By Bobby Mac
OK, for a bit of fun with the usual suspects decrying the Vitali Klitschko title defense against Albert The Dragon Sosnowski. The complainant is usually moaning about the golden days when there was only one champ fighting the toughest contenders, blah, blah, blah.
But, just how valid is that complaint? Let’s take a look at the heavyweight champs who put together a nice, long title run and find out which challengers were the weakest and run them head to head against Sosnowski for the WBC, Weak Boxing Council Heavyweight Title.
Jim Jeffries: Jack Finnegan, The Pittsburg Stogie, 180 lbs with a record of 1-2-2, 1 KO with 2 losses by KO.
Result: Not hard to envision the 6-2, 225 lb Dragon knocking out The Pittsburg Stogie sooner rather than later.
Jack Johnson: Tony Ross, 5-9, 215lbs with a record of 11-6-2, 11 KO with 4 losses by KO combined with 2 DQs. The “Italian Bearcat” 1-3-2 going into the bout.
Result: I’d imagine this would be a fairly easy Sosnowski KO. Ross had a win over fringe contender Mike Schreck and a win over Lightheavy HOFer George Gardener in his last bout on a losing streak, not enough to beat a prime Sosnowski in the shape of his life.
Jack Dempsey: Jimmy Darcy, 40-32-33. A ton of fights against the era’s HOFers, Fighting Jimmy was briefly a top era middleweight with knockdowns of ironmen Harry Greb and Tommy Loughran. He was a Dempsey sparring partner going into this 4 rd exhibition. It was only technically considered a title fight by a ruling by the New York State Athletic Commission.
Result: Fighting Jimmy is actually a threat over 4 rounds that he was a specialist in. His best wins are against era title challenger Fireman Flynn, but I seriously doubt he has a prayer over any true champsionship distance against big Albert.
Joe Louis: Cynics of course christened a period of Louis defenses “Bum of the Month Club,” but those fighters actually had Ring rankings. While Louis was in the Army in 1942, he boxed an 4 rd exhibition in New York against one Johnny Davis, 190 lbs, 3-3-0, and, yepper, you guessed it, those loony New York State Athletic Commishes ruled that it was a title fight.
Result: Johnny lasted 53 seconds against Louis and went on long losing knockout streaks after this bout, going 2-15. Maybe Johnny lasts longer, but how much longer is a moot point. He was a knockout waiting to happen, so another Sosnowski walkover, making him 4-0, 4 KO on my card, so, moving on….
Ezzard Charles: Charles had a nice 9 win title streak going that typically passes under the boxing radar. Freddie Beshore was 5-9, 185 lbs, 28-8-1 with 2 losses by KO going into his title challenge against Charles, 3-3 in his last 6 bouts.
Result: Beshore’s best win was over HOFer Tiger Jack Fox at the end of his career, but, otherwise lost to era contenders. Sorry, but I just can’t see a 5-9 fighter of his talent level giving Big Albert much bother. Beshore lasted 14 against 185lb Charles, so maybe he could go a 12rd distance, but, regardless of Sosnowski’s few failings, he’s much more consistent and would be a lopsided favorite.
Floyd Patterson: Well, Floyd is a rare combination of underrated and overrated champion noted for avoiding his era’s strongest challenges. His weakest opponent hands down is Pete Rademacher, a full sized heavyweight at 6-1, 200 lbs, but only 0-0-0, 0 KO. Yup, that’s no typo. Pete was the Olympic heavyweight gold medalist given a title fight on his debut.
Result: Pete put up a decent scrap, flooring Patterson in the 2nd round and was within a few seconds of making it into the 7th round, but unfortunately was knocked down 6x. Sorry to say, this has to be another walkover for Albert. Figure he’s up 6-0, 5 KO for the WBC title.
Muhammed Ali: Ali had two solid runs and has several weak champs he defended against, but one name stands out, Jean Pierre Coopman, The Lion of Flanders, a solid 6-0, 205, 24-3-0, a pretty decent record, right?
Result: Jean Pierre had never fought out of Belgium, never fought much less beat even a fringe contender, and his career took a distinct southward turn after his 5th round KO by Ali. Yes sir, another walkover for big Albert.
Joe Frazier: Smokin’ was the heavyweight of the 60s for me when you look at who he fought, but when he won the title he found a couple of soft defenses against Manuel Ramos and David Zyglewicz. Ramos had the patchy record, but had beaten a legit era contender in Eddie Machen, so enter Ziggy into our WBC elimination, 5-10, 190 lbs, 28-1, but never having fought much less beat a fringe contender.
Result: Ziggy fought well for 1:36 of the 1st round, but that was all he was good for. Ziggy had a little power and was squat, waterbug quick and has an outside punchers chance in a good style matchup, but I gots to go with Sosnowski in this, a much bigger, more proven heavy.
Larry Holmes: Holmes padded out his record big time running up 20 straight title wins. Los Tres Amigos, Alfredo Evanglista, Lucien Rodriguez, and Lorenzo Zanon stand out as weak Europeans as getting title shots only by beating each other. Enter one ex champ and Olympic Lightheavy Gold Medalist, Leon Neon Spinks, 6-1, 200 lbs, 10-2-2 with one loss by KO.
Result: Leon was in the process of dissipation, though he managed to knock out a fading Evanglista and Bernardo Mercado who managed to obtain a Ring ranking. OK, Leon was fast, active, and aggressive and it’s possible he could outwork Big Al. However, in his 9 KO losses, Leon never saw the end of the 7th round and 4 of those Kos came in the 1st round. Got to favor Sosnowski here, but Leon is a live dog and closes the odds.
Mike Tyson: Tyson’s first run as champ was super solid, whereas I’m tempted to ignore his 2nd run which was a fraud perpetuated on the public. The Peter McNeeley fight was a joke, but he regained his title against a good era contender/champ Frank Bruno, so enter his first defense,Bruce Seldon , 6-1, 230 lbs with all his losses coming against era champs, McCall, Bowe, and Tubbs. Seldon had beaten a number of fringe contenders, contenders, and former champs though and was a legit ranked heavy.
Result: Seldon is by far the biggest, strongest, most dangerous opponent for Sosnowski. He performed pathetically against Tyson, but wouldn’t be too afraid to put his punches together against Sosnowski. I’d make Seldon the favorite here, so Albert takes his first loss, losing his WBC crown to make him 9-1-0, 8 KO thus far.
Lennox Lewis: Lewis had a pretty good run that made him the heavyweight of the 90s, so enter one Phil Jackson, 6-1, 215 lbs, 30-1 with one KO loss to Razor Ruddock.
Result: Jackson had only faced one contender, was smashed to smidgets and never showed he could be a ranked fighter. Sosnowski has the more credible career, is bigger, stronger and has to be the favorite. I’m thinking a wide decision for big Albert, now being the 2x WBC champ with a useful title record of 10-1-0, 8 KO.
My conclusion is that the history is clear. Vitali has plenty of leeway before anyone has any rights to complain about the quality of Albert Sosnowski regardless of the result.