Dariusz Michalczewski in the Hall?

By Ted Sares on November 20, 2011
Dariusz Michalczewski in the Hall?
Always in top shape, he had great stamina and maintained superb fight-plan discipline

Michalczewski was the only fighter in the world at 175 pounds who people gave much of a chance to beat a prime Roy Jones Jr…

With a final slate of 48 -2 with 38 KOs, “The Tiger” accomplished much in his career, but will it be enough to get him into the Hall this year? Let’s review his body of work.

Amateur Record

Dariusz Michalczewski first took to the ring at age 12. He came up through Poland’s Government-run sports program and had a very successful career before turning professional in 1991. His record was 133-15-2 with 83 KOs. Among his many amateur honors, he won the:

1986 European Junior Championships: Middleweight         (3rd Place)
1989 European Championships:          Light Heavyweight   (2nd Place)
1990 German Championships:            Light Heavyweight   (1st Place)
1991 European Championships:          Light Heavyweight   (1st Place)

Professional Career

In the professional ranks, he soon demonstrated that he possessed the tools and skills to go all the way. His power was matched by a strong chin. Always in top shape, he had great stamina and maintained superb fight-plan discipline and focus throughout his bouts. While he could have been a tad faster, he was a complete fighter with an overall skill level at the top tier.

In 1992, he beat tough Sean Mannion, 39-12-1, in Hamburg by third round TKO. This was an extremely impressive feat for someone in only his fifth fight and a harbinger of things to come. The tough Mannion had gone 15 with Mike McCallum and had beaten some top level people like Rocky Fratto, In Chul Baek and Fred “The Pumper” Hutchings.

The following year he beat Ali Saidi for the German International Light Heavyweight Title, the first of many belts he would garner. Just three months later, he stopped Noel Magee, 23-4-2 coming in, in the eighth round. This was for the Vacant IBF Inter-Continental Light Heavyweight Title. Later that same year, he won his third belt, the IBF Inter-Continental Light Heavyweight Title, with a 10th round KO of Mwehu Beya, 27-4-4 at the time. 1993 had been a good year for The Tiger.

These victories positioned him for a 1994 fight with rugged Leeonzer Barber, 19-1 (and out of Detroit). This fight would be for the WBO Light Heavyweight Title. Dariusz seized the opportunity and won the crown with a convincing UD. Finally, he was a world champion and he had earned it the hard way.

Three months later, he won the WBO Cruiserweight Title by defeating Nestor Hipolito Giovannini (36-7-3 at the time) by a decisive 10th round knockout. He quickly gave up that title so he could continue to campaign as a light heavyweight.

The Tiger had now won five belts and was undefeated at 24 -0 with 19 KOs. If he had retired at that point, it would have been a noteworthy career, but it was just the beginning of what would be a streak of truly remarkable accomplishments.

After the Giovannini fight, Michalczewski went on to make 23 successful defenses of his WBO title and along the way picked up three more belts! In June 1997, he gained worldwide recognition as a top light heavyweight when he defeated the very capable Virgil Hill in 12 tough rounds. In so doing, he added Hill’s WBA and IBF titles to his cache, but the WBA, in typically despicable behavior, stripped him for displaying its belt along with that of the WBO, an organization it didn’t recognize.

Around this same time, Roy Jones Jr. was collecting his own supply of world title belts, and fans began to make noise for the two to meet one another in the ring, but it never happened. Both preferred fighting in their own respective countries and, based on Roy’s bile-inducing experience during the 1988 Olympics in Korea, few could blame him for avoiding a potential repeat. Still, it remains a shame that a fight in a neutral location could not be made. Both talked the talk but not convincingly. Despite halfhearted calls from both sides of the ocean to make the superfight, neither man was willing to concede, even to reasonable terms.

During the aforementioned streak of 23 title defenses, The Tiger beat tough Graciano “Rocky” Rocchigiani twice, once by TKO. He also stopped Jamaican bomber Richard Hall on two occasions as well as Montel Griffith (a two-time victor over James Toney). His last career win was a hard-earned KO over Derrick Harmon, 23-3, but it may have taken something out of him.

He was then scheduled to fight Julio Cesar Gonzalez, then 34-1, who I witnessed win an incredible closet classic over the late Julian “Mr. KO” Letterlough with both fighters down more than once. Curiously, the tough Mexican’s only loss up to this point had been to Roy Jones in a UD in 2001. That fight had been for the WBC Light Heavyweight Title, WBA Light Heavyweight Title, IBF Light Heavyweight Title, IBO Light Heavyweight Title, WBF Light Heavyweight Title, IBA Light Heavyweight Title and the NBA Light Heavyweight Title. Talk about insanity in Boxing!

The Gonzalez fight was held on Oct. 18, 2003 in Germany (where all but two of The Tiger’s bouts had been held.) Though Michalczewski was a prohibitive favorite, Julio snatched a split decision victory. The American judge ruled it 116-112 and the Canadian 115-113 for Gonzalez. Predictably, the German judge gave it to Michalczewski 115-113. But to the Tiger’s credit, there was no argument from his camp. It was Dariusz’s first defeat in 49 outings. Absorbing The Tiger’s best shots, the Mexican fighter landed his own uppercuts against the 35-year-old Pole. “I listened to my corner and I fought like a Mexican,” Gonzalez said. Clearly, it had been enough to pull off this shocker.

A few months after having been stopped decisively by France’s Fabrice Tiozzo, 46-2, for the WBA light-heavyweight title on in 2005 in Hamburg, Michalczewski announced his retirement. Ironically, he had beaten Tiozzo in the amateurs but this time around, the Frenchman had his way.

Despite the two losses, he still holds the record for the most consecutive successful title defenses at light heavyweight. While he drew criticism for rarely fighting outside Germany, and also for never facing Jones, he was a huge draw in Germany which begs the question: why fight elsewhere if you can make a fortune in the friendly confines of an adopted country in which you have become a legend? After all, the Klitschko brothers have done pretty well following the same model. As for the Jones’ criticism, it takes two to tango.

Going undefeated for the first 12 years of his professional career a, a record 23 consecutive title defenses, winner of seven different title belts, 48 straight victories out of the gate, a final record of 48-2, a 76% knockout percentage, and consistently impressive wins over solid competition are strong credentials. The only weakness may be that the level of opposition could have been stronger.

Still, he also was the only fighter in the world at 175 pounds who people gave much of a chance to beat a prime Roy Jones Jr. That would seem to be enough for serious consideration into a Hall of Fame that’s starts with the word “International.”

I like his chances, but more importantly, what do you think?

As a sidebar, he has a foundation called “Equal Chances” which stands up for underprivileged youngsters who resort to violence and tries to get them involved in sports. Dariusz Michalczewski is one of boxing’s good guys.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

UBPboxing Classics: Dariusz "Tiger" Michalczewski vs. Leeonzer Barber Part 1/3. Rds 1-2

UBPboxing Classics: Dariusz „Tiger" Michalczewski vs.Leeonzer Barber Part 2/3., Rds 3-7

UBPboxing Classics: Dariusz „Tiger Michalczewski vs.Leeonzer Barber Part 3/3., Rds 8-12

Dariusz Michalczewski vs Virgil Hill [1/4]

Dariusz Michalczewski vs Virgil Hill [2/4]

Dariusz Michalczewski vs Virgil Hill [3/4]

Dariusz Michalczewski vs Virgil Hill [4/4]

Fabrice Tiozzo | Dariusz Michalczewski 1/3

Fabrice Tiozzo | Dariusz Michalczewski 2/3

Fabrice Tiozzo | Dariusz Michalczewski 3/3

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  1. seaffochelath 06:27pm, 01/08/2012

    hey, you have posted such a effectful article that it will certainly help me                

  2. Ralph 11:00am, 11/30/2011

    Dariusz has great left straight punch. All opponents were “pole-axed” by it.

  3. TEX HASSLER 05:46pm, 11/21/2011

    I doubt that Dariusz would have beaten Roy Jones but it is regrettable that they did not fight. The fans deserve to see the top guys fight each other. Darius would have established belonging in the Hall of Fame is he had beaten Roy Jones or James Toney. This is not to take any hing away from Dariusz, he just never had that opportunity for some reason. Yes BOB Ken Overlin absoutely should be in the Hall of Fame along with a lot of others.

  4. jofre 03:15pm, 11/21/2011

    The sad part is that with each passing year the voters continue to look at the new moderns and neglect the Ken Overlins, Cocoa Kids, and Tiger Jack Foxes. When the IBHOF voters choose 3 new inductees each they add three new moderns to the exclusion of fighters like the late great featherweight Davey Moore and Tony DeMarco.

  5. raxman 02:19pm, 11/21/2011

    jc & Ted - i dont claim to be in the majority. a lot of people rate jones as an atg 175er - and i get that tarver and johnson beat him at the end - before we knew it was the end though. the thing about all those guys you mentioned - hill, griffin, woods - they’re all good fighters, world class 175pound fighters - they all fall short of being greats - as toney and hopkins were at the lower weight when roy schooled them. i just feel at 175 he got all those titles (and really ibo and wbf? i say wtf?!!) and the roy show with all his titles was more important than fighting the michalzewskis instead mixing very good fighters with no so good like telesco, hall, harmon, kelly - we all know michalzewksi wasnt the only guy jones wouldn’t fight - steve collins and nigel benn both wanted a crack at various stages - and then come what i call the floyd factor because i think we all agree that roy would’ve beaten those guys just as floyd would’ve beaten those he’s criticised for not fighting - but we are left to wonder - thats why my fav’s are cotto and carl froch coz they may not be as great as roy but we’ll never wonder about them. i’ve become the master of going off topic.

  6. JC45 01:52pm, 11/21/2011

    I reckon Dariusz had a style made for Roy watching those vids Ted. He isnt that big a lt heavy , he’s not that fast , he’s not a wildman swarmer type with heavy power . Easy night for a prime Jones in my opinion.

  7. JC45 01:48pm, 11/21/2011

    Rax , I cant agree mate. Montell Griffin was unbeaten and had beaten James Toney when Roy faced him for the vacant WBC light heavyweight title. Jones destroyed Virgil Hill with a one punch body shot, Roy was the first person to beat Reggie Johnson without controversy . Roy toyed with Julio Cesar Gonzales who beat Michalczewski two years later. Roy toyed with Clinton Woods, stopping him in 6 rounds. Eric Harding was a very good fighter, a tall unbeaten southpaw who had easily outpointed Tarver in the fight before he faced Roy. I’d rate Roys opposition at 175 as pretty good. As good as say Bob Foster , not as good as Michael Spinks . No , I wouldnt have the Pole in the hall Ted.  I was looking at his record and its pretty grim for a so called world 175 pound champ. He made a habit of fighting ex Jones opponents after Roy had ruined them. I could name at least 20 fighters who arent there that deserve it ahead of Michelczewski. Cheers mate.

  8. the thresher 01:01pm, 11/21/2011

    Happy Thanksgiving mates. I’m on the road again.

  9. the thresher 11:23am, 11/21/2011

    Ken Overlin, Harry Jeffra, Cocoa Kid, and Tiger Jack Fox. Yes, and I’m betting one or two of them get in this time.

  10. the thresher 11:22am, 11/21/2011

    - tarver and johnson beat him - after he drained himself by coming down in weight after the Ruiz fight. That ruined him forever. But if he fought the Tiger before Ruiz, he would have dazzled and dazed him into quick submission.

  11. raxman 11:17am, 11/21/2011

    i dont know - this reads a bit like calzaghe record without coming out of the home country for the last couple of fights - instead he stayed in and lost. this is the only one of your HOF articles that brought about a feeling of ambivalence for me. i just can’t figure out if i think he deserves it or not - espec given who’s not in. i do think that jones should’ve made that fight i can’t help but be unimpressed by jones’ tenure at 175 - i know to say this is sacrilege for most but I dont know why jones doesn’t get more criticism for the talent pool he faced at 175 - i mean glen kelly for gods sake? back here he was ducking paul briggs! at the end of the day the best roy faced at 175 - tarver and johnson beat him - so perhaps the tiger may’ve too - i know one thing for sure if he had fought and beat jones at that time, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  12. pugknows 10:09am, 11/21/2011

    He gets my vote based on your write-up

  13. the thresher 09:50am, 11/21/2011

    Din, it takes two to tango and it takes two to tangle. I don’t know the answer.

  14. Bob 09:28am, 11/21/2011

    There are plenty of older fighters such as Ken Overlin, Harry Jeffra, Cocoa Kid, and Tiger Jack Fox who should be in the HOF, but are not. There are also plenty of names on the ballot each year of questionable candidates. Eternal arguments could be made comparing the old days to the new, but that should not diminish Michalczewski’s accomplishments.  He should not be criticized for not fighting outside of Germany, that’s where he made the most money. Michalczewski was a dedicated fighter who had an exemplary career and always seemed as if he wanted to square things with Roy Jones. While a lot of people will disagree with my assessment, I believe he is is most worthy of HOF induction and hope to see him there in 2012.

  15. Don From Prov 09:17am, 11/21/2011

    Who really didn’t want the fight?????????????
    Though these things are pretty much subjective, who do you feel had more to do with Jones/Michalczewski not taking place.  Sorry, I know this isn’t your question, but it is mine (smile face and all that nice shit).

  16. boxingjones 09:03am, 11/21/2011

    He should be in, but there are 20 other boxers who have been overlooked.

  17. mikecasey 08:22am, 11/21/2011

    Ooh, Ted, this is a teaser! The Polish Tiger was a very hard man and very tough to beat - he only lost at the tail end of his career. But pushed for an answer, I would have to say that his low-grade opposition rules him out. Jofre’s comments here are very pertinent. No way does Dariusz rate with the great Overlin, Cocoa or Tiger Jack.

  18. jofre 07:49am, 11/21/2011

    He should not get the nod over the likes of Ken Overlin, Cocoa Kid or Tiger Jack Fox.

  19. dollarbond 06:30am, 11/21/2011

    He should be inducted forthwith!

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