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Zer0 Sum~~Nuevo Canelo Alvarez Battles Viejo Money Mayweather For PPVs

Since any Mayweather fight now begins and ends with PPV numbers, let us begin with the September 14th Saul Alvarez vs Floyd Mayweather bout being projected to break the De La Hoya/Mayweather PPV record of 2.4 million, or at least that’s the hyped target. Whether or not the resulting PPVs will be enough to adjust the negative red ledger of the much ballyhooed Mayweather Showtime contract into the black is unknown. Showtime wisely didn’t publicize losses from the Guerrero fight, perhaps anticipating this fight to make up their losses. 

150 lbs in training....

150 lbs in training….

Both fighters have almost identical undefeated records, Alvarez at 42-0-1, 30 KO to Mayweather’s 44-0, 26 KO, in theory an Las Vegas based dream fight, but look again. Both are pure boxers though Mayweather started off as a powerhouse of note and Alvarez has a healthy knockout punch when he choses. They both fought boxer types in their last bouts generally accorded as fairly dull in terms of fight action.  Mayweather refused to engage more than his footwork save for two modest rounds of action and Alvarez mostly feinted and countered a cautious counter puncher though he did score a nicely timed highlight knockdown that briefly got the San Antone crowd rocking.

Let us travel far far away to a distant galaxy of reality when once upon a time there was the Montreal classic between Panamanian legend Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard to conjure up another huge Latino vs USA fight. The 24 year old undefeated Leonard was still a little wet behind his Olympic Gold medal ears and not yet the American legend he would become, but he was making his second defense of his WBC title won off 21 year old wiz Wilfredo Benitez. The 29 year old wildman Duran was at his raging never to be seen again peak with 71 victories, mostly by KO after having dominated the lightweight division against a single loss avenged twice by knockouts for good measure, the days when boxers were still fighters, not the posers and preeners of today. 

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

The first Duran/Leonard pillar to post donnybrook got the juices roiling most everywhere within and outside of boxing, but frankly, I don’t see this fight in the same legendary vein in terms of international legacy or terms of ring action. Mayweather is well off his prime days no matter how much the Al Hayman Golden Boy News of the Ring World and Showtime want to promote him beyond his sell date, and in spite of the Mexican hype, Alvarez lacks the US public awareness of the heavily touted Gold Medalist Leonard or the international legend of Duran for this fight.

165 lbs in training

165 lbs in training

However, Alvarez is the latest thing to hit the boxing big stage at this point, so figure on the promotion to leverage his cherubic youth for all it’s worth since he doesn’t look the prototypical Mexican assassin to the rest of the world. It will be heresy if the usual antisocial media muffins littering the internet ever find out that the just turned 23 year old Canelo is actually further along in the fight game compared to Leonard and Mayweather when they had just turned 23. He’s also ahead of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and the great Duran when they had just turned 23.

If Alvarez wins this fight, “if” being the major sticking point pending results, he would be well ahead of any listed above. He is in the same ballpark for now as all the great Latino fighters in that “boxing experts” never project a young 3rd world Latino fighter to be an all time great until after the fact becomes glaringly obvious by consensus opinion of three blind mice. The 17 year old Wilfredo Benitez was one obvious exception with monumental things being predicted for him that he ultimately never achieved in spite of his HOF accomplishments.

Just turned 23 year old phenoms ahead of Alvarez would include Mike Tyson who had completely unified 3+1 Ring belt , and incredibly Wilfredo Gomez who was 11-0, 11 KO in WBC title fights by the time he turned 23. Fellow Mexican Salvador Sanchez was closest to Alvarez, 8-0, 4 KO in WBC title fights by age 23, not bad company at all to be in league with not to mention the Sanchez record was almost identical when he turned 23, 42-1-1, 31 KO, veeerily eerie that one. By then Sanchez had also claimed the Gomez undefeated scalp by spectacular knockout if we want to consider just how quickly forgotten the sublime genius Sanchez has become in this modern era of tinman greats making millions upon millions for too often showing more bravado in their prefight pressers and ring entrances than their fights themselves.

“All knowing experts” were also saying that Alvarez was too young and inexperienced for Mayweather before the fight was announced, ignoring the perfect promotional track that Alvarez has been on for 3 years now designed exactly for the Mayweather challenge. The kid clearly has ambitions far beyond the speed at which he’s been developed, so now a chastened herd of experts scramble to give him his chances in order to get the promotional bandwagon moving. The slick Giampa News of the Ring World P4P Czar even maneuvered Alvarez into a Ring P4P slot once the fight was agreed much like they did for Robert Guerrero when he signed against Mayweather. They must have had a frightful shock when they came across my Ring P4P history of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather here that Pacquiao has only added to since:


Ring couldn’t be more disingenuous if they tried, but they do try hard in their dishonorable quest so late in the game to make up for the lost P4P years of Mayweather’s career.

In spooky contrast, the 36 year old Mayweather is eerily on the same track as the in and out of retirement version of Sugar Ray Leonard who chose a stink and run style to “defend” his ill begotten “WBC supermiddleweight title” against 38 year old Duran in their belated rubber match. There are are precious few fighters able to chase a Leonard or a Mayweather around the ring for 12 rounds for a clean KO as Robert Guerrero recently tried which is the only way a fighter can bypass the political decisions and preferential referee treatment star fighters receive, especially since this fight is being contested in Mayweather’s home, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. 

The 35 year old Leonard finally met his Waterloo when he came out of retirement the next year to challenge 23 year old young gun Terry Norris who delivered a beating and a half on Leonard he was lucky to survive. Eerie number correlations and fight styles aside, every fight and fighter is different even if career parallels can be drawn. Mayweather has been much cagier in his career to limit his physical damage and stays in training year round for his one fight, but now he’s going for his 2nd fight of the year, a huge leap for him.

Lest anyone think I’m “hating” on Mayweather, his record speaks for itself, a “perfect” 44-0, but exclusively a WBC union card fighter until recently, never having once unified a title and never holding more than 25% of the available titles in any of his 5 divisions of 21 title fights. Wladimir Klitschko has held all but the WBC title that his brother Vitali holds, 20-2 in title matches overall, considerably more impressive than Mayweather’s WBC fetish as an example of an era peer comparison. The same could also be said of Manny Pacquiao and Roy Jones Jr as two other multiple belt P4P stars, Jones especially owning just about every Lightheavy title fabricated by the worldwide ABCs.

Alvarez also happens to be WBC centered and with Golden Boy Promotions as is Mayweather, thus the impetus for making this fight conveniently inevitable in spite of a recent “promotional” spat the two fighters had earlier in the year. Alvarez is primarily a ring centered boxer/puncher who can slug, fight, or box as needed, but he’s never had to chase down a sprinter wearing track shoes in the supersized ring dimensions this fight will be contested, dimensions that likely will never be published but can be inferred when the fighters enter the ring. The fight could only be made at a 152 lb catchweight with no details on rehydration limits imposed on Alvarez.

While the Canelo final legacy has many more years of hurdles to come, he gave early notice of his potential as a precocious 15 year old when he outpointed future IBF lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez and in the rematch two years later. Alvarez probably could have handled a title shot in 2010 when he easily defeated the likes of Mayweather sparring partner Lovemore N’dou after blasting out Carlos Baldomir whom Mayweather scarcely dented in a wide points decision. In 2011 he won his title by beating Matthew Hatton who had been an early frontrunner for a Mayweather fight the year before. That’s three Mayweather associated fighters in a row Alvarez has used to play pin the donkey on Mayweather on his way to the 154 lb WBC title.  

Using the Boxrec comparison of a fighter’s last 6 bouts, incredibly the Mayweather inactivity stretches way back to 2007 against Ricky Hatton.  In 2007 Saul Alvarez was just 17 years old, a year before his American debut on his way to adding 24 more wins to his undefeated record that now includes a 6-0 WBC title record for his last 6 fights. That includes two more title fights than Mayweather has been engaged his last 6 years, so these are two different worlds they currently operate in.

Since Mayweather has been extremely inactive compared to the hyperactivity of Alvarez, perhaps his last 3 fights would be a more informative “up to date” comparison: Mayweather last played Mr. Chickenman, “he’s everywhere, he’s everywhere” against Robert Guerrero to cop the decision after promising to go toe to toe. The only two fighting rounds were when Mayweather had the better 7th round than Guerrero had the better 8th round, otherwise Mayweather refused to engage and Guerrero couldn’t catch up to him. The year before he traded heavy artillery against Miguel Cotto in a fan classic to pull out the win, leading the herd of “experts” to conclude Mayweather’s legs would be suspect against Guerrero and he would be forced to fight, no kidding! Lastly, who can forget his choreographed farce with Victor Ortiz and Joe Cortez in a superb remake of the all time Muhammad Ali, Sonny Liston, Jersey Joe Walcott travesty? Thanks to that Academy performance Vic Ortiz got a big offer to star in the Expendables “muscled up” action cartoon fantasy that Hollywood specializes in, so he set aside boxing for acting, I kid you not!

Which Mayweather will show up come fight night depends much on the referee tapped for the fight and the selection of judges. Alvarez coasted an easy decision based on the WBC open scoring rules for his last fight against Austin Trout for example. Some criticized Alvarez for a lack of action compared to previous efforts, but why should a boxer take unnecessary risks with his eye butted open when the Mayweather fight been so long planned for?

We do know now the well experienced Kenny Bayless is the ref, but when I first tried to check his record, all I could get on Boxrec was a glossy promotional page promoting this fight.  I do know he messed up the Pacquiao/Marquez rematch when he failed to call the obvious 2nd knockdown after correctly calling the first knockdown, then to compounded his error, he had to grab the wobbly Marquez from sitting on Pacquiao’s corner stool to guide him to the Marquez corner so out on his feet poor Marquez was.

Nor could I check on the announced judges, Dave Moretti, CJ Ross and Craig Metcalfe after the same glossy promo interference popped up. Offhand I recall CJ Ross as one of the two butchers of the Pacquiao/Bradley much derided scoring. It’s a shame that the supposed independent organization of Boxrec has allowed these promotional ads to interfere with their operations, but such is a prime example of the reach of a big promoter and broadcaster, so I need not bother with any more research into the ring officials. It is what it is.

History will show that the legend of Mayweather automatically upgraded to the best American boxer 9 years ago after the legend of Roy Jones took a guided missile on the  tiny sliver of his exposed chin left open for Antonio Tarver to crack. It is unfortunate that Mayweather and current P4P American compatriot Andre Ward can scarcely be bothered to fight but once a year these days, but that seems to be OK with the new generation of American boxing media and fight fans who seem more oriented on talking about all the fighters they could beat rather than see them in action actually beating someone.

Today’s softer and kinder American punchers can’t compare to the straight up wars that Duran, Leonard, Hearns and Hagler waged in multiple fights with each other not so long ago featuring high level action in thrilling encounters. The last two prime American P4Pers who fought in the traditional Americanno quarter asked or given”  style were Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams, regrettably retired now before they ever had a chance to fully develop.

Such is the current American boxing scene that  Alvarez faces as the staked out sacrificial goat for another canned hunt that could ultimately see Mayweather tied with Rocky Marciano at 49-0. Look a little closer and you might just see Oscar de la Hoya duking it out with Al Hayman for future promotional stakes projected when the 81 years ancient Bob Arum finally rolls over to the great Valhalla in the sky. Golden Boy and Hayman would then be thrown into a perfect storm for control of boxing.

Just think of the Roman Empire and the hundred plus “Ceasars, Augusti, Emperors, Popes and assorted sordid split titles of command they created after most every new leader was poisoned or stabbed to death when not run out of town skewered on a split rail. Boxing may be less vicious than the Roman Empire, but when big money is at stake, Ides of March power is leveraged until stability of leadership is reestablished.

Monkey business alert: Oscar De La Hoya had been providing spooky updates on his substance abuse recovery all while Mayweather skewered him at a press conference for being no more than a front man for GBP. Then De La Hoya entered drug rehab 4 days before the fight, leaving his number one star “unprotected” against the hometown Vegas fighter.


The sly Hayman has been using Golden Boy to promote his growing stable of fighters and on record as saying he could “easily” come to control boxing as he steadily moves to the forefront in stealth mode.  Golden Boy provides a handy tool to organize the complicated often nasty work of a fight card without the need for Hayman to set up shop for himself. As manager/advisor of Floyd Mayweather, his number one client makes both Hayman and De La Hoya more money for the year than the rest of their fights and fighters combined. That they finally sweet talked Mayweather into “speeding up” his career by dangling the Showtime plum indicates they can at least cooperate to obtain such a sweet goal, but Showtime is currently in financial dispute with Time Warner cable going into this fight. Maybe they can kiss and make up, when we can’t know.


Oscar De La Hoya has been desperate for a mega star since his own star faded and may well have found him in Alvarez. This kid has managed to keep his head mostly screwed on outside of boxing and let his fists do the talking inside the ring. Oh, there was the unseemly publicized dustup with former fly champion Archie Solis who reportedly tried to make time with Canelo’s girlfriend and a child born out of wedlock, all pretty mild stuff for a young fighter who has literally had much of Mexico at his feet since he was a teen phenom. 

We could have some prefight fun by superimposing their last fights: The action starts with the usual light sparring to make the rubes think a legit boxing match is shaping up with some light tapping and movement. In the 2nd round Canelo backs to the ropes slipping and ducking imaginary punches as Money contorts his body bouncing off ropes on the other side of the ring running from his imaginary pursuer.

Certainly stranger scenarios have played out in boxing, but for boxing to have a shred of respect left, this, the “biggest” fight that can be made this year needs to be a legitimately officiated without the WWE choreographed farce of recent Showtime and Golden Boy involved “events.”

All that glitters....

All that glitters….

Speaking of WWE, here’s the WBC first ever first edition superduper special “solid gold” blarney belt for the coronation, promoted as having “two kilograms of gold” in it. Such blarney shall have to suffice as tribute by the WBC poohbahs of boxing to this “event.”

Superduper WBA Bauble

Superduper WBA Bauble

Not to be outbuffooned, the WBA answered by creating it’s own superduper bauble belt. This “event” pits their “co-super” beltholders against each other for the WBA superduper unification bauble. Yes folks, truth is stranger than fiction in the current boxing world.

Interestingly enough Mayweather shares an obsession with large bags of money just like the undefeated heavyweight Rocky Marciano if we want to examine further eerie connections. Marciano died in a tragic plane crash without anyone ever stepping forward to tell where he squirreled away his stash of millions in cash. His family was left impoverished dependent on various benefits and sympathetic contributors. No need to be a brain surgeon or genius forensic scientist to see that publicly stashing millions in cash in your home is a tragedy in waiting, but Mayweather does employ a squadron of NFL sized behemoths to guard his 150 lb prized perfect record from being folded, spindled or mutilated. Presumably that would include his greenery and gold.

The Golden Ring Zer0

The Golden Ring Zer0

Mayweather is currently closing in on the record of another “25% percenter” era peer Joe Calzaghe who posted a perfect 46-0 before retiring at age 36. Calzaghe unified at age 33 on his way to 21 title defenses before moving up to claim the Ring lightheavy title from Bernard Hopkins. Mayweather  has 13 title defenses of his credit though he did climb through 5 divisions to claim belts, but since has been silly gobslopping willy nilly around winning belts he never defends as he flits in and out of retirements or jail.  Further comparison shows Calzaghe also suffered from glass hands in his last years similar to Mayweather’s china hands, but a big difference between the two was that Calzaghe was almost completely ring center offensively oriented combination puncher whereas Mayweather uses defensive strategies as his major orientation of avoiding contact in a contact sport to more carefully select his punches.

Aside from PPVs, I see Mayweather’s greatest boxing “legacy” of being pretty much a self trained fighter not needing much fight input other than someone to work the pads for him. His family of trainers, Floyd Mayweather Sr and uncle Roger Mayweather, they are not the HOF trainers most all time greats were fortunate to hook up with. Their corner advice is usually either unrelated to any problem or incomprehensible Mayweatherese dialect not readily translated. Where would Muhammed Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard be without Angelo Dundee for example, or Thomas Hearns without Emmanuel Steward? Trainers like that are like having another ring general at your side to break down strategy or replenish sagging fortitude.

The worst boxing legacy of Mayweather will be his insistence on drug testing changes that have thrown boxing into a sewer of bogus drug testing experimentations that have been laughable in their oversight. The resulting freefall has allowed the infamous BALCO associated duo of Victor Conte and Angel Heredia into training camps to foist their majic elixirs of performance on selected fighters. Mayweather and his promotional team have yet to answer for Mayweather Promotion fighters Mickey Bey and J’Leon Love being busted by standard drug testing procedures,  nor have they answered well publicized allegations of failed drug tests by Thomas Hauser here:


Noteworthy of mention are the two other biggest fights of the year being staged after Mayweather/Alvarez. Two weeks later the top British heavyweights square off in jolly olde England as Tyson Fury and Mr. David Haye vie for contender supremacy. One week after that many belted heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko defends against Russian Alexander Povetkin in Moscow. There is nary a single American heavyweight in Ring rankings. Aging welterweight Mayweather is the last untarnished American legend standing between the history of boxing and near American oblivion. Most of the top fighters these days with American addresses are Eastern Europeans and latino nationals, a sure sign of the future face of boxing, and there isn’t a whole bunch of them either.

We’ll have to see which boxing jurisdiction, the US, the UK, or Russia will stage the type of reputable classic that would boost the faltering boxing corpse on the gurney. The time is now to forsake these posturing three ring circuses that have driven the newer generation of fans to the UFC and other MMA related martial sports, but will American boxing ever learn or will it continue in decline with the average sporting fan. Mayweather paydays have outsized the actual fighting of his career, but Americans have spoken with their pocketbooks, so be it.

Check in September 14th on Showtime to find out if the featured undercard of Danny Garcia vs Lucas Martin Matthysse outfights the main feature of the suits. It sure could happen that way.

A Legend Passes–Manny Steward, R.I.P.

Emmanuel “Manny” Steward was announced as passing away on October 25th after 68 wonderfully vital years. Diverticulitis was mentioned as the culprit that took him down, an insidious grouping of gaseous distensions in the long maze of intestinal tract plumbing that many have fallen prey to over the years.

Those Were The Days

Those Were The Days

Steward was the most up front and center cornerman/trainer/commentator in boxing today, quickly taking up the slack left after Angelo Dundee‘s run with Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard. His list of credits are impressive in spite of being on the losing end of two of the most exciting and high level bouts in boxing history.

The first was when the undefeated Tommy Hearns outboxed and outfoxed boxing’s flashmaster Sugar Ray Leonard before succumbing to a 14th round TKO stoppage on his feet against the ropes. The second being the most intense all out brawl in modern boxing when Hearns and middleweight marvel Marvin Hagler engaged in a vicious pillar to post slugfest, leaving Hearns pounded to the canvas before arising on shaky legs midway through the 3rd round, a TKO stoppage by the ref. Both fights were the highest profile bouts as can be staged at Caesars PalaceLas VegasNevada

Manny also won more than his fair share with two of the most dominant heavyweights ever in Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko, along with a host of other fantastic fighters that you can review on his Wikipedia entry:


While greatly appreciated, no wiki article could ever explain what his Kronk Gym and charity work meant to disadvantaged youths everywhere and boxing.

Manny Steward, a Giant Beacon flashing out his wit and wisdom to all who entered his sphere, now enters the Great Pantheon of Boxing to be cherished forever, God Bless.

A Tribute to the “Champion”

What Champion is that you ask?

It just so happens that the order of “Revelation” goes Kirk Douglas, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, and Jack Dempsey  that was sparked by wondering if Kirk Douglas was still living?

There have been a plethora of boxing films made, too many poorly made and lost in ignominy, but the “Champion” refers to a 1949 release of an acclaimed adaptation of a Ring Lardner story starring Kirk Douglas that was one of the true fight film standouts.

“Champion” was  a breakout film for Douglas and his first ever starring role. It garnered a slew of Academy nominations and one award.

The Champ

The Champ

Douglas plays a young impoverished man abandoned as a boy, Midge Kelly. He’s recruited into a gritty boxing gym where he is transformed from clumsy beginnings into an all action slugger in the mold of a Rocky Graziano who was a very popular middleweight champ of the era. Midge seduces or is seduced by several women whom he abandons while stepping on everyone he meets as he fights his way up to the championship. It’s a dark black and white period film with buckets of blood, mafia, knockouts, and heartbreaks galore.

The finale finds Midge hallucinating, suffering the after effects of a vicious bout he has to come from behind to win, dying from a brain hemorrhage on his training table. It happens that dying in the ring or shortly thereafter was an all too frequent occurrence in the 1940s, the highest ring fatality decade of all time by a fair number. Going into the 50s, things didn’t improve much.

Here’s Midge being transformed from two left feet into a slugger. Guess the theme music:


Here he’s a ruthless King of his World:


Realistically, the actual boxing in “boxing movies” is terrible with only few exceptions. Hollywood uses boxing movies as their reenactment of the fight business that gave Hollywood a business model and new technology that Hollywood transformed into the megalomaniacal pyrotechnics special effects recycled action series that we see today.

Fight movies as done by Hollywood are sorta like Civil War reenactments as if play acting lends true understanding to the horror of spilled blood and guts of dead and wounded, boys mostly, more than all the other American wars combined. I guess they mean well and can be interesting now and again.

So imagine my surprise to find that cartoon boxing movie, Rocky, was chosen to be on the National Film Registry list, and not Champion. Kirk Douglas was one of the finest actors ever and star of maybe the most inspirational combat movie ever, Spartacus.

Kirk Douglas turns 95 years young this year, so Happy Birthday Kirk!



Love At First Strike

Love At First Strike

I’ve already written an open letter to the NFR asking why the 1897 heavyweight title fight between James Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons was not chosen in their 2 decades long compilation of movies. It’s only the core history of film making the NFR are ignoring, but lest I digress any further, you can see my open letter here:

Any way, in checking the existent footage of Champion available on Youtube, naturally it’s easy to get distracted with suggestions of like-minded videos, and lo and behold, wouldn’t you know I got some great footage of Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali, two of the greatest champs ever, and then Jack Dempsey.

My inquiries are furthered with Kirk Douglas paying tribute to Rocky shortly after his untimely death by introducing some classic clips of Rock winning the title from Jersey Joe Walcott. Kirk recounts the funny story of when he first met Rocky when both were in training in an Los Angelas gym in 1949.

Then that led to the 1969-70 Murray Woroner Computer Super Fight that featured Rocky knocking out Ali in the final, but not many know an alternate ending was distributed in Europe where Ali stopped Rocky on cuts. I had never seen that footage, so what a thrill it was to finally see the alternate ending.

But then that led to a Howard Cosell interview of a 69 yr old Dempsey and Rocky along with a couple of boxing writers the following Saturday after Ali won his controversial rematch with Liston. Rocky was very astute in his observations but made it clear that he wasn’t in any position to actually know how hard the phantom punch landed. Dempsey was more direct, saying he didn’t bother to attend the fight because he thought some funny business was going on, and he agreed with Rocky that the punch seemed fairly weak overall.

So, I wanted to expand the appreciation of these great champs by including the clips.

Rocky explains how to beat Ali:

Basic Computer fight: These are actual filmed sessions between Ali and Rocky who trained hard to get into shape to break a long period of inactivity each had fallen into during this period. They became fast friends by the end.


Ali explains how to beat Rock:

Alternate ending: Angelo Dundee’s brother, Chris stops the bout!


Cosell interview of Dempsey and Rocky:


Cosell asked Walcott, the referee if he wanted to be on the show, but, naturally, he refused. His performance that infamous night was as poor as ever recorded out of a referee, maybe his last bout.

History as it was made, fantastic stuff and a Big Shout to all the gentlemen who put together these clips. Might want to check out their offerings at their main sites.

Ali vs Tyson—The Final Ultimatum

Sorry Folks, but a software glitch in the editing has rendered the article into a raw, unfinished state. Such it shall remain after fruitless hours of editing only to watch it reconfigure itself:

Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson are often cited as the two most well known boxers on the planet earth, and as always follows in the minds of ever inquisitive fight fans, they all want to know who would win a fight between them prime to prime? 

Well, folks, this Bud is for you:

Intersection of Time & Space in The Great Pantheon

Intersection of Time & Space in The Great Pantheon

Whoops, let’s amend that opening statement now that Tyson has become something of a grizzled oldtimer with his retirement a few years back, up for entry into the IBHOF next year. Who’d have ever guessed that day would ever come back when the 21 yr old Tyson briefly strode atop of the boxing world like no other before or since?

Was there ever a bigger, brighter, more explosive shooting star, ever?

Arguably Manny Pacquiao is now the best known fighter ever, and his promoter, Bob Arum who promoted some 25 Ali fights claims that Pacquiao is a better fighter than Ali, and presumably by extension, Tyson, but that is another endless debate for another time and another place.

I Remember When..

I Remember When..

Ali could certainly spin a few stories about the ravages of Father Time had he still had a voice, so boxing fans will just have to do with watching his flashing fight reruns and wondering:

What if?

When I first tackled the internet forums more than a decade ago, the AOL baseball forums were great “amateur” preparations for the hysteria of their boxing forums which you can read about here if you want to get sidetracked:


Anyway, Big Mac Mark McGwire was in the middle of shattering Homerun records, naturally begging the question of who was better, McGwire or Babe Ruth. I quickly learned that some weigh in with a considerably more studied approach than the average keyboard hacker on a drunken swaggering binge fueled by modern media marketing that propelled Big Mac into a larger than life Superman, but I digress.

Mainly, I was well prepared to duck and roll with the punches on the boxing forums which I discovered as an afterthought after the record setting baseball season ended. I was quickly swarmed by a blizzard of angry cyber popcorn  punchers as soon as I weighed in with my observations about Ali whom I had watched develop when I followed his every move as a starry eyed schoolboy.

Same deal with Mike Tyson. Who on the planet with a pulse could not follow their exploits and infamy?

Just a hint of their names or that of Rocky Marciano on the forum would detonate an explosion to raise the dead, kill the living, and wipe all history from the vestiges of the great pantheon of boxing. Vilest of names and threats were issued not to mention actual real ring challenges as if a few rounds in the ring were adequate to answer any question about a proposed fantasy.

Some infidels even hit on creating alternate forum accounts and names so that they could agree and congratulate the intelligence of themselves.


Truth be told, from what I see, Ali sports a record of 1-2-1 in fantasy fights, losing by KO to Rocky Marciano in Murray Woroner’s computer elimination tourney in the late sixties,

Ali vs Rocky

Ali vs Rocky

  being bounced off the canvas by Gorilla Monsoon before drawing with Antonio Inoki in 1976

Ali vs Inoki

Ali vs Inoki

but beating Superman in 1978, the greatest comeback by The Greatest in fantasy history perhaps.

Ali vs Superman

Ali vs Superman

Tyson’s record is more muddled, having Stone Cold Steve Austin shoot him the finger before shoving Tyson into the bleachers, but then assisting Stone Cold in winning the WWF title by pushing him out for battle whilst almost snatching the speedos off of him.

Capt'n Hook

Capt'n Hook

My, my!

When Teefs Go Flying

When Teefs Go Flying

Certainly Tyson owns Ali in street fight wins, with at least a dozen publicized knockouts of assorted civilian and pro boxer challengers like Mitch Green who became only the 2nd fighter to last the distance against young Tyson, yet couldn’t last 15 seconds in the street:



The answer to any of these fantasy fights is of course completely subjective and dependant upon point of view, and believe you me, POV in Ali vs Tyson is all over the galactic map, stretching far into the fistic heavens above and reaching way, way down into the hellish muck below.

Git Up Chump!

Git Up Chump!

My own impetus for another look at this fight is wanting a ceremonial celebratory piece featuring the two best known modern fighters of their day to bookmark the end of the first decade of the third millennium while both are still alive.

Smokin' Greetings

Smokin' Greetings


Hitman Greetings

Hitman Greetings

The spark of life of life regenerated in the two legends when the fight recently appeared in a particularly dire website produced by some gameboy who ran the fight through his game console and proclaimed the definitive once and for all time answer………X 10!

Yup, they fought 10 consecutive times in gameboy-fantasy world, so now he knew the results and was “sharing.”

Yeah, right, Junior. Get back to us when you grow a pair fill your shorts and another pair to fill your frontal lobes.

Geez, I generally stopped responding to these fantasy fights on subsequent forums because too many only wanted to rant, from whose loins sprang a brand new type of critter never before seen stalking the earth, a ham handed species known as  Nazioso Moderatus who always purports to a higher purpose than their flimsy, venal grasp could ever latch on to in real life.

Nazioso Moderatus

Nazioso Moderatus


The fun was gone, the innocent majic of internet communication across generations and state and international borders ruined by underdeveloped homo sapiens unable to contain long repressed schoolboy emotional insecurities as they acted out their playground fantasies.

The Ali/Tyson fight has been proposed in fantasy millions of times to never be answered in the here and now reality that we, those of us who can currently hold up our hands to be counted, live in, but like séances and crystal balls, some claim to know the definitive answer once and for all.

Ali and Tyson existed as fighters in two different eras in what turned out to be a huge, ongoing evolution of the heavyweight division that currently has an unlimited weight class for any fighter scaling over 200 lbs. In Ali’s day, the marker was 175 lbs, a different era as I mentioned, yet oddly enough there is less than 4 years span from Ali’s last fight at age 39 until Tyson’s teenage debut at age 18, and only 6 years span between Ali’s last title fight until Tyson’s first title.

Oh, oh, so close, yet so, so, far away. Amazing!

In the “middle-ages” of the 20th century, Jack Dempsey vs Joe Louis was the red hot fantasy bout of the day, and it’s still a great one for those of us who relish breaking down styles and physical attributes of fighter matchups. Back then fans actually lived boxing instead of just watching it and arguing over the internet. Thousands of teeth were knocked loose from their roots to be scattered across barrooms in the quest to prove a point when civility ceased as tempers combusted in many of these debates.

Boxing was  the unrivaled King of American sports in those days, dominating the sports sections of newspapers.

Now, I’ve been watching boxing in fascination since forever and the next day, so, naturally, ahem, being of a modern superiority oriented bent to all that preceded me, I’ve arrived at a more modern, more mature, more studied approach to the ever lasting debate dilemma with all due deference to my fascination with baseball’s SABRE movement, a newer formulaic method that expanded the use of statistical analysis by weighting eras and ballparks and the offensive and defensive parameters of players.

The Disclaimer:

Let’s be clear here though; folks, unless you die and are admitted into fistic Valhalla where all the greats are in constant battle with each other for you to observe the actual results to report, in the mean streets of the here and now you may or may not make a credible case for your man but you cannot provide definitive ring results, period.

Man up for some civility while listening to some other points of views. Tune them out if they threaten the existence of your favorites, but no need to go into meltdown.

Moving back to point, Ali vs Tyson, who you got?

I’ll say it proud and I’ll say it loud and I’ll come as close to proving it as is possible before I’m through, it’s Tyson in a walkover.

OK, OK…………….just spiking some blood pressure for old time sake with that last exaggeration, I confess, but hear me out with an open mind, I promise to be serious from here on.

Who would you actually bet on if you were forced with everything you hold dear riding on the outcome?

That has to be the bottom line.

Fight fans tend to become highly emotional about their favored fighters, something oddmakers and gambling interests have made a fortune on as far back as distant memory can be pulled up. So consider carefully and make an informed choice unless you want to lose your family farm with your stock of prized blue ribbon mules as the girl of your dreams snatches your dog and storms out of your life forever.

Surely you would put in a little research, so here we go:

Usually it’s assumed that 1966-67 Ali, age 24-25, is tops Ali, and 86-88 Tyson, age 20-21, is tops Tyson. Both are undefeated and marching through their opposition with nary a care for their futures. They are at their peak primes, plain and simple, ready to rumble with any challenge that developed.

Jab This

Jab This

Remember, lesser talented and weaker fighters have been upsetting the odds from time immemorial also as well as greats being unrecognized until they had a platform to showcase their abilities. Savvy gaming interests factor records, styles, ages, betting patterns and many other elements into formulating their odds.

In fantasy world, I am using my freshly cloaked time machine, “Slipping Time,” to go stealthily back into time to lure the combatants to the Ultimate All-time Fight. I have stocked my ship with a large caldron of gold bullion as the tempting purse to be split: winner takes 60/loser takes 40% as the lure.

A small bundle of Ring Magazines featuring each fighter in their primes is included so they can read about each other, along with DVDs of those fights that they can view to prepare fight strategies.

Da Ring

Da Ring


“Slipping Time” is big enough to accommodate their trainers, HOFer Angelo Dundee for Ali, including Bundini Brown and any of his key advisors such as Gene Kilroy, ect. Tyson can be with his HOFers, Cus D’amato with Kevin Rooney as trainers and his HOF managers, Jimmy Jacobs and Bill Clayton advising.

So, that is the first thing that stands out to me, the overall strength of Tyson’s team, probably the strongest assembled team of professionals of all time. Without them, Tyson would’ve run off the rails much sooner than he did.



The next thing that stands out is the tone of the Ring Mags as we thumb through them. While praiseworthy of Ali achievements at that time, periodic flaws and complaints are cited. In 1966, Ring did not award a Fighter of the Year, and in 1967 gave the award to Joe Frazier. Those were Ali’s best years. Need I remind anyone that those were controversial political years for Ali, but then his whole career is riddled in controversy, that was his mother’s milk. Still, Ring editor Nat Fleischer steadfastly defended Ali through this time, yet perhaps the controversy overshadowed Ring’s perception of Ali as a boxer, who knows?

The tone of the Tyson articles is not merely only praiseworthy, but grows into a glow of awe over the absolute dominating manner he has dismissed every opponent. Tyson is being couched in terms of the best ever, it was almost a given at that point. He had already won two Ring Fighter of the Year awards.  I mean the kid was only 21 and it was assumed he wasn’t even fully mature yet and was only gonna get better.

The Kid

The Kid

OK, but what of the primacy and strengths of the undefeated fighters themselves coming into this fight?

Typically, the last few bouts are the best indicator of the physicaland style attributes each will possess in the ring. Boxrec uses the last 6 bouts as an indicator for their records website, so let’s use that impartial objective standard.

In Boxrec order, Ali had last defended against Henry Cooper, Brian London, Karl Mildenberger, Cleveland Williams, Ernie Terrell, and Zora Folley respectively, a perfect 6-0, 5 KO, very impressive, but let’s look closer and compare.

Tyson last defended against Pinklon Thomas, Tony Tucker, Tyrell Biggs, Larry Holmes, Tony Tubbs, and Michael Spinks, also a perfect 6-0, 5 KO record to match Ali. Hmmmm….


It must firmly be addressed that Cooper is sometimes cited as arguably knocking out Ali in the first fight before being stopped himself depending on which unreliable source of “factual” information you believe. Only edited fight tapes remain of the encounter unless the beeb uncovers the master tape lost in their dingy archives, so the fight has well passed into legend shrouded in mystery and entombed in myth now like so many Ali fights, but there is no doubt Ali was wisely more defensive in the rematch and opened up bloody ‘enery face as expected. An awkward, bloody walkover that at least helped to set the record straight like Joe Louis used to do for his few controversies.

Compare to Pinklon Thomas, 30 lbs of tough, former champion muscle bigger than Cooper that Tyson dismissed by one sided beatdown, a superior opponent by most every measure with all due respect to Sir’enery who’s left hook, “Enry’s ‘Ammer,” became almost Arthurian in British legend.

Next up for Ali was Brian London, easily dismissed in 3 rounds.

Compare to the then undefeated IBF beltholder Tony Tucker, a prime, tall, well built, balanced boxer/puncher who was undefeated. Tucker put up a decent early scrap, but went on the run late to survive the distance for a wide decision loss. Tucker is light years ahead of London.

Now Ali is on the road for his 3rd straight defense against German champ, Karl Mildenberger. Interesting bout with the quickish lefty having enough success that Howard Cosell almost choked on his toupee at one point, but Ali ultimately put together a nifty combo in the 12th to put the fight away.

Compare to tall, quick, undefeated, superheavyweight Olympic Gold Medalist Tyrell Briggs, good enough to have kept Lennox Lewis buried in the amateurs another 4 yrs, yet viciously chased down and brutalized by Tyson in a 7 rd demolition. Most would say that a prime Briggs is considerably more talented and formidable than a prime Mildenberger, but Mildenberger proved to be much more competitive  in his challenge if that counts for anything. One could differ on who was the better fighter from that POV I suppose.

Moving on, many consider Ali’s perfect demolition of Cleveland Williams his signature fight of excellence. Can’t argue that point, but Williams was missing half his guts and had arrived DOA at Ben Taub Hospital after a shootout with Houston police some two years earlier, so he had no business in a title fight other than a retirement benefit that Ali graciously provided. Big credit to The Big Cat for showing up as a powerful looking figure even if his reflexes were gone, a legend in his day.

Compare to the 38 yr old HOFer Larry Holmes who had stalked Tyson for over a year, loudly issuing public challenges while making notes and battle plans. Tyson left him ice stone cold in the shape of a crucifix nailed to the canvas in the 4th round, Holmes’ sole KO loss in a very long, extended career. Nobody could doubt that Holmes was miles ahead of Williams at these points or most any point.

Next up for Ali is a unification bout with tall Ernie Terrell on the best run in his career. After putting up a spirited early scrap, Terrell was injured and hung on to survive terrible punishment to lose a lopsided decision on the cards.

Tyson was fighting Tony Tubbs, a big fast handed former WBA champ who actually tried to trade with Tyson for 2 fruitless rounds before being whacked out. Fairly even high quality defenses between Ali and Tyson, finally, even if there was a wide difference in the results.

Last on Ali’s docket in March of 1967 was Zora Folley, an older contender with a long career past his best form, yet given a decent counterpuncher’s fighting chance, dismissed in 7 rds.

Compared to Tyson’s signature bout against all time undefeated HOFer Michel Spinks, blasted out as easily as a child throws a rag doll to the floor. Unbelievable and no wonder so many of the old timers thought Tyson was the 2nd coming of a new and improved Jack Dempsey by that point.

Only the blinkered could deny that Tyson was beating up on much better overall competition than Ali to those points of time, so what next?

The biggest legacy names on Ali’s record had been in 1964-1965 against Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson, so surely that has to count as something right?

They certainly went a long way in making the legend of Ali, but remember, Liston gave a suspect effort in those fights, causing enough of an uproar to have Congress investigate boxing and haul Liston up to give testimony under oath. Liston died under mysterious circumstance a week or two before his 2nd appearance several years later. At any rate, Liston was already disgraced enough after the first fight to have the WBA strip Ali before the rematch that was it’s own elite category of travesty and farce, or worse.

Doubt Floyd Patterson was even given a chance by his own family, though he did regain status as a contender by remaking his style before retiring. Thing is, his back was completely out for this challenge, a painful fight that had spectators wincing between rounds as Floyd’s corner manfully tried to jerk Floyd’s back in place between rounds.

I don’t see these Ali fights as having much if any relevance to a fight against a prime, healthy Tyson, but at the tail end of 65, Ali did win a wide 15 rd decision over George Chuvalo, a squat, muscular banger/brawler who worked the body with hooks much as Tyson might. Where that similarity ends is that the game Chuvalo was light years slower than Tyson in hand and foot speed and well down in power, never showing the shooting star offense and defensive brilliance that characterized Tyson at his best, yet George had some success in trapping Ali and banging him up the best he could.

Looking back, it’s almost as if The Fates had planned on staging this Ultimate Fight for Tyson’s advantage. The  last 5 of the 6 fights noted above were against tallish, quick, boxer/puncher types, 6-3 for Tubbs, Holmes and Spinks and 6-5 for Briggs and Tucker who could also jab, counter, and move around much like prime Ali.

Most every boxer who came after Ali at least practiced doing him in the gym for some good sport, but few could implement it as well as Briggs and Tucker did in the ring. Fighting Chuvalo may have toughened up Ali’s core, but in no way prepares him for the highly trained and arguably most highly skilled heavy in history at his absolute peak.

A glance at the overall record to these points in time also show that Ali had been susceptible to quick lightheavy types with good left hooks, being knocked down hard by Sonny Banks and Henry Cooper and having Doug Jones take it to him hard enough that many thought Jones won their fight. Young Clay had been looking so vulnerable in recent outings that many thought him undeserving of a title shot against Liston.

The kid in me was worried for his health because that’s the way I saw him, as one kid to another kid. He wasn’t supposed to survive a mauling by the Big Bear, much less win. What a shocker!

In Tyson, basically Cus D’amato lucked into the perfect, moldable, fighting physio-type for his beloved bob and weave style he loved to teach. A struggle for Tyson coming up was a knockdown of a spoiling Quick Tillis and winning a wide decision as a 19 yr teen. The “struggle” was that Tillis was one of the few Tyson couldn’t knock out.

To this day you can still find oodles of critics, some with press and boxing credentials, who criticize big punchers for winning fights when they failed to knock out their opponents, slamming them for outboxing the other guy, something they would never criticize a boxer for doing. You certainly can’t tell them that they can’t come up with a single 19 yr heavyweight in history that would be capable of beating a slick, experienced former contender who was still capable enough the year before to go the distance against Larry Holmes’ title challengers, Carl Williams and Marvis Frazier as well as against future champ Gerrie Coetzee and then Tyrell Biggs.

Whatever, dude. Everyone’s entitled to pick the wave they want to ride in on.

When Push Comes to Crunch

When Push Comes to Crunch

If Ali is to have any degree of significant advantage over Tyson, it’s in knowing that he is his own man fighting his own fight to his own muse. Ali was mostly fighting on natural self-honed talent, only taking those part of boxing skills he deemed useful to meld to his instincts and ignoring the rest. Angelo Dundee was primarily a professional motivator and emotional stabilizer for the chaos that was Ali’s persona along with his sidekick, Bundini Brown. Dundee would pick flaws in opponents to be worked on in sparring, but they were as much suggestions to be planted in Ali’s fertile fighting brain as to actually be worked on in the gym. Ali spent many a sparring session clowning around which he enjoyed immensely since there were ever growing crowds around to be entertained that were future butts in the seats to watch him fight.

So, like a jazz musician, Ali was usually able improvise when the going got rough to bring the fight back to his own rhythm, whereas Tyson was more of a finely oiled by the numbers machine that could potentially go off the rails with the right kind of kink in the tracks. Still, that was a HOF team of mechanics in Tyson’s corner to make the repairs and jigger the fight plan and it cannot be ignored how seamlessly they operated by forcing their own beat as in beating the meat and marrow to the man out of their opposition.

It’s these contrasting fighter mental makeups, with different corners and fight styles that instinctively make the fight as compelling for the dreamy fan as a moth driven to the flame.

Remember, both were undefeated and full of the cocky self assuredness of young men who KNOW they could never, EVER be beat, and what a raucous legion of supporters they had.

Who to Stand?

Who to Stand?


What comes after 1967 and 1988 is meaningless and has no bearing on a prime, peak fight between the two. That’s more a question of legacy which bears no relevance to any projected fight. They were both eventually beaten by lesser fighters as typically happens in the greatest of careers, and Tyson’s career in particular fell apart from endless documented mental problems, run ins with the law and subsequent incarcerations and legal entanglements.

Huge “superfights” like this have a way of surprising and is no guarantor of being a classic, but the way I see the action breaking down is as follows.

Tyson comes roaring out looking for a retreating Ali ala the first Liston fight. Tyson is quick on the target who is just as quick as skipping off the ropes, flicking the jab in retreat. Tyson is put off his normal rhythm of being able to engage while Ali is unwilling to engage though he is trying to counter flash right hands off Tyson’s noggin and working his jab in retreat, trying to land something, anything on him to keep him off.

Tyson quickly finds his patience and balanced restored when he moves to stalking mode and cutting off range, making Ali run harder and longer as Tyson begins to slowly reel in the distance with feints, range finders, and positioning. Ali can’t find his timing on the bobbing and weaving Tyson, so much like the Folley fight where he also dropped those early rounds until he figured out how to swoop in on Folley without being countered, it’s a boring fight with him spoiling, clowning, and giving away rounds.

Ali knows he eventually has to stand and fight the monster as he did in the first Liston fight after 5 rounds, so he starts to settle closer to his range as the mid rounds progress. Finally we are starting to see some limited exchanges, but now folks are booing when Ali breaks off. People forget that Ali was often booed at any given fight and forget that his entire ring persona was based on famed wrestler, Gorgeous George, one of the greatest heel personalities in history for whom boos were money raining from the heavens.

Ali is using this time to sharpen his instincts and timing because he will have to choose his spots carefully to start doing some damage on the unmarked Tyson.

So, finally the time comes when Tyson has trapped Ali again who’s ready with his lightning counter right which Tyson shakes off with a massive burst of a combination from Hell that shakes Ali to his core.

So, that’s how I see the fight starting and I can’t see how it starts in any other fashion unless someone actually believes in Ali’s famed “Anchor Punch” that he learned from Stepin’ Fetchit. Me thinks the Tooth Faerie is gonna have to leave it under Ali’s pillow the day before the fight.

How the fight ends is where we get into the really meaty bone of contention. Tony Tucker went on the stick and move the last few rounds against Tyson when he saw he couldn’t survive trying to exchange with him. Some would say smart choice to take your chances with fickle judges whose empty pockets might be bulging by fight’s end. Bonecrusher Smith and Mitch Green, neither scarcely possessing a trace of Ali attributes, survived by tying Tyson up and losing every round, not a prime Ali style.

I’d like to think Ali at his core was more the warrior who would pull out all the stops to win back the early rounds he gave away which is where his fatal flaw is.

Mortals cannot trade in Tyson’s wheelhouse, period. Tyson had won almost every round he contested to that point in his career by cutting off the ring and forcing himself into his own distance with impeccable timing and speed, punctuated with lightening combos.

To simplify his game, his offense was his defense. Hardly any punches could land on him from distance, and once in his range he was absolutely blistering.

Maybe Ali extends it into later rounds by mixing fighting hard with running and clowning around as he sometimes did, frustrating Tyson into making mistakes, but Tyson back then was kept on track by his trainers and was all business, especially when he knows he winning the rounds and putting serious hurt on his guy.

Ali did put together a late rally combination to knock out Mildenberger, but Mildy is about as far removed from a prime Tyson as he is from Ali in comparison, but it’s out there, in the record, and no doubting the lightning quality of Ali’s handspeed when he was sufficiently motivated.

Ali does have the longer, quicker, flicking jab he could adjust the snap to suit his purpose, and it was a slicing, cutting marvel that won a lot of cut TKOs for him, so that’s a possible win scenario for him nobody could discount. As a one punch counter, Ali’s right hand is probably the fastest of any heavyweight, and it could be a slicer as well, so try as I might, I can’t see any other way he can win this fight but cuts, but on a 21 yr old fighter never before cut in more contested bouts than Ali had?

It seems silly to bet the farm on a cut knowing Ali is likely to lose most of the rounds and maybe get knocked out, but then again, can you remember how many folks put money on Ali to beat Holmes and Tyson to beat Lewis when each was well past his best?

Go look at the record, and you’ll find a wide assortment of “experts” picking Ali or Tyson for those fights, and one can only imagine the names of those experts who lost their silly money in those lopsided losses.

Yes, I said it. Anyone can get knocked out, and Ali had already been on the canvas or hurt by smaller, lesser skilled and credentialed heavyweights than Tyson. Maybe he could knockout Tyson, his right hand was somewhat underrated compared to the potential power I believe he had, but it just ain’t probable in what we know about the fighters going into this bout.

Tyson also had an excellent jab he famously out jabbed the hugely rangier Tucker with, and on a one punch basis his speed and timing were superb, but it was his combinations that were as quick or quicker than any heavy that preceded him. He was well versed enough in a wide variety of them for every occasion that typically he only needed a few combinations to terminate a fight.

So, Tyson is the favorite for me. I’d have no problem with anyone picking Ali, except that few ever make a good case to counter Tyson’s advantages and generally come up with unrelated nonsense or worse,so I did map out how Ali might win. One can never discount his one off talents coming up with something never seen before.

For the record, Ali was once asked about this fight in Tyson’s prime presence near 25 yrs ago and he indicated Tyson would knock him out. Tyson responded by protesting no way could he ever beat Ali.


So, there it is, your most gracious true factual answer to the perpetually unanswerable, complete mutual respect forever captured in time.

Such shall have to suffice for the here and the now. Still, we can dream, “What if?”

Until The End Of…………….