The 5 toughest gatekeepers in boxing history

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June 15th, 2020

In boxing there are champions and there are gatekeepers.

Gatekeepers are skilled fighters who tend to be overlooked by the mainstream media, despite their ability in the ring. They work their way up through the ranks with little fanfare and are frequently used as cannon fodder for hot new contenders.

Gatekeepers have always been the litmus test for fighters flirting with the limelight, and more often than not, they’ve given those same young contenders a vicious dose of reality.

Never champions but always tenacious, these are the five toughest gatekeepers in boxing history.

5. Bert Cooper

"Smokin'" Bert fought everyone under the sun during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and was moments away from winning the title on two occasions. Cooper’s explosive power and relentless attack resulted in legendary fights with then undefeated champions Evander Holyfield and Michael Moorer, who were huge favorites against a fighter many believed was an afterthought.

4. Jesus Soto Karass

This Mexican warrior fought from near obscurity to notch wins over former welterweight champions Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto and was seldom in a fight that wasn’t violent.

3. Gabriel Rosado

Though a gust of wind could probably leave Rosado with a fight-threatening cut, his heart and his fists never stopped coming.

One of the more popular gatekeepers of the modern era, Rosado still has enough left in the tank to throttle those who are unprepared for his bag of tricks.

2. Emanuel Augustus

Floyd Mayweather said the toughest fight of his career came against the unpredictable, highly unorthodox Augustus.

"The Drunken Master" nearly derailed many fighters' climbs to a world title and was a nightmare for everyone he fought.

Augustus was often featured in ESPN's weekday fights and engaged in an all-time great war with Micky Ward in 2001.

1. Darnell Boone

Perhaps the most dangerous gatekeeper there ever was, Boone has derailed countless careers and nearly notched wins over some of the best titleholders of the modern era.

Boone has a legitimate case that he deserved victories over Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev, and he scored a second-round knockout win over Adonis Stevenson.

As Roy Jones Jr. once put it, "Anybody who's faced Darnell Boone knows what it is to be hit with a brick."