As Kell Brook’s star shines brighter than ever before following his loss to Gennady Golovkin, Boxing Truth remembers other defeats which had a positive impact on the losing fighter’s stock.
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI v MIGUEL COTTO
June 10, 2006
The Magic Man was catapulted into boxing’s elite with a close decision loss to the powerful Puerto Rican, then WBO light-welterweight champion.
He backed up his pre-bout trash talk with dazzling hand speed and masterful movement.
The underdog’s recovery from a second-round knockdown – and his courage to finish the fight in New York with a broken orbital bone – also endeared him to fans.
Paulie – who would later win belts at light-welterweight and welterweight – said: “I wanted to win so bad.”
VITALI KLITSCHKO v LENNOX LEWIS
June 21, 2003
Vitali gave Britain’s world heavyweight champion an almighty scare – and answered questions about his courage – before being stopped with a horrendous cut over his left eye.
He was ahead on all three scorecards.
The challenger, whose dreams were shattered at the end of the sixth round, rocked an out-of-shape Lewis on several occasions. Fans at LA’s Staples Center voiced their dissatisfaction at the outcome.
Britain’s hero chose to retire rather than give the Ukrainian a rematch.
Klitschko said: “He rang me and said, ‘Vitali, I’m not going to fight you’. His mum made the decision.”
AZUMAH NELSON v SALVADOR SANCHEZ
July 21, 1982
The greatest African fighter to grace a ring, a future two-weight champion, was stopped in his first world title scrap by Mexican icon Sanchez.
But the 15th round knockout didn’t tell the whole story of the battle for the WBC featherweight belt.
Nelson, then 13-0, took it at just two weeks’ notice and turned their encounter into a war, wobbling Sanchez with right hands. He was ahead on one of the three judges’ cards at the time of the stoppage.
A month later the champion died in a car crash aged 23.
RAY MANCINI v ALEXIS ARGUELLO
October 3, 1981
‘Boom Boom’, whose story captured hearts across America, was just 20 when he challenged Arguello for the WBC world lightweight title.
A toe-to-toe thriller followed and the older, more experienced, campaigner prevailed in the 14th round.
However, Youngstown’s most famous son had fought like a lion. Arguello said: “Someday this young man will be champion.”
Mancini bounced back in 1982 to win the WBA version of the belt against Arturo Frias, while Arguello lost a memorable clash with light-welterweight king Aaron Pryor that same year. The Nicaraguan hero died of a self-inflicted gun-shot wound to the chest in 2009, aged 57.
MARCOS MAIDANA v FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR I
May 3, 2014
The heavy-handed Argentine disturbed Mayweather’s rhythm in a similar manner to Jose Luis Castillo and Oscar De La Hoya years earlier, only rougher.
It wasn’t enough to win him the unification contest though – the result was a majority decision after judge Michael Pernick’s card of 114-114.
Maidana, who took home $1.5 million, said: “I won the fight. He didn’t fight like a man.”
Their return leg was a more comfortable affair for Mayweather who emerged with a unanimous victory. Meanwhile, Maidana retired with another $3 million in his pocket.
MARCO ANTONIO BARRERA v ERIK MORALES I
February 19, 2000
WBO super-bantamweight champion Barrera, with two losses to Junior Jones on his record, was the underdog as he prepared to step between the ropes with his unbeaten compatriot, the WBC ruler.
Cue one of the best fights – and most controversial conclusions – in boxing history.
Most observers had the Baby-Faced Assassin winning but bookmakers’ favourite Morales, nicknamed El Terrible, got a split-decision win. The pair, who detested each other, completed their trilogy in 2004.
Fourteen months later Barrera moved up to featherweight to challenge Prince Naseem Hamed.
Hamed – the division’s lineal champion – thought he was facing a faded version of the Mexican, a man on the slide because of the Morales war and the Jones knockout. Unfortunately for Sheffield’s superstar, the real Barrera showed up.