Re: Sam Langford vs Marvin Hagler
"Since we have the guy who wrote the book on Langford (literally) I always wanted to ask; do you think Langford few into his power from his days at lightweight or do you think that the power was always there and fighting the big guys just meant he could land easier and more flush?"
Langford credited two guys that I’m aware of with helping him learn how to hit with more power and he would have been a lightweight at the time, though he failed to make the weight limit for that class when he fought Gans. Here are two more excerpts from the book about him concerning that subject:
· Sometime in early 1903: “Around this time veteran boxer George Byers, a black middleweight considered a serious title contender only a few years earlier, gave Sam his first real instruction on how to hit. Sam was anxious to please Joe Woodman by knocking out his opponents, but he found he couldn’t seem to hit them just right. He worried that Joe would give up on him if he didn’t start producing knockouts. One day George noticed Sam looking worried and asked what was the problem. Sam explained that he didn’t seem to be able to put enough steam behind his punches to put his opponents down. George told him he wasn’t setting when he hit. He then offered to give Sam a few lessons, and Sam quickly accepted. Those few lessons turned into many. George showed Sam how to trick his opponent into position where he could hit him. He showed Sam how to “set” in an instant and how to put all his force into his blows. He showed him how to throw powerful short punches.
· Joe Gans after their 1903 fight: “A few hours later, flush from his victory, Sam celebrated his big win at a local cabaret with some of his friends. It was the very same establishment that Joe Gans had chosen as a place to nurse his wounds. Gans spied Sam first, from a few tables away. Without a moment’s hesitation, he walked over to Sam’s table and shook his hand saying: “Boy, you’re going to be a great fighter someday. You’re the first man that ever puffed my lips. Take care of yourself, don’t get a big head and nobody can keep you from being a champion.” After telling Sam that he had no intention of fighting him again because he was too tough, he extended an offer to show him a few things in regards to how to hit. Gans told Sam that if he had already known what Gans planned to show him, Sam would have been able to win by knockout. Sam had been extremely impressed with the skills that Gans had exhibited in the ring earlier that evening, so he gladly took Gans up on his offer. The two eventually got together and Joe spent an hour showing Sam his hitting faults, and how he could change them to hit more like Joe did. Sam would later say: “In my opinion, Joe Gans was the greatest all around fighter, when you consider brains, boxing coolness, speed, and ability to take it and power to give. I learned more from him than any fighter I ever faced in my fight with him, and from the knowledge he shared with me afterwards.”
Langford obviously continued to mature physically after that and grew into a legimitate light heavyweight with a much bigger punch than he would have carried in the lighter divisions.