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Old 10-09-2007, 01:23 PM   #1
cross_trainer
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Thumbs up Farewell, ESB!

At the moment, I am entering some extremely intensive work that I cannot be distracted from. I will be gone for quite some time (a year or more), and to make sure I will need to ban myself. Before I go, I wanted to say goodbye to everyone and wish you all good luck. I've enjoyed the writing competitions, the Fitzsimmons worship, the battles between fans of old and new fighters. During my stint in the ESB forum, I've learned a great deal about boxers old and new, and I've been inspired to continue my research on the earliest periods of boxing history. I cannot name all of those who have been helpful, because I am sure that I would leave someone important out--but I thank you nonetheless, and wish you all luck!



In closing, I might as well post one final article--something I've been thinking about for a while. Yes, it's a final "Old Timers and Moderns Contrasted" article. I also posted an article collection in the Training forum. Enjoy!





There are those who believe that all sports improve, and boxing must improve along with them. A brief look at Greb and the boxrec records of the old-timers confirms their impressions, and they leave it at that. Then there are others who claim--against all logic--that boxing is NOT a sport like any other, and that it's the only one where the fighters have declined. Well, I disagree with both. Boxing IS like many other sports, and follows the same rules of progress that they do. And BECAUSE of those rules, it has not improved. Let's look at them for a moment:



#1: Sports improve when the talent pool improves
This is an obvious one. If there are more talented athletes participating in a sport, chances are greatly enhanced that the sport as a whole is stronger. "Modern is better" pundits claim that the talent pool has definitely improved over the past few years--with globalization and the opening of Eastern Europe, more boxers are available than ever, and therefore the talent pool is bigger.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Boxing may have improved in some areas, but it has definitely declined in its former home-base of the United States. In the past, the immense popularity of boxing in this region was reinforced by frequent televised fights, a larger number of boxing gyms than today, and a large reservoir of experienced trainers. The trainers are still there--Steward, Roach, McGirt are still the best in the world--but the old gyms like Kronk are closing down, and the native talent that once fuelled them is dwindling.

It may seem that this shortfall will be easily made up for by the growing presence of boxing in Europe. Perhaps, but it will take a long time. During the 50's, 60's, and 70's, America faced the same international challenges that it faces today. Western Europe, South America, and Central America were all heavily involved in the global boxing business...in fact, the only change has been the addition of the former Soviet states, which haven't made a huge impact on non-heavyweight boxing yet. So how could America be so dominant?

Because America was specialized for boxing. A combination of greater poverty, more gyms, and the considerable popularity of boxing compared to other sports produced a constant flow of tough, hungry prospects into the gyms. They were then developed by a cadre of coaches who were more numerous and more experienced in professional rules than those of today. Similar effects can still be seen in regions like Puerto Rico, where a tiny population has produced a huge talent pool.

Perhaps you want more proof? Take a look at top fighters' boxrec records from forty years ago. You'll see more losses--which is almost always a sign of a larger talent pool. In sports with large participation rates, top performers do not hold onto their titles for long--they are quickly swept out because the competition for the top positions is so intense. It's even true of non-sports talent pools in everything from business to politics. It's true in track and field, in general. Yet somehow, it's not true of our supposedly more competitive modern era in boxing....Perhaps it's the critics who believe that boxing is a world unto itself.

#2: Sports improve when training improves
This is one area where modern fighters have an advantage--the advances in sports science have been considerable over the past fifty years. Still, it's not as massive as it first appears. Even in the advanced Eastern European training methodologies, the training techniques for boxing--aerobic and interval training, plus sparring--remain very similar to those used in the past (see: Bompa, Periodization). There has been an evolution over the past few decades, but it's been a slow creep, not a giant step forward.

Moreover, there have not been advances in the ability to train two of the most important aspects of boxing skill--reflexes and chin.

#3: Sports improve when techniques improve
This is the most important aspect of boxing--even the most dedicated devotee of modern training admits that boxing has far more to do with skill and experience than with pure athleticism. That's why the Bernards of the world will always defeat the Tarvers.

So why has modern boxing technique not improved? Unlike in track and field and weightlifting (but similar to kickboxing, wrestling, and MMA), proper technique does not depend on an objective standard, but on your opponent and his preparation. Sometimes, a textbook approach straight out of the USA Boxing manual will allow you to beat your adversary, but at other times, you have guys like Hamed whose bizarre techniques create openings that their opponents aren't prepared for. There are even fighters like Mayorga and Foreman who use downright terrible techniques, but have the experience to pull them off anyway.

That's where the difference in experience comes in. Modern fighters are raised in an amateur environment. Instead of the 200+ professional fights of men like Moore, Stribling, Robinson, and Greb, modern fighters get most of their experience in a few hundred amateur fights. Yet amateur scoring, rules, and protective equipment make it very different from the professional environment. It produces very different results from professional boxing--Audley Harrison being an excellent example. The difference in technique between older and modern fighters stems largely from this divide--that the old-timers began their careers competing in more realistic conditions. Even amateur boxing was similar to professional boxing in the 50's and 60's.

The results have been interesting. Modern fighters are less likely to go to the body, since this is not scored as heavily under amateur rules. They are less likely to rough their opponents up in clinches, and are less skilled on the inside overall, again because of prohibitions in the amateur system. They are less adept at dirty tactics (Hopkins would not be exceptional in the 1950's), and are FAR less likely to use unorthodox punches to snake their way around their opponents' guards. They display fewer survival skills than the old-timers, with the exception of men like Toney, because amateur fights are stopped rather early. They do not even utilize feints to the same degree at a top level--compare Louis to the modern heavyweight division and you will see what I mean.

To use a track and field analogy, it would be like modern athletes using 1890's shot put techniques, while 1890's shot putters are allowed to use modern techniques.

A few older fights that show what I'm talking about:

BORKED
BORKED
BORKED
BORKED
BORKED
BORKED


#4: Sports improve when equipment improves
Ever wonder how Owens' time is terrible by today's standards, yet the equipment free deadlift records haven't improved since the 1920's (1922, to be exact)? Why modern tennis is played at a faster pace than it was in the past, yet the Highland Games (a strength sport extraordinaire in an era that excels in producing strength athletes) has not improved substantially on its 60's records? Because equipment has improved in tennis and track and field--everything from high-tech rackets to a switch to modern tracks. Nor is weightlifting immune--the unequipped deadlift record has not changed for eighty years, but the equipped deadlift record has increased by 200 lbs.

Unlike many other sports, this does not apply to boxing, where the same gloves and ring are used by both opponents.

#5: Steroids
This is the reason why, despite our more "advanced" training techniques, we have not been able to exceed late 80's marks in many track and field events. Yes, twenty years without significant improvement--because steroid testing has become better since the 80's, so it's harder for athletes to cheat. Boxing is starting to see the fallout as well--Mosely, Holyfield, Toney, and many others have admitted to using illegal performance-enhancing substances.






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Old 10-09-2007, 01:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: Farewell, ESB!

The "Superheavyweights"

The heavyweight division deserves a brief entry of its own. Because they are, on average, 20-30 lbs. heavier than their predecessors, modern "superheavyweights" are touted as amazing killing machines who would wipe out earlier heavyweights. This is simply untrue--as size increases, muscle efficiency decreases. Or, as Nick Hudson put it so well in another thread, "Muscle force scales with the square of the linear dimension, while muscle mass scales with the cube of the linear dimension". The law of diminishing returns applies to boxing size as in everything else. According to powerlifting and Olympic lifting totals taken from Olympic lifting and the three most important powerlifting organizations (USAPL, IPF, RAW), the difference between strength in the 217-220 pound weightclass and the 242 pound weightclass is almost nonexistent. In one case (Olympic lifting) the totals are exactly the same, and in another (Raw powerlifting--the only one that does not use equipment) the totals of the smaller men are actually greater by a hundred pounds. Even fighters in Marciano's weightclass (if we use Olympic and powerlifting totals to figure out the maximum power output of a fighter their size) should hit about 90% as hard as a "superheavyweight".


If you want more proof, look no further than the success of two late 70's fighters (Holmes and Foreman) during the mid-90's. One acquired the lineal championship, and the other beat the man who arguably defeated Lennox Lewis (Mercer), and nearly beat another man who DID beat Lennox Lewis (McCall).

One final difference--the modern heavyweights don't generally train very dedicatedly. And those who do (Ibragimov, Chagaev, Brewster, Lyakhovich) still carry a lot more fat than fighters in the 70's did. The aforementioned fighters are about the same size as their predecessors. And skill? Well, there's a HUGE difference between the two that's obvious on film.

Below is the 15th round of Holmes-Norton in 1980. Norton was in his late 30's at this point, and Holmes was close to his peak. Both men were completely exhausted, and had been throwing punches in bunches for the past 14 rounds. Yet here they are, still skillfully hammering on each other in the 15th:

BORKED

As for speed and skill, have you seen ANY heavyweights today who move like this?

BORKED

For those willing to look at more old films, believe me: there's plenty more where that came from.














I'm really going to miss you guys.
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:27 PM   #3
BITCH ASS
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Default Re: Farewell, ESB!

You really are a good poster.

I need to get banned too.

I'm on this site too much.
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: Farewell, ESB!

I knew you were an evil genius.

Good luck taking over the world or whatever it is you have planned.

Bye man...


EDIT: I bet he's of to prison.
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:27 PM   #5
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Default Re: Farewell, ESB!

You can't post when you have some extra free time?

Anyway, good luck Cross_Trainer!
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:29 PM   #6
cross_trainer
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Default Re: Farewell, ESB!

Thanks, everyone.

It seems I can't ban myself, so I'm waiting for the admin to do it for me.

CONTINUE THE BERGERON AVATAR CLUB FOR ME!
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:31 PM   #7
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Default Re: Farewell, ESB!

good luck and hope to see u later. u r coming back after the year,right?
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:44 PM   #8
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Default Re: Farewell, ESB!

Stay with us
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:46 PM   #9
Luigi1985
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Default Re: Farewell, ESB!

I wish you all luck of the world, cross_trainer, whatever you have planned. Goodbye!
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:46 PM   #10
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Default Re: Farewell, ESB!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cross_trainer
Thanks, everyone.

It seems I can't ban myself, so I'm waiting for the admin to do it for me.

CONTINUE THE BERGERON AVATAR CLUB FOR ME!
You are going to be missed, sir. I don't know why you can't come back and say hello now and then, though. You being blasted to Mars? Anyway, good luck and hope to live long enough to see you back with great posts like the above.
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:46 PM   #11
OLD FOGEY
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Default Re: Farewell, ESB!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cross_trainer
Thanks, everyone.

It seems I can't ban myself, so I'm waiting for the admin to do it for me.

CONTINUE THE BERGERON AVATAR CLUB FOR ME!
Duplicate post--anyway, good luck, again
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:48 PM   #12
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Default Re: Farewell, ESB!

Quote:
Originally Posted by OLD FOGEY
I don't know why you can't come back and say hello now and then, though. You being blasted to Mars?.

Jail. He's of to jail, almost certainly.
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:49 PM   #13
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Default Re: Farewell, ESB!

You are one of out finest posters and a true gentleman. I myself may have to follow you rexample soon, as I have become way too addicted to this site, and my wife reminds me constantly.

Take care and best of luck to you.

-Magoo-
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Old 10-09-2007, 01:54 PM   #14
Jack Dempsey
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Default Re: Farewell, ESB!

Take care buddy
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Old 10-09-2007, 02:07 PM   #15
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Default Re: Farewell, ESB!

[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
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