The Fantasy Amateur Heavyweight Olympic Championships

22.11.05 - By Gennadi “Komar” Komarnitzky and Izyaslav “Slava” Koza: Often the debate over a fantasy bout between Mike Tyson and Muhammed Ali leads more then casual boxing fans to ask “who was the greatest of all time?” Just as often, the debate is always defaulted to a discussion of professional boxing legends, even though the world of amateur boxing has its share of exclusive legends as well..

This is precisely why the following is an interesting little hypothetical look at possibly the greatest amateur heavyweight of all time. Of course, not every choice will be agreed on by everybody exclusively, but this is the very essence of why many of our articles discuss amateur boxing because it would be beneficial to sport and history for fans to know and discuss the heroes of both the professional and the amateur rings.

All of the participants (save for Teofilo Stevenson and Roberto Bolado) became professional boxers.

The contestants are as follows listed chronologically in reverse:

1. 2004 Alexander Povetkin (Russia)
Height: 186 cm, 145 fights, 125 victories and 20 defeats
Professional Record:

2. 2000 Audley Harrison (England)
Height: 197 cm, 54 fights, 46 wins, 8 defeats
Professional Record:

3. 1996 Vladimir Klitschko (Ukraine)
Height: 202 ñm, 210 fights, 195 wins, 15 defeats
Professional Record:

4. 1992 Roberto Bolado (Cuba)
Height: 185 cm, Over 200 victories (no confirmed numbers)
(none professional)

5. 1988 Lennox Lewis (Canada)
Height: 196 ñm, 104 fights, 95 victories, 9 defeats
Professional Record:

6. 1972, 1976,1980 Teofilo Stevenson (Cuba)
Height: 193 cm, 330 fights, 310 victories, 20 losses
(none professional)

7. 1968 George Foreman (USA)
Height: 193 ñm, 25 fights, 22 victories, 3 defeats
Professional Record:

8. 1964 Joe Frazier (USA)
Height: 181 ñm, 43 fights, 41 victories (40ÊÎ), 2 defeats
Professional Record:

**** We decided to eliminate Tyrell Biggs from the contest for a couple of reasons. First of all, because of the boycott of the Olympics in Los Angeles, his victory was not as meaningful. Secondly, and more practically the framework for this tournament needs an even number of participants and Biggs seemed like the likely candidate.

Seeing as this is amateur boxing and there are some historical discrepancies, the formula for the rules will be as follows:

1. Three Three minute rounds.
2. Helmets and new style bigger gloves
3. The twenty point rule is in effect and a fight can be stopped when scores differ by twenty points.

The pairings for the quarterfinal will be as follows:

Povetkin vs Frazier
Klitschko vs Bolado
Forman vs Harrison
Stevenson vs Lewis

Alexander Povetkin vs. Joe Frazier:

This seems to be a classic example of a clash between the European and the American schools of boxing. At the 64 Olympics Joe Frazier finished all his fights except the final before the bell sounded to end each bout. However, in this fantasy tournament the rules are more parallel to modern Olympic rules. Therefore, it is logical to assume Frazier’s power diminishes somewhat in the big gloves and protective headgear.

Povetkin is taller than Frazier, and would unlikely compromise himself with such an advantage, especially in the amateur ranks. It is also important to note that Povetkin’s power is not ineffective compared to Frazier’s, because even with the gear and gloves, Alexander Povetkin still found ways to break his opponents’ jaws. Of course, it may seem a bit biased to give the victory to the Russian, but in this battle the money goes with the paper logic. In height, amateur experience, and ability to maintain gear-busting power, Povetkin has the edge.

Verdict: Povetkin 20:15
Professional Parallel: Ibeabuchi-Tua

Roberto Bolado vs. Vladimir Klitschko:

This is a tough choice because both guys have/had great builds and other physical characteristics, but had issues with all of their opponents practically all the way to the final. Vladimir Klitschko obviously had a little more trouble in his quest than did his opponent, Roberto Bolado. This suggests a loss on opponents with a substantial margin difference, thus allowing one of the representatives of “Isla de Libertad” to move on.

Verdict: Roberto Bolado 24:10
Professional Parallel: (Mayweather Corrales without the stoppage)

George Foreman vs Audley Harrison:

When we talk about “Big George,” his victory at the 1968 Olympics is not usually the first great accomplishment that is discussed. Yes, in the final, he completely destroyed soviet boxer Chepulis, but it wasn’t Ionas, who was to represent the Soviet contingent, but rather Alexander Vasushkin. It may not mean much to fight fans outside the CIS, but Vasushkin never had a problem in dealing with Chepulis at national competitions.

Audley Harrison, on the other hand, is another matter. On the way to the final, he put away most every single prospect in today’s heavyweight division. In fact, he did so with a sort of laziness that almost seems inherent to him, even in the ranks of the pros. It's not clear if Harrison could have been focused, and charged enough, in a fight against the Muffler Man, but his amateur experience could have carried the day. George Foreman’s lack of amateur fights compared to Harrison’s (although, he, too, is not particularly experienced) justifies raising the hand of the Englishman.

Verdict: Audley Harrison 29:16
Professional Parallel: (Klitschko-Peter )

Lennox Lewis vs Teofilo Stevenson:

It's possible that these guys deserved to meet in the final. However, when its somebody else’s turn to write out and analyze a virtual tournament, similar to the one your reading about now, we hope that this is exactly what happens in their grand finale.

Obviously we know a heck of a lot about Lennox Lewis, the professional, but unfortunately, we don’t know anything about Teofilo Stevenson, the professional. There are those in the boxing world who feel Stevenson is the ideal amateur boxer. Then there are those who would likely object to this statement, but fortunately for Stevenson, and unfortunately for Lewis, those conscientious objectors do not include us. When Teofilo Stevenson was at his peak, he was the only one who could beat himself (and, well, maybe Igor Vysotskii, who did it twice). Although there is little doubting who would have the edge in the professional boxing ring, and who will be remembered more in the annals of history, Lennox would not make it to the final four.

Verdict: Teofilo Stevenson 25:10
Professional Parallel: (Lewis-Tucker)


Alexander Povetkin vs Roberto Bolado:

If not for the relatively disappointing performance of Povetkin at the world championships against Cuban Pedro Carrion Sago, perhaps the verdict would be different. If the victory would have been more convincing then perhaps those familiar patriotic feelings could be justified, and Alexander could move to the fantasy final.

However, in the majority of cases, the members of the Russian national team, have not conquered or developed an immunity to the “Cuban Syndrome.”

It's not just an issue of Povetkin going up against a Cuban, but rather against a Cuban who was world champion a total of three times, as opposed to Alexander, who was champion only once. If not for his death in an automobile accident, it's likely Roberto would have done a lot more in his career as an amateur. The ease with which he disassembled his world-class foes, as well as the Cuban habit of building up a points cushion reserve early, leads us to believe, that in a dense bout, Povetkin would have little chance of catching up to the speeding train.

After the first two discouraging rounds, in which Bolado would have methodically and scientifically racked up the points, Alexander would be desperate enough to give in and allow the Cuban to gain a further advantage.

Verdict: Roberto Bolado 27:8 (Possibly a stoppage based on the 20 point rule)
Professional Parallel: (Byrd vs Ibeabuchi during the first four rounds)

Audley Harrison vs Teofilo Stevenson:

Do people think its possible to defeat “Pretty Boy” Floyd? Ideally a fighter would have to do something, anything, better then the way its done by the best pound for pound fighter in the world. Not only that but the fighter would have to be able to do it all night ala certain promiscuous celebrities.

Is it conceivable that Audley Harrison could conquer not the Cuban but rather his own laziness (sleepiness) in the ring? What would the Battling Brit do for the duration of three minutes, during which his body would be a target for punches coming from all conceivable angles? It's just too hard to imagine him rising to the occasion. Also, its no secret that often times boxers, especially in the heavyweight division, tend to burn out and lose some of that warrior mentality before fights. No, this is not an issue of a monster named Teofilo Stevenson, but those that have seen him fight, know why Audley would be at a disadvantage.

Yes, the first three-time champ from the “Island of Freedom” would not have let the lazy giant (yes, folks, they still exist) hope for three blind judges and a miracle.

Verdict: Teofilo Stevenson RSC3

Professional Parallel: (Ali-Terrel)


Yes, dear readers, a Cuban all-star final is precisely what we would have seen in the final of such a dream tournament. Although lets pause a moment and reflect a little on the significance of this. We may see the value of such a quality final but some of our readers may still doubt the validity of this result, so lets take a brief stroll through history.

From the moment of inception in 1974, to Wladimir Klitschko’s reign as amateur champ, the Cubans have single handedly dominated the heavyweight division at the world championships. In other words, the Cuban boxing program held the amateur title for 20+ years and therefore, ladies and gentlemen, putting two Cubans in the final only seemed logical.

To the Fight:

Roberto Bolado vs Teofilo Stevenson:

“A good big boxer always beats a good small boxer.” Yes there are exceptions to this rule, like say Chris Byrd vs Vitali Klitschko, but this is rather an exception not the rule. Stevenson’s success on the amateur level was only matched by another Cuban heavyweight named Felix Savon.

Lets remember that Teofilo was an Olympic champion three times as well as won the world championships three times.
Both Stevenson and Bolado belonged to the same Cuban school of boxing. Its hard to imagine Bolado outpointing Stevenson from the outside, although in nine minutes time he could have probably avoided the big straight right. However, as we all know, just avoiding punches is not enough to win. More then likely the bout would be quite tactical and boring with Teofilo having a slight and insignificant advantage but one that would be enough for the victory.

Verdict: 18:12 Teofilo Stevenson

Professional Parallel: (Ali Patterson II)

Special and personal thanks goes out to the following individuals: Boxing experts Oleg Kondratov (for the video footage) and Andrei “The Shark” Nikolaev for helping put together this material.

Article posted on 22.11.2005

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