70’s ‘Golden Era’ Heavyweights v the Modern Era

By J.Marcus: My last article aroused some controversy though I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of support I received too. Of course there were the usual name-calling idiots writing in but that’s to be expected on the internet where cowards can hide a million miles away behind their computers. My main argument is that the heavyweight division is not weak and is just as strong as it’s ever been. My attackers always quote the 70’s as being the ‘golden era’ and I was accused in some posts of passing over the stronger opposition the likes of Ali and Holmes faced for the weaker ones. Therefore I would like to take this opportunity to bring you the 10 best fighters from the 70’s and match them up in fantasy battles with some of the top guys around today. Again, these are my opinions and are delivered, always, with maximum respect for all fighters involved. In the spirit of debate, I welcome your opinions of it.


An interesting match-up. If this was the later version of foreman then it would have been even more interesting. The younger version was a much wilder and un-disciplined fighter. George, at 6’3 and 219lb, was considered a giant back in the day. Here he is facing a man some 4 inches taller and 30lb heavier, who is stronger physically and hits just as hard if not harder. I think the George of the 70’s struggles badly here stylistically as Vitali bends away from his best shots and easily absorbs those that land. Frustrated, foreman becomes exhausted and is taken out after 7 or 8 rounds
Verdict; Klitschko by TKO

Styles make fights and I think Ali could have been a big problem for Wladimir. Whereas I feel that the likes of Tyson would have walked straight through him, here Ali is facing an upright boxer and he did well against that type of fighter. However in Wladimir he is up against a man who is his equal in terms of boxing knowledge and again, he faces a huge man some 4 inches taller and 30lb heavier who boxes with great intelligence and possesses a ramrod straight right hand combined with one of the best jabs we’ve ever seen. Ali doesn’t have the power to trouble wladimir and must rely purely on skill and evasive tactics, but like Chris Byrd before him, I think he finds out that skill alone is not enough to beat this man
Verdict; Klitschko on points


Frazier attacks Tua with his usual bobbing and weaving style but in Tua he is fighting a man who has shown himself to be virtually knockout-proof, possessing one of the best chins in heavyweight history. Tua, at his fighting best of 230lb also outweighs Joe by 15-20lb. if Tua opens up as he has done in the past I feel that he does a number on Joe here, and perhaps quite early
Verdict; Tua by KO


Another interesting match. Norton was a very skilful boxer indeed. Whether he possesses the power to trouble Arreola however is doubtful. Norton was fragile at times and susceptible to power punchers (foreman, shavers and cooney all walked through him with ease) much has been said about Arreolas weight but he seems to have plenty of stamina/conditioning, is deceptively skilful with endless amounts of heart, and is also very heavy-handed. I feel that this is a very close fight but that eventually Arreolas continual walking down, attacking style starts to get to Norton
Verdict; Arreola by late TKO


Two renowned power punchers in what would be a very exciting fight as Earnie only knew how to come forward. This could go either way. If Earnie connects hard then Haye has shown he is fragile enough at times to go. However, Shavers too suffered knockouts to the likes of Quarry, Stander, Lyle and also against the relatively soft-punching Randall Cobb so the same could be said for him. Haye, love him or hate him, is probably better than people give him credit for. His destructions of Ruiz and Barrett shows that to be true, as no one has done that to either man (with the exception of Tua in Ruiz’s case) – like I said, this could go either way in an explosive bout but I think that Haye is the probable victor
Verdict; Haye by TKO

Holmes was, without a doubt, the cream of the crop in the 70’s and is rightly recognized as one of the all time great champions. Solis is a real enigma who we haven’t really seen the best of yet. Time will tell as to his true stature as he is basically unproven. Of all the fighters from the 70’s, Holmes is the one who could be fighting at top level in all eras and I take him to probably beat everyone in the modern era with the exception of the Klitschkos
Verdict; Holmes by points


Quarry was one fierce and incredibly brave fighter. Barely weighing 200lb at his peak (he averaged around 195-199lb), he was always very game and punched hard. However he was operating in an era of smaller men and whether he could be successful nowadays is debatable. I see comparisons of him in a fighter like Brian Minto. Povetkin is no giant but does average 220lb which would have made him a very big heavy in those days. Povetkin is very well schooled and can bang a bit too. I fancy povetkin would have eventually worn Jerry down in a very competitive bout
Verdict; Povetkin, late TKO


Two fighters with very similar styles though Eddie is probably the more slippery of the two and possesses more of a wallop. This would have been a chess match which I feel Chambers would eventually work out and emerge victorious
Verdict; Chambers by points


Lyle was a powerhouse and very game. Destroyed later in his career in 1 round by cooney he also dropped a decision to Quarry and was blasted out by un-heralded journeyman Lynn Ball. Austin is a huge man who hasn’t really lived up to his potential. He froze against Wlad and was wiped out but before that looked very impressive indeed against Sultan Ibragimov and has since battered Golota and DaVarryl Williamson with some ease. Austin is obviously a fighter who slips in and out of the right mental ‘zone’ but at 6’6 and averaging 240lb it’s hard to see how Lyle could have handled him
Verdict; Austin by points


People forget that Bugner was fighting at top level throughout the 70’s and big Joe, when in the right mood, could be a handful as both Ali and Frazier found out. Peter is another fighter who seems to be mentally un-focused but at the top of his game he can be a serious handful too and we know he can bang very hard. I feel that Peter comes out here and goes for Bugner straight away and is too strong
Verdict; Peter by TKO

There you go then – I make that 9-1 in my fantasy fights - the best the 70’s had to offer against some of the best around today. There are others we could have thrown into the mix – Ustinov/Adamek/Chagaev/Valuev/Boystov etc, likewise we could have re-arranged the bouts, Ali v Austin, Frazier v Arreola etc – I feel however, that the percentage of victories for the modern fighters would remain the same. Again, I mean no disrespect to any fighters as I love and admire them all. My argument here is to attempt to show that the 70’s ‘golden era’ is a myth. The music might have been better but the heavyweights were not! This is my opinion and my conclusions, after watching and partaking in boxing for over 50 years. Right or wrong that’s the way I see it. You may disagree with me and that’s fine. So send all responses, whether in agreement or with the usual hateful venom, to the usual place.

Article posted on 23.10.2010

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