By Tom Humber @Thomas_Humber
‘’I’m the best ever. I’m the most brutal and vicious, and most ruthless champion there’s ever been. There’s no one can stop me. Lennox is a conqueror? No, I’m Alexander, he’s no Alexander. I’m the best ever. There’s never been anybody as ruthless. I’m Sonny Liston,I’m Jack Dempsey. There’s no one like me. I’m cut from their cloth. There’s no one that can match me. My style is impetuous, my defence is impregnable, and I’m just ferocious!’’
Mike Tyson, oozing confidence and savagery after knocking out Lou Savarese in June 2000. Having transcended the Heavyweight division for over a decade by this point, the former world champion emitted an aura of invincibility which reflected in his words and actions. His famous post fight interview went down in sporting history as one of the most powerful and chilling sporting monologues ever seen. Confidence personified.
Boxing without confidence is like trying practicing archery blindfolded. The intent and purpose is there, but without that one defining factor, the end product ends up lacking direction and often comes up short compared to expectation. Confidence not only builds a boxer, it epitomises them. It shapes and moulds a fighter, pushing them to perform above and beyond their own heightened expectations.
But what happens when it goes wrong? There runs a razor thin line in boxing. A line which separates the too much from the too little. What defines over-confidence? When does the comedic value of ringmanship teeter into uncontrolled chaos?
Boxing is a cruel mistress and will punish anyone who does not treat the ancient past time with the respect in deserves. Even the most casual boxing fan, who has ever delved into the hours of ‘Boxing Fail’ YouTube videos, will be familiar with the Uzzy Ahmed and the almost comical confusion between self-belief and borderline unfounded arrogance. The video clip of a young fighter dancing, jiving and two stepping his way to the ring in tongue-in-cheek fashion, only to be brutally knocked unconscious shortly after the first bell. These images will have been shown in amateur gyms across the country as a warning to young, impressionable fighters that boxing is not something ‘to be played’.
The term ‘over confident’ has so far been discussed with negative connotations; and for the most-part of researching and planning this piece, I regarded it in purely the same way. I struggled and racked my brain searching for an example or a situation where over-confidence pays dividends for a fighter. In the eleventh hour, it came to me. ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor.
Brash. Outspoken. Unforgettable. Whatever your opinion of the UFC phenomenon, it cannot be denied the impact and chatter generated by McGregor’s highly publicised ‘switch’ to boxing. Whether you like it or not, May-Mac went down as one of the most followed storylines of the year. McGregor’s purse for his part in ‘The Money Fight’ was rumoured to be over $100 million, a sum that 99% of all boxers would only dream. So what made it all happen? Was it for a title? No. Was it the public intrigue of a 50/50? Definitely not. It was the over-confidence of both Mayweather and McGregor alike that attracted the masses.
Some value boxing for the integrity. Some value it for the thrill. But all will find some respect and time for the confidence that moulds the sport into the unmistakable beacon of light that it is today. It remains to be seen if over confidence has a place in the modern day business of boxing; but the attention and revelry that provides accompaniment shines as one of the defining facto’s of the modern day swagger that is boxing.