The Golden Age Of Heavyweight Boxing Is Upon Us!

By J. Carter: Ladies and gentlemen, in this year of 2008, a very strange and perplexing situation has unfolded! Something inexplicable which demands an explanation! Confused? Let me spell it out..

Across the world, within the past 20 years or so, in every sport and athletic endeavour known to man, world records have been continually broken. From athletics to gymnastics, sailing to skiing, mountaineering to swimming - human feats of strength, skill, endurance and speed are at an all time high. Every men's track and field world record (with the exception of the 30,000m (1981) and the 4x1500m relay (1977), has been smashed since 1990, (with most of the records being set this decade). ALL men's swimming world records have been broken this decade. All world weightlifting records have been smashed since 1995. Men are stronger, faster, fitter and possessed of more athletic prowess, endurance, skill and technique than ever before in the history of the human race. The records speak for themselves. If you don't believe me, look it up!

But wait……! According to the majority of the writers, commentators and armchair experts, there's one exception to all these proven and undeniable facts and figures! Yes! Incredibly, rather than following suit with all the achievements and superior athleticism associated with every single sporting event known to man, HEAVYWEIGHT BOXING IS GOING BACKWARDS!

Now, if that ain't a strange and perplexing situation then I don't know what is!

The division is weak! The champions are mediocre! Things ain't what they used to be! On and on it goes, ad infinitum. Am I really the only person on this planet who is SICK AND TIRED of hearing it? There is an old saying – ‘everyone is entitled to an opinion'. Ok, well, I do a lot of reading up on astronomy (no, really) - it's something I'm quite interested in. However, how much do you think my opinion on it is worth compared to a man who has spent his entire life devoted to the study of the complexities of time and space and the mysteries of the universe? Do you think my library-book educated theories on the realities of quantum physics are valid? Should I give my opinions about it in the letters page of the ‘New Scientist'? And if so, should I expect my opinions to be taken seriously?

Let me put it another way – 99% of all boxing writers, commentators and armchair experts have never put on a pair of boxing gloves or fought in a boxing ring in their lives. I, however, have been actively boxing since 1976, firstly as an amateur, then later as bare knuckle, unlicensed and sparring partner for pros, which I pursue to this day. (Never turned pro myself though. Sex, drugs and rock & roll waylaid me!)

I also own a boxing library of hundreds of hours of fights on video. Therefore, I consider MY opinion on boxing and boxers to be just as considered, valid and educated as the next man. And, considering my passionate interest in boxing, as a spectator, and involvement in, as a participant, I believe my credentials/opinions to be vastly MORE worthy than the majority of said writers, commentators and armchair experts who are out there in the public domain busy denouncing the sport I love. Would you care to disagree with me? Do you favour a 190lb Henry Cooper against a 260lb Danny Williams? Or a 208lb Joe Frazier against a 245lb Wladimir Klitschko? Or what about a 180lb Rocky Marciano against a 230lb David Tua? or a 200lb joe louis against a 260lb jameel mcline?

And it's not only about the sheer size and strength of these heavyweights today. A combination of training techniques, diet, and conditioning all account for the superiority factor too. Even a fringe contender like Ray Austin, at 6'6" and 250lbs, would have wiped out the heavies from the alleged ‘golden eras'. To underestimate these men today is a travesty. The boxers today, and especially the men from the Soviet countries, are simply bigger, stronger and better conditioned than their counterparts from the division 30+ years ago, never mind 40+ years ago when the majority of heavyweights barely made 200lb. This is not to say that old timers werent well conditioned too, its a combination of all factors that tell the story here, but for sure size and strength play a big part. Remember, in the early 70's george foreman was considered a giant among heavyweights, and he rarely went above 220, in fact he was more likely to be around 217. Now youve got guys routinely walking around at 240,250+ - and these are not lumbering giants like carnera and willard - the likes of , for example, the klitschkos, lewis, mcline etc, just cannot be labelled in the same category as those men. The facts are, up to the mid 80's, top heavies barely scaled beyond 220, whereas nowadays if youre 226 like ibragimov or 230 like chagaev, youre considered small! if you dont think that size combined with skill, technique and conditioning doesnt make a difference then you are mistaken. in todays heavyweight world only fighters with an extreme amount of skill, as per the likes of byrd,holyfield and jones, could figure at the top level

With more and more exceptional Soviet boxers coming through, there has never been a more exciting and compelling time to be a heavyweight boxing fan. Coming up shortly is a fight between two of the best heavyweights of all time, Wladimir Klitschko and Sultan Ibragimov, which promises to be the fight of this or any other century. Also Oleg Maskaev against Samuel Peter is approaching. Maskaev is probably the most under-rated of all the champions. He looks slow and awkward but is in fact a very good boxer who hits with concussive power. Or maybe you should ask Hasim Rahman , the conqueror of Lewis, who has twice been dispatched by the man, about that. You should all be rejoicing that you're alive in this era to be able to witness these fights at first hand!

Plenty of you will be in disagreement with me over this article and I'm anticipating a rush of emails confirming this. Bring it on! I look forward to doing verbal battle with you! Just before you do though, look again at the logic of the situation as I have outlined in the first part of this article, and see how absurd it is to consider that the heavyweight division is somehow not what it was. It's not only incredibly disrespectful to the fighters themselves but also so wide of the mark it's laughable.

I could go on and on, and perhaps if I am allowed to, I will expand upon this article. For now though I'll leave you with the truest and wisest words ever spoken about boxing, aptly delivered by a preacher! Namely, George Foreman to Larry Merchant (one of the great armchair, sorry, ringside, experts of all time) - ‘You don't know boxing Larry, you only talk boxing.'

Remember them the next time you hear the division being slated.

Article posted on 09.02.2008

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