Ken Norton-history's least appreciated heavy weight

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Post by horizontalhero on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 2:42 am

"paper champion" and "awkward" seem to be the most used words whenever Ken gets discussed, and that's rarely. I have to admit to having only ever seen his fights with Ali, Foreman, and highlights of the Holmes fight, and am hoping that some of you may have seen more of him and give a more informed view, but to me it seems that his somewhat ignored/ under appreciated by most fans, and I want to know why? Was it that his style made him unappealing to watch, or did he have no personality? or was it just the others in that era were so exciting?
He rarely features in anyone's top ten or even fifteen, but was considerably more successful against Ali than Frazier or Foreman and he gave Holmes hell, and both those guys usually feature in the top five HWs, so he lost to Foreman, but that's no disgrace, and was way past it when he lost to Cooney.
The fact that he got awarded rather than won his title is a black mark, but the same goes for Lewis, and he was certainly better than Leon Spinks , the linear champ at the time.
OK he wasn't pretty to watch, but seemed from what I have seen to be a sound technician with good defence, punch variety, and efficient movement.
Your thoughts on Ken please gents..

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Post by Steffan on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 2:49 am

Very good fighter but loses to Cooney, Shavers, Holmes and destroyed by Foreman have always placed doubt on him being that great. Only real victory of note was breaking Ali's jaw and winning on a split decision

A legend of the sport though

Least appreciated Heavyweight? Probably a few fighters could lay a claim to that on here to be honest

Nice article to be fair thumbsup

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Post by bhb001 on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 10:01 am

Good article and some good points. He will always be behind the three big uns of the era in Ali, Foreman and Fraser, but to hold his own in such company is a testament to the boxer. Mind you, where do giants go in the time of legends? In another time he would have dominated and people would be saying how he wouldn't have a chance against the above.

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Post by Rowley on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 10:22 am

Whilst it is true he pushed both Ali and Holmes close it is also an unfortunate truth for Ken that he came out with a losing record to both, and when one adds in his loss to Foreman it does kind of suggest a level. Guess you could make the argument he was unfortunate to be around in such a tough era but the same is true of Shavers and Quarry and probably a couple of other guys in that era. As for most under appreciated, for me that remains Jeffries who for me is often criminally overlooked.

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Post by ShahenshahG on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 10:34 am

To me - its always a case of he gave a rapidly fading Ali a tough time and capitulated against anyone with a bite.

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Post by bhb001 on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 12:13 pm

ShahenshahG wrote:To me - its always a case of he gave a rapidly fading Ali a tough time and capitulated against anyone with a bite.

First fight, which Norton won, was in 1973, before two of Ali's most iconic fights. A ridiculous statement for anyone to make

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Post by John Bloody Wayne on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 12:21 pm

I've always thought he dines out on only one or two really good wins, and the over exaggerated "He was robbed blind twice!" line against Ali.

He stopped the game Quarry well enough too, but how many top ten heavies lose in the style Norton usally did - lying petrified over the bottom rope?

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Post by ShahenshahG on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 1:01 pm

bhb001 wrote:
ShahenshahG wrote:To me - its always a case of he gave a rapidly fading Ali a tough time and capitulated against anyone with a bite.

First fight, which Norton won, was in 1973, before two of Ali's most iconic fights. A ridiculous statement for anyone to make

it was a reference to his second and third fights - in which he got beaten quite easily and narrowly defeated a bloated Ali. Those speak much more of norton than the first does simply because Ali worked him out. e sstruggled to a narrow win in te first was beaten comfortably in the second then fought a half dead version and beat him by a round despite the daft judges.

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Post by bhb001 on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 1:05 pm

John Bloody Wayne wrote:I've always thought he dines out on only one or two really good wins, and the over exaggerated "He was robbed blind twice!" line against Ali.

He stopped the game Quarry well enough too, but how many top ten heavies lose in the style Norton usally did - lying petrified over the bottom rope?

That is a far more reasoned argument I can understand. We keep hearing styles make fights and Norton had a serious problem with heavy hitters. I still hold the man in high regard.

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Post by ONETWOFOREVER on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 3:03 pm

The man was OWNED by almost every decent heavy he went in with. Bottled it against Shavers and Forman.

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Post by Rowley on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 3:05 pm

Think that is very harsh onetwo, he was far from owned by Ali, every fight was extremely close and even allowing for the exile and his age in certainly their first two fights it was a pretty decent version of Ali, his fight with Holmes was as close as you'd care to see, pretty much anyone's fight after 14 rounds. Think both Ali and Holmes would be considered decent.

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Post by ONETWOFOREVER on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 3:47 pm

Ali was made for him rowley. He was older and a little slower. Norton could never handle punchers. Shavers, Forman, Cooney all destroyed him. He was a better fighter with boxers like Holmes and Ali but over rated in my book.

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Post by Rowley on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 3:53 pm

Well to be fair I tend to agree he ain't all that but your original statement was he was owned by every decent heavy he faced, which given he pushed both Ali and Holmes very close someone was always going to take issue with, given it is patently untrue.

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Post by Gordy on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 6:44 pm

All I will I say is this - anyone who beat a fighter as great a Ali aint to shabby.

I doubt there are any heavyweights around these days that would last more than a couple of rounds with the magnificent Ali or his earlier Cassius Clay incarnation. Nowadays we have imposters like Haye and Harrison masquerading as the genuine article when they arent a patch on fighters like Lewis, Tyson, Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Marciano, Dempsey and others. Dont believe the hype!

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Post by ShahenshahG on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 6:54 pm

I'm sorry but nearly any heavy of the modern era with a half decent chin would probably last halfway at least and most likely the full fight. I never understand why people think ali will kill everyone in two rounds - he was masterful but never a great hitter.

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Post by NathanDB10 on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 7:03 pm

I tend to think of Norton as "the best of the rest", by which I mean he wasn't as good as the big three of Ali, Frazier and Foreman but was signifcantly better than the likes of Lyle, Terrell, Shavers, Quarry etc, despite losing to one or two of them.

He had a lot more skill than the vast majority of fighters and was very hard hitting IMO with underrated durability and stamina. I always rated him highly.

Put it this way, people always say he froze against big hitters, but I'd back him to beat the likes of Haye inside 3 rounds.

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Post by horizontalhero on Wed 01 Feb 2012, 12:08 am

ONETWOFOREVER wrote:Ali was made for him rowley. He was older and a little slower. Norton could never handle punchers. Shavers, Forman, Cooney all destroyed him. He was a better fighter with boxers like Holmes and Ali but over rated in my book.

When you say overrated in your book, what do you mean? As I alluded to Ken rarely appears in anyones top fifteen, let alone top ten- but it's surprising that a man who in most peoples eyes beat Ali twice, and went right to the wire with Holmes is rated so low, and whilst i agree that he couldn't handle punchers, there were very few that could live with Foreman and Shavers- hence that's why they are regarded as two of the hardest punchers ever- I would wager that if Frazier had fought Shavers he may well have been KO'd too. Lewis got ko'd by men regarded as lighter punchers, but few question his greatness.
For me it's the lacK of a proper title reign that counts against him- you look at the likes of Ali, Holmes, Lewis, Louis, and they all had alot of world title fight victories, and for me longevity is important- the abilty to keep yourself up and motivated to make routine defences is part of what makes a champion

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Post by John Bloody Wayne on Wed 01 Feb 2012, 1:15 am

I don't think the Lewis comparison really holds up. Lewis was taken out by single shots against fighters he proved were below him in rematches.

Norton was decisively and quickly squashed in a style that rendered any kind of rematch unnecessary.

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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Wed 01 Feb 2012, 2:00 pm

Kind of agree....although the way he fainted against anyone who pushed him back and could bang!! maybe not..

Least appreciated.........Tim Witherspoon..Jess Willard (After all... beating Johnson in 100 degree heat in the twenty something round must have been hell)

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Post by 88Chris05 on Wed 01 Feb 2012, 5:25 pm

Very good article, even if I don't really agree with much of it.

If anything, I'd say Norton is a little overrated, in the sense that his record doesn't really impress me that much more than the likes of Terrell and Machen's do, yet Norton is forever mentioned as a 'champion forever' in the 'golden age of Heavyweight boxing' while the other two are unknown outside of hardcore fans.

The way he had the wood on Ali, or at least did to an extent, is confusing and, of course, a fine reference for him, but I do see it as a bit of a freak occurrence - the disasters against Shavers, Foreman and Cooney tell me all I need to know about how he'd have fared against the big hitting Heavyweight greats of other eras, and while his losing effort against Holmes was a magnificent one, it was still a losing effort all the same.

Don't get me wrong - Norton was a good fighter who has my respect. But history has been a little kind too him, I think. Certainly can't agree that he's the most underappreciated / disrespected Heavyweight in history, with the likes of Schmeling, Terrell and Tom Sharkey all being better candidates in my mind.
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Post by horizontalhero on Wed 01 Feb 2012, 8:10 pm

I used the word unappreciated in the title more as a reference to his style than his rating Chris- as I said I never saw many of his fights, but people always seem to describe him as being awkward and not nice to watch, but to my mind he was a fine technician, and the awkward tag is unfair.

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