Five boxers who tarnished their legacies

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Danny Howard

January 7th, 2021

A boxer is only as good as his reputation.

Just ask the five fighters on this list. All damaged their legacies with their questionable behavior and late-career slip-ups.

5. Al Cole

Not much gets said about cruiserweights, which makes it especially hard for them to get noticed, unless they transition to heavyweight with some success.

Cole was one of the standout cruiserweights of the 1990s. He defended his title six times, then made the decision to try his luck at heavyweight. He flopped, lost his first bout against Tim Witherspoon, and went 15-15-3 for the rest of his career.

Had Cole stopped fighting when it was clear he didn’t have it, he’d be remembered more fondly.

4. James Toney

There was no better operator of the sweet science than Toney in his prime. Toney effortlessly transitioned from defense to offense, and his skills saw him compete at the highest levels, from middleweight to heavyweight.

As Toney tried to pursue a heavyweight title, he tested twice for banned substances, including one that overturned a title win.

He attempted to campaign for another title, fought well beyond his prime, and drew concerns for his health. Toney’s legacy is forever tainted by cheating and hanging around too long.

3. Shane Mosley

After Sugar Shane destroyed the iron-chinned Antonio Margarito to recapture the welterweight title at 38, it was a long, unfortunate fall from grace.

It was Mosley’s last win for four years, and he looked noncompetitive in bouts against Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, and Saul Alvarez.

Mosley drudged on, to the point where he suffered the first stoppage loss of his career, against Anthony Mundine.

Mosley is still remembered as a legend, but he could have bowed out sooner.

2. Mike Tyson

Tyson’s aura of invincibility vanished when Buster Douglas beat him, but he damaged his legacy in the aftermath.

His unhinged behavior was on full display when he bit Evander Holyfield in their rematch, and he threatened to eat Lennox Lewis’ children.

Tyson’s antics overshadowed his actual achievements in the ring. He ended his career a shell of himself and quit on his stool against Danny Williams in 2005

1. Roy Jones Jr.

There was no fighter quite like Jones in his prime. He won titles from middleweight to heavyweight and was the most remarkable fighter ever seen.

But an ill-advised drop from heavyweight to light heavyweight for a grudge match with Antonio Tarver was the beginning of the end.

Jones suffered the first of many vicious knockout losses and heard calls to step away.

Had Jones retired after he won the heavyweight title, he would be remembered as one of the greats. Instead, Jones’ fall is as much of a story as his meteoric rise.