Liking stuff is hard. Even if you didn’t grow up on a steady diet of punk rock and decentralized anarchist propaganda like I did, the human brain’s capacity to enjoy things is finite. One pancake is good. Two are better. Ten is suicide.
And so it goes. The more things there are, the more opportunities there are to find out how much you hate them.
By that token, Boxrec.com currently lists 22,697 active professional boxers. As far as I know, that doesn’t include the gas station attendants Shakur Stevenson has sucker-punched but it might. I don’t know. I’ll make some calls.
Sifting through nearly 23,000 fighters though, it shouldn’t be hard to find a few likeable ones, right? They can’t all be shitheads, can they? You’d be surprised. Did I mention this is boxing we’re talking about?
The slogan for the strip club chain Showgirls is “Hundreds of beautiful women… and three ugly ones” which, besides accurately describing my dating history, is just a nice way of letting the consumer know what they’re getting themselves into. It’s a way for the bouncer to say “Look, you might catch yourself a nice marlin in these waters. You also might bag a net full of mudbugs. There’s no way to tell. Also, that’ll be forty bucks and you absolutely cannot wear that sleeveless ‘Scott Peterson is Innocent’ t-shirt in here.”
In a sport where that requires as much of a financial commitment from its consumers as boxing does, we should have a similar disclaimer. We should have a way to know who is worth spending our time and money on and who is #CANCELED.
Now we do.
As always, I’ve gone ahead and done all the work for you so allow me to introduce to you the inaugural Professional Boxing Likeability Power Rankings.
It’s exactly what it sounds like. A definitive top-five ranking of the most and least likeable fighters in the sport. These rankings were compiled by me alone and they’re based solely on whether or not I like a guy. That’s it. It has nothing to do with record, style, or talent. No considerations were made for wardrobe, political affiliations, or blood type. Just simply, did my brain decide to like you or not.
Answer? Probably not.
Disclaimer: This is going to be limited to active fighters. Dead guys, recent retirees, and defendants in pending sexual assault cases are not eligible. The prospect of future likeability will also not be taken into consideration. This is about RIGHT NOW. Furthermore, these rankings are based entirely on how I feel, so by definition, they cannot be wrong. I am a snowflake. This is my safe space. Fuck you.
So without further ado, let’s rank some assholes.
The Broner Index
We’ll start with the unlikeables. Now, if you’ve impatiently skipped ahead and scanned these top five, you’ll notice that Adrien Broner’s name doesn’t appear in our rankings. That’s for two reasons. First, the rankings are named after him. You couldn’t have the Carrot Top Presents: The Carrot Top Award for Excellence in the Field of Carrot Topping and then give it to fucking Carrot Top. That’s just bad business. Secondly, as we previously stated, these rankings are for active fighters. In his last fight against Manny Pacquiao, Broner landed fifty total punches. No matter how much you step on, stretch, or massage the definition, that type of pathetic output simply cannot qualify you as “active.”
5) Michael Conlan: Let’s not mince words here: it’s the finger thing. This dude’s entire career is based solely on overreacting to a bad decision that a group of dumbshits made back in late 2016 and it’s like, hey, that’s already kinda Trump’s thing, y’know? He flipped off some dudes, everyone seemed to like it, and then he immediately over-watered his plant and it died. At this point, Conlan is basically just two middle fingers with Little Nicky’s head on top. Plus he’s Irish. I mean, I like The Pogues and shit but that’s about as far as that goes.
4) Deontay Wilder: To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure I dislike the real Deontay Wilder. The problem is there is no real Deontay Wilder. There’s only whatever bullshit, fabricated personality type he’s absorbed that day reflected back on us through the lens of a desperate bozo who’s seen one too many World Star videos. Also, Bomb Zquad? With a Z? Shut up.
3) Billy Joe Saunders: Saunders is the free space on your shithead bingo card. If there’s a box on your loathsome list, he’ll check it. Harassing the homeless, failing drug tests, that goddamn dick-punching demon child of his. It never ends. Lucky for Saunders though, his fights usually put people to sleep long before they have a chance to figure out what a piece of shit he is.
2) Shakur Stevenson: This fuckin’ guy. Google his name plus the words “gas” and “station” and then promptly enjoy spending the rest of your waking days researching how to get Florida’s electric chair plugged back in. He’s an almost unparalleled display of pyrotechnically unlikeable of dipshittery. The only reason he’s not number one on our list is that he’s for sure going to do something even shittier soon and we need to leave him space to move up once he does.
1) Gervonta Davis: A lot of this is just sheer proximity to Broner. If the rules dictate we can’t have Broner at the top then goddammit we’ll go out and get the next best thing. He’s not quite Broner (yet) but he’s certainly Broner-adjacent and that’ll get you to the top of this list in a hurry. There are two kinds of evil in this world: Those who do Broner stuff, and those who see Broner stuff being done and do nothing to stop it. Davis is guilty of both. I can’t say for sure that his life is headed toward the undiluted, claustrophobic loneliness of his mentor, but Davis seems to be elbowing out anyone who gets in his way of becoming Broner’s successor. It’s a one-horse race to the bottom and the only prize is new mugshots.
The Hatton Spectrum
Get this, Ricky Hatton is the single most beloved fighter of his generation AND he’s English. That shouldn’t even be possible. No one should be able to overcome a handicap like that. Yet Hatton did. A practically unattainable level of likeability. Unreal. Naturally, our list of likeable fighters is named in his honor. Pour a pint of Guinness, do a key bump, and let’s honor The Hitman with a list good dudes doing cool shit.
5) Josh Taylor: We have an unwritten rule around here which states that any fighter who hands a ranked member of The Broner Index his ass on social media shall automatically crack the rankings on The Hatton Spectrum. Think of it similar to the way Happy Gilmore made the pro tour. Or maybe like taking a Super Mario Brothers warp tube straight to the top five. I’m realizing right this second that I may need to update my references.
4) Shawn Porter: There’s a non-zero chance that Porter is a time cop who ran out of plutonium and marooned himself in our present timeline. His entire aura is a throwback to a time when being nice was cool. When having manners wasn’t seen as “soft.” Porter likes kicking the shit out of stuff as much as the next guy, but he’s just as likely to pick you up from the airport and then do that thing where he waits in the driveway to make sure you got inside okay. He’s a fucking sweetheart and I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize for throwing his time machine in the ocean. I’m sorry, Shawn, but I simply cannot let you go back.
3) Andy Ruiz: Fat kid make ripped guy go boom. What more do you want?
2) Oleksandr Usyk: Usyk has always been here. He predates the ancient gods and he’s outlasted them all. He’s a gap-toothed psycho who enjoys playing with his food as much as he does eating it. More than any active fighter, Usyk seems to understand that this is the entertainment business and maybe — just maybe — we should be enjoying ourselves a bit. Everything he does is imbued with a spirit of childlike bemusement and confusion as to why everyone seems to be taking this shit so seriously. Let’s have some fun here, y’know? Hey. Assholes. Remember fun?
1) Nonito Donaire: Every time a fighter steps in the ring, they’re taking a risk. They could lose the fight, lose their title, or even lose their life. When you fight Donaire, however, you’re at even greater risk… of MAKING A NEW BEST FRIEND. Like it or not, you’re getting prayed for. Prepare to be eternally praised on national television by a man the Dalai Lama himself considers overqualified to succeed him. Your kids will play with his kids and he’ll likely show up to your wedding. Donaire is a magnet for all that is good about humanity. He’s a living, breathing double rainbow moment and when the aliens finally come he’ll be offered up as evidence that our species is worth saving.
(Photo via Nonito Donaire Jr. FB Page)