Were The 1980’s Heavyweights Better Than Today’s Big Men? “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon Says They Were!

By James Slater: It seems as though every former world champion, or most of them anyway, claims the era he dominated in was the best era for boxing. We have just heard former champ “Terrible“ Terry Norris claim as much with regards to his era and today‘s Floyd Mayweather-dominated era.

And recently, another “Terrible,” in former two-time heavyweight titlist Tim Witherspoon, made an interesting point regarding the Klitschko brothers and how they would have done had they been around when himself, Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes, etc were plying their trade. Speaking with The Daily Record recently, the Philly big man said how Wladimir and Vitali have the heavyweight division “sewn up” today, but that they “wouldn’t have lasted in the decade when Mike Tyson and I were world champions.”

This statement is sure to cause debate, but is Witherspoon’s claim a worthy one? Would “Drs. Steel Hammer” and “Iron Fist” have coped with the best big men the 1980s had to offer? Remember, the ‘80s produced not only Tyson and Witherspoon, but a genuine all-time great if ever there was one in the long-reigning Larry Holmes. How would the two brothers have done against the three best heavyweights of that decade?

Personally, I think the peak Tyson, from 1988, would have been way too fast for both Wladimnir and Vitali. The speedy wrecking machine that rubbed out Michael Spinks would, in my opinion, have gotten inside the long reach of either brother, and once he was on the inside, Tyson would have gone to work to head and body alike. It would have taken a few rounds to topple the tree, but soon enough the crowd would have been hollering timber! (in the case of Wladimir anyway)

I think Tyson would have taken Wladimir out in around two or three rounds (remember what Corrie Sanders did to Wlad?), and I think he’d have hammered away sufficiently at Vitali to pound out a points win. But that’s just my opinion. Still, ask yourself, when has Wladimir or Vitali ever had to cope with anyone with the speed of a Mike Tyson? Never.

Larry Holmes, possessing a left jab even greater than Wladimir, would have beaten either brother, too. With his great chin, his superb boxing skills and his big right hand, “The Easton Assassin” would, in my opinion have won decisions against both siblings. They would have been good fights, one with Vitali especially, but Holmes had the tools needed to come out on top.

That just leaves Witherspoon himself. Here I feel the Klitshkos would have come out on top. Witherspoon’s feared overhand right might have caused the champions of today a few problems (when has anyone tried this punch against Wladimir or Vitali?), but overall Tim was too unpredictable and often too lazy in his fights to have been able to defeat the well conditioned giants. Witherspoon wouldn’t have been KO’d, though. Not the version that gave Holmes hell for 12-rounds, anyway.

Whether you agree with my opinions or not, one thing is definite; it sure would have be fun if the Klitschkos had fighters the calibre of Tyson, Holmes and Witherspoon to face today. Instead, we paying fans have to make do with the two best big men in the world facing challengers like Jean Marc Mormeck, a too small Tomasz Adamek, another former cruiser in David Haye and overweight talent such as Odlanier Soils and Sam Peter. Yet some wise guys continue to tell us the heavyweight division is stronger than it’s ever been! Lord help us.

Article posted on 19.10.2011

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