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Old 07-28-2009, 07:10 AM   #16
McGrain
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Originally Posted by My2Sense View Post
I get the impression that he was an aggressive technician, not particularly fast or fancy, but methodical and effective.
My imperssion of a prime Sullivan is of a very quick man...obviously it's very hard to be sure but the impression i've formed is off a guy whose speed set him apart from the other big men.
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Old 07-28-2009, 10:39 AM   #17
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One or two other things...

In response to "What does a normal fighter at this period look like?", peruse the James Boyle O'Reilly book, which has drawings based on "instantaneous photographs" from sparring. One of them even shows an uppercut "as Sullivan throws it".



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In James Boyle O'Reilly's "Ethics of Boxing and Manly Sport" (link above), in action, the following techniques are shown in freeze-frame....

The round right-hand blow to the head or neck (p. 9)

Ducking the round blow (p. 10)

One fighter misses (p. 30)

A round blow missed (p. 53)

Another swing and a miss (p. 55)

Cross-counter to a lead lunge (p. 61)

Uppercut as Sullivan throws it (p. 62)

Straight counter to jab (p. 73)

Ducking a jab / lead left (p. 83)
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Old 07-28-2009, 10:41 AM   #18
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Well, the bare-knuckle era isn't exactly my cup of tea, but it's damn good to have you back, cross_trainer. So long as you know that this officially breaks your hiatus and you're once again forced to post here for unhealthy amounts of time from your daily life.
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Old 07-28-2009, 11:06 AM   #19
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Reconstructing the style of John L Sullivan

All of the following statements are taken from men who actually saw John L Sullivan spar from Ringside. They therefore represent a first hand account of his style. Most of the quotes have been take from Adam Pollack’s biography of John L Sullivan.

He can strike out with either right or left and knock a man down with as much ease and grace as an accomplished lady can gently and languidly open an opera fan

National Police Gazette


Stance
The consensus of contemporary observers seems to be that Sullivan fought leaning forward with his weigh resting on his front foot. It seems that he threw straight punches from the shoulder and could really get his body behind the punches like Rocky Marciano. He seems to have used his crouch defensively and to have ducked low to avoid punishment.

The secret of the champions prowess is apparent. He carries his strongly muscled shoulders forward. The consequence is that when he delivers a blow he doesn’t have to bring the upper part of his body forward in the delivery. The arm straightens out and the blow is with a suddenness which seems paralysing to the spectators, to say nothing of the man in front of him. He stands with one foot well behind and his body pressing forward”.

St Louis paper quoted by Adam Pollack

The superiority of Sullivan lies in his extraordinary nervous force and altogether incomparable skill as a boxer. In what does this extraordinary skill consist? In hitting as straight and almost as rapid as light, in the variety and rediness of his blows, in standing firmly on his feet and driving his whole weight and nervous force at the end of his fist- a very rare and high quality in a boxer, in movements as quick and purposeful as the leap of a lion. He can duck lower than any featherweight boxer in America”.

John Boyle O’Reiley

Although Sullivan planted his feet and put most of his body weight behind his blows he seems to have also employed leaps to close distance or fire a punch over an opponents guard:

Here again Sullivan showed the terrific force with which he delivers his blows jumping forward on his right leg and at the same time apparently and throwing the weight of his whole massive body onto his arms. The movement is executed with lightning like rapidity and it certainly seems that no man can stand up to it”.

San Francisco Chronicle

The first thing a professor will teach a pupil is to stand in position. He will teach him how to turn his toes out spread his feet so many inches apart, and will try to convince the young man that this position is the only correct one in the world. Now I consider that this is all simple rot. My advice is to stand in whatever way is best suited for your purpouse-whichever way you can hit your opponent the straightes hardes blow and avoid a return by getting away quickly”.

John L Sullivan


Style
It is my contention that Sullivan was a Queensbury rules fighter first and foremost with an offensive come forward style. He seems to have been a rushing aggressive fighter who came forward from the opening bell and set a high work-rate. He also seems to have been a scientific offensive fighter who used a low crouch. The closest comparison on film would be somebody like Jack Dempsey or Floyd Patterson. He seems to have been a two fisted fighter for most of his career but he became dependant on his right hand after he broke his left against Patsy Cardiff. He threw wide punches early in his career but later straightened them and made them more compact.

Sullivan’s style of fighting differed from that of any other pugilist that has entered the ring of late years. He is a rusher, and it is this quality and his tremendous hitting powers that really make him a great pugilist. Beside he is a skilful wrestler and a good infighter, quick to dodge and always on the alert for any opening an opponent may leave.

Times Democrat

He can strike more heavy blows in ten seconds than any other man in a minute and watches with self possession and calculation. Other boxers begin by sparring but he begins by fighting and he never ceases to fight. Sullivan is fierce relentless tireless as a cataract. He does not waste ten seconds of the three minutes of each round”.

John Boyle O’Reiley

I have seldom seen a man who advances the truth which is that Sullivan is as clever as any man. His unquestioned ability as being the hardest hitter ever seen has caused overlooking of the fact that his blow is always planted where it will do the most good either on the jaw or jugular. The truth is that Sullivan is a careful scientific fighter”.

Chicago Herald

The essentials of a good fighter are pluck skill endurance and a good head on his shoulders. A man fights with his head almost as much as he does with his fists. He must know where to send his blows so that they will do the most good. He must economise his strength and not score a hit just for the sake of scoring it. I endeavour to hit my man above the heart or under the chin or behind the ear. A man wears out pretty soon if one can keep hammering away at the region of the heart, a blow behind the ear will knock a man out quicker than a hundred on the cheek or any other portion of the face”.

Learn to strike straight and clean, swinging blows nearly always leave you open for your opponent. It is well to do your leading with the left reserving the right for any good openings. Wherever you hit your man with one hand let the other fist land in the same spot if possible”.

Always watch your opponent. Just as soon as you see him about to lead shoot your left into his face. The force of him coming towards you will increase the blow considerably”.

John L Sullivan
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Old 07-28-2009, 11:08 AM   #20
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Head movement
I believe that Sullivan used head movement to avoid punched coming in a similar manner to Jack Dempsey and Floyd Patterson decades later.

Sullivan showed one point of his science by quick movements of his head completely eluding on such occasions the heavy blows which were aimed by McDonald

Denver Tribune Republican

A New Orleans quoted by Adam Pollack paper described Sullivan as:

a man weighing 230 pounds who moved rapidly and was spryer on his feet than the majority of lightweights. Sullivan uses both hands well and hits clean. He dodged and guarded splendidly”.


Hand and foot speed
It is probable that Sullivan’s hand speed was on a par with that of Jack Dempsey and it might perhaps have been even better.

Joe Choynski once fought an exhibition with John L Sullivan. While Sullivan was touring Australia he was interviewed by an Australian journalist and questioned about how Sullivan might have fared against Peter Jackson and Joe Goddard. His answers give a possible insight into the hand speed of John L Sullivan. On Goddard he said:

I don’t think he would have a ghost of a show with Sullivan. You see its this way. Sullivan is quicker than I am and he hits with terrible power. If I had a tenth of Sullivan’s force Id have beaten Goddard both times I fought him. Now its easy to figure out. I honestly think that John would smash him down with little trouble”.

If we take Choynski at his word that Sullivan had faster hands than him then it is quite instructive because we have footage of Choynski sparring with Jim Jeffries:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsB3O0JnBjI

On the question of whether Sullivan could catch Peter Jackson Choynski said:

You have never seen Sully fight Smiler. His right arm don’t do any swinging, it come across like a flash of lightning with a jerk, and if he misses he is so quick you can’t get your head out of range before he’s back ready for another shot at your jaw and how it does fly ping ping”.


Power
It is my contention that Sullivan’s power was up there with the hardest hitting fighters of comparable weight such as Jack Dempsey Rocky Marciano and Mike Tyson.

“I never faced another man who could begin to hit as hard and I don’t believe that there is another man like him in the country”.

“One thing is for certain, any man Sullivan can hit he can whip”.

“He hit hard enough to break down any mans guard I know of”.

Paddy Ryan

One thing is for certain and that is that neither Mace or Sayers ever encountered so hard or so quick a hitter as in John L Sullivan. It was this writers fortune to see the fight between Heenan and Morrissey and had Sullivan been on the boards that day it is my opinion that he could have whipped them both one after the other. Those who think that he is not a thoroughly scienced man are mistaken. He has a far better knowledge of the fistic art than either Heenan or Morrissey possessed. He is stronger than either and unquestionably he is the hardest hitter known to the records of the ring”.

National Police Gazette

Probably no man has yet presented himself in the prize ring of America who could withstand the impact of Sullivan’s fist when it shoots out from the shoulder with the intent of doing harm”.

St Paul Daily Globe


Stylistic legacy
It is my belief that Sullivan was the first scientific offensive fighter of the gloved era and the evolutionary predecessor of Terry McGovern, Jack Dillon, Jack Dempsey and ultimately Mike Tyson.

“Sullivan’s method of sparring is beyond criticism. It is the basis of the modern school, and to its system of throwing the weight with the leads and follows is due the terrible execution with soft gloves that has become more or less common since Sullivan’s time”.

Denver Daily News

One fighter who was compared to Sullivan during his career was Terry McGovern.
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It is possible that it we could see film of Sullivan in his prime he would have looked something like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeQGaNDNi78
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Old 07-28-2009, 11:18 AM   #21
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Wonderful read Janitor. I want to ask you about this - "Hand and foot speed was on a par with Jack Dempsey's and it might even have been better."

You also talk about Sullivan being as powerful.

Sullivan was also arguable more durable and stronger and possibly more well balanced for the ring mentally. Given that you'e described Dempsey as being "no worse off than 50.50 against any HW in history", what does this imply about Sullivan's stature?

I considered Sullivan a fast fighter - you have him as one of the fasters in history. Given that his hitting as described by you as at least equal and possibly better than Jack Dempsey's, what is your position on a Sullivan-Dempsey meeting based upon what you know? And also, how does Sullivan compare to the other greats of the HW division? Take that question as relative to peers for those who don't like era-era comparisons.
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Old 07-28-2009, 11:37 AM   #22
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Default Re: A Challenge to ESB

Quote:
Originally Posted by janitor View Post
I don't see Johnson in any of them.
Did you notice that in over half of the pictures they're wrestling, not boxing (as we know it) ?
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Old 07-28-2009, 12:10 PM   #23
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Did you notice that in over half of the pictures they're wrestling, not boxing (as we know it) ?
And in one of them, somebody's actually getting thrown. (Cross buttocked, if I recall correctly)
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Old 07-28-2009, 12:11 PM   #24
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"cross-buttock"
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Old 07-28-2009, 12:15 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by McGrain View Post
"cross-buttock"
Terrible name, I agree.

It looks like this:

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Old 07-28-2009, 12:17 PM   #26
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[quote]
Quote:
Originally Posted by McGrain View Post
Wonderful read Janitor. I want to ask you about this - "Hand and foot speed was on a par with Jack Dempsey's and it might even have been better."

You also talk about Sullivan being as powerful.

Sullivan was also arguable more durable and stronger and possibly more well balanced for the ring mentally. Given that you'e described Dempsey as being "no worse off than 50.50 against any HW in history", what does this imply about Sullivan's stature?
Even if you accept my deduction that Sullivan was comparable to Jack Dempsey as a puncher there are still some unknowns that would make it dangerous to compare him to Jack Dempsey as a fighter.

1. The rule set that he fought under was one of a transitional era between bareknuckle boxing and gloved boxing.

2. It is verry hard to interpret either the quality of his oposition or the extent to which they were adapted for queensbury rules.

I think that Sullivan was much more dominant than Dempsey at his peak but part of this is atributable to Sullivans era being a weak one where the sport was in flux.

Quote:
I considered Sullivan a fast fighter - you have him as one of the fasters in history. Given that his hitting as described by you as at least equal and possibly better than Jack Dempsey's, what is your position on a Sullivan-Dempsey meeting based upon what you know?
Even though I have hopefully identified the components that make up Sullivan there is still some room for interpretation in terms of how you put them together.

Based on the testimony that I have outlined you would have to be perpared to consider the possibility that Sullivan was better than Dempsey and would have beaten him in a queenbury rules fight.

I would not put it any more strongly than that.

Quote:
And also, how does Sullivan compare to the other greats of the HW division? Take that question as relative to peers for those who don't like era-era comparisons.
Sullivan could be ranked among the other dominat champions of the gloved era such as Jeffries, Johnson, Dempsey and Louis. He was probably further removed from the level of his competition than any of them (again in part due to a weak era).

I think it is certainly fair to say in general terms that he was more on the level of Jim Jeffries and Jack Johnson as a champion than Jim Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons.
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Old 07-28-2009, 12:38 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by ChrisPontius View Post
Did you notice that in over half of the pictures they're wrestling, not boxing (as we know it) ?
Yes but wrestling throws were permited under London Prize Ring Rules. You had to have some strategy for countering them.

Those pictures probably don't reflect what Sullivan looked like in a Queensbury fight which was his bread and butter.

Perhaps you might like to coment on my breakdown of Sullivans style.
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Old 07-28-2009, 12:42 PM   #28
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Well done, Janitor.

Sullivan, as was the case with Cribb, eventually got to a point where he settled down and revised his fighting methods and lifestyle, if only for a short while.

Comments have been made about Sullivan's condition against Kilrain, but he was in great shape for that fight where Muldoon had been kicking his butt out of bed at the crack of dawn, feeding him well and sent him out on his roadwork.

Sullivan was also tremendously strong. Trying to 'close' on him was not a great idea so he was usually left to happily 'mill' on his weaker foe. No doubt much of Sullivan's game plan revolved around his pet right, which he better learnt to apply when men like Mitchell demanded that he took his time.

The similarly praised 'Nonpareil' Jack Dempsey was once expected to make a challenge to Sullivan; a fight that never was.
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Old 07-28-2009, 02:33 PM   #29
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Well done, Janitor.

Sullivan, as was the case with Cribb, eventually got to a point where he settled down and revised his fighting methods and lifestyle, if only for a short while.

Comments have been made about Sullivan's condition against Kilrain, but he was in great shape for that fight where Muldoon had been kicking his butt out of bed at the crack of dawn, feeding him well and sent him out on his roadwork.
You have to wonder what Sullivan might have acomplished had he not descended into alcoholism.

Even a disipated overweight Sullivan who had been abusing his body for years was able to dominate Killrain at his own game.
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Old 07-28-2009, 03:42 PM   #30
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Janitor from rreading your post i came to the conclusion he was like Joe Frazier

is that a reasonable comparison?
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