With some of the most colorful characters outside of the mafia, street carnivals and sugary cereal cartoon mascots, it’s no shock that along with thrills in the ring, boxing also delivers a healthy dose of epic lines and memorable quotes, from the comedic to the darkly profound. Here’s a sampling of some of the gems that have been doled out from broadcasters, fighters, and other figures in the sport this year, in the form of a top 10 list.
10) “What are you looking at?! What are you looking at?!?!” -Michael Katsidis
Katsidis injected a healthy dose of tension into the proceedings by suddenly barking out at Robert Guerrero during the typically silent and stoic stare-down before their fight in April. Guerrero stared back icily, un-amused, and he had good reason for the grim demeanor. He was about to inflict one of the most savage beatings of the year on his cackling, grinning opponent from Down Under. Katsidis was as game as they get, but the fact that he was brutally punished in the twelve rounds that followed makes his unusual pre-fight exclamation slightly less cool than, say, Bernard Hopkins’ push-ups in a winning effort.
9) “They don’t want no part of this light.” -Roy Jones
Thankfully, Roy was not referring to himself in this luminous statement. Rather, he was asked about the prospect of Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao seeking out Sergio Martinez for a mega-fight among pound-for-pound elite. And he very realistically answered in the negative with a beautifully simple, unadorned metaphor. Sergio is indeed a “light,” no adjectives necessary.
8) “I saw a lot of heavyweight fans…those corn-fed Midwestern fans. A lot of them look like offensive linemen.” -Larry Merchant
While on the topic of the void of American heavyweights, Merchant relayed a tale of a recent trip to the ballpark in St. Louis and the horrors he endured in the parking lot.
7) “I stepped it up towards the end. Made sure I won. I don’t know what the 114-114 score was… the Japanese judge… I think, uh that was a bad score to be honest. 117-112 was more realistic.” -Carl Froch
Froch was clearly irked over the slightly perplexing, but not completely ludicrous, scorecard from judge Nobuaki Uratani in his majority decision win over Glen Johnson. It was amazing that after twelve rounds of close combat, taking some massive blows from Johnson along the way, Froch was still entirely cognizant to the point of nitpicking the one scorecard he didn’t win. More interestingly, this guy scores his own fights?! How huge was it that he just pulled that number out, 117-112, especially since it would require a 10-10 or a 10-8 round? He was so in the zone, he even scored one round a tie.
6) “Thas it, thass it, thass it!” -Joe Cortez
Cortez declared the match over as he smothered James Kirkland, who was trying to rise from his third knockdown in the 1st round against Nobuhiro Ishida. Despite no three-knockdown rule in place, Cortez had seen enough and Kirkland was the victim of a massive upset “as they say,” a Kirkland phrase that deserves an honorable mention, his version of Paul Williams’ “knowwhatimsayin” intonations.
5)”You’re a four-round fighter….you’re a four-round fighter.” -Bernard Hopkins
Hopkins rightfully dubbed Jean Pascal an early-round fighter, a guy who fades down the stretch, and he demonstrated as much coming back from an early deficit on the cards to closely, but definitively to most, out-point Pascal in their rematch. The Hopkins-Pascal Face-Off with Max Kellerman was one of the most entertaining entries in the series, but I’m not sure if anything beats Shane Mosley telling Floyd Mayweather (and the world) that when he was younger, Floyd approached Shane and told him “I want to be just like you.”
4) “My partner’s been hit!!” -Gus Johnson
In the aftermath of Juan Manuel Lopez’ shocking (and controversial) stoppage loss to Orlando Salido in Puerto Rico, the disgruntled mob vented its ire in the form of hurling water bottles toward the ring. Al Bernstein was the unfortunate victim of one of these bottles, letting out an audible moan upon impact. And Gus Johnson reacted as though he was a Secret Service agent and John Malkovich had just shot up the place with a wooden gun.
3) “I’ve got a hard-on right now, mate.” -David Haye
In one of the greatest Face-Off moments of all time, Wladimir Klitschko’s face contorted into a mixture of sadness, rage, condescension, confidence and hatred as he stared down the admirably chipper but increasingly uncomfortable David Haye. Moments of tense silence seem to pass until Haye broke the ice with a lame “It’s gonna be a great fight” then quickly recovers with the far more effective “I’ve got a hard-on right now.”
Note: I may have added the “mate” myself, for emphasis.
2) “You gotta give the champ that type of respect, you know? You gotta give him that much respect.” -Roy Jones
Roy Jones offered his opinion on Russell Mora (whom I would describe as an inconsistent ref whose heart is generally in the right place) allowing Fernando Montiel to continue after an apparently concussive and devastating knockdown at the hands of Nonito Donaire. I agree with Roy’s sentiment. It’s a dark acknowledgement that this is a brutal sport and in this sport a guy who’s defending his belt should be given every opportunity to choose his own fate. However, what bothered me about this specific decision was that Montiel was asked by Mora to walk forward and he could not. At that point, the fight unquestionably should have been stopped. Instead, Mora seemed to disregard his own instructions and picked Montiel’s hands up for him and allowed him another chance. It was a puzzling bit of refereeing, although in general I think Roy made a valid point. I had no problem with giving Montiel the full count and letting him get to his feet, despite him stumbling twice. But once he could not come forward as instructed, Mora had no choice but to end things there and then. Instead he allowed another two punches to connect on a guy who had likely just been knocked unconscious. In this already violent sport, it was two punches too many.
1) “My fans have been waiting long enough. Floyd Mayweather vs Victor Ortiz. Sept-17 2011 for the WBC World Championship” -Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Unlike the above entries, there is no video clip of Mayweather uttering these precise words. For a man of many memorable vocal tirades, this was the most interesting thing he’s said in years and it was in written form on Twitter. Short of Klitschko-Haye, this is probably the biggest, most significant fight of the year. All respect to Manny Pacquiao, but he’s not taking on a full-fledged welterweight who shows up in the ring at 160 with speed, power, athleticism and youth. Ortiz is the biggest threat in the division to either of the two biggest stars in the sport, but shockingly it’s Floyd Mayweather facing this challenge. Two months ago, it looked like Floyd wouldn’t fight this year and his future beyond that was cloudy at best. This was a big statement. He’s not out of the game. He’s not taking some weak tune-up fight. He’s taking on the top-ranked welterweight behind himself and Manny. Floyd Mayweather is the headliner of one of the most interesting and anticipated fights of the year. Just when it looked like he was sliding out of relevance…BAM! He’s back. And he told us in his own way, breaking the biggest boxing story of the year on his own twitter account. With 24/7, another Brian Kenny interview and a big fight coming up, Floyd will doubtless give us many more enormous lines to chew on as the year proceeds. To close with some classics, “I don’t read books. I don’t read magazines. Larry Merchant don’t know nothing about boxing. Ricky Hatton is a great champion. I’m talking to a man of many things but a master of nothing. I want to thank Leonard Ellerbe and Al Haymon.”