TOO LEGIT TO QUIT: Boxing’s Top Underdogs of 2014

boxing, danny garcia, mauricio herrera,

Every now and then in the sport of boxing you have guys that don’t follow the script. Sure they’re a 10-1 underdog but they don’t care. These guys actually have the nerve to not only show up to fight, but win! Did they not read the editor and staff predictions of them losing by a 25 to 1 vote by the 26 member panel? Apparently not. Sidenote* That’s what makes boxing so electrifying. Stats, win streaks, and trash talk go out of the window when the two finally meet in the ring. This particular piece shines the spotlight on the guys who literally and figuratively overcame the odds to get the W in 2014. I picked 3 of my favorites. Lets Go!

#3) Chris Algieri vs. Ruslan Provodnikov.

Since bursting on the scene in 2013, Provodnikov’s fights seemed to have a common theme. That theme was that he was gonna stalk you and bang you to the torso and head until as Bane likes to say “your spirit broke, or your body”. After coming off of a complete demolition of hard nosed Mike Alvarado, Chris Algieri was next in line. On the surface this fight seemed about as uneven as you could possibly make a fight.

On one hand you have who boxing world has named “The Siberian Rocky” and rightfully so. On the other you hand you have a highly unknown boxer with an above average skill set in Chris Algieri. Algieri’s biggest win at the time came over Emmanuel Taylor. In all fairness it was a very impressive win as Algieri showcased excellent technical skills such as an excellent jab and beautiful lateral movement. Yet and still the consensus feeling was that Algieri had been brought in as a sacrificial lamb.

Consequently that almost seemed to be the case when Algieri was dropped twice in the opening round and had his left eye swelled up, and eventually shut. To most (including myself) the thought was that it was only a matter of time, or combinations before Algieri was finalized as the next victim. However, what took place over the course of the next 11 rounds was special. Algieri was able to keep the mauling Provodnikov at bay with a steady jab and left and right hooks. Algieri also mixed in a nice uppercut at times. When the cards were read Algieri had willed his way to split decision.

#2) Sergey Kovalev vs. Bernard Hopkins.

Hopkins vs. Kovalev was supposed to be the wily old man yet again taking a young hungry contender to school. And why not? We’ve certainly seen this story time and time again. It’s the Trinidad fight that stands out to me. The fact that Hopkins was considered “old” for this fight at the age of 36 is laughable considering that he has continued to fight over a decade since then. Moreover, Hopkins was a huge underdog coming into face the power punching Puerto Rican. Simply put, Hopkins battered Trinidad through the fight and ultimately stopped him.

The same was thought to be in store for Kovalev. The old master would defuse the Russian as we had witnessed him do time and time again. WRONG. After B-hop was knocked down in the first round it was all down hill from there. Kovalev held Hopkins hostage in the corners all night. Hitting him with jabs, right hands, and the occasional hook. I’ve heard some refer to the fight as Kovalev putting on a clinic, which is VERY far fetched in my opinion. The fact of the matter is that Kovalev was the bigger and stronger guy and could afford to make mistakes because of his power. Hopkins could not. Moreover, Kovalev was content to pace himself and win on points.

The performance Kovalev put on against Hopkins was something that had never been done. Hopkins was absolutely shut out.

#1)Mauricio Herrera vs. Danny Garcia

Mauricio Herrera? Who is that guy? I’m sure that was the thought for the majority of the boxing world on March 15th, myself included. On March 16th however, the whole world knew who he was, especially Danny Garcia. Garcia was making a return to Puerto Rico and wanted to put on a show at Herrera’s expense. It indeed was a show, just not the kind he envisioned. Herrera was able to keep the heavy-handed Garcia at bay with a very consistent diet of jabs to the face and stomach of the champion. He also showed he is a slickster, avoiding Danny’s signature left hook and countering nicely in spots, including a shoulder-roll right hand that would make Floyd Sr. smile.

When all was said and done Garcia had been out worked, out hustled and out skilled; his face showed just this in more ways than one. Strangely enough Herrera was very calm after the cards were read and in the post interview. That says a lot about his character. Mauricio Herrera was indeed robbed of a win.