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Old 08-31-2012, 04:05 PM   #1
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Default A defence of Jess Willard

There has been a lot of criticism of Jess Willard on this forum recently, and I suspect that most of it is aimed at denigrating Jack Dempsey more than him.

A major criticism is his technical limitations. He is often criticised for fighting with his hands at his side and relying on his height and reach advantages for his defence. This is ironic since the fighter who is pretty clearly the second beat heavyweight in the world at the moment employs a very similar style with considerable success. A lot of the criticisms are based on the Dempsey fight, where his defence was unravelled very badly, but would you judge Joe Louis on the first Max Schmeling fight without reference to his other filmed performances? The Johnson fight and the Moran fight show a 6’ 6’’ fighter, who utilised his height and reach to employ a minimalist defence. We are in an era dominated by fighters like this.

Willard has some exceptional physical attributes. The reality is that all of the top super heavyweights have lacked some key ingredient. It is probably fair to say that no super heavyweight other than Willard, has ever combined power, durability and stamina so effectively. It seems incomprehensible to me that these attributes combined with his height and reach, would not translate into significant success at world level today. Getting Willard ranked in the top ten today ought to be easier than a good sh1t after a hot curry. It is possible to gain a ranking without fighting anybody world class today. Willard’s combination of height, range, power and durability, ought allow him to annihilate that kind of opponents that Chris Areola fought on his way into the rankings. I would go further and say that they would be too much for many of today’s top 10.
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Old 08-31-2012, 04:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: A defence of Jess Willard

Yeah, he boxed pretty much how you might expect a man of his size to box.
But he wasn't particularly outstanding in any department.
He wasn't particularly fast for his size, he rarely produced his KO punch, he was quite plodding and predictable, and most of all he didn't have much 'fire in his belly'.
He was a big, strong, durable fighter and a competent boxer.
No more, no less.
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Old 08-31-2012, 04:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: A defence of Jess Willard

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Originally Posted by Legend X View Post
Yeah, he boxed pretty much how you might expect a man of his size to box.
But he wasn't particularly outstanding in any department.
He wasn't particularly fast for his size, he rarely produced his KO punch, he was quite plodding and predictable, and most of all he didn't have much 'fire in his belly'.
He was a big, strong, durable fighter and a competent boxer.
No more, no less.
Thats all he would need to be, to go places today.

Last edited by janitor; 08-31-2012 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 08-31-2012, 04:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: A defence of Jess Willard

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Thats all he would need to be, to go places today.
no
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Old 08-31-2012, 04:56 PM   #5
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Default Re: A defence of Jess Willard

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no
Yes
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Old 08-31-2012, 05:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: A defence of Jess Willard

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Thats all he would need to be, to go places today.
He'd probably 'go places' in any era. I mean, he'd be ranked for a few fights at least.
But it's purely a matter of timing on how much success he has.

He won the title from an over-the-hill champion, defended it once against a mediocre challenger, then lost it to a young up-and-coming contender.
If he had come along a little earlier or a little later he'd probably be largely forgotten.
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Old 08-31-2012, 05:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: A defence of Jess Willard

Willard won the title but did nothing with it. That is the biggest criticism for him in my estimation. He could have proven himself a respectable champion, instead he earned himself a reputation as a "pacifist".
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Old 08-31-2012, 05:45 PM   #8
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Default Re: A defence of Jess Willard

there is a quote something like 'if the other guy isn't hurting me i didn't feel to hurt him' that is quite a limitation in a guy with decent physicality. plus he started boxing particularly late
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Old 08-31-2012, 05:52 PM   #9
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Default Re: A defence of Jess Willard

He took a terrible beating against Dempsey back in 1919...but he never quit...and he kept getting back up...I've seen guys quit in the ring from a lot less then this...
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Old 08-31-2012, 06:01 PM   #10
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Default Re: A defence of Jess Willard

He had far less skill than most amateurs today
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Old 08-31-2012, 06:03 PM   #11
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Default Re: A defence of Jess Willard

The Willard saga is greatly unknown ... in addition , as Wilt made famous, no one likes Goliath .. the fact is that with no amateur career he started fight pro in his very late 20's .. to achieve what he did is amazing ... he had great physical attributes, tremendous strength, power, stamina, heart and a hell of a chin ... if he was actually trained from a young age and developed he could have been a tremendous fighter .. he is often thrown in the same pile of crap as Carnera and it is a joke, he had far more talent than Primo ever did ...
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Old 08-31-2012, 06:21 PM   #12
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Default Re: A defence of Jess Willard

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there is a quote something like 'if the other guy isn't hurting me i didn't feel to hurt him' that is quite a limitation in a guy with decent physicality. plus he started boxing particularly late
Pacquio made a similar decision against Margarito.

"boxing isn't about killing each other".
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Old 08-31-2012, 06:24 PM   #13
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Default Re: A defence of Jess Willard

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Willard won the title but did nothing with it. That is the biggest criticism for him in my estimation. He could have proven himself a respectable champion, instead he earned himself a reputation as a "pacifist".
This^
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Old 08-31-2012, 06:40 PM   #14
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Default Re: A defence of Jess Willard

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Pacquio made a similar decision against Margarito.

"boxing isn't about killing each other".
true say. pac had neutralised marg by that point though, willard started fights with that attitude which is a bit different.
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Old 08-31-2012, 06:46 PM   #15
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Yes
That's right, because these aren't the 70's talentwise.
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