Originally Posted by Duodenum
True, but nonetheless, Joe had to get off his butt to take them out. He didn't have them scared stiff going in, as he did Max Baer.I don't believe Liston had Louis's skill at slipping blows, and I think this would be crucial to the eventual outcome. Once again, it comes down to who's better at hitting without getting hit.
Liston had serious skill for a man that size and with that thickness. His defense was actually very good -and you can witness him dealing with the aggression of Williams by slipping at least 5 or 6 jabs in round 1, weaving under hooks, slipping rights, blocking hooks, the whole gamut. He also pivoted well and stepped to angles to counter. If you also consider that his offensive arsenal was as complete as Louis's, then you'd have to agree that his skill set alone was far beyond any of Louis's opponents with the exceptions of Conn, Walcott, and Charles.
Add to that the bonecrushing power behind every shot. Liston could smash rights to the body very well, even against shorter men.
Originally Posted by Duodenum
Sonny had the best offensive jab I've viewed of any heavyweight. Of the boxers in all divisions who have come since, I think Hagler's southpaw jab compares most closely to Sonny's ramrod left. But Liston didn't have the speed Joe possessed, and even if he did, the shorter distance Louis's punches traveled would make up for it. Galento's left hook was a dangerous weapon, and Tony had an iron jaw. Two-Ton lacked the discipline to stay low, after decking Louis. Both Baers had tremendous power and size, moreso than Liston, and nobody had been able to drop Max Baer. (Nor do I think Louis would have, if Maxie was as committed to winning as Joe was.)
When I look at how Louis jabbed Baer, Blackburn's practice of tying Joe's right wrist to the corner of the ring in training becomes evident. By getting down low enough so that his body made a straight line from his right foot to the end of his left arm, he was able to maximize the length and power of his jab in snapping Baer's head back. Combining that with his speed, Joe might have been able to jab with Sonny (whose arms were not as long as his overall reach has led fans to believe-more of it was concentrated in his collarbone than usual).
I'll have to look more closely at footage of Liston, to carefully examine just how adept he was at slipping punches. I'm not that impressed with what little I've watched so far. (I keep forgetting to tune out Sonny's offense when viewing his clips.) My speculation is that Sonny would have problems with an opponent capable of slipping his jab on the way in, and I think an aggressive counterpuncher like Joe could have turned the trick.
What are your thoughts?
I agree that about the Liston jab. It was the single most powerful jab that I have ever seen. It is longer than anyone's -and he threw it long and stepped into it as well. It had textbook form.
I have to say that Liston fought from a tighter position than you are acknowledging. He was prepared for the incoming and had a solid defense combined with athleticism. Out here it has become a fad to denigrate the man's speed. Liston was not fast, but he wasn't ponderous either, or at least his shots weren't. His left hook approached slashing during his prime.
Cox did a thing on youtube called "The Big, Bad Bear" -watch the first minute or so and you'll see how long that jab really was. Also, the first round of the William's fight for an idea of his defense.
Liston could fight close, mid-range, and particular long range. Prime Joe Louis would have a world of trouble dealing with that combination of strength, power, and skill. Conn troubled him mightily with skill... as did Tommy Farr. Strong guys like Carnera and the Baers had trouble... but Marciano combined strength and power and did well against a geriatric Joe who was stronger than the prime version in my opinion. The point is that Liston was physically stronger than all of Joe's opponents with the possible exception of Carnera, but he was so ackward and uncoordinated it is nullified. Liston may have hit harder than Marciano, shot for shot. And he was far more skilled than all of the simple "strong men" on Louis' record.
You make good points when you talk about the geometry of the respective offenses. Louis's shot travelled shorter distances and were quicker to land. He knew how to step in close and explode lethal combinations that were perfectly placed. However, Liston's jab was not that easy to slip, and he angled off of it as well. This is done to set up the right -lining up the right heel with the other guy's chin is nicely done this way, behind the angling jab. Joe's slipping that jab and coming in could be met with a big right.
Also, Liston was not easily dominated in close... he is skilled and very strong. Joe's only chance would be slipping and getting mid-range to maximize the force of his shots. But can you see him stopping Liston? I can't. Liston would eventually do more damage in a war of attrition.