My favorite sport besides football and hoops, no question, is boxing. The current state of boxing, corrupt and stupid, makes being a fight fan a difficult task, but a handful of times a year there is a great matchup that reveals how great the sport truly is. Recently I was thinking over my long held belief that Allen Iverson could have played pro football at any of the following positions; running back, qb, fullback, wideout, corner, safety, or special teams ace (I'm not kidding, I think he could have, especially corner, he'd have put deion to shame).
This got me thinking that Iverson could have been a great boxer, and when I say great, I mean sugar Ray Robinson great. Here's why-
ONE: He's the perfect dimensions for it. Unlike nearly every player in the NBA, he's 5-11, perfect height for a fighter.
TWO:He's rangy and has excellent reach.
THREE: Strength, Unlike a guy like say, Marbury or Baron Davis, he's naturally thin. He has flexible, tensile strength, which is the kind a boxer needs.
FOUR: Weight, Iverson is listed at 165, that's amazing! He's only five pounds away from the middle weight limit. I think Iverson would of started his career at Lightweight, 140 pounds. His first title would have come here, but he would have really struggled to make weight. While he was at 140 nobody would touch him, he'd be too tall and quick, an all time great. He'd then move up to junior welter at 147, welter at 154, and finally end up as a middle at 160. Junior welter would be his best weight, he'd be beating up on guys like de la hoya and mosley. it would be great.
FIVE: Speed, This is the key, this is why he would be fantastic. Speed, both foot and hand, (by hand I mean both the speed of the punches and the ability to let them go in flurries.) is in my opinion the most important factor in fighting. You can have all the skills in the world, but you have to be able to find your opponent, and nobody would be able to touch Iverson. I'm telling you, he would dance and move. He would be like a faster version of Roy Jones Junior. He's just way too athletic for the rest of these guys. The great athletes these days don't go into boxing, Iverson would outclass them all athletically, particularly with his foot speed.
SIX: Toughness - Perhaps the second most important factor in being a great fighter. Iverson has proven himself to be capable of absorbing incredible amounts of damage and continuing to perform. He would not be a guy to quit on his stool or give up after a few tough shots or a broken nose or hand. He's also not a guy who'd back away from a dirty fighter.
SEVEN: STAMINA - An often overlooked component in fighters, again Iverson's athleticism puts him over the top. The guy refuses to leave the game, plays all out the whole time he's on the court. He would be a great 10-12th round finisher.
ONE: Chin - This is really a question. Nobody doubts Iverson's toughness, or that he would get up off the canvas as many times as you put him down, but a chin isn't about toughness, it's a natural trait, some have it, some don't. Tommy Hitman Hearns was an all-time great, a tough sob, but he just didn't have a great chin. Wasn't about toughness, just didn't have it.
TWO: Practice- Fighting is all about roadwork, motivation, sparring, working out. You have to be incredibly disciplined. This is what really ruined Tyson, he was unwilling or unable to put in the work. Iverson is a gamer, as we all know he's not one for practice. I could see him having really great sparring sessions, but I don't know if he'd be willing to put the time in. Boxing is different than bball in that it's three months of work for an hour of performance. Could he do it? It's by far the biggest question mark on Iverson the Boxing Champion.
THREE: Power - Again a doubt, and really not that big of a negative anyway. I don't think Iverson would have great one punch knockout power. However I think he'd be a terrific volume puncher, just beat his opponents down and finish them with sheer stamina and numbers.
FOUR: Discipline- This goes along with practice. Would he learn technique, or be like Roy Jones and just use his natural ability? If he really became a student of the sweet science, a boxer, he would without a doubt go right up there with Ray Robinson. The fear I have is that Iverson would have no back down in him. He would just keep coming. Even if he was up huge on the cards late in a fight he'd keep coming, wouldn't keep his distance. I fear he'd lose a fight or two by brawling when he should box.
So there you go. That's why Iverson would have been an even better boxer than baller. Here is an additional list comparing ballers to boxers.
Roy Jones Junior- Gary Payton The obvious comparison is to Iverson, but Roy never had the heart Iverson did, and his recent slide makes this combo unpallatable. I think Payton works because they were both loudmouths, great in there prime on the defensive end. Everyone now discounts their resume because they're semi washed up, but they were all time greats, hall of famers, just not quite tier one historically great.
Bernard "Executioner" Hopkins- Abdul-Jabbar Neither was very popular and had unfriendly personas, but over the years their greatness added up, and we realized they were the best of their generations. Hopkins has the most title defences, Kareem, most points.
Oscar de la Hoya- T-Mac This one's pretty perfect. Both have beautiful games and play the top competition, but neither has ever gotten over the hump and beaten a truly great fighter.
Kostya Tzyu - Tim Duncan Underrated champions.
Manny Pacqio - Allen Iverson My favorite boxer and baller. Both love the game and show it. both are tough and willing to fight anyone. both are explosive and capable of either knocking or being knocked out.
Mike Tyson - Kobe Bryant Sorry, I just couldn't help it.
(Actually, in all seriousness I'll say Shawn Kemp. Unbelievable primes, could put the fear of God in opponents, then emotional problems and dramatic falls.)