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Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (the best heavyweights by category, missed gym notes)

Who's the greatest heavyweight of ALL TIME!? Photo / THE RING
11
May

THE BEST OF THE GREATEST HEAVYWEIGHTS EVER

Hi Dougie,

Hope you and your family are staying safe and doing well in these indoor times.

In one of your previous mailbags you analysed the Four Kings’ skills by the Best I Faced categories. An excellent idea! Will you do the same for the top heavyweights of all times, maybe adding just two new categories – most gracious, most athletic, and the rest as usual:



Best jab

Best defense

Fastest hands

Best footwork

Best chin

Smartest

Strongest

Best puncher

Boxing skills

Best overall

Thanks again for keeping up the mail at this tough time. – Eric

Thanks for the kind words, Eric, and thanks for the interesting request.

I’m assuming that you want heavyweights who were champions or recognized world titleholders. If not, there are some non-titleholders that were top contenders during the two Golden Ages of the division (the 1970s and 1990s) that could make some of these categories, such as George Chuvalo, Jimmy Young, Earnie Shavers, Razor Rudduck, etc.

Liston was said to have one of the best jabs in heavyweight history before Ali, exhibiting his defensive prowess in this photo, upset him in 1965. (Photo from the Ring archive)

Best jab – Muhammad Ali

Runners up: Joe Louis, Larry Holmes, Sonny Liston

Best defense – Holmes

Runners up: Chris Byrd, Ali, Tyson Fury

Fastest hands – Floyd Patterson

Runners up: Mike Tyson, Ali, Tony Tubbs

Best footwork – Ali

Runners up: Gene Tunney, Holmes, Fury

Best chin – Ali

Runners up: Vitali Klitschko, Evander Holyfield, Oliver McCall

Smartest – Gene Tunney

Runners up: Ali, Holmes, Lennox Lewis

Strongest – George Foreman

Runners up: Holyfield, Lewis, Ray Mercer

Louis exhibits his phenomenal punching technique vs. Arturo Godoy during their 1940 rematch at Yankee Stadium in New York. (Photo from Ring archives)

Best puncher – Joe Louis

Runners up: Tyson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Frazier

Boxing skills – Ali

Runners up: Jersey Joe Walcott, Holmes, Wladimir Klitschko

Most gracious – Foreman (after comeback)

Runners up: Louis, Walcott, Rocky Marciano

Most athletic – Ali,

Runners up: Dempsey, Tyson, W. Klitschko

Best overall – Ali

Runners up: Holmes, Louis, Holyfield

 

GYM NOTES LINEAGE

Hey there Doug,

Who do you think would take the Gym Notes Title if you were still back on your daily gym grind? I wanna know the lineage. To my knowledge it was Sugar Shane, Toney, Valero, GGG. Fill in the gaps, Dougie. Who would’ve had your extra attention since you’ve become an editor? Who do you suspect would have it today? Any rumblings in So Cal gyms of some young prodigy knocking suckas out in gym wars? – Jesse P.

This is an interesting question. The Golovkin training camp visits that became the subject of my old Gym Notes column (it was called the Southern California Notebook when I was with MaxBoxing.com) took place in 2011 and 2012, and those were really the last ones of any significance that I can recall. By the way, you left out Antonio Margarito, whose gym exploits I covered closely for both MaxBoxing and RingTV.com between the Toney comeback/early Valero years and GGG’s arrival to The Summit gym in Big Bear, California. 

Anyway, it would come down to who were the notable veterans, champions and up-and-comers training in the Southern California area since the start of the 2010s, AND, most importantly, who I had access to. Sergio Martinez was a former 154-pound beltholder about to become the lineal/Ring/WBC middleweight champ when he began training in Oxnard, California in 2009. I visited his camps for the Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams rematch, Serhiy Dzinziruk and Darren Barker fights between 2010-2011, and watched him spar for most of those title bouts, but while I did video interviews and basic news stories, I don’t recall penning any Gym Notes columns (which I should have because Maravilla was a welcoming personality who let it all hang out during his sparring sessions).  

Other veteran that were training in Oxnard at that time (with Robert Garcia, who always welcomed me to his various gyms),

Brandon Rios and Robert Garcia were a hell of team.

include Pavlik and Nonito Donaire. Both would have made good Gym Notes subjects. Brandon Rios, a lightweight contender who was on his way to winning the WBA belt, was also one of Garcia’s main fighters at this time. I met Rios when he was still an amateur, covered his prospect years and club show fights, and was also present for sparring sessions just before he emerged as a legit world-class fighter (vs. Anthony Peterson in 2010 and the title shot against Miguel Acosta in 2011). “Bam Bam” would have made for James Toney-caliber Gym Notes because he was a vulnerable punisher in sparring and the ultimate class clown outside of the ring. Just like Toney at the Wild Card, Rios liked to have a good time, while giving media and civilian observers a hard time. At times he could be every bit as vulgar and X-rated as ole “Lights Outs.”

Another Garcia-trained standout’s rise that I think I could have chronicled in the Gym Notes is the rebuilding of Marcos Maidana, who Robert took on after the Argentine slugger’s one-sided loss to Devon Alexander in early 2012 (a show I covered in St. Louis, and recall “Chino” telling me – in Spanish, but I didn’t need a translator – that he was thinking about hanging up his gloves). Rather than quit, he hooked up with Garcia, who talked him out of taking a dangerous crossroads bout against then-unknown prospect Keith Thurman, and then guided him through a comeback trail (which included slugfests with Jesus Soto Karass and Josesito Lopez, two bouts that I commentated on for international TV) that led to a title shot (vs. Adrien Broner) and a multi-million dollar showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. (who he almost beat). I kept in contact with Garcia during this “rebirth,” but I was too busy to visit his new gym in Riverside, California to pen Gym Notes columns on “Chino,” whose sparring sessions (I have to imagine) would have made for interesting and entertaining descriptions in the column.

Me and Loma

Other standouts training in Southern California from 2012 to the present, that I would have liked to pen Gym Notes on included Vasiliy Lomachenko (who I have watched spar a couple times), Canelo Alvarez (whose camps – in Santa Monica and Sand Diego – I visited prior to his fights with Angulo, Lara, Kirkland, Cotto and Khan), and Miguel Cotto (who experienced a late-career resurgence training with Freddie Roach at Wild Card from 2013-2017). A prime candidate for a new Gym Notes series is young prospect/contender Vergil Ortiz Jr. (yet another Garcia fighter). It’s not too late!

 

A MISSED ANSWER

Sorry Dougie, in your last mailbag you answered my MMs, but forgot to answer the 1st part of the question.

That is: Who do you think of nowdays top heavyweights will make for the Hall of Fame candidates – Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Alexander Povetkin, Luis Ortiz, Dillian Whyte or someone else?

Will you please do it now? — Jose

Sure, sorry about that, Jose.

Fury defeated future hall of famer Wlad Klitschko in 2015. (Photo by Marianne Mueller/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The front-runners for IBHOF induction (or at least a spot on the ballot) are the Big Three: Fury, Joshua and Wilder – in that order, because the two British heavyweights already have the name of a future hall of famer on their resumes: Wladimir Klitschko. Fury is maybe a slight step ahead of AJ because he’s also got two fights with Wilder, including a dominant stoppage victory. However, Joshua’s got more legit top-10 contenders on his resume than Fury (or Wilder) and some of those heavyweights – mainly Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker (who are still in their primes) – might go on to accomplish a lot, which will only enhance his legacy. If Fury beats Wilder a third time and then beats Joshua, he’s in like Flynn. And, I could be wrong, but I think Fury would be at least a slight odds favorite to beat both Joshua and Wilder. So, I think Fury is the most likely heavyweight standout to make it into the hall of fame, but having said that, I’m not counting AJ out in an all-British showdown for heavyweight supremacy.

I don’t see the other heavyweight standouts having much of a shot at the IBHOF. Povetkin and Ortiz are too old and past their primes. Ruiz has mad talent, but I don’t trust him to get his s__t together. And, sadly, I don’t think Whyte will get the opportunity to prove himself vs. Wilder or Fury. Joseph, who is talented and experienced, has time on his side. He’s 28. But he’s got start notching some big wins NOW.

 

MAILBAG GRAB BAG

Dear Dougie –

My “Four Kings” special issue just arrived and I’m back in a boxing frame of mind!

Some random thoughts to get us through another week:

What do you first begin to notice about an up-and-coming trainer, if anything (especially if you did not see them previously as a fighter themselves)? How do we begin to evaluate them as fans through the limited window of our screens? Is there anything specific you look or listen for pre-fight, in-fight or post? Is there anything you particularly look for when the new-ish trainer is in fact an ex-fighter of some accomplishment?

Any chance that post quarantine there will be a reinforced sense that “Time/Life/Money is Short” and that will get a flurry of exciting, maybe even “reckless”, matchmaking?

Is there any defunct boxing TV package that you particularly miss? “Boxing After Dark” seems obvious (to me), any others? USA Tuesdays, ESPN Fridays, 70s Wide World of Sports? What sticks out and why? (I regret not being hip to Forum Boxing on Prime Ticket as a young Angeleno.)

Finally, this piece by Hauser was out of left field and an amazing read. He remains undefeated.

https://www.ringtv.com/599168-the-ali-kopechne-letter/

Stay Safe and Thank you! – Brock, San Diego

Thank you for the kind words, Brock. Hauser is a legend. I’m proud to have known him for more than 20 years and to have his regular contributions to The Ring magazine and RingTV.com. I’m glad you appreciated his most recent article.

Is there a defunct boxing TV package that I miss? Yeah, all of the series that you mentioned. I watched them all as a kid, a teenager, and as a young adult. I’m most nostalgic about the boxing presentations on the three major networks (ABC, NBC and CBS) during the 1980s. My fondest (and earliest) boxing-on-TV memories are narrated by Howard Cosell (ABC), Al Michaels (ABC), Dan Dierdorf and Alex Wallau (ABC), Ferdie Pacheco and Marv Albert (NBC), and Tim Ryan and Gil Clancy (CBS). Ryan and Clancy were my favorite commentating team.

Lennox Lewis has his hands taped by Emanuel Steward during a media prior to the 2002 Mike Tyson showdown.

What do you first begin to notice about an up-and-coming trainer, if anything (especially if you did not see them previously as a fighter themselves)? Every trainer has his or her own methods in the gym. The only thing I really pay attention to is their patience (because that’s the hallmark of any good teacher) and their ability to convey their principles, ideas and plans to the fighters.

How do we begin to evaluate them as fans through the limited window of our screens? You can’t. Most fans (and, sadly, media) just take the narrow measure of counting the number of wins a certain trainer’s fighters have per year. It’s like the fighters’ records are the trainers’ records. But to really evaluate a trainer, you should know the level of their fighters when they start working with them (their strengths, weaknesses, limitations, challenges, etc.), you should be aware of what they are working on in the gym and during camp, and then you should observe if the fighter is able to improve on his or her areas of weakness and if the fighter is able to follow a sound game plan.

Is there anything specific you look or listen for pre-fight, in-fight or post? Pre-fight I look for a rapport and respect between the trainer and fighter, in-fight I look for effective communication between the two between rounds, and post-fight I look for continued contact between them.

Is there anything you particularly look for when the new-ish trainer is in fact an ex-fighter of some accomplishment? I look out for the common pitfall of a former boxer-turned-trainer trying to get their fighter to take on the style and mentality they had when they fought. I used to see that a lot in L.A. gyms in the 1990s, and, sadly, it ruined some talented fighters. I see less of it today.

Any chance that post quarantine there will be a reinforced sense that “Time/Life/Money is Short” and that will get a flurry of exciting, maybe even “reckless”, matchmaking? There’s some chance. If today’s promoters, managers and fighters had the same outlook and mentality as their counterparts from the 1980s and ’90s, I’d guarantee that we’’’ only get risky, significant matchups between up-and-comers, contenders and titleholders coming out of the lockdown, but with the way much of the new generation thinks and with all of the exclusive promotional/TV/platform deals, who knows if anything will change? The top boxers are used to only fighting once or twice a year, and fans are used to not getting the matchups that they want to see.

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler and Coach Schwartz and friends on Periscope every Sunday.

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