Tunney On The Greatest Heavyweights & Louis v Dempsey

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by Tonto62, Aug 14, 2019.

  1. Tonto62

    Tonto62 Well-Known Member Full Member

    Mar 26, 2011
    Gene Tunney wrote an article in the Jan1950 issue of Boxing Illustrated.Here are some snippets of it.

    On the greatest heavyweight champion he narrowed it down to Dempsey v Louis,giving these sound bites on other champs.
    " I cannot conceive of Jim Jeffries,even in his prime ,finishing a 15 round fight with either Louis or Dempsey .He was too easily hit,and any opponent that either Dempsey of Louis could hit,could not be expected to last very long.Even the most enthusiastic of admirers of Jeffries admit that he had a comparatively short career before winning the championship from Fitzsimmons." And though Fitzsimmons was a comparatively old man he punched Jeffries all over the ring at will until his hands broke up and he had to chuck it." Talking about the old timers on filmTunney said their stances brought forth laughter from modern fans viewing them on film for the first time.
    "Even Jack Johnson,who had a genuine touch of greatness in him,looks far from impressive in his best bouts,when compared with the finely developed ring technique and clever foot work of Dempsey,Louis and others."
    " I think ,under certain circumstances most of them could have licked Joe Louis.
    Jim Corbett for instance who broke America's heart by dethroning John L Sullivan was fleet footed,brainy,and quick in his reflexes ,an all round dangerous opponent. He introduced class to the prize ring.I sincerely believe he might have defeated Joe Louis in a 15 round fight if they could have met at their peaks.
    Even that tough ,spindle shanked,freckle-faced,bald headed light heavyweight Ruby Robert Fitzsimmons,might have been able to lick Joe Louis." "Fitz could unleash terrific blows for his size,and it is conceivable that he might have taken Louis,but it would have to be in an early round.Fitz was easy to hit and he probably wouldn't have withstood a Louis barrage beyond the fourth or fifth round."
    "Jack Sharkey was a man of considerable potential,but ,because of his emotional make-up crises within the ring muddled his thinking.
    A trigger brain is a prime asset to a champion fighter.with disaster coming at you every second,you have to make split second decisions which may mean the difference between defeat and victory.On this score Sharkey never made the grade".

    "Max Shmeling did what no other fighter ever accomplished ,he knocked out the seemingly impregnable Joe Louis.
    He had a beautiful straight right-hand punch,the effectiveness of which he proved in his first match with Louis.But he lacked the quality of greatness.He never seemed to sense the dramatic moment to step in to win,as was demonstrated in his fights with Baer and Sharkey,He had Baer licked and in the 5th and 8th rds of their duel and was chasing him all over the ring.
    But he was caught flat- footed with an overhand right in the 10th rd which booked his passage back to the Fatherland.He allowed Sharkey to back all over the ring for 15rds and thereby gave Sharkey the title of world champion".
    " Genial ,convivial Max Baer had a wonderful opportunity to become a ring great and muffed it. He reached his peak when he won the championship from king-sized Carnera,which was no great accomplishment. But Baer went down gravely after this peak". "Baer was a victim of his own adolescent desires,too much night clubbing and clowning,and not enough serious training.
    As for Braddock, his inclusion among the heavyweight titleholders was the sheerest bit of luck,and only proves how terribly run-down Max actually was."
    " As for Carnera ,the biggest man ever to fight under modern rules,he won an impressive number of frivolities,because of the mediocrity of his opponents , mostly setups."
    On Walcott.
    "This much can be said for Walcott,he really won that first fight with Louis."
    " But if he had been given the decision he would have been one of the sorriest figures ever to have championship.
    Louis vindicated his unseemly lapse against the back-shifting,arm -flailing Walcott by putting him away in a workmanlike manner in their second encounter.
    Walcott was no greater or lesser a fighter during his first encounter with Louis ,than he was in the second bout.He assumed that he had safely won the decision by the 12 th rd, a fatal mistake which showed he wasn't of championship calibre.If Walcott had possessed the quality of a champion he would not have taken the advice of his seconds who told him to coast.He would have been in there clinching the title.
    Louis' explanation for his poor showing,a valid one was that he had been in service for so many years that he simply was not in shape.Lack of competition is bad for a fighter."
    Discussing Louis.
    In several ways Joe Louis was the greatest champion who graced the prize ring.
    The sport has known no greater hitter than Louis,nor is there any record of a champion demonstrating greater recuperative powers.
    When Louis was at his best he was simply superb. An important thing on the credit side was that no matter how bad he looked at times,or how slim his chances of winning seemed at any stage of a bout,he lost only one fight, [this was 1950].
    Coming from behind to win so often and so definitely is another quality of greatness.Also to his credit is the oft quoted argument that Louis defended his crown 25 times and for 10 years,more times and for a longer period than any other man.
    That's true enough,but his fights were mostly against 2nd ,3rd, and even 4th raters.
    .Almost any slap happy pugilist who came along took a chance with him and gambled on a fluke punch.
    Louis was great enough to ward them all off ,like a horse flicking flies from his tail ,but who knows what would have happened if a real contender faced him?"
    Tunney thought Dempsey's opposition far superior to Louis'.
    Discussing hitting power he said.
    " Hitting power is the greatest asset a prize fighter can have.It is at once a great offensive and defensive measure.In this observers opinion, the three mightiest blows delivered during the last 3 decades of boxing
    were ,in chronological order.
    Dempsey's first ,long swinging left hook in the 1st rd against Jess Willard which exploded like a giant firecracker on that 4th of July day in1919.That blow was superhuman in effect,packing the wallop of a hydraulic press.It smashed Willard's right cheek bone into fragments.
    The second most telling blow was the first overhand right Baer landed on Primo Carnera".The 3rd was Louis' pulverizer in the 6th rd against Braddock, the one blow which actually won the championship."
    Comparing Dempsey with Louis ,Tunney said ," I feel justified in stating Dempsey was the greatest heavyweight of all time".
    " Inanylizing the fighting styles of Dempsey and Louis one must take into consideration Dempsey's great speed for a heavyweight.In addition to htting fast and with deadly effect,Dempsey was very fast on his feet
    .He could take an advantage of an opening more readily than any heavyweight I have ever seen perform.Dempsey also brought considerable ring cunning into battle .He selected the bobbing waeving style because it put him in position to strike with deadly effect whenever his opponent missed as he advanced.
    When Dempsey was hurt,his efforts semed to increase and he became that more dangerous.He possessed a fine instinct for prize fighting.His instinctive reactions somehow made good strategy.He was a natural fighter.
    Joe Louis had considerable of that too.He recuperated quickly and maintained a deadly punch right to the very end.he did however ,on occasions show a tendency to confusion when hit hard.
    But while Louis has been blessed with power-packed right hand.Dempsey had one too and was almost equally blessed with a left hook.
    All who understand the science of boxing know that a good left hook is better than a good hard right.Left hooks can be administered with little danger of a counter blow.Rarely is this soof righthand blows.The danger of a counter blow after a right hand delivery is three times as great as after a left hook.
    On weighing all probabilities ,I am of the belief that Dempsey would have caught Louis with a left hookearly in the fight and started him on the road from which he could never recover,despite his great powers of recuperation.
    Dempsey was a tiger as a finisher,As a hitter Louis was a killer,but I think Dempsey would have beaten him to it.
    In finishing this piece I don't want it thought that I have anything but the highest regard for for Louis in practically every element of his professional talent.
    He reigned longer than any other champion and remained at his peak longer than any other champion .
    This is an unmistakeable indication of true fistic greatness.
    the answer whether or not Louis was the greatest gets down to what one thinks about Dempsey.For if Dempsey was not, surely Joe Louis was."
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  2. Reinhardt

    Reinhardt Boxing Addict Full Member

    Oct 4, 2016
    Thanks,,,that is a really great read! It seems I read years ago that Tunney said he caught Dempsey at the right time after he had become a star.
  3. louis54

    louis54 Active Member Full Member

    Mar 20, 2013
    Tunney knew his stuff obviously....dempsey was the best all round heavyweight mentally and physically
    robert ungurean likes this.
  4. Mendoza

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

    Jun 29, 2007

    Be carefull when quoting Tunney. He was erudite no account type who comes across as knowledgeable. He hated Jeffries for beating Fitzisimmmona and Corbett twice but loved his Irish and UK kin.

    Of COurse, he thinks Demspey was great, he easily beat him twice, and by beating one his greatest that makes him...
  5. El Hans

    El Hans Left Cross Full Member

    May 30, 2019
    Oh yes and Jack Dempsey would've beat Larry Holmes and (forget the name cooney?) on the same night he's full of it.
  6. Tonto62

    Tonto62 Well-Known Member Full Member

    Mar 26, 2011
    Why was Tunney a " no account type ? "
    Where is the evidence for this?
    Which UK kin did Tunney have?
    Tunney said if Dempsey was not the greatest ,Louis was!

    Were you drunk when you posted this?
  7. Tonto62

    Tonto62 Well-Known Member Full Member

    Mar 26, 2011
    The article was written in1950 when Holmes was a few months old and Cooney wasn't born..
    In1950 I would take an educated guess a good 95% of boxing experts would have agreed with Tunney that the two best heavyweights up to that time would be Dempsey and Louis.
    If you dispute that choice, I'd like to know your alternatives?
    Since neither Holmes or Cooney were mentioned in my post I fail to see your point,that is if you actually have one!
    robert ungurean likes this.

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