Re: How were old timers so good?
The trainers were lifers; Guys who fought themselves, who learned from the best, and then dedicated themselves to doing it for others.
The list of guys like this is growing shorter then anybody is comfortable admitting.
Also, experience. Boxing IS experience. There is only so much to learn, actually: How to punch, how to move, how to block and parry, and when to punch. The rest of it is comfort, awareness, presence, conditioning, and all that lovely stuff that 99% of men can only get through rounds. Sparring serves this purpose some, but ultimately, to get a true comfort level and a solid identity as a prizefighter, you need to prizefighter.
Archie Moore, as an overall athlete, doesn't look all that impressive on film. But he is a perfect technician; He dictates fights in every sense. That is experience, grit, and a steely mind that people still talk about. I've heard old timers say that when you sat ringside at a Moore fight, you watched his eyes, his feet, and his waist, and you saw artistry.
This is, in fact, what boxing is actually about, and this mindset is dying out.