Tag Archives: jack dempsey

Corona Virus Throwback~Jack Dempsey vs Joe Louis 1934!

 Jack Dempsey took a post retirement tour from coast to coast, corner to corner from 1931 to 1932 fighting 4 round exhibitions against all comers including professionals. This is two years after the infamous Wall Street Stock Market Crash that sent not only the US, but much of the world into a decades long depression and ultimately World War 2.

Those early post crash years were still lush since the full delayed effects had yet to put the nation into complete poverty. Dempsey’s purpose was two fold:

1. He’d been hoodwinked by slick suited Wall Street shysters like everyone else, thus the financial impetus for his tour proved to be quite lucrative as well as a huge hit. The common folk flocked for their first ever chance to see the Great Man in person as did various boxers for the chance to glove it up against Dempsey.

2. Jack was fighting his way into boxing shape and wanting to gage the sentiments of the public for a potential comeback like Benny Leonard was making. Joe Louis was in his beginnings as novice amateur around this time.

By 1933 Jack settles in for local New York centric celebrity exhibitions with his friend and twin brother in physical likeness, Max Schmeling, and then several with his rising protege whom he managed, Max Baer. Here he is with a young Archie Moore circa 1936-1939. Jack would’ve been well into his 40s by then and hardly looks far removed from his championship days, and behold Archie beaming even from his beginnings!

On July 4th, 1934 at age 19, Joe turned professional to rack up 15 wins, usually quick knockouts of a strong cast of journeymen and attracting a fair amount of attention that would’ve included Jack who did not step into the ring for any purpose other than to referee.

Dempsey could’ve started his comeback in 1934, and if so, soon enough given the way the people think, they would most naturally gravitate to a Jack vs Joe fight as well be the fighters also wanting that gate and attentions that they would attract. It is often wrongly claimed that Jack wouldn’t fight black fighters, but in fact he did fight a few coming up, and as champion most of his sparring partners were black. This is probably one of those spars. As you can see, even his spars attracted huge crowds and note the business attire of those mostly men. Life was more formal back then except for the strawboater summertime headgear.

Joe Louis had been matched “hard” from his professional inception, so at some point his handlers would not back away from this sort of opportunity against the all time most popular gate attraction that only comes along once in a lifetime, but only if you’re very  lucky, and in Corona Virus World, it surely does help to be lucky both then and now.

As history actually unfolded, Joe fought his first ex champion in 1935 against Primo Carnera in Yankee Stadium, and then Dempsey’s boy, Max Baer, a few months later also in Yankee Stadium, so Joe’s management obviously held high ambitions for Joe and didn’t shy away from a big stadium fight that might overwhelm lesser prospects. Yet now at the start 1934 we have Jack going through his gears racking up his own knockouts, and being New York based, the inevitable Immovable Object has to collide with Irresistible Force at Yankee Stadium where neither had ever fought for a little mano a mano tête-à-tête. The stadium is packed just like in Jack’s heyday.

Here as an example of a typical Dempsey title fight 99 years ago against French WW1 Hero Georges Carpentier. Jack was billed as the WW1 slacker in his own country by Tex Rickard! We have the purpose built wooden grandstand covering 7 acres finished in 9 weeks just for $250,000 that packed in over 90,000. That fracas burst through the million dollar gate barrier @ $1.8 million. Jack Dempsey and his promoter Tex Rickard had turned the boxing business into a spectacle never before witnessed in boxing history.

In 1934, in Bobby Mac Grand Poohbah Land, we have a modern venue with full facilities already built in Yankee Stadium, albeit only 2/3rds the capacity. Looking at that 1934 Yankee schedule, they were on a week long road trip [[book ending]] our fight night, Saturday, August 11th. Plenty of time to set up, plenty of time to dismantle and tidy up, so what’s not to like about this all time seminal match?

Well, we need to remember that Joe was just a budding 20 year contender, not the legend he would, become whereas Jack already had his ticket to Valhalla punched, so that’s quite a bit of intimidation Joe has to overcome. Jack’s dilemma is, even if he’s worked himself into a fine fettle, he’s near twice as old as Joe at 39 years of age in an unprecedented heavyweight comeback never completed successfully at heavyweight in the history of boxing back then.

For a fair match, we also upgrade Joe’s debut to the start of 1934 and knock off the last three bouts of that year that now sees him at 12-0 with plenty of time and experience to get ready for his Yankee Stadium Debut against the Legend of Legends, Jack Dempsey.

Typical Joe Louis results here:

Folks, I don’t know about you, but for me this is The All Time what if fight that could possibly be made. I’d either be bouncing off walls, or other spectators had I been graced to be present, but there it is, 39 year old Jack Dempsey in fine fettle in the middle of a successful comeback year vs 20 year old Joe Louis in fine fettle in perhaps the strongest debut year of any heavyweight in history.

And…Who you got?

Corona Virus Vaccine~Sam Langford vs Harry Greb

Yupsir Folks, win, lose or draw, this is one fight for the ages no matter what age, race, sex, sports, or Corona Virus classification you may be. Sam Langford and Harry Greb usually appear on most every top 10 All Time P4P ratings, usually in the top 5, and both are additionally rated in 2 weight classes, so thus be our Corona Virus Vaccine our world desperately needs.

Why they never fought I don’t recall ever being discussed, yet interestingly, both are often wrongly mentioned as being ducked by Jack Dempsey, a myth that has easily been debunked over these many years, but like the moon being made of grated green cheese or Little Red Riding in da Hood, some myths never die.  Myth is of no matter to us since I was granted a license from the Valhalla Legends Sanctioning Commish, VLSC, to stage this fight for us besieged upon modern rubes currently imprisoned in a quarantine for our modern day Corona Virus nightmare.

Sam, 211-42-52, 126 KO, has the earlier career start, 1902, and was the more popular fighter in their days as well as being international and highly touted during his forays in Canada, England, France, and Australia. Harry, 261-17-18, 43 KO, debuted 11 years later in 1913 and was considerably the more local fighter out of the Pittsburgh area, so with extra time to fight more locally, he had no need of oceanic sea sickness travel time and thus was able to exceed Sam’s prolific record of 252 recorded fights. Greb was durable enough able to pack in that tighter schedule until he was tragically kicked out of this world age 31 with 298 fights.

Here’s a more portly Sam who started his great 22 fight series against the younger heavyweight legend Harry Wills with Sam being past his prime. This camera angle and the taller Will’s bent legs has enhanced the size of Sam compared to Wills who was actually 6-3, 215 lbs same as Ali and a half foot taller than Sam who was obviously carrying plenty of lard for this fight. Wills and Joe Jeannette were adamant that Sam was the greatest fighter and heavyweight of their era, not Jack Johnson. Note the packed stands as acknowledgement of just how great these two were in the public mind. They were near minting their own money in their heyday.

Both Greb and Langford in primes flitted seamlessly between  natural middleweight and light heavyweight division while doing some of their best work when taking on heavyweights with plenty of overlap of common fighters fought. Make it clear though, Sam’s heavyweight record is among the densest in boxing history where it has to be admitted Greb’s heavy record, as good as it is, is at least a notch down.

Reportedly Greb was also half blind in one eye, so he shares that blind handicap with Sam in an era where stray thumbs often found their way into fighter’s eyes, the price of the prize of the fight. Smart fighters like Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney got out of the fight biz early to avoid those health pitfalls. Here’s the size Greb gave up to Gene Tunney, 6-1, 190 lbs. His record vs Gene was 1-3-1 with Greb doing the BTFO honors on the bewildered Gene who in no way was prepared for the blizzard of a prime Harry Greb:

As such, any size disparity of our Corona Virus Vaccine fight has Harry slightly taller with Sam in shape slightly heavier is also of no concern for this match up. Myself being the Grand Poohbah of All of Boxing will match two of Boxing’s finest warriors at their mutual natural weights putting on their best fights during that incredible 13 career overlap. Each ends ends his career abruptly with a loss, but Sam was in his 40s blind as a bat now, and Harry was age 31 needing ugly mug surgery after near 300 bouts, but alas, he never came out of the rough anesthesia used in those days…R.I.P…

Sam may be the shorter, yet has the longer reach and often fought tubbier when he was on a string of heavyweights, knowing back then as heavies have only recently discovered in the modern 12 round era where knockdowns are scored, the extra weight helps keep em on their feet as well as delivers a harder punch as long as the weight is not excessive. 

1924 was the year Harry turned 30 during the Jack Dempsey no fight, Hollywood era as Jack’s title remained undefended for 3 years because of a legal dispute with his manager, Doc Kearns. Greb had 17 fights with 5 vs HOF fighters; 2 Draws vs Gene Tunney and Tommy Loughran, 2 Wins vs Jimmy Slattery and Tiger Flowers, and 1 DQ Loss vs Kid Norfolk that seems to have been one of the most poorly officiated fights in boxing history, the ref having to flee the ring for his life after the crowd erupted with dangerous portent because of his gross negligence to the rules of boxing. Overall record that year Harry was 14-1-2 with his HOF record 2-1-2.

From 1912-13 Sam set sail at age 28 during the Jack Johnson era for his coastal tour of Australia that finished in Boston at age age 30. Had 16 fights with 7 vs HOF fighters; 1 Win and Draw vs Joe Jeannette, and 4 Wins and a Draw vs Sam McVea. Overall record those 2 years was 13-1-2 with his HOF record 5-0-2.

So, I put them in the same age range within their shared eras where by divine coincidence they have near identical records. We can clearly see the prolific fight schedule each kept in those traditional prime athletic years enhanced remarkably by Sam of overcoming the effect of distant, debilitating overseas travel. Since Sam was a well known carouser of wine, women, and song while feasting on heavily laden tables, his weight in this period ranged from 168 to 200 lbs, a 32 lb fluctuation. He only stood 5-6, so it’s a tribute to his physiology, talents, and experience that he could take such a lackadaisical approach to the fight biz. Greb also a well know carouser of life’s wine, women, and song, but perhaps his more localized hectic schedule meant, in essence, he was still dining locally whereas Sam was exposed to exotic Australian cuisine in his down time that drove his new appetite to blow up in weight. Greb’s weight range was 158 to 172 lbs, a 14 lb fluctuation. Often each took fights on short notice, and back then weight classes weren’t always needed for a good big man vs little man fight like they are today because of modern sanctioning bodies.

In short, Best to Best~Perfectamente!

OK, now is the time to rumble. In this corner we have 29 year old Sam Langford and 29 year old Harry Greb with both lifted from some of their very best years. The shortish Greb for once has a significant 2″ height advantage to weigh in at 168 lbs, as the squaty Sam weighs in at 180 lbs. 

Greb a prolific punches in numbers puncher, aka his working class Pittsburgh Windmill moniker, and Sam something of a prolific KO artist, one of the top 5 all time with 126 KOs, who boxes to set up his KOs. They have a standard non title 12 rounds to work with.

By styles, it looks like the fast starting Harry jumps out early before the later starting, heavy handed Sam weighs in late, likely by KO, but trust me on this. All has already been settled in Valhalla a great six fight series where some day we may be fortunate enough to see these legends in action minus the menace of Corona Virus.

A Sad Valentine~The People’s Revocation of The Ring Heavyweight Title Belt

A Sad Valentine To The Ring Magazine:

Here is a beating in love, the 98 year old Jack Dempsey first ever Ring Magazine Belt awarded for a championship held, in this case the heavyweight title in 1922. The 2nd ever Ring belt was issued to flyweight Pancho Villa in 1923 for two of the all time iconic names most every boxing aficionado knows.

Championship belts, of course, long preceded Ring’s belt, but nonetheless Ring has been instrumental in continuing a long tradition of recognition with a Ring Belt in a series of storied eras and fighters, primarily American, but more importantly, with an iconic name, The Ring. And notice the name atop the buckle of Dempsey’s belt, that being his promoter,  Tex Rickard, who took charge of the first ever Ring rankings for youngish  Nat Fleischer due to Tex’s formidable history of promoting great boxing events as well as financing The Ring and Nat’s very Creation. Jack Dempsey may have been the irrevocable champion, but Tex’s first #1 was none other than Harry Wills, so while the animas of the racial politics of that era could never settle enough for them to fight, they signed at least twice to fight but could not raise the monies needed for such a huge fight nor the venue. Nonetheless, Tex nailed the first ever ratings to be sure. 

The varied participants tried their best in a volatile political  era spanning World War I that saw Dempsey savaged by the press as a draft dodger and charged by the government despite having a legit draft deferment as the sole support of his family. Like Ali 50 years later, Dempsey prevailed in the courts, yet he could not prevent nefarious third civil parties(Jack “Doc” Kearns) from seizing assets in his name for those post Kearns years.

And here is The Gypsy King’s Ring Belt awarded after dethroning the great, longtime record setting champion, Wladimir Klitschko, that is considerably more showy and ruffled as befits this doodaddy bling era even as the participants a bit dumpy.

Unfortunately for those of us possessing at least a modicum of decorum in the historical tradition, mine eyes and ears do not deceive me when Ring “Editor in Chief,” Dougie Fischer, announced the Ring Belt will be up for grabs in the belabored Tyson Fury/Deontay Wilder rematch this February 22nd.

Feb 3-Dougie Fischer, Ring Magazine’s Editor in Chief

On to Wilder-Fury 2, it pits The Ring’s No. 1-rated heavyweight (Tyson Fury) vs. No. 2 (Wilder), so the near-100-year-old boxing publication’s heavyweight championship belt (which dates back to Jack Dempsey) will be on the line. The first bout was a draw, so they remain unbeaten but with something to prove in the rematch. February 22 is as good as boxing gets and I can’t wait to take in the atmosphere in Las Vegas.

Yupsir, feted, wined, dined and fattened in Vegas at MGM Floyd stockyard alongside the rest of the grazing herd.

The Ring has sunk to their level by ignoring that Fury never once defended his first Ring Belt, in fact shamelessly ducking out on the signed Wlad rematch that would would have altered the current heavyweight landscape no matter who won. Also keep in mind that Fury “allegedly” had a positive drug test for steroids before the Wlad fight covered up and then botched by the shameless machinations of UKAD and the BBB of C, the two biggest, ahem, “boxing authorities” in the United Kingdom concerning these matters.

The only other belt then and now up for grabs was the long discredited Al Haymon massaged Wilder TBA(To Be Announced) WBC belt.

Meanwhile, the legit Four Belt(WBA/WBO/IBF/IBO) Champion, Anthony Joshua, who has dominated ever since his spectacular ascension into the #1 in Boxrec rankings for quite sometime as well as #1 in Ring save for his brief banana peel with Andy Ruiz Jr that he avenged. He continues to extend a relatively recent tradition started by the Klitschko brothers of emasculating American heavyweights, their fans, and their media by his deeds in the ring.

We The People who know better absolutely know both Ring’s two pretentious yahoos have turned down multiple substantial offers from Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, but not the then Ring #3, the undefeated Mighty Joseph Parker who put up as good a fight as could be had in front of 80,000+ screaming Brits @Wembley against Joshua that by all rights should’ve been for the Ring Belt.

***** Gonna quote Ring’s own rules regarding that situation for absolute clarity:

RATING PANEL / CHAMPIONSHIP POLICY
Championship vacancies can be filled in the following two ways:

THE RING’s Nos. 1 and 2 contenders fight one another.
If the Nos. 1 and 2 contenders chose not to fight one another and either of them fights No. 3, No. 4 or No. 5, the winner may be awarded THE RING belt if the Editorial Board deems the contenders worthy.

Here are the seven situations in which a champion can lose his belt:
The Champion loses a fight in the weight class in which he is champion.
The Champion moves to another weight class (for more than one fight).
The Champion does not schedule a fight in any weight class for 18 months.
The Champion does not schedule a fight at his championship weight for 18 months (even if he fights at another weight).
The Champion does not schedule a fight with a Top-5 contender from any weight class for two years.
The Champion retires.
The Champion tests positive for a performance-enhancing substance and is fined, suspended or otherwise penalized by the proper authority (athletic commission or sanctioning body).
RATINGS POLICY

Results. This is the most objective criterion and takes precedence over all others.
Performance. How a fighter performs in a victory or defeat can be a factor to determine his place in the ratings.
Track record: A fighter’s accomplishments in the recent past can be a factor to determine his place in the ratings. That includes quality of opposition.
THE RING Ratings are compiled by the magazine’s Editorial Board, with the participation of THE RING Ratings Panel of boxing journalists from around the world.

So, the half dozen or so of the of Ring ratings herd will be handing over their freshly tarnished Ring belt for a fight that has about as much gravitas as a fantasy fight between an 1865 Honest Abe Lincoln and 2020 Ronald MacDonald Trump.

When Joshua made his American debut last year against a highly ranked American, Jarrell Big Baby Miller, he was left in a one helluva a pickle when Babyboy massively failed the drug testing after having accused Joshua of being a PED user. Shameless American ignominy was then compounded when American based contenders Luis Ortiz and Adam Kownacki both turned down the substantial offer to fill the vacancy, the reason being Wilder with his TBA/WBC belt was seen as the easiest low hanging fruit to pick from compared to the invincible Colossus of Joshua. And worse, Wilder himself turned down a sumptuous 3 fight, $100 million deal by Hearn would’ve started with the Joshua fight. Consider that Wilder has yet to even clear $100 million in his misbegotten career.

By the end of this sordid American debut for Joshua that saw Americans keeling over like fainting goats, it fell upon Fat Andy to salvage American heavyweight masculinity that resulted in a concussive upset for the ages of this still newly minted millennium. To painfully compound wounded American pride even further, Fat Andy self identifies as Mexican even if speaking perfect English and being born in America, the reason being he was born 40 miles north of the US/Mexican border where Mexican and American culture have been seamlessly forged together such that he proudly represented Mexico in the Olympics.

Regrettably, to further pile on the shameless self emasculation of Ring, Fat Andy was never awarded the #1 Ranking for salvaging their American masculinity no matter how brief his reign before Joshua carefully outpointed him in the historic Saudi Arabian rematch. So Joshua continues to set records and make unique heavyweight history with his fights while the other two chumpsters will supposedly be fighting at the infamous “MGM Floyd” if they can “pass” the drug screening.

Mind you, this is no minor disagreement over the finer ratings of wine, chocolates, or a beauty contest, but rather a major departure in boxing publication integrity by The Ring.

What would Tex do? What would Nat do? Truth has become more laughable at The Ring than comedy these days…only in boxing, folks…

Centennial Celebration~4th of July 1919~Jack Dempsey Obliterates Jess Willard

On a blistering hot 4th of July in 1919 before the roaring 20s had a chance to kick off, the young challenger, Jack Dempsey, blistered the giant champ, Jess Willard, with 7 Knockdowns in the opening round, a devastation so deadly that has happened in boxing through all these centuries that the officials in charge of the bout literally melted in their moment to become useless. Jack “Doc” Kearns, Dempsey’s manager had foolishly bet $10,000 of Jack’s $27,000 purse on a first round Knockout of the incredibly tough Willard, and of course there was the requisite “Bell malfunction” with the ref becoming so confused as to seemingly signal the bout was over. Dempsey had to be retrieved from his triumphal walk to his dressing quarters to return to the ring for more battle, but sadly the damage to Big Jess was only compounded with interest. Eventually Jess and his corner came to their senses to stop the fight after the 3rd round.

The Backdrop: Before the fight could be made, Willard wisely made Dempsey sign a waiver that his estate would not sue Willard in case big Jess obliterated Jack permanently from the earthly premises, something that had happened against 2 previous opponents. Jess was a wealthy man by then only wanting to look out for his own estate, so not only was it a smart legal move, it also served as an intimidating tool to upend Jack’s confidence in himself.

Jess a mighty man indeed even 100 years later, a 6-7, 240 lb cowboy out of Indian country in Kansas back when men were really men, and that lean, whipcord working man’s physique was naturally attained through much harder and more dangerous work than today’s coddled candied generations can imagine. Dealing with unpredictable, free range, half wild horses and cattle sometimes weighing in the thousands of pounds requires the highest attention, reflexes, instincts, strength, durability, and an outright ornery nature that can scarcely be imagined much less overstated. This weren’t PlayStation.

Now, Jess may not have looked like the stock in trade, handsome Hollywood cowboy, but he could out wrangle all them Fancy Dans, out fight em, and out F em in other ways as well. Poor Jack was a scrawny 6-1, 185 lbs in comparison, as big a physical mismatch as could ever be conceived, giving up 6″ in height and reach and over 65 lbs in weight.

A few rapid fire chops are starting to level Big Jess closer to Jack’s level.

Early in the fight it’s still fun and games for Big Jess who never lacked for any confidence over his formidable physical talents. He was just getting warmed up and sooner or later Jack is gonna pay bigtime.

The fun and games phase has now passed into a fight for Jess’ survival. A Dempsey left hook has clearly caved in the orbital region of Big Jess’ right side resulting in as much pain as a human can endure. His right jaw line is also swollen with some blood running down his chest. It was alleged he broke his jaw. 

Here we see the start of the confusion as Doc Kearns is jumping into the ring thinking the fight is over. As mentioned previously, the Bell malfunctioned, and it wasn’t even electric, a poster child moment for the way the shady boxing business operates when they can’t even get the simplest things right. The ref had to rely on a puny whistle that only got muffled mute from the massive roar out of the monstrous crowd buried in their sea of “strawboaters”, who by the luck of the draw were witnesses to the most destructive bout in history.  Ollie Pecord was the ref of record in his first and this was his only fight as a referee.

After the shockwaves of that bout had finally subsided, Willard injuries were greatly exaggerated by the too often drunken press of the day, and in turn, Big Jess claimed Jack was carrying iron bars or that his wraps were plastered, both points refuted in a court of law in a handsome civil settlement and public apology by Time Inc., the media outlet that published the derelict Doc Kearn’s accusations.

Part of that testimony is certain to include Ring owner and editor Nat Fleischer who was still alive and bore witness to Dempsey’s hand being wrapped publically in his corner.

Longtime Heavyweight contender Cleveland Williams was employed by Boxing Illustrated to test the plaster theory on a hot summer day with 5 rounds on a heavy bag, the result being both he and his manager concluded the steaming mess of crumbles would have proven worthless in a fight.

Dempsey would go on to more big gate records as the most exciting heavyweight in history. Her he was literally pushed out of the Ring by the Wild Bull of the Pampas, Luis Angel Firpo, that naturally caused a lot of controversy because all the Knockdowns that proceeded that moment melts all logical thought processes. It was said that two spectators suffered heart attacks and died that day from all the excitement.

Net result was Jack became the biggest sports name in the Roaring 20s, even bigger than Babe Ruth because the heavyweight title is much more international than baseball. Facts are they once did some gentlemanly sparring and were good friends. On July 4th, 1919 Babe was still a pitcher with the Boston RedSox and making his first big splash with the larger sporting public by setting every new Homerun record the scattered press could conjure up that day. 

Jack stayed relevant on the boxing scene with his boxing themed restaurant next to the old Madison Square Garden where as a 74 year old stepping out of his cab in front of his restaurant, two young thugs with not enough “cents” to know what they were doing attempted a mugging on the elderly gentleman in his finely tailor suit. Jack flattened them and told the cabbie to go in his restaurant to call the police while he kept em down. Even the clowning charismatic Ali had to check out that mighty left hand that left so many down and out.

Bobby Mac Sez This Ain’t Yer Pappy’s Top Ten Heavyweights in History!

A directive was recently issued to me, that of a compilation of the greatest top 10 heavyweights of all time, a daunting task for the serious aficionado full of disputation to be sure. The criteria ain’t specified other than the assumption of my own unique perspective, so with me and myself having seen and made so many such lists as to become fuzzy over time, I am going to recreate two lists based on two distinct criteria; that of the overall excellence of record, and that of looking at heavies who had the biggest impact on boxing and the world in which they lived, both leavened with the unique opportunities and obstacles of their eras.

The first list is the boxing and world impact, both of which have the biggest influence in boxing.

1.Joe Louis…It don’t get any bigger worldwide than the rematch with Max Schmeling on the eve of WW2 in a bout that was relayed worldwide via the nascent radio of the era. Joe was the first black American heavyweight the overwhelming white majority could rally around and set the stage for the post WW2 integration of Major League Baseball and the US armed forces and subsequent civil rights movements. Need I add that Joe was also a major inspiration in the development of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King as young boys avidly listening to his fights on the radio?

2.The Klitschko brothers…Their collective was 109-7, 94 KO and never once took a ten count that averages ot to 55-4, 47 KO. Between them they moved the heavyweight division to Germany and knocked Don King out of the heavy division to usher in the continuing saga of East European dominance of the heavier boxing divisions.

3.Bob Fitzsimmons…A rare trifecta of being part the first proposed full length feature cinematographic project by Thomas Edison’s Black Maria Studio, the first title fight against James J Corbett to be held in Dallas, Texas, circa 1895 that was cancelled when the Texas Legislature made prize fighting illegal. The always overly dramatic Corbett publicly forfeited his title that was then fought over near Langtry, Texas by Fitz and Peter Maher.

Maher had previously claimed the forfeited Corbett title in November of 1895 against Steve O’Donnell with a 1st rd KO. Fitz and Maher were situated in 1896 on a spit island in the middle of the Rio Grande(Bravo) for the first failed full length feature cinematographic project by Thomas Edison. Tragically the crew could not not get properly set up in misty conditions before Maher became his own victim of a first round KO as his claims to the title transferred to Ruby Robert. Whatever may have been filmed has thus far been lost in time though hope springs eternal that it may possibly turn up.

The 1897 Corbett vs Fitz fight held in Reno, Nevada, the first ever successful full length feature film that additionally became the first ever national and international blockbuster that established art of cinematography permanently in the world. Subsequently James J Jeffries helped develop the art of cinematography further when he knocked out Fitz to claim the title though sadly almost all of the Jeffries film has be either lost or waiting to be rediscovered. The first non boxing blockbuster featuring actors was The Great Train Robbery 6 years later in 1903, a film of only 10 minutes for perspective that introduced the first ever silent screen star to the public, Bronco Billy.

4.John L Sullivan, 39-1-1, 33 KO. John L was the first and only unified Bareknucks and Gloved Queensbury champ and the first American to consolidate titles that had previously belonged exclusively to the British. John L first set up the worldwide heavyweight stage in a growing age of literacy and media expansion, where they remained save for a nanoblip by Ingemar Johansson for a century before Lennox Lewis upset the American monopoly.

5A.Jack Dempsey, 55-6-8, 45 KO. Established the modern spectacle of boxing that is seldom matched and never exceeded.

5B.Muhammad Ali, 56-5, 37 KO. Perhaps the 2nd best known fighter in the world only exceeded by the modern phenomenon of Manny Pacquiao and his 3 billion Asian population base enhanced with modern communication broadcasting.

5C.Mike Tyson, 50-6, 44 KO. Youngest ever champ who cleaned up the derelict post Ali era to unify the titles and temporarily wipe Don King’s slate clean. He had already held the record for career purse earnings before King and Robin Givens ever sunk their claws into him.

OK, now, and what about the greatest records?

1.Joe Louis, 66-3, 52 KO. Nominally his 26(27)-1 heavyweight title records were exceeded, but, overall never surpassed. The 27th was Lee Savold who claimed both the white heavy title and the BBBC heavyweight title that Joe is seldom credited with after knocking him out.

2.The Klitschko brothers, 109-7, 94 KO and bukos title fights with nary a 10 count between them. Collectively they smashed the Louis record, and though individually Wlad exceeded his total career heavyweight title fights, he fell short of the overall Louis record. They may well hold the heavyweight record of the most winning rounds scored as overmatched opponents seldom penetrated their defense.  More importantly they put down Don King for years of 10 counts and transferred heavyweight title fights to Germany-HERESY to be sure!

3.Rocky, 49-0, 43 KO. The most iconic record in all of boxing. My next door neighbor who knows shinola about boxing can recite Rocky’s record like a mantra.

4.Sam Langford, 178-29-39, 126 KO. Mere numerical records FAIL to capture Sam’s greatness, not the least being the sheer number of fights he had against HOF fighters that greatly exceed all such fights by other fighters.

5.Anthony Joshua, 22-0, 21 KO. Going into his 8th title fight as a unified belt holder, no heavyweight as yet has done as much with such a limited number of fights. I always like to include a current great in rankings just to PO dusty mossbacks not understanding that all the greats in the making were moderns in their day as Josh is.

Consolidating the two lists by working backwards using my fighter ratings as their points totals, that’s Josh with 5 points, Sam with 4 points, Rocky with 3 points, The Ks with 2, and Louis with 1.

Then we have Dempsey, Ali, and Tyson tied with 5 each, John L with 4, Fitz at 3, the Ks at 2 and Louis at 1.

Adding up the two lists with fighters not appearing on both lists being assigned a place value of 6 to keep my rankings on keel, That’s Louis 1+1 with 2 pts, the Ks 2+2 with 4, Fitz 3+6 with 9, John L 4+6 with 10, Dempsey, Ali, and Tyson, all 5+6 with 11 each, Josh 5+6 with 11, Sam with 10, Rocky with 7. Divided by 2 to get the final point rankings in numerical order:Louis 1, Ks 2, Rocky 3.5, Fitz 4.5, John L 5, Sam 5, and Dempsey, Ali, Tyson, and Josh 5.5

Translated into standard numerical ranking order:Louis 1, Ks 2, Rocky 3, Fitz 4, John L 5A and Sam 5B, Dempsey, Ali, Tyson, and Joshua 7A, 7B, 7C, 7 D.

So technically that 11 heavyweights if we split the Klitschko brothers, but they were such a dominating force in boxing that they really have to be consolidated as one unit to understand their impact.

Honorable mention goes to Manny Pacquiao who has a super duty heavyweight heart encapsulated into that compact frame. He’s become a huge name both here and in the largest potential boxing market in the world, the Asian culture. His dynamic style and willingness to take on, beat, and knock out the most Ring P4Pers in history at the start of the 3rd Millennium after being born into one of the poorest families in history in the 3rd world resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of career purses, most of which was returned to his native peoples in the forms of schools, hospitals, and other desperately needed infrastructure developments as well as holding Congressional duties as well as too many other interests to stagger reality.

Yeah, I know it ain’t yer Pappy’s top 10 heavyweight rankings, but I ain’t much for feeling like your pappy. It’s my list and the one I’m sticking with for now since their is no agreement on how to rank fighters. I at least gave my methodology combining two important elements. Another ranking method many use is who beats who in a fantasy fight. While interesting from various physical and stylistic attributes, seldom do these rankers specify uniform rules and rounds that would average out the wide ranging eras of  the competing fighters and always disputes as to who beats who even before fighters glove up with each other today.

Fighting is the nature of boxing!

Anthony Joshua VS Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky, Ali, Joe Frazier, Big George, Larry Holmes, Iron Mike, Lennox Lewis, & Wlad

Anthony Joshua: age 27, 18-0, 18 KO, 44 rounds, 3-0, 3 KO title record. The Josh prime pro career has only just started, yet he is currently the best he’s ever been, so how does that stack up with the best heavyweights ever in a fair comparison, F-A-I-R being the keyword here?

Careful Ref on Josh's Knockdown Follow Through

Careful Ref on Josh’s Knockdown Follow Through

Cross referencing the timelines involved using statistical variables yields the following:

Jack Dempsey 12-1-5, 11 KO 1916, age 19, no contender 5 years before title

Joe Louis 18-0, 14 KO 1935, age 21, no contender 2 years before title

Rocky Marciano 18-0, 17 KO 1949, age 25, no contender 3 year before title

Muhammad Ali 18-0, 14 KO 1963, age 22, one contender Doug Jones 1 year before title

Joe Frazier 18-0, 16 KO 1967, age 23, no contender 1 year before title

George Foreman 18-0, 15 KO 1970, age 21, no contender 3 years before title

Larry Holmes 18-0, 13 KO 1975, age 26, no contender 3 years before title

Mike Tyson 18-0, 18 KO 1986, age 19, no contender 9 months before title

Lennox Lewis 18-0, 16 KO 1991, age 26, no contender 2 years before title

Wladimir Klitschko 18-0, 17 KO 1998, age 21, no contender 2 years before title

My conclusion: Josh whoops all save the possibilities of still green  Joe Louis, Foreman, Tyson, or Wlad getting to him. Josh easily whoops all their comp at that stage with not many of Josh’s comp being whooped by their comp as they build their records on the timeline. Josh represents the new continuation of supersized heavyweights that has taken over the division since the reigns of Lewis and the Klitschkos. His biggest advantage besides size/strength/boxing ability is being a fully mature age 27 in his athletic prime years with unparalleled success, scarcely losing a round. Most of the others were much younger at the same stage and less developed.

These I take to be the protagonists’ best fight showing dominance without controversy or officiating help: Joshua–undefeated Dillon Whyte pretitle

Jack Dempsey–KO champion Jess Willard in a epic beatdown

Joe Louis– KO rematch of 52-7-4 Max Schmeling in the biggest ever fight of the day broadcast by radio internationally to an estimated 70 million radios with uncounted numbers of listeners in dozens of countries gathered wherever a radio could pick up the relayed broadcasts

Rocky Marciano– KO 149-19-8 LH champ Archie Moore

Muhammad Ali– UD 39-4 WBA champ Ernie Terrell

Joe Frazier– UD Undefeated champ Ali in Fight of The Century/Fight of the Year

George Foreman– KO undefeated champ Joe Frazier

Larry Holmes– UD 20-2 contender Randall Cobb
.
Mike Tyson– UD undefeated WBC champ Tony Tucker

Lennox Lewis– UD once defeated 37-1 contender David Tua

Wlad Klitschko– UD undefeated Alexander Povetkin in his homeland of Russia while Russia was engaged in a low level war against Klitschko’s native Ukraine, so political animosity and armament was off the shelf.

Could Joe Louis beat Max Schmeling with the rematch being held in Nazi Germany? We can’t say other to note it was easier to beat Max in Yankee Stadium than to travel to hostile Berlin. Can Wlad beat Josh in front of 90,000 screaming meemies in England’s Wembley Stadium? In two weeks we’ll have that answer.

6-6, 250 lbs vs 6-6, 250 lbs in Black Tees

6-6, 250 lbs vs 6-6, 250 lbs in Black Tees

My conclusion for now: Dempsey, Tyson, Frazier, Foreman, Lewis, and Wlad comprehensively whooped better fighters than did Josh, and certainly Rocky also by the legendary status of Moore who might well whoop Whyte also even if a bit of a stretch size and age wise. Whyte vs Terrell or Cobb would be good 50-50 scraps. I could go into the 2nd and 3rd best bouts showing dominance, but this project just a short refresher of the historical timelines of these fighters, and by the end of his career, Josh surely will have many more scalps in comparison. Thing is, if Josh whoops Wlad in his upcoming, bingo, now he has a comparable victory to Frazier.

Finally, let’s look at where the fighters were at age 27 as Josh currently is.

Jack Dempsey age 27, out of boxing for that year, title record 4-0, 4 KO.

Joe Louis age 27, beat Buddy Baer, Billy Conn, Lou Nova, Buddy Baer rematch, Abe Simon, all title fights before being inducted into the Army for 3 yrs. Title record of 22-0, 19 KO.

Rocky Marciano age 27, usually by KO beat Tiger Ted Lowry, Bill Wilson, Keen Simmons, Harold Mitchell, Art Henri, Willis Applegate, Rex Layne, and Freddie Beshore, all pre-title fights the year before his title with Rex Layne being his first Ring ranked scalp.

Muhammad Ali age 27, in boxing exile up before the US Supreme Court for judgement with a title record of 10-0, 8 KO.

Joe Frazier age 27, BTFO out of Ali in FOTC/FOY. Title record 8-0, 6 KO.

George Foreman age 27, KOed Ron Lyle, Joe Frazier, Scott Le Doux, and Dino Denis at the start of his comeback from Ali loss, title record of 3-1, 3 KO.

Larry Holmes age 27, beat Tom Prater, Horace Robinson, and Fred Houpe, all unranked pre-title fights 2 years before his title.

Mike Tyson age 27 incarcerated on bogus rape charges arranged by DKing. Title record of 10-1, 8 KO.

Lennox Lewis age 27, beat Razor Ruddock and then Tony Tucker for his first title(vacated by Big Dummy Bowe)

Wlad Klitschko age 27, beat a couple of minor fringe contenders looking for his 2nd title, title record of 6-1, 5 KO.

My conclusion: Ali and Tyson were unavailable, but more proven and would be the favorites. Rocky and Holmes were too poorly tutored to beat Josh if ever. Lewis was near the same unproven stage as Josh, but Dempsey, Louis, Foreman, and Wlad were more proven and have excellent chances of knocking Josh out with Josh being the underdog. As much as I love Frazier, this a bad size and style matchup for him that I’d pick Josh over in spite of Frazier being more proven. Lewis knocking out washed up versions of Razor Ruddock and Tony Tucker yields no confidence in him as he always looked ready to faint when entering the ring. Josh in comparison has the Eric Molina defense to take him to a 3-0, 3KO title record, and he’s coming up on the Wlad challenge, so he has 7 more months to make his 27 year old destiny.

In summary: Josh is up there by many measures in his current form or has surpassed many on this list at the comparable timelines, most particularly at the comparative 18-0 marks. He still has quite the gauntlet to traverse before being mentioned with the upper echelons of greats as I’m sure most already instinctively know.

Who BeatsThe Klitschko Brothers in the Great Pantheon of Boxing?

It is well and truly astounding how much the Klitscko brothers have shaken up the world of the heavyweight division since they turned pro. They have been alternately lauded and derided in the most outrageous fashions imaginable for well over a decade now, leaving no sharp stone unturned nor any unruly fan unruffled. 

Their records are such that many in the mainstream boxing press have begun talking them up for the IBHOF, so the time is ripe to examine the best heavyweights in history to ascertain who might be able to beat the Klitschko brothers in their current form.

This 2005 IBRO list is probably the most comprehensive consensus of any of the dozens of heavyweight lists that can be easily conjured up. One may dicker over the individual rankings, but most would agree that these would be top 20 heavyweights overall at the time of the poll .

http://www.ibroresearch.com/?p=52

The IBRO heavies I have selected go against the Klitschkos naturally represent the top echelon of the Great Pantheon of boxing with varied styles to challenge them. I only chose those with a career that shows they could put up a championship quality fight against the brothers. These are best to best match ups, not worst to best as so many unartful types are want to make.

I grouped them into 4 main style categories so that broadly similar fighters can be compared and contrasted for differences in how the fights might go. This exercise is as much about application of styles as it is about the eras and the individual talents, so, lets look at the greats the Klitschos will be facing. 

Boxer/movers: Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, and Gene Tunney.

Swarmer/bob and weavers: Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson, and Jack Dempsey.

Strongman/Clubber: George Foreman

Boxer/puncher: Lennox Lewis, Joe Louis, and comeback version of George Foreman.

The Klitschko Credentials

Wladimir

Wladimir

Wlad has compiled a 14-0, 10 KO record against the best in the division since his last bizarre loss 7 yrs ago. Vitali is 10-0, 8 KO from his last loss some 8 years ago, including his 4 years of inactive retirement. Nobody has come close to beating either brother during this period as they have steadfastly eliminated almost 2 generations of Ring contenders or ABC beltholder types between them.

Now that Wladimir Klitschko easily if ungracefully snuffed the threat of the Ring ranked #3 British poser, Mr. David Haye, the 35 year old Wlad could comfortably retire with a HOF quality record of 56-3, 49 KO. after having dominated the division in a fashion never seen before.

Vitali the Elder

Vitali the Elder

The same could be said of his 40 yr old brother, Vitali who sports a 42-2, 39 KO record. Vitali even has his own superfight scheduled in a couple of months against the great Polish champ, Tomasz Adamek, now Ring ranked #2 behind Wlad the Ring champ and Vitali the WBC champ and #1 Ring challenger.

Both Klitschkos are prodigious boxers, winning some 90% of all rounds contested between them, as well as knockout artists, both approaching the 90% mark for their careers, unprecedented for all the fighters that predated them. They are also both highly accurate punchers, Wlad due to his incredible jab that is 90% of his offense, and Vitali due to his own jab and straight rights, 90% of his offense, so it’s near impossible to get past their offense into range for a clean shot at them.

The KO in KlitschKO

The KO in KlitschKO

Wlad not only holds the Ring, IBF, WBO, IBO, and WBA belts, but he is also 5th in the Ring P4P ratings and #2 in Boxrec P4P ratings behind Manny Pacquiao. Vitali is #3 in Boxrec P4P ratings with a record 4 yr layoff between consecutive title wins, so their P4P accomplishments transcend the heavyweight division.

Wlad is 17-2, 14 KO in career title fights and Vitali is 12-2, 10 KO for those interested in arcane title comparisons, but titles are a poor substitute for the incredible gauntlets they have passed through on the way to ruling over their dominion.

Klitschko critics still abound though, the complaints ranging from “boring fighters” to “fighting bums in a weak division” to “any great heavyweight from the past would beat them” or my favorite, “too robotic,” among the more popular. Typically the complainants point to past losses as an excuse to ignore their unprecedented successes, a rather primitive denial of the real records.

Since Rocky Marciano was the only undefeated great heavyweight, one would presume that he would automatically be touted as the greatest heavyweight ever, but he isn’t, proving the hypocrisy of that mode of rationalization.

Fantasy fights often roust a primordial instincts in some to rally to their “tribe” or their “favorite” no matter the reasoned analysis discussed, so this article is doubtless not their cup of tea, but given the nature of the Klitscho dominance and their unique style of boxing, the fantasy fights available to them have never been hotter for true boxing fans still tuned in to the current scene.

Philosophically, fantasy fight fans generally fall into two main camps:

1. Golden oldies rule the roost with more heart, discipline, and native fighting ability than moderns.

2. Modern fighters are more scientifically trained and bigger, stronger, and in better shape than ancient greats.

There are elements of truth to both camps, but life and boxing are considerably more complex than two subjective, unproven points of view. It’s important to remember every fighter was modern in his era before falling into the “retired” category which the brothers will be doing soon enough.

Credible analysis should compare career timelines as well as styles since every fighter starts from scratch and then falls into peaks and valleys representative of their eras and their ablities. No fighter is perfect and all have assorted good and bad days at the office no matter the result. Analysis should have proper context or we could end up having the poorest versions of a fighter against the best versions of other fighters, not valid superfights in the Great Boxing Pantheon for sure.

Since the brothers will be going up against a range of great fighters, let’s start with their strengths and weaknesses so as to not repeat them for every match.

Wlad Strengths: Utilizes his great height, reach, strength and footwork to become one of the best defensive fighters ever, rarely getting hit clean, as well as becoming one of the best ever offensive fighters. He has dominated fights with just his left jab, but he also has a solid right hand and one of the devastating and versatile left hooks in boxing that he seldom uses for some reason. See the last round of the first Peter fight and the KOs of Chambers and Austin as examples of that left hook as well as early and late round knockout power.

Wlad Weaknesses: Has some shaky balance after throwing his right hand which has limited it’s use. He has been hurt and down in the past from big punches, primarily against Corrie Sanders, and has a preference for a hard clinch to a slug out, counter, or brawl, probably because because his timing and mental makeup is all wrong for these inside styles of boxing. Periodically he marks ups  some, but it hasn’t really been a problem because his formidable defense and offense control most of any fight. Had a strange stamina issue earlier in his career that seems to be corrected with some mental discipline.

Vitali strengths: Also utilizes his great height, reach, strength and footwork to become one of the best defensive fighters ever, rarely getting hit clean, as well as becoming one of the best ever offensive fighters. His ability to take a clean punch to the head or body is without question. His ring activity, balance and stamina are excellent and he’s not shy about engaging a slugout or nifty counter as needed. He controls fights with superior command of timing and range such that there is never a need for a crude brawl. He has a heavy handed type of power that few can outlast.

Vitali weaknesses: Though his boxing abilities are still at a zenith in his 40th year, he is 40 now with all the ravages that implies that could cause him to become unstuck in a hard fight as he likely has coming up against Adamek. He has lost 2 fights by “fluke” injury, a torn shoulder and the most shredded face ever seen in modern boxing, so it’s difficult to really count those oddities as a weakness, but like his brother, he has also been marking up slightly in a few fights as expected at his age.

It is telling that both the brothers are pure headhunters like Ali, almost never throwing a body shot, and like Ali, they are arm punchers rather than leveraged punchers as pure sluggers are. Defensively, they also lean away and pull straight back from attacks just like Ali in spite of gross overall differences in style from Ali, so just like Ali, they get away with breaking the rules of boxing convention because it suits their talents and styles.

And like Ali, they absolutely do infuriate their critics to an unhealthy degree, even if they are polar opposites in personalities compared to the flamboyant over the top Ali.

Let’s kickoff the first round with the modern boxer/punchers who were still active in during the start Klitschko era, Lennox Lewis and George Foreman. As such, all fights will be contested under current 12 round, 10 ounce gloves championship rules, a rule that I concede favors the brothers, yet is the most inclusive comparison for all the fighters.

Lewis did pull out a win by the skin of his teeth against the still developing Vitali before hustling off to premature retirement without passing GO to collect the riches of a lifetime. In short, he didn’t fancy the lucrative rematches HBO and fans were begging him for. Critics moan about Lewis’ age, weight, and condition, but the boxing consensus was that he was at the top of his game coming in. I’d favor the improved brothers overall, but perhaps others might chose a younger version of Lewis, say sometime between Golota in 1997 and Tua in 2000, so fair enough, but remember, the brothers are a grade above Golota and Grant, the big men Lewis did defeat handily and wouldn’t be suckered in by Lewis’ brawling tactics in those fights at this stage.

The comeback George seemed to avoid all the big boxer types, but the truth is the 41 yr old version who had Holyfield hanging on for dear life in the closing rounds was good enough to compete with the improved brothers or any heavy in history. His best shot would be against Wlad who has the weaker whiskers, but I’d favor the brothers overall. Still, who can forget a prime Shannon Briggs going on the run after tasting Big George’s power in his last fight nearing 50 yrs of age?

The prime clubber/strongman George, now that’s an all time force of nature right there. Thing is, that Foreman was a wide swinging distance slugger who could struggle against boxers, not a winning recipe for the best distance boxers in history, and he never beat a supersized heavy in his prime. Still, we cannot blithely ignore the chances of one of the strongest, most awkward sluggers in heavyweight history who could cut off the ring quicker than credited, but it’s a different fight going up against the size and style of the brothers. Sam Peter was a poor man’s Foreman as one example. It’s too easy to pick the greater legacy in fantasy matchups as the usual suspects are want to do, but I favor Foreman slightly against Wlad and Vitali against Foreman.

Primo in Numbers

Primo in Numbers

Joe Louis credentials are without question, a near perfect boxer/puncher with perhaps his only real weakness being a leaky defense and shaky chin that sees him on the deck in a number of fights, but then again he was in a BUNCH of title fights! He has the best historical record against supersized heavies such as Primo Carnera, Buddy Baer, and Abe Simon, knocking them out handily by utilizing his underrated footwork, timing and combinations. However, the Klitschkos in their current form are vastly superior to Joe’s big fellas, and both use a new style that leverages their size and strength, also with underrated footwork. Louis was somewhat easy to hit, and as superior boxers at range, the brothers are among the most accurate punchers in boxing history, 99.98% pure head hunters with body shots a rare oddity.

Could Joe ever make it inside for his short counters he was so feared for?

Maybe, but I find it hard to make this more than an even fight in that I feel the 12 rd distance under modern conditions greatly favors the brothers since Joe was something of a slow starter. It’s only the incredible ring achievements of Louis that has me rate him in an otherwise poor style matchup for him. The fight would surely have a lot of tension to it because of the quality of the threats and the boxing nuance.

Let’s move on to the boxer/mover types, Muhammed Ali, Larry Holmes, and Gene Tunney.

Of the three, Gene Tunney is unquestionably the most completely skilled fighter in heavyweight history, he had all the smarts, talents and attributes save size and strength, but does he give up a lotta size, a half foot and some 60 lbs easily. There is little doubt he could move about the ring and avoid most of the punches for 12 rds, but it’s doubtful he’d get credit for a defensive fight only. His offensive forte was at range, another bad style match up against the brothers that gives him little chance.

Holmes vs Cooney

Holmes vs Cooney

Holmes a bigger fighter at 6-3, 210-215 or so, the perfect size for his era which has since fallen by the wayside of today’s heavies. The only titlest he ever beat was Ken Norton in a highly disputed decision with no rematch. The ugly truth was that the Klitschko sized Cooney was outboxing him on the cards before tiring and losing form and points with lowblows. Both brothers are considerably more experienced and proven than Cooney who had feasted on name fighters well past their best to leverage his title shot. Maybe the Holmes rapier jab could open up their faces for a stoppage, his only chance since he cannot outbox them, a distant cutter’s chance for him.

Not the big Ali fan like so many are, but his chances are compellingly intriguing. First off, I can’t see any form of the comeback version of Ali being competitive in spite of 1972 being his best overall year of boxing against quality contenders and 74 being his best win ever against Foreman not to mention the legendary Thrilla in Manila. None of those fights is remotely akin to a Klitschko fight save gloves and trunks.

Ali vs Terrell

Ali vs Terrell

No sir, we’re talking about a prime, peak ali here, 1966-1967 that is an overrated portion of his career, but one that sees him outclass a near Klitschko quality boxer in Ernie Terrell. Ali was at the height of his mercurial quicksilver reflexes that operated in unpredictable free form, sometimes disappearing for portions of a fight, but then striking without warning to change the fight.

There is no doubt his flighty feet were faster and more unpredictably frustrating than Tunney or Holmes, and he had blinding combination capability when he wanted to let loose, but then again, both the brothers are very patient defensive minded boxers with excellent footwork not prone to wild goose chases and hayemakers. I like Ali’s chances enough to make this an even type of unpredictable fight. Could be a stinker or classic, all dependent on what form of Ali showed up in the ring. Terrell held his own in the early going before damaging his eye on the ropes, even roughing up Ali inside with some rights, but the brothers are pure outside boxers, so that fight has little relevance overall other than Terrell being tallish with a good jab and experience that were useless with his damaged eye.

Finally, the last grouping I give the best chances too, the swarmer/bob and weavers, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson, and Jack Dempsey.

Actually, I don’t give Smokin Joe much of a chance because he’s down on power compared to Dempsey and Tyson and slower to boot, but he could create some difficulty for as long as he lasted due to the brothers reluctance to throw hooks and uppercuts, perfect offensive weapons against low slung bobbing noggins. Frazier did beat the massive Buster Mathis, a technical boxer who never leveraged his size and strength like the brothers, but Big George destroyed him at distance with crude clubbings, not encouraging against the best controlled distance fighters in history.

Jack the Giant Killer

Jack the Giant Killer

Dempsey destroyed some good sized heavies including a similar fighter to the brothers in Jess Willard, but his was the era of 6 ounce gloves, not the 10 ouncers of modern heavyweight championship boxing, so it’s hard to envision Dempsey doing the same damage as he did against Willard, probably the worst beating in boxing history, broken this and knocked loose that. Still, Dempsey used a cautious style to open before exploding, and that element of surprise and his cat quick reflexes coupled with some of the best combination punching in heavy history makes a prime Dempsey a gamer in any fight.

Last, but certainly not least, the young Mike Tyson when he had a professional Hall of Fame team training and managing him was a near perfect fighter to match the Klitschkos, winning almost every contested round and knocking out most every fighter, usually within a few rounds that always seemed to end up as a highlight. Tyson has a record against Big Men to match Joe Louis, his best win coming over the Klitschko sized Tony Tucker who had similar talents even if he fought in a different style to the brothers. Tucker was in his natural prime for the bout with plenty of experience and undefeated, a very underrated fighter given that he was never beaten again until many years later well past his best against a prime Lennox Lewis.

Bruno vs Tyson

Bruno vs Tyson

Tyson, like Dempsey, had very good handspeed and footwork with combination punching that was devastating once they slipped the gaps inside, but Tyson had some extra 25 lbs of power added to his mix and fought under near identical modern rules.

I favor Tyson who was as naturally gifted as any fighter in history and for a brief time maximized his talents with the best professional team ever assembled in boxing. Nobody is gonna beat the brothers at their range, so it’s gonna have to be an inside style fighter although Tyson was best as a midrange combination puncher rather than a classic inside brawler like Dempsey could be.

So, if I were to rate their chances on a numerical scale, here’s the list.

1. Mike Tyson

2. Muhammad Ali

3. Jack Dempsey

4. Joe Louis

5. George Foreman

6. Lennox Lewis.

7. Joe Frazier

8. Larry Holmes

9. Gene Tunney

There’s a large gap between #1, my only favorite and the rest. The #2, 3, & 4 are all competitive fights that swing either way depending on who was on and who was off on the day of the fight, so it’s the first four greats listed who realistically have a decent shot at dethroning the Klitschkos.

Subjective Fantasy Fight outcomes really don’t mean much to the Great Pantheon of Boxing when we know even big favorites can be upset. Let’s delve deeper into the established criticisms of this era.

Some moan about the Klitschko’s not beating anyone and their era being a weak one, but they said the same thing about Joe Louis. The history is such that the heavyweights have never fully satisfied boxing insiders and boxing fans in any era, all being derided for their weak heavyweights, so the weak argument is just that, a terribly weak argument that has never held water.

Same deal with them not beating anyone. Facts are that when they turned pro, they were obligated by contracts to fight on a German promotional banner that was also starting out, so there were problems breaking into the elite US market at the time. Vitali did fly over for a few Mike Tyson fights in the late 90s to drum up interest, but American boxing isn’t much interested today much less back when. Eventually they broke the Don King stranglehold on the division and have had no problems securing top fights since then, nor any problems disposing of the best competition of their boxing careers.

Still, both brothers were Ring ranked by the end of the 90s with Wlad being #1 for most of the time since 2001. You are welcome to peruse my previous article on the Battle of the Weakest links that examines past great heavies’ weakest defenses compared to Vitali:

https://roberto00.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/the-battle-of-the-weakest-links/

And the article detailing the current top 25 heavyweights in boxing and the Klitschko brothers‘ records against them. Warning….it’s pretty impressive:

https://roberto00.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/the-heavyweight-dilemma-vitali-klitschko-vs-shannon-briggs/

While speculation is never written in stone, records is records and those are written in stone and provide much of the basis of my conclusions. If we had a massive tourney involving all these fighters, at the end of the day the best would take their lumps and losses with the worst of them with some odd results mixed in as happens so often in big matchmaking. Anything is possible

Fighters have always been matched up in theory, the perfect excuse to breaking a fight down stylistically enough to justify picking a winner, so there it all is laid out for whomever wants it:

The Klitschkos vs…….

Who you got?

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mbe1YJVUm-s&feature=related

Here he’s a ruthless King of his World:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDF3lPt42WE

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!

Spartacus

Spartacus

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XKcGRREcaM&feature=related

Ali explains how to beat Rock:

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SpGgop1Luc&feature=related

Cosell interview of Dempsey and Rocky:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuLWvYRpVR4&feature=related

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.

The Heavyweight Dilemma, Vitali Klitschko vs Shannon Briggs

The longtime hue and cry over the current state of the heavyweight division has only intensified these past few months as top contenders, David Haye, Alexander Povetkin, and Thomsz Adamek have refused to fight Vitali Klitschko or his brother Wladimir.

Shannon the Cannon

Shannon the Cannon

Instead, Vitali will defend his WBC belt against a very hungry and now very lean and mean Shannon The Cannon Briggs. Briggs has managed to maneuver into a #9 WBC ranking, but is otherwise not highly ranked by the various orgs and websites. Basically, the complaint is that he has done nothing to warrant a title shot, the same complaint leveled at Vitali’s last opponent, Albert Sosnowski.

Read my previous musings on those claims here, inserting the formidably muscled up Briggs for the muscled up Sosnowski.

https://roberto00.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/the-battle-of-the-weakest-links/

Typically,  overemoting critics fail to understand the dynamics of leveraging a big heavyweight promotion, nor do they have any sense of the rankings or depth of the heavyweight division, preferring the easier job of bigging up the one or two names of their favored fighters as if that was all that was needed to make a prizefight, much less a title fight, the mere suggestion of personal desire.

Here are some recent Boxrec rankings as of September 5th while Vitali, Wlad, and David Haye were all putting together their fights. Keep in mind that Boxrec is the largest of the few ranking orgs that rank more than 10 or 15 fighters in a division.

The (notes) are mine of course:

1. Wlad

2. Vitali

3. Haye (already backed out of one signed and sealed contract and refused recent 50/50 offer by the Klitschkos, signing to defend against Audley Harrison in spite of repeated denials that he was even in negotiations)
4. Adamek (pending to allow cuts to heal, but apparently fighting Maddalone in Dec)
5. Chagaev (beat badly by Wlad and currently Haye’s mandatory)
6. Povetkin (refused to sign negotiated agreement to challenge in Wlad’s last defense, thus losing his 2 yr long mandatory ranking, not to mention his trainer, Teddy Atlas, says Povetkin is not yet ready to challenge for the title.)
7. Valuev (interesting deal was almost put together against Vitali, but out into next year with left shoulder/wrist surgery)
8. Peter (beat badly by Wlad 2x/Vitali 1x)
9. Thompson (beat badly by Wlad with no following)
10. Chambers (beat badly by Wlad and still rebuilding)
11. Arreola (beat badly by Vitali and still rebuilding)
12. Dimitrenko (new EBU champ, but turned down Klitschko offers, maybe building into a much bigger promotion in the next year of two)
13. Gomez (beat badly by Vitali and a last ditch opponent for now)
14. Sexton (busy being knocked out by Chisora)
15. Boytsov (maybe in the future, but only 24 and shaking off the rust after coming back from hand surgery, now is not his time, maybe a year or two in a bigger promotion)
16. Austin (beat badly by Wlad with no following)
17. Helenius (very promising prospect recently breaking into fringe contender. Maybe a year or two away in a much bigger promotion)
18. Solis (chubby growing into a blimp with promoter problems looking like he’s moving to challenge for the WBA cheese belt, not the Klitschkos)
19. Pianeta (who dat?)
20. T Ibragimov (The lesser talented of the Russian Iggys, his cousin already lost a shutout against Wlad)
21. Sosnowski (beat badly by Vitali and rebuilding against Dimitrenko)
22. Ustinov (undefeated Russian Bigfoot monster promoted by Ks and wants a Kbro. I’m guessing Vitali’s retirement fight if he makes it past Briggs and can’t sign Haye or Valuev)
23. Holyfield (Oh, brother, where art thou buried? Jeez…..)
24. Platov (who? See Pianeta!)
25. Johnson (beat worse than badly by Vitali……..please, watching Vitali try to stuff a giant squash into a blender would be better stuffing for a Saturday night turkey……..nevermore…….nevermore…….)

So, thusly informed, now say HELLO to one Shannon The Cannon Briggs, lifelong asthmaholic, part time wastrel, yet all while breaking the all time first round KO record first officially recorded by Jack Dempsey in his all time tear through the heavy division. Briggs has 31 first round KOs, unofficially 32 but for failing a post fight drug test, probably a positive test result for ganja. Briggs is unabashedly Jamaican after all.

Briggs is a strange one alright. He was a dynamic, charismatic young personality who won the ‘Dream’ “Lineal” heavyweight title with a dubious decision over the nearing 50 yr old Big George Foreman, then was knocked out in a ferocious slugfest against WBC champ Lennox Lewis in his very next bout. Instead of rebuilding, he partied hardy and let his training and weight go, thus was written off as a wasted talent.

In spite of all the above shortcomings, many years later he managed to renew “The Dream” when Briggs lifted the WBO title from the then highly regarded Siarhei Liakhovich with a Hail Mary last second knockout in the 12th round, a title that Briggs promptly dropped in his first defense. He then retired to hit the all you can eat buffets for 2 yrs before coming back hard with 4 straight 1st rd Kos.

Now Briggs finds himself square in the middle in his 3rd opportune “Dream ” when Haye, Adamek, and Povetkin all shut down and beat strategic retreats rather than to fight the brothers in a losing cause. As the “2x” champ with an established name, Briggs should bring in the business once the promotion starts touting his KO record.

Der Knock-outers

Der Knock-outers

Brigg’s may be much older and slower of hand and foot than Sosnowski, but hugely larger and stronger, remaining a danger from rds 1-12. He’s already been making the right noises about knocking Vitali out, and while his overall boxing skills may be lacking for a top contender, he has the top experience, hunger, guile, and the natural talent and power to pull off the kind of spectacular upset that nobody else in the division would be capable of.

Bigger upsets have happened in the one punch Big Boy division, that’s for sure.

Der Braumeistrisses

Der Braumeistrisses

Vitali is self promoted and has chosen a juicy date in Germany after all the Oktoberfest lederhosen has been put away, Saturday, October 16th, at the O2 arena in Hamburg. Apparently he will be throwing a rock concert before and after since the bout appears to be the sole fight on the card.

It was quite the slap in the face of Haye that Vitali chose a weekend of WBC boxing festivities in London to do the initial promotion of the bout, but Haye appears to be quite shameless in avoiding any true challenge to his WBA belt he acquired under dubious circumstances. He instead kept himself squirreled away in a secret bunker in London, all while exchanging bitter twitter tweets with The A-Force, Audley Harrison in the Great ’10 Tweet Street War of Sweet Nothings & Handbags.

Yet there is also much reputation and respect to be lost for Vitali if he were to lose to Briggs who is widely derided as previously mentioned in spite of his obvious danger, but Vitali had little choice given the limitations of his division that has seen the Klitschkos dominate their opposition in a fashion never before seen in the history of the division.

Dr. Ironfist

Dr. Ironfist

Both are aging fighters born only months apart for whom the wheels may go flying off without warning. Briggs has many more fights, but owing to his impressive 1st round KO record, they have logged near identical pro rounds, 196 for Vitali and 194 for Briggs.

Vitali has a very long amateur record compared to Briggs and was also a championship kick boxer for several years, so his odometer has significantly more miles on the clock, making him more vulnerable in theory.

The promotion should be a success overall with the European, ie, German public for whom this fight is being targeted.

Briggs 262 - Klitschko 251

Briggs 262 – Klitschko 251

This was supposed to be Vitali’s last year before retirement, after all, he will be 40 yrs old next year, but like Manny Pacquiao’s last year, it may prove to be impossible to walk away from all the money on the table for his fights.

We shall see what The Fates deal out in a couple of weeks. It could be a prototypical methodical Vitali beatdown, or an upset for the new age, so tune in if you want to see knockout record setting heavyweights still in full command their game.

 

A Message From the Boss

A Message From the Boss