28.10.03 – By Keith Terceira: After boring readers with the first installment of this article I decided to turn my attention to some injustices being done to Marciano, Walcott, Moore, Louis, and Charles. It seems that while everyone takes these fighters individually and totes them as the great hall of famers that they are, when you collectively put them together, suddenly we get opinions that put them as members of a weak era.
I honestly can’t think of a weaker era then the one we are in right now. Heavyweights are bigger, heavier, and richer. They are also slower, less active and in no where near the condition that fighters in the past were. Can anyone say percentage of body fat?
Remember playing a game as a kid, where a group of people stand in line, one person starts off by whispering in the next persons ear then the sentence gets past down the line until at the end what you have is something totally different. Well, that is what has happened to the recorded history of the heavyweight division in the 40’s and the 50’s.
Marciano gets the knock that all he was fighting was old men and it sticks. Those old men though were tearing through the division like a bull in a China shop. In August 1950 when Ring Ratings came out the top five contenders for Louis’s vacated Championship were Ezzard Charles and Lee Savold (British Champ) tied for first Jersey Joe third followed by Maxim and Bob Baker. By August of 1951 Walcott was the Champ, Charles was the #1 contender with Louis and Rocky breathing hot and heavy down his neck. Clarence Henry and LaStarza hoped for a shot but who wanted to see them when you had Louis – Marciano in the works and a Charles-Walcott III planned in 11 months.
Louis on the come back trail had already disposed of Freddie Beshore in 4 rounds Agramonte twice, Caesar Brion twice, Lee Savold (who was BBBC recognized Champ), and Jimmy Bivins. From November of 50 to Aug of 51, Joe had removed the number 1,6, 8 and nine contenders from the ranks. He would meet Marciano on October 26, 1951.
In the mean time Walcott who was Champ in March 51 would lose to Charles in 15 and the rematch would take place in July 51 only 120 days later. They didn’t rest on their laurels as some do now.
That would remove from action another #1 contender and the Champions so to speak. In the meantime July 51 Marciano would KO Rex Layne. Layne who ranked 7 and 3 in 51. Rex in November 50 had defeated Walcott, and in Aug 52 beat Charles, he remains an unsung hero in history.
It is safe to say that Louis, Walcott, Marciano, and Charles were all scrambling for the top spot throughout the time frame from 50 to 52. Every time a contender got anywhere close to the top they ran into one of these guys. Now you have to throw in Kid Mathews at 87-7, Rex Layne, Savold, Maxim, Nino Valdes, Earl Walls, LaStarza, Slade, Cockell, Baker, Harold Carter, Moore, Summerlin, Tommy Jackson, Cavicchi, and Bucceroni. Who started this mess called a weak era. And believe me these men were not 5-9 180. Valdes is reported to have been anywhere from 6-3 to 6-5, Layne was 6-2 over 200, Johnny Shkor was 6-5, and the list goes on. Earl Walls retired before facing a 320 pound South African fighter in 55. Old men my aspirin. Compared to toadies crew they were young.
I get people writing saying that Marciano ducked guys like Baker, Valdes and Walls. What people fail to realize is that Marciano didn’t have to face these guys because everyone that was chasing the belt either with him or from him were beating them. In 55 Valdes lost to Moore two weeks before the Marciano-Walcott match in a very suspect setup in which Doc Kearns had a piece of both fighters. The first Vegas championship bout many say.
I am certain should Lennox decide to fight Tyson twice, Holyfield, Rahman, Tua, Vitali, and Jones Jr. in the next 26 months , the x generation would be praising a new God. That would also be very out of character for this champion and historically aggressive for any champ in 10 years.
Compare the ages of the men now with the Champions then. Take Walcott, Charles, Marciano, and Moore. I use these four because from August 51 until December 55 they were either Champions or #1 contenders. Combine their match totals. Charles alone had 33 bouts with 14 top ten fighters and 2 championship matches. Marciano had 13 bout with 7 title bouts and 12 top 5 contenders. Moore bounced around between light and heavy throughout that period having 29 bouts, 6 title fights and the rest with top ten contenders from two classes. Walcott had 5 bouts all for titles from March 51 to May 53 all for the heavyweight title.
Take those figures and look any time period over the last 5 years, take your alphabet soup champions, and match them up. Tell me now who has an old weak division. If 32, 38, 41 was over the hill in the fifties, then they are over the hill in 2003. Just look and see how many top five contenders over the last 4 years have gotten shots and how many bouts took place. Was the division weak or is it a matter of your perspective?