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By Simon Harrison
Below is my all time Heavyweight tournament;
What if a mythical tournament could be made up of all the heavyweight champs since the use of Queensberry rules started the modern era of boxing?
Now there have been 35 champions since Corbett took out Sullivan in 1892; to win the first World Title, so to make it easier, I have taken out who I consider were the worst 3 title holders (Hart, Carnera and Briggs). And then seeded the other 32 fighters, so in theory seeds 1 and 2 meet in the final.
Below is my take on who would win; if all the bouts were scheduled for 15 rounds, and more importantly all the fighters weighed 210lbs and were being considered fighting at their very best.
Spinks could barely beat a 36 year old totally shot Ali, when at his best; what chance would he have against an Ali in his 66/67 pomp, who would also be 5lbs heavier, baring he mind he weighed about 205, in them times? Ali in 6 one sided rounds.
Rahman wouldn’t stand a chance; his chin is too soft, and he doesn’t have the speed to worry Louis. Sure Joes chin was a bit soft, but against Rahman, I don’t think it would be a problem: Louis in 4.
Moorer could not beat a 45 year old Foreman, what chance the monster who destroyed Frazier? Foreman in 3.
Johansson had his ‘Hammer of Thor’; Johnson his boxing brain. Johnson would be weary of ‘Ingo’s Bingo’, but he wouldn’t make the same mistake Patterson did. Johnson in 8.
If anyone was made to eat the’ Black Clouds’ jab it was big Jess. Willard was brave, but all that means in this fight is he would take a long pasting. Holmes in 12, as the ref finally jumps into save a bloodied battered Willard.
This has classic written all over it. Spinks would come from behind surviving the initial ‘Real Deal’ onslaught to win a razor thin Split 15 round decision.
The ’Cinderella Man’, made for a great story when he out hustled the far more talented Baer to win the belt. But despite putting the great Joe Louis down early, he soon found out what happens when he fights one of the all time greats. Marciano was more vicious than Louis, and I don’t think Braddock, would have anything to hold back a relentless 210lb Marciano. The Rock in 4.
‘Buster’ put it all together that night in Tokyo, to produce the moment of the 90sfor boxing. And he would have to be at the top of his game to stand a chance against the ‘Manassa Mauler’. This is one of them bouts where if they weighed their proper weights, Douglas would have won IMO. But as both weigh 210; Dempsey’s relentless assaults would of eventually eroded Douglas early good work behind the jab and straight right. Dempsey’s merciless assaults lead to a stoppage in 11.
Burns would eventually fold to the incredible strong ‘Boilermaker’, in a slow paced match, with plenty of holding by the Canadian, intimidated and troubled by the height disadvantage. Jefferies in 12.
Styles make fights, and Sharkey was a cute boxer, in a similar vein to Eddie manchen, who gave a prime Liston fits. So I reckon that a much underrated gifted boxer Jack Sharkey shines in pulling out a split 15 round win.
Two total enigmas, both showing touches of brilliance and both also losing fights they should never lose. Lewis height would be a big advantage, and he was a better boxer. Schemmling would no doubt have his moments, crowding the big Brit/Canadian/Jamaican, but in the end, Lewis would get his big right going, to thump out an easy 15 round decision.
A battle of two very different eras. Fitzsimmons was a great fighter, but he would be far to slow, to deal with ‘Iron Mike’. I fear a total blow-out, but I hope ’Ruby Robert’ finds away to fiddle though a couple of rounds.. But the truth is probably Tyson in 1.
‘Jersey Joe’ has to use all his experience to survive the intial ’Smokin’ onslaught, but eventually would find away to get into the bout, confusing the one dimensional Frazier with his very awkward style. But Frazier would keep on going and eventually grind out a 15 round decision.
Max Baer absolutely wasted his great talent by constantly clowning around. He was a superb technician, if excellent reflexes and good power. Tunney as a Heavy will be forever linked to the long count, but he was a great; just not a great heavy. A motivated primed Baer, would over come Tunney's advantage in speed, and start pinning him down by the middle rounds. Tunney was brave and would last the distance, in a competitive interesting bout. Baer by Unanimous decision.
Both great boxers from their respective eras. Corbett was a great technician, Charles the ultimate cutie. It would make for a horribly boring match, with the edge going to the faster Charles. Charles WS15.
Another bout that would have been a horrible mismatch if the fighters weighed their correct weight. But because of weights being the same, maybe Patterson’s speed might be the difference. Would his chin holdout? Probably not, it never did, virtually everyone put him down. And that is what I think would happen here. The faster Patterson builds up a good early lead, but eventually his chin lets him down. Bowe in 6.
Ali would have had real trouble with the gifted Bowe. Bowe would have had the edge in power and reach, and Ali would have had to of used every edge he had in speed and ring genaralship to win this one. After slipping behind early, Ali gradually gets on top, as Bowe tires. Bowe’s excellent chin, stops him from being Ko’d late, as Ali ups the pace and gains the Unanimous 15 round nod.
Ezzard Charles was already going to give the ‘Brown Bomber’ trouble; weather it was the 1950 version or the primed 38-40 vintage. Charles was cute; and as Conn and Farr showed, Louis hated cute. Charles in his 46/47 prime, would of made Louis look like a statue, but Joe was more than just a one dimensional slugger. He was a gifted ring technician, and would have eventually figured away of getting to Charles. Charles was brave and would last to the final bell as Louis overcomes the early disadvantage to win the championship rounds and get a Split 15 round nod.
A potentially classic boxer/puncher match up. But I believe Foreman would get to the intimidated Baer early and blow him out in 2 or 3. Baer was gifted, but sometimes intimidated (Louis), and a 1973 Foreman was as intimidating as it gets.
The only other man than Ali, who could beat Frazier on the back foot is Jack Johnson. Frazier would give it his all, but would be to one dimensional, and lack the defensive qualities to avoid Johnson’s sharp punches. Frazier would undoubtedly have his moments, but eventually Johnson’s sharp right handers would bash up Frazier’s face bad. Johnson by Unanimous decision.
We all know what happens when a peak Tyson fights a Holmes 10 years past his best, but this prime Holmes. But even in their 88 fight Holmes showed the odd glimpse of how he could deal with Tyson. Tyson would get off to a cracking start, and Holmes would hit the deck early. Using all his powers of recovery Holmes would eventually get back into the fight. By round 12 the fights even, and that is when Holmes experience in the championship rounds, and Tyson’s inability to win an even fight turns things in Holmes favour. Holmes finishes his superb performance, by decking Tyson in the 15th and gaining the close but Unanimous decision.
This would be a good technical fight; but Spinks would be hurt because of his lack of Heavyweight power, which would mean that Lewis’ sus chin would not be a factor. Spinks’ bravery gets him to Round 10, before one too many booming Lewis right produces the KO finish.
Sharkey showed n his bout with Dempsey, that he is capable of giving a great a boxing lesson. But Dempsey was right at the end of his career, and he eventually found away to turn the fight around. This does not bode well considering Sharkey is going to fight a prime 210 Marciano. Sharkey may have his moments early, might even bust ‘The Rock’ up a bit, but eventually Marciano's determination and relentlessness will get to Sharkey. Rocky in 8.
The two greatest icons of the early modern era of boxing. The stronger Jeffries would really take it to Dempsey by putting him on the back foot. But Dempsey was a good boxer, sure he was hardly the second coming of Pep, but u don’t reign as champion for 7 years with just a murderous onslaught as your repertoire. The issue to decide this bout is whether Jeffries chin was good enough to take Dempsey’s punch? His shows the chin is normally the victor over the punch, so I would go for a Jeffries winning about 14. As an increasingly desperate Dempsey gets himself thrown out for persistent butting and low blows, in a gruelling contest.
The Rock could beat a 37 year old Louis, but would he be capable of beating a 25/26 year old Louis? Baring in mind they would weigh the same, you have to bring in Louis’ soft chin into the equation, but is that enough to make up for the gulf in skill? No! Rocky would be competitive, may even deck the ‘Brown Bomber’ early, but Joes Technical skills would be to much as he batters a bloodied brave Rocky to defeat in 9.
Arguable the two best ring technicians in heavyweight history clash here. The only man more cunning than the ‘Easton Assassin’, was Jack Johnson. The ‘Galveston Giant’ was adapt at keeping his crown no matter what. Hell he once got a draw with Jim Johnson despite breaking his arm in the second round! Holmes was no mug either, surviving scares with the likes of Shavers, Snipes and Whitherspoon in his 5 year reign. Johnson was a great athlete, but his jab lacked Holmes’ snap, and Holmes probably had the edge in right-hand power. This bout wouldn’t of been a classic, both fighters were to similar. Holmes’ edge in power would be the difference in an intriguing 15 rounder. Holmes WS15.
In Lewis, Foreman would find his physical equal, a man with nearly the same powering his right hand, and a taller man capable of boxing on the back foot. That said Lewis boxing ability was no where near that of Ali, and his suspect chin needs to be brought into the equation. I think this bout would be a classic, very similar to Foreman/Lyle, but shorter.
Foreman comes charging out, only to walk into a massive Lewis right hand, which almost decapitates him. Getting up at 6, Foreman swings and swings, but the better boxing and more accurate punching of Lewis leads Foreman to hit the deck again at the end of the round.
The second rounds begins with an increasingly more confident Lewis starting to stand and trade with the desperate Foreman, big mistake, Foreman finally lands a right and Lewis falls into the ropes, where another 3 or 4 swiping left/right combos, leave the ref no choice, he jumps in stopping the bout 1 minute into the second. As Foreman walks away, Lewis slumps to the canvas with the ref, desperately trying to keep him up.
Louis would have real trouble in this fight, dealing with the storming offence of Foreman. Foreman would be physically stronger than Joe, and also would have the better chin. But Louis didn’t reign for 12 years for nothing, He had a superb boxing brain, and would I feel be able to follow a rope-a-dope type tactic, in this bout.
But Louis chin was soft, and Foreman would always be a constant threat. I believe Foreman would put Louis down early, and Joe really would struggle to survive. Foreman would continue the beating till the middle rounds, when Louis would finally start getting himself together, and starting to land his big right.
In the 13th an increasingly desperate Foreman finally falls to a Louis right hander. Rising at 8, Louis goes in for the kill, only to be pole axed by a massive Foreman right. Louis rises at 9, and both are in desperate trouble, Louis recovers quicker, and puts Foreman though the ropes with 30seconds left in the round; Foreman is counted out. Louis KO13..
Larry Holmes, would make even a prime Ali look terrible. Holmes had everything that Ali hated, he was a big man, he had a good jab, and his power was such Ali had to respect it. That said Holmes would really struggle with Ali’s speed. Although it was at the end of his title reign, Holmes showed against Spinks that he had troubled when fighters moved; Whitherspoon being another example.
So this would be a horrible match up, their styles just would not mesh, both would look terrible, and the fight would be very edgy, with both trying to be the counter attackers. I think in the end Ali would try and be the aggressor, and would to a certain degree succeed. The difference would be down to respect, Holmes would have too much for Ali; the sparring partner mentality would be the difference. Ali would out smart Holmes in the end, as Holmes’ edge as a ring technician, would erode and Ali’s speed would be the difference; Ali by very close Unanimous decision.
Ali would take advantage early, as unlike the Holmes bout, Ali could be the natural counter puncher, plus Louis was also a slow starter.
By round 4, Louis’ boxing brain would be working overtime as he tries to deal with Ali’s speed advantage. His pressure and subtle slipping of the majority of Ali’s punches (Louis was a deceptively good defensive fighter), would lead to Louis starting to have success by crowding Ali in the corner.
By round 8, although still ahead, Ali is beginning to be more flat footed as it is noticeable Louis is landing more right hands. By the end of the round Ali’s left eye is closing up.
Round 10 and the fight is in the balance; Ali is now starting to realise he needs to occasionally push forward and make Louis fight on the back foot. After way the 10th Ali lands a big right hand that staggers Louis. Ali sensing this is his moment, charges forward throwing his slicing combinations, Louis back to the ropes, ducks the onslaught, and with his whole body throws an overhand right that fells Ali on the spot. The ref guides Louis to the corner, and turns round to continue the count started by the timekeeper, but he has no chance as Ali is already back on his feet. Louis still stunned by the right he took, ids content to let the moment go, as Ali gets though the round no bother.
Rounds 11 thru to 14 lacks the intensity off the earlier rounds as both fighters know they can be hurt. Ali still lands the odd flashy combination, but Louis keeps the pressure up, and does land some hurtful body punches.
Round 15 and the fight is anyone’s; both teddy Blackburn and Angelo Dundee tell their charges this round may be the difference between success and failure. After continuing the same pattern as the previous few rounds for the first 2 minutes, Ali finally bounces off the ropes to land the most vicious punches of the last few rounds, a slashing right again staggers Louis, but again Joe comes back with his own right hand, as they slug it out for the final minute of the fight.
As the bell rings, the general feeling ringside is that Louis won the final round, as he seemed to land the bigger punches as they traded at the death.. But had the knockdown in the 10th and the last round onslaught been enough for Joe to overturn the initial slow start he had made.
‘My Lords, Ladies and Gentleman, after 15 rounds of boxing we have a majority decision.’
‘Judge Jerry Roth scores the bout 142/142 even’
‘Judge Stanley Christoudoulou scores the bout 143/141 and Judge Larry
O’ Connell scores it 143/142, in favour of the winner………..Muhammad
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