Serious thoughts on this Harry Greb shadow boxing video?

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by SambaKing7, Sep 5, 2018.

  1. klompton2

    klompton2 Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    No Tunney was wintering in Miami and a promoter down there, Jess Baugh, had constructed a big new arena and was working with Tunney to promote a fight. Initially Tunney wanted Wild Bill Reed as the opponent. The local press poo-pooed the idea of Tunney fighting what they considered a setup and the promoter wanted a more bankable name. Greb was contacted by the promoter, agreed, and wired contracts to sign which he did. Tunney said no and didnt sign. The promoter and Tunney the agreed on Young Stribling who was popular in the south, had a solid reputation, but had lost every major fight he had been in. Stribling agreed but as the fight approached disvussions about Tunney fighting Dempsey heated up in New York. It has been alleged that at this point Tunney was already signed to fight Dempsey. Other reports have him close to signing at this point. Regardless, Tunney backed out of the fight with Dtribling resulting in a big shitstorm. Tunney alleged the promoters couldnt pay him his gaurantee, denied by promoters. Stribling alleged Tunney had reached out to him to agree to not try and it make it more of an exhibition and when he refused Tunney backed out, which Tunney denied. The promoters alleged Tunney feared a fight with Stribling on the up and up and backed out to preseve the Dempsey fight. Regardless of the end result the fact remains that Greb was contacted, agreed, and wasnt responsible for the fight not happening.
     
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  2. klompton2

    klompton2 Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    Im not saying that's not the case but I often wonder why the impact isn't felt until the 1940s when, not coincidentally IMO, the war is on and the cream of the white talent is out of the game. Because really, while the color line was in place, you still had great mixed race matchups in the 20s and throughout the thirties, and you didn't really see African Americans emerge as a dominant force in the sport until the war hit. I think the war had a much greater impact for years to come on the sport than simply "the color line went away and blacks proved they were better" I think the war (and to a greater extent Joe Louis) did two things: 1. It normalized African American heroes in white America. It allowed people to take them into their homes and hearts and realize they weren't the other. 2. The post war years created an environment in the United States with a booming economy, more jobs, and greater access to colleges and thus higher incomes. Its a sad fact but racism didn't afford African Americans with the same level of access to education, higher pay, and better jobs. Meaning, a huge segment of the white population that historically had to scratch to earn a living and thus went into a sport like boxing to excel or at least supplement their earnings, could now find better, easier work elsewhere. I just don't think you had as many white fighters or as talented white fighters as you did prior to the war. Not in every instance but generally. This is to take nothing away from African Americans. They likely would have continued to excel because there was imply more of them getting more opportunities. But the landscape of the entire country and as a result the sport, had changed dramatically.

    I disagree because I don't think Robinson could compete successfully against Jack Sharkey. I just don't see it. I think Sharkey was bigger and better than Joey Maxim and had more tools in the his tool box. I don't think Robinson not being able to compete with heavyweights points to evolution of ability. I think Robinson just had a lower weight threshold that he could overcome than Walker. Walker was just a different animal. Not necessarily better but just better suited for the big boys. That said, when he was prepared and motivated, Walker was a beast who could do it all. He could box on the back foot as well as anyone (see the Hudson fight), he could fight on the inside or out, match strength with men much bigger than him, he had a ton of heart, and could punch like a mule kicks. Walker is the type of fighter that would do great in any era. Look, today Max Schmeling would be a cruiserweight at best. Maybe even a light heavy/cruiser. You think Schmeling wouldn't kick ass at those weights? Because Schmeling looks damn good on film. Smart, calculating, great jab, moves well. To me he doesn't look like some pre-evolutionary product. He looks finished and polished by any standard. Technically Id put him ahead of guys like Lewis, Klitchko, Wlad, Vitali, and Joshua and Frankly, technically, he was better than Ali who did a lot of things wrong. He was also better than Marciano technically and maybe even better than Floyd Patterson technically. But again, we are talking about all time greats. I think a true measuring stick would be the "also rans." The day to day foot soldiers who wouldn't have achieved in any era but would have just been solid pros.

    Its hard to say. Styles and sizes mesh differently. Its why I hate having so many weight divisions. It makes everything cookie cutter. A guy like Greb who was fast, durable, and threw a lot of punches might be more adept to beating the smaller heavyweights of Dempsey's era convincingly over points than a seek and destroy guy like Jack. My suspicion is that if Jack and Greb had fought Wills you would have a different impression because Wills was really the only truly talented skilled technically proficient full sized heavyweight of that era (which helps your color line argument, not mine BTW LOL).
     
  3. edward morbius

    edward morbius Boxing Addict Full Member

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    Thanks for all the info. I have no doubt that Greb would have fought Tunney again. Folks say a lot of things they take back the next day. Nothing unusual in that at all.

    As for Tunney, I am on his side on this one, and I am not one of his big fans. If the Dempsey fight was in the works, he would have been nuts to risk losing a homer decision to Stribling.

    As for what really happened, there is a myriad of "alleged" and "reports" here, but did Tunney actually sign. If not, it is a big to do about nothing. If he did sign, did the promoter later sue him for breach of contract?
     
  4. klompton2

    klompton2 Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    I agree. I never said Tunney was a coward for not fighting Stribling or whatever. Just that he was ultimately, for whatever reason, the catalyst in the fight not happening. He absolutely would have been nuts to risk the Dempsey fight. Look, Tunney was as calculating as any fighter in history. He knew how to cover his bases so that he came out ahead. He was absolutely right to put all his eggs in the Dempsey basket and history proves that by the outcome. It completely changed his life and his career until the day he died. His gamble paid off and more power to him. Stribling or Greb for $50,000 (which was his proposed purse for that fight) or Dempsey for the millions that it ultimately got him over his life? Its a no brainer (and arguably an easier fight at that point in time).
     
  5. edward morbius

    edward morbius Boxing Addict Full Member

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    This is an excellent post.

    One thing I do question--

    "why the impact wasn't felt until the 1940's"

    I think there were African-American champions in the heavyweight, light-heavyweight, welterweight, lightweight, and featherweight divisions at the end of 1938. Hard to see this not being a tremendous impact.

    I think it a very good point that the relatively short Walker and Greb did better than Robinson against big men in part because they were not that tall at their own weights and so were used to carrying the fight to a taller man. I might be wrong, but I think the guys relatively short at their own weight have tended to do better when moving up in weight class.

    *a bit of an aside, but I re-watched the entire Robinson-Maxim fight because of a thread about it recently. Watched it three times. I think Robinson's performance is badly overrated. He didn't appear to me to land cleanly very often on Maxim other than flurries to the body. He simply wasn't controlling the distance like he did against shorter men. His left hoots were usually blocked. His rights either missed, badly at times, or Maxim seemed too far away to be impacted much. The force of the punch was spent. In contrast, Maxim didn't punch much and his punches didn't look like much, but when they landed they seemed to take a lot out of Robinson. It seems out of character for Maxim, but we have to remember he was basically a small heavy who could dry out to less than 175 and was used to fighting full-sized heavies. Size matters.
     
  6. klompton2

    klompton2 Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    But that statistic is skewed by the mere fact that Armstrong held 3 of the 5 title you just listed. Its even harder to figure when you factor in that Armstrong lost his lightweight title the following year (and could have lost the WW title in the same match if the contract hadnt been written to protect it) and Tiger Jack Fox, a black fighter, lost the vacant championship to Bettina, which means that period in 1938 is a very small window historically, not even a full year. Again, there were high profile black/white matches throughout history and there is no doubt that African Americans helped elevate the game but I think taking a period of months in 1938 to illustrate that Africans moved the sport forward by leaps and bounds on an evolutionary scale is tough to illustrate much less prove. I trust my eyes here. I just dont see this huge leap in skill from 1920 to 1940, at least among the elites which is the focus group we are looking at (and again, I dont agree with that, your argument may very well be much better suited by looking at the average fighter). Guys like Gibbons, Tunney, Jeff Smith, ODowd, Kilbane, Frush, Dundee, Pete Herman, Jimmy Wilde, Walker, Leonard, those guys all look very good and very well schooled by any standard. Are there stylistic differences? To a degree yes but they are subtle and those guys still look like they know what they are doing. So again, I think the shift is subtle. Go back and watch Battling Nelson, Wolgast, Herman, Britt, Root, etc. Those guys look ok, not great, somewhat primitive but still look like they can fight. Then go back another generation to Fitz and Corbett. You can see a progression. But to me the biggest jump is betwen the earliest films and the late 1910s. You go from girls fighting in the schoolyard to guys who can handle themselves. Then things slow and the changes are there but they are subtle. From 1920 to 1930 its subtle. From 1930 to 1940, its subtle. From 1940 to 1950, its subtle. But compare 1920 to 1950 and its a little more jarring. Compare 1897 to 1950 and its pretty dramatic. Some will tell you that its because the film wasnt good. I dont buy that. Weve got good film on these guys. Its just that the sport was still in its infancy as we know it today.

    Could be. Greb is a wildcard. I wouldnt use him as an example. He was freakishly strong, tough, fast, and had so much stamina hes a bad example of how smaller guys do against bigger guys. Robinson just strikes me as not particularly strong physically to deal with a physically taxing fight against bigger man. Walker was a fireplug and a terrific athlete to boot. I just think he was better suited for taking big punches, being leaned on and wrestled around etc than Robinson.

    Maxim was a spoiler. Thats the biggest factor in this fight other than the heat. I dont think it was a great performance by either guy but I do think Robinson was WAY ahead just by virtue of activity. Clearly so. But go back and watch Maxim's fight with Patterson after watching that Robinson fight. See how he smothers and spoils what Patterson is trying to do. He makes Patterson do all the work in that fight. Hes not a fun guy to watch but he knows how to defend himself even against bigger harder hitting guys. He makes fights messy, makes the other guy work, and then just tries to stay ahead on points with the jab. Hes kind of alike a more skilled John Ruiz in that regard without the right hand. He was never going to beat Robinson to the jab though. I do think Robinson would have won under cooler circumstances (my opinion) but frankly I wouldnt have wanted to see them fight again. Its sad that a fight of that historical importance was so dreadful, in my opinion.
     
  7. mrkoolkevin

    mrkoolkevin Never wrestle with pigs or argue with fools Full Member

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    Zab Judah always stood out to me. Excellent balance, fast feet, changes direction well, and he gets off those punches so quickly and smoothly.

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  8. Pat M

    Pat M Active Member Full Member

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    yep, his elbows are in, when his right hand moves, his right foot moves/pivots, when his left hand moves his left foot moves/pivots. His punches come across his front foot. If he moves the front foot 6" he moves the back foot 6", his feet stay under him, in the same position. Whoever trained him did a good job.
     
  9. Mendoza

    Mendoza Hrgovic = Next Heavyweight champion of the world. banned Full Member

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    I have asked our belligerent " expert " this question. Asking for dates on when it was signed by both parties and the purse amount. He's running from these questions.

    Tunney pounded Greb. Greb admitted it and said he had no interested in a 6th match. A news headline means little, but to keep one's name in the press. I see no large purse here.
     
  10. mrkoolkevin

    mrkoolkevin Never wrestle with pigs or argue with fools Full Member

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    Yeah, folks must be using "balance" in a way that's basically the opposite of what most boxing people mean when they use the term.
     
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  11. klompton2

    klompton2 Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    Let me ask you this: did you go to the miami papers and look for the details? No? You wont find something if you keep your eyes shut and stick your fingers in your ears shouting NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH. It wont happen. If you think Greb hitchhiked down to Florida, hijacked a newspaper office, demanded that they print a ****ing full banner headline announcing the fight so he could get some free publicity... in FLORIDA, and then fled back across the country, well, we can leave it at that. You might as well put your tinfoil hat back on and argue with someone else.
     
  12. klompton2

    klompton2 Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    Its funny because the quote about Greb being off balance and out of position to throw meaningful punch could have come straight out of any number of papers in 10s and 20s that criticized Grebs supposed lack style but marvelled at his ability to beat supposedly better fighters with monotonous regularity.
     
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  13. mrkoolkevin

    mrkoolkevin Never wrestle with pigs or argue with fools Full Member

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    I can see that. And to be clear, I've never suggested--at least not intentionally--that Greb's shadowboxing routine is at all indicative of his abilities as a fighter. Until (if) I get a chance to watch him in an actual fight, he's just going to remain a giant enigma (with extraordinary accomplishments) for me.
     
  14. klompton2

    klompton2 Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    Well, those experts knew their **** so my suspicion is you might see an awkward or maybe even amateurish fighter kicking some pretty looking fighters ass. I think in the end the result is the same and what really matters. The only thing that would alter my opinion would be if, for example, we got the Greb-Walker film, a fight everyone thought Greb won convincingly barring a few rough patches, and we saw not only an awkward fighter but saw him losing. I think that would be a long shot but if you found that your perception was that he looked bad AND wasnt winning then that would change things. Joe Calzaghe had an awkward, ugly, slapping style but he always won so in the end, regardless of how aesthetically pleasing he looked you cant argue with the results. On the flip side Zab Judah, as someone mentioned above, had a very fun, pleasing, and pretty style BUT he lost almost every big fight he was in and at the end of the day he seemed to lack focus. My point is, regardless of how Greb looked (and some were absolutely offended by how awkward his style was) at the end of the day he not only beat but dominated and battered great fighters that had the critics gaga over their styles. Hard to argue with that.
     
  15. The Morlocks

    The Morlocks Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    Mitchell I would not put but Dempsey I do not mind. He was a great fighter.