I spent this morning watching old boxing clips, compilations of great rounds, profiles of great fighters and the one thing that became obvious was that styles most certainly make fights. Ali was superbly sleek and ultimately elusive until he shared the ring with Frazier whose marauding style negated much of what Ali had to offer. Their trilogy rank amongst the all-time great bouts as styles forced those men into a war that defined an era of the sport. Kenny Norton, the forgotten man, had even more success against Ali and many felt that he actually won two of their three encounters…I happen to be one of those and I always felt a sense of sympathy for the truly brilliant but often overlooked Norton.
On a different level, Marco Antonio Barrera knew all about styles when he opted to face Junior Jones as a warm up for a major showdown with Erik Morales. Jones was no pushover but, on paper, he simply wasn’t in Barrera’s class. I remember watching the bout live and being truly amazed at how inept Barrera was in dealing with the movement of Jones. The rematch was designed to show how a more focused Marco Antonio could easily handle the limited Jones but that backfired also and Junior Jones has a 2-0 record against the legendary Mexican. That Morales later destroyed Jones and Barrera went on to beat Morales is a scenario that highlights the ‘styles make fights’ aspect of what happens in the ring when the talking and the training is done.