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Vegas...Sunsets...Cocaine....False Dawns....In the race to succeed King Larry !!

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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 12:53 pm

Nothing beats the theatre of the Sun setting in Vegas......A place where lives get enriched....Where lives get destroyed.....A perfect epitaph for 80s Heavyweight Boxing......From the Dunes Hotel in the early half of the 80s with its over hanging Palm trees....The outdoor Tennis courts of the Riviera to the car park of the Hilton......Vegas served as the Graveyard to many promising Heavies along with help from a certain white powder and Mr Burger King and his mate The Colonel......

Biggest question back then though was who would replace King Larry ?????....

Could it be Big John Tate ??......Olympian that lost to the great Stevenson in Munich.....Beat an untarnished Coetzee easily and was a lot bigger than Larry.....but Big John would give Mike Weaver a boxing lesson for close to 15 rounds and then get tagged in the last 20 seconds.....The gift then kept giving....First to Trevor Berbick and then to Burger King.....A False dawn and a sad waste of talent......RIP Big John...

Maybe it could be Clever Trevor Berbick ???.....Burst on the scene with a win over a barely breathing Ali and then a shocking upset over Tate.....The good thing about Trevor was that if the Commentary bored you.....You could just listen to Berbick himself give Commentary during his fights ("Greg can you please stop using that elbow")......One of the few fighters on here that overachieved......Trevor would lose a decision to Larry...THOUGH.. His time would come...RIP Trev..

Maybe it could be Greg Page ???.....Probably the most talented fighter on the list and the reason Larry relinquished the WBC and took the IBF.....Another celebrated Amateur but Greg's biggest enemy was himself.....Fell out with Don King before his fight with Witherspoon and stopped training...Went to South Africa and beat Coetzee by Knockout for the WBA knowing he had to knock him out..BUT...After outboxing Tony Tubbs early decided pulling funny faces was more fun...RIP Greg

Maybe it could be Tim Witherspoon ??.....Most believe he beat Larry Holmes in only his 14th fight...also beat him on the top floor of the Dunes Hotel if the reporting is true in the week of the fight....(Although Holmes would get the better of Berbick outside a Hotel years later to make his record 1-1)........Sadly Tim would fight like a Zombie against Thomas and then lose a later title to Bonecrusher in a non effort after Tubbs failed a drugs test for their return.....Don King made sure he wouldn't fight for the title again.....Shame because Witherspoon v Holyfield in 89/90 would have been close to a 50/50..

Maybe it could be Tony TNT Tubbs ??......Celebrated Amateur and probably close to having the fastest hands in history......Tubbs would beat Page in the battle of the funny faces but then lose a decision to Burger King and Tim Witherspoon......Sad though because many including me saw a faded Tubbs beat Bowe in his prime and lose the decision.....An example of how good he was...

Maybe it could be Pinklon Thomas ??.....Great jab when Clean.....but Cocaine often turned him into a Zombie.....Excellent wins over Weaver and Witherspoon but the 'Mummy' turned up against Berbick and he left Vegas with a hangover and no belt....No sequel to this 'Mummy' movie sadly !!

So it was left to a light heavyweight to beat old Larry in the Sunset over the Riviera Hotel......and before Holmes disappeared into the Desert night time for one last self defeating rant about Rocky Marciano that backfired......

Larry just wants and wanted to be loved.........Last I saw he is still waiting !!!

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Post by 88Chris05 on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 1:42 pm

I think Thomas and Witherspoon should have gone on to be the pick of that bunch. So much wasted talent in that decade - it says a lot about the line of WBA titlists from the late seventies to mid eighties in particular that the only one who managed to make more than one successful defence was Weaver, of all people. The guy with the least talent, but probably the most dedication, of all of them. Cooney also walked away with by far the biggest payday of the would-be heirs to Holmes as well, despite being by no means the best of them.

Witherspoon probably had the most natural aptitude for boxing and had that kind of fluidity (when he was in form) which is hard to teach, but Thomas wasn't short of natural talent either and probably developed into a more all-round fighter, with all the shots and a couple of ways of fighting at his disposal. His body of work from 1982 to 1986 is actually better than a lot of people remember. But even then he struggled to string it all together for a full fight at a time, never mind a series of fights. Got hit a lot and dozed off in some rounds against Tillis, for example.

Thomas has acknowledged he was hooked on drugs until 1989 which explains his disappointing showing against Tyson, albeit it still took perhaps the best and longest combination of Tyson's career to put him away. Must have been hard for him (and some other eighties Heavyweights) to have reconciled themselves with the fact that they'd blown most of their prime years in the early to mid part of the decade, and now when they'd started getting their house in order it was all too late, as a truly great and dominant Heavyweight champion had emerged.

Thomas was also self-managed to a large degree and saw himself as a bit of renaissance man, getting involved with looking after other fighters and trying to launch a singing career when he really should have been concentrating on fighting. The clip below is taken in the lead up to the Berbick loss, when he was in good form beforehand, was at his physical peak and when the world should have been his oyster. Doesn't really suggest a guy who's in love with the sport enough to make full use of his potential.



Shout out to Berbick, mind you. Bit a joke figure to some because of the Holmes shenanigans and because of the comedic nature of his knockout against Tyson, but he overachieved and made full use of what he had at his disposal, which was precious little compared to some of the other guys of that era. Wasn't disgraced against Holmes and while you can argue his wins over Page and Thomas were as much down to the lackadaisical efforts of his opponents as to him, at least he was able to take advantage of those opportunities. Actually turned up to give it a go against Tyson as well, which wasn't always the case during Tyson's reign. Just hopelessly outclassed and overpowered, but he didn't freeze or tank it, ala Spinks, Seldon etc.
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 2:50 pm

Pinklon works in Social care these days educating kids from poor backgrounds....Sad to see he was allowed to fight Morrison and Holyfield when so far gone...Seems like a good guy.

Berbick was an enigma... Lost to a faded Cruiser in Gordon and was a huge underdog vs Pinky.....Same sort of odds as Leonard v Hagler...

Greg Page was the most talented for me...Footwork...Combinations...General grounding

...Just was too lazy..

Pinky was temperamental and unreliable....Drew with Coetzee after Weaver...Tate beat Gerrie...

Yes 'Hercules Weaver'...Probably ranks at the top of pretenders with Tim...Amazing win over an unbeaten Carl Williams...Tate...Coetzee....and an unbeaten duPlooy in S.A... Beat Dokes in the 2nd fight too and was unlucky with the cards....Great pace for 15 in the Desert sunshine.

Remember him being pilloried for fighting Duplooy in SA by Jesse Jackson...Weaver responded..."When Jesse pays my bills I will start listening to him.

Excellent post by the way Chris....A fit Tim could have tested prime Tyson..

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Post by 88Chris05 on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 5:55 pm

Cheers Truss. You might well have come across this before, but just in case here's an interview with Pinklon which gives a bit more insight into his decline but also how he rebounded. Not living the lavish lifestyle he seemed set for back in the day (recurring theme with the eighties crop, of course) but it looks as if he's done okay and his retirement has been more comfortable, and definitely happier, than a lot of his contemporaries.

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-xpm-1991-05-22-9105210635-story.html

Should do myself a favour and watch more of Page - have generally only seen the worst of him (ie, his losses) which might factor in me not rating him as highly as a talent as Witherspoon or Thomas, who I'm a lot more familiar with be it their best or worst moments.

As you allude to there's no doubt Holmes wanted a king's ransom to face him which isn't a bad indicator of his abilities, albeit Holmes was slipping by c. 1983 and probably knew this himself as he tried to close in on Marciano's 49-0. Witherspoon almost had him, and I thought Williams edged him (narrowly). That loss to Spinks had been coming for a while.

That said, I still have Larry at number three in my Heavyweight list.
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 7:51 pm

Remember a young fleet footed Page with his vaunted double jab embarassing Evangelista (beautiful finish) and Tillis in the early 80s......Sprightly for a big Man...Obviously he boxed beautifully against Coetzee and outboxed Tubbs early..

As for Holmes at 3 nothing wrong with that....Personally have him at 5 behind Johnson and Foreman..

Always hard to call Foreman or Holmes on lists....But because Lyle beat Shavers and I think its Holmes best win.....(Thought Witherspoon beat Holmes and Norton was sliding) i have George slightly higher..

I have the brilliant Frazier victory.....A 73 Norton and Lyle as three wins that were better than any Holmes achieved despite Holmes great title reign and also the fact Holmes never unified.....Tate and Thomas fights were mooted but Larry seemed to lack the desire....Especially the Pinklon one.

But Holmes at 3 is more than respectable..

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Post by 88Chris05 on Tue 16 Jun 2020, 10:26 pm

No time like the present, Truss, and I had some spare time tonight, so took a look at Page-Coetzee which is one I'd never seen.

Not bad at all. As is often the case with Heavyweights, a pretty low-paced fight apart from round seven, which was a superb one. Page worked at a serene pace and didn't throw all that much, but was accurate and purposeful with the shots he did let go. Coetzee had been inactive for 15 months (the old hand injuries which plagued him) and his timing looked off, but in any case he was crude, one-paced and Page easily answered a lot of his lumbering shots with neat, fast counters, usually in singles. But impressive how he stepped it up from round six onwards, which is when he really started hurting Coetzee.

A bit too lax with his defence and took some unnecessary and big shots - his reflexes weren't quite as cat-like as he seemed to think, for my money - but can see the talent you're alluding here, for sure. Certainly had a strong feint game, good speed and could fight on the inside a bit, too.
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Wed 17 Jun 2020, 9:39 am

To be fair to Page....Thomas was easy to hit...

The Win over Weaver he was getting hit at will...Thomas had a better jab but Page had quicker feet..

As for Cooney making more money....Sadly King and Rappaport hyped the Holmes fight on racial taunts appealing to the same kind of supporters as Johnson v Jeffries..

Leading to the disgraceful result in the Challenger being introduced second..

Sad really because Gerry was as non racist as you could get and in fairness the chip aside Larry was an okay guy..

Deep down well hidden is a classy guy in Holmes..

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Post by Soul Requiem on Wed 17 Jun 2020, 10:23 am

Ahhh the great white hope avenue of promoting a fight, thankfully the last time I can remember that being used was for Tommy Morrison in the early 90's.

Holmes is an odd one for me, his title reign consisted of largely good with some very good fighters but no one you would really describe as truly great, Norton being the best guy he faced for me but on the flip side his longevity is impressive, would have him anywhere between 3-8 tending to err on the middle of that range. It doesn't help that he was largely dull to watch with the odd exception being against Cooney for instance which I believe is his best performance but overall i'm not all that bothered by his career which is quite sad for someone undoubtedly great.

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Post by 88Chris05 on Wed 17 Jun 2020, 12:43 pm

The Morrison 'Great White Hope' thing was a funny one, Soul. As you say, the label was lumped upon him by parts of the media, the irony being that Morrison's mother was actually Native American. Tommy publicly disavowed the 'White Hope' tag just as Cooney did, but at the same time he (or his handlers, at least) seemed to indulge it by supressing (if not outright denying) his native ancestry, encouraging him to dye his hair blonde, dubiously claiming descendance from John Wayne etc.

Similarities with Cooney in some respects: both big punchers, particularly with the left hook, but also shaky chins and questionable durability. But Morrison was the much more natural athlete and skilled boxer of the pair. A showdown between them would have been interesting. Cooney did well sticking in there against Holmes, but Morrison had a big heart and came through some tough brawls / knockdowns to win, albeit not against the best guys he fought. Cooney early or Morrison late, I'd guess. Could see it being an up-and-down war with both guys visiting the canvas whoever came out on top.

As for Holmes, I reckon a lot of people would feel the same as you. Once you get past Ali and Louis, it seems as if there are as many reasons not to rate the others guys highly as there are to do so. If you look at different criteria, such as opposition beaten, all-round achievements, head to head capabilities, peak performance, longevity etc., Holmes arguably isn't top three in any of them individually, but he scores well across the board. He has plenty of good wins, no really shocking defeats, he has longevity and consistency, he has plenty of talent and head to head prospects, he has those champion's intangibles and so on and so on. Whereas a lot of the other Heavyweights score big in certain areas, but fall down badly in others.

So I tend to have Holmes at three just for that consistency across the board.
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Post by Soul Requiem on Wed 17 Jun 2020, 1:37 pm

I reluctantly have Louis as two but he's closer to the chasing pack than he is Ali beyond that it's probably; Holmes, Lewis, Foreman, Dempsey, Johnson & Tyson with Marciano, Frazier, Liston & Holyfield just behind them.

That consistency across the board is the main reason i'd rather have him lower but there's no big negative with him like;

Lewis: losing to McCall and Rahman, no truly great wins and faced the best when on the slide (arguably not his fault)
Foreman: lack of depth to his record (Frazier, Norton, Lyle and Moorer is about it) and the loss to Jimmy Young
Dempsey: the long periods of inactivity and again lack of real top wins
Johnson: on paper a quality resume but era differences make it difficult to really compare
Tyson: Some very good wins but none you would call great and lost to Douglas

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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Wed 17 Jun 2020, 2:31 pm

Have Lewis slightly above Holy....Holy is rated above Bowe and rightly so but Bowe beat him twice and could easily have took the 2nd which was contentious..

Nobody was 'better' than Lewis.

Ruddock...Tua...Vitali....Hold up well too....Tua win is underrated..

Beating Tyson was a great victory mind but I'd have fancied Tyson in 90..

I agree that there are too many rose tinters that over rate Louis...Pretty much Ali and the rest.

Morrison too quick for Gerry I suspect....Would have given Larry trouble too..

Larry had a habit of getting careless...Snipes...Weaver...Shavers.

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Post by 88Chris05 on Wed 17 Jun 2020, 2:57 pm

Yeah I wouldn't argue with Lewis being above Holyfield at all, Truss. To be honest it was all there for Lewis to make himself a top three guy, but those defeats to McCall and Rahman just take a bit too much of the gloss off. That's essentially what makes the difference between him and Holmes, and why I'd always have Larry ahead of him. Similar level of opposition beaten, similar longevity (if we note that Holmes had a couple of 'retirements' between his first big win against Shavers in 1978 and his last against Mercer in 1992), both showcased their talents - the big difference being that Holmes was never relieved of his titles by relative journeymen anywhere near or around his prime years.

I'll tell you who is starting to get a little overrated these days, from what I've seen - Wladimir. Maybe underappreciated during his time, but now some are going too far in the opposite direction to compensate for that. Was arguing not long ago with someone who had him above Holmes, which is a joke as far as I'm concerned, and quite a few guys I've spoken to who know their onions have been ranking him as high as #5 or #6 on their Heavyweight lists, which I just can't see, not for the life of me.
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Wed 17 Jun 2020, 3:06 pm

Getting his brother to sort out Corrie is a black mark for sure with me...but like Louis longevity counts with many People...

Struggle to think of an opponent Wlad beat that Witherspoon couldn't....Sanders being a one-two man suggests Wlad struggles with Bruno....Bruno did well with grapplers that came in straight.

Wlad 15-20.....Is high enough.

Lack of consistency gets me....The same writers sticking Mayweather as low as 40 have Wlad near the Top of the Heavy list !!

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Post by Soul Requiem on Wed 17 Jun 2020, 3:14 pm

I'd always have Vitali above Wladimir in any case but I don't think either of them is troubling the top ten in any form, top 20 yes maybe top 15 at a push but unfortunately they did preside over one of the worst eras in heavyweight history. Head to head I think big brother matches up quite well but with Wlad you just feel any big puncher with skill is going to land at some point and close the show, with that in the back of your head it's very difficult to rate him too highly.

Wlad does in fairness have some good wins which mainly occured at the tail end of his career in Povetkin, Pulev, Haye and Jennings but there is so much filler during his title reigns that it's hard to take the 'record' number of defences all that seriousl, add in that he tended to be dull to watch it doesn't add up to being a truly great heavyweight in my book.

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Post by Mr Bounce on Wed 17 Jun 2020, 5:40 pm

Agree with the comments above about Wlad. He will always have the black marks against him for Puritty, Brewster and the utter capitulation by Sanders. Corrie couldn't miss that night and Wlad and his team had obviously overlooked him. I think Vitali was a much more rounded heavy, with a steel girder for a chin and had a nasty streak in him too. Still, quitting against Byrd was a bad thing for a lot of fans - he could have boxed Chris' head off with one arm from range. If Danny Williams can do it with a dislocated shoulder...

As for the 80s heavies, my favourite was always Tim Witherspoon and he was certainly the one I felt could have done more. Such a shame. Fat against Bruno and unfairly forced to fight Smith at short notice, he could have prepared better for a lot of fights. Unfulfilled potential. And of course, his spat with Don.

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Post by 88Chris05 on Wed 17 Jun 2020, 5:44 pm

I think Wladimir's a lock for top 15 and he'd not miss my top ten by all that much, but I think that's as kind as I could be to him. Maybe something like #12. Have to drop in as well that I saw a few people elsewhere not long ago picking him to beat Tyson, and stop him no less! Honestly found it mind-boggling.

But if you compare him to someone like Holyfield, who isn't guaranteed to make a top ten (classic 'on the cusp' kind of guy, I think), there's no way I could put Wladimir ahead. It's true that Holyfield shipped as many losses as he scored wins in his biggest fights against his best opponents (Bowe, Moorer, Tyson and Lewis), and he didn't have as long a reign as the division's clear and widely-accepted top man as Wladimir did towards the end of his career....But Wladimir just hasn't got the wins to go in front of a guy like Holyfield, in my opinion. Be that measured against the calibre of fighter, or in the style they were achieved.

If Holyfield is only a debatable top tenner then Wlad can't be one for my money. Retirement and the passing of a little time can have a significant impact either way on how a fighter's ratings develop, but the early signs to me seem to be that Wlad's getting quite a boost in his. Quality fighter and good champion though he was, I think he's being slightly overrated at the moment....Albeit not on here, it seems.
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Post by Mr Bounce on Wed 17 Jun 2020, 6:56 pm

Chris I was never a fan of Wlad. After the Sanders loss he became safety first and uninspiring to watch. He was very much a jab, jab, grab, smother, jab, hook kind of fighter and it was ugly. I like a heavyweight fight to be full of power punches and knockouts, which was why I was so surprised at his gung-ho attitude against AJ. Last roll of the dice I guess. I think a focussed Lewis would have made mincemeat of him had they fought. I agree with your suggestion he's top 12 at best.

'Spoon wasted his best years in his fight against King as he was pretty much frozen out by politics; at that time King WAS heavyweight boxing, and Terrible Tim was NOT on his Christmas Card list. I wonder if a Tyson - 'Spoon fight could have been one to savour, or would it have just been a blow-out??

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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Wed 17 Jun 2020, 7:31 pm

Tim wasted his best years before King....Screwed him.

Holmes...Page and Bonecrusher 1 put him right at the front...With three years to become a great before Tyson...But he sleep walked Thomas too busy arguing with his own corner and I thought Tubbs was contentious....Career should have read just WBC champion..84 - 86/87..

Beats Page...Beats Thomas...Beats Weaver...Beats Berbick....and maybe chuck in a Snipes and a Green ??.. before Tyson...

Enough for Top 20/25..

King was unfortunate and a low blow and despite Gonzales being a great performance as was Mercer.....Tim threw away his prime at Burger king..

Interestingly leaves....The WBA....Tubbs v Bruno and Tubbs/Bruno v Smith 2... before Tyson in the HBO Uni..

Interesting stuff...

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Post by 88Chris05 on Wed 17 Jun 2020, 7:49 pm

Yeah, can't argue with any of that, Mr Bounce. It's the old dilemma which a lot of fighters face: excite the fans but lose more fights than you might otherwise, or make yourself hard to beat, collect the titles but don't always get the love of the fans. As it turned out, Wladimir was able to take the second option and still earn a shed load of money which isn't always the case, so it's no wonder that he stuck with it once the results picked up. Always had excellent speed and athleticism for such a big guy, and he was a hard puncher, but Purrity, Sanders and Brewster showed that his chin was just too tender and his conditioning not good enough (at least not then) to survive fighting as aggressively as he did as a youngster.

He made himself hard to beat, but as I alluded to earlier, the idea of him beating someone like Tyson is pretty fanciful to say the least. He had very good power, but he's not in that elite bracket of Heavyweight punchers. Excellent knockout percentage but it dropped considerably against his better opponents (he's not alone in that regard, to be fair). Ibragimov, Haye and Povetkin are all near the top of his list of best wins (the latter two especially) and he didn't stop any of them, despite having decent physical advantages over them all. The best guys he stopped were probably Chagaev (and even that was a very safety-first performance, albeit a beautiful jabbing clinic) and Pulev, which was an exciting and more aggressive performance in fairness. You could maybe add Byrd and Peter to that list, but even then he only stopped the older and faded versions in rematches, having failed to do so when he first fought them.

Even when he was at his best, you just knew that if Wladimir was facing anyone with a semblance of genuine knockout power or real speed, he was going to fight a lot more negatively and try to make it scrappy, fouling his way through. If he's leaning all over the likes of Haye and Povetkin and not taking any unnecessary risks there, I can only imagine how negative he's going to be against a Tyson, a Louis, a Foreman etc. For all his longevity I don't see him beating any of those guys, and you can add Lewis and Holmes to that list.

Like you, I was surprised how aggressively he fought against Joshua. That fight, and the Pulev one, were a bit of a hark back to the young Wladimir who first burst on the scene and reminded us all that there was a potentially exciting fighter hidden somewhere in there...But he had to keep that version of himself in the box to be successful.
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Post by Soul Requiem on Thu 18 Jun 2020, 10:24 am

Lewis is the worst match up for Wlad. He's up against someone with a better jab who could work on the inside when needed and tended to be more aggressive against the bigger guys like he showed against Grant, Ruddock, Briggs or Golota, it was against the smaller guys where he looked more conservative with his output; the awkward iron chinned Mavrovic, Holyfield or Tua. Even against an ageing Tyson, Steward had to implore him to up his work rate and finish it which he promptly did in fairness.

The Pulev fight for me is in a way the most disappointing of his career for the simple reason he showed what he was fully capable of, he was brilliant in that fight and actually threw his left hand with venom for a change.

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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Thu 18 Jun 2020, 4:30 pm

To be fair Lewis had two careers Pre Steward and Post Steward..

Steward saw Lewis brought his right hand back too far before throwing it and set McCall up to counter accordingly.

Always said Bowe beats Lewis before Steward and loses afterwards..

Futch would have seen the flaw...Bowe was silly to dump the belt.

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Post by Mr Bounce on Thu 18 Jun 2020, 5:21 pm

TRUSSMAN66 wrote:To be fair Lewis had two careers Pre Steward and Post Steward..

Steward saw Lewis brought his right hand back too far before throwing it and set McCall up to counter accordingly.

Always said Bowe beats Lewis before Steward and loses afterwards..

Futch would have seen the flaw...Bowe was silly to dump the belt.

Futch wasn't scared of Lewis - Newman was though, and I reckon Riddick might have been more tentative than usual, as he had memories of the Olympic final loss. Would have been a great fight but sadly we never got to see it.

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Post by Soul Requiem on Mon 22 Jun 2020, 9:50 am

With regards to Wlad what would people consider to be his five best performances/wins and how does that compare to others. I've just watched all of Lewis's fights from Ruddock onwards and I found the gulf in opposition to be quite stark considering we're talking about such a small timeframe.

Ali- Frazier, Liston, Foreman, Norton & Shavers?
Louis- Walcott, Schmeling, Conn, B Baer & Farr?
Holmes- Witherspoon, Cooney, Norton, Shavers & Berbick?
Tyson- Spinks, Holmes, Tubbs, Bruno & Thomas?
Lewis- Holyfield, Tyson, Tua, Klitschko & Ruddock?
Marciano- Louis, Walcott, Charles, LaStarza & Moore?
Dempsey- Willard, Sharkey, Firpo, Carpentier & Miske?
Frazier- Ali, Quarry, Ellis, Mathis & Chuvalo?
Liston- Williams, Patterson, Valdes, Folley & Machen?
Foreman- Frazier, Norton, Lyle, Moorer & Chuvalo?
Johnson- Fitzsimmons, Jeffries, Burns, Langford and McVey?
Holyfield- Tyson, Bowe, Mercer, Moorer & Foreman?
Jeffries- Fitzsimmons, Jackson, Corbett, Sharkey & Ruhlin?

I tend to think a few there get a lot of credit for likeability.

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Post by 88Chris05 on Mon 22 Jun 2020, 6:09 pm

Interesting question, Soul.

Maybe something like (in chronological order) Byrd, Ibragimov, Chagaev, Haye and Povetkin? The problem is, though these are amongst the best overall opponents he beat, in none of those fights did he really produce a brilliant performance (could argue that none of them could extend him enough to do so or force him out of his shell, I guess) or win over many new fans.

With that in mind, you could maybe put Pulev in there at Byrd or Ibragimov's expense. Not as good or skilful a boxer as Byrd, but he was at least a genuine Heavyweight and as has been mentioned above, Wladimir did take that scalp with some style and excitement.

Outside of that? Lots of okay-ish wins and solid performances, but nothing all that special. Peter was a decent enough Heavyweight, but Wlad had some very shaky moments beating him first time out. Hammered him easily enough in a return, but in the interim Peter had slid, needing a gift against a fat, over-the-hill Toney in their first fight and getting a beatdown from Vitali. Good win against Brewster in the sense that it made up for to some degree for that loss, but Brewster was inactive and half-blind by then. After that you're really just left with a bunch of gatekeepers who could be relied upon to lose whenever they stepped up to the highest level. Admirable consistency over a long period but when you consider the stick Holmes gets for his lack of big name opponents over his long title reign, it really rams home the paucity of talent around for much of Wlad's.

Depending on how you slice it, from that list you've given above you could probably formulate an argument or his best wins being better than those of Jeffries and Dempsey. A few of the criticisms flung at Wlad's best victories (fighting against smaller guys, not always looking that impressive or enjoyable in doing it) can certainly be thrown at those two as well. Obviously in a pound for pound sense Fitzsimmons is a legendary name, the likes of which is clearly missing from Wlad's record, but Jeffries was fighting with a three to four stones weight advantage and looked pretty poor until landing the money punch. Fitzsimmons was pretty lucky with timing in ever being able to call himself Heavyweight champion, as Corbett is more or less the only lineal champion he'd ever have been able to beat, and even then he was made to work for it. Big win in terms of prestige for Jeffries but hardly stellar by comparison to other Heavyweight champions.

Jeffries doesn't have those damaging losses which Wlad has though, of course.
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Post by Soul Requiem on Mon 22 Jun 2020, 6:46 pm

I'd be tempted to go Byrd, Haye, Povetkin, Pulev and Jennings based on performance and quality of opponent. The fight with Ibragimov is most probably the dullest unification the heavyweight division has ever seen, tend to think that performance ruined any chance Wlad had of being respected in America and it's no coincidence that he didn't fight over there for another seven years. The performances against Haye and Povetkin were turgid too but ultimately they are his two best wins, the refereeing in both fights was a disgrace however.

With regards to Jeffries I do find him a difficult one to rate because all the reports of his fights reference him being outboxed and outpunched all of the time before his added bulk came into play.

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Post by 88Chris05 on Mon 22 Jun 2020, 8:19 pm

True, the Ibragimov fight was a dull one, but Ibragimov was a lot more technically sound than most of Wlad's opponents and wasn't without talent (tough to rate him accurately given he never fought again, mid), and it was the first unification fight the division had seen in quite a few years. An important step in Wladimir finally lodging any kind of claim to be the division's number one, rather than just another titlist.

Honestly don't remember much of the Jennings performance. Watched it at the time, but never since. Don't remember being all that impressed with Wlad's performance and thought it was a straightforward enough, decent showing against another limited opponent. Might have to give it a revisit some time.

Jeffries is symptomatic of what we were talking about earlier - that once you get past two or three names in the Heavyweights, almost all the candidates have really big holes in their records or asterisks against them which make them hard to accurately rate, hence you can end up with some wildly different rankings. I've had him as high as #5 at times in the past, and at other times he's missed my top ten completely.

The pros are that he was never beaten in or around his prime, racked up a pretty good number of defences for the time and generally beat the best opponents on offer, the big exception being Johnson (I won't deduct any points from him for losing to Jack when he was a shell coming out of retirement years later). He drew the colour line as champion but it doesn't hit his reputation quite as hard as it might have done as the batch of high-class black Heavyweights on the horizon such as McVea, Jeannette, Langford (who was at Lightweight / Light-Welter at the time) etc. were all still in the infancy of their careers when Jeffries was dominating and when he retired.

The cons are never facing Johnson while he was champion and the fact that he tended to beat smaller men who were past their best in some cases. Again, timing and perception probably means he escapes more heat for this than subsequent Heavies accused of the same thing (such as Marciano), because the Light-Heavyweight division wasn't really established or given much credence during Jeffries' pomp. Rocky often gets hit with the charge of fighting blown-up Light-Heavyweights, but in reality that's what Jeffries was doing, too, it's just that the 175 lb class didn't really feature at the time and if you were heavier than 160, you were a Heavyweight for all intents and purposes. Reading accounts of Jeffries' wins / defences against smaller guys like Fitzsimmons and Corbett, writers of the day seemed to be more effusive of how Jeffries used his size and bulk to wear down and punish opponents, as opposed to later eras where bullying through weight advantage has tended to be seen as a criticism rather than a commendable aspect of a Heavyweight's game.

Just about every Heavyweight has a notable name missing from their title ledger, but not accommodating another guy who usually makes a top ten in the form of Johnson is a particularly big blotch in the copy book, even allowing for the era. Jeffries fought a couple of black fighters before becoming champion which makes it slightly more unforgivable that he didn't take Johnson on sometime between 1903 and 1905, by which point Johnson had certainly proved himself worthy. This ain't Holmes looking the other way when Greg Page was about, or Marciano failing to meet someone like Valdes. If Jeffries had beaten Johnson towards the end of this reign, and assuming Johnson still went on to have a title reign of his own, it'd probably be impossible to leave him out of a top ten.

I think Jeffries might just miss my top ten if I thought about one properly now. Come to think of it, measuring who comes out on top between him and Wlad might be interesting.
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Mon 22 Jun 2020, 8:48 pm

Burns fought Johnson in Australia for a reason....

Hard to hold Johnson against Jeffries as the fight wasn't feasible so soon after the Civil war...

The only reason Johnson ever fought in title fights was the Burns road show....and you couldn't undo what was done..

Jeffries is around 8 in my list...If he was bigger at Heavy so what..No one moans about Fury.

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Post by Soul Requiem on Mon 22 Jun 2020, 8:53 pm

I tend to think that Jack Johnson is the turning point between what we would call professionalism and the effective demise of the strong man in boxing; for all intents and purposes Jeffries was a bareknuckle throwback wearing clothes epitomized by the way he fought. That fits in with your view of the journalists of the time, once they got a taste of a proper technician they rarely looked back until Marciano came along, his standing in history seems particularly intriguing at the present time, would a black fighter be so highly regarded for beating his opposition?

If we look past historical significance there's a case for Wlad being above all of Jeffries, Dempsey and Marciano but I can't imagine that would be an overly popular view among the historians, he certainly beats the trio with relative ease.

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Post by 88Chris05 on Mon 22 Jun 2020, 9:55 pm

Yeah, good point about the transitioning period of styles and perception. The clinch and maul was given almost as much attention as the punching and skill in the early Queensberry era, understandable given the longer contests. Jeffries was a man of his era but I guess it's hard to detach yourself from the modern lens which we're so accustomed to.

Jeffries' only chance against Wlad would be if it were a 25-rounder and he could simply out-tough him and stick in there until Wladimir tires late on. He's got a slither of a chance there, I guess, but being used for target practice (as Jeffries was for long spells) against smaller guys such as Fitzsimmons and Corbett, or even the likes of Tom Sharkey, is very different to being used for target practice against Wladimir, who was genuinely heavy-handed and actually bigger than Jeffries all things considered. Suspect the shellacking is too much for the slow-burning Jeffries to take and he gets stopped before he even has a chance to take Wladimir into deep waters after twenty-odd rounds. Goes without saying he's got virtually zero chance under modern rules and over 12 / 15 rounds.

Wladimir's just too big and rangy (not to mention a master of leaning and smothering, if you can call it that) to lose to guys the size of Dempsey and Marciano, even if they are very aggressive and hard-hitting. Have to give them a puncher's chance to a degree but it's hard to see them reaching him. In terms of ratings it'd be interesting to match Wlad against Jeffries and Dempsey, but I'd definitely put Marciano higher than him. Tend to rate Rocky a little higher than I did a few years back (still only just inside my top ten if he is at all) and couldn't put Wladimir ahead of him.
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Mon 22 Jun 2020, 10:23 pm

Thought Corbett v Fitz showed quite a bit of professionalism...

Pretty frustrating we get action on camera from that fight but Jeffries v Corbett/Fitz 1 and 2 is zero..

Problem for James J is Johnson and a crappy Sharkey picture is all we get to see..

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Post by Soul Requiem on Tue 23 Jun 2020, 8:20 am

88Chris05 wrote:Yeah, good point about the transitioning period of styles and perception. The clinch and maul was given almost as much attention as the punching and skill in the early Queensberry era, understandable given the longer contests. Jeffries was a man of his era but I guess it's hard to detach yourself from the modern lens which we're so accustomed to.

Jeffries' only chance against Wlad would be if it were a 25-rounder and he could simply out-tough him and stick in there until Wladimir tires late on. He's got a slither of a chance there, I guess, but being used for target practice (as Jeffries was for long spells) against smaller guys such as Fitzsimmons and Corbett, or even the likes of Tom Sharkey, is very different to being used for target practice against Wladimir, who was genuinely heavy-handed and actually bigger than Jeffries all things considered. Suspect the shellacking is too much for the slow-burning Jeffries to take and he gets stopped before he even has a chance to take Wladimir into deep waters after twenty-odd rounds. Goes without saying he's got virtually zero chance under modern rules and over 12 / 15 rounds.

Wladimir's just too big and rangy (not to mention a master of leaning and smothering, if you can call it that) to lose to guys the size of Dempsey and Marciano, even if they are very aggressive and hard-hitting. Have to give them a puncher's chance to a degree but it's hard to see them reaching him. In terms of ratings it'd be interesting to match Wlad against Jeffries and Dempsey, but I'd definitely put Marciano higher than him. Tend to rate Rocky a little higher than I did a few years back (still only just inside my top ten if he is at all) and couldn't put Wladimir ahead of him.

I've gone the opposite way with Rocky in recent years, he's been plummeting down my list for two reasons. His best wins came against ageing opponents, most of whom were natural light heavyweights (Moore and Charles started at middleweight) and then there's the Valdes and Patterson issue for me, he didn't want a great deal to do with Valdes who had significant physical advantages and chose to retire instead of facing the young and speedy Floyd. Were he to have retired with a 48-1 record which was possible with the first LaStarza fight I think his reputation plummets overal..

I do think that Wladimir and Vitali are unfortunate to have followed the second strongest period of heavyweight boxing; Lewis, Tyson, Holyfield and Bowe would be a nightmare for anyone in history, the depth beyond them is pretty decent too, not 70's strength but guys like Briggs, Golota, Donald, Cooper and Moorer could fight.

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Post by 88Chris05 on Tue 23 Jun 2020, 6:15 pm

Criticisms of Marciano's opposition are valid, but for the most part I think he was facing the best available and / or who he was expected to face both before and after winning the title. Valdes is the notable absentee, and I agree it'd be interesting to see how Marciano dealt with a guy who was, by the standards of the era, a relatively big Heavyweight. But I think Valdes' reputation as Marciano's bogeyman gets a little overplayed because of the fascination with Rocky's '0' and how legitimate it was / wasn't.

Valdes was always an inconsistent performer and didn't have to beat all that much quality to get that short-lived number one contender rating, which lasted only about six months in the end before he lost to Moore. Even during his winning run, he wasn't getting great reviews and the NYSAC were weary about giving him a title shot based on some of his dull showings. Who knows, maybe that was a copout because they had a vested interest in Marciano (Al Weill as we know was a key frontman for Jim Norris and the IBC), but there's not enough on Valdes' record for me to think it was a blatant duck. Could probably have been accommodated around 1954, though.

I tend to give a bit more leeway to old champions retiring rather than fighting young up-and-comers who are still a little bit of an unknown quantity at the time, unless it's one of those glaringly obvious fights which is a clear legacy-booster, which Patterson wasn't at that point. In hindsight we know that Patterson was a class (if very brittle) fighter and it would have been a worthwhile scalp for Marciano, but at the time he was really just another contender and not much bigger physically than Charles or Moore in any case - if Rocky had beaten him, it'd probably just be seen as another win against a smaller guy with a dodgy chin. Being at a pretty advanced age by the standards of his time and having racked up a few defences against some more established names, I can see why Marciano didn't really have the motivation to carry on and face a youngster like Patterson, who was pretty much an unknown quantity in Heavyweight terms.

To be honest I suspect we're not that far apart in terms of how we view Marciano overall. He was in the right place at the right time to an extent, but in terms of doing most (if not all) things which can be asked of you as champion in your own era he did that better than a lot of other great Heavyweights and was the model of consistency. I'd have him #9 or #10, I think.
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Post by Soul Requiem on Wed 24 Jun 2020, 8:30 am

Valdes was the number one contender for about 18 months between beating Ezzard Charles and losing to Archie Moore, i'm not for a minute suggesting he beats Marciano but rather it's a fight I wish had happened, would have been interesting to see how he copes with someone naturally bigger, the ten inch reach advantage alone would have been a different proposition.

Patterson is a frustrating one, immensely talented but vulnerable in his early career, surprisingly became reasonably sturdy in his later career by comparison, combine his speed early on with his increased durability and you've got quite a fighter, hard to imagine too many cruiserweights dealing with him.

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