Originally Posted by MagnaNasakki
I just can't get beyond how mentally weak and gutless he was, but I do think your analysis is valid. Tremendously talented fighter, very, very good, very gifted.
It's a shame he came to maturity and strength so late. His performance against Mike Mollo was nothing short of strong and professional, and he was clearly badly faded. That sort of suck it up type grit in 1996, and he's either the heavyweight champion, or the perennial runner up. Exercised some demons in his final comeback, I feel. I wrote him off, finally, as done after Brewster waxed him.
Agreed 100%. The Mollo fight was the ONLY time that Golota overcame adversity. It would have been the perfect note for him to bow out on, beating a local rival in a fight where his eye was completely swollen shut.
I believe the Golota who beat Doc Nicholson (which was in '96 before the Bowe fights), even though he showed weakness with the battering ram headbutt in a fight he was winning clearly, would have bested Byrd and Ruiz.
The type of fighter that struck fear into Golota and put him in panic mode was someone with good one punch KO power. I just do not think Byrd or Ruiz fit that description, and if 2004 Golota hung with those guys and arguably beat them, 1996 Golota I believe would have had a field day with them.
Golota's speed and athleticism had already slowed down a good deal by the time he fought Grant. But against Grant, he still had a high quality jab, it was just slower than it had been three years earlier and Golota had stopped committing to his punches the way he did previously by then, too.
After the Grant fight, his jab was gone. Ample evidence of this existed in both the Norris and Tyson bouts.
In 2003-2004 Golota still had a little something left athletically.
But then he aged really bad after that. Golota's hand speed was not just gone, he became painfully slow in the delivery of his punches.
A lot of people look at Golota's track record of failures - Bowe x2, Lewis, Grant, Tyson, Brewster, etc. But in doing this, they often overlook the fact that Golota was an amazing specimen in 1996. Like Riddick Bowe, Golota peaked fast. I think Bowe was clearly past his best in '96, but he was not "shot" the way many claim. He was still widely regarded as the best heavyweight in the world going into the first Golota fight, and he had come off of a KO win against Evander (this was before Holyfield got a crack at Tyson).
Bowe peaked fast, but he was still a good fighter 1993-1996. Past prime, yes! But shot? No ****ing way. Bowe would have still beaten most heavyweights out there in '96.
I always wonder what would have happened with Golota had his scheduled bout with Ray Mercer gone through following the Bowe fights. One of them (I forget which, but it may have been Golota) suffered I believe a neck injury which prevented that fight from going forward, and instead of fighting Mercer, Golota got thrown in with Lennox, and this was at a time when many observers thought the Pole would beat Lewis.
Golota was talented. As you said, it's too bad his physical prime and mental prime were so far separated from one another in terms of years. By the time Golota started maturing mentally, his physical gifts had already become quite ordinary.
The entire case study just goes to show it takes more than physical talent to become a world champion.