Do you consider Ken Norton a true heavyweight champion?

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by Blofeld, Feb 3, 2023.

  1. Blofeld

    Blofeld Member Full Member

    Sep 27, 2022
    Kenny is an awesome fighter with many accomplishments, but do you consider him to have been a true HW champ? Btw not trying to bash or diminish him, I was just interested as he never won it in the ring, although it looks like he was perhaps unlucky not to have done so.
  2. McGrain

    McGrain Diamond Dog Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2007
  3. Fergy

    Fergy Walking Dead Full Member

    Jan 8, 2017
    No unfortunately. Not the lineal for sure. He was awarded the WBC belt after his win over Jimmy Young of course, which he lost to Holmes.
  4. Greb’s-blind-eye

    Greb’s-blind-eye New Member Full Member

    Nov 20, 2020
    Definitely not. Great boxer though, the one guy who, other than Frazier, fought Muhammad Ali to a near-standstill across three extremely competitive fights (in fact it could be argued that Norton gave Ali even more trouble than Frazier, but that’s splitting hairs).
    I can recall how The Ring magazine really got up on its soapbox in the 80s, and leaned into that whole “Lineal Wins” Alone count; Everything else is just contenders fighting each other for the privilege of fighting the “real” champ… Only problem was, the boxers didn’t necessarily see it that way; they took fights that were available to them, period. But it was a good way to combat/speak out about the sorry state of Boxing and call out the greed of the cocksuc*** Alphabet Orgs, amongst whom the scummy Jose Sulaiman and the WBC really stood out as being exceptionally dirty.
    Anyway, Norton is kinda perfect for a discussion such as this; Joe Frazier was great enough to win the Heavyweight Title and defend it a bunch of times before running into the wall that was Big George Foreman. FOREMAN was, like Joe, 100% legit…

    Ken Norton wasn’t quite THAT good, but he was a real player in the golden age of Heavyweights. Everybody wants to compliment those who win a championship; that is (seemingly) easy to understand: you’re either a champion or not, and the two entities - Champion & Contender - are separated by a clear margin. Less simple is figuring out who were the contenders who, their losses notwithstanding, becsue figuring out which era had the best, the most, CONTENDERS; it’s worth figuring it out, though, if you truly want to understand and compare different eras. I would posit that THIS is the reason that the late-60s/the entire 70s Heavyweight Division was the greatest time in the it’s history. Ali is the guy who stands atop the heap, if you will, but said “heap” stands for the greatest competition, arguably, in the history of Professional Boxing.
    Ultimately, it’s the boxers contained in that heap that make the Champion’s climb to the top resound with the feel of QUALITY. (Champions are not the only thing that should be paid attention to and admired, is one point I’m trying to make. The “winners” are not the only ones who deserve your attention. Look past the “jewelry”; look into the hearts of guys like George Chuvalo, Earnie Shavers, Jerry Quarry, Ron Lyle, et al… Besting guys like that is what made Ali the legend we now know. Ken Norton stands near the very tippy-top of that heap of Contenders; that’s a beautiful standing to hold. I mean, it’s been beaten to death exactly how much it used to mean to be a contender. (If it wasn’t held to be a truism, the can scene in On The Waterfront wouldn’t be so powerful: “I coulda been a CONTENDER, Challie, instead of a bum…which is what I am, let’s face it”).
    If being a contender - as opposed to Champion - meant so much in the 50s, how could it then be untrue in the 70s-80s-90s-2000s?!?
    It can’t. It’s always been true. Norton was not a champion, but one of the best CONTENDERS of Alltime. And that is not meant to damn with faint praise. No good contenders, no sport. Period. With No good contenders, being Champion means next-to-nothing.
    Blofeld likes this.
  5. Dynamicpuncher

    Dynamicpuncher Boxing Addict Full Member

    Jan 14, 2022
    Yes because I believe he beat Ali in their 3rd fight, and with Norton beating Young who beat Foreman. Young and Ali were seen as the top two Heavyweights until Holmes came along. So overall yes in my view he was a true Heavyweight champion.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2023
  6. Pugguy

    Pugguy Boxing Addict Full Member

    Aug 22, 2021
    Imo, I also believe that Ken was robbed against the WBA/WBC and lineal Champ Ali in their rubber match. As per the WBC, he was robbed of being rightful number # 1 challenger to Spinks. As such, the WBC stripped Spinks and awarded Ken the WBC title based on his prior victory over WBC # 2 contender Young. Ken was a true WBC HW Title Holder and Holmes took that title from Ken in a razor thin close decision. Otherwise, what was Holmes until he at least won the conceptual lineal title from Ali in 1980? So, I agree, as per the above and Ken's performances otherwise, viewed in due context, I think it's fair to view him as a true HW champ also.
  7. jarama

    jarama Active Member Full Member

    May 13, 2014
    I do consider him a true HW champion for the reasons as pugguy and dynamicpuncher said
  8. Greg Price99

    Greg Price99 Active Member Full Member

    Dec 17, 2018
    I don't consider him a lineal HW champion, no.

    I do rank him as the 26th greatest HW of all time, though, which isn't too shabby.
    Pugguy likes this.
  9. he grant

    he grant Historian/Film Maker Full Member

    Jul 15, 2008
    Ken Norton was awarded the title because Ali did everything in his power to avoid giving him the fight he deserved , period. Rules were broken, contract were broken, promises were broken.
  10. lone star

    lone star Member Full Member

    Mar 10, 2018
    As most of you have mentioned Ken was a fantastic fighter. Unfortunately he had problems with big punchers. But how can he be considered a champion when hit title record is 0-3(1ko). He may have or have not won the 3rd Ali fight but you can’t take that into consideration otherwise Jimmy Young could lay a claim. And other fighters who lost controversial decision against the champion. It’s unfortunate the WBC made such a silly decision. His fight against Holmes should at the least have been for the vacant title. Lennox Lewis avoided a similar situation by at least defending his WBC before losing to McCall.
    swagdelfadeel and NoNeck like this.
  11. scartissue

    scartissue Boxing Junkie Full Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    Maybe not lineal but he was as much a heavyweight champ as those that came after him. This man went 15 rounds on 3 occasions and held 2 all-time great heavyweight champs to razor close decisions as well as holding and winning a 15 round decision over an all-time great contender. A lot more than luster than some of those after him. So yes, I consider him a heavyweight champion.
  12. Rollin

    Rollin Active Member Full Member

    Nov 17, 2021
    Pugguy likes this.
  13. AngryBirds

    AngryBirds Member Full Member

    Sep 3, 2022
    I can see why some people consider Norton to not be a true heavyweight champion. His only impressive feats were giving Ali a tough fight though as most people point out that had to due with his style rather than skill. Although even taking that into account, it was against an Ali well past his prime. Take away the Ali wins and what other notable guys has he fought? Foreman, Shavers, Holmes & Cooney come to mind, but he lost against all of them and the bout with Shavers in particular was quite brutal. He certainly doesn't look like a champion this way.

    I thus don't consider him to be a champion. Only having 2 notable victories against the same guy well past his prime and due to styling at that isn't enough to constitute one as a champion, particularly when they have a poor title defense recorded such as Nortons case. Then when you go on the hypothetical front and ponder what heavyweight champions could he actually beat....its frankly hard to think of any.
  14. Dynamicpuncher

    Dynamicpuncher Boxing Addict Full Member

    Jan 14, 2022
    Ali had one of his best performances ever in the 70s, against Norton in their 2nd fight. He looked sharp had the footwork for all 12 rounds and never looked better in the 70s, yet Norton was still able give Ali all he could handle and more.

    He also fought on even terms with Larry Holmes, you don't fight 4 fights vs two top 5 ATG Heavyweights without having something special about you.
    he grant, Pugguy and CharlieFirpo85 like this.
  15. CharlieFirpo85

    CharlieFirpo85 Member Full Member

    Feb 26, 2020

    I see it just the same way! I think its a shame that he doesn't became champion inside the ring.He really deserved it. He was a hell of a fighter, but unfortunatelly so many mismatches were around in his era. I actually favor him over most of the B level punchers and almost all 60's, 80's and 90's HW contenders including some champs like Douglas, Spoon, Seldon, Weaver, Smith, Thomas, Coetzee. He will lose some because of his chin, but i think he beats most of them.

    Norton met Cooney and Shavers well past his prime. He stated that he lost his motivation after he lost the controversial decision vs Ali III. But anyway: Norton boxed very well and his style was very effective in most situations but it's really vulnerable to left hooks from bigger man, coming in high, right over his crossguard. So it was a perfct weakspot for Cooney. Prime Foreman also benifit from this + he was such an agressive starter and just good in cutting of the ring and hit hard with both hands. His speed and footwork declined after he became a champ. But at his time he was a flawless killer. Shavers just started very well and managed to nail him at the ropes. He just penetraded his guard like a hot knife going trough butter. So i think Norton was really unlucky that so many kryptonite was around him in this particular era.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2023
    Blofeld, Pugguy and Dynamicpuncher like this.