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Naseem Hamed, John Mugabi & Adrien Broner: Three Boxers Who Were Never the Same Again After Their First Loss!

By Faisal “Fayz” Masood

In a previous article ‘When the bubble bursts….’ I looked at three boxers who were hyped by the media and all yet never recovered when the time came to face their first defeat. A controversial choice in that article was Donald Curry. Curry was a decorated amateur and a two weight world champion, but the media had him as the second coming of Sugar Ray Leonard and potential super fights with Marvin Hagler, who was neck and neck with Curry as the best fighter pound for pound in the world, were doing the rounds.

Sadly, for Curry, his career was never the same again after experiencing his first taste of defeat against Lloyd Honeyghan. Curry went 9-6 in the last 15 bouts of his career and never came close to achieving those lofty heights and high standards everyone had expected of him. This doesn’t make him a bad boxer, there is no denying he was good, but it is simply a matter of perspective, if you are labeled the next Sugar Ray, or a mini Tyson as in the case of Jeff Lacy, a world champion also featured in the same article, if you lose you should prepare to show the mental fortitude to get through it and return to the top.

Lennox Lewis is one of the all time greats and a huge reason why is because he beat everyone he stepped inside the ring with. Lewis lost just twice in his career, both times he came back to avenge his losses, to Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman. This is the mark of a truly great champion.
Just like Curry shouldn’t be labeled a bad boxer for how his career went after a loss, the following boxers shouldn’t be termed as bad either, but there is little denying they were unable to display the same mental strength as physical strength they displayed in the ring after suffering a loss.

3. Naseem Hamed

Naseem Hamed needs no introduction. One of the most gifted fighters I have ever seen with outrageous natural talent, Hamed was one of the most exciting and explosive boxers we have ever seen. Hamed’s penchant for big knockouts gave rise to equally big ring entrances as his fights became virtual night clubs and music videos all rolled into one.

Hamed was a ferocious puncher who could knock out his opponent from any position, by age 20 he had already won the European Bantamweight title and in the same year won the WBC International Super Bantamweight title. The following year in 1995 Hamed would start his run of dominance when he outclassed and overwhelmed Steve Robinson for the WBO Featherweight title.

It wasn’t long before he exploded onto the scene in the USA with a see-saw battle against Kevin Kelley. Both fighters were knocked down multiple times in an action packed four rounds which saw Hamed eventually end the fight with a stunning left hand. Hamed continued his rule of the division, taking his record to 35-0 31 KO’s before he was to come up against the Mexican legend, Marco Antonio Barrera. With conflict in his camps and rumours Hamed was not taking his boxing seriously, more concerned about his hair style and ring entrance than his opponent, Hamed would pay the ultimate price when he was beaten over twelve rounds by Barrera with relative ease.

The fall was hard for Hamed, who returned to winning ways in his next fight, which was over a year later with a lackluster performance going the distance against Manual Calvo. Despite promising more fights it turned out to be his last contest aged just 28 and Hamed retired with a record of 36-1 31 KO’s.
Whether Hamed’s ego was never able to recover from the loss or whether it was because of chronic hand injuries, Hamed fell out of love with the sport at a time he should have been entering his peak and boxing fans were never truly able to see how good he could have become.

2. John Mugabi

There’s a reason he was nicknamed “The Beast” and that’s because he was a beast. Mugabi was one of those names you spoke about during the 80’s whenever there was discussion about ‘The Four Kings’, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler, he was that good and add in names like Wilfred Benitez and this was a terrifying period to be in and around the division. Mugabi rolled over his first 24 opponents with knockout after knockout before forcing an RTD inside the distance in his 25th fight.

The 26th fight would be against the middleweight king and would present Mugabi with his sternest test. Roll in “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, who was fighting for the first time since ‘The War’ with Thomas Hearns. In what many believe was Hagler’s most difficult fight as a pro, the two engaged in a brutal battle which saw both fighters land heavy blows. In the end, Hagler’s savagery was too much to handle and he prevailed in the 11th round, inflicting Mugabi with the first loss of his career.

“The Beast” returned to his home land of Uganda after the loss and was back in the ring nine months later as a light middleweight but suffered a broken eye socket in a defeat to Duane Thomas. Mugabi never again returned to the feared level he had achieved prior to his loss against Hagler and suffered two first round knockouts against Terry Norris and Gerald McClellan. The latter forcing his retirement but he was to return yet again 5yrs later and finally called time on his career after a disappointing spell of 4-3-1 in his final eight bouts.

1. Adrien Broner

If you know boxing, you know Broner, because Broner is an active boxer who is a four weight world champion. It seems such a shame to mention a boxer with his achievements in this article but the man known as “‘The Problem” has been only a problem to himself since his first loss.
Broner was seen as the heir apparent to boxings number one star, Floyd “Money” Mayweather JR., which was probably why he began naming himself “About billions”. Unfortunately, he may have been counting his money before the fights. Broner had a dominant start to his career which had many believing they were seeing the next superstar of the sport with a mouth as fast as his hands, he was still only 24yrs old when he beat Paulie Malignaggi to win the WBA welterweight title and improved his record to 27-0.

It was his next fight against the hard hitting Argentinian Marcos Maidana in which the problem that was Adrien Broner was eventually solved. Maidana put Broner onto the canvas for the first – and second time in his career as he swarmed, battered and butted his way to a convincing victory.

Since his loss, Broner has bounced up and down the divisions but each time he has stepped up in class, against Shawn Porter and Mikey Garcia, he has been found wanting and suffered the 2nd and 3rd losses of his career. Whilst Broner is still active and is still only 28yrs old, more concerning is his life outside of the ring, the longer he continues to have problems outside of the ring, the less chance he has of becoming a problem for his opponents inside the ring.

Check out Fayz’s available books for download on Amazon. He also runs his own Personal Training site and blog over at Fayz Fitness.

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