Before you jump to conclusion (if you haven’t already), I’ll say right away that I don’t like Dariusz “The Tiger” Michalczewski as much as Andrew Golota or Tomasz Adamek, and so this isn’t an affectionate fanpost (believe it or not). Why don’t I admire “The Tiger” as much as “Powerful Pole” and “Góral?” The answer is simple: Michalczewski didn’t fight for Poland throughout most of his career, instead he fought for Germany – Poland’s biggest archrival. I’m not being ethnocentric, I just believe in picking only ONE side and staying loyal. And that’s something Michalczewski had trouble doing, as he fought as a Pole in the amateurs but as a German in the pros (until converting back for the final two and a half years of his career). Lennox Lewis had the same trouble, is he Jamaican, Canadian, or British? However, there was never any doubt whether Julio César Chávez was Mexican, Félix Trinidad Puerto Rican, or Roberto Durán Panamanian. These boxers were true loyalists, and fought as native sons of their respective country, the way it should be done. For the record, Michalczewski was born in Poland, and that’s where he grew up and learned how to box. So he just should have stayed in there, man. Oppositionists will say, however, that Universum-Box Promotion had better pay and prospective, so you can’t blame him for crossing the German border. And I’ll say – alright, fine – but if he had already fought as a German for 46 fights, why did he change sides for a mere few fights before retiring (this only confused people, they weren’t sure if he was German or Polish)?
Despite all of this, however, I rooted for “The Tiger” during the last four fights of his career when he carried Polish colors into the ring. Michalczewski retired as a Pole, on June 1, 2005, and thus I still support him. Last month it was announced that Dariusz is one of the newcomers on the International Boxing Hall of Fame ballot, along with Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns. Will Dariusz get in as a first-timer just as the legendary Julio César Chávez did last year? I don’t know, and that’s why I’m interested in your truthful opinions – not just about whether Michalczewski will enter the Hall this year – but whether he will at all.
Overall, does Dariusz Michalczewski deserve a Hall nod? I’d say – in all fairness – yes, because of his excellent 48-2, 38 (KOs) record, marked by 23 successful world title defenses at light heavyweight, the most ever for any pugilist in that weight division. Also, Michalczewski received the “Best WBO world champion of all times” award by the World Boxing Organization committee. Plus – Michalczewski is one of a very small number of world champion boxers who had the chance of tying Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 professional record, sharing that honor most notably with Larry Holmes. Lastly, Michalczewski fought those two unforgettable battles with Graciano Rocchigiani.
Since I believe in picking only ONE side and staying loyal – and since Michalczewski retired while fighting for Poland – I am just ecstatic that he may become the first Polish boxer to be enshrined into either the International Boxing Hall of Fame or World Boxing Hall of Fame. The IBHOF in Canastota is announcing its 2012 inductees in early December.
What do you think? Will Michalczewski ever be a Hall of Famer?