Best Alpha Belt Heavyweight circa 1978-1987

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by Stevie G, Jul 10, 2024.

  1. Stevie G

    Stevie G Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Jul 17, 2009
    There were many heavies over this period that had one organisation or other's world champion's belts over this period. Larry Holmes,even though he only held one belt at a time out of the two he won,does n't count as he was rightly regarded as THE World Champion. Same goes for Michael Spinks by virtue of him beating Holmes. Those fighters I include in this scenario are as follows -

    Ken Norton
    John Tate
    Mike Weaver
    Mike Dokes
    Gerrie Coetzee
    Greg Page
    Tony Tubbs
    Tim Witherspoon
    James 'Bonecrusher' Smith
    Pinklon Thomas
    Trevor Berbick
    Tony Tucker

    Who's your number one.
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  2. mr. magoo

    mr. magoo VIP Member Full Member

    Jan 3, 2007
    Tim Witherspoon for me. It could be argued that Norton was better but he was near the end of his rope when they awarded him that belt
  3. Totentanz.

    Totentanz. Gator Wrestler Extraordinaire Full Member

    Jun 11, 2024
    Terrible Tim all the way.
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  4. Saintpat

    Saintpat Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Jun 26, 2009
    I’d say Tate was the most deserving up until Weaver knocked him out.

    I’d rank Weaver best after that for the rest of the period as far as being more relevant for the longest.
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  5. biglads

    biglads Climbing the WBO Rankings Full Member

    Aug 30, 2007
    I think that there could be a credible argument put forward for around half of the field (Tate, Dokes, Page, Witherspoon, Tucker) and as mr.magoo said, this was at the tail end of Norton's relevance.

    Today I say Tucker. Tomorrow it might be Dokes.
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  6. Overhand94

    Overhand94 Member Full Member

    Jun 23, 2024
    I would say Pinklon Thomas. For a short time, he looked like Holmes' rightful heir.
    He beat Tillis and Ratliff, drew with Coetzee and outpointed Witherspoon. His KO of Weaver was also beautiful.
    Memorable jab and granite chin.
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  7. Totentanz.

    Totentanz. Gator Wrestler Extraordinaire Full Member

    Jun 11, 2024
    As good as Thomas was, I feel like some of his best wins come with asterisks. Witherspoon was obviously out of it in their match, looking like a shell of his former self while brain dead on some sort of drug. I personally believe that he lost the fight to Coetzee, but got the draw because judges at the time generally disliked Coetzee in decisions (Just go look back at the Snipes fight, it happened in that case, too). And while the KO of Weaver is quite beautiful, Mike had just suffered a horrible left hook to the back of the head in the first round of his fight with Tony Anthony, which seemed to have trashed his resilience to punches from that point on- Thomas was in no way known for his right hand, but he was able to KO the guy who went thirteen with Coetzee without getting knocked down? You gotta know.
  8. northpaw

    northpaw Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Jun 5, 2010
    I'm assuming the timeframe is thru 85 since you have Spinks as "not" an option as actual champion:

    I'd say Pinklon Thomas. He was undefeated until Berbick beat him. It's hard to rationalize the 2nd best guy (IMO Tim Witherspoon) when (Who I think is) the number 1 guy actually has a win over him. I guess you could also argue Berbick going by my criteria as well though.

    I'd say Thomas though
  9. Dubblechin

    Dubblechin Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Jun 25, 2014
    Clearly, they're all flawed. And, I remember Pinklon Thomas getting a lot of hype at the time as being second-best to Holmes.

    However, while he doesn't jump out at you at all, Trevor Berbick is probably the correct answer.

    * Berbick beat Pinklon Thomas when Thomas was the unbeaten WBC Heavyweight Champion.
    * Berbick beat Greg Page when Page was the unbeaten #2 contender (on the Holmes-Cooney undercard. Cooney was the #1 contender).
    * Berbick knocked out once-beaten and still highly rated John Tate. (Weaver may have landed a lucky punch in the last round, but Berbick ran Tate out of the ring.)
    * Berbick defeated unbeaten Mitch 'Blood' Green.
    * Berbick outpointed once-beaten and rated David Bey (Bey's only loss to that point was to Larry Holmes).
    * Berbick ended Muhammad Ali's career.

    Berbick was also the first man to go 15 rounds with Larry Holmes in a title defense, becoming the only challenger in Larry's first dozen title defenses to go the distance with him.

    Berbick beat #2 contender Page the same night Holmes beat the #1 contender Cooney, making it easy to say Holmes and Berbick were the two best at that moment in time.

    Like Tate, Berbick was also a 1976 Olympian. (Nobody else on the above list was an Olympian except Tate and Berbick.) Berbick lost on points to the eventual Silver Medalist, Mircea Simon, and demolished Tate as a pro.

    Really, none of the other guys listed above beat as many names as Berbick did during that time frame. And the other guys on the list all had bad nights, too (as did Berbick).

    Berbick is 3-0 against the guys in the original post. No one else has a record that good.

    Tim Witherspoon might be considered, but Berbick beat Page before Witherspoon (or anyone) did. Berbick was the first to beat Thomas, and Spoon lost to him. Spoon split two with Page. Split two with Smith. Beat Tubbs, but lost to Thomas. So, against the guys on the above list, Spoon went 3-3. Trevor went 3-0.

    While you could make a clear argument, based on his record against the above, that Berbick was second-best, truthfully, he wasn't viewed as such during that time frame, because of his terrible upset points losses to Snipes and Gordon back to back.

    Then again, everyone on the above list had bad outings. That's why they were all so flawed.

    Once one heavyweight looked to be the next-best after Holmes, that guy invariably blew it against someone he was supposed to beat.

    Looking back, though, he arguably outperformed all of them up to 1987.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2024
  10. InMemoryofJakeLamotta

    InMemoryofJakeLamotta I have defeated the great Seamus Full Member

    Sep 21, 2017
    This makes Mike Tyson's 2 round destruction of him look even more incredible.
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  11. Overhand94

    Overhand94 Member Full Member

    Jun 23, 2024
    Why Witherspoon seemed out of it for you ? I thought Thomas did an excellent job by outjabbing him.
    I never saw the Coetzee fight fully, so I won't contradict you.
    You make good points about Weaver, but it was impressive to see Thomas going toe-to-toe with him while knocks him down in the 1st round, and taking his best punches later.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2024
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  12. Dubblechin

    Dubblechin Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Jun 25, 2014
    Well, Michael Spinks and Larry Holmes were the "world champs" ... and they didn't fair much better than Berbick.
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  13. MaccaveliMacc

    MaccaveliMacc Active Member Full Member

    Feb 27, 2024
    Techically, Mike Weaver was the number 1 contender, but Holmes already beat him.
  14. Totentanz.

    Totentanz. Gator Wrestler Extraordinaire Full Member

    Jun 11, 2024
    Thomas was doing an excellent job, no doubt about that, but if you look in Witherspoon's eyes you can see that he looks like he's not there.
    I also really enjoyed the Weaver fight, too. Even if these wins come with asterisks, it isn't exactly a discount on Thomas, as he fought the best men he was able to, and did his best.
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  15. Overhand94

    Overhand94 Member Full Member

    Jun 23, 2024
    I have to rewatch that fight because I didn't noticed that.
    Ok, I understand your point of view about Weaver/Thomas.
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