09.02.09 – By Loren Robinson: The boxing fans just craned their necks and gawked, or melted into nervous grins as the gargantuan sized man made his way toward the ring. There have been several of these goliath sized boxers throughout the history of the sport such as Nicolay Valuev, Lance Whitaker, Justin Long, Jim Cully and John Rankin. These boxers are truly goliath such as John Rankin was listed at 7-4 inches tall. But, why do smaller more skilled fighters continuously beat these gargantuan sized boxers?
The goliath boxers lack elite athleticism. For instance, Nicolay Valuev in his last boxing match versus Evander Holyfield was extremely slow and looked lethargic. He is tremendously strong; however he lacks the hand and foot speed necessary to beat the best heavyweight boxers. Lance Whitaker at 6-8 250 pounds lacks good hand and foot speed as well and that has leaded him to a few losses. Likewise, Jim Cully a 7-2 fighter out of Ireland lacked good athleticism which is one of the reasons that he had a short career that ended with more losses then wins. He got knocked out in two of his last three fights in 1948. So despite their great size goliath boxers still lose many fights.
Size in boxing only accounts for so much in each particular fight. Tremendous skills are always more important than size. For example, Lance Whitaker lost by TKO to the six feet inch tall Sutlan Ibragimov. Ibragimov is a lot smaller then Whitaker; however Ibragimov has more boxing skills so he dismantled and schooled his larger opponent that was eight inches taller round by round.
Likewise, the giant sized boxers many times do not efficiently use their biggest advantage their size. To Illustrate, Justin Long a seven foot boxer was knocked out in the first round by Samuel Peter who is only six feet tall. This occurred in the boxing match because Long did not use his size advantage. For instance, he did not box from the outside to keep his shorter opponent from hitting him. He lowered his own height advantage by continuously fighting inside and he continually cut the distance between them during the fight. Their inability to use their size to their advantage is also because they have a lack of coordination because of their tremendous size. There lack of true coordination makes them awkward athletes and boxers.
The Goliath sized fighters attain many of their wins before the fight begins. Once the boxers tap boxing gloves after the referee gives instructions with the giant sized fighters like Valuev and Whitaker their opponents become intimated because of their size you can even sometimes see the fear in their eyes. This type of fear throws boxers game plan right out the window during the match. There are though many boxers like Ruslan Chagaev and Jason Estrada who are by no means intimated by their opponent’s stature and gargantuan size. They bring it right to the naturally bigger men to let them know that they aren’t intimated. Jason Estrada was not afraid of Whitaker because of his size. For example, “I came to fight because that brought the best out of me,” stated up-and-coming heavyweight Jason Estrada as he talked about his win over his toughest opponent to date, Lance Whitaker, on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights. Likewise, the delusion that the bigger man will always beat the smaller man is continually being broken such as when Ruslan Chageav gave Valuev his first lost when he defeated him by decision in April of 2007. Valuev outweighed him by over 100 pounds and was about a foot taller.
Maybe one day there will be a boxer as tall as Justin Long at seven feet and as heavy as Valuev at 330 pounds with all the intangibles and skills to be a hall of fame fighter. But, that person has not entered the heavyweight division yet. The future goliath boxers are going to have to work on their issues with being a giant such as problems with cardio, coordination and power or speed. But until they do David is going to continue to slay Goliath in the boxing ring.