Rating Oscar a B, conjures up A's, C's, D's and F's for fighters

Sep 16, 2008 7:02 PM

Pulling No Punches by Michael Katz | Given another respite because there is no fight worthy of my attention next weekend, let me make some grading and de-grading remarks.

This was inspired by a recent comment by one of my favorites, Pernell Whitaker, that Oscar de la Hoya, in his prime, was nothing more than a B-plus fighter.

Sweet Pea was reacting to de la Hoyaís choice of Manny Pacquiao as his Dec. 6 dance partner. At 35, Oscar is far from his prime, while the Pac Man is generally considered (and I concur) boxingís best at the moment.

But Pacquiao is still a guy who has been knocked out by a flyweight (okay, early in his pro career when he was probably not more than 8) and that explains why Oscar is the early 2-1 or so favorite.

If Oscar wants to make a lot of money and take away the limelight from more meaningful fights, that is his prerogative. Certainly, a bout against Pacquiao is less of a mismatch than the one he is ducking, against Antonio Margarito. But at this point in his career, de la Hoya has nothing more to prove.

Maybe he didnít beat Whitaker or Ike Quartey or Felix Trinidad Jr. or Sugar Shane Mosley twice, but he was highly competitive in these matches. He was a very good fighter, not a great one. B-plus seems about right.

Sugar Ray Robinson was an A fighter (I donít give A-plusses). So was Sugar Ray Leonard, one of the few I personally covered. Of course, Muhammad Ali was, though by the time I returned from Europe, he had slipped to maybe C-plus.

Larry Holmes was A. Whitaker was at least A-minus. Aaron Pryor was A. Ike Williams was A. Julio Cesar Chavez was A-minus.

Joe Louis was an A, as were Henry Armstrong and Emile Griffith. Michael Spinks was a B, Larry Holmes an A. Rocky Marciano maybe couldnít carry Holmesí jock strap, but he too was an A.

Hereís a surprise for you. Bernard Hopkins was maybe a B-plus. Roy Jones Jr. an A-minus. Antonio Tarver gets a C-plus, generously.

Marvelous Marvin Hagler was an A-minus, but if weíre marking on a curve, of course he was a full A. Carlos Monzon was an A-minus bordering on a B-plus. Tony Zale was an A.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. was (or still is) an A-minus. Which makes Diego Corrales a C. Same with Jose Luis Castillo. Pacquiao is a B-plus, maybe. Marco Antonio Barrera was a B-plus (but Junior Jones who beat him twice was a C).

Lennox Lewis was a B. The Klitschkos are lucky to get Cís. Mark Breland was an A as an amateur, a C-minus as a pro. Marlon Starling was a C-plus; Donald Curry a B-minus, same as Terry Norris.

Mike Tyson probably should get an Incomplete. At best, he was a B or B-plus, at worst an F. Evander Holyfield was a B plus. Ricardo Lopez was an over-rated B.

Salvador Sanchez was an A. Wilfredo Gomez was an A-minus. Joe Calzaghe was never more than a C-plus, okay maybe a B-minus so my Welsh friends donít go bananas.

Buddy McGirt was a B-minus, Meldrick Taylor a B. Simon Brown was maybe a C. Mosley was a solid B. Margarito is a C-plus or B-minus. Kid Gavilan was an A. So were Bob Foster and Archie Moore.

Matthew Saad Muhammad was an exciting C. Arturo Gatti was a D-plus.

Hey, anyone who gets graded, or de-graded, was a worthy fighter. You donít see John Ruiz on this list. Ricky Hatton gets a C-minus; Kostya Tszyu a B-plus. Winky Wright was a B-plus.

Felix Trinidad gets a B. Juan Manuel Marquez was a B, his kid brother Rafael almost a B-plus, same as Israel Vazquez. Mark (Too Sharp) Johnson gets an A.

There are a lot of Incompletes: Kelly Pavlik, Cristian Mijares, Miguel Cotto, Nonito Donaire and too many to list.

Donít get angry if you feel some of your favorites were slighted. These are my opinions and do not represent those of the sponsors. I will not answer mail on this; get your own column.

All you can do is hope that there are fewer breaks in the schedule.