In today’s edition of Ask The Editor (ATE), we consider who could have beaten Muhammad Ali at his very best, revisit his Sonny Liston “anchor punch” and explore why Rocky Marciano retired at 49-0. We look ahead to Roy Jones Jr’s fight with Danny Green, give the heavyweight division another kicking, talk more of Showtime’s Super Six, attempt to calculate Floyd Mayweather’s Pound for Pound ranking to Mike Nosky’s horror and much more.
Name : Jim Bremner
Country : United Kingdom
Your Question :
I have a question that cannot be answered, but I’d love to hear your opinions - which fighter on their best day would beat a peak Muhammad Ali? My pick would be Jack Dempsey (1919 version). My reasoning is thus - the fighter that pushed Ali to the limit and perhaps beyond is Joe Frazier. An iron-willed crouch fighter with a devastating left hook. In Dempsey, we have a fighter of similar style but with better boxing skills, greater mobility, a better chin and perhaps crucially, knockout power in both hands. He was also arguably the most ferocious fighter to ever set foot in the ring. Arguments against could be his battles with Tunney (old and comfortable at that stage), size (he excelled against large fighters) and the primitive skills of his era (his manual Championship fighting is a technical masterpiece). It’s not necessarily that Dempsey is the greater fighter per se, but that his strengths exploited Ali’s weaknesses, a non-existent inside game and vulnerability to the left hook. Or perhaps Ali would have jabbed his face to ribbons.... We’ll never know.
CLIVE BERNATH ANSWERS: Strange but interesting question, Jim. I’d say a peak Lennox Lewis would beat a peak Muhammad Ali. His size and ramrod jab would have taken him to a clear but uneventful decision in my opinion. For the record, I don’t think Dempsey would have lived with the bigger heavyweights of today.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: Sorry, I can’t see Dempsey handling Ali’s speed, movement or jab. Ali cuts him up and stops him in the later rounds. Ali at his best was damn near unbeatable. Due credit to Joe Frazier, but Ali was still rusty when they first fought in 1971. Ali almost always found a way to win. His losses occurred when he was rusty, hadn’t trained, was past his best or he sustained an injury in the fight, Norton 1. I’m taking “The Greatest” at his best over every other heavy you can name. Though, Ali vs. Joe Louis would have been very interesting.
MICHAEL NORBY: Interesting email, Jim. It is always tough to imagine how one era would do against another. How would Ali have handled Lennox Lewis, or Jack Dempsey, or a young and confident Mike Tyson? In saying that, you’d be brave to make Ali second favorite against anybody.
JERRY GLICK ANSWERS: Jim, your logic is good when you compare Dempsey to Frazier, but remember, Ali won two out of three from Smokin’ Joe and Dempsey was smaller (by weight) than Joe. I assume that we are not taking P4P, so I will talk heavyweights. I think that only two men who would have been able to beat Ali (maybe), were Jack Johnson and Sam Langford. Both were superb boxers and both had supreme confidence. Langford was feared by everyone in his day in spite of being relatively small for a heavyweight.
Name : Mike Kellyson
Country : USA
Your Question :
My friends and I were watching the second Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston fight that lasted only one round. Everyone has a different thought on what happened. How did you see it? Did Liston take a dive?
CLIVE BERNATH ANSWERS: You know what Mike, I have watched this fight hundreds of times over the years and still cannot make up my mind. It may have been one of those punches that was just too quick to see and stunned Liston. Only Liston knows if that punch really did any damage or not.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: Muhammad Ali called it his anchor punch. I was not there on the night and have watched it on film plenty of times. I think the best clue is in Ali’s reaction. He was yelling at Liston to get up because he knew he never hit him that hard. It seemed to me to be a light punch to KO Liston. It didn’t look right to me.
MICHAEL NORBY: It looked like a Peter Pan punch to me, Mike. I’ve watched it. I’ve rewound it and watched it in super slo-mo and I can’t see anything that would make a big guy like that go down like a ton of bricks.
JERRY GLICK ANSWERS: I have been on the fence about this ever since they fought. Liston was known for his iron jaw, and Ali could hit but was never considered a power puncher, yet he hit Sonny with one big right and he went down. There are different theories on this. One says that Liston walked into the punch, which he did. Another says that Liston was in top condition just before Ali had a hernia operation postponing the fight and that Sonny never got back into shape. Still another theory states that Ali received death threats before the fight and Sonny, being the brave guy that he was, decided that he wanted out of the ring ASAP before the bullets began to fly. You can also keep in mind that Liston was a bully and if he couldn’t intimidate you then he was lost. So pick one, any one, or two.
Name : Paul Tonono
Country : South Africa
Your Question :
Hi guys, just an odd question. Can anyone tell me why Rocky Marciano retired with a record of 49-0, instead of taking it all the way to 50?
CLIVE BERNATH ANSWERS: To be honest, I cannot remember off the top of my head but I do know Marciano suffered terrible hand trouble. Marciano also made a lot of money and was a shrewd enough to keep it all. He was quoted as saying that he retired at the right time and never contemplated a return. He also said he wanted to spend more time with his family.
JERRY GLICK ANSWERS: Rocky was under pressure from his family to quit, plus he was at odds with his manager Al Weill, whom Rocky did not trust. He was also sick of the grind of training and fighting. I also recall that at the time he quit there were few viable/money making challengers available. Patterson was a year away and there were not many more interesting challengers at the time. He could have faced Nino Valdez, or Archie Moore again, but along with the other reasons he had, he quit at 32 years old. Old for a fighter back then.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: I think Jerry is spot on with his recollection.
MICHAEL NORBY: I’m not sure, Paul. I don’t think anybody is, but the guy is one of a few gold standard holders of how to retire with your legacy squarely intact.
Name : Brad Riverstone
Country : Australia
Your Question :
I’m looking forward to the Roy Jones Jr-Danny Green fight here in Australia on December 2. Not sure what to expect though. Is Roy back to his best, or was what we saw against Jeff Lacy a mirage? Can Danny really knockout Roy like Tarver and Johnson did?
CLIVE BERNATH ANSWERS: Brad, Jones Jr beat the shell of a fighter in Lacy as you know. But I still see him defeating Danny Green.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: That’s what makes it such an interesting fight Brad, we don’t know for sure what will happen. Is Roy really Roy again? If Green can find a way to hit his chin, it could be KO loss time again for Roy. Green struggled to land cleanly on Anthony Mundine, so reasoning suggests he will have more trouble with the great Roy Jones Jr. It doesn’t always work that way though. I do know that Danny will be fitter, stronger and better prepared to fight into the later rounds if he has to, than he was against Mundine. In the end, that’s why we have he boxers fight the fights, so we can see for ourselves what will happen.
MICHAEL NORBY: Green will apply pressure on Jones Jr, that’s for sure. The Australian is not on the level of Tarver or Johnson, however, and I think Jones will handle him decently well. I’m predicting a decision victory for the American. I wouldn’t say that Roy is back to his best, though. Lacy was badly faded.
JERRY GLICK ANSWERS: I am a big fan of Roy’s and a huge believer in slick boxers with the kind of skills that Jones’ possesses so I believe that, like old Archie Moore who used skills rather than brawn, Roy will win. How? Probably by decision.
Name: Patrick McKenzie
Country : USA
Your Question :
Do you know what the worst thing is about the heavyweight division? It’s that the under-grads only need to rattle their cages a little bit to get a title shot at one of the Klitschko twins. There’s no, or very little, infighting amongst the wannabes to determine who’s the best prospect to test one of the two legit champs. Instead, we get a constant stream of untested/unproven fighters climbing into the championship ring only to get mowed down. It’s ridiculous. I think we, the boxing public, need to demand that first Nikolay Valuev, Eddie Chambers, Oleg Maskaev, Samuel Peter, and David Haye all get thrown into a cage together and the last man standing goes to the next round. The next round being beating Holyfield bad enough that he finally retires, knocking out the Russian Dancing Bear Nikolay Valuev, then making a fight with the hold-and-grab champion John Ruiz exciting with an early stoppage. Do that, then, and only then, does that fighter earn a title shot. But seriously, why can’t the promoters get a Super Six of the best heavyweight challengers together to determine who’s the hungriest/most deserving young lion?
CLIVE BERNATH ANSWERS: Patrick, I expect the reason is twofold. 1. There is not six heavyweights good enough for the tournament and, 2. If there was six top class heavy’s, the cost of a tournament would be far more expensive that the super middleweight series.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: Clive is spot on, who is going to put up decent money to watch a batch of the current overweight heavyweights puff around the ring. The weight division will have to right itself by itself without outside assistance.
MICHAEL NORBY: Wow. That’s some hardcore stuff right there Patrick. A massive heavyweight cage fight? The way the big guys are these days, I don’t even think that would be interesting. The answer to your serious question is that no one would watch. At least in the 168lbs division there is some serious talent and interest.
JERRY GLICK ANSWERS: No comment here on your imaginary way to determine a challenger. I can’t agree that the challengers have done nothing to earn a shot at the title. I think you should look at their recent records and I think you will see that they, for the most part, earned their opportunities. Chambers beat Dimitrenko, Peter, Brock, Guinn, and Rossy. Dimitrenko beat Krasniqi, Rossy, Timo Hoffman, and Malcolm Tann. Guys like Maskaev, Peter, and Haye have titles in their backgrounds. Ruiz is Ruiz, whatever happens with him will happen, and forget old Evander.
Name : Riaz Uddin
Country : United Kingdom
Your Question :
Hi, first off great site guys. Secondly, I know this has been said a lot but what a great idea the Super Six really is! Now, I know this is quite a bit after the fight, but I have got to say, the Dirrell-Froch fight was daylight robbery. Dirrell was quite clearly the classier, slicker, quicker and more skilful fighter one the night...so how did he lose? Do you agree with the decision? I am getting tired of judges scoring close fights in favour of the hometown boy. Is there anyway this can be stopped?
CLIVE BERNATH ANSWERS: Riaz. I had Dirrell sneaking a tight decision but the fight was by no means a classic. For me, boxing is about hitting and not getting hit. OK, it was not a pretty fight, but Dirrell’s tactics were spot on.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: If you had Dirrell winning close like 7 rounds to 5 or 8-4, I don’t have a problem with that. But he didn’t win clearly. I had Froch up 7-5 in rounds. Some judges just appreciate a more aggressive come forward style.
MICHAEL NORBY: I agree with the decision, Riaz. There is no doubt in my mind that Dirrell is the better all-round fighter, but he didn’t do enough to come away with the win. Perhaps the occasion got to him but hopefully he’ll learn from it and get better.
JERRY GLICK ANSWERS: I agree completely with you on all points. Tournaments to determine the best and hopefully, a single champ are a great idea. Froch lost, and judges are human, so they are subject to various kinds of influences. All subjective sports have tried to rid themselves of poor judging. I have no cure other than make all fights to a finish, no decisions. But if they did, I would not continue as a boxing writer. I would not support that, and I would quit the sport altogether.
Name : Tim Young
Country : Australia
Your Question :
Hmmm, not too much agreement with my opinion about the Super 6 or whatever it is, and to please you Mike, I got outta bed on the right side this morning. OK, one last question about the tournament, before I let it go. Is there a contingency plan in place to ensure that one of the two fighters eliminated do not hold the two belts being contested? Going into the last round, it’s possible the belts could be snatched by a fighter who hasn’t accumulated enough points to advance. Moving on, I think that Jerry’s defense of promoters and managers is wrong and I would like to add a few more culprits as to why we have this shamozzle in this sport. Managers and promoters have been bending/ breaking rules and contracts for years to preserve their cash cows. The same is happening now with Valuev, he’s still a champ and so long as Ruiz keeps becoming mandatory challenger, why risk the title against two far more dangerous opponents? The fans need a kick up the butt too. I mean, who would go and watch “Aussie” Joe Bugner vs. James “Bonecrusher” Smith for a version of a title when both wouldn’t have made the top 50? Yeah, I was there along with half the Gold Coast. So really, if it isn’t an undisputed title on offer and the promoters don’t promote it, the scribes don’t write about it and we don’t watch it, the alphabet boys become history. Then boxing will go back 40 years when even my mum knew, “that big mouth who used to be Clay”, was the champ.
MICHAEL NORBY: Good man, Tim. Doesn’t everything look brighter once you step out the right side? It works for me. Managers and promoters have habitually looked to protect their investments and squeeze as much juice out of the orange as possible so I agree with you. In saying that, though, you have to give the handlers of this tournament respect for hurling their guys into a competition with six of the best 168lbs fighters in the world. There really is nowhere to hide in there, Tim.
JERRY GLICK ANSWERS: Hi Tim, whatever you do, please don’t stop writing in you questions. I fully appreciate your comments and ideas. As far as my comments last time concerning promoters, where I said I have respect for them (I think that is what you are referring to), please keep in mind that there are a number of managers and promoters who I know personally and I have the chance to get a close look at their activities and most of them, if not all, appear to be honorable. Are they that way with everyone at all times, I am sure the answer to that is no, but, overall, I think they care about their fighters and try to do the best that they can for them. Many promoters do, in fact, lose money. About the: If it works out mathematically that a belt holder leaves the Super Six then he will leave and whoever wins, wins.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: Yes, it could happen that way, one boxer missing out on the semi-finals whilst holding the WBC/WBA titles. Let’s just hope it doesn’t happen. As for promoters, I am always reminded that without promoters, there is no professional boxing. The fans need to vote with their feet by not attending or buying fight cards, which are clearly not up to standard.
Name : Wayne Lord
Country : Canada
Your Question :
I think you guys gave Floyd Mayweather Jr more credit for beating Marquez than Manny got for beating Oscar & Hatton. Experts picked Oscar to kill him and for him to lose to Hatton. Floyd had every edge and was expected to easily beat Marquez who barely beat Diaz & Casamayor. He was slower, older, smaller and yet Floyd stole extra lbs. Would Hopkins No.3 have gotten No.1 for beating Floyd with so many advantages? P4P does not mean No 1 can beat everyone. Agreed?
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: You are going to be on Mike Nosky’s mailing list now! Maybe in retrospect to some of us, De La Hoya certainly had less left than we thought against Pacquiao. Beating Hatton was still a very good win for Pacquiao the way he did it. It wasn’t so much how Mayweather beat Marquez for me. Mayweather just seems to have the answer to whatever he faces in the ring.
MICHAEL NORBY: And that’s why PFP means nothing. NOTHING!!! It’s nonsense.
JERRY GLICK ANSWERS: I see Floyd as No.1 based on his accomplishments throughout his career, not on his win over Marquez. The P4P is based on the idea of if all things were equal, this given fighter would beat that given fighter. I’ll bet that there are less talented heavyweights who can beat a top bantamweight, but P4P the top bantam would KO the heavyweight. I was impressed with Mayweather’s performance, not simply because he beat Marquez.