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Old 09-27-2009, 10:41 AM   #1
Stonehands89
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Default Ranking the Greats: your assistance please

Some months ago, I had a thread asking for a pool of those fighters that ESB Classic posters believed should be among the TOP TEN greatest fighters ever. This sprang from an earlier thread that used more or less objective measures to offer a list of the ten greatest HWs who ever lived. It was much fun...

I'm asking ESB Classic -the most knowledgable coven of the dark arts and golden history of pugillism I know- to critique some work I am doing which I hope will have an impact on how we rank ATGs.

I am at work on an upcoming series of articles entitled "The Gods of War".

The first one will introduce a ranking system (see below). The next ten will unveil the countdown and I already see a few surprises. I am trying to at least approach objectivity but without sacrificing the insider's knowledge, which is necessarily subjective. I believe that the best way to do it is to organize input about a fighter and his career comparative to his peers.

Bert Sugar started from a place where he pretended that all fighters were the same size and weight and were fighting in the same conditions. I think that is faulty. I'm going to rank them on what they were and what they did. This means no "H2H category" (too speculative), no "impact on sport" category (which is really nonsense. This ain't about popularity). It also means, yes, that those fighters who fought 15 rounds and had more than 50 career bouts will have an advantage. You had to be tougher to go 15 and longevity/experience matters....

Finally, I will include only those fighters who had reached their peak after 1920 (the year that NY's "Walker Law" was passed which effectively modernized rules and regs).

Does it sound sensible so far?

Here are the categories:

  • Ring Generalship (RG): This includes not only level of skill, but adaptability, strategic ability, and athleticism. The standard here would be Sugar Ray Robinson who would score a 15.
  • Experience/Level of Competition (Exp): Fighters with less than 50 professional bouts are difficult to include here. Fighters who never fought 15 rounds are also difficult to include here. More important than number of bouts is how many serious opponents were faced. For example, if a fighter is 50-0 and yet faces 40 opponents who were made of glass, the score would be lower than if a fighter’s finished record is 42-6-2 but there are future champions, world-beaters and ranked contenders on that record. The standard here would be Ezzard Charles, who would score a 15.
  • Longevity (Lgv): Years active isn’t enough to score high here. The real questions ask how long did the fighter perform at a world-class level and whether there is a significant win over a world-class challenger that occurred when the fighter in question was past prime. The standard here would be Roberto Duran whose last world title was earned 16 years after his first.
  • Dominance (Dom): This considers win/loss ratios, length and strength of championship reigns, and knockout rates. Those fighters who were routinely ducked are not penalized here. A suitable standard here would be Joe Louis who reigned for almost 12 years as world heavyweight champion
The above categories have a 15-point must system. Those below have a 10-point must system.
  • Character (C): All great fighters will score high here. It measures intangibles such as risks taken, adversity overcome, and the willingness to lose well. The standard? Harry Greb had some of his best wins while virtually blind in one eye.
  • Performance Against Larger Opponents (PLO): This is a worthy measure of greatness and is similar though not the same as “Longevity”. When facing a physically larger opponent, the natural disadvantage forces the fighter to rely on experience and dig deeper than he otherwise would have to. A win over a larger challenge can be compelling evidence about how good that boxer is.
  • Durability (Dur): The greatest fighters are rarely stopped during their prime. Due credit is applied in this category although “Experience” and “Ring Generalship” is factored in. The former because if few punchers were faced, then “Durability” is less impressive. The latter because if a fighter’s style is magnificently defensive, then that fighter should not be credited twice.
Am I missing anything? Are the categories fair? Do you foresee any problems...? Chris Pontius, JT, McGrain (McLarnin is in the running), Sweet Pea, Robbie, Fists of Fury, Old Fogey, Sweet Scientist, Manassa (so isn't Archie), Prime, Suzie Q, Bummy Davis, Bokaj, Magoo, Vanboxingfan, John Garfield, Mendoza, Doppleganger, Guilalah, janitor, Duodenum, Spoon, McVey, dpw, and everyone else...

I'd appreciate any and all input, advice, criticism on the above.

Last edited by Stonehands89; 09-28-2009 at 05:53 PM. Reason: persuasive input and reconsiderations
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:06 AM   #2
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Default Re: Ranking the Greats: your assistance please

Is the Ring Generalship category basically how 'skilled' the fighter was. Similar to a H2H category?

excellant stuff though
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: Ranking the Greats: your assistance please

Very interesting stuff, and I'm looking forward to the working version, which is how we'll know what we've got on our hands, though I applaud you for tossing up the idea, you work out one or two tiny kinks.

Why the division between the catagories? Why is there that 10/20 points division? What i'm basically asking is, does this mean you see Generalship as more important than Dominance? If so, why should a great general who was not a dominant champion be more highly rewarded than a dominant champion not known for his generalship?
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:12 AM   #4
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Default Re: Ranking the Greats: your assistance please

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Originally Posted by GPater11093 View Post
Is the Ring Generalship category basically how 'skilled' the fighter was. Similar to a H2H category?

excellant stuff though
RG is a nod to technical skill, which I would argue separates the briefer phenoms from the established legends. but is also considers formidability... for example, Foreman was no technician, but he was awfully hard to beat...

H2H? I don't factor that in. It's fun to argue whether Jones would whip Hagler but that has no place in real analysis, you know?
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:17 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ranking the Greats: your assistance please

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Originally Posted by McGrain View Post
Very interesting stuff, and I'm looking forward to the working version, which is how we'll know what we've got on our hands, though I applaud you for tossing up the idea, you work out one or two tiny kinks.

Why the division between the catagories? Why is there that 10/20 points division? What i'm basically asking is, does this mean you see Generalship as more important than Dominance? If so, why should a great general who was not a dominant champion be more highly rewarded than a dominant champion not known for his generalship?
... I had to read this twice. Great point.

I'm not altogether comfortable with the 10/20 points division and I'm thinking of moving the 20 to 12, but I do see that some categories are worth more than others. My mind is open on that score.

Dominance. Here's the thing with that... if a Pacquiao decides to just fight the best around regardless of what weight they are, that isn't dominance of a division, but it is the mark of greatness. Hagler deserves credit in my estimation as does Monzon for their reigns of terror, but greatness shines when the guy beats a relative giant. Mickey Walker was greater than Hagler because of that... am I being clear here?
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:20 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ranking the Greats: your assistance please

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Originally Posted by Stonehands89 View Post
RG is a nod to technical skill, which I would argue separates the briefer phenoms from the established legends. but is also considers formidability... for example, Foreman was no technician, but he was awfully hard to beat...

H2H? I don't factor that in. It's fun to argue whether Jones would whip Hagler but that has no place in real analysis, you know?
got you! just seemed to be what fighters were the 'best' so to speak.

just seemed very similar to a H2H like ranking, and i agree H2H shopuldnt really be used in ranking as its not really hard evidance and dosent mean much
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:21 AM   #7
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Default Re: Ranking the Greats: your assistance please

Quote:
Originally Posted by McGrain View Post
Very interesting stuff, and I'm looking forward to the working version, which is how we'll know what we've got on our hands, though I applaud you for tossing up the idea, you work out one or two tiny kinks.

Why the division between the catagories? Why is there that 10/20 points division? What i'm basically asking is, does this mean you see Generalship as more important than Dominance? If so, why should a great general who was not a dominant champion be more highly rewarded than a dominant champion not known for his generalship?
One more thing, I do see RG as a measure of how formidable a fighter was and that is probably the most important measure. Ring Generals is about as high a complement one can have. By contrast, "dominating" a parade of relatively average guys isn't as impressive. Burley's wins at MW impress us more than Jones' wins at MW even if they were less dominant... right?
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:22 AM   #8
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Default Re: Ranking the Greats: your assistance please

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Originally Posted by Stonehands89 View Post
... I had to read this twice. Great point.

I'm not altogether comfortable with the 10/20 points division and I'm thinking of moving the 20 to 12, but I do see that some categories are worth more than others. My mind is open on that score.

Dominance. Here's the thing with that... if a Pacquiao decides to just fight the best around regardless of what weight they are, that isn't dominance of a division, but it is the mark of greatness. Hagler deserves credit in my estimation as does Monzon for their reigns of terror, but greatness shines when the guy beats a relative giant. Mickey Walker was greater than Hagler because of that... am I being clear here?
I agree with everything you say here, and have no issue with the scoring system. It's your system. The reason I picked it up is you clearly want to design a system as unfettered by subjectivity as possible - you're scoiring hierarchy arugably makes the system subjective at route. I, for example, would tend to score Generalship and Dominance side by side, and if I had to show preference for one i'd be tempted to go for Dominance (proof in the pudding etc.).

I'd suggest that you make a justification for your your tiered scoring at the outset - why some areas are teir one, and others are tier two, so your reasoning for the setup is as transparent as the set up itself.
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:22 AM   #9
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Default Re: Ranking the Greats: your assistance please

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Originally Posted by GPater11093 View Post
got you! just seemed to be what fighters were the 'best' so to speak.

just seemed very similar to a H2H like ranking, and i agree H2H shopuldnt really be used in ranking as its not really hard evidance and dosent mean much
... any questions or criticisms are welcome my young friend. Pretend that you're in the ring and try to find weaknesses in the measures!
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:22 AM   #10
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One more thing, I do see RG as a measure of how formidable a fighter was and that is probably the most important measure. Ring Generals is about as high a complement one can have. By contrast, "dominating" a parade of relatively average guys isn't as impressive. Burley's wins at MW impress us more than Jones' wins at MW even if they were less dominant... right?
Right.
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:23 AM   #11
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Default Re: Ranking the Greats: your assistance please

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Originally Posted by Stonehands89 View Post
... any questions or criticisms are welcome my young friend. Pretend that you're in the ring and try to find weaknesses in the measures!
will do although it seems pretty sound, ill be on later to asses it more
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:26 AM   #12
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Default Re: Ranking the Greats: your assistance please

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Originally Posted by McGrain View Post
I agree with everything you say here, and have no issue with the scoring system. It's your system. The reason I picked it up is you clearly want to design a system as unfettered by subjectivity as possible - you're scoiring hierarchy arugably makes the system subjective at route. I, for example, would tend to score Generalship and Dominance side by side, and if I had to show preference for one i'd be tempted to go for Dominance (proof in the pudding etc.).

I'd suggest that you make a justification for your your tiered scoring at the outset - why some areas are teir one, and others are tier two, so your reasoning for the setup is as transparent as the set up itself.
While it's the system I'm introducing, I hope to see it become a general system for us all. So, you're input is critical, because you know your stuff very well.

I hoping that you all will help me adopt the best tiers and the best justifications...

I'm now reconsidering the Dominance question.... your statement about it being an accurate reflection of RG may be persuasive. I have to mull that over.
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:26 AM   #13
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Default Re: Ranking the Greats: your assistance please

I think H2H has to count for something, surely?

Though on the flipside, everyone has more difficulty with one style of fighter than another, examples include.....

Hopkins loves southpaws, Hatton hates them.
Mayweather toys with pressure fighters and brawlers, Tszyu doesn't.
Pacquiao hates counter punchers

and so on.......
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:28 AM   #14
Stonehands89
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Default Re: Ranking the Greats: your assistance please

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Originally Posted by Beeston Brawler View Post
I think H2H has to count for something, surely?

Though on the flipside, everyone has more difficulty with one style of fighter than another, examples include.....

Hopkins loves southpaws, Hatton hates them.
Mayweather toys with pressure fighters and brawlers, Tszyu doesn't.
Pacquiao hates counter punchers

and so on.......
Exactly. I see H2Hs as separate rankings. Which MW would emerge with the best record against all of his peers in history? That stuff is fun... but different altogether than this current effort... See your PM.
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:31 AM   #15
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Default Re: Ranking the Greats: your assistance please

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Originally Posted by Stonehands89 View Post
Some months ago, I had a thread asking for a pool of those fighters that ESB Classic posters believed should be among the TOP TEN greatest fighters ever. This sprang from an earlier thread that used more or less objective measures to offer a list of the ten greatest HWs who ever lived. It was much fun...

I'm asking ESB Classic -the most knowledgable coven of the dark arts and golden history of pugillism I know- to critique some work I am doing which I hope will have an impact on how we rank ATGs.

I am at work on an upcoming series of articles entitled "The Gods of War".

The first one will introduce a ranking system (see below). The next ten will unveil the countdown and I already see a few surprises. I am trying to at least approach objectivity but without sacrificing the insider's knowledge, which is necessarily subjective. I believe that the best way to do it is to organize input about a fighter and his career comparative to his peers.

Bert Sugar started from a place where he pretended that all fighters were the same size and weight and were fighting in the same conditions. I think that is faulty. I'm going to rank them on what they were and what they did. This means no "H2H category" (too speculative), no "impact on sport" category (which is really nonsense. This ain't about popularity). It also means, yes, that those fighters who fought 15 rounds and had more than 50 career bouts will have an advantage. You had to be tougher to go 15 and longevity/experience matters....

Finally, I will include only those fighters who had reached their peak after 1920 (the year that NY's "Walker Law" was passed which effectively modernized rules and regs).

Does it sound sensible so far?

Here are the categories:

  • Ring Generalship (RG): This includes not only level of skill, but adaptability, strategic ability, and athleticism. The standard here would be Sugar Ray Robinson who would score a 20.
  • Experience/Level of Competition (Exp): Fighters with less than 50 professional bouts are difficult to include here. Fighters who never fought 15 rounds are also difficult to include here. More important than number of bouts is how many serious opponents were faced. For example, if a fighter is 50-0 and yet faces 40 opponents who were made of glass, the score would be lower than if a fighter’s finished record is 42-6-2 but there are future champions, world-beaters and ranked contenders on that record. The standard here would be Ezzard Charles, who would score a 20.
  • Longevity (Lgv): Years active isn’t enough to score high here. The real questions ask how long did the fighter perform at a world-class level and whether there is a significant win over a world-class challenger that occurred when the fighter in question was past prime. The standard here would be Roberto Duran whose last world title was earned 16 years after his first.
The above categories have a 20-point must system. Those below have a 10-point must system.
  • Adversity Overcome (Adv): Comebacks, cuts, knockdowns by world class punchers, and handicaps, are all factored in here. The standard? Harry Greb had some of his best wins while virtually blind in one eye.
  • Dominance (Dom): This considers win/loss ratios, length and strength of championship reigns, and knockout rates. Those fighters who were routinely ducked are not penalized here. A suitable standard here would be Joe Louis who reigned for almost 12 years as world heavyweight champion.
  • Performance Against Larger Opponents (PLO): This is a worthy measure of greatness and is similar though not the same as “Longevity”. When facing a physically larger opponent, the natural disadvantage forces the fighter to rely on experience and technical skill. A win over a larger challenge can be compelling evidence about how good that boxer is.
  • Durability (Dur): The greatest fighters are rarely stopped during their prime. Due credit is applied in this category although “Experience” and “Ring Generalship” is factored in. The former because if few punchers were faced, then “Durability” is less impressive. The latter because if a fighter’s style is magnificently defensive, then that fighter should not be credited twice.
Am I missing anything? Are the categories fair? Do you foresee any problems...? Chris Pontius, JT, McGrain (McLarnin is in the running), Sweet Pea, Robbie, Fists of Fury, Old Fogey, Sweet Scientist, Manassa (so isn't Archie), Prime, Suzie Q, Bummy Davis, Bokaj, Magoo, Vanboxingfan, John Garfield, Mendoza, Doppleganger, Guilalah, janitor and everyone else...

I'd appreciate any and all input, advice, criticism on the above.

This should be interesting, good stuff attempting something like this.

I'll just mention a few things:

- With regards to ring generalship, I think the key criterion is who is able to control the ring action, i.e make their opponents fight their fight, take them out of their comfort zone etc. Things like strategy, adaptability, athleticism, skill, strength etc, are all components of control. You probably have the same thing in mind anyway, just my take on it as I may have misunderstood you.

- With regards to experience/level of comp, I probably wouldn't penalise 12 round fighters per se, but more look to penalise fighters who looked incapable or who would struggle with going 15. That will be pretty subjective of course, but I think we can all agree that someone like Tito would have loved the 15 round format and DLH may have struggled a bit more in it.

- Longevity sounds like a good criterion, but may be open to a bit of abuse in cases where a fighter may be shithouse for years on end and then jags a good win out of nowhere. E.g. Would we want to say Roy Jones had more longevity than Bernard Hopkins if they happen to fight and Roy manages to win and then Bernard retires whilst Jones goes on and beats some B-list 'champs'? This scenario will never happen, but just using it as an example, I'm sure there are better actual ones. Maybe a better scenario would be George Foreman and say Alexis Arguello. I wouldn't say Foreman had more longevity than Arguello, even though Big George had some significant wins years and years away from his first championship win. I'm sure this would be taken into account in how you factor in longevity but I'm just making the point that if it's something like the time from the first significant win to the last significant win it's a bit of a myopic take on longevity.

- Also, I'd probably be inclined to score every criterion out of 10 bar experience/level of competition, which should probably have a score as high as 30.
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