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The Super Middleweights

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Post by Soul Requiem on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 11:32 am

A relatively new division but one that has produced numerous great champions already and a lot more memorable fights but how would we rate them, of particular interest to me at the moment as i've rewatched a lot of Joe Calzaghe and Carl Froch. The division itself seems to be the perfect home for those who are both heavy handed and tough which is no surprise considering it is roughly the average weight of those in Europe.

1. Joe Calzaghe- The divisions longest reigning champion and thus far the only undisputed champion it has produced. Finished his career in the division with two big unification fights winning all four major belts but not at the same time; has a few big wins but the bulk of his reign is quite disappointing where fighting the likes of Mario Veit was the norm rather than the exception. Supremely talented with an unrivalled work rate and underrated inside game, the tougher a fight became the more he threw until his opponent invariably started to wilt down the stretch, regularly threw over 1000 punches in a fight highlighted by career best performances against Mikkel Kessler and Jeff Lacy.
Best wins; Kessler, Lacy, Bika, Mitchell, Brewer, Reid, Woodhall and Eubank.

2. Andre Ward- A talented but rather dull boxer to watch, was without doubt the divisions top man during his title reigns but a lack of activity during his peak years stops him from usurping Calzaghe at the top. With quick hands, good defence and strength on the insider, a boxer who it was impossible to look good against, not particularly heavy handed but his counter punching ability made it difficult for opponents to pin him down and almost always saw their work rate drop when facing him. As well as being useful with his hands his head became a handy secondary weapon as Kessler found out during their fight, referees seemed unwilling to penalise him for it.
Best wins; Kessler, Froch, Rodriguez, Abraham, Bika, Green and Dawson.

3. Roy Jones Jr- The flashy Jones only had a brief foray into the 168lb division but such is his talent that he left a memorable mark. With unmatched speed of both foot and hand, he was perpetual motion at his best, impossible to keep at bay and almost as difficult to hit. His fights tended to be one sided beatdowns.
Best wins; Toney, Pazienza, Thornton and Lucas

It becomes slightly trickier from this point on

4. Mikkel Kessler- As tough as they come, very heavy handed and a ramrod jab to boot, was more than willing to get involved in a scrap which made him an exciting fighter to watch. Fought almost exclusively in his native Denmark during the early part of his career but after becoming champion became more willing to travel with mixed results, ultimately lost to the three best fighters he faced but did get the better of Froch during their first fight with a close but decisive points victory.
Best wins; Froch, Beyer, Mundine, Lucas, Siaca, Andrade and Magee

5. Carl Froch- Another tough guy with heavy hands but a propensity for ignoring his defence, holding his left hand low throughout his career which did make his jab difficult to pick. Regularly travelled during the early part of his world level career but preferred to stay home during the latter part because of perceived but non existent poor judging abroad. Took on all challengers and was more often than not in exciting fights notably his rematch with Kessler, his domination of Bute and his stoppage of Taylor in the dying seconds of his first defence. Like Kessler lost to the two best boxers he faced.
Best wins; Magee, Pascal, Taylor, Dirrell, Abraham, Johnson, Bute Kessler and Groves

6. Park Chong-Pal
7. Nigel Benn
8. Chris Eubank
9. James Toney
10. Steve Collins

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Post by superflyweight on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 12:44 pm

Wouldn't disagree massively with any of that - there is an argument for putting Froch above Kessler on the basis of having slightly better names on his resume, but it's pretty tight between them and you could even argue that they should be 4th equal.  

Peak v peak head to heads at the weight would see Jones come out on top and there would be some cracking fights.  Hell, fighting Jones and Calzaghe might result in Ward becoming almost interesting.

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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 1:38 pm

Chong Pal Park 6 ?????..nope.

His tenure at 168 was at a time when Boxers were going straight from 160 to 175..Wasn't recognised as a weight division by most...Why he ended up fighting Lindell Holmes types......Beat the journeyman Sutherland for the title and litle else of note...

Not in any Top 10 list for me........Collins beating an old Benn and Eubank deserves to be higher as do the terrible twins Benn and Eubank....Eubank's and Benn's draw is better than any win on Park's record..

Funny story about Park.....Duva promised Bobby Czyz a shot at the Sutherland v Park winner only to tell him he couldn't get one because he was so sure Sutherland would win that he never contacted Park's people..

Calzaghe/Ward 1 and 2 is about right.....Jones at 3 okay but I'd have Froch above Kessler....Not a great deal of difference with records and 2/3 puts Froch over..

Guess I'm a bit older than you and probably have more idea about the state of play back then with Chongy...Boxrec doesn't tell the whole story.

Good effort though...Nice thread.

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Post by Soul Requiem on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 6:16 pm

superflyweight wrote:Wouldn't disagree massively with any of that - there is an argument for putting Froch above Kessler on the basis of having slightly better names on his resume, but it's pretty tight between them and you could even argue that they should be 4th equal.  

Peak v peak head to heads at the weight would see Jones come out on top and there would be some cracking fights.  Hell, fighting Jones and Calzaghe might result in Ward becoming almost interesting.

I did consider having Froch above Kessler but their first fight and the Danes performance against Calzaghe where he was brilliant in a losing cause edged it for me.

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Post by Mr Bounce on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 9:58 pm

The problem that Calzaghe had with the Mario Veit was that he was inexplicably the WBO's number 1 contender, TWICE, so Joe had to fight him or lose the belt. Given it was the only belt he kept for the whole of his reign, he was unlikely to let it go. Veit was dross, a tall, rangey nobody from Germany who had an unblemished record against precisely nobody of interest before his first shot at the belt. He was a typical early 2000s WBO challenger - some talent and probably tough but really had no business sharing a ring with the likes of Calzaghe.

I have to agree with Truss' comments about Park - he has no business being on this list at all. In all honesty, Sven Ottke is more deserving of a place and most of the decisions on his "ahem" unbeaten record were more skewed than Mike Tindall's nose (well, his old one anyway).

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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Fri 10 Jul 2020, 9:48 am

Ottke forgot about him....He should be top 10...For sure he got some gifts but Louis gets credit for beating Walcott twice (Probably best wins on his record) and he walked out of the ring in  disgust after 'losing' the first..

I imagine Vito's draw with Hagler lifts him a few places..

The IBF started the 168 division and Sutherland I think was the first champion...In fairness to the IBF....Though it was crapped on at the time by purists it turned out to be a wise move...

It's the Jr's at the little weights that are more problematic..

160 - 175 isn't 118 - 126 like Bant to Feath.

Trialhorses like Sutherland and Park though didn't help it in its inception.

When Tate and others went there it slowly got going.

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Post by Soul Requiem on Fri 10 Jul 2020, 9:54 am

I can't have Ottke in the top ten when I know he was gifted so many decisions; he simply lost to Brewer, Mitchell, Johnson and Reid amongst others. I think video of these fights is prevalent enough for us to make our own judgements on them. There's no way I can have him above Park even allowing for his low level of opposition, I gave him perhaps too much credit for being the first established champion in the division.

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Post by 88Chris05 on Fri 10 Jul 2020, 12:06 pm

Good thread, Soul.

I think essentially everyone in their right mind would have Calzaghe, Ward and Jones as their top three - daylight between that trio and the rest of the chasing pack. How you order them depends on what you like. Jones wasn't really a 'career' Super-Middle like the other two (albeit he always stated it was his most natural weight class) but obviously was ridiculously talented and dominant at the weight, and has the best single win there. Toney was the first 168 pounder to really be in the pound for pound discussion, and Jones clowned him.

I'd probably put him behind the other two, though, as it doesn't quite seem fair to have that dazzling but brief spell there above their consistency at the weight, and the way they basically cleared out the division during their runs.

So the Calzaghe-Ward debate...Well it's common knowledge that I'm not a great Calzaghe fan so my opinion might be skewed, but I'd edge slightly towards Ward. But I'll stress I have no real qualms with anyone who sees it the other way round. In terms of meaningful wins and proving himself the division's best, Ward matched Calzaghe and did it in less than half the time / fights. I'd also take Ward to beat Calzaghe head to head, which seals it in his favour in my opinion.

Agree that Froch-Kessler is close, too. Kessler at his very best probably the better all-round fighter, but Froch's record is certainly deeper and he achieved more overall than the Dane. Their two fights are a pretty good indicator that there's not much between them. Kessler beat an undefeated Froch first time out by a close (but ultimately fair) margin, whereas Froch beat a slightly shop-worn Kessler in their return, but did so by a bit of a wider margin. Personally I'm leaning towards Froch's overall record and the more numerous good names on his record.

Toney could be sandwiched between them, and I wouldn't have him any lower than six. Humbled by Jones, but as Roy is a consensus top three guy here that's no real disgrace. Again, a better fighter than both Froch and Kessler but perhaps not a better record than the pair, and again 168 wasn't his 'career' weight. But he probably peaked there and the manner of his wins against Barkley, Littles and Williams was very impressive, enough to make him widely regarded as Whitaker's p4p rival by 1994.

Also, shout out to Lindell Holmes who is a very underrated Super-Middle. I might find space to shoehorn him into a top ten. You've touched on my reasons for not including Ottke - I'm honestly not sure he ever properly beat a top 168 pounder. Maybe Byron Mitchell at a stretch, but even that's debatable. His best win which you could call clearly legit was against Mundine, of all people - who was outboxing him before getting knocked out.

1) Ward 2) Calzaghe 3) Jones 4) Froch 5) Toney 6) Kessler 7) Benn 8) Collins 9) Eubank 10) Holmes
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Fri 10 Jul 2020, 1:18 pm

Lindell Holmes doesn't belong in any top 10 list.....Beat a faded Tate by an inch who never recovered from Nunn and lost to some Fighters who were either past it or journeymen at best.

Dwight Davison who lost to every perennial middleweight contender beat him...Van Horn I think stopped him or took a decision and he lost to Park and a faded Kalule.

Embarrassed by Graham too I seem to recall..

Collins...Eubank..Benn...Toney and Ottke all streets ahead.

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Post by 88Chris05 on Fri 10 Jul 2020, 1:35 pm

TRUSSMAN66 wrote:Collins...Eubank..Benn...Toney and Ottke all streets ahead.

Well I've got four of those guys ahead of Holmes, Truss, and I've already listed my reasons for not rating Ottke. I'm not arguing that Holmes is some all-time great, but once you get past eight or nine names at 168 you can pretty much pull apart everyone else's record like that if you want. Plenty of early career losses on Holmes' record but he peaked at a later age and was pretty consistent for a long time afterwards, the only blemish for quite a few years being that very dubious loss to Park.

With regards to the Van Horn fight - it was a very good one and Holmes was probably past his peak by then, but even so was ahead before Van Horn cut him down (to be fair to Darrin, as we were mentioning a few weeks back, for all his faults he was a top body puncher and had been working Holmes over there all night). I see no reason why Holmes shouldn't be in contention for that final spot given the (relative) lack of depth in the division historically - wouldn't say it's set in stone, just throwing a name out there.

That said - we've all dropped a clanger here by forgetting Frankie Liles, who is probably a better option for a #9 or #10 spot than Holmes and who might even go a shade higher than that....
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Fri 10 Jul 2020, 1:48 pm

The only names on his 168 CV are a weather beaten Tate...Van Horn and Park..

Arguably he is 0-3...

Stackhouse...Malinga and Amparo do not a decent resume make in my opinion..Not that it is any better than anyone elses..

But as always you present your case well.

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Post by Soul Requiem on Fri 10 Jul 2020, 2:17 pm

Beyond the top five it is very difficult to separate them, i'm not sure I could have Toney above Kessler based on their respective longevity at the weight, but that being said I could only envisage the American winning were they to fight what would be a competitive fight, beating an unbeaten Froch tips the scales in his favour by quite a way. Lindell Holmes was a good operator but is largely a name on somebodies else's resume rather than having any top wins of his own, in the conversation for a top twenty slot i'd say.

It's odd that you have Ward beating Calzaghe though Chris, can only assume that is based on largely on the Hopkins fight?

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Post by 88Chris05 on Fri 10 Jul 2020, 5:55 pm

I've just always felt Ward was the better fighter, Soul. Difficult when you're talking about two unbeaten guys, but for me Ward just proved his mettle against more styles and slightly prime opposition at a high level.

I think Ward was just too smart and good at dictating the terms of engagement for Calzaghe. Calzaghe was no inside fighter and that would be an area Ward would exploit, because he was excellent on the inside and very strong. Even against a powerful, genuine 175 pounder in Kovalev, he moved him around, pushed him back and worked his body much better inside than his opponent.

Calzaghe had a great engine, but if you look at his punch stats in his fights against the likes of Starie, Bika and Hopkins he was nowhere near his usual 1,000 punches, because they shut his volume down by moving him around in clinches, taking advantage of the fact that he couldn't / wouldn't punch his way out of them and wasn't comfortable fighting there. All of them made him look pretty poor (Starie and Hopkins especially). There's no way that Calzaghe is going to be throwing anywhere near 1,000 shots against Ward and if you take away Joe's output you're taking away a big part of his game.

Ward was either right outside accumulating points with his speed and jab, or rushing you on the inside where he was much better than Calzaghe, and did a lot of his best work there. Calzaghe would need the fight to be at that mid range kind of distance, but I don't think Ward would be caught there enough for him to win. I don't rule out Calzaghe possibly forcing a late stoppage while behind on the cards, but I couldn't see him outpointing Ward and I think it's a distance fight more often than not.

As with their overall ratings, not one I'd argue too strenuously. Just see the edges in Ward's favour. Would have been a fascinating one to watch.
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Post by superflyweight on Fri 10 Jul 2020, 6:09 pm

I'd edge it to Ward as well.  

There is a degree of irrelevance about the Hopkins fight as I think Calzaghe fought the occasion and the reputation as much as the man in front of him.  You could also argue that he was starting to wear badly and that his lack of output was as much to do with his age as it was to Hopkins.  

It's the Bika fight that makes me think Calzaghe would have struggled with Ward.  Bika made it bloody awkward for Joe and he wasnt able to impose his style onto that fight.  He found a way to win, but Bika is far more limited than Ward and as Chris mentions, Ward has a lot more scoring options when fighting on the outside.

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