Boxing's unsung gems
Throughout boxing history, "big" names have always garnered mass attention, searing themselves in social memory.
Tyson, Holyfield, Foreman, Mayweather, Jones Jr., Pacquiao, De La Hoya and Mosley were, and still are, huge names both in and out of boxing. However, while they captured the headlines, and deservedly so, there were quite a few guys who deserved notoriety who either received their just due a little too late or never received it at all.
Fighters like Winky Wright, Vernon Forrest, Lamon Brewster, Ricardo Lopez, Mike McCallum and many others are sometimes forgotten in conversations about great or exciting fighters from certain eras.
Some of the marks against these guys include and not having a crowd-pleasing style, not having enough charisma, not fighting in America enough, lack of mainstream crossover appeal, or even lack of exposure.
Even now, if I were to talk to the average boxing fan about the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the world today most fans would only recognize Andre Ward, Sergey Kovalev Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez. And that's sad because many fans miss out on great boxers and compelling match-ups because they simply do not know the fighters or have no way to watch them.
I am going to shine a light on a few fighters who deserve that spotlight and maybe on the cusp of getting it.
Nickname: The Monster
Titles:WBC Light Flyweight and WBO Junior Bantamweight
Record: 13-0;11 KOs
Inoue has two unfortunate obstacles - his size and nationality. Most casual do not pay attention to the boxers in lower weight classes. The lighter weight classes tend to be better, technically, and sometimes more entertaining but are not viewed as being as compelling as heavier weight classes.
Secondly while Japan is a hotbed for combat sports of all kinds, the media does not pay much attention Japanese boxers. However, if you can find a way to watch The Monster fight, you would be doing yourself a favor.
Inoue is a sharp punching, technically-sound knockout machine. He is never out of control, never out of position, and always in punches range. His demeanor seems to never change and his power never fades. He can get a knockout early or late and with either hand. Inoue always provides an exciting fight if you have the time you should look him up.
Nickname: Big Baby
Titles: WBO NABO Heavyweight Title
Record: 19-0; 17 KOs
The heavyweight division is and always has been the glamour division of boxing. There is a certain stigma to being heavyweight champion of the world. You are viewed as the best. And each decade seemed to have a singular face of the division.
Louis, Ali, Homes, Tyson, Lewis all enjoyed recognition as the best heavyweight alive. However, with the fall of the Klitschko brothers, a new crop of heavyweights is looking to grab that spot. I believe Big Baby is poised to do that.
Jarell Miller is a larger than life presence both literally and figuratively. At 6 ft 4 in tall and 298 lbs he is sure to stand out in any room. Add in a Broner-esque personality and you have a recipe for success. Miller may not yet be a household name, but he has the tools and KO-centered style to boot. Miller is one big win away from showing the world his colorful personality and power punching style.
Titles: WBO Cruiserweight Title
Record 12-0;10 KOs
The much-maligned cruiserweight division. Cruiserweights get no love from fans and media. They are considered too lazy to cut to 175 or afraid to fight at heavyweight. Which is a shame because the 200lb division has given the world countless action fights.
Usyk, the new star in the division, is pretty much a super-sized version of his stable mate Vasyl Lomachenko. Similar to his more popular countryman, Usyk is a lefty who throws great combinations and gives brilliant angles. He also has power.
Usyk has the ability to put on a boxing clinic and the power to turn off the lights at any moment. He sets up shots with well-timed cuts and steps around the ring. If, and when, he decides to move up to the heavyweight division, I believe he will emulate the success of Evander Holyfield and David Haye, who were cruiserweight champions who went on to hold the heavyweight title as well.
I believe, going forward, that these three guys will come to dominate boxing headlines and be included on pound-for-pound lists everywhere. Let me know what you guys think and who you believe are some hidden gems in boxing.