Past boxers were 15-rounders. Past boxers fought more often.

Here is what I recently read on a boxing site:

"The golden age of boxing used to be 15-rounders, on top of that, boxers don't have the luxury of fighting with months interval. Imagine how much punishment, weak and tear they took in their body. They fight week in, week out and fighters used to have 100+, 15-rounds fights while in the modern day, a fighter has 50+ fights (almost half) and it’s already a big achievement… so today’s boxing really can’t be compared to as it was before."

It's one nonsense after the other, yet such lies are repeated so often, that boxing fans started to believe that our era is worse than previous eras.

Such statements are pure delusion uttered by good-old-time nostalgists, so it's necessary to analyze the 3 statements here:

  • The Golden Age of boxing used to be 15-rounders
  • Fighters used to have 100+, 15-rounds fights
  • Fighters used to fight more often than nowadays



15-rounder heavyweight boxing eras

The aforementioned Golden Age of boxing means roughly the Ali's era[?], which consists of his fights (61 fights against 50 opponents) and his opponents fights (approximately 2600 fights).

Let's add to the mix George Foreman's era (3300+ fights), Sonny Liston's era (1900+ fights), Rocky Marciano's era (2000+ fights), Joe Louis' era (4100+ fights). Heck, let's add all eras of all heavyweight world champs. Let's see how many 13+ rounders there were.

When we add up

  • ALL fights of ALL champs
  • plus ALL fights of ALL the champs' opponents

(which adds up to approximately 70000 unique fights) it turns out that approximately 1600 fights (= 2%) were 13+ rounders.

Let me get this straight:

Overlong fights (13+ rounders) are EXTREMELY rare in the history of boxing.

And that's no wonder.

No boxer WANTS to have such long fights.

No boxer PLANS to have such long fights.

Such long fights are not a sign of strength but of FAILURE. A failure to win by KO.

Such fights are fights with weak punches or a lot of missed punches or a lot of clinching (e.g. Ali vs Frazier).


And indeed, when you analyze all heavyweight champs (approximately 80 to date), it turns out that approximately 50% of the champs (= 40) had no such long fights.

And of the remaining champs (= who had such long fights) most of them had only one, two or three of such fights (translation: since they were champ material they knew how to end fights faster), and of those champs who had four or more of such fights the following had the highest number of such overlong fights:

NameNumber of 13+ roundersStarted to box atMedian fighting weight (self, career)Median fighting weight (opponent, at bout)
·Ezzard Charles8157 lbs176 lbs182 lbs
·Marvin Hart10165 lbs180.25 lbs175 lbs
·Tommy Burns13156 lbs160 lbs181.5 lbs
·Muhammad Ali14188 lbs212.75 lbs205.5 lbs
·Jack Johnson20168 lbs185 lbs191.75 lbs

Fistic Statistic [#3676.1]


Here you have the REAL reason for 15-rounders: The guys with the highest number of 13+ rounders were not heavyweights as we define them today. They were cruisers and sub-cruisers.

Their punches were weaker than nowadays boxers' and their opponents were weaker, too.

In fact, ALL of the guys you see above were FEATHERFISTS, with Muhammad Ali being one of the most featherfisted champs 200×2 of ALL TIME.

In other words: Good-old-time nostalgists convert a failure into a virtue and try to sell us dirt as gold.

Boxing fans who mention the oh-so-great 15-rounders have to realize the following:

Going 13+ rounds is the signature
of a CRUISERY or of a PUNCH WEAK era.
The more 15-rounders you want the less heavyweight you get.


I personally prefer to see 2 heavyweights who have been tested against HEAVY opposition (even if only tested in shorter fights). Not tested against punchweak opposition (even if tested in 20-rounders).

I prefer fight weight to fight length, hence if I had to choose…

  • between a heavyweight fight like Tommy Burns (listed in the table above and in the picture below) vs Philadelphia Jack O'Brien 172 lbs vs 163 lbs that went 20 rounds (what they called "world heavyweight title" back in 1906) without any KO
  • and Vitali Klitschko vs Danny Williams 250 lbs vs 270 lbs (WBC heavyweight title 2004) that ended in a KO

…then I will chose Vitali over Philadelphia Jack any time.

Heavyweight world championship (1906)
172 lbs vs 163 lbs
Tommy Burns vs Philadelphia Jack O Brien

No one can convince me that watching a 20-rounder is more exciting just because it's a 20-rounder. Especially when both men are a head smaller than the _REFEREE_.

I prefer 2 heavies who have experience against other heavies. Not two featherfists who have experience against other featherfists or who are the "world champs of hugging".

I want HEAVYweight boxing
not LONGweight boxing

Now, don't get me wrong: I would have loved to see rounds 13, 14, 15+ of Klitschko vs Sam Peter or Klitschko vs Shannon Briggs, but to claim that a whole era is worse, because there are no 15-rounders is simply the opposite of the truth.



How many real heavyweight 15+ rounders have there actually been?

When you further analyze how many overlong heavyweight championships fights took place that were at least 200×2 lbs (as would have to be nowadays, since fights below 200 lbs are not allowed anymore) then it turns out that there have been 31 of such championship fights (in the whole history of heavyweight boxing), of which the aforementioned featherfists Ali and Jack Johnson alone are responsible for 15.

Overlong championship fights 215×2 lbs (which is even more realistic nowadays than 200×2 lbs) took place 12 times in the history of heavyweight boxing.



"Boxers cannot go 15 rounds anymore"

Oh really?

Do you have any proof?

Did Wladimir Klitschko seem exhausted after his 12 rounders?

Did Valuev look exhausted after his fight against Evan Fields?

Not only is the notion bizarre that 15-round eras are better but it's also pure fantasy that modern heavyweight champs couldn't go 15 rounds.



"Fighters used to have 100+, 15-rounds fights"

That is also a blatant nonsense. Another nostalgia delusion.

In no era at no time fighters _used_ to have 100+ fights on their record.

Let alone 100+ 15-rounders.

Let alone 100+ 15-rounders at heavyweight.

Fighters with 100+ fights were _always_ an exception.

I checked several thousand fighters (= all champs and their opponents) and none of them had 100+ fights that went 13+ rounds.

The boxer with the most 13+ rounders would be a boxer like ·Gipsy Daniels (60+ 13+ rounders), who wasn't a heavyweight in the first place. All the other boxers have typically 0 or 1 of such overlong fights.



"Champs fought more often back in the day"

OK, let's check past time champs.

Are modern champs (Wladimir, Vitali etc) really more lazy than previous champs?

NameMiddle of careerDays between fights (from career start to end)Days between fights (from first world championship fight to end of career)
·Bob Fitzsimmons1899
102.7 days
1314 days
·Brian Nielsen1997
53.2 days
381 days
·Bruce Seldon1999
158.2 days
1740 days
·Chris Byrd2001
125.4 days
409 days
·Corrie Sanders1998
149.5 days
896 days
·Danell Nicholson1998
86.8 days
3425 days
·David Haye2006
111.4 days
123 days
·Ernie Terrell1965
108.4 days
777 days
·Evander Holyfield1997
168.6 days
374 days
·Ezzard Charles1949
59.7 days
286 days
·Floyd Patterson1962
114.2 days
444 days
·Francesco Damiani1989
94.6 days
482 days
·Frank Bruno1989
113.6 days
705 days
·Gene Tunney1922
55.4 days
224 days
·George Foreman1983
128.1 days
1133 days
·Gerrie Coetzee1986
207.5 days
1610 days
·Greg Page1990
106.0 days
2069 days
·Hasim Rahman2002
98 days
492 days
·Henry Akinwande1999
124.5 days
1097 days
·Herbie Hide2000
141.3 days
981 days
·Ingemar Johansson1958
135.3 days
465 days
·Jack Dempsey1921
57.6 days
428 days
·Jack Johnson1915
137.7 days
873 days
·Jack Sharkey1930
83.3 days
753 days
·James Buster Douglas1990
140.7 days
1427 days
·James J Corbett1895
260.4 days
798 days
·James J Jeffries1903
233.0 days
449 days
·James Smith1990
103.7 days
1778 days
·Jersey Joe Walcott1942
116.6 days
248 days
·Jess Willard1917
129.4 days
1006 days
·Jim Braddock1932
50.0 days
476 days
·Jimmy Ellis1968
96.7 days
855 days
·Jimmy Thunder1996
101.8 days
986 days
·Joe Frazier1973
160.8 days
615 days
·Joe Louis1943
90.3 days
194 days
·John L. Sullivan1885
120.1 days
0 days
·John Ruiz2001
117 days
440 days
·John Tate1982
107.5 days
1542 days
·Ken Norton1974
98.5 days
867 days
·Lamon Brewster2003
117.8 days
353 days
·Larry Holmes1987
142.9 days
339 days
·Lennox Lewis1996
116.0 days
205 days
·Leon Spinks1986
149.9 days
2167 days
·Lionel Butler1999
152.5 days
3159 days
·Marvin Hart1905
83.8 days
998 days
·Max Baer1935
53.5 days
1243 days
·Max Schmeling1936
126.5 days
1679 days
·Michael Bentt1991
143.5 days
70 days
·Michael Dokes1987
125.6 days
1354 days
·Michael Moorer1998
127.7 days
821 days
·Michael Spinks1982
127.8 days
252 days
·Mike Tyson1995
127.6 days
423 days
·Mike Weaver1986
171.5 days
1117 days
·Muhammad Ali1971
126.4 days
259 days
·Nikolay Valuev2001
110.7 days
177 days
·Oleg Maskaev2001
141.4 days
405 days
·Oliver McCall1998
136.8 days
1479 days
·Pinklon Thomas1985
103.2 days
614 days
·Primo Carnera1937
62.6 days
1175 days
·Ray Mercer1998
162.1 days
2149 days
·Riddick Bowe1999
160.4 days
979 days
·Rocky Marciano1951
63.4 days
156 days
·Roy Jones Jr1999
125.2 days
2590 days
·Ruslan Chagaev2004
166.8 days
328 days
·Samuel Peter2005
92.2 days
267 days
·Shannon Briggs2001
112.8 days
1146 days
·Siarhei Liakhovich2004
148.7 days
756 days
·Sonny Liston1962
113.7 days
708 days
·Sultan Ibragimov2005
87.5 days
88 days
·Tim Witherspoon1991
123.7 days
1206 days
·Tommy Burns1911
112.5 days
404 days
·Tommy Morrison1998
135.1 days
1489 days
·Tony LaRosa1996
105.8 days
3136 days
·Tony Tubbs1993
163.3 days
1964 days
·Tony Tucker1989
98.4 days
799 days
·Trevor Berbick1988
141.6 days
2328 days
·Vitali Klitschko2003
118.1 days
317 days
·Wladimir Klitschko2003
87.0 days
201 days

Fistic Statistic [#3676.2]

Please note:
These figures include NC (no contest) fights, as we want to find out the activity level.
John L. Sullivan's first title fight was his last fight, hence the "0 days".

Now look at that. It turns actually out that the frequency of Wladimir Klitschko's fights is among the highest (= shortest = best). Additionally it turns out that the previous generation of boxers (a supposedly better era) is among the worst.

Mind you, this table above still includes cruiser and sub-cruiser fights. It's obvious that you can withstand more sub-cruiser fights than real heavyweight fights 200×2, thus it's obvious that you can fight more often sub-cruiser fights than heavyweight fights.

In other words: The figures in the table above adulate previous eras.

Hence let's check the fighting frequency in real heavyweight fights:

NameMiddle of careerDays between real heavyweight fights 200×2 (from first 200×2 fight until end of career)
·Brian Nielsen1997
53.2 days
·Bruce Seldon1999
158.2 days
·Chris Byrd2001
119.2 days
·Corrie Sanders1998
172 days
·Danell Nicholson1998
92.8 days
·Evander Holyfield1997
214.5 days
·Francesco Damiani1989
112.2 days
·Frank Bruno1989
127.5 days
·George Foreman1983
161.3 days
·Gerrie Coetzee1986
317.9 days
·Greg Page1990
108.8 days
·Hasim Rahman2002
101.4 days
·Henry Akinwande1999
129.2 days
·Herbie Hide2000
193.8 days
·Jack Johnson1915
570.2 days
·James Buster Douglas1990
161.8 days
·James Smith1990
110.9 days
·Jess Willard1917
214.7 days
·Jimmy Thunder1996
106.1 days
·Joe Frazier1973
316.5 days
·John Ruiz2001
168.5 days
·John Tate1982
125 days
·Ken Norton1974
129.5 days
·Lamon Brewster2003
120.7 days
·Larry Holmes1987
164.2 days
·Lennox Lewis1996
121.6 days
·Leon Spinks1986
228.2 days
·Lionel Butler1999
155.5 days
·Max Baer1935
134.2 days
·Michael Dokes1987
142.8 days
·Michael Moorer1998
175.4 days
·Mike Tyson1995
138.1 days
·Mike Weaver1986
214.5 days
·Muhammad Ali1971
215.5 days
·Nikolay Valuev2001
115.0 days
·Oleg Maskaev2001
141.4 days
·Oliver McCall1998
138.8 days
·Pinklon Thomas1985
122.4 days
·Primo Carnera1937
84.8 days
·Ray Mercer1998
169.8 days
·Riddick Bowe1999
164.1 days
·Ruslan Chagaev2004
172.3 days
·Samuel Peter2005
92.2 days
·Shannon Briggs2001
116.8 days
·Siarhei Liakhovich2004
154.3 days
·Sonny Liston1962
235.7 days
·Sultan Ibragimov2005
87.5 days
·Tim Witherspoon1991
128.3 days
·Tommy Morrison1998
149.1 days
·Tony LaRosa1996
131.1 days
·Tony Tubbs1993
180.9 days
·Tony Tucker1989
104.3 days
·Trevor Berbick1988
158.1 days
·Vitali Klitschko2003
118.1 days
·Wladimir Klitschko2003
87.0 days

Fistic Statistic [#3676.3]

Please note:
I excluded heavyweight champs with less than 15 real heavyweight fights 200×2 lbs.


Hmm, Wladimir Klitschko has a real heavyweight 200×2 fight every 80+ days.

Wladimir Klitschko's fighting frequency is one of his hallmark attributes.
And this generation of real heavyweight champs could be said to be the most active of all generations.


Now let's get to the heavyweight beef: Let's see how often truly heavy champs knockout truly heavy non-bums[?].

I excluded champs with 4 or less of such KO'wins, hence you will not find names like Muhammad Ali or Joe Frazier or Larry Holmes here:

NameMiddle of careerDays between KO'wins (within 12) against non-bums in 215×2 fights (from first 215×2 non-bum KO'win until end of career)
·Brian Nielsen1997
237.3 days
·Corrie Sanders1998
1005.6 days
·Frank Bruno1989
788.1 days
·George Foreman1983
797.3 days
·Hasim Rahman2002
631.1 days
·Henry Akinwande1999
1065.8 days
·James Smith1990
1102.8 days
·Jimmy Thunder1996
949.2 days
·Lamon Brewster2003
486.5 days
·Lennox Lewis1996
319.4 days
·Michael Moorer1998
1113 days
·Mike Tyson1995
451.7 days
·Nikolay Valuev2001
381.5 days
·Oleg Maskaev2001
760.2 days
·Oliver McCall1998
896.6 days
·Ray Mercer1998
1074.5 days
·Riddick Bowe1999
961.8 days
·Samuel Peter2005
457.5 days
·Shannon Briggs2001
551.0 days
·Tim Witherspoon1991
869 days
·Tommy Morrison1998
1239.8 days
·Tony Tucker1989
665.8 days
·Vitali Klitschko2003
284.3 days
·Wladimir Klitschko2003
211.9 days

Fistic Statistic [#3676.4]


The same picture, but let me explain the results in clear words:

If you had 2 boxing fans and one was a Mike Tyson fan and the other was a Wladimir Klitschko fan, then the Wladimir Klitschko fan would see KO wins against non-bums 215×2 TWICE AS FREQUENT as the Mike Tyson fan, and 5x as frequent as a Riddick Bowe fan. Muhammad Ali had only 3 of such KO wins in his whole career, Larry Holmes only 1 (against *cough* ·Curtis Shepard).

If you want to see many KOs of good+heavy boys then this era (and the last) will please you.



Where the myth comes from that the previous champs fought more often

I think I found the reason why people think past champs fought more often:

Past champs' OPPONENTS fought more often.

When you analyze the following champs…

  • Joe Louis (1930s, 1940s, 1950s)
  • Muhammad Ali (1960s, 1970s, 1980s)
  • Wladimir Klitschko (1990s, 2000s, 2010s)

… and the fight frequency of their opponents (altogether 9200+ fights starting from 1923) then indeed it turns out that Joe Louis' opponents fought more often (every 53 days), while Ali's opponents fought already half as often (every 98 days) and Klitschko's opponents fight even less (every 112 days).

However, the reason is again the same:

EraNumber of fightsAverage opponents' opponents' weight
Joe Louis4300+188 lbs
Muhammad Ali2800+196 lbs
Wladimir Klitschko2100+222 lbs

Fistic Statistic [#3676.5]

In clear words: Joe Louis' opponents had 4300+ fights in which they boxed against opponents who were 188 lbs on the average.

Wladimir Klitschko's opponents fight opponents who are 34 lbs heavier on the average.

Take for example Joe Louis' opponent ·Billy Conn:

Billy Conn was 174 lbs when he fought Joe Louis ("World heavyweight title 1941"). Billy Conn was 130+ lbs at one point in his career fighting other 130-pounders.

It's obvious that Klitschko would never fight opponents with such a background. And it's obvious that such opponents can have more fights than modern heavyweights.

THAT's again the reason of the higher fight frequency. And THAT's again the reason why you should not compare Joe Louis' frequencies to the current heavyweight scene but to the current cruiser and sub-cruiser scene.

Instead of complaining that nowadays heavies fight less often, you should complain that nowadays cruisers and sub-cruisers fight less than in Joe Louis' times.


Since not previous champs fought more often than nowadays champs, but previous champs' opponents, the conclusion is:
Previous champs fought against weaker opposition
since previous opposition was more drained.




Myth exposed.

Myth exposed.

Myth exposed.

Past boxers were 15-rounders. Past boxers fought more often., 4.3 out of 5 based on 24 ratings
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Comments (11)

  • froek says:
    [ip2username: Nybo Gezi]
    #4997 froek (2012-10-05th)

    Time to post the facts on ESB again.

  • Mr. Objective says:
    [ip2username: Gigu Rajy]
    #5001 Mr. Objective (2012-10-08th)

    HUGE WORK has been made. Respect to the author. Indeed, it's time to post these great articles on ESB or Fightnews.

  • DS says:
    [ip2username: Gone Tilu]
    #5274 DS (2012-11-11th)

    I see your point but Wlad is the true "world champ of hugging"

    • Admin says:
      [ip2username: Suva Mywo]
      #5275 Admin (2012-11-11th)

      Then you never watched Ali or 20 rounders. Wlad clinches only a few seconds per round. In his MOST CLINCHY fight (vs Sam Peter I) he clinched only HALF as much as Ali vs Frazier.

  • Tommo says:
    [ip2username: Puga Lyxo]
    #5825 Tommo (2013-03-31st)

    I never understood that argument anyway (15 rounders were tougher). You can fight harder for shorter duration than for longer anyway and I fail to see how a few extra rounds at that stage of a protracted fight proves anything but energy conservation strategy really.

  • Tommo says:
    [ip2username: Loze Xivu]
    #6415 Tommo (2013-07-30th)

    Geez, let me tell you something Admin… DON'T EVEN BOTHER to post it on ESB. I tried and tried to reason with those Lummox's over this issue. According to them all the boxers, champs included fought more than nowadays and the reasoning that nobody had as many REAL HW fights than modern champs like Wlad and that nobody could have as many as 100 real HW fights because of damage accumulation was completely dismissed.

    They always fall back on "If the sub200 fighters were in the unlimited division they were exposed to real HW's if they were good enough to beat them, therefore they are to be treated as HW's equal to todays despite the weight" and disregard the fact some of these guys never even HAD many or any real HW fights against 200+ opponents!

    ESB is the highest concentration of scum that is destroying boxing today and has to be eliminated!

    Unfortunately the administrators delete and ban all attempts at factual analysis. :(

    • Tommo says:
      [ip2username: Loze Xivu]
      #6416 Tommo (2013-07-30th)

      The ones they call Rumsfeld and the Professor and possibly Janitor and Houdini are their Alts!

  • JermaineakaEazy says:
    [ip2username: Sawy Tove]
    #6966 JermaineakaEazy (2014-01-15th)

    I understand what you're saying but people were naturally smaller then compared to now so to say that previous eras of boxers couldn't compare with today's boxers isn't completely accurate. My biggest gripe is that you wanna use Joe Louis' smallest opponent who didn't gain weight for the fight to be more elusive, and who was in the Light Heavyweights at the time. However you don't mention Primo Carnera who was 6'6", 265 lbs. and had a longer reach than the Klitschko brothers. Also there's Abe Simon 6'4", 255 lbs. and also had a longer reach than the Klitschko's. I know Buddy Baer and Tony Galento were also over 200 pounds and that accounts for 6 of his fights. Plus you have people like Evander Holyfield who wasn't initially a "true heavyweight" but became one. So to deny Joe Louis is a bit silly to me. He might not be the best against today's fighters but I'm pretty sure he could hold his own and make some interesting fights…just saying. 8-)

    • Tommo says:
      [ip2username: Xydo Kedi]
      #7636 Tommo (2014-10-25th)

      That's not true though. Joe Louis as he was, would have been a good CW boxer but could never fight as a professional HW.

      Evander Holyfield is a much different story, when he weighed 205-220lbs as a HW, he possessed a very well rounded skillset (from CW where it is necessary), he happened to have one of the hardest chins (Louis didn't, he as often knocked about), he was extremely athletic by comparison with Louis, he was several times stronger than Louis and obviously more powerful than Louis too.

      His 215 or so was absolutely ripped too, not the fluidy body type of Louis.

      All of these physical points were no doubt assisted by the fact that Holyfield was roided to the absolute gills!

      Louis could never compete with that! You cannot consider Louis in the same vein.

      Also notable is that Holyfield despute all this has a low KOratio and a HW record of 26-10!

  • robwill says:
    [ip2username: Vura Pyvo]
    #7687 robwill (2014-11-08th)

    Great job, indeed. Here stats are really significant – far not the case in all you're articles.
    A little bit bored by this stupid belief : prominent muscles = power. Just Rocky brainwashing ! Get back on earth, and stop your bullsh*tty comparaisons between Joe Louis and Hollyfield, that are pure nosenses.

  • Boxer says:
    [ip2username: Binu Mamy]
    #7853 Boxer (2015-03-21st)

    I never understood that argument anyway (15 rounders were tougher).


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