How would Big Bob Foster do today?

16.05.07 - By Ted Sares: Serious boxing fans know all about Bob's history, style and accomplishments. He was very tall, had long arms and could launch a left hook with deadly results. His jab was a snapping one capable of slicing and dicing an opponent's face and he had decent power in his right. As well, he dominated a so-so light heavyweight division for about 6 years. But it was his malefic hook that was his calling card.

Now some have argued that Bob didn't beat anyone at light heavyweight who could hold a candle to the guys to whom he lost. Fellow ESB writer Marc Axelrod states, "... Other than the spectacular knockout of a much smaller and older Dick Tiger, who did Foster beat that would warrant the high placement that boxing experts give him? Were his wins against Vincente Rondon and Chris Finegan [1972 Fight of the Year] and Roger Rouse and Tommy Hicks and Mike Quarry enough to make him the greatest light heavyweight since Archie Moore? Was it the two close [and historic fights] with Pierre Fourie that put Foster in the upper echelons of light heavyweight glory? His spirited draw with Jorge Ahumada?" I don't know, but like Rocky Marciano, he did what he had to do at the time he did it. He handled what was served up to him.

While his past accomplishments have been covered in volume, what about today? How would he do against today's light heavyweights and cruiserweights? What would happen if he stepped up and fought today's bigger heavyweights?

First, let’s review the easy one. In the past, Bob's attempts to become a top Heavyweight were met with a combination of mismanagement, frustration and defeat, whether the opponents were Ali and Frazier or Jones and Terrell (all KO losses). He lost to Ali by a knockout in the eighth, after being knocked down 7 times (though he did manage to cut up Ali with his punishing jabs). Indeed, 7of his 8 career defeats were against heavyweights, though to his credit, he fought the very best. In my view, he just didn't have the wherewithal, strength-wise, to meet the greater power and size of the heavyweights he fought. Given that today's heavyweights are considerably bigger than they were back when Bob fought, it stands to reason he would do even worse in an era that includes big men like Rahman, Maskaev, Peter, Briggs, Brewster, Valuev, the Klitchko's, and other big fighters. The same holds true had he fought Holmes, Foreman or a prime Holyfield.

Given his height advantage, an interesting fight might have been with a prime Tyson, but I can't see Bob surviving that one, particularly if he could not survive a short Joe Frazier. Ruiz might offer his best opportunity, but remember, Bob has already been tested, and he did not get a passing grade. Styles make fights and Ruiz's was made to order for a stick and get-out Jones, but it would have presented bigger problems for Foster.

When you go to today's cruisers and light heavies, it's a different story. Remember, The Alberque native is considered one of the greatest light heavyweight champions in history. That said, and keeping in mind the brutal power of his left hook (leveraged by his exceptional 6'3'' height and reach), Foster would fare very well with today's light heavyweights and cruiserweights, as there would be no weight disparity to give his opponents an edge in strength. He would quickly emerge to the top beating by stoppage such cruisers as O'Neil Bell (who is inconsistent and has a questionable defense), Gullermo Jones, Jean-Marc Mormeck (who has a stamina issue), Johnny Nelson and Wayne Braithwaite.

Moving to light heavyweight, the competition might be a bit tougher. Indeed, a prime Roy Jones Jr might be more than he could handle assuming Roy remained focused and resorted to a disciplined stick and run strategy. Hopkins also would provide tough competition for the same reasons. Jones and Hopkins are both cerebral and just might be able to decision Foster, but neither could win in any other fashion. As for Tarver, Johnson and Woods, I see Foster dispatching both Woods and Tarver with his sledgehammer hook, but having a tad more trouble with the granite-chin Glen Johnson, who tends to fight like a heavy. Bob would need to keep him at bay with his snapping jab on his way to a decision victory. Sure, Dawson, Briggs and Adamek are warriors, but they would not be able to stand up to the ferocity of the Albuquerque native.

At the end of the day, I'd give no light heavy a chance to prevail over Foster. Oh, did I forget Virgil Hill and Henry Maske? Crunch!

When I think of Bob Foster, I think of greats like Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore, Gene Tunney, Jimmy Bivins, and Billy Conn......but I also think of tough guys like Saad Muhammad, Michael Spinks, and Roy Jones, Jr. Bob Foster belongs somewhere in the mix; clearly, none of today's light heavyweights do. And that says it all.

Article posted on 16.05.2007

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