ESBC's line-up is already primed to be the greatest in boxing videogame history, but there are still plenty of names that fans would love to see added
Boxing fans have had one hell of a long wait to get their hands on a new boxing game, but with ESBC priming itself for a release later this year, fans finally have something to look forward to.
One of the biggest surprises from the project has been their hugely impressive roster - with legends such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Roy Jones Jr., Joe Frazier, Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Julio Cesar Chavez, Sugar Ray Leonard, and many more joining contemporary talent like Vasyl Lomachenko, Terence Crawford, Oleksandr Usyk, Josh Taylor, and Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez, ESBC has already got the most impressive roster in virtual boxing history and the team at Steel City Interactive promise more big names will be announced over the coming months.
Just this week we saw ESBC's cover athlete unveiled with Canelo Alvarez's reveal, adding the current biggest name in boxing to the game's fantastic list of playable boxers.
You can check out a full preview of the game, why ESBC is so highly anticipated, and the full roster of announced fighters here.
With the promise of more boxers being added to the growing line-up in the game, boxing fans have been coming up with their own wish lists of names they'd like to play as in ESBC.
There are certainly some obvious ones being brought up, like Mike Tyson and George Foreman, but in a sport with as rich a history as boxing, ESBC has hundreds of strong candidates to choose from.
As such, I've put together a wish list of sorts for fighters I'd like to see added at some point to ESBC - whether they're added to the base roster available at launch, in future updates, or as paid DLC.
This list comprises fighters from all sorts of eras and weight classes, from fan favourites in the sport to all time greats to stylistic oddities even hardcore fans may not have heard of. With ESBC also including a few kickboxers like Cedric Doumbe and Badr Hari, along with an MMA legend in Cris Cyborg, there are plenty of potential crossover inclusions, but for today this list is limited strictly to actual boxers.
Note: the boxers on this list are sorted alphabetically and not in order of importance/preference.
Henry Armstrong (151-22-10, 101 KOs)
Featherweight - Middleweight, 1931 - 1945
"Homicide Hank" is still regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time and was the first fighter to ever hold world titles in three different weight classes (featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight) simultaneously.
Standing at just 5'5, Armstrong earned his brilliant nicknames "Hurricane Henry" and "Homicide Hank" thanks to his aggressive fighting style and remarkable power for a fighter in the lower weight classes. He was exceptionally durable as well, partaking in 183 fights yet being finished just twice in his entire career, with one of those losses coming in his very first pro fight.
After racking up a record of 74-12-7 and multiple regional titles with victories over the likes of Benny Bass and Chalky Wright, Armstrong would capture his first world title at featherweight in 1937 with a sixth round knockout of Petey Sarron; within a year he picked up decisions over Barney Ross (another three-weight champ) and Lou Ambers to capture the world welterweight and lightweight titles respectively.
Armstrong then vacated his featherweight crown in order to focus primarily on defending his welterweight belt, which he did an astonishing 18 times over the next two years; he also attempted to become the first man to earn titles in four weight classes with a move up to middleweight, but his title fight with Ceferino Garcia (who he had previously bested at welterweight) ended in a draw despite most pundits arguing Armstrong deserved the decision.
His title reign ended in 1940 with a close loss to Fritzie Zivic, who in a rematch became the second and last man to ever knock out Armstrong. Henry continued fighting for the next five years, picking up wins over former champions such as Lew Jenkins and Sammy Angott during that time. While he didn't fight for a world title again, he did avenge his losses to Fritzie Zivic with a 15-round decision victory in 1942 and unlike most fighters, he retired just once in 1945 and led a rather quiet and healthy life until his death at 75 years old.
Emmanuel Augustus (38-34-6, 20 KOs)
Light welterweight, 1994 - 2011
Now you may be thinking, how does a journeyman with a record barely over 0.500 make it on this list? If you are just going off of records and accomplishments in your list of fighters that deserve to be added to the game, then you'd be correct.
What he does have however, is an incredibly unique style that made him a tough test for the many prospects and elite fighters he faced throughout his career.
Nicknamed "The Drunken Master", Augustus sported an absolutely bizarre fighting style focused entirely on confusing and frustrating his opponents. His fights consisted of him dancing around and eschewing all semblance of "proper" boxing form that befittingly can be best described as the movement of a heavily intoxicated individual rather than that of a professional fighter, yet somehow he managed to beat some quality fighters and give top prospects all they could handle throughout his career.
Such an insane fighting style (that displayed a lot more skill than many would credit him with; in fact Floyd Mayweather has repeatedly stated Augustus was one of the toughest opponents he ever faced) would absolutely make a great addition to any fighting game and has earned Augustus a spot on this list.
Max Baer (68-13, 51 KOs)
Heavyweight, 1929 - 1941
The one-time heavyweight champion of the world was known as a ferocious puncher and quite literally a "killer" in the ring; a brutal bout in 1930 with Frankie Campbell that ended in a fifth round knockout for Baer resulted in Campbell's death and a (later dropped) manslaughter charge being brought against Baer. A brain specialist at the time made headlines by stating that "Campbell's brain was knocked completely loose from his skull" as a result of the beating he took at the hands of Baer.
Despite the public viewing him as a cold blooded killer in the ring (which promoters were more than happy to run with), Baer nearly quit boxing following Campbell's death and lost four of his next six bouts after the incident, giving purses from many of his subsequent bouts to Campbell's family.
After getting his career back on track and putting together a winning streak, Baer (who was half-Jewish) took on Hitler's favourite boxer and recent world champion Max Schmeling in a highly politicized bout in 1933. With the Nazis having recently taken power in Germany and their openly anti-semetic views already known around the world, Baer garnered plenty of support from the American public even though he was a heavy underdog against the former (and most believed was the current given his controversial decision loss) heavyweight champion.
In a stunning upset, Baer battered Schmeling from pillar to post and finished the German in the tenth round while sporting the Star of David on his trunks, instantly turning Baer into a star and a hero amongst the Jewish community.
Baer went on to absolutely demolish massive Italian Primo Carnera to capture heavyweight gold, knocking the champion down seven times in the eleven rounds Carnera lasted.
Unfortunately for Baer, his title reign would be short lived as he lost his first title defense to a resurgent James Braddock in their sensational "fight of the year" in 1935. His next fight, against a young Joe Louis, would end his time at the top of the division after he suffered a fourth round knockout to the all-time great.
Regardless, Baer continued to have a successful career against lesser competition after his championship run before retiring in 1941. The former champ turned to acting as well as a brief stint as a referee in his retirement, before his untimely death at just 50 years old from a heart attack.
Wilfred Benitez (53-8-1, 31 KOs)
Light welterweight - Light middleweight, 1973 - 1990
The youngest champion in boxing history, Wilfred Benitez won his first world title at just 17 years old and defended it multiple times, racking up an incredible 38-0-1 record with his pro career beginning when he was just 15 before suffering his first career defeat at the hands of Sugar Ray Leonard at 21 years of age.
Having already been an established champion with multiple titles at such a young age and sporting wins over the likes of Antonio Cervantes, Bruce Curry and Carlos Palomino, Benitez moved up to super middleweight after his fight with Leonard and immediately made a splash, capturing the WBC title at his new home and defending it twice against Carlos Santos and the great Roberto Duran.
Benitez dropped the title in 1982 in an extremely close decision to Tommy Hearns in a back and forth war that would unfortunately mark the end of Benitez's time at the elite level.
Unsurprisingly, after being thrust into the deep end at such a young age and having, Benitez peaked early and sharply declined following his memorable scrap with Hearns. After going an incredible 44-2-1 with his losses coming by decision to Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns, Benitez lost two of his next four which included a knockout loss at the hands of Davey Moore. He would go just 9-6 post-Hearns fighting against increasinly lesser competition before eventually retiring in 1990 at just 32 years old, the man who stepped into the ring over the past seven years a shadow of his former self.
Tragically, Benitez suffered from a degenerative brain condition caused by the trauma he subjected his body to in the ring and even competed for several years after symptoms of his condition became apparent. Far from the first boxer to experience such issues, Benitez is yet another warning to younger generations of boxers about the importance of recognizing brain trauma.
James Braddock (52-27-7, 27 KOs)
Middleweight - Heavyweight, 1926 - 1938
Now known as the "Cindarella Man", the story of James J. Braddock stands out as one of the most inspiring comeback and underdog stories from a sport absolutely filled with them.
Beginning his pugilistic career in 1926, Braddock made a name for himself as a counter puncher with a big right hand and a granite chin. The hard-nosed "Pride of New Jersey" worked his way up to a title shot in 1929, which he lost in a hard fought decision to Tommy Loughran. Braddock badly broke his prized right hand in his attempt at winning the title, an injury that would plague his career for years.
As the Great Depression began to cripple North America, Braddock was forced to continue fighting without letting his hand properly heal in order to feed his family, absolutely tanking his reputation as an elite boxer in the process.
As the losses mounted and he struggled to survive both in and out of the ring, Braddock tried to find work at the docks as a longshoreman while he continued fighting. Braddock was eventually forced to briefly step away from boxing entirely in 1933 after again severely breaking his right hand and in a blow to his pride, to accept government welfare to ensure his starving family survived.
After begging for a fight for months in 1934, Braddock was given a highly touted prospect by the name of Corn Griffin who was expected to use Braddock as a mere stepping stone - in a shocking upset however, Braddock knocked out Griffin in the third round. As a result of his work as a longshoreman where he was forced to compensate for his frequently injured right hand, he had also developed a strong left hook to round out his previously one-note offense.
The resurgent Braddock then beat John Henry Lewis, the future light heavyweight champion, on points, and proceeded to defeat another highly touted contender in Art Lasky. As a result of his career turnaround, Braddock paid back the welfare he had received in full and continued to donate extensively to charity for the rest of his life.
Still seen as simply an overachieving journeyman, Braddock was granted a title shot opposite Max Baer, a thunderous puncher that was coming off of an absolute trouncing of the giant Primo Carnera; Baer was a 10-to-1 betting favourite, yet Braddock took Baer's best shots early and kept on coming, taking it to Baer in 1935's fight of the year and earning himself the heavyweight championship of the world in the process.
A happy Braddock wouldn't return to the ring for another two years, opting not to give German Max Schmeling a deserved shot at the title given the political ramifications at the time, but in 1937 he finally returned and lost his title by knockout (the first and only knockout loss in his career) at the hands of the great Joe Louis; he did reportedly receive $250,000 however (equivalent to over $4.5 million today) and ended his career in 1938 after another lucrative payday (and a win to boot) over Tommy Farr.
Joe Calzaghe (46-0, 32 KOs)
Super middleweight - Light heavyweight, 1993 - 2008
Widely regarded as the greatest super middleweight of all time, Joe Calzaghe is one of the rare breed of boxers to retire as an undefeated world champion and he did so after having held and defended the WBO world title a record (for the weight class) twenty times over the course of ten years.
Calzaghe was the first boxer to unify three of the four major titles at super middleweight and at the end of his long reign in his natural weight class, he then moved up and captured the Ring light heavyweight title with a victory over Bernard Hopkins and defended it once against Roy Jones Jr. to become the longest continual champion in boxing history at the time (since his title reigns in the two weight classes overlapped).
A slick technician that not only had the skill and ability to reign for so long as a champion, but also was savvy enough to retire before those abilities began to fade (a very rare trait in combat sports), the "Pride of Wales" has a superb resume that certainly speaks for itself. He holds wins over the likes of Chri