Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by NewChallenger, Jan 24, 2023.
Via your criteria there's never been a great fighter. Such an incredibly negative mindset.
There have been a lot of really good fighters and a handful of great fighters.
How is it a negative mindset to tell the truth. What does Kenny Norton do, at any point in his career, that makes him great? What attribute? What exploit?
Frazier had a great willingness to fight and to go hard. Beyond that, what was great about him?
You have to have perspective. Frazier and Norton were successful against the great Ali because he was fundamentally flawed and they were trained by a very observant man to exploit those flaws.
Joe Louis is great because he beat Max Schmeling. Max Schmeling is great because he beat Joe Louis...... You can apply this logic to literally every fighter who walked the planet.
The funniest part was Frazier was never anything special without Ali. Can someone tell this guy Frazier was the unified champion before stepping in the ring with Ali?
Ali beat countless top 10 fighters over a ridiculous amount of years. Even post exile and a couple of gallops short of where he needed to be it still took a great effort to beat him. Frazier beat plenty of top 10 fighters as well and often beat them bloody.
To say "The only thing special about Frazier was his willingness." is a long way over the top.
To say "There was nothing special about Norton." is pretty out there as well. He had good speed, good power, good technique and planety of heart. Even past peak he gave a young Larry Holmes one helluva battle. Awful hard to write off that effort.
For me to enormously downplay the achievements of both Frazier and Norton in getting a win over Ali due to flaws in Ali and an astute trainer is three steps too far. No-one is great against all styles.
Frazier was world champ (and a dominant one) for quite some time so there must have been a little something special about him, surely.
BOOM......that's my point.
Remember this is also the same guy who thinks Liston was terrible as well.
He’s now downplayed at least 3 men out who are in many top 10 heavyweights list and made them out to be not very good.
Imagine if they’d let this (supposed) trainer teach them the ropes. Can you imagine what they would’ve accomplished?
2nd April, 1973.
Was what, three days after their first fight?
Yes, yes I would most definitely agree with Futch's assessment at the time. Kenny was learning on the job and wasn't a finished product by any means. In fact it could be considered his step up fight.
Ali had questionable camp for the first bout. Nonetheless, one had the proof of his form from around the FotC, whereas Norton's potential remained a mystery.
His opinion on the matter after Ken's career concluded could very well be a different story.
There're a few ways to interpret and structure the hypothetical.
Do Frazier and Norton maintain the records with their wins over Ali simply flipped over to losses? Or do we also project their career paths given those imagined losses? Lastly, do we eliminate all encounters - because even if Joe and Ken lost all 3 fights, we would still be hypothetically left with them running very close to Ali and gaining measures of credit for that.
Beating Ali was and would be quite the boost to any fighter's resume and perceived quality. However, the fighters that did beat Ali when he was still reasonably viable in his second career still had other achievements to recommend them. Frazier clearly more so than Ken, as already well detailed. As to Norton, I think he had some very good wins on his resume to recommend him otherwise, including the facts that he did beat Young and then lose a razor thin close decision to ATG Holmes.
Norton has to be measured absolute, but he did have a notably late start in the game, nearing 30 himself for the first Ali fight and 30 yo for the rematch. Though Norton's exact age was not known at the time (Ken used to claim a YOB of 1945 I believe) and Ali had accrued more wear/tear than Ken overall - but with the deduction of the 3.5 exile from his professional career start date - but an Ali still with a lot more under his belt as at the first Norton fight and through to the rubber.
Without Ali, Frazier's record would be 30-2-1. The only man to beat him would have been Foreman & the draw would have been when he is considered as being shot, during an ill-advised comeback 5.5-years after his last fight.
His win resume would have still included Jimmy Ellis x 2, Oscar Bonavena x 2, Jerry Quarry, Joe Bugner, Eddie Machen & Bob Foster. He would have been 4-1 in title fights.
His standing would clearly have dropped without Ali, he'd have been viewed a level below an elite ATG (Foreman), but better than every non-ATG world class HW of his era. I suspect I'd still have him top 20 all time.
Kenny peaked in the 2nd fight and had slowed down by his own admission in '76. Not to mention he'd suffered a brutal KO loss to Foreman which damaged his confidence. He was never quite the same again.
It's not like he was underrating Ken. In the very same interview he stated Norton would beat Foreman AND (current-day) Ali.
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Expectations Norton evidently did not live up to (to say the least).
Putting great weight or attaching any sort of finality to its results is a bandwagon fallacy which was the main part of my point, but fine, scratch the anonymous part, though I'd dispute online nickname and a comment being a substitute for a full scorecard and insight I regard as bare minimum qualification for giving the thread a sort of legitimacy.
Futch, Foreman, and Frazier considered Kenny to win all three bouts, though as stated, the second fight was razor edge. Heck, Kenny considered Ali to deserve that decision in the second bout, having dropped too many early rounds. As I said, I wouldn't blink if somebody would give it to Ali, though I would dispute it being a clear cut Ali victory with no argument for Norton.
Ironically enough, Frazier's ranking may very well be higher. Frazier's ATG ranking in the 70s would've increased. He goes from third best to 2nd best heavy of that era.
I also believe without the damage incurred in TFOTC, he may have done much better against Foreman and the loss wouldn't have hampered his legacy nearly as bad.
Also without Ali, we still have the ultra confident badass Foreman. I don't see Young beating '73-'74 Foreman (Noneck will definitely come out of the woodwork when he sees this) and without the loss to Ali, I believe that version of Foreman remains. He may very well continue to improve (Foreman was still a very young man at the time), no getting dropped 2x by Lyle, rack up some more defenses (I don't think their was anyone around to stop him), defeat Holmes (whom I honestly don't think would beat Foreman. Even 70s Ali was much faster, and more versatile than prime Holmes, who often had to get his hands dirty and wear his man out).
Without Ali in his way, Foreman could very well become number two or even number one of all time, ESPECIALLY if he makes that comeback and regains the title after Moorer.
With Frazier's only losses coming at the hands of the best or second best heavyweight of all time, I'd imagine he'd actually rank far higher.
Futch knew how dangerous Kenny is. Didn't underrate him that's for sure. Comparing him to FotC Ali after one upset is a different matter, and Foreman just finished Sunhine Showdown which Eddie considered more of a fluke on Frazier's part (party-like training camp) and a stylistic disadvantage. It was the Norton victory that truly cemented Foreman's reputation.
Norton peaking in the 2nd fight is questionable. The rematch took place several months past the initial upset---his very first true world level experience before which he was a nobody on the rankings (though already avoided as claimed by some.)
Disagreed on Norton never being the same post-Foreman. By his own admission he never trained as hard post the Ali-Norton III which was the turning point of his career, Bobick and Holmes fight aside. That much I can agree on.
Fair enough. I honestly don't think their's much argument for a Norton victory and that's coming from someone who prefers him as a human being but to each their own.
Also, Futch and Frazier may have stated they thought Norton swept the series after their third bout but after the first bout, they stated they scored the bout a draw. Will have to find a source for that though given Futch's post-fight comments.
Wouldn't be surprised if they did. The opinion I quoted comes from the 90's when Marshall Terrill was writing Norton's biography. Due to usual lenient nature of such books, I could see Futch's (though not Frazier) opinion fluctuating from time to time when not asked in such context.