Was the 80's heavyweight division really that bad?

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by AngryBirds, Mar 10, 2023.

  1. Dynamicpuncher

    Dynamicpuncher Boxing Addict Full Member

    Jan 14, 2022
    Thanks for the kind words mate i appreciate it, believe it or not I'm actually a fan of Larry Holmes. But I'm never biased when judging a fighters career whether I like them or not, for me Holmes is a great fighter but his title reign could've been so much better especially towards the end. Imagine him unifying against Weaver in a rematch when he was on a hot streak ? Or fighting Thomas in 84 ? For me theres too many dangerous opponents Holmes missed out on for him to not take some of the blame, am I saying it was all Holmes's fault ? Not at all. But I certainly think Holmes could've made some of those fights happen.

    In my honest opinion I think the Witherspoon fight was a bit of a shock to the system for him. Witherspoon was not expected to give Holmes such a tough fight, and I think after that fight Holmes realized he was slowing down, and might not be able to pull it out anymore against some of the more dangerous opponents at that time. And I truly believe Holmes picked what he thought were easier opposition towards the end of his reign, so he could break Marciano's record and ride off into the sunset.

    As crazy as it sounds for me I think the Spinks fight was a cherrypick gone wrong, Spinks was an amazing Light Heavyweight but I think everyone was surprised including Holmes himself, that Spinks was able to befuddle Holmes in their fight and beat him at Heavyweight.
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  2. northpaw

    northpaw Boxing Junkie Full Member

    Jun 5, 2010
    The problem with the 80's was that damn near everyone was drunk and on drugs........I'm not joking I'm serious. They literally were engaged in too much excess outside of the ring. Also, the 80's looks bad because the 70s was the greatest era of HWs in history, and the 90s were probably the second greatest. If you're sandwiched between two of the greatest eras ever, you simply aren't gonna look great.
  3. Pepsi Dioxide

    Pepsi Dioxide Boxing Addict Full Member

    Oct 22, 2020
    It was the era of unfulfilled potential for one reason or another.
  4. Jel

    Jel Obsessive list maker Full Member

    Oct 20, 2017
    My comment was going to be that a lot of their talent disappeared up their noses but you got there first, Flash.
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  5. Seamus

    Seamus Proud Kulak Full Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    People never acknowledged how bad the heavyweight division was from Kinshasa till Holmes' rise. The mid-to-late 70's were far worse than any period in the 80's. Few, if any, eras before could boast the wealth of talent of the 80's... Page, Dokes, Holmes, Coetzee, Tubbs, Spinks, Tyson, Pinky, Spoon, Bonecrusher, Cooney, James Broad...
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  6. Saintpat

    Saintpat Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Jun 26, 2009
    Somehow it’s always Holmes’ fault that this collection of guys couldn’t win and hold onto a title for any meaningful period of time and establish themselves in a way that would have led to a unification. Look at the times: how many unifications took place between established champion vs. someone who just won a belt?

    Page was offered step-aside money to allow Holmes to collect the Frazier payday — the one that was on offer at the time, so you take the offer when it is made … you don’t get to take a ‘rain check’ and assume the promoter will be able to put it together at a future date — and then fight Page. Greg chose not to take it and then lost his next two fights. One of those losses was to David Bey, who you call a novice (then how did Page lose to him?) and Holmes fought Bey right after. If Bey beats Page and Holmes fights Page, he’s ducking the winner, lol.

    You keep saying ‘Pinklon was undefeated for seven years’ … as if he was Archie Moore or Marvin Hagler sitting there as No. 1 contender and being avoided. He had zero resume til he beat James Tillis (hardly the top heavyweight in the world) in 1982, and then he fought a draw with Coetzee next time out. He won a few fights over nobodies the next couple of years. So until he beat Witherspoon in 1984, his entire resume consists of a win over a decent but hardly great James Tillis and a draw with Coetzee — that’s it. Nobody was clamoring for Holmes vs. Thomas because nobody much knew who Thomas was. Then he made exactly ONE successful defense and lost his next defense. So he held the title for more than 18 months with precisely one defense and you’re acting like that’s a big deal. How about defend it three or four times? He had plenty of opportunity to do that, but he couldn’t hold onto it. Ho hum.

    Now as for Mr. Thomas — you seem to be making him out as this unholy beast … so why didn’t he unify his belt with any of the WBA titlists of the time? Doesn’t his one-defense reign cross over Gerrie Coetzee, Greg Page and Tony Tubbs all holding that belt for some time? Why doesn’t he have some obligation for doing what you’re demanding of Holmes? Why is he ducking those guys?

    For that matter, why didn’t any of those guys try to unify with Thomas? Surely if they wanted a showdown with Holmes to settle the mater of who was really heavyweight champ (and at the time Holmes was regarded by EVERYONE as champion and they were just guys who held trinkets), why not fight each other so one of the could say ‘I hold two belts, I’ve distinguished myself as the one who stands atop the heap of other guys who should be fighting Holmes so let’s make it happen.’ Is that Larry’s fault too?

    Weaver … you know he lost to Holmes right? So Larry did beat him. I’m not sure I get your point. At least Mike made two successful defenses of his title, which is a record for anyone not named Holmes in that era, lol.

    You act like Larry’s defenses over years and years don’t count for much, but this collection of 1980s wannabes couldn’t defend their titles successfully. Why is that?
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2023
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  7. Blofeld

    Blofeld Active Member Full Member

    Sep 27, 2022
    Can you outline the scene of the period you mention, mid to late 70s, in more detail? I don't know much about it and interested in who was ranked etc.
  8. Dynamicpuncher

    Dynamicpuncher Boxing Addict Full Member

    Jan 14, 2022

    This is my last reply because we're not getting anywhere in this discussion, were not really agreeing to disagree on anything and keep going round in circles. So i'm going to try and address some of your points, and then i'm done with this conversation no offence intended.

    You must of missed the part of my post where i said "i don't blame Holmes for not fighting everyone". But i do think he should've fought some of the more dangerous opposition at that time. There were big fights and challenging fights out there aswell as unification fights, Tyson easily cleaned up the division in a few short years and he came along shortly after Holmes. I truly believe if Holmes really wanted to unify he easily could've for whatever reason he didn't though.

    Honestly i don't think Holmes ever had any intention of fighting Page in my opinion, just like Holmes never had any intention of fighting Thomas which he stated himself. Again Page losing to Bey later on has nothing to do with how Page was rated in 83, when he was on a good run beating the likes of Tillis, Snipes. Can you atleast agree that Page deserved his shot at Holmes in 83 when he was his mandatory ? and certainly more deserving than Scott Frank ? Marvis Frazier ? and stylistically presented a tougher match up than most of Holmes's opposition in the 80s ?

    My view is that i believe Holmes after Witherspoon fight thought he was slipping, so chose what he thought were easier opposition to end his reign on a high with 49-0 that's just how i see it.

    My problem with your arguments is that your using excuses that certain fighters were "hot and cold". Yet i gave you official ratings where the more challenging opponents, were highly rated for a significant time when those fights could easily be made. Your saying certain fighters didn't establish themselves long enough to warrant challenging Holmes, but yet Holmes fighting the likes of Frank, Frazier, Williams, contradicts that argument since they hadn't established themselves at all yet Holmes fought them no problem. Even Witherspoon's only claim to fame at that time, was getting a gift decision against Snipes he was a relative unknown at that time.

    Holmes stated "He would never fight Thomas" yet you keep saying "Thomas should've made a few more defenses" your missing the point. The fact is Holmes never had any intention of fighting Thomas at that stage in his career, Thomas losing later on has nothing to do with Holmes not fighting him in 84 or 85. Since Holmes was no longer champion so that point is totally irrelevant.

    You say Thomas had no resume yet your telling me the likes of Bonecrusher Smith, Carl Williams, Marvis Frazier, Scott Frank, had resumes did they ? you say no one was clamouring for a Thomas fight, yet who was clamouring for any of the fights i just mentioned ? Thomas was by far the most deserving opponent in 84-85 can you not atleast agree on that ?

    Who's making him out to be an unholy beast ? all i've said is that he was the most deserving opponent in 84-85. He was considered enough of a threat for Holmes to state he didn't have any intentions of fighting him so make of that what you will.

    So your expecting Thomas to fully unify the division in only his 1st defence of the title ? come on now that's not the same argument and you know it. Holmes had a long period of not unifying and avoiding some of the tougher opposition who could've tested him. As you stated Thomas only made 1 defence of the title, went back on drugs and was done as a top fighter so that answers your question. But that has nothing to do with Holmes not fighting him when he was a prominent fighter for a good 3 year period, He was ranked 4 in 83, 1 in 84, 1 in 85.

    He beat Weaver when he was a trial horse and was considered an easy defence for Holmes. Weaver improved after the Holmes fight become a champion and beat two top rated fighters in Coetzee, Tate, who were considered major threats to Holmes aswell as an undefeated Tillis.

    You also fail to mention Holmes went life and death with Weaver, and looked on the verge of being stopped until he pulled out a hail mary uppercut. Fair play to Holmes for that but it would've been easy to set up a unification, as their 1st fight was a great fight, Weaver was worthy of a rematch as he'd came close to beating Holmes, Weaver was also an improved fighter with 3 quality wins against top opposition and was ranked number 1 for 2 years.

    I never said that my major gripe is Holmes's reign during 83-85, where i believe he chose easier opposition and avoided a few of the tougher tests. I also think during the early 80s he should've rematched Weaver and unified or fought Dokes.

    I think Holmes is a great champion i'm actually a fan of his, but i do think he deserves some criticism for some questionable opposition when there were more challenging opponents at that time.

    As this is my last post on this subject to try and come to some type of middle ground i'll say this.....

    Was it all of Holmes's fault that these fights didn't happen ? no. But i do think he should've fought some of them.

    I agree with you that some of Holmes's wanabe contenders wern't always consistent, but still there was a good 2 or 3 year period where these fights could've been made, rather than some of the lackluster opposition Holmes did fight.

    Holmes was definitely the best of his era and the most consistent and that's why he is a great i agree, i just wish we could've of seen a unification or atleast a big fight with Thomas or Dokes.

    And that's all i've got to say sorry if i've rambled on a bit too much, but i'm done with this topic no offence intended as i stated above. But you have a good day @Saintpat i don't want to argue with you, as your one of the first posters here i interacted with here on scorecard thread and i respect your opinion. If you want to reply i'll let you have the last say, but i hope we can atleast agree to disagree on certain aspects.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2023
  9. Glass City Cobra

    Glass City Cobra Boxing Junkie Full Member

    Jan 6, 2017
    It wasn't "bad", there were actually some very promising and talented boxers in that era such as Tate, Thomas, Witherspoon, Page, etc who would all be great contenders at worst or champions in other eras. They often ran into promotional issues, slacked off in training, got on drugs/legal problems, injuries, or some combination of all the above. Sometimes it was their fault, sometimes it wasn't. But a consistent and reoccurring theme in the lives of many of that 80's generation was that they, for one reason or another, failed to really fulfill their full potential. Holmes and Tyson were obviously 2 very noteworthy exceptions.

    The era wasn't the problem, it wasn't really weak, but the problem was the often poor choices the boxers of that era made. There was some potentially very big fights we could have gotten that might have rivaled legendary bouts in other eras had those guys gotten their act together.

    Having said that, we still did see some underrated and entertaining gems. Weaver was one guy who was always exciting win/lose/or draw and had epic moments against Coetzer and Tate for instance. When Thomas was focused and in shape, he pleased the boxing purists with his excellent jab and good form. Douglas showed us flashes of brilliance here and there. It's just a shame they couldn't string together more than a handful of good wins on a consistent basis and had such roller coaster careers with just as many disappointments as highlights. I would say the era was above average in terms of talent/ability/technique, but below average in terms of accomplishments and entertaining fights.
  10. Glass City Cobra

    Glass City Cobra Boxing Junkie Full Member

    Jan 6, 2017
    They're not fighting each other. The last 10 years has been like waiting for paint to dry. The drugs/fast food/laziness is rarely as bad as the 80's (which isn't saying much), but many guys of the current era simply aren't fighting that often and rarely against a legitimate contender.

    Say what you want about the 80's guys not fulfilling their potential, but they all have at least 2-4 world class names on their record and it didn't take half a decade for them to face each other. They're really not far apart in terms of disappointment. AJ and Wilder barked at each other for ages constantly pointing fingers and Wilder has one guy, Ortiz, while Joshua is really a manufactured fighter with dubious circumstances surrounding how he became a champ in the first place. Fury disappeared after beating an 40 year old unmotivated gunshy Klitschko, became a drug addict beached whale, and only has 2 legitimate elite fighters on his record despite all his boasting. Ruiz may as well be an 80's fighter himself with how obese and inconsistent he is. Usyk so far seems to be the only guy taking his job seriously and already has a hall of fame worthy career.
  11. JohnThomas1

    JohnThomas1 Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Apr 27, 2005
    Yeah it was. Nobody bar from memory one writer was giving Spinks ay chance at all as reflected by Holmes being an 8-1 favorite or thereabouts. Holmes was 8-5 fave in the rematch too i believe. It turned out a smaller faster fighter (an aTG at that) turned out harder to beat than the more lumbering big strong types Larry had been beating. Williams wouldn't be under that umbrella but many thought he won too. He was certainly a fine boxer against guys without a big punch.
  12. zadfrak

    zadfrak Boxing Junkie Full Member

    Feb 17, 2008
    But there was a big thing with Spinks John----he was by far the most pedigreed fighter Holmes had fought in a long long time. An unbeaten champion with title defenses. He knew how to win fights.

    Larry had not fought high pedigree since Ali--if you choose that version of Ali. before that, it was Norton. Lots of matches against face first/susceptible to jabs guys with minimal experience.

    And Larry always came in shape and used that wide gap in experience against those contenders. That was not going to be the case with Spinks.

    The other big thing was his ability to fight effectively moving clockwise or counterclockwise. While moving his hands. Holmes was strictly a clockwise rotation guy and it showed against spinks far more than those other challengers. added up.
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  13. zadfrak

    zadfrak Boxing Junkie Full Member

    Feb 17, 2008
    Back to the original thread----almost all of these guys===aside from Tyson and Holmes==were rise to the occasion types. Capable of winning a fight on a given night with a top notch performance.

    What they could never do was be the type to make a run of title defenses. But on a given night, they can score the upsets.
  14. JohnThomas1

    JohnThomas1 Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Apr 27, 2005
    Well we can throw Ali out. Your point is good tho, Spinks was of a skill level above anyone Larry ever beat even if he was a bit undersized.....of course the size part was notably negates by Holmes decline at that point.

    Spinks was really versatile, you are right. He showed just how smart and versatile agaisnt Qawi.
  15. Greg Price99

    Greg Price99 Well-Known Member Full Member

    Dec 17, 2018
    I think i recall reading that before their 1st fight, Holmes said words to the effect of "hows this little man going to hurt me? Surely not with his fists?" and "my jab will feel like a straight right from a LHW".

    Normally I wouldn't read too much into pre fight bravado, but I suspect these comments are a genuine window into Holmes mindset before the 1st fight.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2023
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