Haters of modern boxing have many crazy ideas about previous eras but the following 2 are the most common:
(#1) "Previous heavyweight eras featured higher quality opponents."
The MAIN reason for this statement is that in previous eras "heavyweight division" was defined differently, thus it included what we call now "cruiserweight" and even "light heavyweight".
In Ali's times the heavyweight division started at 176 lbs, which is lower than the current FEMALE heavyweight division.
Thus to have a legitimate assessment of the quality of opponents throughout eras one would have to include the current era's cruiserweights OR (what I do in this blog here) exclude previous era's cruiserweights.
The second most frequent nonsense is the following:
(#2) "Height And Weight Are Irrelevant" ( the HAWAI myth), "therefore past champs would have no trouble with the current supersized champs".
Sometimes this HAWAI myth is described in different words:
- "Size is not everything"
- "Weight is not everything"
- "Bigger is not better!"
- "You are obsessed with size"
- "You make the mistake of equating size with quality"
This HAWAI myth is uttered whenever someone compares ancient fighters (like Muhammad Ali) to nowadays champs (like the Klitschkos). Then good-old-time nostalgists pat each other on their backs and mumble "HAWAI! HAWAI! Ali has no problems with the Klitschkos 'cause weight ain't nothing to Ali".
Angelo Dundee: "Muhammad Ali would KO the Klitschkos"
Take for example what Angelo Dundee (the trainer of Cassius Clay aka Cassius X aka Muhammad Ali) has to say about a hypothetical clash between "Muhammad Ali vs Wladimir Klitschko" or "Vitali Klitschko vs Muhammad Ali".
Let's listen how Angelo Dundee spins the truth:
Q: "How would Ali do today, with the huge Klitschko brothers?"
Angelo Dundee: "He would’ve stopped both of them. See, Ali looked great against big guys – Cleveland Williams I’ll give you as an example, a huge guy. Another guy, most people haven’t seen the fight, a guy named Duke Sabedong from early in Muhammad’s career. He was like 6'6". Ali's speed would have overcome both Klitschko brothers."
What you read here IS PART OF THE mythology bubble that is so dear to AliFants. Because
- neither was ·Duke Sabedong KO'ed
- nor was ·Cleveland Williams 6'6" (additionally Williams was crippled after a gun shooting, but that's another story).
It's utter nonsense what Dundee fabricated here. Yet such falsehoods FEED AliFants (and all the disciples of of the 1970s cult) to this very day.
And you have to realize that Angelo Dundee (by artificially increasing Clay/Ali's merits) increases his own merits (and maybe the numbers on his own bank account) ("He speaks for no one but his bank account").
Klitschko or Muhammad A-li?
The one who spins!
Larry Holmes: "Size doesn't matter"
Let's see how Larry Holmes reacts when asked about the Klitschkos:
RingTalk.com: "What about these Klitschko brothers, is it fair that they're 6'7" & 260 pounds? Should there be another weight class?"
·Larry Holmes: "No, size don't matter. It's what you can do in the ring, just look at Ali. Ernie Terrell was a big guy and Ali did what we usually do with them we wear them down. Skill and talent always beats size."
It's unreal. The interviewer mentions
- the Klitschkos (some of the hardest punching heavyweights of all time)
- 260 lbs
and Larry Holmes rebuts by mentioning
- ·Ernie Terrell who was 212 lbs at bout
- and whose median fighting weight was 197 lbs
- and who started at 189 lbs
- and who is one of the most featherfisted heavyweights of all time (only 2 KOs in his entire career in real heavyweight fights)
- and whom Ali couldn't even KO in 15 rounds.
Please also note the other statement of Holmes: "Size doesn't matter". In reality Holmes himself is a good example how size matters:
Holmes' KO'ratio against opponents up to 214 lbs: 73% (hard puncher)
Holmes' KO'ratio against opponents 215+ lbs: 45% (featherfist)
Holmes' KO'ratio against smaller-than-self opponents: 60%
Holmes' KO'ratio against same-or-taller-than-self opponents: 40%
(based on 50 fights where the height of opponent is known)
And please note how Larry Holmes is SPECIFICALLY asked about a higher weight division ("Should there be another weight class?") and Holmes answers "No!"
And I can tell you why:
Because a higher weight division ("ultraheavyweight" or however you want to name it) would instantly DEMOTE Larry Holmes to a "mere heavyweight". It would be immediately clear that Holmes was in a lower weight division (as was Ali). It would be immediately clear that the Klitschkos are the best ultraheavyweights while Larry Holmes is one amongst many good mere heavyweights.
Hence Holmes spreads the HAWAI nonsense. He protects his legacy.
Earnie Shavers: "I wouldn't have any problems with the Klitschkos"
Another member of the "The Club of the nostalgia deslusion sufferers" is Earnie Shavers.
First read my Shavers analysis at Earnie Shavers – Power hitter or overrated featherfist? and how much Shavers was affected by weight.
Then read this interview with Shavers:
- Interviewer: "You don't think much of today's heavyweights?"
- Earnie Shavers: "It's not like it was in our day, when there were so many good guys."
- Interviewer: "Were boxers more gentlemanly back in your day?"
- Earnie Shavers: "Yes, and we also had great trainers"
- Interviewer: "People always like to speculate on who would have beaten who. What would have happened had you and David Haye rumbled?"
- Earnie Shavers: "I'd have knocked him out, probably in two or three rounds."
- Interviewer: "How about you and the Klitschkos? You're 6.0" and you were around 215 lbs in your prime, while the two brothers are 6'6" or more and around 240 lbs. How would you have done against them, as big as they are?"
- Earnie Shavers: "Let me tell you something, I loved facing big, slow guys like that. I wouldn't have had any problems with them."
- Interviewer: "You feel you'd have got inside the long jab and gone to work on the inside?"
- Earnie Shavers: "Yes. I'd have worked inside, then attacked the body first, to bring the hands down, and then I'd have gone to the head. I'd have landed shots to the heart, a left hook to the kidney, and then shot a right hand to the head. Then you'd have heard 'Timbeeerr!'" (laughs).
- Interviewer: "Do you think the Klitschkos deserve to be rated as all-time greats?"
- Earnie Shavers: "I don't think so, no."
- Interviewer: "You were part of a golden era, a special time for the heavyweights: the 1970s. Was that the best time ever for the heavyweight division in your opinion?"
- Earnie Shavers: "Yes."
Earnie Shavers (who hasn't even won a world championship fight once) disses the Klitschkos who have some of the best heavyweight championship records of all times (if not _THE_ best).
What you read here is one delusion after the other combined with overhype and glorification of one's past. It's such obscene swaggery that hypnotizes boxing fans.
Why boxing experts fool boxing fans
Many boxing experts EARN MONEY by perpetuating the myth that weight doesn't matter.
You see, if someone claims "That ant has a far superior footwork than the elephant! And look at the magnificent speed! The elephant is sooo slow! And moreover the ant has more feet! And look at the reflexes! In my toplist I rank the elephant at position #6 and let me explain what areas the elephant has the most problems in!" then this sounds more adept than "Elephant stomped on ant".
If these boxing experts would admit, that weight is a huge factor then they would have hardly anything to say about chances of ancient boxers. Only by ignoring the weight they put themselves in a position where they can make the most ludicrous statements ("My top 10 reasons why Ali would win").
US boxing "experts" (like Bert Sugar) have a vested interest in keeping the myth alive that ancient boxers would have a chance against modern ultraheavyweights 215+ lbs. The HAWAI lie secures them TV talking time and DVD sales.
Additionally by ignoring the weight such experts not only increase Ali's chances to win against modern champs, they also cover up that one of the main reasons why Ali won so often is that he outweighed his opponents so often (as opposed to Wladimir Klitschko or Mike Tyson).
How Muhammad Ali was affected by the weight of his opponents
Not only is the HAWAI lie one of the most bizarre statements that one could make about boxing, it's one of the most bizarre statements that one could make about ANY blood sport.
Whether it's MMA or kickboxing or Kung-Fu or wrestling:
Boxing like other contact sports is divided into weight divisions for a reason.
There are no age divisions, height divisions or reach divisions.
It's the WEIGHT that is THE MOST important factor in contact sports
(aside of skill, but skill is a subjective assessment).
There is a certain type of boxing fan who cares more about mythology ("Ali is the greatest and will always be") than about facts.
For example it's TYPICAL for AliFants to CLAIM that Muhammad Ali wouldn't be affected by weight yet to never CHECK Ali's record.
So let's ACTUALLY ANALYZE how Ali, Frazier and Earnie Shavers (= 3 supposedly impressive fighters of the past) performed as their opponents got heavier:
|Weight of opponents||Clay/Ali's KO'Ratio||Joe Frazier's KO'Ratio||Earnie Shavers' KO'Ratio|
100% (extreme hard puncher)
75% (good puncher)
100% (extreme hard puncher)
33% (extreme featherfist)
|both 200+ lbs|
34% ("like a bee")
44% ("Eliseo Castillo")
66% (somewhat good puncher)
|both 215+ lbs|
27% ("like a butterfly")
25% (no comment)
60% (somewhat good puncher)
Fistic Statistic [#3510.1]
This result is NOT astonishing.
This result is TYPICAL.
This result underlines, that Ali was not an exception: He, too, is influenced (even extremely much) by the weight of his opponents.
However great the skills of a fighter are: The opponent's weight is a factor one can not ignore.
Weight is such a huge factor that a heavy+bummy opponent can pose a bigger threat than a light+skilled opponent. In many cases it doesn't even matter whether the weight is lard or muscles.
In other words: If you compare 2 champs of 2 eras, then the lighter champ is AUTOMATICALLY the underdog.
Even if the lighter champ has more skills: Since both have a good skill set (they wouldn't be champs otherwise) the weight is the more important factor. Therefore the light champ would need not only superior skills but FAR SUPERIOR SKILLS to overcome the weight disadvantage.
And when you have a guy like Clay/Ali, who would not only be lighter but who is additionally inferior to Wladimir Klitschko in nearly every imaginable area (KO'ratio, height, reach etc) then you know instantly that Ali's chances against Wladimir Klitschko are basically non-existent.
For an in-depth analysis of Ali vs Klitschko read Muhammad Ali vs Wladimir Klitschko – Fact-based analysis and prediction
"Yes, heavyweight boxers are heavier, but also fatter"
Another variation of the HAWAI lie is "Weight is irrelevant, because although nowadays boxers are heavier, they are mainly fatter thus previous generations would have no problems".
"Wladimir Klitschko only wins by out-weighing his opponents"
This is an article for itself Wladimir Klitschko only wins by outweighing his opponents
"Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano had no problems with giant boxers"
Another variation of the HAWAI lie is "Smaller heavyweights like Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano won against huge boxers! Therefore they would have good chances against modern heavyweights including the Klitschkos!"
First of all let me point out that NOBODY here claims that very tall+heavy boxers are unbeatable.
I merely claim that the CHANCE of winning drops significantly the heavier the opponent is.
However, let's check concrete examples of these "ancient behemoths".
The following giants (usually mentioned in this order) have lost fights hence are used to prove that tall boxers are "beatable although being giants":
- ·Primo Carnera, 6'5.5", median fighting weight 266 lbs (Joe Louis' biggest weight difference, and the prime example of beatable giants)
- ·Abe Simon, 6'4", median 253 lbs
- ·Buddy Baer, 6'6.5", median 240 lbs
- ·Jess Willard, 6'6.5", median 225 lbs
Sometimes also the following beatable giants are mentioned:
- ·Tony Drake, 257 lbs (Dempsey's biggest weight difference)
- ·Humphrey Jackson, 254 lbs (Marciano's biggest weight difference)
- ·Fred Fulton, 6'6.5", median 212 lbs
- ·Carl Morris, 6'4", median 227 lbs
Now after we exclude those boxers who are not real giants (e.g. 6'4") or who are bums (like Humphrey Jackson with a record of 4-3 and Tony Drake with a record of 0-1) only the following remain:
- Primo Carnera
- Abe Simon
- Buddy Baer
These 3 were all beaten by Joe Louis, which shows what an exceptional fighter Joe Louis was.
Analyzing these three giants further it turns out, that
- Buddy Baer has won only against 3 non-bummy opponents 200×2 (Abe Simon, Tony Galento, Eddie Hogan)
- Abe Simon is a featherfist and has 10 losses on his record (36-10), and has won only against 2 non-bummy opponents 200×2 (Toles, Thompson)
- Primo Carnera has 14 losses on his record, is smaller than Vitali Klitschko and was obviously suffering from acromegalic pituitary gigantism (= is not naturally tall like Vitali Klitschko, but a freak of nature like Nikolay Valuev)
I don't want to take ANYTHING away from Joe Louis' wins, but my statement is:
You can not claim that "Height/Weight is no issue as shown by famous fighters beating giants" when in fact it turns out that ONLY Joe Louis has beaten mention worthy giants and these giants were far from comparable to modern ultraheavyweight champs (let alone that Baer and Simon never were champs).
It's unimaginable what modern champs would do to Joe Louis, if already Buddy Baer managed to catapult Joe Louis out of the ring in round #1.
To prove that height and weight don't matter boxing fans sometimes use ·Nikolay Valuev as an example of a boxer who is tall'n'heavy yet is bad at boxing.
This claim is even more grotesque than the HAWAI lie, because Valuev has one of the best real heavyweight records of all time.
You see, one can not claim that size doesn't matter and then bring up Valuev who has a record of 50-2 and who has not even one proper loss on his record (both losses merely by majority decision).
Of course Valuev's opponents weren't stellar, but if anything then Valuev proves the opposite: Size alone can be a substitute for boxing skill.
Weight is huge factor in heavyweight boxing.
Anybody who thinks otherwise, or anybody who claims that ancient greats (Ali, Holmes, Maricano) would have no trouble with modern ultraheavyweights (despite of the weight differences is fooling himself.