Boxing eras (1) The best heavyweight era of all time -OR- Is Roy Jones Jr. a better cruiser than Rocky Marciano?

THERE IS ONE MAJOR REASON why people think this current era of heavyweight boxing ("Klitschko era") is bad.

And no, the major reason is not that boxers are out of shape ("fat").

It's not that champions are boring and slow.

It's not that opponents cannot throw straight punches anymore.

Please note: This article is part of my multi-part heavyweight boxing eras comparison:

 

The reason is rather HIDDEN and lies BENEATH _ALL_ other reasons. It has something to do with apples and oranges.

 

 

Heavyweight is Heavyweight is Heavyweight

The reason is a huge mistake that was made in the 1970ies:

What is the reason?

The reason is the use of ONE name ("heavyweight") for TWO different boxing divisions.Let me explain:

In Ali's times the heavyweight was defined as 176+ lbs.
Then the governing bodies made a huge, huge, HUGE mistake by REDEFINING the weight limit (they increased it from 176 to 191 and then later to 201 lbs) while KEEPING the name "heavyweight".

They should have called this new division "superheavyweight" (or whatever) but they didn't.

Now suddenly there were 2 divisions (176+ and 201+) sharing the SAME NAME.

And although this at first glance doesn't seem like a big deal it's THE MAJOR UNDERLYING REASON

  • for nearly all statements about heavyweight ("This era sucks", "Previous eras were full of athletes")
  • for countless misconceptions ("Past heavies were so much faster than modern boxers")
  • for illegitimate comparisons ("Tommy Burns had an 8-KO-streak, while Wladimir Klitschko had only 5 KOs in a row")

 

 

Joe Louis vs Vitali Klitschko

Let's take a look at Joe Louis:

Joe Louis Arlington
Joe Louis

Everybody sees immediately that Joe Louis looks NOTHING like modern heavies, e.g. George Foreman

George Foreman vs Adilson Rodrigues 1990
George Foreman 1990

Any comparison between Joe Louis and modern heavyweights ends right there when you take a glance at these pictures.

But here comes the catch: 40+ years ago such body types have been called (hold your hat)… heavyweights.

The name "heavyweight" is the only similarity. What we now call "cruiserweight" or "light heavyweight" has been called "heavyweight" based on a definition of 1920.

I personally LOVE Joe Louis. He is one of the greatest boxers ever. But there is no "master plan" how this Joe Louis could beat any better modern heavyweight. It's impossible.

This little oddity (2 different weight classes sharing the same name) leads to complete confusion amongst the good-old-time fans and experts.

It goes like this:

  • Rocky Marciano was a heavyweight. Vitali Klitschko is a heavyweight.
  • Rocky Marciano has defeated everyone he has ever faced thus he would beat Vitali Klitschko.

It's a disregard for the fact that it's utterly irrelevant how you >CALL< a certain weight. 180 lbs is 180 lbs, whether now or in ancient times.

I could call 180 lbs "terror-weight" and then a few decades later I call it "murder-weight" and then "torture-weight" and it wouldn't change the fact that it's still 180 lbs.

Here is another member of the LSB (League of Scrawny-Chested Boys):

Ali 1963 01 01
Muhammad "The Louisville Lip" Ali
in his 4th year as
what-they-called-then
heavyweight

EVERYONE except AliFans sees that Clay/Ali from that picture is NOT what-we-call-nowadays "a heavyweight".

EVERYONE except AliFans knows that the wins (against opponents who also looked like that) are irrelevant when compared to modern opponents.

EVERYONE except AliFans giggles when you tell them that Clay/Ali OUTWEIGHED his opponents in 70% of his fights (and Joe Louis in 76%).

 

But, oh no! Because of the term "heavyweight" suddenly Joe Louis is seriously compared to Wladimir Klitschko and we have to read:

"Joe Louis had a very powerful punch and anyone that disputes that needs to look at what he done to Schmeling [192lbs]. I believe that Joe Louis totally dominates Klitschko hitting him with devastating power shots and also knocking him out in a one sided fight."

All these fantasy matches (by fans and experts alike) are illegitimate because

  • Rocky Marciano (who had tiny arms and was even lighter than Joe Louis and smaller than Joe Louis)
  • Sam Langford (even smaller)
  • Jack Dempsey (even lighter)
  • and many of the other past-time ATGs

would never step into the ring against Lennox Lewis, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe etc because they would fail already against far worse opposition nowadays.

 

Fans, experts, TV commentators, boxing professionals and boxrec.com until today are completely deluded by the fact that the _WORD_ "heavyweight" describes two completely different divisions.

They mistakingly choose TO NOT compare fights 176 lbs – 200 lbs (of nowadays era) to fights 176 lbs – 200 lbs (of Rocky Marciano's era).

BUT INSTEAD they mistakingly choose to compare Rocky Marciano's fights 176 lbs+ to Lennox Lewis' fights 201+ lbs just because both have been >called< heavyweight.

  • They compare boxers like Marciano (who has always boxed below  200+) to Lennox Lewis (who has always boxed ABOVE 200+)
  • They compare Clay/Ali (who won his Olympic medal as a lightheavyweight) to Wladimir Klitschko (who won his Olympic medal as a superheavyweight)
  • They put people on Heavyweight Toplists, who wouldn't even suffice as sparring partners for modern heavyweights
  • They put fights like (·Tommy Burns vs ·Philadelphia Jack O'Brien) 172 vs 163 on the same level like (Lennox Lewis vs Vitali Klitschko)  249 vs 245 merely because of the name "Heavyweight World Title fight"

 

 

The best Heavyweight Boxing Toplists get it all wrong

Look at the table below. That is a "Heavyweight top 30" that I have found somewhere on the web. It was a "consensus toplist" (= many knowledgeable people participated) thus pretty representative of the current opinion.

It features typical names: From "Muhammad Ali" and "Evander Holyfield" to "Jerry Quarry". But once you actually check the careers of these boxers it turns out that half of the names were not heavyweights 200+ and some of them weren't even cruiserweights 175+.

#Toplist positionNameMiddle of careerHow many fights were real 200×2 fightsrecord in 200×2 fightsHow many different opponents in 200×2 fightsMedian weight of opponent
01#1·Muhammad Ali
1971
52.4%
28-4
25
205 lbs
02#2·Larry Holmes
1987
86.6%
60-5
62
212 lbs
03#3·Evander Holyfield
1997
67.2%
25-10
29
219 lbs
04#4·Joe Louis
1943
15.9%
11-0
9
193 lbs
05#5·Joe Frazier
1973
48.6%
13-4
13
201 lbs
06#6·George Foreman
1983
79.0%
59-5
63
214 lbs
07#7·Lennox Lewis
1996
95.4%
39-2
39
229 lbs
08#8·Mike Tyson
1995
96.2%
45-6
48
218 lbs
09#9·Rocky Marciano
1951
0%
0-0
0
190 lbs
10#10·Jack Johnson
1915
16.1%
11-3
15
192 lbs
11#11·Riddick Bowe
1999
97.7%
42-1
38
225 lbs
12#12·Jack Dempsey
1921
1.2%
1-0
1
191 lbs
13#13·James J Jeffries
1903
13.6%
1-1
2
184 lbs
14#14·Sonny Liston
1962
48.1%
24-2
24
199 lbs
15#15·Harry Wills
1921
41.0%
34-4
25
199 lbs
16#16·Ezzard Charles
1949
0.8%
1-0
1
182 lbs
17#17·Jersey Joe Walcott
1942
1.4%
1-0
1
187 lbs
18#18·Sam Langford
1914
3.1%
4-2
6
190 lbs
19#19·Max Schmeling
1936
0%
0-0
0
185 lbs
20#20·Floyd Patterson
1962
0%
0-0
0
187 lbs
21#21·Ingemar Johansson
1958
17.8%
5-0
5
197 lbs
22#22·Elmer Ray
1942
16.5%
15-2
15
194 lbs
23#23·Bob Fitzsimmons
1899
0%
0-0
0
170 lbs
24#24·Ken Norton
1974
74.0%
30-6
34
209 lbs
25#25·Gene Tunney
1922
0%
0-0
0
175 lbs
26#26·Jack Sharkey
1930
5.4%
1-2
2
193 lbs
27#27·Max Baer
1935
34.5%
25-3
26
196lbs
28#28·Jimmy Young
1979
61.8%
21-12
32
208 lbs
29#29·Archie Moore
1949
1.36%
3-0
3
172 lbs
30#30·Jerry Quarry
1979
22.7%
13-2
14
202 lbs
31·Vitali Klitschko-
100%
40-2
42
230 lbs
32·Wladimir Klitschko-
100%
54-3
53%
232 lbs
33·George Foreman II
1992
100%
31-3
34
220 lbs
34·George Foreman I
1973
63.8%
28-2
29
208 lbs

Fistic Statistic [#87.Top30Consensus] Heavyweight boxing toplist by majority consensus

 

You see that approximately HALF of the people listed in this Top30 don't belong there. The ONLY similarity that these boxers have to nowadays heavyweights is the NAME "heavyweight".

Whether you exclude these boxers because of

  • too little real[?] heavyweight fights (Joe Louis, Archie Moore)
  • or a too low percentage of real heavyweight fights (Max Baer, Sonny Liston, yes, Liston)
  • or too light opponents (Harry Wills)
  • or a bummy[?] record (Jimmy Young)

doesn't matter. Any way it's sufficiently clear that something is wrong with "heavyweight toplists" based on the name "heavyweight".

 

 

What we consider heavyweight didn't exist in Muhammad Ali's times

And do you think that "boxing historians" wouldn't make such blatant comparison-mistakes? Let's read what boxing historian Ted Spoon writes:

"Great talent like Jack Sharkey [see table above]Floyd Patterson [see table above] and Jerry Quarry [see table above] would really be up against it with Wladimir"

*Uff*

Ted Spoon compares Wladimir Klitschko

  • to a featherfisted cruiser-bum[?] like Sharkey (37-13, KO'Ratio 23%)
  • to Floyd Patterson whose median[?] opponent was approximately 50 lbs LIGHTER than that of Klitschko
  • and to Jerry Quarry who hasn't even won a world title once

It's so obvious that these American *cough* experts try like blazes to use the most improbable comparisons just to make the current era look bad (and especially the Klitschkos).

These are the same experts who repeat (like a broken record) that the current heavyweight division consists of a "queue of unmotivated, mediocre talent that forgot how to slip or throw a combination" (original quote by the same Ted Spoon).

 

Such experts until now want to indoctrinate boxing fans that Joe Louis vs Max Schmeling 198 vs 192 _IS_ a heavyweight fight just because of the _WORD_ "heavyweight". Or Clay/Ali vs ·Jimmy Robinson 193 vs 177.

Fortunately for us a picture (see above) is worth more than a thousand words of "expert fog talk". No arguing in the world saves nostalgist from these facts.

But I am afraid even Emmanuel Stewart (Hall-of-Fame inductee and trainer of Wladimir Klitschko) makes the same mistake when he compares modern fighters to Sonny Liston:

Emmanuel Steward: "I watched Sonny Liston when I was a teenager do something that I’ve never seen any heavyweight do: walk through the whole division almost from being the number ten guy all the way up to the champion because he was that devastating like around ’57, and ’58, and ’59. I mean he had unbelievable brutal punching power. He was mean, punched with both hands."

Now, it's forgivable that in 1957 Sonny Liston didn't have a single fight. That's NOT the major mistake that Emmanuel Steward makes. The major mistake is that Emanuel Stewart calls the division of Sonny Liston the "heavyweight division" and yet Liston's career up to that point in 1959 (= 27 opponents) consisted only of bums and cruisers, the only exceptions being Cleveland Williams (a former cruiser) and ·Mike DeJohn (suffered 2 losses within 10 months prior to this bout). So when you listen to Emmanuel Steward (or to boxing nostalgists in general) you might think what a "heavyweight steam engine" Sonny Liston was… UNTIL YOU ACTUALLY check his opponents.

And it's all because of the confusing power of the term "heavyweight".

(( Please also read Sonny Liston – The Eric Esch of the 1950ies? ))

In the same interview we have to read:

Interviewer: "Rocky Marciano was the only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated. A lot of people do not rate him highly, however, because he is considered too small by today’s heavyweight standard"

Emmanuel Steward: "Rocky Marciano wouldn’t have made it today because when you don’t have size you make up for it with speed and he didn’t have the best speed, either"

Here you see 2 typical mistakes. The first is by the interviewer who doesn't call Marciano a "Cruiserweight" but merely "a smaller heavyweight" (= thus perpetuating the false heavyweight claim). The second mistake makes Steward who overlooks that Marciano would not have been a heavyweight but a light-heavyweight (or tiny cruiserweight) nowadays, thus his statement "Marciano wouldn't make it today" is speculation. He could have very well become a top light-heavyweight.

 

 

Heavyweight, Superheavyweight, Ultraheavyweight

Just think about what would have happened had they named the 200+ division not "heavyweight" but "ultraweight" (or whatever).

No one would even think of comparing Marciano to modern ultraweights. It would be sufficiently clear that "Oh, Marciano was a heavyweight while Lennox Lewis was an ultraweight".

But since the term "heavyweight" stayed I have to make this blog to point out this serious logical fallacy and I hope that governing bodies will never make such mistake again. Should they introduce, say, a 215+ division then I hope they call it "superheavyweight" or so.

Actually nowadays WOMEN's heavyweight 190+ lbs is heavier than the MEN's heavyweight in Clay/Ali's times 176+ lbs. So if you want to call Ali's sub-200 fight record "heavyweight" then please do so but make him champion in the all time greatest FEMALE boxers toplist.

 

 

Why we should compare Rocky Marciano to Roy Jones Jr.

Sometimes you get the reaction "I stopped reading when you called Rocky Marciano a cruiser!!".

But fans and experts have to finally accept it that Rocky Marciano (who didn't box a single fight at 200+ lbs must not be compared with Lennox Lewis but, letsay, with ·Roy Jones Jr.

And when I write these sentences I know exactly what goes in the heads of good-old-time-nostalgists. They think that this is

  • "impossible"
  • "too ridiculous to consider"
  • "completely nonsense"
  • "revisionistic rewriting of history"

because they already got nicely accustomed to "Marciano = Heavyweight".

So why should we compare Roy Jones Jr to Rocky Marciano?

Well, Rocky Marciano had 12 meaningful fights (= non-bums) against 175+ opponents (average opponent weight 188 lbs).
Roy Jones Junior had 14 meaningful fights against 175+ opponents (average weight 179 lbs).
Since Rocky has won all these fights (while Roy Jones Junior has lost 5 times) we can assume that Marciano is a better cruiser than Roy Jones, and THAT would be a far more legitimate comparison (although incomplete since we didn't compare the quality of these opponents) than some comparison based on the term "heavyweight".

Do I delete fights off the record? No, I don't. The fights stay exactly where they were (just like Pluto didn't suddenly vanish). I give them merely the DESCRIPTION that is VALID today: Cruiserweight. Just because they didn't call it "cruiser" then, doesn't make it less cruiser. And, let's be honest:

Marciano wasn't even a tiny heavyweight but a blown up sub-cruiser.

Olympics did it correctly: Clay/Ali boxed as a lightheavyweight, while Klitschko boxed as superheavyweight. They wouldn't have been allowed to box in the same ring at the Olympic games. HOWEVER, HAD THIS FIGHT (Klitschko vs Ali) happened in pro-boxing they both would have ridiculously been called "heavyweights".

 

 

Joe Louis vs Max Schmeling was not a heavyweight fight

Sometimes you hear the response: "Wait a second! You cannot superimpose modern definitions on the past!!"

But it's exactly vice verse: You cannot superimpose outdated definitions (from 1920) on the present. You cannot say that the "Titanic is the biggest ship in the world" and you cannot say that nowadays cruiserweight is "heavyweight".

Moreover you not only CAN use new definitions for what happened in the past but you HAVE TO as every scientist and historian will tell you:

New definitions have always prevalence over older definitions. That's why Hitler is not our savior and that's why the October revolution happened in November. Because new definitions always trump old definitions.

Thus Rocky Marciano in the past WAS

  • a "heavyweight"

but Rocky Marciano NOW IS

  • a "what-was-called heavyweight"
  • a "then-heavyweight"
  • a "cruiserweight traditionally known as heavyweight"
  • a "cakahweight" (cruiserweight also known as heavyweight)

As soon as a new definition arrives ("Pluto is a dwarf planet") the old definition ("Pluto is a planet") ceases to be valid.

You can complain "Oh my god, he just called Pluto a dwarf planet", but that doesn't change the fact, that Pluto is now considered to not be a planet anymore and is considered to never been a planet before.

As soon as it turns out that Columbus found America (and not India) "Red Indians" are not considered "Indians" anymore. And although you may keep the TRADITIONAL name ("Red Indians") it doesn't change the fact that they are not Indians, just as the traditional name "October revolution" doesn't change the fact that it happened in November. It's merely a traditional name.

Thus the traditional name "heavyweight" doesn't change the fact that 193 lbs vs 177 lbs (Cassius Clay vs ·Jimmy Robinson) is NOT A heavyweight fight anymore. You have to TRANSFER this fight from Clay/Ali's heavyweight record to his cruiserweight record.

Facts are stubborn things.

And the weight _IS_ a fact, no matter how you _NAME_ it.

It's completely IRRELEVANT that someone ONCE long time ago called Rocky Marciano a heavyweight based on a definition from 1920.  In the medieval ages a "heavyweight fight" might have been 130 lbs vs 130 lbs but that doesn't change the fact that "130 is 130" (whether now or 50 years ago) and that 198 vs 192 (Louis vs Schmeling) is 198 vs 192 (whether now or 50 years ago) and that we shouldn't compare such fights to modern heavyweight.

 

 

Rocky Marciano was a cruiserweight, not a heavyweight

Sometimes you read: "But Rocky Marciano _WAS_ a heavyweight because that's how it _WAS_ defined"

Exactly. Marciano _WAS_ a heavyweight by the THEN-VALID-definition.

This definition doesn't exist anymore (except in history books).

And even if you decide to classify fighters by this rule of 1920: It doesn't change the fact that we should compare a "175+ vs 175+" fight to a "175+ vs 175+" fight, no matter whether one has been called "extraweight" and the other "specialweight".

Let's say in 100 years they will have a "heavyweight" starting at 350+ lbs. Then what? Should we still compare Rocky Marciano to such fighters? Just because of the word "heavy"? Should we compare Lennox Lewis to such fighters? Lennox Lewis wouldn't look anything like a 350+ fighter. Everyone knows that such a comparison would be ridiculous .

 

 

Rocky Marciano and Cassius Clay were boxing in the CakaH-weight division

There was no real[?] heavyweight division 200+ then, merely a cruiserweight division.

The lack of heavyweights back then is no justification to compare those cruisers to nowadays heavies.

You cannot deduct from Marciano's wins against cruisers how he would fare against modern heavies. He was never involved in 1 single real heavyweight fight (= both opponents 200+) thus you cannot put him on the same heavyweight toplist like Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis or the Klitschkos.

To legitimately compare modern eras to ancient eras you have to give either the old eras a new name ("CakaH-weight = Cruiserweight aka Heavyweight") or rename the modern era ("Ultraweight" or whatever).

 

 

Klitschko vs some of Muhammad Ali's top opponents wouldn't even be allowed nowadays

Let's look at some typical examples:

"Nowadays heavies are so slow. Look how much faster Floyd Patterson was than Lennox Lewis"

Of course Patterson (average weight 180 lbs) is faster than Lennox Lewis (average weight 237 lbs). I consider this a no-brainer but obviously I need to point it out.

 

"Nowadays era is the worst era. Just look how good the era was in Archie Moore's times"

Translation: "Nowadays heavyweight era is bad. Just look how good the light-heavyweight era was in Archie Moore's times". Apples and oranges.

 

"Ali fought the best there was, while Klitschko has no one to fight"

That statement overlooks that Clay/Ali could choose cruisers to fight against, while Klitschko is forbidden to fight such opponents. Nowadays Klitschko would be _forbidden_ to fight approximately HALF of Clay/Ali's fights.

Moreover everybody knows what would happen if Klitschko lined up 20 cruisers: He would KO all of them, raise his KO'ratio to 99% and everybody would complain about the sad state of the heavyweight division: Boxing eras (3) Wladimir Klitschko in the Golden Age of Heavyweight -OR- How abysmal was Ali's era really?

 

"You are only 5'10"? You weigh only 180 lbs? You want to become a heavyweight? Don't worry! There have been very successful small heavyweights, for example Rocky Marciano!"

Yup, you can do it. Unfortunately you need to invent a time machine first to be successful like Rocky Marciano.

 

"Modern heavyweights are out of shape/fat"

Again you are comparing the body types of past-time cruisers (or former cruisers) to genuine heavyweights of today.

Moreover this statement is also wrong for a much more important reason: Boxing eras (2) Current heavyweights are fat and out of shape -OR- Ali and the mystery of the six-pack

 

"Modern heavies cannot go 15 rounds anymore"

That's pure speculation, but even if! It's obvious that it's much harder to withstand heavy punches than cruiser punches.
For more reasons read Why the Klitschkos will never be ATGs (All Time Greats)

 

"Ali fought against opponents with a record of 184 wins [Archie Moore] while Klitschko has fought no one like that"

Again the reason as above: Archie Moore started at 140+ lbs. He boxed opponents who themselves started as low as 110+ lbsAlabama Kid).

It's obvious that you can accumulate a much better record against such light opponents than against genuine heavyweights.

Nowadays it's obvious that NOT A SINGLE boxer who started at 140+ would ever call out a modern heavyweight champ. It's obvious that boxers who made a career of beating sub-cruisers (80% of Moore's opponents were sub-cruisers or former sub-cruisers) would hardly decide to fight a modern heavyweight champ.

Once you extract sub-200 opponents from Archie Moore's record then his 184 wins melt down to a 23-0 heavyweight experience.

Let's compare that to a modern fight: Vitali Klitschko vs (·Albert Sosnowski).
Sosnowski had (at time of the bout) the experience of 43 real[?] heavyweight wins (median[?] opponent weight 225 lbs). Sosnowski has been degraded by haters to "the bum of the month".

But did Ali actually face someone with such an experience?

As it turns out Clay/Ali has not faced A SINGLE opponent who would have had the experience of 43 wins against heavyweight opponents 200+. The only comparable was George Chuvalo (6'0", 37 heavyweight wins and 10 losses at bout, against a median opponent weight of 206 lbs).

Mind you: I do not put Chuvalo here on the same level as Sosnowski, I just wanted to point out the unfairness towards modern heavyweights.

Thus again it SEEMS that Clay/Ali's opponents were superior, but only because their sub-heavyweight experience is put on the same level as nowadays heavyweight experience.

 

 

How cruisers get illegitimately compared to genuine heavyweights as soon as they get fat

Usually a boxer gets heavier and heavier in his career (e.g. ·James Toney). Then at the end of his career he might suddenly be above the heavyweight limit (= he ends his career as a heavyweight) and then suddenly in the eyes of fans, experts and boxrec his ENTIRE CAREER RECORD (let's say 50-5) MIRACULOUSLY becomes a heavyweight career record.

  • At boxrec.com and in toplists he would be listed as a heavyweight with his full record 50-5
  • The ring announcer would introduce the fight with "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to 12 rounds of the heavyweight championship of the world! Fighting out of the blue corner with a professional record of 50-5, including 40 knockouts…."
  • Descriptions of the record like "undefeated", "KO'ratio", "X times world title winner" would be compared to heavyweights who have not once fought sub-200.
  • He would be ranked in "Heavyweight Toplists" because, hey, 50-5 is a pretty good record for a heavyweight
  • etc…

This happens to many boxers (e.g. ·Evander Holyfield or ·James Toney, whose cruiser records (or below) are simply upgraded to heavyweight records as soon as they gain weight).

It gets more ridiculous as we go further back in time:
·Sam Langford who started at 140 lbs and won against opponents as low as 120+ or 130+ gets ALL of his fights upgraded to heavyweight 200+ because he ended his career as a heavyweight.

A fight like ·Sam Langford vs ·Joe Gans (combined weight 275 lbs) is suddenly as much "heavyweight" as Wladimir Klitschko vs ·Paea Wolfgramm (combined weight 529 lbs).

And this opponent Joe Gans who boxed as low as 123 lbs is suddenly compared with Paea Wolfgramm who has not boxed below 268 lbs.

And then we have to read about Sam Langford (5'6")

"Seriously, I think Langford would flatten a guy like Wladimir Klitschko"
(original quote)

It's RIDICULOUS! But that's what also the RING magazine does when it puts Sam Langford even ABOVE Mike Tyson in the "Punchers toplist". It's completely unreal.

This is how it works step-by-step

  1. A boxer starts as a cruiser or sub-cruiser
  2. he gets fatter and fatter
  3. suddenly he reaches the heavyweight-limit
  4. he ends his career as a heavyweight (e.g. James Toney, Sam Langford)
  5. his whole career record now turns heavyweight
  6. he is now suddenly compared to Mike Tyson, Wladimir Klitschko and Lennox Lewis
  7. then some people watch footage of the boxer (while he still was a cruiser) and compare his sub-heavyweight performance to real heavyweights 200+ or compare his sub-200 opponents to real heavyweight opponents 200+

I have nothing against MIXING cruiser and heavyweight records. Such records (= mixed records that consider fights of all weight divisions) prove beneficial if you want to find out the "general worthiness" of a fighter for example

  • the overall quality of a fighter's opponents
  • whether a fighter is a winner or loser
  • the weaknesses (chin, stamina etc)

But except for this "general worthiness" you CAN NOT use such mixed records to compare cruisers like Marciano to "superheavyweights" like Lennox Lewis.

A 20-0 record at heavyweight is something completely different than a 20-0 record at flyweight. It's like using a record from another sport: If a fighter is a kickboxer then you COULD use his kickboxing record to assess his quality, bum'ness and weaknesses BUT YOU CAN NEVER COMPARE IT DIRECTLY to heavyweight boxing.

Kickboxing and heavyweight boxing are incomparable. And heavyweight and cruiserweight, too, are like 2 different sports.

Should you delete fights completely off the record?

NO!

But you should follow two simple principles:

What happened at cruiserweight stays at cruiserweight!

– and –

A heavyweight toplist which honors sub-heavyweight fights is not a heavyweight toplist!

Otherwise you would have to consider Roy Jones Jr (he had 1 what-they-called-then heavyweight fight) and compare his whole career record (99% cruiserweight fights or below) to the heavyweight record of, say, Lennox Lewis.

  • You need to accept that Rocky Marciano was merely a cruiser (median[?] weight 185 lbs) beating other cruisers and sub-cruisers (median opponent weight 190 lbs).
  • The same applies to Archie Moore: Started at 140+ lbs, median weight 173 lbs, median opponent weight 172 lbs. His record consists of fighters who boxed as low as 112 lbs.
  • Joe Louis had approx. 70 fights: Allof Joe Louis fights were
    • against bums
    • or against cruisers
    • or against former cruisers (or even sub-cruisers)
    • or he was himself a cruiser
    • except for 2 opponents (in Joe's entire career) who were non-bummy natural heavyweights which he met in a real heavyweight fight. It's obvious that Joe Louis shouldn't be on any heavyweight toplist with boxers like Mike Tyson, George Foreman or Lennox Lewis. He plays in a different league than nowadays heavies.

 

 

Why comparing Joe Louis to Mike Tyson is unfair to Mike Tyson

Calling Marciano and early-Clay "cruiserweights" is not only fair to modern heavyweights.

It's also fair to modern cruiserweights.

In the world of good-old-time-nostalgists (= those who compare Rocky Marciano to modern heavyweights) there is absolutely no past-time boxer to compare modern cruiserweights to.

They ridiculously assume that… "cruiser fights didn't happen in those days because the TERM 'cruiser' didn't exist"… and thus… "we compare Rocky Marciano to modern heavyweights and we don't compare modern cruisers to anybody from the past".

Astonishingly the same who accuse me of revisionism have no problem declaring "David Haye is a nobody at heavyweight" when he moved up from cruiserweight to heavyweight. These people suddenly start to remind everyone that "Haye is unproven at heavyweight", "is a nobody" and "whom has he beaten?"

Yet, had he boxed in the 1960/70ies then ALL of Haye's fights would have been heavyweight fights and with his KO'ratio of 90% he would have been considered a proof of "How great the Golden Age of Heavyweight Boxing was".

Actually David Haye's career record (had it been in the 1970ies) would be approximately as good as Foreman's as I pointed out at David Haye compared to George Foreman of the 1970ies

This double standard (and unfairness towards modern cruiserweights) is ridiculous.

Let's clarify again why including cruiser fights discriminates viciously against nowadays heavyweights:

  1. If you are a (sub-)cruiser (who then becomes a heavyweight) then you fought fights which were far less punishing (= body toll) than heavyweight battles thus in essence were winnable easier since the danger of severe punishment was reduced
  2. If you are a (sub-)cruiser (who then becomes a heavyweight) then you may have collected much more fights (= number of fights) than a heavyweight ever could (= your record sounds much more impressive)
  3. If you are a (sub-)cruiser (who then becomes a heavyweight) then you may have fought against the best sub-cruisers and then against the best cruisers thus you have an unfair advantage over genuine heavyweights who had never the chance to put wins against best cruisers and sub-cruisers onto their record.

Thus any ranking list that includes sub-heavyweight fights is unfair to heavyweights AND EVEN MORE UNFAIR to _genuine_ heavyweights.

In other words: To properly compare Wladimir Klitschko (or any other modern heavy) to past-time boxers (e.g. Muhammad Ali) you would have to make Klitschko fight the current cruiserweight elite (just like Ali was allowed to do it). Since this is not going to happen you have to EXCLUDE Ali's fights against cruisers from his record to make a legitimate comparison to modern heavyweights.

Please also read Boxing eras (3) Wladimir Klitschko in the Golden Age of Heavyweight -OR- How abysmal was Ali's era really?.

 

 

The real reason why Americans hate to call Muhammad Ali a "cruiser"

So far I only talked about "ignorance" and "logical fallacies", but there are solid reasons why Americans ACTIVELY sabotage any attempt to call past-time boxers "cruiserweights":

"Cruiserweight is a bogus division that shouldn't exist"

"The butt of jokes"

"Boxing's bastard division"


(original quotes)

Because _IF_ you would indeed compare modern cruisers to the cruisers of the 1970ies (and earlier) then you would be guilty of the following sins:

  • You compare now-cruisers to then-cruiser and thus everyone can see that then-cruisers (like Ali) are slower
  • You compare now-cruisers to then-cruiser and thus everyone can see that then-cruisers (like Ali) are weaker
  • You compare now-cruisers to then-cruiser and thus everyone can see that then-cruisers (like Ali) are less athletic
  • You turn the statement "Modern heavyweights are so much slower than past-time heavyweights" into "Modern cruisers are faster than past-time cruisers".
  • You demote Rocky Marciano's flawless record (49-0) and exclude it from comparison to modern heavyweights
  • You demote Clay/Ali's heavyweight record from 56-5 to 28-4 which makes modern heavyweight records so much more impressive
  • You demote approximately half of Clay/Ali's opponents to cruiserweights thus it would be instantly clear that modern heavyweights would have much less trouble with such opponents (than claimed by nostalgists)
  • And most importantly: You basically state that the USA had no dominant heavyweight champ (except doubtful Tyson and rather unknown Larry Holmes) that would be comparable to modern heavyweights, thus you effectively claim that current non-US-champs may be greater than anything the US ever had

Early Ali (Cassius Clay) was not a fast heavyweight
but a slow cruiserweight

-and-

Later Ali was not an in-shape heavyweight
but an overweight cruiser

These are the main reasons why Ali-fans and US-experts are ACTIVELY against calling past-time's 176-200 "cruiserweight". You have to know these reasons otherwise you won't understand the hatred towards anyone calling past-time boxers "cruisers".

And because of these reasons I have to assume that BoxRec.com will never start to ignore sub-heavy fights when it compiles it all-time heavyweight toplists: Because such an approch would demote Muhammad Ali from the #1 heavyweight position.

 

 

Summary

The usual response of good-old-time-nostalgist is to

  1. refuse to consider that 180 lbs now is 180 lbs then ("Ridiculous modernist approach")
  2. accuse me of revisionism ("What? Ezzard Charles is not a heavyweight like Klitschko?")
  3. accuse me of an effort to delete wins off a fighters record or to blow up losses ("What? Ali was viciously knocked down by Henry Cooper, a cruiserweight?")

My response is:

  1. I don't care how a fight has been called. 180 lbs is 180 lbs. Now and then.
    You could call a fight "supa-dupa-stealth-killa-weight", and yet it would stay 180 lbs. Cassius Clay's KO win against Jimmy Robinson 177 lbs must not be compared to the KOs of Mike Tyson. End of story.
  2. I don't DELETE any wins off a fighter's record. I merely PLACE them on the fighter's cruiserweight record.
  3. By adding cruiser fights to the "cruiser record" cruiser LOSSES get also deleted off the heavyweight record (e.g. Joe Louis' loss to Max Schmeling)
  4. Putting wins where they objectively belong is not only fair to current heavyweights but also fair to current cruiserweights.

 

The discrepancy between past-time boxers and modern heavies gets even bigger when you consider that Wladimir Klitschko isn't a heavyweight but a superheavyweight 215+ lbs. Now, the term superheavyweight doesn't exist in professional boxing (but it exists in other combat sports) but let's assume for a moment that it would exist and let us ask:

"How does Clay/Ali & co compare should a 215+ division be established" (like at kickboxing):

Name215+ opponents recordmedian weight of KO'ed opponentsRecord against non-bummy opponents in real superheavyweight fights (215×2)
·Archie Moore
5-0
175 lbs
0-0
·Chris Byrd
28-4
228 lbs
2-0
·Evander Holyfield
20-8
192 lbs
10-4
·Ezzard Charles
1-0
179 lbs
0-0
·George Foreman
34-3
213 lbs
14-3
·James Toney
5-2
167 lbs
5-2
·Ken Norton
5-2
207 lbs
2-2
·Joe Frazier
7-3
198 lbs
0-2
·Ruslan Chagaev
22-1
236 lbs
9-1
·Corrie Sanders
26-4
218 lbs
7-3
·Ray Mercer
29-6
223 lbs
8-5
·Joe Louis
7-0
193 lbs
0-0
·Larry Holmes
34-3
211 lbs
5-3
·Lennox Lewis
34-2
228 lbs
20-2
·Mike Tyson
33-6
218 lbs
19-6
·Muhammad Ali
14-1
198 lbs
9-1
·Nikolay Valuev
40-2
238 lbs
16-2
·Rocky Marciano
3-0
190 lbs
0-0
·Sam Langford
11-5
188 lbs
0-0
·Sonny Liston
6-0
200 lbs
1-0
·Wladimir Klitschko
46-3
233 lbs
24-2

Fistic Statistic [#87.Rec215_2] Superheavyweight Record

As you see it would even get more clear that modern heavyweights fight in a completely different league than in Ali's times.

 

 

Final statements

  • Leave those old ATGs (like Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano) alone. They have top R4R records and they were great in their times but they have no chance against any of the better modern heavies (and against many of the not-so-good heavies).
  • Compare those old ATGs to modern cruiserweights (or lower) not to modern heavyweights.
  • Nowadays heavies are not bad. They're only "slower" and "fatter" if you illegitimately compare nowadays superheavyweight era 215+ to previous cruiserweight eras 175+ (and I am generous here, because 60% of Klitschkos opponents are actually 230+)
  • And most importantly: This era is not worse than eras before, because something as heavy and as global as this Klitschko era never existed before. Thus this era is the first of its kind. It's incomparable to previous eras. And it's maybe in a transition to a new level of heavyweight.

 

Since this topic is directly interwoven with the perceived performance of Wladimir Klitschko, please also read: Why the Klitschkos will never be ATGs (All Time Greats)

HWtoplist position|name|how many fights were real 200×2 fights|record in 200×2 fights|Median weight of opponent
xx|Vitali Klitschko|100|40-2|230
xx|Wladimir Klitschko|100|54-3|232
1|Muhammad Ali|52.4|28-4|205
2|Larry Holmes|60.5|86.6|212
3|Evander Holyfield|67.2|25-10|219
4|Joe Louis|15.9|11-0|193
5|Joe Frazier|48.6|13-4|201
6|George Foreman|79.0|59-5|214
7|Lennox Lewis|95.4|39-2|229
8|Mike Tyson|96.2|45-6|218
9|Rocky Marciano|0|0-0|185
10|Jack Johnson|16.1|11-3|192
11|Riddick Bowe|97.7|42-1|225
12|Jack Dempsey|1.2|1-1|191
13|James J Jeffries
14|Sonny Liston|48.1|24-2|199
15|Harry Wills
16|Ezzard Charles
17|Jersey Joe Walcott
18|Sam Langford
19|Max Schmeling
20|Floyd Patterson|0|0-0|187
21|Ingemar Johansson
22|Elmer Ray
23|Bob Fitzsimmons
24|Ken Norton|74.0|30-6|209
25|Gene Tunney
26|Jack Sharkey
27|Max Baer
28|-Jimmy Young|61.8|21-12|208
29|Archie Moore|1.36|3-0|172
30|Jerry Quarry|22.7|13-2|202
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Rating: 4.9/5 (17 votes cast)
Boxing eras (1) The best heavyweight era of all time -OR- Is Roy Jones Jr. a better cruiser than Rocky Marciano?, 4.9 out of 5 based on 17 ratings
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Comments (12)

  • Marv says:
    flag
    [ip2username: Lei Ruka]
    #310 Marv (2011-05-22nd)

    O.K. – I watched Pascal vs. Hopkins 2 tonight. IMO, Hopkins won with minimalist style (the way an old sickly guy like myself would have to street fight in an emergency). Next, I watched as much footage of Hopkins vs. Roy Jones Jr., Next, I watched various Hopkins fights footage; various Roy Jones Jr. fights footage,etc.

    Based also on your statements and charts above, plus Marciano era gloves being thinner = my theory that Rock could take more whuppin' than Roy.I am totally convinced that Rock was better than Roy. Also, touching on my flip side of 'featherfist', a sub- topic to the 'Heavyweight to Cruiser or light heavy'(which I agree with your science), taking the median weight of Marciano or even Dempsey fights they often beat guys ten pounds heavier. I would theory if you assume the 25 best fighters from the last 25 years weighing between 195 and 205 could beat Marciano, that they are an elite group, skill wise. After that, you have not elite but merely very good fighters. Like I mentioned in the other 'flipside' post, skill, desire,will,etc. could very well have Marciano out-toughing/skilling/classing everyone after #25 who weighs up to 205. This might sound like mish-mosh come morning cause I'm dead punchy on my feet right now( I stand at the computer cause of my back and my leg is swollen and I type slow so I'm guilty of putting myself on the ropes.) Let me know if I made any sense when it's convenient. Good night…

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  • joe says:
    flag
    [ip2username: Juta Syro]
    #3790 joe (2012-02-26th)

    you have made manty very good points and i argee with you

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  • aleks says:
    flag
    [ip2username: Bobe Piju]
    #3962 aleks (2012-05-02nd)

    I personaly think roy jones jr is a very TALENTED boxer, he doesent have a good chin but he never got hit cleanly, which is impresive since he fough fast fighters!. But i can't see roy knocking out marciano, beacuse roy jones never had that powerful destroying punch, he just had speed and that "snap" punch, But i think roy jones could easily get marciano on points, marciano would just go foward and take punches from roy and he's face would look like a salami!. But You must admit that marciano was not overatted, since most of those famous fighters that you have written about OUTWEIGHED their opponents, while marciano was always smaller, i think that makes victory more dificult. And marciano would be a light-heavy og cruiser today, but he was VERY STRONG for his size, much stronger than nowadays cruisers and ligh-heavyweights.

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    • Admin says:
      flag
      [ip2username: Suva Mywo]
      #3963 Admin (2012-05-03rd)

      Yes, Marciano per se is not necessary overrated. But Marciano as a real heavyweight (200+), i.e. as an opponent against modern heavyweights is overrated.

      The same applies to all ancient boxers, including Joe Louis and Ali. But Marciano would have a far bigger weight/height disadvantage than Joe Louis or Ali.

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  • aleksandar says:
    flag
    [ip2username: Bobe Piju]
    #4007 aleksandar (2012-06-22nd)

    I have a very interesting question: How would the modern heavyweights reacted if they got hit with that "suzie-Q" that hit walcott. Would they have been wobbled,hurt or even KOed??????

    In other words. It's not marciano foult that he only fought modern cruisers, but he KOed all of them, and WE dont KNOW how modern 230-240lbs heavyweights would have been if they got hit with those kind of punches that KOed those 190lbs "heavyweights" in marcianos time.

    I personaly like maricano just beacuse of his courage and heart, his style sucked. But i just like the legend of him, that he's still the only undefeated HW champion.

    And could you please make a article between rciano and ali, with al the facts and analyses so realy see which of them would win. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!

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  • Bruce Crichton says:
    flag
    [ip2username: Sivu Valy]
    #4020 Bruce Crichton (2012-07-03rd)

    Any chance of finishing the Haye – Foreman article?

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    • Admin says:
      flag
      [ip2username: Suva Mywo]
      #4037 Admin (2012-07-11th)

      I decided to not write anything anymore until their careers are over. It's way too much fuss to keep track of the boxers' careers and their opponents' careers.

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      • Jethro Tull says:
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        [ip2username: Vebi Bupa]
        #4148 Jethro Tull (2012-08-12th)

        I'm not sure there will be many more fights to come from David Haye.

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  • Aswin says:
    flag
    [ip2username: Tevi Luva]
    #5461 Aswin (2013-01-02nd)

    While you have stated some good facts here, you have tended to emphasize only on facts that suit your argument. For example, you quote Emmanuel Stewart's appreciation of liston and point out that it is a MISTAKE on Emmanuel Stewart's part to call Liston as a heavyweight because he weighed only around 206-210 pounds. For heaven's sake, you are not an expert of boxing. I presume that having coached more than 12 world champions, Emmanuel Stewart knows more than you know. So, start listening. You keep cribbing about the weight limit of yesteryear heavyweights without even considering the facts that nutrition and training methods were very less/nonexistent in those eras. Jack Johnson fought during a time when Blacks hardly got anything to eat, let alone eat healthily. Plus, considering that the average male around 1900s weighed only between 170-180 pounds, heavyweight limit was very less. Same applies for all heavyweight champions till 1970-1980.That's why the median weight of Ali's opponents (206) vary from Larry Holmes Opponents (212) even though they have overlapping careers while Tyson's opponents' media range suddenly jumps to 218. Isn't it obvious that if Ali had been born post 1980, he would have been exposed to a different training method/nutrition cycle and surely his physique would have changed accordingly. The same applies to Klitschko, if he had been born in 1980, due to the inferior training methods, he would have been only a 220-230 pounder. Can you prove either of my arguments wrong? No, you can't. Because the only way you can disprove is by inventing a time machine and doing the needful.

    You conveniently say that Liston never punched harder than Wladmir because Liston weighed only 206-210 pounds when compared to Wladmir. Scientifically, it has been proven that large muscle structure and bone mass actually contribute to punching power. This may explain the fact that Ernie Terrell, a 6 foot 6 giant, in th 1970s only had a KO ratio of 51+% while a tiny puncher like Earnie Shavers had more than 80%. You also state that Foreman never punches harder than Wladmir, but unfortunately, your view is only subjective unless we have a machine that actually measures punching power.

    And you derogate great boxers like Frazier calling him a one-eyed bum…. Yes, he is blind in one eye, but to win a Olympic Gold medal and a heavyweight championship is some achievement. Even good boxers can't achieve it, let alone bums….. Frazier fought with the best in his era, the boxers who were available. He never ducked any fight. In fact he was only one of the select few boxers to rematch foreman… To fight against a boxer, who almost killed you during the first attempt itself is a standout quality for a boxer. We call it heart while you call it something else. Wladmir, despite all his talents, never rematched his main victor, Corrie Sanders. Granted that Corrie refused a rematch. But why did Wladmir never call out Sanders after he lost to Vitali. Was it just because he retired? How many retirements are actually permanent in boxing? A true champion definitely would definitely want to avenge his most humiliating defeating? Why didn't Wladmir do it then? Why did Vitali choose to bludgeon Sanders and Brewstor on his brother's behalf? Is this boxing or a Tag team sport? :(

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  • Honza says:
    flag
    [ip2username: Xisu Napy]
    #5494 Honza (2013-01-29th)

    Why did Vitali choose to bludgeon Sanders and Brewstor on his brother's behalf? Is this boxing or a Tag team sport?
    I can not say it better. He loves Klitschkos so much that he completely ignore fact that they are working as a team.

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  • Jay Tee says:
    flag
    [ip2username: Nibu Baxy]
    #7299 Jay Tee (2014-06-15th)

    First & foremost, if you want to start a heated debate, ask a group of guys who is the greatest boxer of all time! This entire "conversation" regarding the greatest heavyweight of all time will never, EVER be resolved, especially due to all of this BS that you are attempting to use to validate your comparison between all of these great heavyweight boxers being absolutely irrelevant! You cannot compare boxers across different eras! It's simply impossible to reach a factual conclusion to this debate. As time passes, so does the evolution of the human body. (Please note that I am in NO WAY using the word "evolution" to be linked to the "theory" associated with it. I'm simply saying that it is a fact that humans are much larger-taller, stronger, heavier, etc.-than they were years ago). There are several theories behind this phenomenon, such as the chemicals in the food now, better knowledge of health, kinesiology, physical fitness, nutrition, & so on; yet I'm not getting into that! All I'm saying is that it is a FACT, people continue to get bigger as time goes by. So boxers, especially heavyweights, 20 years from now will be bigger than they are today. I would be willing to bet my last dime that this will occur! But one thing you must also take into consideration is that while Marciano may be extremely smaller than Klitschko, Marciano fought boxers that were larger than him, while Klitschko typically fights boxers that are not as big as him. The only boxer that existed in earlier eras, that even came close to being compared by size to a boxer like Klitschko is Primo Carnera, a joke of a boxer (see Carnera vs. M. Baer-a bout that was, at the time, shown in theaters as a comedy). The fact is, people in general, not just heavyweight boxers, are constantly getting larger and heavier. So, trying to find different means of comparing boxers across different eras is impossible & cannot be done. The only way to find answers to these questions is by using a time machine (which is obviously never going to happen. So, while it's fun to debate, there is no formula to resolve this ongoing debate. It's entertaining, but not valid.

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    • Tommo says:
      flag
      [ip2username: Luxa Xyso]
      #7727 Tommo (2014-11-30th)

      Your initial dialogue basically sums up that boxers today are bigger than yesterday with all associated benefits, validating that part of authors inference so no problem there.

      The come the blunders in your logic+factual incorrectness…

      Wladimir was taller than most of his opponents but he did fight and beat a lot of opponents roughly the same size as himself (like Thompson etc.) Of course "weight" is more important than height and here we see that Wladimir outweighs/is outweighed evenly 50% of the time, therefore rendering that statement false.

      Marciano did indeed fight bigger opponents than himself. But as shown in other tables, these opponents were basically all bums, whereas Wladimir Klitschko chose instead to fight quality opposition. MArciano in fact didn't have a choice because he possibly fought in the weakest era of all time due to war. But that doesn't detract that MArciano was a rubbish skilled boxer, and fought terrible opposition.

      What's more author credited Marciano as possibly be deserving of a top rating on a CW or LHW toplist as he was, but doesn't have any place whatsoever on a HW toplist.

      And a further point here is that MArciano, Evander Holyfield, David Haye, Chris Byrd etc are some of the FEW champions that were more often outweighed at HW than not, the NORM is that the champions most often outweigh their opponents (like Ali, Foreman, Louis etc). Here WK performs BETTER!

      And back to the weight, you declare it isn't relevant for comparing eras BECAUSE the boxers today are bigger+stronger? That is almost too retarded to respond to really.

      It's precisely BECAUSE the boxers get bigger and stronger from one era to the next that the further you go back in time, the less competitive fights there would be, and for objective fans (like me) is obviously the case.

      Basically today, any top 10 HW boxer could demolish every single ATG champ pre-80's and any of teir opponents or otherwise clown them totally, not just a Klitschko. And today's bums would be serious factors in these divisions.

      The factual evidence presented is SO STRIKINGLY OVERWHELMING, even despite the occasional author speculation, as to leave absolutely zero doubt!

      And that's BEFORE we consider that the competion today is much tougher and the opponents wore skilled as well! But that's another story.

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