Heavyweight great Lennox Lewis did something so shockingly classy, so thoroughly mature and sportsmanlike on Thursday that it was enough to make you wonder if anyone in boxing at the moment can hold a candle to the guy. For Lewis posted a picture of himself being defeated twenty-one years to the day by Oliver McCall. Never mind Mayweather and Broner, could anyone picture Pacquiao and Klitschko, two of boxing's reputed nice guys, doing such a thing?
"If I can highlight the wins, then I can highlight the loses, too," Lewis wrote.
Lewis, you see, understands something that many fighters and fans today don't seem to be able to grasp - the fact that a loss is just that, a loss. Lewis could have mentioned the fact that he went on to avenge the only two defeats of his entire career in rematches, but he chose not to. Why? Because it would have been pointless to do so. Again, the loss to McCall was something Lewis simply grew from before moving on.
The point here is that no one with a bit of knowledge about boxing would deny Lewis his place as an all time great. Just like no one with any sense of fairness would have denied Mayweather his place as an all time great had he somehow lost to Pacquiao last May. Losses can make a fighter, sure. But they rarely define that fighter. Even Roberto Duran, he of "no mas" fame, found away to fight through the shame of that second Leonard bout.
Canelo Alvarez is the rare current fighter who is proving that a check in the loss column doesn't define him. Sure, he was easily handled by Mayweather two years back, but after a relatively easy go with the past-his-prime Alfredo Angulo, the man set his sights on challenging himself once again. Erislandy Lara. James Kirkland. Miguel Cotto. People who say such opponents are or were soft touches for Canelo are clearly delusional or will simply never cut the guy a break.
Even if Cotto somehow beats Canelo in their November superfight, it would be foolish to write the Mexican star off. The guy's in this for the long haul. His talent and guts won't allow him to fall apart. Only superior competition and a deterioration of his skill set can do that. Again, a loss is just a loss. Always has been, Always will be, There's rare and tragic exceptions to that rule, of course, but they're just that -exceptions.
While it's true Mayweather and Marciano (two legitimate greats) retired undefeated, it's also true that far more legendary fighters got beat and were lauded for greatness, regardless. I'll close with a list of just a few of their names. There's simply not enough space to jot down them all. The list goes on and on.
James J Corbett, Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Willie Pep, Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, Jake LaMotta, Henry Armstrong, George Foreman, Ray Leonard, Larry Holmes, Thomas Hearns, Julio Caesar Chavez, Marvin Hagler, Pernell Whitaker, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, Bernard Hopkins, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Felix Trinidad, Wladimir Klitschko.