Originally Posted by Boilermaker
I think i agree with most of your post.
I normally dont like to call eras weak, and to be consistent I think that Wlad deserves credit for the long term dominance he has shown. Outside of Vitali, he has cleaned this division as good as any previous champion, imo. And held the title as long as most. But, i am sure it isnt just nostalgia that says this is a weak era. In fact, not only do i think it a weak era, but i dare say i cant see the era as being in the same class as any other era.
I mean, for the first time pretty much ever, it seems like ever single challenger or top 10 heavyweight is at least 40lbs overweight. NOne of the top 10 fighters bother to fight each other, and even worse the heavyweight champion is no longer seen as the baddest man on the planet. It is bad enough that we lose our most promising "athletes" to basketball football athletics etc, but no we are even starting to lose the most promising fighters to wrestling, mma, etc.
Add to this is that a fighter like Vitali (who is the only real challenge for Wlad) has dominated this division even after peaking as a fighter and taking time off for a serious injury. It wouldnt be so bad, but a close to prime Vitali, no matter what positive signs can be put on it, was stopped by TKO by probably the worst version of Lennox Lewis to ever fight. And dont forget old versions of guys who were not that good in their own era, like Maskaev, or Rahman seem to be still good enough to beat solid contenders and earn title shots or even win alphabet titles.
And dont forget the fragile chin (and it really does seem to be fragile, as opposed to Lennox's even though Lennox was stopped twice) With all these factors, i really dont see Wlad being in the same class at Lennox, despite his excellent legacy. I think that Wlad loses head to head to most if not all alltime great fighters that precede him. He just isnt experienced enough in taking punishment, and against a great you will need to, no matter who you are. To be fair, i do expect him to cuase a few viscious upsets by KO, but they will be few and far between and often even reversed in a rematch, imo.
I pretty much agree with all of that.
The thing with Wlad, and this has always been one of my biggest criticisms of the guy, is that he is not one to bite down and get tough when the tough gets going.
I for a long time, suspected Lewis of much the same thing, good fighter yeah, but show him genuine adversity and let's see what happens. The Mercer fight largely changed my mind about Lewis, because here was a guy who could take his best shots, and come back with his own.
Lewis had to grind out a victory there, like he never had to before. His face was swollen, his eyes nearly shut. While one could ask why he struggled so much with Mercer, the point remains that he had to dig deep to pull out the win. But he did.
Again also in the Vitali fight, Lewis had to dig deep. I don't think he expected such a tough challenge from Vitali, and he was being outboxed quite easily early in the fight. But he hung in there, and started unloading that big uppercut later in the fight. Once again, he had to dig deep.
How things would have ultimately played out is anyone's guess, but to me Lewis had stemmed the tide and created a momentum shift. He got the win, albeit somewhat fortuitously. But he did.
He showed a mental fortitude that I was strongly suspecting was absent from his makeup as a fighter. Also in other ways...facing his biggest and most dangerous challenge yet in the form of Ruddock, he blew the much-fancied Ruddock away. That was an amazing performance from a relative novice. When feeling physically threatened like he did against Grant and (I suspect) Golota, he turned tiger early and got these guys out of there. Lewis rose to the occasion.
Yet, when faced with an iron-chinned fighter like Tua, he was content to be disciplined to box and pile up points.
Wlad's dimension is excellent admittedly, but it's one dimension. He can't fight any other way.
I can understand and appreciate that it's damn difficult for an opponent to be successful against his style because he's very good from the outside and ties you up in knots on the inside. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.
But what happens when that dimension no longer works? While no contender from this era has had the skills to do anything about it (and the one that did is dead and had been long retired anyway) I can't believe that someone like Lewis does not have the skills or the fortitude to compete with Wlad. Would Lewis be content to let Wlad jab & grab? Hardly.