Tag Archives: Joe Louis

Ring Tribute On The 105th Anniversary of Joe Louis’ Birth

Sweet tribute to Joe Louis in Ring Magazine with classic Ring Covers of that era being used to tell the magnificence of Joe Louis who remains in the highest order of the Great Pantheon of fighters.

The Ring Archives: Born on this day: Joe Louis – part one

Sadly the tribute gets somewhat soiled in the social commentary section by a self-inflated blowhard hoist upon his own petard name of Barley, a long time Ring critic. The poor feller don’t understand the history of what he waxes hysterically about, the most grievous being that Joe did not grant a title shot to a black contender until 1947, when in fact he defended his title against the former Lightheavy Champ John Henry Lewis in 1939.

John Henry never lost his title in the ring, instead being stripped in a classic blunder of a gaggle of boxing suits in dispute with each other. John Henry fought strictly as a heavy in 1938 and entered the Louis fight with his own magnificent record of 100-10-5, 56 KO. He may have made the Ring rankings in 1939 but for Joe knocking him out in January before Ring could publish their annual top 10 ratings for the year as I would presume their schedule back when. That was John Henry’s only KO loss and last bout of his career. Of course WW2 would soon put most all titles on hold for about 4 years as the fighters either joined the armed forces or worked in support of the war at the factories.

Joe Louis record: http://boxrec.com/en/boxer/9027

John Henry Lewis record: http://boxrec.com/en/boxer/17914

My own tribute to Joe here in all his magnificence:

https://roberto00.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/joe-louis—born-on-the-4th-of-july-2/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK, now, and what about the greatest records?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fighting is the nature of boxing!

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 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 and lost just as many prime years as Ali did under dangerous flying conditions in the US Army.

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 #5 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 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.

 

 

WBC Emeritus Vitali Klitschko Returns For Historic Scrum of 20 Heavyweight Champs

WBC Emeritus Champion Vitali Klitschko is supposed to be on his way to a historic scrum of near two dozen former heavyweight champions Saturday, September 5th. Former Vitali victim, the permanently topless Shannon Briggs, 58-6-1, 51 KO, goes against Michael Marrone, 21-4, 15 KO, in the main event of this heavyweight brouhaha at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

The Mayor of Kiev has had his hands full since elections with the ongoing Russian military conflicts over Ukrainian sovereignty. He was seen last week in Kiev watching Ukrainian compatriot and fellow boxer Oleksandr Usyk demolish South African Johnny Muller, so I assume K2 Promotions he runs with his brother Wlad are doing well these days.

Projected  former world heavyweight champions slated to attend include reigning champ Wladimir Klitschko, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Michael Spinks, Tony Tucker, Roy Jones Jr., Michael Moorer, Ray Mercer, Hasim Rahman, Tony Tubbs, James “Bonecrusher” Smith, Chris Byrd, John Ruiz, Mike Weaver, Evander Holyfield, Tim Witherspoon, Larry Holmes, Riddick Bowe, Pinklon Thomas, Michael Bentt, Lamon Brewster, Leon Spinks and Bruce Seldon.

Neon Leon Spinks will be the most senior of the champs dating back to his shock of Muhammad Ali in 1978  who is likely unable to attend due to his poor health. Other projected absences would be Herbie Hide(jail sentence,) James Toney(stripped by IBF after positive steroid test,) and David Haye(recovering pinky toe.)

In particular the new owner of “regular” WBC heavy strap, Deontay Wilder may also be missing in action even though he’s only a hop and skip away in Alabama(Sugardaddy Al Haymon, his overseer, passed on a $2 million dollar Shannon Briggs offer to challenge Wilder for considerably less against a Frenchman in Alabama. I don’t make this stuff up folks, only in boxing)

Can’t say I know many of the details, but presumably there will be a meet and greet type banquet with requisite speeches prior to the boxing matches. Probably some autograph and picture sessions, the usual splashy stuff that would befit this historic occasion. It’s telling how many “champs” have been packed in this 37 year span, yet less than a handful could be said to have been dominant, and only Wlad can be said to have cleaned out the division, a couple of three times now as he is tying and breaking Joe Louis heavyweight records.

Coming To America~Wladimir Klitschko vs Bryant Jennings

Wladimir Klitschko makes his historic return to America this Saturday, April 25th when he puts up all his baubles against undefeated American contender Bryant Jennings, 19-0, 10 KO. This will be his 3rd fight at Madison Square Garden, that’s New York, New York FYI, his last two appearances being too many moons ago to count.

More importantly, Wlad makes his official challenge this year at the great Joe Louis heavyweight records that have withstood the test of time as well as Babe Ruth’s baseball records. New athletes may come along and nip away here and there at specific records, but none will ever capture the elemental primacy that Joe and Babe displayed in dominating their eras in the richest histories of boxing and baseball.

None of that matters to Wlad since a fighter can only fight in context to his own era, one that he has been instrumental in making boxing more international. It helps that he and his brother Vitali are up there in the great pantheon of dominating fighters, their collective records of 63-3, 53 KO and 45-2, 41 KO add up to an amazing 108-5, 94 KO, not only dominating in knockouts but also in winning rounds, something like 90% of all rounds contested.

The 39 year old Wlad is 24-2, 19 KO in championship bouts going against the prime aged 30 year old Bryant Jennings with a guarantee to tie the Louis 27 total title fight record. The Louis total win record of 26 may well be tied at the end of the year or perhaps broken if Wlad fights three times this year, however, as invincible as Wlad looks by recent performance and record, being 39 years of age is not a typical invincible age for a fighter. He is fighting way past the primacy of any previous heavyweight champion save perhaps how any might evaluate the career of George Foreman. Foreman retired for a decade before coming back to fight his way back to becoming a contender, champ, and on well into his late 40s.

What about the hopeful American contender, the new kid on the ratings block, Bryant Jenning you ask?

For All The Marbles & Baubles

For All The Marbles & Baubles

Well, on paper he has about a fractional chance just above zero, however, at Wlad’s age, stuff can happen, so if Jennings plays it cool and smart, he could be around for if and when some bad stuff happens. I haven’t seen Jennings in a true jab and run fight that he’ll need to survive the early going, so he’ll have to pull it out fresh and hope it’s enough to stay out of Wlad’s range. Unfortunately for him though, Wlad and his brother Vitali are among the best long range boxing heavies  in history. Jennings could try to go inside, a dangerous gambit for a smaller, weaker fighter as Wlad excels at locking fighters up to wait for the ref break in between muscling around fighters to wear them out.

Win, lose, or draw, Jennings has made a bold statement to the rest of America’s light in the loafers, faint in the heart heavyweight wannabes. He’s a fighter and won’t be hiding behind some sugar daddy promoter feeding him the dead and dying like they’ve grown used to. He’s right at his athletic prime in which any young man tends to feel invincible and is willing to go for the biggest prize in boxing. I’m looking forward to this.

Future Destiny In Waiting~Wladimir Klitschko vs Kubrat Pulev

***Fight postponed due to Wladimir injury reported alternately as a hamstring pull or left bicep tear. Sad but true perhaps this warning shot across the bow of the aging Klitschko juggernaut as he dragged Shannon Briggs across the landscape that left him shaking his right hand. Not much else in the story, but link here for confirmation:

http://www.espn.co.uk/boxing/sport/story/336929.html

Wladimir Klitschko is back in action to defend his myriad collection of world title belts against IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev at O2 World Arena in Hamburg, Germany on Saturday, September 6th. He is coming off a successful defense against his WBO mandatory Alex Leapai who was well tenderized before being knocked out in the 6th round, but there’s much more at stake than just this upcoming title defense.

The Combatants

The Combatants

Klitschko is currently 23-2, 17 KOs in title fights coming into his his 26th title fight. Only the immortal Joe Louis was in more heavyweight title fights, sporting a 26-1 record with the 26 all consecutive wins, one record heavyweights will likely never break. A win against Pulev puts Wladimir within two title fights of tying Joe’s 26 title wins record and breaking his 27 total title fights record.

Records are fascinating reflections of the eras in which they occur and most will eventually be broken as the rules and culture changes, but boxing has a history of pulling the plug on modern fighters approaching Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 heavyweight record. The Joe Louis records may be even more revered as we may discover once Wlad tries to cross that threshold. This is the first recorded instance of a modern heavyweight champion also simultaneously approaching the Joe Louis final record of 66-3, 52 KO, dead square within his sights with Wlad currently at 62-3, 52 KO and still on top of his game. There will be much moaning and wringing of limp hands about this heavy division being soft by the grandsons of the same moaning critics of previous eras who were never satisfied with the greats who do pass through their eras, always preferring the good old days of their misguided besotted youth when the biggest impressions are made on the soft clay of their memory.

The perfect modern era example of that misanthropic thinking is the stellar record of two division champ Dariusz Michalczweski who was the long time “lineal” lightheavyweight champ according to the varied arcane claims kept by persnickety purist “boxing experts” as he waged one of the best title runs in history. He approached the Rocky Marciano career mark of 49-0 as he also made a bid to tie the Joe Louis record of 26 consecutive title wins. During his span of 9 years the aptly monikered “Tiger” defended his WBO lightheavy title while adding the WBO cruiserweight title that he never defended and the IBF, WBA, and “lineal” titles when he beat HOFer Virgil Hill.

The Fates could not have arranged for a more eventful challenge to boxing history, but being such fastidiously fickle sisters, they upped their ante on this poor Polish boy by booting him into Germany where he became a huge star with the expected accumulating hubris as he played out his preordained destiny before adoring fans.

They also made sure that Michalczweski was to be infamously and quite immediately stripped of his hard won WBA and IBF baubles that Roy Jones Jr then moved up to claim to much more acclaim that in turn secured his own lock as a first ballot International Boxing Hall of Famer that Dariusz currently remains locked out of. Roy fought many of the same fighters Dariusz fought, often after Dariusz had already taken care of business in advance. As Dariusz approached those legendary boxing milestones, he and his team obviously developed a sense of history and wanted affirmation from American media that historically define prevailing boxing media content. They flew to America for an HBO televised Jones title match where he publicly lobbies for a Jones unification fight to no avail. Jones and his HBO paymasters blithely snubbed what would have been the biggest money purse in Roy’s career. You could ask them why, but I doubt there will be any truth forthcoming. You see, all that big money was only if the fight were held in Germany with a German broadcaster that HBO either could not or would not match in a home setting for Roy. Nor would Roy travel abroad for a big fight much like the the current crop of acclaimed undefeated American P4Pers whose names are already forgotten in the span of time.

Instead Roy settled for the much touted Don King canned WBA heavyweight challenge against John Ruiz with King contractually keeping that title “in house” for well over a decade before his own inevitable decline finally saw him lose his grip. So King held the WBA heavy option on Roy for one year to no avail when Roy simply refused to defend, instead holding a King’s Court as suitors supplicated themselves before him with a dozen heavyweight and cruiserweight big fight offers before vacating the heavyweight title which, cough, cough, immediately reverted back to the justly maligned John Ruiz.  Roy did finally return and beat Antonio Tarver to an unexpected savaging by critics who finally saw their estimation of his otherworldly talents and career dashed on the rocks of their own misguided expectations of Roy cleaning out the heavyweight division.

‘T’ain’t ever easy being the best ever in the best of times when the times savagely turn on you.

The discouraged Dariusz instead held his historic bout against the light swatting Julio Gonzalez whom Roy had previously beaten in 12 lackluster rounds. Gonzalez was the best Dariusz could find under the circumstances, yet a poor substitute that showed in his own lackluster performance where he looked to be sleep walking underwater for the first half of the fight as the gentle pitty-pattering rain of Gonzalez racked up the points. Then the switch gets turns on as Dariusz finds his timing and desire to chase and pound on Gonzalez down the stretch. I thought Dariusz showed the heart of a champ under adverse conditions to win those rounds, but instead the judges denied him that fight and his place in history with a razor thin split decision loss.

Dariusz record here: Dariusz Michalczewski

The modestly equipped Gonzalez could do nothing with the belt but to promptly drop it to talented undefeated Hungarian Zsolt Erdei who had his own problems making big fights with Americans. So the great Roy Jones thus became something of arcane anomaly after all his storied dozens of title fights in never having once held the “Lineal” belt holder in any of the four divisions he held the belt.

So the extensive history of the above/\ is the backdrop setting in this upcoming international fistic play as we get back to the robust upcoming challenge ahead to Wlad’s own considerable legacy.

The 33 year old Bulgarian Pulev is a rugged 6-5, 250 lbs who doesn’t give away any size or strength worth noting. He has recently beat 3 “giant” heavyweights in a row, knocking out top 20 contenders Alexander Dimitrenko and Alexander Ustinov and then beating top 10 Tony Thompson by decision. Though his record pales compared to Wlad, only 20-0, 11 KO, he seems like the type of fighter who fights up or down to the importance of the fight and this his biggest fight ever.

The Klitschko brothers’ K2 Promotions won the IBF mandatory purse bid over Pulev promoter Saureland promotions which was the only way this fight could have been made since both are big German promotional rivals who seldom work with each other unless circumstances force them.

Sound familiar?

Pulev has managed to go a bit further in the prefight than previous Wlad opponents, claiming he, Pulev, is drug tested 6x per year and demanding Wlad take his same tests. Wlad only undergoes post fight drug testing under the auspices of the German Boxing Federation, approximately 2-3x per year dependent on his fight schedule, so no Olympic drug testing controversy this one. The recent Felix Sturm/Sam Soliman bombardment of vicious charges and counter charges over the legality of a nominal compound used in vitamins and supplements highlights the shameless incompetence of cartels and commissions who crudely rule over this untidy sport. If the illicit cartels and commishes ever establish themselves to be as well tested and competently trained as the fighters that they attempt to pass judgement on, then some day the public might take these clowns seriously. Yeah, fat chance that, but such is the way life is everywhere, so we the people of the world adjust to modern prefight and prework drug testing posturing the best we can.

The Cannon Iced!

The Cannon Iced!

And speaking of going further than normal in prefight posturing, a special mention must be made for the grotesquely abnormal pre-prefight posturing of Shannon Briggs in a frothing, rabid state of hysteria during the weeks to the lead up to this fight. He had been stalking Klitschko in his Florida training regimen with what looked like staged video setups, the first of which showed him taking off a shoe to throw at Wlad who was having his hands taped. OK, just some harmless goofy stuff that gets the usual suspects all riled up, but five weeks away from the Pulev fight Briggs stormed a restaurant Klitscko was dining at, screaming hysterically before grabbing his plate to wolf down Wlad’s meal. Wlad blithely joked around before pouring ice water over his bald noggin which flashed Briggs to sweep the table clear in a shattering violent explosion before a bodyguard wrapped him up to cart off outside where Briggs fled to the local hospital with cut hands and feet. Wlad may have cut or broken his right hand as well as he was looking at the palm and shaking something off.

So, Wlad has to effectively negotiate through Shannon “The Loose Cannon” Briggs first who may well be stalking him in his return to Germany as he has done in the past before Wlad can fight Pulev. We shall see soon enough if these were publicity set ups if and when Wlad schedules the desperate Briggs for his next fight. Video here:

At the very least the best heavyweight champion of this era will meet yet another of his main rivals, something that seldom happens in the US at the lesser weights they represent these days.

It should be noted that Wladimir’s brother Vitali was recently elected mayor of Kiev in Ukraine which is currently engaged in a tragically escalating border war against Russia. Hard to say how those political and war distractions add up, but Wlad should be the betting favorite by a good margin over Pulev who looks like he’s durable enough to be dangerous over all 12 rounds.

The usual anti social media monkeys male bonded in a fury of vitriol over Klitschko’s excessive holding against Russian Alexander Povetkin last year and then piled on over the quality of Alex Leapai as a fighter. Wlad looked like a proctologist grown weary of his profession as he gazed down upon Povetkin in a reflective pause before donning the rubber gloves for the perfunctory examination, but look a little closer and you can almost see a return to the original London Prize Ring Rules with 3 hard knockdowns and otherwise manhandling the surprisingly game Povetkin to toss him about the ring old school style into the ropes and onto the canvas like a rag doll. This Pulev fellow looks too strong and densely built for that, but at the end of the day, Wlad has been executing his various mandatory defenses by the textbook, meaning Pulev is likely well pulped by the end of their session however the means.

Is Pulev made of greater stuff than just another lumped up, lopsided heavybag twisting on the chains for Wladimir? Been much bigger upsets than this one which could be interesting on many fronts. Just you watch and wait and see history in the making…

The Essentials

The Essentials

Any Real Americans Left To Save The Joe Louis Legacy?

I’ll be straight to the point here. Are there any real Americans left willing to step up to the scratch line to fight for the legacy that Joe Louis left this country for the benefit of all?

The humble Detroit Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center is the spot where Joe Louis made his boxing debut at age 17 not to mention the debuts many other unsung poor working class kids in the Detroit area. The building dates to 1929, finished as a beacon of hope in the year of the Great Stock Market crash that kicked off the Great Depression that in turn kicked over the common working class into the gutters of life like abandoned dogs.

Architecturally there is nothing particularly special about the building other than being an early example of a soundly designed recreational structure that would be duplicated in communities across the country. What is far more than special is that a share cropper’s son from Alabama got his first start in the larger life through this community based project and would go on to become the greatest ever heavyweight and role model American in this otherwise murderously miserable international era that culminated in the worst blood bath in history, World War II.

The building has fallen into shameful disrepair as the ravaged city of Detroit declared bankruptcy while the American auto industry continues to slump and lose market share. Check out this Google map of the nearby playground of the well to do, the island of Belle Isle Park where the nouveau rich kept their yachts. Note the plethora of the sunken outlines of abandoned yachts still tied to their slips in the harbor.

These are large seagoing vessels as befits their recreational traverses across the chain of Great Lakes, seas really of the purest fresh water in the world, all for naught when when the capitalist economy that birthed them as toys for the rich killed them in collapse.

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3502141,-82.9721264,282m/data=!3m1!1e3

There is no explanation for the derelict dilapidation of Detroit and this historic rec center other than American capitalism has failed miserably and fled the 83% black demographics, nor will they be returning to any extent that counts. As a reminder, before the advent of modern “western” development, these lands were a veritable Native American paradise of rich hunting and fishing grounds and fertile deep soils, all heavily timbered in some of the finest woodlands known to man with more fresh water than any other culture in the world could ever contemplate much less have abundant access to, yet look at it after modern  development has finished choking the life out of it.

Derelict Photo Gallery here:

http://www.sherlockphoto.com/gallery/?location=4

But for a few favorable circumstances regarding his sharecropper family and geography, Joe Louis could have easily been lost in the sausage grinder economy that defined the US of A then and now. Another American hero of the era, Audie Murphy was the physical antithesis of the black heavyweight champion. While sharing a sharecropper background in Texas, Murphy was incredibly slight and white, generously listed as 5-3, 110-115 lbs soaking weight, yet he was the most magnificent warrior on the battlefield the world has ever seen since Achilles. Unlike Joe who had a daddy in his life, Audie’s sharecropper daddy abandoned the large family when he was a small child, leaving Audie to drift around being kicked from one low rent job to the next in scrappy support of his family until he enlisted at the start of America’s entrance into WWII. Even so he was too young and too small for the minimum requirements and had to fight and fast talk his way into the army, but once there his deeds of heroism start to read like some kind of mythical cartoon character, far beyond those of a dozen heroes combined. World War II was won on the backs of poor rural depression era boys like Medal of Honor recipients Joe and Audie who had smarts that can’t be taught by books and abilities that could not be measured by schools, yet such heart they displayed for all to see in their unsurpassed deeds.

The distilled magnificence of Joe Louis here:

https://roberto00.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/joe-louis%E2%80%94born-on-the-4th-of-july-2/

Both Joe and Audie have bronze statues erected in their honor as well as significant other naming memorials such as golf courses, hospitals, ect, but like the common man’s president, Andrew Jackson, the crude little shacks they were birthed in could never last more than a few years before rotting out and blowing over. Some of Murphy’s greatest battlefield moments have been preserved and memorialized in Europe, so surely Joe Louis is as deserving in his adopted city of Detroit after all he did for America in terribly trying times.

There are spacious open grounds surrounding the rec center that could include a hike and bike path around a park setting with a softball field and football/soccer field joined together for youth and public recreational activities as was intended. It’s a no brainer but for lack of funds and small minded, mean spirited civic planners and developers they have operating these days. The adjacent blocks have already been razed and in the process of being redeveloped, but for what purpose without a respect for the storied history of this area?

To be abandoned and sunk in harbor during the next economic collapse? 

We’ll see soon enough if there are any true Americans willing to man up to rebuild what used to be their birthright, the storied stuff of legends in the making in their very own communities as the building can go no further without a complete overhaul.

Joe Louis

Joe Louis

 

 

Low Key Defense–Wladimir Klitschko vs Francesco Pianeta

Wladimir Klitschko defends his myriad collection of championship titles against Francesco Pianeta Saturday, May 4th at SAP-Arena, Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

On paper, it would seem Wlad is taking a breather against Pianeta, but any fighter measuring in at 6-5, 240lbs is hardly the kind of breather most folks would wish to have any part of. Pianeta has been near cracking the boxrec top ten rankings, and he’s a prime 29 yrs of age, and an undefeated southpaw, 28-0-1, 15 KOs. He has typical “names” on his record to lend respectability, decisions over former WBC champ Oliver McCall and former WBO champ Frans Botha, and a decision and a draw over former EBU/EU champs Matt Skelton and Albert Sosnowski.

Pianeta also has some history with Wlad as a sparring partner as typifies many title fights today, and then there’s the understated backdrop of his comeback from a very unusual cancer of the hand. He’s also a native born Italian living and fighting in Germany as befits any fighter serious about pursuing a heavyweight career, so he’s not quite your Daddy’s usual heavyweight contender.

The Gentlemen

The Gentlemen

Speaking of history, Wlad has some real history to contemplate as he closes in on the Joe Louis record of 26 title wins and final record of 66-3. Wlad is currently at 20 title wins with a record of 59-3 after having already surpassed Louis’ knockouts by a 51 to 49 margin. Comparisons to the great Joe Louis stick in the craw of primarily American fans for whom the Russian Robots represent everything wrong with boxing, ignoring that the Klitschko brothers are genuinely Ukrainian, not Russian, and the only thing being wrong with boxing is that fat, spoilt Americans keep on falling behind the rest of the world. It is what it is, an American gag reflex to the current reality.

Facts are there are almost no truly dangerous contenders left for Wlad, so this defense suffices until up and coming contenders Tyson Fury and Kubrat Pulev gain a bit more experience. The WBA shadow champ Alexander Povetkin and his promoter have may have finally mustered up some courage after falling out of previous contracted fights when the Povetkin manager, Vlad Hryunov, put in an outrageous Russian backed $23 million purse bid to win the rights to promote their fight. October 31st is the projected date with the venue not yet chosen, but Russia probably with Moscow as the frontrunner. Wlad receives 75% and Povetkin takes 25% of the proceedings is how purse bids go.

Getting back to the Pianeta defense, many of the usual complainants to claim Pianeta is unworthy and has no chance, but at Wlad’s 37 year maturity with over 20 years of amateur and professional rounds accumulated in sparring and in bouts, lightning could strike to upset the best laid plans of mice and men, even the Wlad juggernaut. Pianeta is certainly big enough, strong enough, skilled enough and credentialed enough to beat up many contenders throughout the heavyweight history as well as versions of previous great champions upset by a huge underdog.

Wouldn’t be the first time, nor the last, so look in to see a bit of history in the making. Wlad seems to have signed a deal with HBO to broadcast the fight to American shores in the late afternoon hours as the battle takes place according to German evening hours, so plenty of Americans to have access this latest waltz round the German ballroom.

7/7–Wlad Klitschko Rematches Tony “Tiger” Thompson

Tony The Tiger Thompson gets a rematch of one of the more respectable title challenges given to Wlad Klitschko from 4 years ago. The bout takes place July 7th at Stade de Suisse in Berne, Switzerland at an approximate elevation of 1800′, creating potential stamina problems for any fighter who may be elevationally challenged. While 1800′ doesn’t represent much elevation by my way of thinking for a trained athlete, I’ve come to find that some folks are more predisposed to weakness at any significant elevation gain, so we shall see what if any factor the elevation plays.

Wlad goes for his 19th title victory against 2 title losses, one of the best all time heavyweight title records, yet still looks for respect outside the European sphere where he currently defends his title. His last defense in the US came in 2008 against the undefeated southpaw, Sultan Ibragimov, a rather tepid technical boxing display resulting in an wide unanimous decision for Wlad.

This will be his 12th straight defense since regaining his championship form with the defeat of IBF titleholder Chris Byrd in 2006. Ironically, it was then WBO titlest Byrd who started Wlad on his title path back in 2000 as well as being the first of his record setting title matches against southpaw fighters, his 7th with the Thompson rematch. Wlad is currently 5-1 with 3 KOs and one KO loss in these lefty matches.

Dr Steelhammer vs The Tiger

Dr Steelhammer vs The Tiger

Thompson says that he was hindered in the first fight by a damaged knee that he has since had two surgeries on. Klitschko has been mopping the floor against the best of the heavyweight contenders whereas Thompson has been more inactive against lesser competition. His best win was against fringe contender Chazz Witherspoon, but all 5 wins were by knockout.

And it’s a knockout that Tony Thompson will be looking for since it’s just impossible to ever outbox either of the Klitschko brothers, the most dominant heavyweight boxers by % of rounds won in history as near as I can tell by available scoring records. Thompson will be a few months shy of his 41st birthday though, not a good bet to knockout a champion sporting a 57-3, 50 KO record, the best since Joe Louis was last dominating the division.

However, Wlad is 36 years of age and looked slow and tentative against Jean Marc Mormeck in his last defense, almost not knowing what to do in the first round when Mormeck smartly manuveured into range and also froze in the moment. Perhaps he was giving the former French champion too much respect, and he did take care of business just a few rounds later, but Thompson is a much bigger threat powerwise.

Wlad is by nature a congenitally cautious boxer to the point of maddening his critics into a rabid froth anytime his name comes up in conversation. Even his highlight 2nd round KO of Ray Austin so many moons ago, quintuple lightning strikes of consecutive left hooks came out of the blue after staying well out of range with nothing but jabs to show up to that point.

Cautious to a fault, sure, but the proof is in the pudding, and it’s been a dominant career in spite of painful setbacks during the early years.

Don’t see how Tony Thompson can pull off the trick, but he will be looking for the one perfect shot during the 36 minutes of the bout. They all hone their skills and dream of their moment as any of us might, so that’s as good a reason as any to tune in for the final results.

A French Marksman Takes Aim in Germany–Klitschko vs Mormeck

Wlad Klitschko is the unified heavyweight champion looking to defend his WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO and Ring belts against French Marksman and longtime cruiserweight champion Jean Marc Mormeck in theESPRIT arena, Düsseldorf March 3rd.

Mormeck’s last big title bout was a thrilling exchange of knockdowns while defending his WBC/WBA belts in 2007 against Mr. David Haye, a bout he lost by knockout. He retired for two years before coming back as a heavyweight, beating two good fringe contenders, Timur Ibragimov and Fres Oquendo, after starting with the bullish journeyman Vinny Madalone. Unfortunately, all the bouts took place in France, so not many are currently refreshed with his current fighting form other than knowing that all the bouts were fairly close in his hometown environs.

Jean the Marcsman

Jean the Marcsman

By the time of the bout he will have been off another year, but he did have a 14th heavyweight ranking on Boxrec by last year, so the bout does have legitimacy even if it appears as though he has no chance. The biggest problem is that he is not only 39 yrs old and inactive, but that he will give away 7 inches and 30 lbs or so against the champion, not a traditional recipe for success.

Young Mike Tyson was of similar size and crouching fighting style and had much success in his heyday against much larger fighters, but nobody ever mistook Jean Marc Mormeck for Mike Tyson at any point in their careers.

The fight may rightly seen as a stay busy fight for Wlad who is the most active heavyweight since the legendary reign of Joe Louis who had similar problems lining up compelling fighters after he had beaten all the top contenders out of sight. The justification of the fight could be said to be a tribute to the fine career of the often overlooked French fighter deserving of one last go for the big prize, a tradition much in the same vein where Billy Miske got his title shot against Jack Dempsey and John Henry Lewis got his title shot against Joe Louis.

In an interesting development, Wlad recently lost a bout against painful kidney stones, needing to cancel the previous Mormeck date for December 10th of last year after emergency surgery the week before the fight. Perhaps Mormeck can take advantage of a weakened Wlad, however unlikely that may seem.

Wlad vs Jean Marc

Wlad vs Jean Marc

Amazingly, the 35 year old Wlad has actually boxed a few less rounds in many more fights, 260 rounds in 59 fights to 265 rounds and 40 fights for Mormeck. Their ages aren’t really that far apart either, so they are closer in experience even if widely disparate in size.

We have recently seen how fighters have been adopting extreme defensive stategies to stay in the match against the Klitschko brothers, but other than making everyone look very awkward in the ring, their tactics have done little to stem the one sided bouts. I look for a traditional Wlad bout with him strafing Mormeck with his jab until he can land the knock out punch, a left hook or straight right.

 Mormeck can bob and weave to cause some problems initially, but can the championship credentials of Jean Marc Mormeck change the inevitable result of this bout? We will have to tune in March 3rd to find out.