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. SheenLantern

    SheenLantern Active Member Full Member

    Jan 13, 2016
    This is probably true but I would argue computer chess has actually been detrimental to the skill of modern chess masters, memorising lines has become the #1 priority and has lead to a decline in tactical skill. I'd argue prime Karpov and Kasparov would wipe the floor with modern grandmasters in Chess960.
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  2. SheenLantern

    SheenLantern Active Member Full Member

    Jan 13, 2016
    To answer your question here, boxing as a whole has declined pretty starkly since the 70s-90s, in terms of prestige and money, it's a far less attractive for elite athletes as a career. If you're an absolute freak of nature athletically, it just makes so much more sense to play football or basketball than to box.

    Training methods and technique may have improved in boxing, but the overall share of the world's athletic talent occupied by boxing has gone down significantly.
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  3. Bukkake

    Bukkake Boxing Addict Full Member

    Apr 20, 2010
    Let me guess... you're American, right?
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2021
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    May 17, 2021
    TY knows nothing about chess.

    The argument you give is wrong, but even worse the two guys you chose as your example are prime examples of guys who would play extremely positional chess and rely heavily on theory knowledge.
  5. NEETzschean

    NEETzschean Well-Known Member banned Full Member

    Feb 23, 2021
    "boxing as a whole has declined pretty starkly since the 70s-90s, in terms of prestige and money"

    Basketball, baseball and grid iron were very popular back then as well. You're going to need to provide a source for that claim.

    American heavyweight boxing was already on the decline relative to the rest of the world (much of which wasn't formerly allowed to compete outside the amateurs, funnily enough) in the 90's. Lewis was better than all of the Americans and the majority of the Ring magazine (American publication) heavyweight top 10 were non-American by 1999. The 90's was also regarded as a garbage era at the time. If you go back to the 70's you'll see freak athletes such as Duane Bobick, Chuck Wepner, Domingo D'Elia, Jose Roman, Kallie Knoetze, Scott LeDoux and Randy Neumann as top 11 Ring HW's, year in and year out and many boxers (such as Frazier or Tyson) would be rubbish at any other sport.
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  6. EnzoRD

    EnzoRD Well-Known Member Full Member

    Apr 21, 2008
    Boxing has grown as a Worldwide sport since the 70-90s.

    And yet the biggest fight ever in terms of money was in 2015.

    Being good at one sport does not translate to being good at another sport, and it being great at one sport certainly doesn't translate to being great at another.

    We're actually witnessed the opposite. Since the 90s, boxing has become a worldwide sport. Especially in the bigger weight divisions, before that it was just Americans fighting each other and the odd Brit.

    The ban on pro-boxing being lifted in Eastern Europe (population of 300 million), meant that boxers like Oleksandr Usyk, Vasyl Lomachenko, Vitali Klitschko, Sergey Kovalev, Gennady Golovkin, Arter Beterbiev, Dimtry Bivol could become pro boxers and become champion. The Klitschko brothers ironically would have been politicians and sports scientists instead of boxers.

    The fall of the Soviet Union changed the boxing landscape forever, Wladimir Klitschko would have been some random sports scientist that no one ever heard of instead of being one of the most dominant heavyweights in history. Plus, boxing has never been bigger in Japan, Thailand, Philipines, the UK.
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  7. Pugilist_Spec

    Pugilist_Spec Hands Of Stone Full Member

    Aug 17, 2015
    Well. There's a lot of arguments to be made for both cases here. I'm usually in the camp that old timers would have a lot of success nowadays. I believe that to be the case because I watch full fights and think their ability matches up just fine. I'll talk about the heavyweight division in particular because it's the one I follow the most and because the size gap between modern day fighters and past ones is the most apparent in this division.

    My argument is this. Past fighters can do pretty much everything a modern fighter does in the ring. And a lot more on top of that. They are more well-rounded, technical, clever and multi dimensional. Lot/s of past fighters had great head movement. And I mean consistent head movement, throughout the whole fight, not a fluke dodge before eating 3 punches in the face or putting up a high guard because you're too limited to slip and get inside or counter. You look at a fighter like Sonny Liston, in his era he was described as slow and plodding, but compared to the average heavyweight of today he was a tehnical wizard. He was about as good defensively as Chris Byrd. So was Joe Frazier. All you need to do is turn on the fights and watch them. Liston holds up a high guard, slips punches extremely well, pivots, counters, everything. Fraziers bob and weave was incredible, fast, erratic and non stop for 15 rounds. Sam Peter managed to bob and weave for about 10 seconds against Wlad Klitschko before realizing that he didn't have enough energy for that. And I'm not exaggerating here.

    Tactics is another thing. Going up against a tricky opponent lots of fighters would work out a tactic facing him, with their trainer. They would change and adapt their styles, do something to throw their opponent off and negate their advantage. You barely see that nowadays. Most boxers, especially heavyweight boxers are pretty much carbon copies of each other. Stand flatfooted, jab, throw the ocassional power punch, hold up a high guard. Little to no innovation. Following these guidelines, the taller, bigger man will inevitably be the winner. Usyk came in with a plan against Joshua and dethroned him. Chris Byrd was a smart and tricky fighter even though he realistically was a pudgy MW/LHW who didn't have a proper heavyweight frame/power and he gave lots of guys a headache. These guys are hailed as some boxing gurus nowadays but they aren't doing anything special...the skill level has just dropped of tremendously. Watch some of the 80s fighters like Dokes, Tubbs, Witherspoon, Thomas, these guys are hardly considered great yet their boxing ability is just as good as the best heavys around today.

    People will believe what they want to believe. Some folks prefer big muscles, huge power and quick knockouts and they will not be impressed with a guy who was more technical and knew how to fight. Especially if he's not some lumbering 250 pound oaf. But its been proven time and time again that a skilled fighter with a good plan can overcome any monster, no matter the size difference. Usyk proved it just recently, going up against the epitome of the modern and superior athlete AJ, who also got knocked out by a fat dude who likes to fight and has balls.
  8. mrbigshot

    mrbigshot New Member Full Member

    Oct 29, 2021
    I think we are mixing two scenarios in this discussion :

    1) time travel a current top score hw some decades back and just put him in the ring with a top score hw at those times - both bring their trainers , boxing knowledge , nutrition , medicine , training equipment etc from their own era into the fight .

    2) reincarnate a top talent and his trainer of the past forward so he is in his prime now and give him access to the latest professional boxing training technology and knowledge .

    Scenario 1 is all about threads like "xxx in his prime vs. yyy"

    In scenario 1 i strongly believe muhammad ali would NOT wipe the floor with usyks or furys head.

    Scenario 2 is an interesting question i struggle to have an opinion .

    Best regards
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  9. NEETzschean

    NEETzschean Well-Known Member banned Full Member

    Feb 23, 2021
    I've watched old fights too and I'm not especially impressed. A young Ali looks like a club fighter with very good athleticism for his day to my eyes. But then again, many good ol' time nostalgists probably think that Usyk and 60's Euro champ Karl Mildenberger are on the same level. A 250 lbs behemoth like Peter isn't going to be as fast or agile as a 205 lbs cruiser like Frazier but as we've seen you don't have to be fast or agile to KO him in 2 rounds if you're a big guy who can hold a shot and punch hard.

    I'm puzzled though: how have training standards and skills fallen off so badly since the 80's? How is there so much lost knowledge in such a lucrative sport and zero innovation in four decades? How is boxing a unique sport that has fallen into the dark ages, when it wasn't even global back then? Those 80's ABC champs must have also had terrific discipline to learn and apply all of those slick skills while at the same time holding down a crack addiction.
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  10. djanders

    djanders Boxing Addict Full Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    Without getting into a long, drawn out, boring analysis (which I have neither the time nor energy for today), I'll simply say the following: I believe Modernists have some good points and, no doubt, in general, modern boxers have certain advantages, in head to head comparisons. (My family and I are putting together an all-time list that takes that into account.) I do believe that many Modernists overstate the advantages. for many reasons, especially in boxing. The people who favor only old timers often do the same. I believe the truth is in the middle of the two extremes. So, while Modern fighters have advantages, in general, there have been exceptions throughout the years, and there are certainly (in my view) SOME old timers, who could compete very effectively against the modern boxers, on a level playing field, including watching videos of their modern opponents, and training individually for the fights.
  11. djanders

    djanders Boxing Addict Full Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    You're trying to "think it through!" Big KUDOS for that!
  12. Pugilist_Spec

    Pugilist_Spec Hands Of Stone Full Member

    Aug 17, 2015
    If you're not impressed, that's your problem. Ali was an exceptionally athletically gifted fighter and obviously he wasn't exactly fundamentally sound because he didn't need to be. He had his own style which revolved around his gifts. He had fast hands, underrated power, great timing and probably the sharpest reflexes in boxing ever. Go watch his fight with Ernie Terell, the full fight. Terell couldn't land a glove on him and he was 3 inches taller with longer hands, and he was putting together combos with good speed, fluidity and balance. And when I say couldn't land a glove, I literally mean that. That is the greatest display of reflexes and uncanny dogding that no heavyweight has replicated ever since. If you can't see it, you don't know what you're watching.
    And I never mentioned Mildenberger, stop putting words in my mouth. I think Usyk is about as good as Holyfield.

    Foreman did a lot more in that fight than punch hard. He was pushing Frazier around the ring (illegal btw) forcing him to reset and was nailing him with uppercuts and hooks from downward angles with great power. Foreman was unique in his way of punching and obviously had unique power. Even a fat Foreman who was a shell of himself in every other parameter aside from power was elite in a similar era in which Peter fought. Peter was barely elite in his own.

    And you don't have to compare Frazier to Peter. Compare Frazier to the cruiserweights today. Watch Usyk vs Gassiev. Gassiev is some sort of elite fighter and he's basically a punching bag with power. Frazier is a lot quicker and more defensively tight than him. A LOT.

    Simple. America was the center of pro boxing for most of the 20th century. Boxing was arguably the most popular sport during that time, and there were a ton of fighters around, but more importantly, a ton of fights between them. If a boxer has 100 pro fights, or 200 pro fights, he's going to be a lot more skilled and cagey than a boxer who has 30 or 40 career fights. Because gym work and light sparring can in no way substitute actual pro fights. With the number of fights per fighter dropping in each decade, guys simply didn't learn quite as much as they used to do, but there were still a ton of great trainers around to show them the ropes. When those guys died off, you were basically left with fighters and trainers who average 1 or 2 fights a year at best and focus more on athletic ability than skill. This is obvious from watching fighters today.

    Cuban and USSR fighters never had the skills of past fighters simply because they were amateurs for most of the 20th century. When they turned pro they had simple and standard euro styles. That's why Klitschko dropped his european trainers and went to Manny Steward who was one of the last great trainers around. Manny turned him from a good contender to an ATG. Only now, after 30 years of pro boxing are we seeing greatly skilled fighters from the former Soviet Union like Lomachenko and Usyk, who learned their trade back home.
  13. Heavy_Hitter

    Heavy_Hitter Boxing Addict Full Member

    Jul 7, 2018
    Usyk showed that good smaller boxers can beat good big boxers.
  14. Holler

    Holler Doesn't appear to be a paid matchroom PR shill Full Member

    Mar 12, 2018
    If I ever (foolishly) succumb to the 'who would win between historic and current fighter' question I usually decide that all other variables, nutrition, training facilities etc are equal, so Ali has had the same sports science as Fury. Otherwise the already sketchy comparisons become farcical.

    Still the better answer is the one both you and Fury in his post fight presser gave. Judge them on how they did against the other fighters of their era.
  15. Finkel

    Finkel Active Member Full Member

    Feb 10, 2020
    Usyk showed that an incredibly talented boxer can make up for the size gap.
    But yes of course, a good smaller boxer can beat a good big boxer, but "a good big guy beats a good small guy" is a maxim for a reason. I just feel like the discussion should be about consistency at the top level. For example, could a smaller boxer consistently beat much larger opposition.

    But I am excited to see what Usyk does over the next 2 years
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2021
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