Saunders has reams of talent but the boxer simply lacks the mental discipline to be an all-time great. A two-weight champion, his boxing nous is definitely there. However, the UK fighter also courts controversy and drama like few other athletes. He went 30-0 before running into Canelo Alvarez, but this record is misleading. None of his previous opponents were of the same caliber as the Mexican fighter.
The former WBO Super-Middleweight champion squandered the love of the public because of his vile personal antics. The British Boxing Board of Control suspended his license after he used a punching bag to demonstrate how to beat a woman. Meanwhile, he also targeted boxing legend, Barry McGuigan, by mocking his deceased daughter. Saunders tested positive for oxilofrine in 2018 and lost his middleweight belt.
Brazil has an outstanding tradition of producing world-class elite strikers. The likes of Pele and Ronaldo instantly jump to mind but there has been a dearth of quality in recent years. Everybody thought that Adriano was the man to replace Ronaldo in the mid-2000s because he was a monster for Inter Milan. Unfortunately, he squandered his talents by his penchant for Italian nightlife.
Like his compatriot Luis Fabinho, Adriano suffered injuries. Meanwhile, he ballooned in weight because of his hard-partying lifestyle and indiscipline off the field. As a result, he never rose to the same level as Ronaldo, even though he had the physical gifts required. Talent simply isn’t enough for elite athletes to succeed in the long term because hard work and dedication are also essential.
On paper, Davis has a good resume. But that disguises the fact that arguably he squandered his full potential. He was a two-time All-Star and led the league in steals twice. However, a lack of consistency robbed him of legendary status. It was there waiting for him to seize it, but he couldn’t do it. Furthermore, Davis had weight issues at various points of his career and this affected his on-court performances.
Meanwhile, Davis’s injuries began to add up as his career progressed. It’s unfair to label this as the reason he wasted his talents because that was out of his control. Despite this, he could have controlled his weight but failed to do so on certain occasions. His influence was evident for the New Orleans Hornets because they made the playoffs in each of the five seasons he played in for the franchise.
It’s fair to say that the last few years have not been kind to Bell. The running back was one of the most scintillating athletes in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steeler. He became a three-time Pro Bowler while playing for the franchise. However, things came to a head when he rejected the franchise tag and squandered a year of his career by sitting out. Then, it got worse with a move to the Jets.
The team and coach Adam Gase were an absolute mess and had no idea how to use him effectively. In those circumstances, it was very difficult for him to recapture his previous form. Finally, the Jets released him from this painful saga and he joined the Kansas City Chiefs. But it was still difficult for Bell to establish himself as a starter and when they lost the Super Bowl to Tampa Bay, it summed up his career.
Sadly, talent isn’t everything in sport. If it was, then Morrison would be one of the greatest players in soccer history. But he’s on this list because he squandered his talent in the most dramatic manner possible. After refusing to wait his chance at Man Utd, he left for West Ham. However, it didn’t work out. Off-the-field issues and indiscipline cost him terribly and sent him on a nomadic path to Italy and Mexico.
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson explained where it all went wrong to team captain Rio Ferdinand. “The boy had a good heart,” he said. “He was just beaten by his background.” Unfortunately, in the cases of many elite athletes, this is the situation. They possess all of the physical attributes but there are too many distractions off the field.
Bynum is another example of an elite athlete who put his extracurricular activities above his chances at greatness. In 2010, he rocked the Lakers organization by announcing he required knee surgery just hours before the new season. Meanwhile, he jaunted around Europe and attended the FIFA World Cup in South Africa before the start of the season despite the advice of doctors.
There is no doubt that Bynum was very talented because he was a part of two championship-winning Lakers’ teams. Furthermore, he played in a single All-Star game. However, his contribution to L.A’s growth and progression as a franchise wasn’t what it could have been. Also, if he hadn’t squandered his career he would have played in many more showpiece games.
When the Tennessee Titans used their first draft pick of 2020 to select Wilson, it looked like a good move. Nobody expected the offensive tackle to become one of the worst draft busts of all time. He was a marauding presence for Georgia but never delivered for Tenessee. But that’s exactly what happened as he squandered his chance of greatness in the NFL. Police arrested him before the start of his rookie season on DUI charges.
This didn’t endear him to the Titans but things became even worse for Wilson. A mixture of injuries, illness, and indiscipline meant that he featured in just one game all season. Finally, he left Nashville for the Miami Dolphins after the Titans cut their losses. But he lasted for less than two weeks in Miami after deciding that professional football wasn’t for him. The 29th overall pick decided to become a rapper instead.
Italian soccer star Balotelli is one of the most volatile personalities in the history of the sport. There is no malice in the striker but he definitely squandered his career. He broke onto the scene with Inter Milan before moving to Manchester City. Since then, it’s been all downhill because he lacks the consistency and motivation to be one of the best in the world. He had massive potential but never lived up to it.
“I could write a book of 200 pages of my two years at Inter with Mario, but the book would not be a drama – it would be a comedy,” former coach Jose Mourinho described of his time with Balotelli. Balotelli once called the fire brigade after setting fireworks off in his own home. Another time, he crashed his Lamborghini into a women’s prison. Meanwhile, his love for partying affected his on-field performances.
In 1999, Odom was the fourth overall pick in the NBA Draft, a testament to his potential and ability. But it’s fair to say that he never reached the lofty heights that he was capable of. Sadly, Odom became more famous for his wretched relationship with Khloe Kardashian and his personal problems. These included substance abuse and a fondness for visiting prostitutes.
In fact, Odom almost died after entering a coma while in a Nevada brothel. Kardashian attempted to divorce him before this but waited until he was fully rehabilitated before pursuing the split. Odom spent a substantial period with the LA Lakers and played a significant role in back-to-back championship wins. But he never reached the level of a Bryant, LeBron, or Steph Curry because he squandered his talent.
Woods should alone as the greatest golfer of all time, but his own vices held him back. This is a shame because his record remains stunning and is up there alongside Jack Nicklaus’s as the very best in the sport. Only Nicklaus won more Majors than Woods who has 15 to his name. Meanwhile, in 2021, Woods was tied with Sam Snead for the most PGA Tour event wins with 82.
But he should have been out in front of the back and would have been if he hadn’t squandered his career. Woods endured an awful sex addiction that culminated at the end of his marriage and his downward spiral. He went 11 years without winning a Major before finally claiming the Open in 2019. However, it’s fair to say that he could have won many more during that time period if his life remained stable.
McGregor’s inclusion on this list may appear bizarre because of his achievements. As a former two-weight UFC champion, the Irishman became the biggest name in combat sports. Meanwhile, he made a sensational amount of money after a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. However, ‘The Notorious’ squandered his talent over the next couple of years as he allowed fame and money to go to his head.
The Dubliner has endured many high-profile legal problems over the past number of years. Furthermore, his love of partying and the high-life has affected his motivation. While McGregor’s influence on MMA is undeniable, his legacy will not be what it could have been. There is time for the former champion to reclaim his place at the top of the heap but fans will never consider him the best.