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Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (Ali-Frazier I and III, Deontay Wilder, extended win streaks)

The greatest of heavyweight rivals. Photo: UPI/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
05
Feb

THE GREATEST AND SMOKIN’ JOE

Hi Dougie,

Pre-order the Frazier-Ali 50th Anniversary Special Issue now from the Ring Shop.

Congrats to ‘The Fight of the Century’ Special Edition output. Very excited about it and a fine work done.

No doubt, along with “Thrilla in Manila” – two most iconic fights in all heavyweight history. Joe Frazier did the impossible that night in MSG, he beat fair and square the greatest fighter who has ever lived. I never get sick of saying that. Joe, with limited talent, a heart of a lion, a howitzer of a left hook, took it to Ali every minute of every round.



What I wanted to ask you is your opinion on the last of their three great fights. Eddie Futch pulled Joe out at the end of 14th… the debate is if Ali would have come out for 15… probably he would and so would Joe if he had been allowed to… How do you see the last round going? Could Joe pull it off once more?

And some MMs:

Frazier (who beat Ali in 1971) vs. George Foreman, Larry Holmes

Ron Lyle vs. David Tua, Ray Mercer, Tommy Morrison

Tyson vs. Riddick Bowe (if the fight were to happen in the early 1990s)

Thanks. – Jose

Heavyweight mythical matchups involving hall of famers and top contenders from the two deepest decades for the glamor division (the 1970s and 1990s). Gotta love it.

Frazier (who beat Ali in 1971) vs. George Foreman, Larry HolmesI think the best of Big George always prevails against Frazier, even the 1971 version, but Smokin’ Joe makes a fight of it and lasts into eighth or ninth round. And I believe ’71 Frazier narrowly outpoints prime Larry in an all-time great 15-round fight.

Ron Lyle vs. David Tua, Ray Mercer, Tommy MorrisonTua by mid-to-late stoppage in a brutal shootout (Lyle hits the floor a few times before being counted out, but gets his licks in), Mercer by narrow decision in a high-level shootout, and Lyle by mid-to-late KO in another dramatic shootout (and BOTH heavyweights hit the deck multiple times in this one).

Tyson vs. Riddick Bowe (if the fight were to happen in the early 1990s)Tyson by mid-round stoppage in a hotly contested fire fight. 

Congrats to ‘The Fight of the Century’ Special Edition output. Very excited about it and a fine work done. Wait until you see the print version. It’s beautiful. We’re proud of it. If you’re not a subscriber, you should pre-order it NOW.

No doubt, along with “Thrilla in Manila” – two most iconic fights in all heavyweight history. It’s hard to top those two. Ali-Frazier I and III are on a small island with Johnson-Jeffries and Louis-Schmeling II (the only two heavyweight showdowns that can match social/political impact of Frazier-Ali I), and Marciano-Walcott I, Holmes-Norton and Bowe-Holyfield I (the only championship bouts that equal the action and drama of the Ali-Frazier rubbermatch).

The March 1972 cover of The Ring

Joe Frazier did the impossible that night in MSG, he beat fair and square the greatest fighter who has ever lived. I never get sick of saying that. That’s because it’s the TRUTH! I’m not trying to plug our latest Special Issue (OK, maybe I am a little bit), but you’ll gain even more appreciation for what Frazier accomplished with that one epic fight after reading it cover to collectible cover.

Joe, with limited talent, a heart of a lion, a howitzer of a left hook, took it to Ali every minute of every round. He idolized pressure fighting volume punchers of the Golden Age and he did a damn good job emulating Homicide Hank that night. He was willing to die by his own effort, never mind what Ali was throwing at him, and spent at least a full week in the hospital after the bout.

What I wanted to ask you is your opinion on the last of their three great fights. Eddie Futch pulled Joe out at the end of 14th… the debate is if Ali would have come out for 15… Ali says he wouldn’t have. He said for years that he was done after the 14th round and was ready to beg his corner to cut his gloves off. I think that’s how he felt as soon as the bout was officially ended.

“The Thrilla in Manila”. Photo by Nik Wheeler/Corbis via Getty Images

… probably he would and so would Joe if he had been allowed to… As proud as Ali was, I believe he would have willed himself to his feet if he saw Frazier make his way to the center of the ring for the final three minutes.

How do you see the last round going? I think Ali would have only had the energy to jab and hold, but that would have been enough to win the round on at least two of the official scorecards.

Could Joe pull it off once more? He would probably inflict some more rib cage and internal organ damage with body shots whenever Ali clinched and held, but he was practically blind by that point and was just as depleted as his arch rival was, so I doubt he’d be able to land anything of note from a distance or mid-range (and would probably miss badly and throw himself off balance with the same type of left hooks that rocked and dropped Ali in Rounds 11 and 15 of their first encounter).

 

ADVISING WILDER

Hi Doug,

Perhaps many now disagree, but I still feel like Deontay Wilder is a key component to keeping the excitement level high for this heavyweight era. What true boxing fan wouldn’t still want to see Wilder vs. Anthony Joshua, regardless of what happens between Joshua and Tyson Fury?

Assuming Wilder doesn’t end up getting the trilogy fight with Fury next (either because he’s unable to force it through arbitration or decides to not even pursue it), what would you advise him to do over the next 12-18 months or so? Thanks for any insights. – Jerry

Well, I don’t have any insight that any other hardcore fan that enjoys watching Wilder fight couldn’t offer you, Jerry. My advice to Deontay would be to put the Fury excuses and conspiracy theories to rest and get back into the ring asap.

There’s been talk of Wilder facing Charles Martin sometime during the first quarter of 2021 and that’s good news if you miss The Bronze Bomber, however, I’m not that into the style matchup of that fight. I’d target Robert Helenius, the veteran who scored one of the top upsets of 2020 by stopping Adam Kownacki, as a confidence-builder.

From there he could go one of two ways – he could play the sanctioning organization game and fight the guys that will make him the mandatory challenger for the alphabet belts, or he could just go for the non-title bouts that will make him the most money and please the fans. If he wants to do the latter (which would be pretty cool), he’d take on Kownacki (after the pudgy Pole got a rebound win or two) and then Andy Ruiz Jr. If he wants a mandatory shot at the eventual winner of the Fury-Joshua fights, he would need to go after the winner of the Povetkin-Whyte rematch (WBC) and/or the loser (presumably) of the proposed Usyk-Joyce fight (the winner WBO’s interim belt is supposed to get the next shot at the Fury-Joshua winner, right?) and/or Charles Martine (IBF). Helenius or Trevor Bryant would be the fastest road to the top of the WBA’s rankings.

Admit it, ya’ll still wanna see this fight!

Perhaps many now disagree, but I still feel like Deontay Wilder is a key component to keeping the excitement level high for this heavyweight era. I don’t disagree. Wilder’s delusional in regard to Fury but he remains a livewire in the ring. Big punchers give the sport juice. Every generation needs its KO Kings.

What true boxing fan wouldn’t still want to see Wilder vs. Anthony Joshua, regardless of what happens between Joshua and Tyson Fury? Sign me up for that super matchup, it has “dramatic shootout” and “multiple knockdowns” written all over it. Sign me up for Wilder vs. Povetkin, Whyte, Ruiz and Joseph Parker too.

 

UNBEATEN STREAKS

Dougie,

What do the long unbeaten records mean in boxing? Probably not so much at all. It’s all about the era they compete. Marciano would not be 49-0-0 if he were in with such monsters as Ali, Foreman, Frazier, even Kenny Norton, and if he happened to fight them twice or thrice as it was common in those days, it would be too far from 49 straight wins. Mayweather would not go with his unblemished record in the era of Four Kings (and nobody would). And of the recent cases that Thai guy, whose name is so difficult to remember or pronounce (Menayothin, I guess) collected the impeccable 54-0 record consisted of sheer bums, until he was decisioned by another bum, whose name is even more difficult to pronounce… So what we make out of this?

And a few MMs:

Dempsey vs. Marciano

Ray Mercer vs. Tim Witherspoon

Gerry Cooney vs. Tommy Morrison

Tommy Morrison vs. Andrew Golota

Regards. – Roberto, Mexico

Your Mythical Matchups (well, three out of four):

Dempsey vs. MarcianoDempsey by mid-to-late TKO (on cuts)

Ray Mercer vs. Tim WitherspoonMercer by competitive UD (this ain’t a mythical matchup, they fought in 1996)

Gerry Cooney vs. Tommy MorrisonCooney by early-to-middle rounds KO (in a shootout)

Tommy Morrison vs. Andrew GolotaThe Duke by come-from-behind late stoppage (Tommy forces the Foul Pole to either quit or DQ himself with low blows)

What do the long unbeaten records mean in boxing? It often means attention for the fighter on the streak.

Probably not so much at all. It’s all about the era they compete. It’s become more of a big deal (to fans, promoters and networks) in recent decades/eras.

Marciano would not be 49-0-0 if he were in with such monsters as Ali, Foreman, Frazier, even Kenny Norton, and if he happened to fight them twice or thrice as it was common in those days, it would be too far from 49 straight wins. Duh. He’d catch a lot of ‘L’s vs. that lot. But who cares? Rocky’s relatability and entertaining/dramatic style was more important than his undefeated record during his fighting days. It wasn’t just about the ‘W’, it was who he beat and how he beat them (sometimes by the skin of his teeth). His title winning KO of Jersey Joe Walcott and his defenses against Roland LaStarza and Ezzard Charles were The Ring’s 1952, 1953 and 1954 Fights of the Year.

Mayweather would not go with his unblemished record in the era of Four Kings (and nobody would). Double DUH! LOL. But guess what? He’d be more respected than he is now if he had that level of competition around and actually faced them.

And of the recent cases that Thai guy, whose name is so difficult to remember or pronounce (Menayothin, I guess) collected the impeccable 54-0 record consisted of sheer bums, until he was decisioned by another bum, whose name is even more difficult to pronounce… So what we make out of this? Two things: you can’t pronounce Thai names (LOL) and too much is made about extended win streaks (or retiring undefeated).

Robinson lost to LaMotta in his 41st pro bout and then went unbeaten in 91 fights.

However, there are some win streaks (at the start AND in the middle of hall of fame careers) that I think are REALLY impressive. Sugar Ray Robinson went 40-0 at the start of his career, from October 1940 through 1942 (just over two years). He beat fellow future hall of famers Jake LaMotta (in a welterweight vs. middleweight showdown), Sammy Angott (twice) and Fritzie Zivic (twice) during this streak. And then he went an amazing 91 bouts without a loss from February 1943 to July 1951 (when he was upset by Randy Turpin). During that span, Ray beat LaMotta (the guy who snapped his first streak) four times (the final time for the middleweight title), Angott (a third time), Kid Gavilan (twice), future middleweight champ Bobo Olson and several top contenders.

Willie Pep, who also turned pro in 1940, won his first 62 bouts (from July ’40 to March 1943 – less than three years)! (Sammy Angott snapped the streak that included beating hall of famer Chalky Wright for the featherweight title at age 20.) Pep won his next 73 bout (from March ’43 to October 1948 when he lost to the great Sandy Saddler), a remarkable run that included a victory over bantamweight hall of famer Manuel Ortiz and more than a dozen Ring-rated fighters.

Carlos Zarate won 52 consecutive bouts (51 by KO!) before his first loss to the awesome Wilfredo Gomez. That streak included his WBC bantamweight title victory over the underrated Rodolfo Martinez, eight defenses and a non-title TKO of fellow KO King Alfonzo Zamora.

Julio Cesar Chavez, as you probably know, was 87-0 before his “draw” with Pernell Whitaker (which he should have lost). There was real substance to that win streak (which we’ll never see the likes of again) as Chavez collected the scalps of Hector Camacho, Edwin Rosario, Meldrick Taylor, Roger Mayweather (twice), Rocky Lockridge, and Juan LaPorte among several other standouts within 25 world title bouts over three weight classes.

 

 

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

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