Heavyweight Longevity and Peak

Discussion in 'World Boxing Forum' started by Heisenberg, Jan 24, 2021.

  1. Heisenberg

    Heisenberg @excelsioroptimum Full Member

    Apr 30, 2017
    A lot of TV and radio commentators during Mike Tyson’s prime reign referred to his opponents as being veterans. These included Berbick (32),Smith (34), Tubbs (30) and Spinks (32). Even Thomas, Williams and Douglas at 29 were derogatory referred to as having been around the block. Yet most of these so called veterans are the same age or younger than the likes of today’s best heavies in Fury, AJ, Wilder, Whyte, Joyce, Parker, and Ruiz etc. I know advances in sports science, nutrition and supplements have all played their part in an athlete’s longevity but when did the heavyweight dynamic shift to them actually peaking after the age of 30?
  2. MrFoFody

    MrFoFody Boxing Addict Full Member

    Dec 17, 2005
    Maybe it had to do with the all around athletic ability of the men involved in their respective eras?

    When you have a bunch of slow, lumber oafs as we do in this current crop, matches are fought at a much slower pace that is more sustainable by older less athletic boxers.

    Reinhardt likes this.
  3. George Crowcroft

    George Crowcroft 'Snarky Little Gobshite' - IntentionalButt Full Member

    Mar 3, 2019
    Fighters fight less now, so primes get extended. It's much harder to stay at the top of the division over ten years while you're fighting six or seven times a year, than it is fighting once, twice or at a push, three times.

    The mid-to-late 80s was the transitional period, where the sport really became what it's like today. You saw fighters like Chavez start to (inadvertently) emphasise the undefeated record, fifteen rounds were started to be abolished, the weigh ins frequently became held the day before, fighters started to make more money, so at the highest level they fought less, the IBF was formed, Leonard started playing to his superstar status to pick and choose who he fought, King and Arum were rival promoters, preventing big fights from happening as often as they should.

    Tyson was in the middle period, where guys were still fighting more frequently, and the sport was more gritty and less monopolised. You can actually see how drastically the sport changes from his debut to retirement.

    The main reason fighters age slower nowadays though is that they don't fight anywhere near as often. Less mileage.
  4. Blandman

    Blandman New Member Full Member

    Jun 7, 2019
    Championship fights were 15 rounds too as well as more often, which made fights much more likely to reach ‘war’ status... But the medical and nutritional advancements of today can’t be understated, once career ending injuries are now simple orthopedic procedures. Careers are longer, at least the viable portion, peak will obviously be later.

    One note about Tyson, he was an aberration at the time too, way younger than normal for peak, which even then was close to 30 for HW’s
    Gatekeeper likes this.
  5. sasto

    sasto Active Member Full Member

    Aug 5, 2020
    There are also fewer genuine pressure fighters at HW, who both have short primes and can shorten the primes of others.
    Mickea4 and George Crowcroft like this.
  6. catchwtboxing

    catchwtboxing Boxing Junkie Full Member

    Jul 4, 2014
    The bigger fighter is, the later his peak. That is why flyweights burn out quicker than middleweights, who burn out quicker than heavies.

    In the era you were talking about, the average heavy was 6'2" or so. Now it is s 6"5 or so.

    They just peak later.
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  7. Geo1122

    Geo1122 Active Member Full Member

    Jul 7, 2017
    I think it’s a mixed answer. I pointed this out in another topic, that a fighter at the height of his reign may actually be past his prime. There may be more notable wins, and they may be higher in the rankings, but it doesn’t actually mean that they are better. Boxing is a strange entity in that regard, and unlike any other sport because of the lack of activity in it, and how matchmaking works. So I don’t always buy into it when a pundit or promoter tells you that a fighter is yet to hit his prime, if that fighter is post 30.

    Having said that, a fighter will peak on 3 fundamental fronts:

    If he’s relatively new to the sport in comparison to the fighters of old, then it’s reasonable to suggest that while he may be physically declining at a certain rate, he may be equally improving mentally and technically. Better yet, he may be improving those aspects at a greater rate, so his overall trajectory is still up.
    Greg Price99, TFP and sasto like this.
  8. TFP

    TFP Member Full Member

    Feb 20, 2012
    I absolutely agree with all of that. To my mind contestants in almost every physical sport [and boxing is very physical] peak in their 20s. For very explosive/agility/speed type roles, that peak is usually early-mid 20s, for skill/strength based roles the peak is usually late 20s. But peaking in their 30s, exceptioanally rare. Maybe in something like marathon running, an almost pure endurance sport, I noticed that the [fairly] recent world record breaker was in his mid 30s.

    There's some interesting stuff from the NFL here, showing peak age by position.

    This content is protected

    I very much agree that if boxers were fighting against the very best a few times a year, instead of against carefully hand-picked opponents maybe a couple of times a year, this would show a lot more. Just look at the career lifespans of sumo wrestlers, who do exactly that [although their case is admittedy complicated by much more frequent injuries than most boxers]

    Although it's of course not being sold as such, the Joshua-Fury fight is between two guys past their peak, in both cases. e.g. Wilder was very visibly way past his peak in Fury II, nowhere near as quick as he once was. Fury's late switch of trainer and very unusual lack of activity in his late 20s might, I suppose, mean that we've not quite seen the best of him as an all-round fighter, but there's little doubt that the old 'herky-jerky' speed we saw vs Klitschko & in Wilder I will have ebbed by a notch or so. Joshua has also changed his style a little, but I doubt it'll improve him against this opponent. Naturally declining T levels will have started to degrade his physique a little .

    I totally agree with this. Lennox Lewis was a good example, he visibly peaked physically at the usual age, mid to late 20s, but following a change of trainer and style peaked technically in probably his mid 30s, his overall peak being in probably his early 30s, when he still had most of his prime physical prowess and had already gained most of the technical improvement that he was ever going to.
    Geo1122 likes this.
  9. Mickea4

    Mickea4 Member Full Member

    Aug 22, 2018
    What a great thread, interesting points I'd never have considered before, cheers fellas!
    Surrix likes this.
  10. Heisenberg

    Heisenberg @excelsioroptimum Full Member

    Apr 30, 2017
    The same evolvement can be said for tennis, an incredibly brutal and dynamic sport where players can be on the court for 2-3 hours every couple of days.The men’s game is now dominated by players in their mid 30’s.
  11. Surrix

    Surrix Well-Known Member Full Member

    Sep 16, 2020
    Yes like this.

    Yes. A lot depends from fighting style, opponents he had, rounds in the ring: fights rounds and hard sparring rounds. Training camps takes a lot.
    agility and speed usually are declining earlier, other parameters later. fighting style matters a lot : if your style is like Ali from 60 ies decline will be earlier than for Foreman from 70 ies style.
    Floyd Jr: style where a bit reduced agility and speed doesn't gave so much impact than on fighters like Pacman with their style.
  12. On The Money

    On The Money Dangerous Journeyman Full Member

    Apr 4, 2012
    These old school heavies mentioned all had good ability but were mostly slobs so burnt out quicker. Tyson never got fat but he lacked self control in other areas. Ruiz Jnr is an example of a modern day old school slob. You can't expect to be a partying slob and beat a totally focused guy like Joshua. It's not a game of darts in there. Anyway, more fool him for not having the right team and management around him. Lewis and Klits are the benchmark for mid/later 30s heavies and what it takes to achieve that.
    Decker likes this.
  13. Pepsi Dioxide

    Pepsi Dioxide Member Full Member

    Oct 22, 2020
    I hope we see a correction in the future. 4-5 fights a year should be possible.
    eltirado likes this.
  14. TFP

    TFP Member Full Member

    Feb 20, 2012
    I'm not sure I totally buy that there's been a change, it just so happens that three of the GOATs have been playing together, with the generation after them being nowhere near as good. e.g. 2011 Nadal was a vastly better player than 2021 Nadal. Probably even 2005 Nadal was better.

    It's interesting that September 2020 was the first and so far only time that a player born in the 1990s won a grand slam tennis tournament, with all earlier ones having been won by guys born in the 80s or earlier. I very much doubt that tennis in the 2020s is going to be dominated by guys born in the 90s, I think it's likelier that the 80s born 'big three' will hand over to a pretty even mix of guys born in the 1990s and increasingly 2000s, with players born in the early 90s pretty much missing out altogether.
  15. Furey

    Furey EST & REG 2009 Full Member

    Oct 18, 2009
    Summed up perfectly
    catchwtboxing likes this.