In boxing, a champion is not always recognized or respected because of his belt or title, but his character inside and outside the ring is what earns him the respect and adulation of other fighters and cult followers of pugilism. Hard core boxing fanatics and historians know this hence there are fighters in the past and at present who have nothing but their title to show off videlicet the late Edwin Valero, Sam Langford, and Yuri Foreman. Let’s take a look at the achievements of these former world champions and courageous contender.
The late Edwin Valero who registered a perfect record of 27-0 and had won all his fights in the ring via knockout did not get the respect he was hoping for because of his tumultuous ways outside the ring. He was arrested due to his own admittance of murdering his wife, and then briefly after he was put in jail, Valero committed suicide by hanging himself using his own denim jeans. He could have had his chance to fight Manny Pacquiao, the most exciting fighter in the planet, but the former blew his chance by taking his own life.
Sam Langford, on the other hand, was a popular boxer from Boston who defeated the best pugilists in his time, from lightweight to heavyweight, but was hardly recognized due to his boxing alias: Boston Tar Baby. His moniker was not enticing enough to the powers that be in boxing in that era so his prowess and triumphs in the ring were buried with him at his death. His only consolation is the recognition of being the best boxer who never held a title.
And then we have Yuri Foreman, who held the world championship belt at 154 for less than a year because he was outlasted by Miguel Cotto in their championship fight earlier this month. Cotto was actually fortunate because Foreman got injured during the bout due to an accidental slip. Foreman’s twisted ankle and swollen knee were his downfall because Cotto took full advantage of the situation and put him down for good in the latter round. Foreman is a good fighter but luck was not with him at his title defense against the Puerto Rican warrior Miguel Cotto.
Among the three fighters featured in this article, Foreman has the cleanest record outside the ring but inside the square circle, he is but an ordinary fighter. A true fighter or warrior of the Sweet Science is someone who is feared in the ring because of his ferocity, power and heart; moreover, a gentleman and a philanthropist outside the ring. An exemplary archetype of such noble fighter is none other than Manny Pacquiao, who is considered by a myriad of boxing experts to be the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world today and an elected Congressman in his own country. He is loved and respected by millions of people around the world because he bears the character of a True Champion: a heart of gold and a humble spirit that had carried him through in all his battles inside and outside the ring.
Joe Burris, “Great Unknown in the Early 1900s, Boxer Sam Langford was a Champion without a Title, a Victim of His Skin Color and Fighting Spirit.” Encyclopedia.com
Boris Weintraub, “Yuri Foreman.” Moment Magazine
Boxing Historians, “Edwin Valero Biography.” Boxrec Boxing Encyclopaedia