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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.

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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.

Hot Blast From The Past~Lennox Lewis vs Evander Holyfield I

I confess that I didn’t care for the first Lennox Lewis vs Evander Holyfield fight in the day and thus never had any reason to revisit it other than in sometimes spirited verbal debate arising over such controversial decisions. Finally, 15 years later I pulled it up today for a stylistic comparison of the last “great” American heavyweight as he wound down his career.

In boxing what goes around comes around as the more things change the more they remain the same and every other lame duck adage you can conjure up. Boxing “officials” back then stifled the righteous unification of the titles that Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield each held.

I only wanted see the fight, not to listen to blowhard announcers or review drunken punch monkey stats all strategically placed in to disrupt the basic sounds and sights of the fight. The average viewer soon becomes duped into thinking he is in the magnificent present of all knowing boxing experts emceeing the typical broadcast entertainment extravaganza. Me thinks that this particular fight  set the modern productions of the many international title events “promoted” by the entertainment industry moguls that have followed.

Lewis, Mercante, Holyfield

Lewis, Mercante, Holyfield

Holyfield is the last “great” American heavy at the end of his productive years propped up in Madison Square Garden as his “international” rival Lewis agrees to fly across the Atlantic for the big unification bout everyone and their granny wants to see. The judges are from South Africa, UK, and US with New York based Arthur Mercante Jr. the referee. Big George, Larry and Lamps are the Moe, Larry, and Curly announcing trio with the last great heavyweight trainer Emanuel Steward in the Lewis corner. Roy Jones Jr is set up at another studio and still on top of the boxing world as his braggadocio shoots off the charts. Everyone looks impossibly  young and healthy, yet shockingly Steward is no longer with us. Life is fickle and certainly not as permanent as it sometimes seems during our day to day struggles that seem unceasing before we tune in for ol’ reliable to get the juices roiling, the birthright of Americans, a big match heavyweight duke’em up.

Mercante impossibly slips a missed Real Deal left hook early on that most certainly would have sent him into the 3rd row had it connected as he demonstrated great reflexes and physicality in this grappling, big man affair. The fight turned out to be much better than I remembered though it petered out the last two rounds that doubtless increased the latitude of the scoring as well as dampened my memory of the fight. It was more informative this time around because of the context of the passage of time, so I ended up watching the whole broadcast instead of just the fight.

The broadcast ended up extremely raw and forthright as the hosts and participants struggled to make sense of the incomprehensible.

Lamps is all over the “stench” of the scoring as soon as the scorecards are announced. The setup was the typical Don King promoted modis operandi in the day and still the same format used in many big international fights today. British judge brought in to stay mum with the draw scoring while the American female judge has it for Holyfield and the South African judge for Lewis, the perfect foil for the perfect draw denouement pre-orchestrated by all time scoundrel Don King.

Noteworthy are the vast boos from the majority 21,000 American crowd who certainly have no history of ever taking a shine to Lewis. The reported 7500 Brits flying over to attend the fight can be heard all through taking up the Lewis chant. Had no idea Lewis was “that” popular with Brits in the day though I knew he had a good following.

Emmanuel Steward point blank: “This is is killing boxing.”

Fast forward>>> Shawn Porter vs Kell Brook>>> and we had California based referee Pat Russel as the 3rd man in the ring, the British judge mum again with a draw as the two American judges showed their “impartiality” by going all for the British Brook who is now suddenly mooted for all these artificial “superfights” boxing is desperate to make. The poorly attended crowd of 3000 didn’t have much to cheer about in this poor card that also featured touted American flagship heavyweight contender Deontay Wilder fighting a prelim in front of maybe a few hundred spectators who cheered on his TBA opponent. Sad to see boxing come down to such a low level that the long maligned Lewis/Holyfield fight actually looks good in comparison even if the past it Holyfield fought a poor fight.

Lewis/Holyfield I:

Tony Thompson To Sic His Tiger on David Price

Tony Thompson scored the big upset of this year when he nonchalantly knocked the legs out from underneath the monstrous punching David Price last March. Price gamely wanted to set things right, so the rematch was agreed to this Saturday, July 6th at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

Whoops!

Whoops!

Price had looked well on his way to another easy knockout victory for two rounds until Thompson landed what could best be described as a looping popcorn punch on the left ear of Price, and just that quickly the deal was sealed as Price and his fans scrambled to make sense of the impossible.

The usual descriptors of glass jaw, china chin, and horizontal British heavyweight got tossed around as new Price critics piled on, but now Price has another chance to box a more controlled fight and not try for the early KO as he looked to be in the beginning. Lennox Lewis felt compelled come out of a retirement of a sorts to right the sinking British heavyweight division by training Price on the nuances of the big man division.

Meanwhile, Thompson knows he can do it again, but will Price be so careless again?  Should be a fair to middlin’ fight me thinks, perhaps one of the better heavy series of this era, but we’ll just have to see what Saturday brings us.

A Legend Passes–Manny Steward, R.I.P.

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

Those Were The Days

Those Were The Days

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

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

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanuel_Steward

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

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

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?

Evander Holyfield–When Enough Ain’t Enough

Good golly Miss Folly, when will enough be ENOUGH ALREADY for Evander Holyfield?

"The Greenbriar"

“The Greenbriar”

So as not to be a spoilsport, I’m OK that he is fighting  Sherman Williams at The Greenbrier, a historic high end hotel resort privy to the moneyed bluebloods and the ruling establishment of Washington DC.

Hey, it’s the kind of classy soft landing clubfight venue that fans and former fans of 48 yr old Mr. Holyfield have long pined for after a career spent going against most of the best heavyweights of the 1990s, one of the best heavyweight eras of boxing.

Mr. Field notched his first top ten heavy scalp in 1989 against Michel Dokes in a thrilling fight of the year kinda slugfest that wowed boxing fans everywhere. In between his last top ten scalp against Hasim Rahman in 2002, Mr. Holyfield managed to win 4 heavyweight titles, a new record, but the magic was clearly gone when he had to billygoat his way to victory over Rahman in a bizarre technical win that ended with Rahman sporting a lump the size of a softball over his eye.

That’s a long legendary 13 years against the best, and an even longer 9 years afterwards that sees Mr. Holyfield struggling to show any form against top ten fighters. He has even struggled against retired, inactive heavies on the comeback trail, aka Sherman Williams, 34-11-2, 19 KO as it may happen this Saturday at The Greenbrier.

This fight has been bounced around from venue to venue as promoters struggle to put together a viable package they can market as has happened to many of Mr. Holyfield’s scheduled opponents whose fights ultimately were canceled for lack of promotional and public interest. His next fight is supposed to be on March 5th against Brian Nielsen in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The soon to be 46 yr old former IBO/IBC champ Brian Nielson is another retired heavy announcing a comeback after a sweet 9 year vacation. And why shouldn’t he hop on the newly formed Real Deal Senior Circuit?

Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Larry Holmes are reported to have received special viewing invitations at this historic West Virginia landmark, so could be a chance for one or all to scout out the promotion and contemplate their own comebacks against Mr. Holyfield.

And I’m OK with that, this new senior circuit league.

What I’m not OK with is Mr. Holyfield’s incessant quest to not only regain a 5th heavyweight title, but to unify the division, something he could never do in his prime, though he did win and go to defend a unified title 3x before losing it to Riddick Bowe.

Don King leveraged the legend of Mr. Holyfield to maneuver him to two consecutive title challenges in 2007-2008 to WBO champ Sultan Ibragimov and WBA champ NikolayValuev. He could scarcely mount an offensive threat against the champs who were clearly wearing the cuffs, not wishing to be the one blamed for scrambling the remainder of his brains for the rest of his life, or WORSE!

In his prime as a champion, Mr. Holyfield’s KO ratio was abysmal and has only gotten worse as his reflexes abandoned him while aging through the decades. It just ain’t a fairfight anymore unless he gets “assistance” from officials as he now requires.

The Greenbrier “Redemption in America” card has been heavily promoted in Fightnews, seemingly some dozen or more articles every week for several weeks now. He did an interview with boxing fanhouse as part of the leadup to the fight claiming the Klitschkos are ducking him:

http://boxing.fanhouse.com/2011/01/19/evander-holyfield-and-the-klitschkos-can-make-20-million-apiec/

I don’t know what is more laughable, or is it cryable, when Mr. Holyfield followed the ducking charge on the topic of money, how much he made and how much he could make for everyone, splitting $40 million against one of the brothers in ‘Vander World.

Newsflash for Mr. Holyfield:

Top contenders don’t want to fight you because they don’t want to hit you, and as much as you want to hit them, you can’t any more than you could hit the side of a barn with a sawed off shotgun in your current state of decline.

It Happens

It Happens

Give it up and stay on the senior circuit.

I suspect even the rusting 258 lb Sherman “Tank” will give you more fire than team Atlanta has seen since General Sherman marched through the Atlanta cottonfields some 145 yrs ago. The parallel may be lost on you, but fairplay, we know the fight is the perfect prep for a Tyson rubber match, something more in your league, so good luck, but please, keep your delusions to yourself, you’re scarin’ folks.

George Foreman was knocking around a prime Shannon Briggs like a bowling pin at your age, but you ain’t Big Bad George. You were  lucky enough hang on for dear life in the closing rounds to survive him in your prime, a distant 20 yrs ago.

For the sake of boxing, your fans, and more importantly, your family, especially your children, please do find that perfect soft spot to land your retirement on with a semblance of dignity your career deserves.

Oh, did I mention Mr. Holyfield is defending his newly “won” World Boxing Federation heavyweight title he acquired from “knocking out” Kris Kringle in the form of one Frans Botha?

Yah, va con Dios, mi amigo.

The Heavyweight Dilemma, Vitali Klitschko vs Shannon Briggs

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

Shannon the Cannon

Shannon the Cannon

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

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

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

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

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

The (notes) are mine of course:

1. Wlad

2. Vitali

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

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

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

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

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

Der Knock-outers

Der Knock-outers

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

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

Der Braumeistrisses

Der Braumeistrisses

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

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

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

Dr. Ironfist

Dr. Ironfist

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

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

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

Briggs 262 - Klitschko 251

Briggs 262 – Klitschko 251

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

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

 

A Message From the Boss

A Message From the Boss