Tag Archives: Joe Frazier

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.

My Brother The Boxer, The Terry Daniel Story by Jeff Daniels

My Brother The Boxer, The Terry Daniel Story by Jeff Daniels

This interesting self published book follows 7 years of Texas heavyweight contender Terry Daniels from his brief debut with the Southern Methodist University Mustang football team to his title challenge of champion Joe Frazier in New Orleans the day before Superbowl V in 1972. 70 million viewers are estimated to have watched Frazier to defend against Daniels on free terrestial TV for context to today.

While not a pure biography, it can be seen as an authenic ethnographic record of a young man born into a loving middle class family during the Harry Truman presidency to mature during the Vietnam War torn, racial rioting America of the 1960s. Raised in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, he has to come to Texas for his first bar fights, first love and marriage, and rapid rise to stardom in boxing after a knee injury ended his football aspirations.

This coming of age in the mythologized ’60s is as much God, family, honor, and country as the machinations of a storied boxing era of Texas amateur boxing with Floyd Patterson, Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, and of course Terry Daniels

http://www.mybrothertheboxer.com

Top of the Food Chain, Joe Louis or Muhammad Ali?

 

These kind of discussions over the internet tend to favor moderns who are want to express opinions without context or factual basis as to why their hero is is #1.

Bert Sugar perhaps infamously chose Cleveland fullback Jim Brown for his all time greatest athlete. Never mind that teammate Marion Motley has a higher career rushing average and did it basketball hightops because no football cleats could be found then to fit his monstrous feet. Motley could also clear out the defense in support of his running back and quarterback, hard, gritty work that was beneath Brown, and Motley also pulled fulltime duty as linebacker, a two way, 60 minute player, something the coddled Brown was never good for. But of course Brown was also such a great lacrosse player, never mind that Wilt Chamberlain proved in two footraces that he was significantly faster than Brown and could turn him upside down to shake all his change loose at will not to mention being a collegiate, multi-event track and field star during his down time from basketball. Wilt a world class volleyball player in his retirement, the best in his day. Wilt didn’t even like basketball because of it’s stupid rules and the stupid media always pestering him, but it was the most lucrative option for him, so he made the best of it as a record setter both on offense and defense. Even did a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters before his NBA career, damned hard to top that.

Now modern media “experts” claim Michel Jordan is the best athlete ever, never mind he wasn’t even a mediocre division B minor league baseball player and only a modestly endowed golfer. Jim Thorpe, fresh off an Indian reservation, won both Pentathlon and Decathlon Olympic gold medals in Sweden, then played major league baseball for several years before co-founding and becoming the first ever star of the National Football League. It don’t get any better than that as an athlete, but moderns just shrug and say, Jim Who?

So, here we go, Bobby Mac’s Facts Update, just the facts ma’am, so:

What are the career records of Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali?

Joe 66-3, 52 KO vs Ali 56-5, 37 KO

OK, clearly Joe is vastly superior, but there are records and then there are RECORDS, so let’s delve deeper.

ProDebut:

Joe, age 20 yrs, 1 month, 22 days, coming off winning the United States National AAU tournament with a final record of 50-4, 43 KO, debuted @ 181 lbs against Jack Kracken, 27-7-3, in the “city of the big shoulders,” Chicago, July 4th, 1934, US Independence Day. Drops Kracken in the opening seconds and then blasts him through the ropes into the lap of the shocked Illinois commish to formally announce to the world the transformation from Joe Barrow to Joe Louis. Has there ever been a better boxing debut than that? Prior he was no more than a po’ sharecropper’s boy from Podunk, Alabama. The $59 depression purse went a long ways in those days, the most money he had ever earned in his life.

Ali, age 18 yrs, 9 months and 12 days, coming off Olympic Lightheavy Gold glory with a multitude of final ama record claims, debuts @ 192 lbs, October 29th, 1960, in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky against Tunney Hunsaker, 16-9-1, a Sunday School teacher and police chief of Fayetteville, West Virginia. Ali touched up Hunsaker some with a bloody nose and cut eye for a 6 round unanimous decision and a healthy $2000 purse for the day. Solid hometown pro debut for such a young kid, but no comparison to the spectacular 4th of July fireworks set off by Joe.

Da Preem vs Joe Louis

Da Preem vs Joe Louis

Longest Title reign and record:

Joe 11 years, 252 days, 26-0, 23 KOs vs Ali three combined title runs of 3 years, 63 days + 3 years, 108 days + 284 days = 7 years, 90 days, 22-2. OK, but Joe had three more title fights, 1 competitive decision loss to Charles in his comeback and a knockout of Lee Savold who held the BBBC version of the split title + the last white heavy belt, and a competitive KO loss to Marciano for a final title record of 27-1 vs Ali’s humiliation KO loss to Holmes for a final title record of 22-3.

Now, if we extend out the Ali years up to the first Frazier fight, they’d be just short of Joe, but, remember, Ali also relinquished his Ring belt early so his good buddy Jimmy Ellis could fight for it. Ring never awarded the belt to Ellis yet kept Ali as Champion through 1969. Joe is still superior.

First and last Ring Top 10 ratings:

Joe #1 in his first year of eligibility, age 20 vs Ali #9 in his first year of eligibility, age 19.

Joe #1 when he challenged Champion Charles in 1950, age 36, and #6 against #2 Marciano in 1951, age 37. Ali was last ranked as Champion in 1978, age 36.

Joe clearly superior though Ali managed to slide into Ring ratings a year earlier than Joe because of his earlier debut.

HOF fights:

Joe 13 such fights, 10-3 9 KO vs Ali 14 such fights, 11-3, 8 KO. Joe with 2 KO losses vs Ali with 1 KO loss.

Joe earliest HOFer and win @ age 21 yr, 4 month, 11 days over Baer vs Ali earliest HOFer and win @ age 20 yr, 9 months, 28 days over Moore.

Joe last HOF win @ age 37 yr, 3 month and a day over Blivins vs Ali last HOF win @ age 34 yr, 8 months, 11 days over Ken Norton, a hotly disputed decision.

Ali with tiny edge in total HOF fight, Joe with KOs, and Ali with one less KO loss. Joe a few months older for first HOF fight vs Ali a bit younger, but Joe considerably older for last HOF win than Ali. They both lost their last HOF fights by KO, but Joe in his 8th fight over 10 months in his 37th year gave Marciano all he could handle for 8 rounds vs Ali out of retirement carried mercifully by Holmes trying to get the fight stopped with no damage to Ali. Joe definitely finished the stronger fighter overall.

Controversial fights:

Joe only had two, the first Buddy Baer and JJWalcott fights which he quickly avenged with savage KOs in the rematches vs far too many controversial fights for Ali, really too embarrassing to mention that he always benefited from every controversy. Big advantage Joe who consistently took care of business in a more professional way than did Ali who needed a lot of help from the suits.

Unified America behind him:

Joe

Split up America over him:

Ali

Won a Supreme Court Decision:

Ali, of course, major props and maybe the highlight of his life.

Young Cassius

Young Cassius “The Greatest” Clay

Summoned to the White House by the President for consultation on impending military desegregation policy:

Joe, the one and only.

Inspiration for the two most prominent black civil rights spokesmen in history:

Both Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela count Joe Louis as providing the inspiration for a higher dignity and purpose of what their people people might achieve if allowed their civil rights.

Who loses to Leon?

Ali, of course. Joe on his worst day in shackles and blindfolded could never lose to Leon.

Now, lest this take on a wholly one sided analysis, in general most fans would agree that Joe Frazier and George Foreman are better than the best Joe took on, but Ali never really showed he was better than Frazier. Most can finally admit Joe whooped the holy jinn out of him the first fight, and did it in spite of referee Mercante near poking out his only good eye midway through the fight. The second fight was competitive and close, and the third a happenstance of incredible good fortune when Frazier’s scout couldn’t make it from Ali’s corner to Frazier’s corner to tell them Ali was quitting. Joe was on his feet bouncing around like a rubber ball waiting to be unleashed when Eddie Futch pulled the plug as Ali stood up and collapsed. Nor could the terribly grievous conditions in Zaire that all favored Ali ever be replicated, thus no rematch with George who only spent 9 seconds on the canvas in his first career knockdown, yet was counted out. Compare to Ali who collapsed seconds later for a 30 count that took his legions to elevate him over to his corner.

Yeah, and maybe Sonny Liston was better than Joe’s best too, but Joe could easily beat a fighter who quit on his stool and take a dive as well as the next guy, so let’s keep it real…over and out.

 

 

Nat Fleischer On The Push To Make Ali Great

After the magnificent performance, skill, heart, and courage of Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali in the 1971 Fight of the Century that roused not only a country, but the rest of the world, there was an heavy push back on Nat Fleischer to revise his All Time Top 10 Heavyweight rankings. 

Nat, of course, was the founding father of gathering and cataloging fighter records, and in time because of the seminal nature of his work, his copious contributions, his ringside witness to so many great fights, he and Ring Magazine became synonymous as The Bible of Boxing, so any of his pronouncements and observations were literally taken as being passed as the Word of God. Boxing fans studied his edicts religiously as Nat coasted along secure in being at top of his game.

But the landscape soon changed when Ali was convicted of dodging the draft and suspended from boxing for 3 1/2 years as he battled all the way to the US Supreme Court. The push to make Ali great began to gather steam during this Ali lull. Miraculously, Ali’s conviction was overturned and he was allowed to return to boxing.

Then the unthinkable. Down goes Ali. Frazier whoops Ali.

A very interesting period piece of journalism followed as Fleischer holds his ground, not stubbornly, but rather in well thought out logical explanations that may have given succor to the larger base of boxing fans, but did nothing to satisfy Ali supporters. They incredibly insisted their man won the Fight of the Century and demanded that Ali be put in Nat’s top 10, a veritable flood filling his mailbox every month.

Down Goes Ali, Down Goes Ali

Down Goes Ali, Down Goes Ali

Now as we have over 40 years of hindsight, it’s easy for moderns to look at Nat’s list and see how silly it looks, but back then he was one of the few willing to publish such a list at the risk of great personal criticism. One thing to note is the fighters on his list were long retired, meaning no way was Nat going to rate some young whippersnapper just entering the middle of his career. Since he passed in 1972, he never got to see Ali upset George Foreman in Zaire, so we can’t say how that might of altered his view of things, though I suspect very little as to adding a currently active heavyweight to his list. We can say within a year or two after the Foreman upset as I recollect, Ring came out with a revised list that had Ali at or near the top of the 10 in a vast rearrangement of Nat’s list. In the encapsulated words of the immortal Chuck Berry and Hank Williams, “Roll over Beethoven ’cause the big dog’s moving in”

In Nat’s own words:

As I have had it listed in The Ring Record Book for some years, my all-time rating of heavyweights is as follows: 1. Jack Johnson, 2. Jim Jeffries, 3. Bob Fitzsimmons, 4. Jack Dempsey, 5. James J. Corbett, 6. Joe Louis, 7. Sam Langford, 8. Gene Tunney, 9. Max Schmeling, 10. Rocky Marciano.

I started the annual ranking of heavyweights in the 1953 with only six listed: 1. Jack Johnson, 2. Jim Jeffries, 3. Bob Fitzsimmons, 4. Jack Dempsey, 5. James J. Corbett, 6. Joe Louis.

In later years I found it necessary to expand the ratings in all classes to top 10, with these top listings: heavyweights, Jack Johnson; light heavies, Kid McCoy; middleweights, Stan Ketchel; welters, Joe Walcott; lightweights, Joe Gans; feathers, Terry McGovern; bantams, George Dixon; flyweights, Jimmy Wilde.

For some time now I have been under great pressure from some readers of The Ring magazine and of The Ring Record Book, as well, to revise my ratings, especially in the heavyweight division.

Here is a strange facet to this pressure move. It has concerned, chiefly, Cassius Clay.

Never before in the history of the ratings did I find myself pressured to revise the listing of a heavyweight, right on top of a defeat.

There was considerable pressure to include Clay among the Top 10 during his 3 1/2-year interlude of inactivity.

But the campaign became stronger after Clay had returned with knockout victories over Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena. The demand on behalf of Clay became strongest after he had been beaten by world champion Joe Frazier in a 15-round contest that saw Cassius decked in the final heat.

Clay’s fight with Frazier left thousands of his admirers, who had seen the contest over television, protesting that Clay had won and that the unanimous decision of referee Arthur Mercante and judges Artie Aidala and Bill Recht, was a hoax, or worse.

Before we go any farther, let us dispose of this point. Frazier was declared the winner without a dissenting vote because he was the winner with unanimous force and unbiased conviction.

Clay never hurt Frazier. He messed up Joe’s left eye and made it look as if there had been an indecisive result, or a definite verdict in favor of Clay. Clay’s gloves reached Frazier more often than Frazier’s punches reached Clay. But Cassius lacked force.

Clay was hurt, especially in the 11th and 15th rounds. Clay came near being knocked out in the play-acting 11th. Clay’s constant retreat to the ropes was the tipoff on the fight.

I sat in the first press row in the Garden and emphatically saw Clay beaten. However, we have thousands of Clay backers insisting that he had established himself as one of the all time Top 10.

I did not regard Ali as a member of the leading 10 before he got into his argument with the Federal Courts. I did not see, in the Clay record as it stood after his seven-round knockout of Zora Folley in New York on March 22, 1967, any reason for my revising the heavyweight listing to include Cassius among the all-time 10. Nor did the Quarry, Bonavena, and Frazier fights impress me to the point at which I found myself considering ousting one of my Great 10 to make room for Clay.

Suppose I suffered an aberration and decided to include Clay among the top 10. This would mean ousting Marciano to make room for Ali as my all-time number l0. That would be farcical. Clay never could have beaten Marciano. Clay’s record is not the superior of the one the tragic Rocky left behind him when he retired from boxing unbeaten.

I even had something to do with Clay’s winning the Olympic light heavyweight championship in Rome in 1960. I spotted him for a likely Gold Medal, but I did not like the way he was training–or rather, not training. Cassius was entertaining the gals of the Italian capital, with gags and harmonica playing, and forgetting what he had been entered for.

I gave him a lecture and a warning. Maybe it had something to do with his victory. Maybe he would have won just the same. But I doubt if my talk did any harm.

After Cassius had won the title I felt that we had another Floyd Patterson in the making. He did not have Patterson’s speed of hands at that time, but he had more speed of foot. And more animation, which, of course, is an understatement. Floyd never has been a paragon of vivacity.

As Clay left the Olympic ring a champion, I saw him growing fast into a heavyweight. And I treated myself to a dream. I said to myself, “This kid could go far. It all depends on his attitude, his ability to tackle his job earnestly and seriously. Some of his laughter could be a real asset.” Ultimately it was.

Neither animus nor bias, neither bigotry nor misjudgment, can be cited against me in my relations with Cassius Clay. After he had been found guilty of a felony by a Federal jury in Houston, and Judge Joe Ingraham had sentenced Ali to five years in a penitentiary and a fine of $10,000, there was a rush to take the title from the draft-refusing champion.

The Ring magazine refused to join in the campaign against Clay, a stand now thoroughly vindicated. The Ring insisted that Cassius was entitled to his day in court, and that his title could be taken from him only if he lost it in the ring, or he retired from boxing, as Marciano, Tunney, and Jeffries had done before him.

Pressure on The Ring was tremendous. But this magazine would not recede one iota from its never relaxed policy of fighting for Law and Order.

Only when Muhammad Ali announced that he would fight no more and asked permission to give The Ring world championship belt to the winner of the Frazier-Jimmy Ellis fight, did The Ring declare the title vacated and drop Clay from the ratings.

With Clay’s return to the ring, The Ring revived his rating among the top 10 heavyweights. Not until Frazier knocked out Ellis in five rounds did The Ring allocate the vacant world title to Joe.

I do not mean to derogate Clay as a boxer. I am thoroughly cognizant of every fistic attribute he throws into the arena, every impressive quality he displayed on his way to the title and in fighting off the challenges of Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, George Chuvalo, Henry Cooper, Brian London, Karl Mildenberger, Cleveland Williams, Ernie Terrell, and Zora Folley.

When Ali went into his 3 1/2-year retirement, he had not yet achieved his personal crest. Nor did the fights with Quarry, Bonavena and Frazier, which marked his return to action, send him any farther in the direction of fulfillment of claims of his loyal supporters.

The way Cassius Clay stands, he does not qualify for rating with the greatest heavyweights of all time. Nor, the way the future shapes up for him, is he likely to qualify. Now his hands are quick. His footwork is quick. His punch is not the type that is calculated to stop a man forthwith, no matter what he did to Sonny Liston in their second encounter, at Lewiston, Maine.

Cassius has got to wear down his opponent. He has got to flick his glove into the eyes of the opposition, the way he did against Frazier. He has a style all his own. But its sui generis quality does not make him one of the top 10.

I want to give credit to Clay for punching boxing out of the doldrums into which it fell with the rise of Liston to the championship. Liston could not get a license in New York. Liston had a bad personal record. Liston was emphatically not good for boxing. Into the midst of this title situation came the effervescent kid from Louisville, favored by conditions, by his potential, by his personality and his clean personal record.

The situation called for a Clay and, fortunately, the situation was favored with one. He was the counterpart, in boxing, of Babe Ruth in baseball, after the Black Sox Scandal.

Through superior punching power, Frazier is Clay’s current better as a ringster. But Frazier has yet to develop the overall influence that Clay exercised. Nor does it appear likely that Joe will ever be to boxing what Cassius was when he became the world champion and when he stirred up world boxing with his exploits against the best opposition available pending the development of Frazier, another Olympic hero.

I have the utmost admiration for Cassius Clay as a ring technician. Certainly not for his attitude toward the United States and its armed forces. Of that mess he is legally clear.

I do not see Cassius Clay as a candidate for a place among the top 10 heavyweights. Nor may Frazier, his conqueror, eventually force me to revise my all-time heavyweight ratings.

Boxing 101~~How To Score Ugly, Part II~~Alvarez vs Mayweather

This followup pertains to the recent Alvarez/Mayweather “outrage” that has sent a long time boxing judge scrambling to ignominious retirement while the resident guvn’r was rudely roused from oversight of his Den of Gaming and Trolloptry by swarms of angry complainants using his name in vain. Anyone needing to catch up on the longtime scoring dilemmas facing the modern era of boxing can review my first draft on the subject here concerning the Shane Mosley vs Sergio Mora tempest in a teapot. It was a typical scoring controversy that got the usual antisocial ninnies boiling over in forever misplaced outrage for about a week before their tiny attention spans had found a new outrage to run off to knock over more gravestones:

https://roberto00.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/boxing-101-how-to-score-ugly-or-mora-vs-mosley-the-no-win-non-fight-of-the-year/

There is no doubt that boxing, notwithstanding record revenues by Alvarez vs Mayweather, well, boxing has a problem of legitimacy as older American fans are dying out faster than new ones are coming aboard by an alarming margin. There are fewer American fighters left in the sport, probably due to fewer kids wishing to leap into a career of corruption where there is almost no money to be made except at the very top. The UFC shines in today’s New World Order as boxing moves to the pro wrestling format of  prefight promotional themes of conflict. Even old timers are fleeing modern matchups to pine over lost glory years when the fighting actually took place in the ring without a 3 ring circus of announcers corrupting the experience.

Moreover, if an average kid does decide to turn pro, chances are forever that the deck will be stacked against them in the referee enforcement of rules and the assignment of points by the judges anytime they face fighters associated with the larger promoters. By modern marketing standards, company products are always promoted #1, as such the ancient and forever poorly managed sport of boxing has been moving to canned fights reminiscent of old truck commercials between Ford and Chevy. One truck would attempt to climb a pyramid stack of loose rocks and fail half way up, so then the featured truck cruises breezily up to the top of the pile to show us all how champions comport themselves in “difficult” contests.

Saving Money Investment

Saving Money Investment

In a world run by Marketing…getting back to Alvarez/Mayweather, the vilest of the directed bile has blasted judge C J Ross full broadside to the backwater docks for repairs and probable retirement, all for scoring a 114-114 draw on her card which did not affect the victory for Mayweather, not one single bit. In contrast, last year Manny Pacquiao was “robbed” by both Ms Ross and Duane Ford in scoring that actually did alter a seemingly wide unanimous win for Pacquiao into a split decision loss that drastically altered future big fight fight negotiations.

So how could such a trivial scoring anomaly in the Alvarez/Mayweather “event” become upgraded to such importance?

I’d guess you’d have to start with some basic facts: Official fight scores were 117-111, 116-112, and 114-114 with Mayweather winning a majority decision. Each fighter starts a 12 round fight with 360 points or 120 points per each of the 3 judges cards, that’s 10 points for each round. The way boxing does it’s scoring is ass-backwards from the way almost every other sport is scored where athletes have to “win” points to win their contests. In boxing, athletes lose points, so in that respect it’s much like the well known punitive politics of amateur ice skating and gymnastics where the 10 point mandatory is used to mark down athlete performances before being collected and totaled for an average score.

Mayweather “lost” 13 points in the fight to end up with 347 points out of the 360 point maximum. Alvarez “lost” 23 points to end up with 337 points out of the 360 point maximum. So Mayweather ended up with 96.3% of his maximum and Alvarez ended up with 93.6% of his maximum, the difference in the fight being that Mayweather was 2.7% better than Alvarez. The academic difference suggests the zone between an A+ test result and an A test result if we use 90-100% scores as traditionally being an A test score. This is hardly the dominance suggested by the media who seldom had any problems reporting the perfect 44-0 official record of Mayweather coming into the fight as though he were perfectly unblemished during his career. No fighter gets through a long career without some controversies, and Mayweather has some doozies.

This fella, Bobby Hunter goes to great lengths to tabulate consensus fight scores, and of 86 “press” scores, the average was 119-109 for Mayweather. That would be 357 of 360 maximum points compared to 327 of 360 maximum points for Canelo, or 99.2% for Mayweather to 90.8% to Alvarez, a larger spread of victory, but still in the “A” academic range for both fighters.  

http://www.boxingnewsonline.net/latest/feature/floyd-mayweather-scored-a-clear-winner-over-saul-alvarez-by-86-members-of-press

The typical boxing fan might say that boxing is actually scored round by round, sorta true that, but only indirectly. As mentioned, each fighter is assigned a 10 point maximum value to start a round with on each judge’s card. I don’t make this up, it’s just happens to be the big white elephant in the room that boxing media and fans ignore, that the scoring in boxing is not only counter-intuitive, but contains unneeded padded points that are utterly useless  until someone wishes to add an element of smoke and mirrors to hide the deceptions and misdirections that magicians, carny barkers, and card gamblers also use to deceive the common rube. Moreover, time and time again we see the scoring is overly complex for some of the more arithmetically challenged judges who sometimes miscalculate their totals that cause delays in announcing the results, sometimes even resulting in a recalculation of the announced result that leads to ever more fan distrust in venues big and small around the world.

Re-calculable scorecards. Yeah! Who wouldn’t like to recalculate their own bank balances when they don’t like the results?

True round by round scoring hasn’t been used for some time, but perhaps the greatest ever round by round scored fight was the 1971 Fight of the Century, Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier in Madison Square Garden. Joe Frazier won that dramatic 15 round classic by scores of 9-6, 11-4, and an amazing 8-6 by referee Arthur Mercante under rules of the day when refs were part of the scoring process. I seem to recall Mercante having to use “supplemental rules” to enact the tiebreaker. Nontransparent supplemental rules of scoring such as this are likely one reason round by round went the dodo bird route of extinction, but let’s contrast the scores of this slugfest often called the greatest single fight in history.

Frazier won 28 total points(rounds) to Ali’s 16 points(rounds), a margin of victory of 75%, quite a bit the more compelling result. Yet Ali supporters were claiming he was robbed, not because of a trifling scoring error, but rather that “The Man” had it in for him to be beat, a popular political expression expressing deep divisions within America emanating out of that era. These days, most agree Frazier won the fight hands down, but modern fans have no such arbitration by wiser, cooler heads. That usually comes after they go senile and die out. Since Mayweather may well have fought his best fight against his best opponent of record, let’s look closer at the fight later on.

There are a myriad number of rules selectively enforced to officiate or score a bout, in effect a form of “movable goalposts” for treatment and evaluation of different fighters that fans are either blindingly unaware of or simply apathetic about, take your pick. In this case, had the referee and judges been given different instructions, the bout might well have been controlled in the other direction for Alvarez by whatever margin, yet the outrage would have been about the same. Been much worse pillar to post beatdown robberies in boxing history than this tepid stylist soiree, that’s for sure. These folks crying in their beer simply have no context to rationally discuss a fight.

Or do they? What’s missing?

Well, as Juan Manuel Lopez mentioned after being blasted to the deck by Orando Salido in their rematch, he suspected the referee who “prematurely” stopped the fight had bet on the Salido stoppage. Lopez was promptly suspended and fined, yet the ugly little can of worms remains kicked over and squirming. There are few if any regulations pertaining to boxing teams and other boxing insiders placing wagers on involved fights much less any oversight. Nobody screams louder in boxing than “players” losing their main stake plus their projected winnings because of a “bad” referee or judging decision, and guess what?

Vegas and international bookies at large saw the most business they’ll have for many years that somewhat made up for the thrice canceled Pacquiao/Mayweather Superfight fights with even bigger players and revenue streams. Still, stupendous amounts were bet on this fight with the best odds given on the exact round and result prediction. Since Mayweather tends to rack up unanimous decisions like clockwork, there you go, the projected mass of the betting being put on that outcome. The unexpected majority decision tossed a monkey wrench into that payout, hence the stampede of howler monkeys on the suits that run boxing. Before the fight we also saw the rumor stampede that the fight would be scored a draw so they could stage the lucrative rematch for another big flood of bets lost forever. Great for business though.

Oh Yeah & True Confessions: The NSAC commish Bill Brady asserted that his office was no longer going to be a “rubber stamp” for fight venues, presumably unlike the previous NSAC “rubber stamped sanctions of Mayweather “events” these oh so many years. Just check out the two Joe Cortez refereed Mayweather fights for a snapshot of rubber stamped Vegas “in action.”

As I projected in my prefight, the opening round was a cautious feeling out where little was accomplished until just before the bell ended the round. Mayweather leaped inside with a perfectly vicious Bernard Hopkins’ style upperbutt to the jaw of Alvarez, a blatant foul everyone but referee Kenny Bayless could see. No message in a bottle this, but rather a bottle crashed over his noggin that let Alvarez know he was out of his element and away from home. Mayweather could do what ever he wanted with impunity, so he followed up in the 4th round by locking up Alvarez left arm with both arms as he wrapped up his body trying to pull it out of socket Bernard Hopkins style. Alvarez tapped him on the thigh with his free right hand, reflexively leading Bayless to jump in for the break, pushing Alvarez back as he severely admonished him for the “low blow.” Then he went over to Mayweather for a much friendlier pow wow. Alvarez had been struggling with the baffling timing of the Mayweather defense, but when he started getting in some good rights to the body, one finally hit the Mayweather kidney while in his classic “show the back defense” that he’s gotten away with the whole of his career. It’s illegal to deliberately turn your back in boxing, so Bayless issued more dire warnings Canelo instead of correcting Mayweather. Reminds me of the complaints not so many years back when fighters were warned by German refs for hitting the last undefeated wonder Sven Ottke in the jaw or the stomach, I kid you not.

I myself chose  not to score this fight because it was clear before the fight that Alvarez needed a concussive all time knockout to win. As I’ve found like clockwork from so many of my previous efforts, every controversy revolves around the number of even rounds that I score that boxing judges are forbidden to score as such. Typically the “Home” or “Money” fighter, both descriptors fitting Mayweather in his fights, he gets those rounds by default, but on occasion the judges give don’t care to go that route. Previously CJ Ross was widely pilloried for preferring the “slick, black, awkward, reverse footwork style of undefeated” Timothy Bradley over the offensive firepower of Manny Pacquiao, so duly ravaged by  antisocial media misanthropes, she scored some those even rounds for Canelo this time around. There were only two rounds difference between her another Mayweather judge, normally a perfectly acceptable range of difference. Of course this being the Las Vegas gambling destination of the world, any judge or ref can be seen as suspect when it comes to their roles as history has shown us repeatedly.

How about the “boxing media,” nearly all dismissing Alvarez well before the fight was ever signed. How many lost their meager wages on the match?

Media transparency has never existed, but Ring transparency would be a big improvement, like having all the officials and promotional teams list their wagers on fight they’re involved in as well as the full disclosure of contract conditions for the fight, like gloves, catch and rehydration limits, ring size, fast, slow, or medium speed canvas, purse particulars, all of which play a role in the outcome to various degrees, yet usually squirreled away from the unwashed public. Of course the “insiders” could just move to having their friends or relatives place their bets, but at least they would be driven to an illegal netherworld befitting their natures.

Getting back to the maddening puzzle that is Mayweather, here are some fight shots representative of his style that the boxing press has gone screaming Colonel Bob agaga over:

Blind Man Touching

Blind Man Touching

To Fight or How to Score Ugly?

To Fight or How to Score Ugly?
Below The Beltline Boxing or Alternative Lifestyle Flick?

Below The Beltline Boxing or Alternative Lifestyle Flick?

Thank goodness for Mayweather’s hometown Grand Rapids Press photos or someone might accuse me of photoshopping which would be easier than scoring a Mayweather fight. Mayweather won the fight, no doubt after the kid was stifled by Bayless early when Mayweather was at his freshest, fastest, and most puzzling. However the number of hurtful punches landed by either was exceedingly low because of their defensive natures. I’m remember when Miguel Cotto visually came out almost unscathed against the busted up Mayweather.

Punched?

Punched?

Even feather fisted Pauli Maglinaggi managed to bust up a much younger, fresher Cotto in their fight long ago, so what kind of impact do most of Mayweather’s punches have other than as flash and glitter?

Boxing needs a major comeback with the larger public who now prefer more easily understood team sports like basketball, football, and baseball. I dare say most would rather even cruise down to the local rec fields for, gasp, co-ed kickball for easily understood rules and first rate viewing. Broadcasters could put chokers and muzzles on announcers to allow real fight audio that could distinguish between silent love taps and thunderclap hammer shots for the edification of the public. Then state commishes and ABCs could come up with simplified, transparent scoring and scrap recalculable duffed scorecards with negligible point differences that define the loser more than the winner.

In other words, instead of using modern assbackward 10 point must scoring, every fighter should start off at the zero ledger like God intended athletic contests to start, even golf and track and field for crimony’s sake!

They could keep their current one point assessments for “rounds won, knockdowns scored, and assessed fouls awarded to come up with a point total that may not solve the weekly cries of “robbery,” but would remove the unwanted flab points that flabby overseers of boxing have used to cover up their obtuse tamperings of fights. Translating Alvarez/Mayweather, we’d get scores of 9-3, 8-4, and 6-6, totaling 23 of 36 maximum points for Mayweather and 13 or 33 maximum points for Alvarez, making Mayweather the winner by a 77% margin which is substantial. Yet I read many in the “media” scored 100% for Mayweather, typically the mindset of those who have failed in their journalistic duty to even handedly report on an athletic event. If Mayweather were really 100% good, he would have no need of catchweights and rehydration limits with the opposing fighter having to drag the ref around as a ball and chain for the full 12 rounds.

And if Mayweather, his promoter, and his handlers were really cleaning up boxing, they’d answer why his Mayweather Promotions fighters have failed drug tests and why Mayweather refuses to answer failed drug testing allegations against him.

http://www.maxboxing.com/news/max-boxing-news/the-ped-mess-part-one

Meanwhile, back at the hideout:

http://www.fightnews.com/Boxing/all-star-boxing-given-court-go-ahead-to-seek-punitive-damages-against-golden-boy-for-their-signing-of-canelo-alvarez-227250

The Polish Heavyweight Challenge–Tomasz Adamek vs Vitali Klitschko

There are reports out of boxrec of another rumor putting off the heavyweight challenge by Tomasz Adamek to Vitali Klitschko‘s WBC title.

http://news.boxrec.com/news/2011/snips-and-snipes-10-august-2011

The fight was originally mooted for March 8 in Madison Square Garden in tribute to the 40th anniversary of Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier I, but yes, Virginia, there is a Grinch who stole Christmas. WBC El Presidente for Life Jose Suliman queered that celebratory tribute, instead forcing the Cuban dancing bear, Odlanier Solis to fight Vitali as the enforced mandatory in a farce of a fight.

Adamek and Vitali both operate on a much higher plane than any boxing org and certainly deserve better treatment, so lets hope the Ukrainian political situation stabilizes so the fight can come off as scheduled Saturday, September 10th.

Lots of firsts, a historic Polish heavyweight challenge for the WBC belt held by the great Ukrainian champion at Stadion Miejski, Wroclaw, Poland.

Goral

Goral

While Vitali will be the big favorite, “Goral” has proven to be a P4P quality boxer through an outstanding career that has seen him as a ranked fighter since 2005. That’s six years of excellence in the top 3 divisions in boxing.

But Adamek is more than a top boxer, he’s a top fighter who adjusts to any situation as well as the best fighters in history, and his 44-1, 28 KO record ain’t too shabby neither. Only the single decision loss to Ring P4Per Chad Dawson sullies the perfect record, and he closed that fight strong with a hard knock down, so Adamek has some serious fighter to him.

He’s primarily a offensive fighter, but like Manny Pacquiao he picked up a lot of technique and nuance as he aged and is now at the top of grand career. This is the chance he’s prepared his whole professional life for and he won’t be as easily dismissed as Vitali’s previous foes were.

The Fight

The Fight

Vitali the Elder now has a better sense of his own history than when he first turned pro and has targeted Adamek as the best he can fight, a perfect end to a stellar career perhaps. Adamek has to take the fight to Vitali to keep from being overwhelmed on volume and aggression, so his footwork and combinations will go directly against Vitali’s great offensive onslaught in a fight that could produce the dramatic ebbs and flows that great fights have.

Let’s hope it comes off without a hitch, otherwise some great heavyweight history will be lost, so update to follow.

August 24th update:

Good news is Vitali has released a sparring tape and talked about his upcoming bout with Adamek, so the fight looks like a go.

http://www.fightnews.com/Boxing/klitschko-predicts-ko-93480#more-93480

FIGHT DAY UPDATE:

Incredibly Vitali is the big favorite over Adamek who is by far the best fighter in the division not named Klitschko.

Odds aren’t fully reflective of the fighter’s abilities since large betting swings can make odds disappear or spike as the fight nears when the betting base backs one fighter more heavily as the fight day approaches. Doubtless that’s why the Wlad/Haye bout had near even odds. Here’s the Fightwriter’s odds which are reflective of the oddsmakers at large.

Over 9.5 +140; under 9.5 -180
Klitschko -650; Adamek +400
Over 10.5 +110; under 10.5 -125
 
They weighed in with Vitali being unusually light at 243 lbs to Adamek who is 216 lbs. Looks like Vitali trained down for speed and stamina and Adamek is perfect for him. Look for these guys to mark up come mid rounds.
 
If Adamek was ever knocked down in a fight, I don’t recall it, and technically Vitali has never been down though it’s arguable that Corrie Sanders knocked him down early in their fight years back that was ruled a slip. I look for a high action bout conducted like a chess match as both look for their spots to make the points while exploring for weakness which could be cuts.
 
Well done to the organizers and fighters that made this big challenge happen.
Dr. Ironfist vs Goral

Dr. Ironfist vs Goral

 
   

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?

===Parallels=== of Muhammad Ali & Jerry Quarry

by Bobby Mac

Muhammad Ali and Jerry Quarry fought each other twice in the early 70s, never for a world title but for the opportunity of projected future stakes.

Ali vs Quarry

Ali vs Quarry

Ali won both times via early cut stoppages that always lent an anti-climatic ending to the fights before they seemed to be properly warmed up. The best action of the abbreviated series for me was the 2nd fight when Quarry picked up Ali on his shoulder at one frustrating point and threatened to dump him onto the arena concrete floor before setting him down again.

Quarry was understandably upset both times with the stoppages, yet always in vain since The Powers That Be that conspire with The Fates always had bigger things in store for the Gold Medalist darling of the 1960 Olympic Games who was well on his way to becoming Muhammad Ali of legend.

Despite the divergence of their careers,  Ali the long time champ with Quarry as the long time contender, there are enough parallels between Ali and Quarry that it could almost be said that Ali was the long lost “eldestth” brother of Jerry, Mike, Bobby and James Quarry.

OK, so Ali had his own brother in boxing, Rudy, so maybe that’s stretching things too far, but hear me out on the parallels as we follow their timelines.

Ali and Quarry both turned pro as popular teenagers after acclaimed amateur careers and experienced great success. Ali  got his first title shot at age 22 against Sonny Liston, whereas 22yr old Quarry proved himself against the widely ducked contender of the 50-60s, Eddie Machen. Though there was a stark difference in results, I thought Quarry did enough to pocket the win against the crafty Machen in their non title affair. The close loss against a defensive minded Machen turned out to be a plague that resurfaced like a bad rash at the most inopportune moments for the rest of Quarry’s career.

Both Ail and Quarry were involved in Ring Fights of the Year for their first title shots, Ali against aforementioned Liston in 1964, and Quarry in 1969 against a prime Joe Frazier in what is surely the most ferociously fought battle of the modern heavyweight era. The blistering pace and the bruising phone booth style slugging that sees Quarry and Frazier hammer each other back and forth across the ring simply has to be witnessed to be believed.:

Follow the relevant links to the conclusion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqGZIYpOF9M

Jerry Quarry was three years younger than Ali and one year younger than Frazier, first appearing in Ring rankings during Ali’s last year of boxing, 1967, the fateful year that Ali’s draft conviction propelled him into exile. It fell to Quarry, Jimmy Ellis, and Joe Frazier primarily to fight the prime lot of late 60s contenders that Ali missed out on, names like Buster Mathis, Oscar Bonavena, Bob Foster, and each other, all fought before Ali got to them in the 70s.

That late 60s era was as vibrant and competitive as any in history, yet is often overlooked as though boxing had officially ended when Ali went into exile. We can envision Ali fans all queuing up Don McLean’s big hit, The Day the Music Died when Ali announces that he is vacating his title. Boxing may have died for Ali fans, but the many compelling heavyweight fights waged during the Ali exile were often ambitious undertakings that deserve a special niche in heavyweight history.

More important to the still developing Jerry Quarry was his part in the late ‘60s eight man WBA elimination tourney that saw him defeat Floyd Patterson and Thad Spencer before just losing out to defensive minded Jimmy Ellis in the finals. That fight, again, could have just as easily gone Quarry’s way as the more active aggressor landing the bigger shots, a role that the naturally counterpunching Quarry was forced into adapting to make the fight happen after the elusive jab & move style of Ellis negated much of Quarry’s bread and butter counterpunch style at ring center.

Quarry retained his high Ring rankings into the mid 70s, so during 1970 when Ali scrambled to find a venue to stage his return to the ring, Atlanta, Georgia as it turned out, it was Jerry Quarry who was willing to run the public political gauntlet to get the fight made at a backwater venue lacking a boxing commission. Beating Quarry in his highly publicized comeback enabled Ali’s push towards his goal of challenging Joe Frazier for the rights to his old title, the fabled Fight of the Century promotion.

Just like Quarry in 1969, Ali lost out to the pulverizing Frazier in 1971’s Ring Fight of the Year, one of the truly memorial classics that bookmark people’s exact moment in their lives forever.

Was Smokin’ Joe ever in a dull fight?

When Ali beat Quarry again in 1972, Ali was again successfully maneuvering his way through the changing heavyweight landscape that ultimately saw him challenge and defeat the new champ, George Foreman,  in the 1974 Rumble in the Jungle.

Jerry Quarry could never quite put together the correct winning sequence of fights to manage a crack against Big George, but the fight was out there, waiting for the right moment like so many great fights that never get made.

Foreman vs Quarry

Foreman vs Quarry

Nonetheless, Quarry stayed more than relevant with his own “best ever” performances, knocking out undefeated KO artist Mac Foster along side a stunning 1st round KO of Ernie Shavers to go with his beatdown of Ron Lyle well before Ali ever laid a glove to them.

That’s three of some of the hardest hitting preeminent sluggers of any era who took it hard to Ali big time, yet they were chopped down as if they were nothing more than a pesky patch of scrub brush to be cleared by Quarry.

And yet there was nothing more Irish Jerry Quarry could ever do that was enough to reclaim another challenge to the title after his only two shots fell short in 1969. He was helpless to prevent the Standers, Romans, Wepners, Coopmans, and Dunns from staking their “challenges” to the title. Time and promoters had simply bypassed Quarry who had the ultimate misfortune to be tagged by the media with the “Great White Hope” and “He cuts” monikers, dismissing him as a bloody hapless no hoper, the pugilistic kiss of death.

Like Ali, Quarry toyed with retirement and then soldiered on past his twilight years, neither one ever finding that graceful exit from the sport that brought them so much acclaim that it becomes an addictive way of life.

Like Ali, Quarry’s health took a precipitous decline as he aged, suffering from a morbidly flat affectation that robbed him of his sharp personality and wit. Of all the guest commentators over the years that I’ve seen at big matches, Jerry Quarry was by far the most intelligent and insightful with the ability to translate the boxing in the ring into a common, easy to understand language for the public, but that Jerry Quarry was soon lost forever.

Jerry Quarry

Jerry Quarry

Just as with Ali, it was tragic to see him robbed of his speech and ability to care for himself, these cocky, two physically compelling iron chinned warriors who defined their heavyweight eras. Perhaps the most chilling part of what should have been his post career highlight is to see the mid 50ish Jerry Quarry interviewed on the eve of his induction to the World Boxing Hall of Fame looking as helpless as a little lost lamb at a barbecue when he looks feebly down at his feet after a question.

It was from a distant place far, far away in his mind when Jerry Quarry is barely able to mumble, “I feel……like an old man.”

The widely acclaimed Ali has more notably declined before our very eyes, to the point of needing a wheelchair when he was sometimes so enfeebled, but some good news is that his medical team in charge of his therapy has seemingly revitalized him to some extent, probably with the latest drug developments. The last I saw him, he was looking fairly well and sturdy again even if he needs the assistance of his wife and a female aid to keep him in an upright position as he shuffles about.

But it’s already been a couple of years since I’ve seen him in public, so as Ali nears his allotted three score and 10 years, any good health still possessed by him is sure to become more uncertain.

Ali the Hawk

Ali the Hawk

Yet in the midst of their incapacities, there were always inner glimpses of the warriors of old when Ali and Quarry momentarily find a glint of that ruthless, hawkish, predator mentality that looks to swoop down on helpless prey for the finish.

And like Jerry Quarry, Ali also has his own Irish links. Yes, Virginia, that was a leprechaun a dancin’a jig in the ol’ Kintuck woodpile.

 Ali returned to the roots of his Irish great grandfather’s birthplace, visting Ennis,  County Clare, Ireland to his usual throng of admiring crowds only two years ago.

Mama Clay at Play

Mama Clay at Play

Ali’s great-grandfather, Abe Grady eventually settled in the US state of Kentucky in the 1860s and married a freed slave. One of their grandchildren, Odessa Lee Grady Clay, gave birth to Ali, AKA Cassius Clay, and Ali truly did love his Mama dearly.

His previous, more private visit years before to the green emerald had been less heralded but more informative. Like so many Americans influenced by the ground breaking Roots episodic TV movie, he finally saw fit to connect with the Irish side of his heritage after so many years of connecting to African roots.

It was inevitable that Ali was steered in the direction of the undefeated King of the Gypsies, Bartley Gorman, famed Irish Traveler bare knucks champ whose signature finishing move was his legendary Bull Hammer Punch. Gorman is also known as a distant uncle to the up and coming fringe British heavyweight contender Tyson Fury.

Gorman was a great admirer of Ali, so apparently they hit if off immensely, and as legendary encounters of the sweet science are want to go, they staged an historic private sparring session as each put the other through their paces on the way to mutual respect.

Gorman vs Ali

Gorman vs Ali

It’s pure speculation that somewhere in these Irish genes are the roots of the legendary toughness of Muhammad Ali and Jerry Quarry as well as their propensity to suffer immensely from the delayed effects of too many punches, yet they share so many common bonds that defined their early successes and later problems in life that a connection cannot be easily dismissed either.

Ali and Quarry both finished their careers with similar numbers, Ali at 56-5, 37 KO in 61 fights with 550 professional rounds to Quarry at 53-9-4, 32 KO in 66 fights with 419 ring rounds. Quarry is supposed to have first donned the gloves at age 3 and Ali as a young teen, so adding in all their amateur rounds and untold sparring and exhibition rounds that both were very fond of, each is doubtless well into the hundreds of spar sessions over thousands of rounds.

Yet we have examples of fighters with longer professional careers of the same era who aged well with less readily apparent damage to their mental and physical functions in George Foreman, Larry Holmes, and Earnie Shavers. True understanding of pugilistic related declines and maladies is an ongoing process. Athletes from other physical sports suffering from the effects of hard body collisions and head concussions such as American Football, “Soccer,” Ice Hockey, and rodeo are being interviewed and evaluated. Even work related accidents and traffic accidents and now the military have become part of a broader study, yet there can be little doubt that life itself can take a toll on anyone as it usually does as we make our way through our preciously allotted time on this earth, much less adding in too much boxing on top of that.

Jerry Quarry has already been released from his earthly bonds, R.I.P., January 3, 1999. He never reaped the benefits of modern research, but we should all thank our stars above for the opportunity to have borne witness to Muhammad Ali and Jerry Quarry and the rest of their era mixing in with our own timelines.

Go forth with the big right hand of God guiding you gentlemen and thanks for all the great fights and memories.

R.I.P. Memorial to Mac Foster

http://www.fresnobee.com/2010/07/19/2011397/former-pro-boxer-from-fresno-dies.html#ixzz0uALB7jha

Mac The Knife, AKA “MacArthur” Foster, owing to his patriotic father’s christening as an admirer of General Douglas MacArthur, the two tours of Vietnam combat duty ex-marine, and former heavyweight contender Mac Foster passed on yesterday at age 68.

Standard abbreviated obit essentials and final Ring stats of 30-6, 30 KO don’t do the man justice. He followed his own muse and was his own force of nature, widely respected in his spheres both in and out of the ring.

Foster  joined the Marines after fine high school athletic achievements fielded him a scholarship offer to throw the discuss and shotput at Fresno State University. After his honorable discharge from the Marines, the popular, affable Foster launched his pro career, becoming a self promoted legend by winning all the fights by KO, usually not needing more than a few rounds, so soon enough the world stage beckoned.

Look Out, 20-0, 20 KOs!

Look Out, 20-0, 20 KOs!

Of course everything has a beginning, and Foster’s beginning was as a young Marine stationed in Tokyo attending service bouts where he boisterously shouted out a challenge to one of the Marine fighters. Weeks later his commanding officer scheduled him a day off in Tokyo after ordering him to fight the Marine. A day off in Tokyo for a young Marine was like a vacation in Disney World for a kid, but he was quickly exposed to boxing’s storied underbelly when he found himself fighting an experienced Army fighter instead. After having his ears boxed off he landed a left hook and knocked his “inter-divisional” rival out, the rough beginnings of a 20-1 amateur service record, 17 by KO with the one loss highly contested.

This limited experience was the platform that he launched his pro career from, fighting hometown and local west coast matches in a popular era for boxing. Because of his formidable KO record and reputation, it was difficult to get name fighters in the ring, but one day he got an offer to spar with Sonny Liston who was preparing to fight Henry Clark.

Mac went in completely untested at world class level and hoping to hold his own against the still frightening Liston, but the first left hook he landed left Liston sagging on the ropes and with a right hand he was ordered to land by Liston’s manager, Dick Saddler, he knocked him face first to the canvas.

Poor Liston didn’t have anyone looking out for his interests that day.

Reputation growing, Foster did manage to lure in Thad Spencer and later Cleveland Williams twice for the fatal results. He was poised for a title fight against champion Joe Frazier, but had to clear one more hurdle. He had to go through Jerry Quarry, another popular California fighter out of the same era who’d already challenged Joe Frazier in 1969’s Fight of the Year and had been in against the best and mostly come out on top, as severe a challenge as any title aspirant ever had.

Foster entered 24-0, 24 KO, a perfectionist’s perfect record. Joe Frazier was on a tear and was building up for his 1971 epic Fight of the Century with Muhammad Ali to give context. Mac could beat Ali to the Frazier alter with a win over Quarry, but big Mac was cut down to size by the Irish Bellflower who made a habit out of cleaning the clocks of his era’s contenders. After targeting the body with a series of left hooks, Quarry knocked Foster down for the first time in his career and then finished him off by knocking him through the ropes, one of Quarry’s finest fights ever.

This Ring Cover sums up the bout perfectly after all the action had ceased, the perfect denouement flash moment to the fight.

Elevated Flight!

Elevated Flight!

Foster, however,  had turned pro with the expressed intent of whupping the jinn out of Ali who stood against every thing Foster cherished, of being a Christian and patriotic combat Marine who took grave offense at Ali’s “draft dodging” and his statement that “It takes more courage to face a man in the ring than to face bullets.”

So Foster got his wish in his home away from home, Tokyo, Japan when he challenged Ali in what could best be described as an unofficial 15 rd eliminator for the right to challenge Joe Frazier. Foster had never needed more than 8 rds to dispose of his opposition, and usually much less than that, and now he was going up against in my opinion the finest version of Ali who ever existed in the ring for the full 15 rd championship distance.

Foster was never gonna win a decision against Ali, but he was awkward and gave Ali hell for 15 rds, and fairplay, Ali is seldom given proper credit for standing up to the outrageously powerful arsenal of Foster, but he did even if he was dragging at the end as was Foster.

That year, 1972, Ali was 6-0, 4 KOs against Mac Foster, George Chuvalo, Jerry Quarry, Al Blue Lewis, Floyd Patterson, and the other era Foster, Lightheavy champ Bob Foster, so Mac was in some mighty elite company knocked off by the soon to become Ring Legend.

The Ali loss led to a sea change in Foster’s career. His weight balloons and his power deserts him as he goes into later rounds losing decisions against respectable journeymen he was knocking out the year before.

He retires to move on with his life as a local icon active in his community. Perhaps with better management and more grit in the face of the Ali loss, Mac Foster could’ve secured that cherished title challenge that was denied him, but he always accepted the cards that Fate dealt him and knew the timing was just a little off for him, after all, he was in the middle of the most hallowed heavyweight era in the world where Ali, Frazier, Foreman, and Norton were the gilded era fighters of record.

With an incalculable assist from Jerry Quarry, another warrior no longer of this world who said Foster hit him harder than he’d ever been hit before, Boxing wouldn’t be the legendary sport of Kings without these noble fighters throwing in against the best.

God bless and thanks for all the upsets, drama and intrigue. Their fighting spirits live on in another place a few universes down the road somewhere. Perhaps some day all will be reunited for another go of a new storied era.

Perhaps…….

113th Anniversary of Corbett vs Fitzsimmons, The First Ever Blockbuster

by Bobby Mac

March 17, 1897

I really never got why Hollywood and the rest of the assorted cinema and boxing worlds have never accorded proper respect for the Great, Great, Great, Grandpappy of modern filmed spectacle, the 1897 Heavyweight Title Shootout at The Race Track Arena, Carson City, Nevada with young champion James J. Corbett going against the grizzled veteran champ, Bob Fitzsimmons.

Bob Fitzsimmons

Bob Fitzsimmons

This was “The Fight” long before trifling embellishments such as Century or Millennium needed to be tacked on for distinguishing marketing purpose. It was only the 3rd ever heavyweight championship defense held under those wildly popular new fangled rules drawn up by the Marquis of Queensbury, so public interest was immense.

Noted university professors with boxing experience re-enacted telegraphed round by round descriptions on theatrical stages before rapt crowds. After the dustup was settled, the public got the shocker of their lives months later that changed everything, Thomas Edison’s first ever release of his film of “The Fight.”

The Fight begot all the subsequent cinematic blockbusters that followed and became the lucrative boxing industry prototype for subsequent filmed matches as a supplement to live gate and print media sales. This decades before “Closed Circuit” and “PPV” would be developed. The Fight became a huge theatric hit after it’s debut at the Academy of Music in New York City, May 22nd.

Requested bookings quickly exceeded Edison’s fledgling Veriscope Company capacity, so by fall near a dozen new companies had been formed with territorial distribution rights. They toured the US with improved film footage and newly upgraded Veriscope projectors to show The Fight in big cities and small towns.

New companies were also formed overseas so The Fight could be distributed and seen in Great Britain and Europe, making it the first big international film. Previous cinematographic releases had been novelty “shorts” of only a few minutes or even a few seconds duration, mostly of everyday street scenes or historical re-enactments.

It wasn’t until 1903 release of The Great Train Robbery that box revenues could approach those generated by the real life action and drama of Bob Fitzsimmons and James Corbett’s ringmanship on that sunny 1897 March day.

My goodness, The Fight predated the concept of movie theaters by a decade for a reference point. Without The Fight, the development of movies, movie audiences, and movie theaters would have been much slower to less acclaim.

The Fight was the blue print for the ballyhooed Ali/Frazier Fight of the Century much later that featured two modern era Hall of Fame quality stars with competing claims to the greatest prize in sports, The Heavyweight Championship of the World.

Gentleman Jim was unmarked, undefeated, and played the young, handsome, fleet footed, fast handed, loose lipped dandy full of braggadocio to the battle hardened, quiet, hard working slugger of Ruby Robert 73 yrs before Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier ever became an item.

Jim Corbett

Jim Corbett

The Fight had actually been scheduled to be filmed in the fall of 1895 Dallas, Texas before fainthearted Texas legislators passed a law outlawing boxing. The month before, Corbett and Fitz had hooked up badly in a Philadelphia hotel while on the exhibition circuit and bad blood boiled over, giving impetus to the showdown in Texas. The cancellation setback turned out to be quite fortunate for all involved parties and boxing given the primitive state of cinematography that was still in experimental development.

So, with the Dallas fight cancelled, early in 1896, Thomas Edison cinematographer guru, Enoch J. Rector, found himself following Ruby Robert and Peter Maher on through Langtry, Texas, picked up and guided by the legendary frontier judge Roy Bean who wanted to put Langtry on the map with a title fight. The party crossed over to a tiny sand spit smack dab in the middle of the mighty Rio Grande. That’s Rio Bravo for you Mexican aficionados.

Bird's Eye View of No Man's Land, Rio Grande

Bird’s Eye View of No Man’s Land, Rio Grande

The cagey Judge Bean had matched them on an international no man’s territorial boundary where the Mexican and American law enforcement held each other at bay in what surely had to have been boxing’s first Mexican standoff.

Peter Maher was one of a plethora of turn of the century great fighters that have been forgotten by the passage of time.

Maher was the Irish middleweight and heavyweight champ before immigrating to America in the big Irish wave that swept over US shores. Maher had freshly defeated another forgotten fighter, Aussie Steve O’Donnell, for a dimly remembered claim to the world heavyweight title.

O’Donnell, who was also of Irish extraction, had came to America to fight black contenders Frank Craig and Old Chocolate George Godfrey back to back, and then on to the great Jake Kilrain twice among others and had been undefeated in his American debut.

Apparently in a pique of hysteria over the cancelled Fitz defense, the overly dramatic Corbett had announced his retirement and bestowed his title on the winner that Maher promptly claimed via a neat one minute first round KO of the overwhelmed O’Donnell.

Somehow, Bob Fitzsimmons managed to stay in the Edison contact loop and finagled a title challenge against the new heavyweight claimant, Maher, whom he had knocked out in New Orleans some 4 years previous.

Now, with Enoch Rector impossibly set up with his bulky Edison Veriscope on a here today, adios mañana pile of sand in the middle of a river of legend all set to film the first ever championship boxing match between the champion Peter Maher and challenger Bob Fitzsimmons, the Irishman against the Cornishman with history poised in the making………and then………

…….and then fickle Mother Nature put the drizzle on filming.

Not that it mattered much since in the time it took for a gentleman to light a fine cigar, poor Maher became his own 1 minute victim of the early exit via the murderous punching Fitz. Alas, boxing’s first championship KO highlight reel was lost to a common twist of fate, so we are left to imagine which punch Ruby Robert selected from his vast arsenal.

Rector pulled up sandy stakes and salvaged his ill fated Texas misadventure with the filming of a bull fight up the river in Juarez, Mexico, before returning to Thomas Edison’s legendary Black Mariah Studio for further brainstorming and development.

Championship fights were too few and far apart back in the unsanctioned outlaw days of boxing, not to mention financially out of reach for the average American who followed most of boxing by way of newspaper coverage or attending local bouts. Exhibitions came to fill a needed gap across America. They were steady, legal work that the boxers could supplement irregular fight schedules, and the best boxers could travel now to gain bigger exposure.

Exhibitions also provided cover for the genuine matches since one could substitute for the other as needed depending upon the presence or absence of law enforcement.

Gentleman Jim and Ruby Robert were the lionized ring legends of the day who toured the country to appear in countless exhibitions and plays in between their official dustups. In short, they were their own traveling mints, making silly money at every stop which is how they became to be wooed by the bullish industrial icon and inventor, the no nonsense deaf-genius otherwise known as The Wizard of Menlo Park, Thomas Edison.

Thomas Edison didn’t need Hollywood and Q-ratings to tell him Corbett and Fitzsimmons could establish public interest in his newest development. No sir, these were self made men of considerable swagger, intuitive action, and reach who conquered their moment in time like few before or since.

Luckily, in a rare, prescient moment in boxing history, both Corbett and Fitzsimmons agreed to the filmed fight for a $10,000 guarantee and 15% share of the profits for each thanks the reconciliation of an era promoter named Dan Stuart. Of course the old problem that caused the first cancellation still remained, the venue.

No problem once Nevada entered into the mix. With a smooth talker like Dan Stuart painting visions of well heeled hordes of spectators flooding the state with heavily laden pockets, Nevada officials gave back what the Texas Legislature had taken away by passing a law legalizing prize fighting.

Carson City, Nevada was chosen for parity after Fitzsimmons had been infamously disqualified by referee Wyatt Earp in his last fight against popular California Irishman, Sailor Tom Sharkey.

Not sure what it was with all those great Irishmen running amuck in boxing back then. Something in the whiskey they drank I guess.

But what about the fighting of The Fight you might ask?

The fighting was in essence a reprisal of the plot line of the best selling novel of the day, Ben Hur, with two bitterly competitive rivals going at it mano a mano to the bitter end minus the stuntmen, swords, chariots, horses and Jesus. Instead, The Fight featured the presence of legendary lawmen and gunslingers Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson who oversaw operations to insure a fair shake.

Bat Masterson was the dapper timekeeper captured forever on film in his famous bowler hat tending the ring bell. Wyatt Earp showed his hand again by riding shotgun for James J with “associates” he had assembled for this moment. Fitz had secured his own guns to oversee his interests, so needless to say, everyone was fare thee well hardwared for a fair contest, lending quite a bit of prefight tension in the air.

Both men enter the ring in their robes, pacing about as officials and seconds dicker over last minute setup and instructions. Then the first glimmer of recognition occurs as both fighters are made aware of the presence of the camera and thereby the audience, so they stride over for a look see. Sunny Corbett smiles supremely as he starts to preen a bit whereas the deadly Fitz blinks and then glares into this new intrusion into his world and both go to their corners.

It’s on!

Corbett is the bigger man moving around the ring like an agile big cat, coming in and out of range with a blizzard of feints, flurries, and grapples that never allow Fitzsimmons to get set long enough to get his punches off. Fitz is applying steady pressure, trying to walk his man down and feint a counterpunch, but Corbett is just too fast of hand and foot and too strong and starts to wear the old man down.

Fitzsimmons/Corbett

Fitzsimmons/Corbett

Finally, the 6th round, and they trade heavily near a corner with Fitzsimmons being wobbled and having to grab Corbett on his way down. Corbett seems flummoxed by this development, no doubt made aware of the guns of Fitz’s corner, so he pleads to the referee, George Siler, as Fitzsimmons lets go.

Grabbing the ropes, Fitz straightens himself while on one knee to which Corbett leaps in to pummel him, so Fitz wisely holds his position on his knee. He feints another rise, and then comes up quickly and the fight resumes.

Perhaps Corbett was discouraged that he had let his golden opportunity slip away, or perhaps he thought he had the fight wrapped up and grew careless in his confidence. Some say he had gotten too far into the finer dissipations of great champions preceding him, fine wine, food, and women, but whatever the reason, the old man started to slowly reel him in and walk him down by increments.

Then in a quicksilver flash of the first filmed phantom punch, Ruby Robert shot a left hook to the body and Gentleman Jim dropped like a common sack of potatoes, writhing in paralysis!

The Fitzsimmons punching techniques were hotly contested in his day, but the boxing experts concluded it was a legal punch and assigned it a new, scientific name, the solar plexus punch.

Corbett tried to drag himself to the ropes for assistance, but he was too deep in the count. Whatever claim James J Corbett had on the Heavyweight Title of the World transferred to Bob Fitzsimmons in that fateful 14th round.

It was the same punch Fitz had knocked out Sailor Tom Sharkey with in California that Wyatt Earp had disqualified him for. Fitz had sued to impound those stakes, but the presiding judge ruled that prizefighting was illegal and he had no authority. This time Fitz had dueling guns in his corner to offset the favoritism for the champion, so the lions share along with the championship belt was his to keep.

And, fair play, even Corbett’s main man, Wyatt Earp declared, “I consider that I have witnessed today the greatest fight with gloves that was ever held in this or any other country.” Gentleman Jim was not so easily placated though, going after Fitzsimmons when he recovered, his bad blood still boiling over.

The reported profits from the film were an astounding $120,000 after Corbett and Fitzsimmons’ share of the revenues had been settled.

Corbett lobbied heavily for a rematch, but Fitz, perhaps remembering the cancellation and all the profane insults he and his wife had endured trying to get Corbett into the ring, would have none of it. Instead he embarked on a series of exhibitions and plays as Champion for two years that were guaranteed purses with less danger of being filled with bullet holes.

Viewers with sharp eyes and curious natures however recalled a Mountain of a Man in Corbett’s corner that sterling day. That Man, dwarfing all around him, was none other than the soon to be great, another James J out of the Corbett stable of fighters, James J. Jeffries.

Two years later, Jim Jeffries would brutally pound the belt off the heroic Fitzsimmons in a classic Big Man against little man matchup the old man was never destined to win, but oh what a hellacious battle he put up.

Jeffries would go on to rule his era with an iron fist, but he and subsequent champions, the boxing fraternity, and the visual media, all owe an incalculable debt to those men playing their parts to perfection in bringing us the first filmed classic, James J. Corbett vs Bob Fitzsimmons.

OriginalJack

http://news.boxrec.com/news/2010/113th-anniversary-corbett-v-fitzsimmons-first-ever-blockbuster