Could James J Jeffries Have Thrived In Later Eras?

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by Fergy, May 27, 2024.



  1. Ney

    Ney Well-Known Member Full Member

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    Worth noting surely though that a 12-round fight in an air conditioned arena might’ve convinced Jeffries to carry that hand a touch higher.
     
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  2. janitor

    janitor VIP Member Full Member

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    Jeffries might have been one of the greatest natural talents that any era produced.

    He had a chin like an anvil, incredible reflexes, and he is probably still one of the stronger heavyweight champions, even to this day.

    Om top of that he has heart, and a willingness to listen to his trainer.

    If you can't do something with that, with the current myriad of titles and weight classes, then you are probably no cut out to be a trainer.
     
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  3. PRW94

    PRW94 Active Member Full Member

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    Are you bringing Jeffries forward with his skills frozen in time, or are you considering how more advanced training methods, not just today but even 50 or 60 years ago, might develop the raw skills he possessed?
     
  4. Seamus

    Seamus Proud Kulak Full Member

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    Don't forget that he was supposedly quite quick, too. A good sprinter and noted for hand speed and shiftiness, not just a plodding thudder. Modern technique would have helped him. That crouch was just stupid for the types of advantages he held over his opponents.

    The athletic components were there, most importantly the willingness to take a lot of punishment. On the low end he would have been a Francois Botha type. On the upper end, with modern training, Ibeabuchi type fighter.
     
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  5. mcvey

    mcvey VIP Member Full Member

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    How many modern sized heavyweights was his chin tested against?
    Incredible reflexes ? 39 years old Fitzsimmons ,coming out of a 2 years retirement was described as being able to hit him when and where he pleased in their 2nd fight.Where were these incredible reflexes then?
    George Chuvalo had heart,its prequisite of a professional fighter,but it will only take you so far as Arturo Gatti proved.CHuvalo also had a great chin,but he could never bridge the gap in class between himself and the skilled boxers of his era .
    Francis Ngannou is probably stronger than any heavyweight currently active.
    Fury ,Dubois ,and Joshua are probably stronger than Usyk.If strength decided fights Georges Hackenschmidt and Gene Paul Anderson would have been world beaters instead of the dismal failures they were as boxers.
     
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  6. Seamus

    Seamus Proud Kulak Full Member

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    Look, I'm no fan of the guy but have you read Adam's book on him? Lots of first hand accounts, lots. Quantity has a quality all its own. It's obvious he was an athletic outlier for his times. When you have guys like Frans Botha, Alex Schulz, Ruslan Chagaev, Michael Moorer vying for or grabbing belts, it's not hard to believe that a guy with those gifts couldn't do the same. And say what you will about Fitz, one thing he could do was hit.. and he hit Jim A LOT. And Jim stood up to them.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2024
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  7. HistoryZero26

    HistoryZero26 Active Member Full Member

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    No. Even 10 years after his first retirement he would have had problems. Jeffries size advantage would have been gone and he really relied on that. In the 1910s HWs larger than Jeffries were commonplace. Burns and Jack Johnsons eras were the last one Jeffries have been the guy and that was mainly because everyone was so unusually small. Even at this point the smaller guys were better boxers than Jeffries had to deal with. Jeffries won all those fights before his first retirement but his career should not ilicit confidence he could succeed in other time periods. 35 year old Jeffries was stopped by Jack Johnson who struggled to stop his bigger opponents. If Jeffries was in his prime he might have beaten Johnson but he likely wouldn't have.

    6 ft 4 Bob Armstrong almost beat Jeffries and on the opposite end of the spectrum Tom Sharkey was able to go the distance with him twice in very competitive fights. Corbett also might have been beating him the first time when he was closer to his prime before Jeffries got the KO in R23. Fitzsimmons had some success against him as well. We don't know exactly how close any of these fights were because his career really predates modern scoring and sources are flimsy but the point is win or lose Jeffries wasn't far ahead of the top HWs of his era if he was ahead of them at all.

    No doubt Jeffries had an impressive chin if he could survive Fitzsimmosn and Goddard though.
     
  8. mcvey

    mcvey VIP Member Full Member

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    Yes I've read and own it ,great book.
    In the 2nd Fitz fight Jeffries sustained deep gashes above and below both eyes and a broken nose.
    Hype Igoe said Jeffries took more punishment that Willard did against Jeffries.
    Contemporary reports stated Jeffries won because he was 12 years younger than the nearly 40, 2 years a retired Fitz,they said if their ages had been equal and Fitz at172lbs had not been conceding 47 lbs to the 219 lbs Jeff Fitz would have won.
    Reports say Fitz hit him when and where he pleased ,then his hands gave out on him and he had nothing left to fight with.
    I'm not disputing Jeffries was terrifically durable but he was never hit on the chin by a Liston,Foreman,Lewis,Wilder.
    If a near 40 light heavyweight could wreak such havoc with his face what might those men have achieved?
    Jeffries said the hardest punch he ever took was from Joe Choynski the blow smashed into Jeff's mouth with such power that it forced Jeffries lip between his teeth and it had to be scissored out.

    "Jeffries, who was rushed along quite quickly, took on the experienced ring genius in Joe Choynski. Granted, Choynski was giving up almost fifty pounds in weight, but Choyinski used his quicker feet and wiser mind to his advantage as he stayed away from Jeffries's power and was able to score on his own. Although Jeff claims he dropped Choynski with a left hook to the neck, he also claims that Joe scored once with a right that knocked his lower lip between his front two teeth, an injury which required a lip incision to relieve Jeff of the pain. Jeffries states that was the hardest punch he's ever taken. Some disagreed with the decision, believing that Jeffries did enough forcing to earn the nod, but Joe was so impressive in the science he displayed in the ring that the referee gave him part of the honors in ruling the affair a draw."
    Jeffries was green for this fight fighting an experienced veteran, but Jeffries was 219lbs and Choynski 167lbs.
    Jeffries was the size of George Chuvalo,more physically talented sure, but how would he hold up against the guys of today?
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2024
  9. lufcrazy

    lufcrazy requiescat in pace Full Member

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    Jeffries would be a champion in any era he was born in imo
     
  10. mcvey

    mcvey VIP Member Full Member

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    Fitzsimmons was 39, Goddard 40.
     
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  11. Seamus

    Seamus Proud Kulak Full Member

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    The first and biggest obstacle to these supposed super athletes of today to becoming elite boxers is the ability to accept punishment daily in training and severely in competition. Very few have it in them to undertake that grind and that weeds out most the lot of them. Jeffries had that in abundance firstly. Beyond that, he was something of an athletic freak. So, you do get the best of both worlds there.

    I am assuming he would get some proper coaching, abandon that stupid low left hand, wide open crouch and learn to fight properly. I am not assuming he would be the same product as was exhibited during his career, as that did not seem to be the nature of the question in the OP. He had the physical tools in spades, and as I said, had the mental fortitude.
     
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  12. mcvey

    mcvey VIP Member Full Member

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    But we are putting the Jeffries that actually was into these different eras.imo
    Jeffries had 23 fights and had his nose broken 3 times, finished up with scar tissue above both eyes, and a cauliflower ear, that does not suggest his defence was very good does it?
    If you finish up like that after 23 fights against supermiddles and light heavies,what would you look like if you had been battling big guys the size of those today?
    Jeffries traded on his toughness ,his ability to," take a licking and keep on ticking,"I don't think that would translate favourably for him from the 60's onwards.

    Added to which he would not be a young giant among older, smaller men, at 6 feet and 218lbs he would be a small heavy fighting guys much bigger, and his own age.Mike Tyson could do that because he has great handspeed and a ko punch in both hands,reports of Jeffries fights indicate he was a grinder.
     
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  13. Jason Thomas

    Jason Thomas Boxing Addict Full Member

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    I think an interesting question is raised.

    Do we restrict Jeff to the Jeff of history?

    Or do we grant him advantages he "would have had" if he were born much later and lived in later eras?

    I don't know which is correct, but I have one observation. I assume Jeff fought in the style he did because he was the big man going against little men.

    If born in a later era, when he was let's say just average in size, or even smallish, would he learn to fight in an entirely different way?

    It is correct to say that a Jeff with a different style would not be the Jeff of history.

    *Personally, this is why I don't get involved with h2h or most of these fantasy match-ups. Too many unknowables are raised when taking a man out of his own world and putting him in another either very much earlier or very much later.
     
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  14. mcvey

    mcvey VIP Member Full Member

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    I get involved in them but realise there are too many imponderables to make definitive predictions.
     
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  15. HistoryZero26

    HistoryZero26 Active Member Full Member

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    Fair. But I was trying to end the post with something positive. And surviving those 2 is the feat that puts his chin in the best light possible.
     
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