hit them again

A boxing tragic's look at the world of boxing. No hidden agendas, no cash for comment, just my opinion, for what it's worth, of the greatest sport there is. Oh yeah, and i can't fight for shit!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Top Ten Heavyweights of all time?

This Top Ten Heavyweights list was inspired by Boxing Digest's May/June issue where they compiled a list and asked for readers to contribute.
For what it’s worth here’s my list … of course it’s hard to be subjective about some of the old timers with the limited footage and knowledge I possess but I’ve been digging around through the old mags and Ring record books in an attempt to make this ‘legit’. Send me yours and we'll post it.

The scariest thing though is just how bad today’s heavyweights are when you look back at a list like this and then think of the fighters who didn’t make it! Who can you see in today’s crop that is ever going to be lauded as a ‘great’ in years to come? Lewis maybe, Tyson probably when the passing of time has dimmed people’s memories of his stupidity outside the ring but as for the others – hah? Golota, Ruiz, Brewster… where’s that next hungry heavyweight prospect? The one who isn’t just running on a record of no-hopers and has-beens, the one who is prepared to risk a loss in order to step up? I hope to hell he hurries up. Until then we’ll just have to reminisce and be glad that the lighter divisions are getting stronger and stronger.
Top Ten Middleweights anyone?

Rocky Marciano – The only undefeated heavyweight champion in the history of boxing – 49-0 with 43 ko’s. Lots have tried to emulate him, they’ve all fallen short. My first real boxing hero, discovered whilst pouring over the pages of my father’s boxing magazines. The reports, the photos of this bloodied warrior, how could I not worship him? (It probably helped that Ring Magazine did the "computer fight" with Ali too which Marciano won.)
Muhammad Ali – Did we ever really get to see Ali at his best? That three year lay off may well have robbed us of seeing one of the greatest boxers ever at his peak. Regardless, the dazzling braggart who walked the talk was pretty damn fine anyway. And when he came back, he may have been a touch slower but he was still the smartest man in the ring. My earliest television boxing memories are of watching Ali in action. I was hooked after that.
George Foreman – He destroyed Frazier in his prime and did the same to Ken Norton. Ali couldn’t manage that. Underrated perhaps because of his celebrity now and his surliness then. But even at 45 years of age, George still had that one punch power. Who else even comes close?
Joe Frazier – On the strength of the Ali trilogy alone he has become a legend but when you look at who else he battled you realise just how good he was in an era of greatness. (And you have to feel sorry for Ken Norton, Ernie Shavers et all who had the misfortune to be boxers in an era that gave us Ali, Foreman and Frazier)
Joe Louis – A record 25 title defences, the brown bomber was fast, smart and could punch. Sure there were bum of the month fights amongst those defences but who doesn’t have a few bums on their resume? And don’t forget he racked up 21 ko’s in those 25 defences. The man was and is a legend.
Jack Johnson – Who can argue with Nat Fleischer? His ‘hit and not be hit’ style of fighting obviously inspired Ali’s own techniques and his battles with discrimination and the expectancies of white America were a huge influence on the likes of Miles Davis and the sixties black power movement.
Mike Tyson – Forget his trouble outside the ring for just one moment and the farces of the last few years and cast your mind back to when he was the meanest, scariest, ugliest and biggest thing in boxing. He had his opponents beaten before they even stepped into the ring. A genuine one punch monster, who knows how far he could have gone if his life outside the ring hadn’t attracted so many vultures?
Harry Wills – Whilst Jack Johnson chased down his chance in a racist society for the heavyweight crown, others like Langford, Jeanette, McVey and Wills were not so lucky. Whilst the others though have been rediscovered in recent years Wills seems to have remained forgotten despite the ledger being on his side against both Langford and McVey. (In fact at his peak he knocked both out twice within a five month stint). Jackson has justifiably taken his place amongst the greats but when will Wills and the others get their story told?
Jack Dempsey – Is the myth bigger than the man? Whilst some lord him as the greatest others say he was a thug who just got lucky. Regardless, his battering of Jess Willard was certainly not the work of a myth.
Larry Holmes – Wrong place, wrong time. Larry was good, damn good but he made the mistake of following "the greatest" – nothing he ever did was going to be as good. And then to have the audacity to chase Marciano’s record… well, that was just not on.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hatton V Tszyu - The hangover

Well, it’s taken a couple of weeks (and a battle with the blackdog) but I’ve finally managed to make it thru the Tszyu/Hatton fight. On the morning of the battle I was passed out drunk after my own battle with a bottle of nelson county bourbon and on hearing the result of the fight that afternoon just didn’t want to watch it. The last fight I ever watched with my father was the last fight Kostya lost, on the anniversary of my father’s death (and the reason the bourbon got to me) he lost again. It took me a couple of weeks to want to see the fight but I’m glad I did, it was a bloody good fight. A tight, hard fought affair you can see how Hatton had prepared himself by crowding Kostya and not letting him get off those hard shots. Hatton looked remarkably fit and prepared to take Kostya’s shots to get his own in. Age certainly helped too with Kostya visibly tiring near the end, though the blatant low blow didn’t help his cause. I was surprised that his corner called it quits because it was still a very tight fight with maybe only one or two points in it (though I haven’t seen what the score cards said – I suspect the crowd may have ballooned them – I should find out hey). But you could see that Ricky was getting his shots off near the end of round 11 and obviously Johnny Lewis had Kostya’s health as his main concern. Maybe Tszyu could have rallied in the last and knocked Hatton down but I doubt it. It was looking like a points decision anyway to the challenger so why take more punishment?
And hats off to Paul Upham in the commentary chair who had to put up with some amazingly biased commentary from his English counterpart who, like the crowd, screamed for every Hatton punch but never saw Kostya’s blows land, well done Paul, a more patient man I don’t think I’ve ever heard. All in all, a disappointing result but a damn fine fight. I’ve heard various rumours about Tszyu’s retirement and the selfish side of me hopes he comes back to try and re-assert himself as the topman but if this is the end, it’s certainly not a disgraceful way to go. He’s probably still got it in him to be the best but whether the drive, body and hunger are still there remains to be seen.

Wright On!

Once again Winky Wright surprised everyone, except maybe himself, with an amazingly one-sided blow out against Felix Trinidad. In hindsight of course it’s easy to say that Trinidad isn’t as good as the pundits thought he was and that Mayorga was a handpicked opponent who suited his style (in fact some did say that Mayorga was just that) but who seriously thought that Winky would have it so easy? I wish I could say I did but truthfully I didn’t. Sure I thought Winky would win a close one because he could stay out of the way for most of the fight whilst counterpunching and picking Trinidad off somewhat but I didn’t expect it to be so easy for him. And neither did any of the major boxing journals. Sure some folk picked Wright to win, but no one picked it to be a walk over, hell, Boxing Digest didn’t even give Winky a chance! When the big middleweight battle was first touted way back then I can truthfully say that I picked Hopkins from the word go, I knew he was better than Trinidad. Winky though, I wasn’t as confident about. I was wrong. And maybe, just maybe we’ve all been wrong about Trinidad. Could be he ain’t as good as we all think he is.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

You Can Leave Your Hatton

A quick pick for the Kostya / Ricky fight – only twelve or so hours away now – I’m going for Kostya (surprise, surprise) but I think it may be a little tougher than we all expect. Hatton will have the home crowd pumping him up early so I expect it to be a tough early going for Kostya until he gets his range-finder working – maybe five rounds, could even take one or two more. But then again if Ricky hits him early and gets him mad it may be over in two ala Zab Judah. No, I’ll stick with tko fifth round victory to Kostya Tszyu.

3 Strikes for Golota - you're out?

Well, I wanted someone to step up and make the heavyweight division exciting and I got my wish. Who would have picked Lamon Brewster to demolish (3 strikes) Golota in less than a minute of the first round? Nobody and anyone who says they did are lying through their gums. Was it the new trainer? Was it knowing how lucky he was against Kali Meehan last time out? Or was it just knowing that Golota never should have been there in the first place? I mean who else can lose two shots at the title and still get a third? I’m sure ‘lectric hair wasn’t expecting the fight to go this way but then since he owns both he was covered anyway. You get the feeling though that Brewster just screwed up some of King’s plans. How else did 3 strikes get those shots… cos King wanted him to win, he wanted the polish crowd, the underdog vote. Well, instead he got Brewster and just maybe the division is alive again. Rahman (if he’s fit), Brewster, Klischko (if he survives his surgery) hell, even Lights Out… maybe, just maybe we could be about to see some decent fights. Time, and old ‘lectric hair will tell.

Well, Paul Briggs finally got his shot at the WBC Lightheavyweight title but unfortunately for him, the unheralded Tomas Adamek was a better fighter than he or any of the boxing pundits expected. Adamek’s long reach and strong jab kept Briggs away for most of the fight, preventing him from really getting those power punches in that could have made the difference. Paul’s counterpunching role just didn’t work and his lack of consistency certainly went against him. He rarely strung rounds together (possibly the 8th & 9th but that would be it) and didn’t follow up when he was doing damage. Still, it wasn’t a bad fight from Briggs and he wasn’t too far off the mark. We had him 113-115 in the hitthemagain househole and you could see the swelling around Adamek’s right eye that showed Paul was on the mark more often than not. Now I guess it comes down to his self-belief and whether he can get himself another shot. In that regard he may have been better off looking like a bunny, a strong though losing performance may well have put off some of his would-be opponents, time will tell.