Originally Posted by Shake
How do you feel about the assertion that it is almost a different sport now? The dip in activity and frequency of fights in a boxers career makes it so that it suits different types of fighters.
Injury-prone but otherwise fine boxers can thrive in the current climate, where they couldn't in an environment where you often boxed more than once in a month. You have the advantage of video footage of your opponent, ample time to prepare for his style, and to prepare yourself physically. Ricky Hatton was famous for a lifestyle that would have barred him from any sustained success in the old days.
In reverse, you could say the best fighters in the old days were the ones that kept fit continuously, could fight while avoiding injuries, be tough and fight with injuries or in less than perfect condition, figure out an opponent while having much more limited info and without the use of performance enhancing substances.
The current climate favors fighters who, given the perfect preparation and postponement in case of injury, can work towards the highest highs and peak at just the right moment. You need to be a "ten" twice a year.
In the old days natural fitness, grit and recuperative ability were much more important. It does no good to be sterling one night and wortless the next. You need to be an "eight" all year round.
Therefore, I submit that modern fighters of comparable standing reach a higher level of quality in comparison to their old time counterparts on a given fight night.
In other words -- the boxing on display in the modern era is better, overall, than in the days of 200+ fights on a resume. In the old days it was simply more quantity instead of quality.
I largely agree with this, but like Flea said, not the bit about modern fighters reaching a higher level - in general, perhaps, mostly with regards to physical condition (tying in with what you've said about injuries and preparation), but when those old timers had a bit longer to get ready, that difference I consider negligible.
Not so negligible is the difference in craft; I agree with Surf-Bat's assertion that number of fights
x quality of opponents
My addition to this leans away from that slightly; we have to remember that humans are still human and that most (not all) great boxers today would likely adapt to the parameters set and rules by which they governed, therefore I believe such a consummate professional such as Bernard Hopkins would fit right into the '40s. To me it's obvious the man is both talented and hardy and would shine in any era, if not as a single standout then at least as part of a top tier elite, even if his own times didn't test him as much as we'd have liked. Two other examples of the same kind of fighter; Bob Foster and Larry Holmes.