Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by Brixton Bomber, Apr 7, 2021.
And these are the same people who criticized Lennox Lewis for most of his career
We do this too much in the classic section....fighter A is better than fighter B ...because fighter A fought in a better era
Guys like Mike Mccallum ...James Toney ...Mike Tyson ...Bernard Hopkins ...they studied tapes of old school fighters .......Errol Spence idolizes Terry Norris
Folks keep mentioning "better nutrition". Food had far more nutrients 50-100 years ago.
RECOVERY is much better than EVER.
Don’t know who these so called historians and boxing expert are but that’s some dumb statement. It’s being like just over one generation or so since Lewis retired and there’s never gonna be another great heavyweight ever again as long as mankind and boxing exists? We’ve reached the evolutionary end of mankind already? That’s just crazy?
Anyway Wlad was the last great heavyweight but there’s definitely gonna be more great heavyweights in the future.
I think it peaked in the late 90s early 2000s and started declining with more advanced and regular PED testing.
I think it’s gonna be hard for more natural fighters of the future to compete with ppl who fought in the Wild West era of performance enhancers.
Wlad was the last great heavyweight and he just retired ... So it obviously makes sense for him to be the last great heavyweight
And if you don't buy Wlad being great (which is preposterous since the man had such a long and dominant reign with many title defenses) then Lennox Lewis was his immediate predecessor
People just have weird ideas ....
I love this subject and I'm going to get long-winded because I love this sport, so I beg your indulgence. The reason there is no improvement is because a fighter doesn't have to try as hard anymore.
Now while that is marinating in everyone's head I just want to say, when I went whole-hog into this sport (training, reading every book, watching every fight, picking up World and International boxing as well as Ring and BI) it was the early 70s and every newspaper carried so much on boxing along with pictorial spreads. I was reading up on Shavers-Ellis, Quarry-Lyle, Monzon-Griffith, Napoles-Menetrey, etc. And I can't even begin to tell you about the coverage of an Ali-Frazier fight because that was pages. Today, there isn't even a byline, so let's get to the root cause.
I believe the virus was planted in the mid-70s. Oh, we had 11 divisions then that the old-timers would have frowned on as well as a number (flyweight through jr. welterweight) of dual champs. We didn't like it but it was there and competition was enough where we were still getting worthwhile challengers and contests. But in '75, the WBC elected to create the jr. flyweight division. It's inaugural match was Franco Udella v Valentin Martinez. To tell you how bad this was, Udella was already a failed challenger for the flyweight title and Martinez had lost his last two fights. But the WBC scraped the bottom of the barrel to get their new sanctioning fee donor...excuse me, I meant weight division, up and going. Udella won on a DQ and to show what he thought of the title, he left it go into disuse and continued defending his more worthwhile European flyweight title. The WBC wanted him to defend against their top challenger Rafael Lovera of Venezuela but he couldn't be bothered, so the WBC matched their brilliant challenger up with another Venezuelan in Luis Estaba. Man, those Venezuelans must have had some talent down there ($$$$). Estaba, btw, was 37 and was never able to break into the flyweight rankings. But won on a 4th round KO over the undefeated Lovera. Yes, Lovera was unbeaten...and also had never won a fight either. Yes, this was his first and only fight. The point I'm trying to make here is that the bar was now officially lowered. The fighters didn't have to try as hard anymore.
It wasn't long before everyone saw the cash cow that was boxing and everyone was jumping on this band wagon. We soon had super bantam and then Cruiser in 79, which IMO begat the '80s fat heavyweight because...they didn't have to try as hard anymore. And then the '80s begat the IBF in '83 and the WBO in '88 and then the creation of straw weight, super fly and super middle with 4 champs in each division all looking for work. 8 champions when boxing started became 11 champions when I got into the sport, which is now 68 champions. Back then I could talk to my buddies about Ron Lyle or Danny Lopez and they didn't even follow the sport. We just knew them from the coverage. When a die-hard fight fan, let alone the regular guy, can't follow the sport, interest dries up. Thus, no newspaper coverage or anything on the news. The alphabet boys may be lining their pockets, but they have essentially killed our sport. This is the root cause I mentioned in paragraph two.
I have seen people on this message board state that the amount of champions and weight classes we have today are OK for the sport because it creates opportunities for the fighter. To that I say, what the hell is this? A job fare? This is a sport that brings us entertainment and one that crowns the champion of the world. I did not pluralize that word. Champion means the best in a legitimate weight class. Do you know how many great 1940s British fighters had over 100 fights - not to mention fighting in the booths - just with the hopes of one day fighting for the British title? Today, you're a veteran with 15 fights and there's something wrong if you haven't had a 'world' title shot yet. And remember not to lose your undefeated record because no one will touch you after that. And that's counting the year you have to take off to sulk and lick your wounds after that loss.
I said I was going to be long-winded, but again, I love this sport too much and get wound up with the state of it today. So, one more time. The reason there is no improvement is because, a fighter doesn't have to try as hard anymore.
You know, boxing is a lot like rock and roll. Nothing is new, you just haven't heard of the guy the new guy stole his licks from. If you are convinced that you have come up with something new, that you have invented the wheel, it just means that your education is incomplete.
What is there? A new way to throw a jab? You shift your stance to confuse an opponent? How old is the Fitzsimmons shift?
Strong arm forward? There is a list a mile long of turned around lefties. Nothing is new and thinking that it is, that's arrogance.
I've had this conversation with young guys in gyms that think that Mayweather's style is new. In fact, it is a clear and unbroken line that goes back to Joe Gans and probably further. Nothing is new and every generation thinks that what they are doing is unique and innovative.....but every young fighter will huddle around the old man in the gym, won't they?
What fighter, ever, had the hubris to tell Eddie Futch to kick rocks? Did Larry Holmes, in 1980, tell Ray Arcel to keep what he learned in the 20s to himself, or did he marvel that the old man taught him 21 ways to use his jab?
Agree on this- maybe 1997/1998?
In general agreement with you — everybody likes to think that everything was invented yesterday.
Evolution in sport (all sports) has been generally, IMO, a result of a few things:
1) Adaptation to rules changes.
In football, holding rules changed that allowed linemen to extend their arms and eventually to grab the other guy (hold him) — the late Bear Bryant referred to it as ‘before they legalized holding.’ That opened up the passing game because linemen were better able to protect the quarterback longer for plays to develop.
Then it became illegal for the pass defender to engage/contact his man after he was 5 yards downfield. Before this, the best receivers were the guys who could best catch the ball. The rule change put the premium on speed — the guy who once could maintain contact until the ball was in the air now had to run to keep up with you and couldn’t grab to slow you down.
All of these things meant the passing game began to surpass the run game, and it became more prevalent lately with the introduction of run-pass option (RPO) plays where the line blocks as if it is a running play (including progressing downfield a few yards) and the defense has to play it as a run and then suddenly it’s a pass and ... more passing yards.
In boxing, under the London Prize Ring rules you could wrestle your man to the ground, grapple, etc., and that signified the end of a round. That put a premium on stamina and attrition rather than form. Then came the Queensbury rules and ‘modern’ boxing emerged. But you could stand over your man if you knocked him down and attack as soon as he got up. This brought about the aggression of a Jack Dempsey.
When they added the standing 8-count and the neutral corner, a man had a chance to recover. He had a full ring to use to evade. It became less of a game of savage attack and people began to use their legs/footwork more. Boxing evolved.
Later administrative rules — title fights going from 15 to 12 rounds, day-before weigh-ins — favored a different breed. Weight bullies who could add 10 and then 15-20 or maybe more pounds before entering the ring made people cut more weight and rely on being bigger than their opponent when they actually fought (I knew someone who trained in Jeff Harding’s camp and was told he walked around at 215 before starting camp and only weighed 175 for a few hours on the day of the weigh-in ... and today he might not even be at the upper end of that post-weigh-in growth. And 12-round fights led to a faster pace on one hand and less need to train for stamina for those championship rounds that used to separate the men from the boys.
There are all kind of rules changed and my intention is not to write a dissertation on each, but those are some of the more significant ones.
2) Athleticism and genetics.
I do believe there’s been an evolution in all sports among the participants. LeBron James is from another planet compared to the top players of 40 years ago and is superior in many ways (bigger/faster) to those of 20 or fewer years back. Same for football and other sports for the most part.
Boxing has seen the super-freak athletes come, Roy Jones Jr. being a prime example. It tends to be mitigated by weight classes, but the super heavyweights who aren’t gangly, awkward oafs have taken over the upper division. And in the lower weights I think there have been, for sure, more speed merchants woh have advanced combinations punching from probably around the 1960s or 70s forward.
3) Training methods.
Forever, weight training was a no-no in boxing. The thought was it bulked you up and slowed you down. We know more about methods for training specific muscle groups to actually increase speed (or at least not lose it) while gaining strength.
We know more about proper eating habits to create quick fuel vs. eating a steak after the weigh-in like in the old days. A lot of this is, frankly, marginal in terms of performance but I do think there is something to it.
And, of course, PEDs have changed all of sport forever. I tend to think that, for the most part, it came to boxing a bit late because the older generations of ‘basic’ anabolics was more made for gaining bulk and muscle mass but designers have managed to engineer substances that help cut weight, increase stamina and recovery time, etc.
This is a sport were fewer than 10 percent of the boxers make more than 90 percent of the money. Has been for some time. But go back far enough and a good but not contender or championship-level fighter could actually make a living boxing as a career. He could put food on his table, have steady work in the clubs with steady paydays and occasional bonanzas where he garners a large purse from a bigger fight.
Now the truly successful — that 10 percent — can also make enough once they’ve risen to or near the top to fight 2-3 times a year. You don’t learn the craft when fighting so infrequently, but you also don’t take on the wear and tear. Those elite fighters can stay viable for more years than if they’d have had to fight 10-20 or more times a year as was once common.
There have been boosts along the way — the prominence of boxing on TV in the 1970s and 80s, the advent of casinos outside of Las Vegas (and Atlantic City) which put on regular cards and could pay above the ‘going rate’ and thus creating a boxing economy.
But as the sport (in the U.S.) began to fade from TV screens and casinos turned to other forms of entertainment, the amount of available work dried up and thus the amount of boxers to perform that labor shrank accordingly.
The boxing economy has taken a steady and more lately a drastic downturn, thus fewer and fewer potential boxers ever wander into a gym to take up the sport. Add the rise of MMA and a good percentage of guys who might once have followed the dream of a boxing career now pursue a career in the octagon.
So I’d say boxing isn’t what it used to be, fighters aren’t what they used to be, but exceptional athletic talents bolstered by modern training and nutrition probably do signify some form of improvement and evolution in some ways.
Very good post.
I think that you can distill it down further.
Stylistically, rubber soled shoes and big gloves with attached thumbs made significant difference.
The whole protect the 0 mentality vs getting paid as a percentage of a live gate. When boxing depended on an audience, you could lose, put on a good show, and be back. Not any more.
And it used to be that everyone understood that you could lose, learn, and come back better for it. That isn't the case today.
In my opinion, there is too much emphasis placed on your amateur career; that is where you "really" learn and that you enter the pros as a finished product. The learning really begins, or should, when you turn pro. Amateur and professional trainers are one and the same now and it didn't used to be that way.
I look at boxers like RPG characters, all with their own unique skill trees.
We’ve seen it all from the best of the best: Dancers, Bob and Weavers, Dynamite Punchers, Elusive Geniuses, Clinch Masters, Jab Heros, Intimidators.
Some fight with their hands low, some high. Some move around the ring fast, others set their feet down. Some seek openings, others create them.
The differences are vast, and abundant.
And this is why I laugh when some people here insinuate that learning “modern” Boxing 101 makes them a better boxer, then say, Jim Corbett.
The best boxers make it further down their own unique skill tree than other boxers, regardless of what their style is. An elite bob and weaver will demolish an average textbook fighter. And an elite textbook fighter will demolish the average bob and weaver.
There are trainers out there (and wanna-be trainers) who swear by certain methods, in order to promote their own self worth in the fight game. Abundantly blind to the nuances and varied nature of what makes a great fighter great.