me up and I dominated the rest of the fight."
Mickey wasn't aware of the uncanny Michael Jackson phenomenon before his bout, but rest assured he won't be entering the ring to the tunes of the late pop star any time soon.
"Finding out about the curse and how it has affected the other fighters is staggering. I feel fortunate now to have come out with a victory. Maybe I broke the curse, because I was the first person to come out with a win. But, I won't be testing the validity of the Michael Jackson Curse in any future fights."
Perhaps with his unique brand of heart and mental toughness, Mickey Bey Jr. did indeed lift the curse from the shadows of boxing. But, fighters beware...before choosing to enter the ring with a unique melody from the late King of Pop, ask yourself if you're prepared to live with the possible consequences of the "Michael Jackson" Curse.