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.


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