One of the most bizarre arguments against Wladimir Klitschko that he wins only by out-talling or out-weighing his opponents.
First of all, complaining about body features in a contact sport is ridiculous. If someone has, say, long arms and strong pectoral muscles then it's idiotic to blame him for
- starting a career in martial arts
- benefiting from his long arms
- using his muscles
- having longer arms and more muscles than his opponent
If someone wouldn't have certain body features he wouldn't be in the boxing business in the first place.
Second of all: If you don't like body features to out-dominate the opponent's body features, then watch sub-heavyweight divisions. There is an upper weight limit in lower divisions and therefore all boxers are approximately same-sized.
But accusing a heavyweight boxer of being heavy is like accusing a featherweight of being too light.
The heavyweight division is the only division where it's explicitly allowed to outweigh your opponents by an unlimited amount of pounds, hence complaining about a boxer for being as heavy as he is, is complaining about the core definition of "heavyweight division".
Height and reach advantages of a boxer
Let me start off with a general remark about the height and reach of a boxer:
Very often the exact height and reach figures are unknown (or wrong), even for famous boxers. Hence arguing with height and reach is often very unreliable.
Take for example Wladimir Klitschko vs Paea Wolfgramm.
Klitschko and Wolfgramm met both at the Olympic Games 1996 (gold medal finals) and in the professional boxing ring, therefore Wolfgramm's height is both listed at Olympic websites (and therefore WikiPedia) and at BoxRec.
But, wait, what is that?
Paea's height is listed as 6'4" at BoxRec and 6'1"(!) at Wikipedia. Klitschko's height is listed at 6'6" at BoxRec and 6'5" at Wikipedia.
The same applies to other boxers. George Foreman's reach is listed at BoxRec.com as 82", yet as 78.5" in the old TV broadcasts.
Heights and reaches given are often unreliable. And in many cases they are completely unknown. The longer ago a fight took place the less known are the heights: Approx. 60% of Rocky Marciano's opponents' heights are unknown.
This applies even more so to the reach of a boxer. Reaches are unknown in even more cases than heights.
ADDITIONALLY the reach of a boxer is rather useless even when known, because the reach of a boxer includes FINGER LENGTH.
Sometimes another figure is given ("arm length") which is measured from the arm pit to the end of the fist (= without finger length). But this figure is also misleading because the RANGE of a boxer includes also the shoulder span and leg length (and other factors). Thus even if a boxer would out-reach his opponent he still might be out-ranged himself.
Does height matter at heavyweight boxing?
When you check the history of boxing then you will find out that TALL boxers were never really good. That is the reason why basketball-player-shaped boxers (like ·Marcellus Brown) never achieved anything in the ring.
Marcellus Brown (7'0") weighed everything from 190+ lbs to 280+ lbs and showed up in athletic and less athletic shapes, and he only compiled a bummy record of 26-17 (with 13 KO losses). Whether you take Marcellus Brown 7'0" or Jameel McLine 6'6" (who is not that bummy) or others like Julius Long 7'1":
The boxers with the best records of the past were all around 6'2" and/or somewhat chubby (Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson, Evan Fields, Rocky Marciano, Nikolay Valuev, Primo Carnera). Throughout the history of boxing these were the 2 winning factors: Chubbiness and/or 6'2"-ishness.
It's only now (= with the advent of Lennox Lewis and the Klitschkos) that for the first time in boxing history tall+athletic boxers rule the division. That's basically a combination never seen before.
But instead of considering this as a proof of the quality of the Klitschkos (= being successful DESPITE their athleticism and their tallness), Klitschko haters use it against them by claiming "The Klitschkos dominate only because all potential boxers are in the National Basketball Association".
Well, basketball was around for ages, but tall+good boxers are only around since the Klitschkos.
The same applies to American Football. American Football exists since ages, yet the tall bulky muscular types were nowhere to be seen in decades.
Additionally basketball and American Football are mainly US sports. Tall men from other countries do NOT go into basketball or football. The boxing pool is NOT drained by basketball or football. Big muscular men usually don't go to boxing, because big muscular men usually don't perform well at boxing.
Whether basketball-player-tall men show a mediocre performance at heavyweight because of
- thinner necks (= weaker chin)
- longer legs (= easier out-of-balance when hit or when wildly missing a punch)
- longer arms (= slower, telegraphed punches)
- taller bodies (= easier gassing because the heart has top pump blood higher)
- less muscles (= because the weight consists mainly of bones and inner organs)
is an interesting academic question. But the fact remains, that basketball players have an disadvantage at boxing, just as smaller boxers have an disadvantage at basketball.
In fact there are MANY boxers taller than the Klitschkos but only the Klitschkos have piled up their impressive records. That there are only so little good TALL boxers shows that height does not substitute quality.
So, yes, height does matter, but only if the height difference is huge (e.g. Mike Tyson vs McBride). Otherwise quality and weight are much more important.
An often heard variation of this complaint is "All past greats won against taller-than-self opponents and the Klitschkos didn't".
But this is a cherry-picked statistic ("designed flaw") like you can make them up by dozens, even against the greats of the past e.g. "Muhammad Ali is worse than Wladimir Klitschko because he didn't win against an unbeaten non-bummy southpaw" or similar, see Of Klitards and CLAYtons. This is the most retarded boxing blog ever and I won't bother to read it! –> "Designing a cherry-pick statistic"
Additionally the reason why the Klitschkos didn't beat boxers who were taller-than-self is not that they LOST to them or DUCKED them. It's simply that the Klitschkos are so tall that it's hard to find anyone of similar height and quality. The only worth mentioning opponent would be ·Nikolay Valuev (7'2"), but he retired after getting beaten by Ruslan Chagaev and then by David Haye, and then both, Chagaev and Haye, got beaten by Wladimir Klitschko.
Moreover, both Klitschkos _DID_ face (and beat) opponents who were pretty much the same height.
Vitali Klitschko vs Tomasz Adamek
Yet Adamek already won against TALLER boxers and against HEAVIER boxers (he fought 4 boxers heavier than Vitali Klitschko, actually up to 42 lbs heavier than Vitali Klitschko).
Additionally Tomasz Adamek is a superb boxer with a solid chin and is a multiple world champ, having won 7(!) world title bouts.
Yet, against Vitali Klitschko Adamek looked like a school-boy. Helpless, barely dangerous, being severely hurt several times.
Since Adamek is a high qualtity proven boxer (= multiple world champ) against far heavier and taller opponents, Vitali Klitschko must feature another attribute aside of weight and height: Quality!
It's obviously not the weight but the CLASS = QUALITY of Vitali Klitschko.
I have watched now 3 versions of the fight and the HBO version is the most interesting because it features Emanuel Steward as the co-commentator who sheds light on the subtle, near invisible maneuvers that Vitali Klitschko performs to win round after round against Adamek.
Now, if one would judge Adamek's quality solely on his performance against Vitali (or Mormeck's quality solely on his performance against Wladimir), then one could call them "bums" and "tomato cans" like so many other opponents before them have been called. Not because it's really true, but because the performance of the Klitschkos is so overwhelmingly good, that they BUMMIFY their opponents.
Wladimir Klitschko only wins by out-weighing his opponents
WEIGHT is _THE_ most important factor in boxing (aside of skill, but skill is a SUBJECTIVE assessment).
No matter how skilled you are, in a martial arts contest you are more likely to lose (even against a far worse opponent) the bigger the weight difference is, as everyone can tell you because…
…everybody knows that Mike Tyson
would have DESTROYED ·Oscar De La Hoya,
despite Oscar De La Hoya being taller, younger, reachier (and possibly more skilled) than Mike Tyson.
Everybody knows that.
Because weight is the most important factor (aside of quality).
And actually that's a no-brainer since boxing is divided into weight divisions and not into
- "height divisions"
- "reach divisions"
- "age divisions"
- "neck circumference divisions".
- and not even into "athleticism divisions".
Weight means "body mass" and means "more muscles" and "more resistance" and thus having more body mass in a martial arts sport gives you automatically an incredible advantage.
Thus a "weight complaint" (= "only wins by out-weighing") should be be taken far more seriously than a "height complaint" or a "reach complaint".
Let me give you some example fights of famous KO'ers and how their KO'performance suffered when fighting against heavier opponents:
- Vitali Klitschko was outweighed by Lennox Lewis and lost
- Vitali Klitschko was outweighed (or nearly outweighed) by Shannon Briggs, Samuel Peter, Timo Hoffmann, Kevin Johnson, Chris Arreola, Ross Puritty, Dereck Chisora and couldn't canvas-KO these opponents
- Wladimir Klitschko was outweighed by Ross Puritty and lost
- Wladimir Klitschko was outweighed or nearly-outweighed by Sam Peter and Mariusz Wach and couldn't KO them
- Mike Tyson was outweighed by Buster Douglas, Lennox Lewis, Kevin McBride, Danny Williams and got KO'ed.
- Earnie Shavers KO'ratio against lighter-than-self opponents: 83%, against heavier-or-equal opponents: 66%.
We are talking here about some of the best KO'ers the world has ever witnessed (Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir Klitschko, Mike Tyson and Earnie Shavers) and yet the opponents' weight seems to have influenced the outcome more than the opponents' quality.
Yes, such a correlation exists, too, when fighting TALLER opponents. That's why Mike Tyson performed so mediocre against non-bums > 6'3", see Tyson vs Klitschko -OR- Mike Tyson would KO Wladimir and Vitali within 1 round. But this correlation exists mainly when fighting TALLER+SKILLED opponents, whereas taller+unskilled opponents pose not much of a challenge for good boxers.
Weight however is a huge factor even against BUMMY opponents.
BUMMY+HEAVIER opponents are far more dangerous than BUMMY+TALLER opponents.
Boxing fans are too obsessed with athleticism, yet superbly athletic guys like Herbie Hide or Albert Sosnowski performed FAR WORSE than less athletic yet equally heavy guys like Dereck Chisora.
It's the weight+quality, stupid!
Not the athleticism+tallness!
Out-weighing can be more important
For more impressive stats how the weight massively influenced fighters like Ali, Frazier and Shavers, see Height and weight are irrelevant at heavyweight boxing -OR- Joe Louis vs Primo Carnera, Abe Simon, Buddy Baer
How to choose the easier heavyweight opponent
If you had the choice between 2 opponents and you wanted to choose the easier one, then here's how to choose:
|First opponent is||Second opponent is||The easier option is|
|tall+bummy||heavy+bummy||the taller opponent is easier|
|small+heavy||tall+light||the lighter opponent is easier|
|heavy+bummy||light+skilled||the bummy opponent is easier|
|heavy+skilled||tall+skilled||the tall opponent is easier|
|athletic+light||chubby+heavy||the athletic opponent is easier|
|athletic+bummy||chubby+skilled||the athletic opponent is easier|
|athletic+skilled||chubby+bummy||the bummy opponent is easier|
|heavy+southpaw||heavy+orthodox||the orthodox opponent is easier|
Fistic Statistic [#3369.1]
At heavyweight boxing the rule of thumb is
Skill > weight > stance > tallness > athleticism
At heavyweight athleticism plays basically NO ROLE, except in the case of undertraining.
But in such a case not the chubbiness causes the problem, but the undertraining.
If a chubby boxer is well-trained and well-conditioned he poses a far greater threat than a trained light boxer.
Heavyweight boxing statistics by weight
So after all the talk, let's finally check some weight statistics:
|name||wins against heavier-than-self opponents||median weight difference of these win opponents||heavier-than-self KOs||heavier-than-self KOs (200×2, non-bums)|
|·Vitali Klitschko||11||7 lbs||9||3|
|·Wladimir Klitschko||24||12 lbs||22||10|
|·Lennox Lewis||10||4.5 lbs||8||4|
|·Muhammad Ali||17||8 lbs||10||4|
|·Mike Tyson||23||11 lbs||19||11|
|·George Foreman||8||9.5 lbs||8||1|
|·Rocky Marciano||32||10.5 lbs||28||0|
|·Joe Louis||16||15.5 lbs||13||3|
|·Joe Frazier||12||10 lbs||7||2|
|·Larry Holmes||32||7.5 lbs||21||6|
|·Sonny Liston||7||6 lbs||5||2|
|·Ken Norton||15||12 lbs||11||0|
Fistic Statistic [#3369.2]
There you have it: What is used as an argument against Wladimir Klitschko is actually a hallmark attribute.
Also the following boxing stat is impressive:
|Name||In how many wins was the opponent outweighed?||Overall KO'ratio (excluding NCs)||KO'ratio against heavier-or-same opponents|
|Nikolay Valuev||98%||65%||- (only 1 fight)|
Fistic Statistic [#3369.OutWeigh] Winning by out-weighing the opponent
As you can see Wladimir Klitschko's outweigh statistic is again a hallmark attribute.
You see also that some so called "heavy punchers" turn out to be mainly steamrollers (= powerful against smaller targets, but with little technique), e.g. Joe Frazier, Earnie Shavers, because their KO'ratio drops considerably when facing heavier opponents.
No other boxer at real heavyweight 200×2 has performed as well against heavier-than-self opponents than Mike Tyson and Wladimir Klitschko.
Which against proves how Klitschko haters ignore the history of the sport.
Additionally it's interesting that Klitschko haters hold 2 mutually exclusive views:
1) To discredit the Klitschkos haters shout that weight is the most important factor ("The Klitschkos only win because of their weight")
2) To discredit the Klitschkos haters claim that weight is not a factor at all ("Boxers of previous eras would have no problems with either Klitschko. Coz weight ain't nothing to Ali")
What is it, haters?
Wladimir Klitschko only wins by outweighing his opponents,