One of the biggest criticisms that some fighters get is that they've never fought any or enough 'named fighters'. Some of my favourite fighters have been brandished with this criticism, a prime example being Roy Jones Jr or Joe Calzaghe. Now i'm not going to defend some fighter's choice of opponents, because like everyone i'd rather see the best fight the best, rather than some mandatory challenger.
The point of this post is to try to a certain extent dispel the the 'named fighter' myth in boxing. To do this i'm going to use the career of Roy Jones, because he got a lot a flack about it and also i feel he offers a good example for what i'm going to demonstrate.
Bernard Hopkins- Roy beat Hopkins by a comfortable UD in 1993 to claim his first world title, the fight wasn't to impressive to be honest, but it was clear that Roy was the much better fighter and he won the fight pretty easy. My point here is he beat Hopkins, someone we now know to be one of the best middleweights of all time, in a similar manner to way he dismantled most of his mandatory opponents.
James Toney- Going in to their 1994 super-middle weight clash jones was ranked 5 places below James Toney in the P4P rankings (Toney 2nd, Jones, 7th). None the less Jones schooled Toney, so easily that if someone had told me before the fight that Toney was a bum i would of believed them after what i witnessed.
Eric Lucas- On the day of this fight Roy played a semi pro basketball game, then stopped Lucas in round 11, Lucas at the time was ranked 12th in the World and was a no hoper with Roy. However he went on to win a supermiddle weight title in 2001, which he lost in controversial circumstances. Now i know that Lucas improved in order to win a world title, but no amount of improvement was going to help him beat Roy to be honest, so it raises the question was Lucas a bum, or just a fighter of world quality that was made to look bad by Roy? The same goes for Julio Cesar Gonzalez and Clinton Woods.
Reggie Johnson- Fought a light heavy unification match with Roy in 1999, was a former middle weight champ and reigning IBF light heavy champ (A paper title to be fair). Roy shut out Johnson, a man billed as Roy's touhest opponent in years, and knocked him down twice. Another example of a legitimate fighter being beat just as easy as some of the 'bums' Roy fought.
My final example is the Light Heavy division as a whole, from 1997 to 2003 Roy pretty much ruled the division with no real challenge to his crown (Dariusz Michalczewski being the only other with a claim to the Light Heavyweight crown). However after Roy's decline and losses, the division became a lot more competitive place, with fighters like Tarver and Johnson taking over Roy's crown, but not being able to defend it an as consistent or dominant manor, leading to the division to become open to guys like Hopkins, Pascal, Dawson, Woods etc.
I'd like to hear your opinions on the matter, this was just a thought I had, you may disagree. Also remember i'm not trying to justify opponents for Roy i just used him as an example because i knew his career better than i know others.