Why would we expect historic heavyweights to do well in the modern day?

Discussion in 'World Boxing Forum' started by VOXDEI, Oct 29, 2021.

  1. IsaL

    IsaL Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Oct 7, 2006
    The skill level between today's HWs and the 90s HWs is very apperant.

    David Tua would be a champion today just like Wilder was, but Tua could actually move and feint, and was more explosive.

    John Ruiz would be a top HW champion, and would probably wear Fury down and tire him by making him miss using his unorthodox style.

    Lennox Lewis would be invincible.
    Mike_b likes this.
  2. ForemanJab

    ForemanJab Boxing Junkie Full Member

    May 8, 2014
    The older guys would have access to modern training methodology and drugs. A twig like Wilder gains close to 20lbs of pure muscle in less than 18 months at 35 yrs old and nobody bats an eye. Guys like Liston or Foreman would be competing at over 240lbs if they were around today.
  3. red corner

    red corner Active Member banned Full Member

    Oct 9, 2021
    Modern day super heavies are trained differently. They are as much as 2-3 weight classes above many classic men, more skilled may more than Willard of Carnera ( who at best are moderately skilled ) and trained for fight 12 rounds. There is such as thing was too heavy for a man's frame so adding 20 pounds to Louis or Ali wouldn't help, it would hurt them.
    Mike_b likes this.
  4. Pepsi Dioxide

    Pepsi Dioxide Well-Known Member Full Member

    Oct 22, 2020
    They would adjust and do fine. People are bigger today on average than they were 100-120 years ago. With better childhood nutrition and PEDs the old timers would be bigger.
  5. It's Ovah

    It's Ovah I am very physically stay humble Full Member

    Sep 5, 2016
    Agree with this.

    Disagree with this. Have you seen some of the slobs the HW division has been privy to these past few years? Solis, Arreola, Ruiz, even Fury? What nutritional information and health science did these guys bother to employ when they were stuffing their faces with whatever junk food they had at hand? I agree the knowledge is there, but having the knowledge and using it are two very different things. At HW, only Usyk, Joshua, maybe Wilder and a few others, really take care of their bodies year round. That's an attitude thing, and many HW's today lack it.

    I'd also argue that the importance of nutrition was very much understood in the early half of the twentieth century, at least in its foundational principles. Read Dempsey and you'll see him outline a diet that isn't a million miles away from a modern athlete's diet. It's the little things that have changed, but how many HW boxers take advantage of them?

    Again, having the information available to you and actually bothering to use it are two different things. Very few boxers have the brains or the inclination to go deep diving into old HW fights to examine long forgotten techniques in detail and attempt to integrate them into their own skillsets. Some do, Fury for instance, but most of the time they just do whatever they're taught in the gym by trainers who by and large aren't any more curious in this regard than they are.

    Bit of a tricky one to evaluate. PEDs are certainly superior in many regards to the PEDs of earlier generations, but testing is also a lot stricter so compensatory factors have to come into play. Fighters from the eighties and early nineties were basically operating in a kind of Wild West where anything goes, which is also the time we started seeing some of the truly freakish looking heavyweights that I'd argue we've never seen since. Nowadays a fighter can't afford to just inject whatever experimental crap into their veins as possible and expect to get away with it for long (Miller being a prime example). There are a ton more roadblocks, not always fairly applied or 100% effective ones, but they're there.

    Why is Lewis being lumped in with Ali and Foreman here? I'd argue he's far closer to the modern era than theirs. And yeah he probably would wipe the floor with most HWs today. That's pretty evident on the eye test. Skills can be measured against subsequent generations when those generations are relatively close in time to one's own, and while comparing say Joe Louis's era to today is a bit of an impossibility, comparing the 90s to the modern era certainly isn't.

    Ali and Foreman I think struggle a bit in the modern era, and I'd bet on someone like Usyk beating both of them. But Usyk is very much an old school heavyweight himself in terms of size and his priority on skill over physicality. I don't see anyone operating in the 60s that would have massive success today. Liston would be the obvious candidate, and maybe a bulked up Cleveland Williams. Ali would likely fight at CW or even LHW using today's extreme weight cutting methods (bit of a stretch though).


    May 17, 2021
    I ****ed myself, in that my phone autocorrected a mispell of Louis to Lewis and everyone thought I meant Lennox.

    Other than that, helpful thread, cheers.


    May 17, 2021
    While I dont agree with the assessment that some have made that Lennox would be dominant in this era, I do agree he probably wouldnt look out of place.

    I did mean Joe Louis, phone autocorrected I think and I didnt notice, or I just got it wrong, I had had a few drinks anything is possible.
    Finkel likes this.


    May 17, 2021
    One point I shouldn't need to clarify is that I dont think EVERY heavyweight from today would beeat EVERY heavy from the 60s.

    These arguments are for incremental generational improvements, which imply the guy at the top today, would beat everyone from the 60s, or indeed any era, but not that anyone in the top 30 would be flattening Foreman just by virtue of being more modern.

    That said, I suspect they'd do better than many here would agree. Taking Ruiz as an example, as others have used him to counter nutrition arguments, he's an outlier in terms of his fatness today, but it didnt prevent him getting the KO on AJ and he sits currently at No. 6 on the Ring rankings. Sure, he'll probably slip down the rankings and end up in the top 20, but, I think it's silly to think that because he'd also be fat in the 90s he'd therefore get btfo'd.
    cross_trainer likes this.
  9. Tankatron

    Tankatron Boxing Addict Full Member

    Jun 1, 2014
    I think the HW's of old like the Louis, Listons, Marcianos, Walcott, Charles would be able to compete because they were products of their time, a time in which they fought more often, competition was far tighter due to there only being one belt.

    The gloves they wore back then would have been like swinging baseball bats at each other. They were products of hard times and the toughness we see in Fury for example was common place in the post war era; just watch Marciano V Walcott and you'll see in The Rock a man who literally had a super human ability to sustain and weather huge amounts of punishment only to KO Walcott out cold in absolutely chilling fashion in the 13th round.

    And then if you look further down the weights, SRR would not only hold up in any era, he would absolutely dominate. A man who literally had it all; a never before seen combo of 'modern' technique', superb combination puncher, blistering hand speed, excellent foot movement, ring IQ, 15 round gas tank, iron chin and iron will to win.

    If the likes of Wilder and Usyk being at the smaller end of the scale can have great success at HW, so can many of the past greats. Then if you put past fighters in their appropriate fight weights, the likes of Patterson, Marciano, Charles, Louis would have been wrecking machines at CW.

    Lewis should never even enter the convo as many see him as the original template for the first truly great 'modern era Super Heavy' and is and likely always will be a H2H monster.
    Loudon and DarkHorse901 like this.
  10. lucky luke

    lucky luke Well-Known Member Full Member

    May 18, 2013
    1 does this larger acces result in a larger number of (competing) participants? Otherwise its quite irrelevant.

    2 does boxers today really train "scientific"? Why does it then differ so much from coach to coach and gym to gym? (If there was a scientific way to train, then everybody would train the same way.) And can the ones like Tyson and Kovalev be Said to train and use modern day knowledge about nutrition etc?

    3 boxning cant be taught online. Its a tacit knowledge, and therefore dies off of it isnt taught and maintained. And more information isnt neccesarily better information (especially if its conflicting information).

    4 Id say boxning is mainly about technique, and physique second.
    Loudon likes this.
  11. MagicE

    MagicE Active Member Full Member

    Aug 16, 2017
    Yes you are right, training methods have improved so much that 40 years ago boxers could go 15 rounds, on their toes throughout, with a high punch output, whilst today even some of the absolute top tier completely gas out after 6-7 rounds after throwing a few power punches.

    Training methods have improved so much that heavyweights of today have much better footwork, head movement, and punch selection than fighters of the past...

    Yes the larger gene pool gives us fringe contenders that are such physical specimens in peak condition, such as kownacki, babic, and even a top 10 fighter in ruiz...

    The only advantage that modern heavies have is size due to removal of the super heavyweight division.

    I'm not dismissing all modern heavyweights and yes fury is a H2H nightmare for a lot of greats, but we have this recency bias and think everything improves all the time, that's not always the case and the reality is that boxing isn't motor racing, there isn't a technology element to it. There is only so far you can push your body.

    The human body has been around for years, do you really think because you hit the gym 3 times a week and you're wearing a fitbit and eat a pre-packaged salad for lunch that you're stronger and fitter than a spartan or roman gladiator?
  12. MorvidusStyle

    MorvidusStyle Well-Known Member Full Member

    Jul 11, 2017
    I'd say it's got nothing to do with 'diet and training methods', it's all about size and PEDs and more time for dedicated training due to pro sport money.

    The people are bigger due to the medical technology of the ''Western World'' reducing sickness in the youth. Abundant food has been there for a long time.

    The athlete diet thing is so laughable when you know how badly so many of these guys actually eat, the binging stories are pretty widely known. The training methods are largely laughable fitness industry spin, the only major difference being weight training for bulk, but that's where PEDs come in anyway. I'd say a lot of fighters possibly do train more these days because they have the luxury to.

    So you have far bigger boxers in every weight division and way more PEDs and more dedicated training. That's why they beat the old ones most of the time.
    cross_trainer likes this.
  13. NEETzschean

    NEETzschean Well-Known Member banned Full Member

    Feb 23, 2021
    Small men can typically throw more punches in a fight than big men, especially if they're fighting other small men who can't stay out of range or wear them down with power, weight-bullying and pressure. Fighters 100 years ago would sometimes fight 40 rounds but not at any pace. A couple of years ago, morbidly obese Kownacki and washed up Arreola broke Ike and Tua's punch stat record and completely smashed the much lighter Ali and Frazier's highest number over 15. Charles Martin won a vacant belt and at HW there's usually a puncher's chance, some absolutely dreadful fighters from the past could be champs today with politics or luck on their side sure but that applies to any era.
    cross_trainer and catchwtboxing like this.
  14. NEETzschean

    NEETzschean Well-Known Member banned Full Member

    Feb 23, 2021
    For me, the most basic argument is that every single athletic pursuit where performance can be measured has improved over the last 50 years, with more records being broken all the time, so boxing (which is far more complex and thus has more far scope to raise standards in than the 100M sprint) is no different. Boxing is also a far wealthier athletic pursuit than most, which makes finding an edge more lucrative.

    Boxing fans tend to be very nostalgic and hate to believe that top fighters today or in 50 years time would be able to beat, let alone play with, their favourite childhood fighter. Others have their agendas: the American/Western boxing media isn't going to like the idea that the Klitschkos are much better than their heroes from decades before.
    VOXDEI likes this.
  15. mrbigshot

    mrbigshot New Member Full Member

    Oct 29, 2021
    Hello !

    I mentioned it in another thread :

    In every sport discipline overall performance has significantly increased and current world records by far outperform world records valid 50 years ago .

    Even a chess master in his prime 50 years ago would clearly loose against the current chess master .

    I do not see why boxing should be the only discipline its the opposite ?