Manassa Mauler Vs Brockton Blockbuster

27.06.05 - By Neil Goodman: Take away a gap in excess of 30 years between start of their respective professional careers and the world could have witnessed classic encounter; Dempsey versus Marciano. The match up of Jack Dempsey versus Rocky Marciano would have been a sight to behold. The pairing of these two heavyweight legends would have been a maxed out version of Hagler versus Hearns; but when the imaginary dust has settled which fighter is left standing?

Whilst the mind can not help wonder how particular bouts would have been decided, most assessments of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each fighter will only ever result in best guess scenarios. Who in reality would have won each hypothetical match up we will never know, nonetheless, lets for a moment indulge our selves in land of dreams! Previous attempts to stimulate fights need to be treated with a degree cynism and sceptism; in equal measure. As Ali once said, having learned of his own defeat to Marciano, byway of computer simulation; 'The computer must have been on the plane to Alabama.'

So whilst the Rocky (not Sly) overcame Ali in the 13th round, how would the only ever undefeated world heavyweight champion have faired against the Manassa Mauler?

Both fighters, whilst in their primes, entered the ring weighing around the 190 lb mark (very light in comparison to the current crop of behemoths). Whilst Jack and Rocky would have weighed in almost the same, Dempsey would have held a slight height advantage and a not inconsiderable 10 inch reach advantage. In all honesty, whilst both fighters were indisputably great fighters, this battle is unlikely to have been decided by such slight physically disparities.

Marciano's game plan never strayed far from the tried and tested method; which consisted of pressuring the other opponent backwards, whilst getting in range to deliver hooks, uppercuts and the occasional elbow. Whilst the methodology was simple in the extreme, it nonetheless carried Rocky to 49-0!

Dempsey's tactics were not far removed from those outlined above, but he was one of new breed of heavies back in the 1920's. He fought out of a crouch and whilst keeping his hands low; he utilised both his hand and foot speed, then once in range he would deliver cluster of bombs. The bombs Dempsey was capable of delivering dropped the 245 lb Jess Willard seven times in the first, on route to a third round KO win (during which time Dempsey smashed two of Willard's ribs).

This fight would have been massive! Massive and possibly beyond comparison, if this fight was held tomorrow it would sell out any football stadium and both fighters would be grateful recipients of record purses. Back in the 1920's Dempsey drew the first million dollar gate for a boxing match, fast forward to 2005 and you could probably multiple that gate by twenty (going by the current rate of inflation). Add on top of thia pay per view and merchandising revenue, well, maybe even Don King would retire with that little lot stashed away.

Once the first bell rung both fighters would have forgot the thousands in attendance, shifting attention to forcibly separating their opponent from their senses. Whichever twists and turns the route of this fight had taken its difficult to envisage the scorecards being called into play, with over 90 KO's accumulated between both combatants.

Whilst Marciano was a heavy hitter, many of wins, especially in title fights, came via late round stoppages. Marciano would have looked to impose himself on the fight, setting a high tempo, whilst aiming to steadily grind his man down. Dempsey, whilst not being one to shy away from a fight, could have boxed more. Dempsey's reach and speed may have bought him a few of the early rounds, whilst his darting attacks sought to open up Marciano's scare tissue.

Both men could justifiably claim to be resilient in the extreme, but were also both familiar with hitting the canvas. Dempsey was knocked down numerous times in his career (even being knocked out of the ring on one occasion, his fight record also holds one first round KO loss. Marciano was most famously put on the canvas by Archie Moore, only just recovering due to a fortuitous long count.

I can envisage the early rounds, possibly the first three, going to Dempsey. But all the while Marciano would be seeking openings for his raw power shots. Marciano's strength and determination would inevitably start to peg Dempsey back on scorecards during the middle rounds. In era in which this fight took place in would then be crucial to the overall outcome. Dempsey and Marciano would definitely have adjustments to make in terms of current day rules and regulations.

In the summer of 2005 Marciano would be docked points for infringements; such as low blows, hitting on the break and use of the elbow. With an awe inspiring fight in balance Dempsey would then I believe harness his speed and power to turn the tables on Marciano. Rocky was hardly, if ever, pushed backwards or met head on by a fighter with comparable strength and power.

The result of any fantasy match up will always be reliant on best guess and assumptions aplenty, not taking into account preparation, tactics and other external factors (referee and judges). This said, for me Dempsey claims a memorable 10th round KO in the first clash against Marciano.

It would have been an intense encounter, neither man prepared to give an inch. Marciano, for perhaps the first time in career, would have been tackling a fighter with a will intense as his own. Dempsey's will, natural power and athleticism giving him a crucial edge; his innate fighting ability allowing him to ride out the early Marciano storm.

As for who wins the rematch? Well, it's anybody's guess?

Fighter's standings in the all time ratings, generally, are based on career achievements also taking into account the quality of opposition at the time. There is an element of subjectivity even to this metric, so why are heavyweights fighters in the top ten of all time not measured up against one another?

I will leave you with a couple of conundrums; does Joe Louis beat Ali? Louis was a great puncher and technician, but could he have trapped and hurt a prime Cassius Clay? Marciano holds a place in most peoples all time top ten of heavyweights. But could a 190lb Marciano, or Dempsey for that matter, overcome a 245lb Lennox Lewis?

Article posted on 27.06.2005

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