Fantasy Boxing Matches Denis Styleeee!

by Fran on March 27, 2014

Following the ground swell of discussion and conversation generated by a recent article written by my friend Denis Brown, Denis has kindly agreed to put together a follow up post.

The original article (Greatest Boxers - New Kids vs The Old Guard) discussed the challenges of comparing boxers of years gone by with those modern fighters who prowl the squared circle today. At the core of the article was the principle that in modern boxing it appears that as much effort is put into avoiding top-level opponents as was put into 'vintage' boxing to challenge top-level opponents. The curse of preserving the unbeaten record seems to take precedence, with young fighters almost considered washed up if they happen to be on the wrong side of a result. To say that the article generated a raft of very insightful and impassioned comments is somewhat of an understatement.

In the new article, Denis again has not disappointed. I have applied minimal edits to Denis's post and will leave you to be the judge of the mythical match-ups and indeed the method of building the fights. It has to be said, our modern fighters are in for a bit of a shock to the system as they are facing some, erm, constraints ūüôā

The method of establishing the matches seems reasonable to me, but you may well have a different method that you might suggest. It has to be said that the selection is based upon modern champions rather than the best fighters of the modern era, an important distinction. Although how we define 'The Modern Era' is another question.

Here's Den's article:

As a follow up to my previous article on the merit of old timers vs modern boxers, and because it might also provoke some debate, I am going to hold a mythical contest between the two sets of fighters and try and predict winners in each contest.

This is not a new format for an article on boxing but to give it a twist, let’s imagine these fights taking place under the rules and conditions of the time. That means for some of the modern fighters, they could find themselves fighting 15 or 20 rounds, sometimes without even a mouthpiece and often weighing in at ringside.  All fighters are considered to be in their prime.

For the old timers I am randomly selecting a member of the top ten fighters in each weight category in the 'Classic 8' from the list of best fighters as chosen by Nat Fleischer, founder of The Ring magazine and someone who actually saw all the old time boxers fight and who knew them well. This list was originally published in 1958.

The modern boxers will be chosen from the current Ring Magazine ratings at each weight.

Heavyweight

Jack Johnson Vs Wladimir Klitschko

Jack Johnson weighed around 220lbs and was 6'2''.  Wladimir Klitschko weighs in at around 240lbs and is 6'6''.  Both fighters possess fantastic jolting jabs and demonstrate patient, stand-up boxing skills.  Klitschko's size and weight advantages are offset by Johnson’s unparalleled defensive skills and ring generalship.  Jack had by far the better chin but could be hurt if hit flush (as demonstrated by the big hitting middleweight Stanley Ketchel).

Neither fighter had what could be described as a 'busy' style and that would suit Johnson in a fight over 20 rounds.  Fighters back then had did not have the benefit of mouthguards and used orange peel (the rather disconcerting up shot again demonstrated in Johnson's destruction of Ketchel where Jack was seen to brush Stanley's teeth from his right glove having landed a cataclysmic uppercut). Tactically speaking, my feeling here is that Klitschko would struggle to land punches on Johnson and would become befuddled by Johnson’s typical plan of retreat then spring an attack with accurate counters on the inside.

In all probability, Johnson would cut the bigger slower Klitchko down before it got to the championship rounds.

Winner: Jack Johnson

 

Light Heavyweight

Tommy Loughran Vs Adonis Stevenson

Tommy Loughran was a really big hitter in his youth but hand troubles forced him into becoming a boxing master who would eventually compete for the heavyweight crown against the best big men of his day.

Adonis Stevenson has immense power but many consider his boxing skills rudimentary and his tactical nous limited.  Stevenson has tired quickly in fights, leaving a question mark on his stamina, but this has never really been an issue because of his considerable punching power.

Nevertheless, this one looks still like an easy night for Loughran who handled much bigger punchers and far better boxers than Stevenson, day-in day-out in a career that saw him beat both Max Baer and James J Braddock whilst Tommy was still operating at light heavyweight.  Loughran behind one of the all-time greatest jabs, would be content to fight exhibition style to win an easy decision in 15 rounds.

Winner: Tommy Loughran

 

Middleweight

Harry Greb Vs Sergio Martinez

Everyone has heard of the legendary Harry Greb. His brutal attritional style was almost unbeatable. Greb was knows as 'The Pittsburgh Windmill' for very good reason. He threw punches constantly and not all of them being legal! His career spanned 299 fights and remains rated at number 5 all time greatest boxer by The Ring magazine, and number 1 at middleweight ahead of Sugar Ray Robinson.

Greb was victorious against Mickey Walker, Johnny Wilson and Augie Ratner all whilst blind in one eye (he died prematurely following complications with eye surgery).  Greb even defeated future heavyweight champion Gene Tunney, that is an amazing feat by any standards.

Sergio Martinez, it must be said, has been a fine champion and has great heart and ring smarts. However, without going into the tactical aspects too much, let’s just say that Greb would have broken Martinez beyond repair within 6 rounds before running out of the ring for a quick shower and onto the nearest night club for 12 hours of wild partying with a pair of round-card girls.

Winner: Harry Greb

 

Welterweight

Ted 'Kid' Lewis Vs Floyd Mayweather Junior

Floyd Mayweather Jr is the best fighter in the world today and it is not even close.  He has a remarkable skill set and the best defensive moves in the business, right up there with Jack Johnson and Willie Pep. He has good power and a solid chin that no-one can seem to hit.

Mayweather Jr's opponent is old time welterweight champ Ted 'Kid' Lewis.  For this fight, over 20 rounds, boxers will have to make weight ringside.  As was the norm at the time, Lewis would reduce right down to about 147lbs with Floyd doing the same.  This is unlikely to be an issue for Mayweather Jr given weight range.

Ted ‚ÄėKid‚Äô Lewis remains the best fighter to have come out of Britain. ¬†He was either British, Commonwealth, European or World Champion at any weight between featherweight and middleweight, and even fought for the undisputed Light Heavyweight title in career that consisted of 299 fights (the same number of bouts as Greb, those guys had to work hard to put food on the table!).

Lewis was a natural lightweight and, at his best, fought between 130-145lbs.  In terms of speed, Mayweather Jr may have a slight edge, whereas Lewis definitely hit the harder of the two.  Floyd has the superior defence but Lewis, although mainly regarded as a box-fighter, was actually a dancing master when he needed to be.  Lewis owned a (newspaper) decision, which was the custom of the day in some US states, over The Ring’s all-time number 2 lightweight, Benny Leonard.

So, this is a close fight and it is hard to pick against Mayweather Jr.  However, and this is the key point, Kid Lewis is rated as the 5th best welterweight of all time.  Is Floyd better than any of the welterweights ranked above Lewis in The Ring ratings? Those four guys are Sugar Ray Leonard, Henry Armstrong, Sugar Ray Robinson and Barbados Joe Walcott?  Given that Floyd struggled with Castillo and a prime Lewis outboxed Benny Leonard and Jack Britton, then in my opinion Ted could probably outbox Mayweather too.

Winner: Ted 'Kid' Lewis

 

Lightweight

Benny Leonard Vs Terence Crawford

Benny Leonard, not only is he ranked as the number 2 lightweight of all time behind Roberto Duran, he is also ranked as the 7th greatest fighter of all time by The Ring and was the lightweight champion for 8 years.  Facing Leonard is newly crowned WBO Terence Crawford, fresh from his decision over Scotland’s Ricky Burns.  Benny had advantages in skill, power, speed, ring generalship and chin.  To be fair, Crawford is largely untested and his only solace here is that this is a fantasy match-up so will never happen!

Simple one this. Given the fact that 70 of Benny's opponents never heard the final bell, Leonard by KO in exactly 3 rounds.

Winner: Benny Leonard

 

Featherweight

Willie Pep Vs Jhonny Gonzalez

Jhonny Gonzalez, the current WBC Champ, is a good fighter with good power.  He has stopped 47 opponents and lost only 8 times out of 55 fights.  Willie Pep definitely had a lower KO rate that Gonzalez (knocking out 65 of his 229) but despite this  Pep is rated as the 3rd greatest fighter of all time by The Ring, as well as being recognised as the greatest featherweight of all time.

Pep’s opponents usually realised that the only time they could lay a glove on him was when they touched gloves before the bell.  Gonzalez looks like a good fighter with a predatory instinct but it doesn’t matter.  Pep beats everyone at featherweight, usually without his opponent laying a glove on him.

Winner: Willie Pep

 

Bantamweight

Eder Jofre Vs Anselmo Moreno

Brilliant Brazilian Eder Jofre KO’d 50 out of 78 opponents and lost only twice in his 19 year career.  Jofre has all the advantages in terms of defence, speed, skills and experience and I see him winning this one without too much exertion.  Moreno has limited power and limited chances in this fight, which Jofre wins by stoppage, probably in the early to middle rounds.

Winner: Eder Jofre

Flyweight

Jimmy Wilde Vs Akira Yaegashi

I admit that I have never seen current champ Akira Yaegashi fight. His record of 19 wins, 3 losses and 9 wins by KO.  Yaegashi's record compares unfavourably to Wilde’s 139 wins with an astonishing 98 KO’s. That KO rate, for a flyweight, is simply breathtaking.  Over 20 rounds, without a mouthguard and weighing in ringside against 'The Ghost With A Hammer In His Hand' (how's that for a nickname), who would bet against Mr Yaegashi being in the land of Nod before the ring card reads double figures?

Winner: Jimmy Wilde

 

And there we have it.  In only two fights, at heavyweight and welterweight, could I see genuine 50/50 fights and in both cases I edged it for the fighter with the better resume.

Please let me know what you think.  How do you see these match-ups?  Which other old time fighters would beat the current champs? How do we define 'The Modern Era'. Let's not wait for the next episode of Soap to find out (youngsters won't get that), let's have it in the comments section below.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Smith April 8, 2014 at 1:37 am

He certainly has Fran and I am well, thanks.

It was a lot of fun checking out some of the fighters listed above and I initially was going to disagree with one of Denis’s choices; that of Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis over Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Having seen Lewis get KO’d and lose to Georges Carpentier, in a similar fashion and for almost the same reason Tito Ortiz lost to Floyd, I was ready to give Floyd the nod. BUT, I then learned that Carpentier was a light heavyweight at that time of his victory over Lewis. Plus I found out Lewis fought one rival 20 times! Well, that made me dig deeper until I found the following Appreciation Video which just astounded me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpwodiFaQfQ

So, respect to Denis and his choice of boxing champions because they just don’t make ’em like that anymore!

Cheers Coach.

Reply

Paul Smith March 29, 2014 at 12:10 pm

WOW, what a very cool article!

I am not educated enough in the history of boxing to really dispute any of the above theoretical decisions — BUT, I will be now!

So before I can try to give an informed opinion, I will take the information and names of the above ‘old guard’ fighters and study some clips on YouTube. I imagine it will be great fun and am pretty excited about it……If only school was this stimulating when I was younger…..Oh well, in any regard this has already been an extraordinary history lesson on the ‘sweet science’.

Thanks Fran and Denis.

P.S. I’ll be back.

Reply

Fran March 30, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Hey Paul

Denis again has produced a cool bit of boxing history versus boxing present.

Cheers mate, I hope that you are well.

Reply

fity March 28, 2014 at 9:13 pm

I think Jack Johnson was the greatest heavyweight of all time and would have dominated Ali,as good as he was;Joe Louis a close second.

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