Why isn't Jack Johnson mentioned in GOAT convos?

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by MoneyMay1, Sep 16, 2021.

  1. janitor

    janitor Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Feb 15, 2006
    I think that Johnson had been a lot better before he fought Willard, and so it seems did everybody at the time.

    If there was a better version of Willard than the one that beat Johnson, then I don't know which one it was!
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  2. janitor

    janitor Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Feb 15, 2006
    The problem that the greats of the past have, is that modern fans either stand too far away from their records, or too close to them.

    They can't see the significance of their key fights, because they are looking at a group of forgotten men, and they often underestimate the value of the wins.

    Fair enough, its not an era that the specialize in.

    Then to add insult to injury, they can't seem to take a step back, and see the broader pattern.

    They just run their eye down the boxers record, look decide how much each name impresses them.

    They don't look at things like how many name fighters this champion beat, how frequently they fought, the time between their fights, or their circumstances at the time.

    If they did, then a lot of people would see Jack Sharkey in a whole new light for example.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2021
  3. Kamikaze

    Kamikaze Bye for now! Full Member

    Oct 12, 2020
    We will put a pen in it for now. I have chocolate pancakes to eat. Aha
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  4. Fogger

    Fogger Member Full Member

    Aug 9, 2021
    When I was a kid (The 1960s) Johnson was always mentioned in elite heavyweight conversations. It was Dempsey, Louis, Marciano and Johnson. Later on Ali was added to that list. There are others now, of course.

    I believe there is a bit of recency bias involved. As MM!'s questioned noted, Johnson is not mentioned that often. Dempsey is also losing his foothold in the conversation amongst the regular folks. As those who watched a fighter start to die off, word of his skills and greatness don't get passed down and memory of the figher starts to fade.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2021
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  5. cross_trainer

    cross_trainer Bergeron Avatar Club Full Member

    Jun 30, 2005
    Notice that the most enduring guys on the top 10 list come after the rise of good film.
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  6. Fogger

    Fogger Member Full Member

    Aug 9, 2021
    Absolutely. Hearsay and books are one thing but seeing something with your own eyes is much more convincing.
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  7. catchwtboxing

    catchwtboxing Boxing Junkie Full Member

    Jul 4, 2014
    Ali and Louis are co-GOAT at heavy.

    Johnson is a top ten, but I make the argument that Queensbury boxing history is now so long with so many fighters and changes to the sport, even top ten is a meaningless metric.
  8. BCS8

    BCS8 Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Aug 21, 2012
    Under modern rules maybe Willard fights a different fight.

    Regardless, if you actually look at enough Willard footage, you'll realise that this good ol' farmboy actually can't box worth a lick. No ATG should be going life and death with him, regardless of his size.

    The difference is that Larry frickin Holmes would clean up both Johnson and Willard before lunch. He's on another level.

    I'll grant you that Johnson's age made it hard for him against Willard. But Willard had size and heart and that's about it. It shouldn't be enough to close the gap with an ATG and yet it was.
  9. McGrain

    McGrain Diamond Dog Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2007
    I don't undestand your question then. I've seen Jack Johnson postualted as reasonable for the number three slot many times in the hsitory of just this forum.
  10. ETM

    ETM I thought I did enough to win. Full Member

    Mar 19, 2012
    I'm sure Johnson received offers everyday. After Jeffries and those race riots do you think its realistic that he could have accepted the challenge from one of those black fighters? Those "rich offers" were a figment of somebody else's imagination. Two black fighters fighting for the Heavyweight Title? Not in America, not then. Maybe later on in Europe it could have been a possibility.
    Jack O'Brien could have gotten a shot and at the end of the day it would have been looked at similar to the Ketchel bout. Johnson had extreme circumstances though he did what most champions do he went where he got the most $. The best $ certainly wasn't with those tough black fighters.
    I not gonna claim to know what or who he wasn't afraid of. It didn't appear to be much. Especially considering he already had beaten them all.
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  11. The Fighting Yoda

    The Fighting Yoda Active Member Full Member

    Jan 5, 2021
    All these Mythical Matchups can be fun, but I think boxers should be judged in the context of their time. Boxing styles should also be judged accordingly. Nobody would say, for example, Pythagoras was a dumb guy, that little geometry, I can even calculate with logarithm or something like that.
    However, I think it's interesting to know how big the talent pool was at the respective time.

    Would Jack Johnson lose to strong modern heavyweights? Quite possible, at least under modern rules which are often taken for granted but developed historically.
    Would more modern boxers exist without bare knuckle fights, guys like James Figg, Jem Mace, John L Sullivan, James Corbett, Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey etc.? Of course not, history is a continuous process and builds on one another.

    If you look at other sports. I nearly know nothing about American sports. Anyway, what would happen if somebody says Babe Ruth is trash. He has no chance against modern baseball players, I guess many people would be very pissed off due to this disrespect.
    What's up with Bill Tilden or Rod Laver vs. Federer/Djokovic/Nadal.
    Or Pele against modern soccer players? I wouldn't be surprised if young Maradona would be on his last legs if he suddenly had to play fast, modern football (Champions League or Premier League etc.). Would it change their overall greatness? Of course not!

    But back to Jack Johnson. He grew up in poverty at a time when a healthy and varied nutrition was anything but a matter of course. Medical care was poor and no one cared for a young black man with boxing ambitions. It was a time with race riots and battle royals, corruption, fixed fights, newspaper decisions... A black world champion was unwanted. Nonetheless, he made it to the top. Next to his Worldchampion Title (1908-1915), he was World Colored Heavyweight Champion (1903-1908) with 17 defenses. Maybe some of his opponents were still green or not at their best, but it wasn't his fault. In the end, contemporary witnesses can judge it better (boxrec records etc. are incomplete and they saw the fighters, their strength, and the circumstances etc.)
    Anyway, very strong track record.

    All in all, he was title holder from 1903 - 1915 which is very impressive.
    Of course, it's not one universial title and he maybe ducked some great fighters as a worldchampion (Langford etc.). But okay, without a certain amount of selfishness, he probably would never have gotten this far (especially under these tough conditions).

    Howsoever, what's up with other world champions?
    Apart from Jack Johnson, "Battling" Jim Johnson, Joe Louis and John Henry Lewis (his last fight and he was almost blind in one eye) there was no other black boxer who could fight for the title until the end of the Second World War. For instance, Jack Dempsey didn't fight 1922 and between Firpo and Tunney (around three years).
    Taking into account, faked rankings, corruption and all those alphabet belts later...

    I think Jack Johnson's title reign is really a great achievement.
    He liked gambling, women and fast cars and didn't have a trainer/mentor like Jack Blackburn. Anyway, when Johnson was in his prime and in shape, I think he was as dominant and strong as any other great Champion. He taunted, laughed at and played with Tommy Burns (and was already 3 years older than worldchampion Burns) …rose after his knockdown and immediately knocked Stanley Ketchel unconscious etc.
    Perhaps a few reasons why some contemporary witnesses rated him very highly.
  12. Marcus_Italicus

    Marcus_Italicus New Member Full Member

    Oct 13, 2019
    Lots of offers were out there to fight Langford, Jeannette and Mcvey, yet not one of them worked out. This includes offers in Australia by HD McIntosh, the man who promoted Johnson vs Burns.
    Jeannette's testimonial. He said and I quote, " When Jack became champion he forgot his own friends and drew the color line against this own people "

    For example, Johnson pulled out of signed contract to fight Langford in 1909.
    Johnson beated Langford, Jeannette and McVey but …
    Langford was 20 years old with a listed weight of 156 pounds. Sam says he was in the 140's
    Jeannette was a raw novice
    McVey was a teenager for all three fights and inexperienced.
    That's when Johnson beat them. When the three matured, he would not go near them in the ring.

    For example, he declined offert to fight with Langford
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    Good day
  13. SolomonDeedes

    SolomonDeedes Active Member Full Member

    Nov 15, 2011
    Later that year Johnson was offered his asking price of $30,000 to fight Langford and accepted. The bout was cancelled because of the war.

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  14. ironchamp

    ironchamp Boxing Addict Full Member

    Sep 5, 2004
    I have Johnson at #3 in my ATG Heavyweight list right below Louis and Ali.
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  15. robert ungurean

    robert ungurean Богдан Full Member

    Jun 9, 2007
    Clutch and grabber who liked to hold and hit. Slapping left hook. No thanku
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