Originally Posted by Boilermaker
You may be right, but even just going on the last 30 years, Bugner is not guaranteed to beat every Australian fighter going around.
In 86-87, Bugner started calling himself Aussie Joe and started campaining for a fight with Tyson. Realistically, he would have been an early KO victory, but Tyson was the goal. Bugner had, at his last campain, ended it with a loss to Marvis Frazier (was he better than he is given credit for?) and a loss to Stefan Tangsted (another who may have been better than given credit, although Spinks certainly seems to get no credit for ko ing Tangsted). In 86-87 Bugner started by beating Tillis, Bey and Page, all on decision. None were really players at the time, and all were fringe top 10 contenders at best. They were the closest he ever got to beating a world class opponent during this time. When he finally stepped it up against Bruno, who was a legitimate world class talent, he was comprehensively beaten.
Before he challenged Bruno, Bugner was challenged by but didnt fight Dean Waters. It would have been a decent fight, but i think that realistically Bugner would have won.
"cassius" Craig Peterson was also a very live chance against Bugner. He died young and was improving greatly when he died. Peterson had at one stage earned a victory over Alex Stewart, who was probably about as good as any of the 86-87 Bugner victims, and did have the 3 round points decision over Bert Cooper, who was at about the same level. With Bugner fighting the spoiling fight, as opposed to being a big hitter, it could have been a decent fight.
Jimmy Thunder is another with a fair shot. Thunder was open to getting outboxed or even blown out. But it is unlikely that Bugner blows him out. Thunders best wins were against Tim Witherspoon, Tony Tubbs and Trevor Berbick. Those guys were admittedly older versions of themself, but then again, that is exactly what Joe Bugner was in 86-87. And those guys may have been as good or better than Prime Bugner (when in their prime). I think the odds on this fight would be quite even and maybe even slightly in Thunders favour. Certainly, after the Grimsley KO the press would have (rightly or wrongly) made thunder the favourite and probably also before Thunders loss to Mike 'the bounty' Hunter.
Kali Meehan is another chance. Meehan, in his controversial loss to Lamon Brewster, certainly got closer to a world title than Bugner ever did. Although Prime Bugner, i think it is fair to say, had a slightly better caliber of opponent in front of him when he went for a world title. Meehan was blasted out by both Rahman and Williams, but Bugner is not likely to repeat the feat. When he isnt totally outclassed, Meehan has not been beaten. And Physically he is far bigger than bugner, who may struggle against Meehan in the same way that he struggled against Bruno. Meehan's best wins are DaVarryl Williamson and Jeremy Bates, neither of which are as good as 86-87 Bugners wins, but on the flip side, Meehan outclassed common opponents far better than Bugner (although Bugner was very old by this time). Either way, Meehan has every chance to beat 86-87 Bugner.
All this does not allow for the fact that there have been some great Aussie Light heavy fighters - such as Guy Waters, Jeff Harding, Paul Briggs, Tony Mundine, even Anthony Mundine and Danny Green. These guys were probably higher ranked on the world stage in their divisions than 86-87 Bugner was. And while only Tony Mundine actually fought and won titles at Heavy, history suggests that World Class light heavys can step up to world class heavy level. At Australian title heavy limit, although not tested it would seem almost a given. All of these fighters are chances against Bugner.
Also dont forget that Bob Mirovic, Vince Cervi and Colin wilson all went the distance with old Bugner. It isnt totally inconceivable that each of those and some of the other similar level or better type fighters like Steve Acsell, Appollo Sweet, Garry Wills etc could also but in an above average performance and steal a points decision against Bugner.
Saying all this, i dont think it is totally unreasonable for someone to think that 86-87 Bugner was the best Australian heavy ever.