Unlike other combat sports, and simulated combat, the art of the ring entrance is often lost in boxing. Frequently, television networks won’t show entrances at all, opting to talk over graphics or highlight packages instead. When networks do decide to air fighters’ ring walks, we’re often met with a steady flow of cliché music choices, such as “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J, Bill Conti’s theme for Rocky, or more recently, the trendy hometown fighter pick of “Run This Town” by Jay-Z.
On rare occasions though, a fighter’s ring music is meaningful, and serves to inspire the fans watching and listening into believing they are witnessing something special.
Although there is not yet a clear-cut favorite for Fighter of the Year or Fight of the Year, 2010 has been highlighted by a good number of strong musical choices by the pugilists, which warrants some praise. Below, we count down the Top 10 contenders for Entrance Song of the Year.
Hey, somebody has to win an award, right?
10. “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” by McFadden & Whitehead
David Haye vs. John Ruiz, 03/04/10
It’s quite ironic that Haye would choose this ditty as his regular entrance theme, as it was originally used by Larry Holmes, the self-proclaimed originator of ring walk music. Holmes, of course, was humble and consistent, while Haye is brash, vulgar and enigmatic. Irony aside, the groovy sounds of McFadden & Whitehead are the perfect soundtrack for Haye’s sometimes comical arrogance.
9 . “Fed Up” by DJ Khaled
Yusaf Mack vs. Glen Johnson, 05/02/10
In February of 2009, Mack defeated Chris Henry by split decision for a pair of regional titles. One year later, Henry was getting a world title shot against Hugo Garay in Mexico, while Mack was fighting in an eliminator against tougher competition in Glen Johnson for a payday south of $12,000. He was fed up indeed, and as such, poignantly chose this song. Unfortunately, he quickly became fed up with his game plan to box Johnson from a distance, and was consequently knocked out in the sixth round. Maybe this one can stick with him for his next outing.
8. “Here to Stay” by KoRn
Kelly Pavlik vs. Sergio Martinez, 17/04/10
Pavlik is one of only a handful of fighters with signature entrance songs these days, and his is good enough that he makes the list on account of the fact that he fought during this calendar year. (Sorry Vitali Klitschko, but we’ve heard AC/DC in North American arenas far too many times.) The pride of Youngstown, Ohio stays true to his personality with this song. You don’t find many bald-headed Midwestern rocker types in boxing for some reason, so it’s a nice change of pace to hear hard rock before a big bout, rather than Bone Thugs n’ Harmony or another group representative of the Buckeye state.
7. “El Mejor De Todos Los Tiempos” by Daddy Yankee
Ivan Calderon vs. Giovanni Segura, 28/08/10
The veteran Calderon couldn’t have picked a more fitting tune for his entrance against the upstart Segura. Daddy Yankee, a boxing enthusiast who trains at the same gym as Calderon, declares in the second verse, “it’s ridiculous to compare the flavor of the month to a movement.” Many people felt the same way leading up to the bout, that it was preposterous to suggest that a young slugger could ever catch up to Calderon and wear him down. They turned out to be wrong, but the intense song and Iron Boy’s heart for eight rounds sure had you believing.
6. “A Warrior’s Call” by Volbeat
Mikkel Kessler vs. Carl Froch, 24/04/10
As professional wrestling taught us in the late 80s and early 90s, songs made specifically for an individual’s entrance can be absolutely horrific, particularly when the lyrical direction is simply to laud the man coming down the aisle. Volbeat manages to buck the trend — although they don’t stray from laughable glorifying lyics. “The Viking Warrior Mikkel Kessler will now brand his name in the back of your head, yeah!” Regardless, it serves its purpose to pump up the crowd with a quick drum-heavy tempo, and to be fair, if the song were about anything else, it might make its way onto a few iPods.
5. “Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2
Lucian Bute vs. Edison Miranda, 17/04/10
This rock classic has been played ad nauseam during third periods of hockey games and fourth quarters of basketball games (specifically in Boston, where traditional urban beats are eschewed for 80s and 90s hits), but when it comes on in Montreal, it means that the IBF super middleweight champion is about to enter the ring. The song itself is emphasized by lasers, lights and an obnoxiously large video screen showing Bute shadowboxing. That and a sold out arena, an oddity in modern boxing, stomping and clapping along to Larry Mullen Jr.’s drum beat make for a goosebump-inducing entrance for the live fan.
4. “Walk” by Pantera
Yuri Foreman vs. Miguel Cotto, 05/06/10
There was no shortage of profile pieces and vignettes about Yuri Foreman’s rabbinical studies leading up to his clash with Miguel Cotto at Yankee Stadium, so it came to no one’s surprise that he would hit the infield grass to the tune of traditional Jewish music. However, nobody expected that music to end abruptly and for the quiet, unassuming Foreman to begin marching to a Pantera head banger. Unintentionally, it fell in line with what we learned about the Brooklyn resident that night as he limped around courageously, eating punches all the while — he’s a heck of a lot harder than we thought.
3. “Black is the Colour (Coco and Green Remix)” by Cara Dillon vs. 2 Devine
Paul McCloskey vs. Giuseppe Lauri, 11/06/10
Not since Hector Camacho danced to “Devil’s Gun” by disco group CJ & Co. while wearing an outlandish visored helmet and studded vest before his tilt with Oscar De La Hoya in 1997 has dance music introduced a combatant before a big fight. Perhaps if McCloskey can defend his EBU light welterweight title a few more times, he can bring those pulsating club sounds to the grand stage. On this night specifically though, McCloskey did no dancing at all, standing toe to toe in a grueling battle with Giuseppe Lauri culminating in a highlight reel knockout.
2. “F— the Other Side (Remix)” by Dunk Ryders
Jean Pascal vs. Chad Dawson, 7/08/10
Pascal debuted this remix for his first bout with Adrian Diaconu, but added an excerpt from DJ Khaled’s “All I Do is Win” as he waited on the entrance ramp prior to the Dawson bout. The greatness of Pascal’s entrance tune is solely based on the the heavy bass and near-ominous beat, because the lyrical content is simply a loop of Miami rapper Fella’s hook, “F— the other side/You can tell by my red ass eyes that I’m high.” Needless to say, Pascal would have failed the requisite drug test if he were to live out the proclamations in his musical selection, but the Montreal crowd was (ahem) ablaze from the tune nonetheless.
1 . “Showtime” by Young Jeezy
Andre Dirrell vs. Arthur Abraham, 13/03/10
This one could be considered a tad cheesy, since the bout was, y’know, on SHOWTIME. Regardless, Dirrell chose an oft-forgotten Jeezy track that is tailor-made for entrances, even with built-in crowd noise during the song’s intro to compensate for near-empty arenas. But by the time he emerged from the tunnel on the east end of the Joe Louis Arena, the Detroit crowd rapped along enthusiastically– “Tell them it’s showtime/I heard the hood up in here/Well let me hear ya.” The noise during Dirrell’s entrance prompted one to question how fans got so excited about a bout only scheduled and officially located two weeks prior, and just how 18,000 seats empty or covered in paper could get that loud.
Honorable mentions: Samuel Peter — “Hail Mary” by 2Pac; Tyson Fury — “Airplanes” by B.O.B. ft. Hayley Williams; Omri Lowther — “Say I Can’t Spit;” Floyd Mayweather — “For The Love of Money” by The O’Jays; Andre Berto — “Turn My Swag On” by Soulja Boy
Corey Erdman is a boxing writer, as well as host and producer at theScore on SIRIUS 98. His work has appeared in dozens of newspapers and publications, and was featured prominently on the now-defunct Sporting News boxing portal. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/corey_erdman