Meet The Contestants!
James J. Corbett: 6' 1" 184 lbs. "Gentleman Jim" was the first great boxer of modern era to prove that skill could overcome brawn. Corbett was primarily a counter-puncher. He was quick-handed, light on his feet, and had great stamina. Corbett had a very accurate jab, and was highly adept at slipping punches. Nat Fleischer rated him #5 all time heavyweight. Charley Rose ranked him #9.
Bob Fitzsimmons: 5 11 3/4" 170 lbs. Not really a true heavyweight Fitz was something of a physical freak. He had a heavyweights strong back and shoulder muscles which produced his paralyzing punch. But this was set on top of a pair of spindly legs. Fitz was a strong body puncher, and accurate place puncher to vital points. His official record shows 62 total bouts but he claimed to have had over 350 fights. Rated #3 at heavyweight by Fleischer.
Jim Jeffries: 6' 2 1/2" 218 lbs. As big as "modern" heavyweights, Jeffries also was a world class athlete. He had a 6' high jump, and could run the 100 yard dash in 10.5 seconds! He was said to be "impossible to hurt" and was never knocked off his feet until his 6 year lay-off vs.Johnson. Jeffries was quicker than many believe and had great natural stamina and physical strength. He could wear down any man in a 25 round fight. Jeffries was a top notch body puncher with a great left hook. Rated #2 all time heavyweight by Fleischer, #5 by Rose.
Jack Johnson: 6' 1/4" 208 lbs. Considered by many historians as the finest defensive heavyweight of all time. Johnson was a master at feinting, parrying, and counter-punching all but lost arts today. He had good hand speed and was a sharp puncher. His uppercut was among the finest in heavyweight history. Would frusrate his opponents with defense then catch them coming in with uppercut. Often forced to carry opponents to make money. Chin might be a question mark as he was knocked out several times. Rated #1 heavyweight of all time by Nat Fleischer, and #2 by Charley Rose.
Sam Langford: Only 5' 8" Weighed 168 lbs in his prime but fought up to 190's later in career. Had the power to knock out much larger men. Langfords speed, power, and great fighting skills accounted for nearly every great heavyweight of the 00's and teens. He was a master counter-puncher, had great defense and was a very intelligent fighter with loads of experience.
Joe Jeanette: 5' 10" 195 lbs. Jeanette was a dangerous inside puncher, and a very rugged and durable fighter. Once defeated Sam McVey on a 50th round ko after having sufferred 27 knockdowns! Fought Jack Johnson 7 times and Sam Langford 3 times in his first 22 fights. Nearly half of his 157 bouts were against 10 other black boxers of period. A highly avoided fighter. Johnson would never give him a title shot, they never faced again after their 1907 draw.
Sam McVey: 5' 10 1/2" 210 lbs. McVey was a very strong and powerful puncher. A fighter of great physical strength he also had a strong chin. More of a slugger than a boxer. McVey was an extremely dangerous man to trade punches with. Had more touble with slick boxers like Johnson. Built like Mike Tyson, its too bad there are no films of him.
Harry Wills: 6' 4" 220 lbs. One of the greatest fighters to never fight for the championship. Wills relied on his bulk, impressive strength, and strong body punching to defeat opponents. Under-appreciated skills but not particularly quick. Considered by many historians to be the best of the heavyweight "black foursome". Was in line for a shot at Dempsey, and though they signed twice, promoter Tex Rickard would not make the match.
Jess Willard: 6' 6 1/4" 230 lbs. The tallest man to ever hold the heavyweight title as of 1999. Had a long 83" reach. Willard got a bad rep on the claim of Johnson that he threw their fight. The film, however, shows that Johnson simply gets hit on the chin. Willard actually had a good jab, and good footwork for a man of his size. He had a strong chin. Only Dempsey, and Firpo (at the end of his career) ever ko'd him. He quit once in a fight earlier in his career. One of the most under-rated of heavyweights. He had strength and power enough to kill a man in the ring. On the other hand, did not possess good hand speed and was not too difficult to hit.
Jack Dempey: 6' 3/4" 192 lbs. A very viscious and explosive puncher. Possibly the best left hook in heavyweight history. Threw punches from angles, always circling looking for openings. Had quick hands, and better mobility than given credit for by contemporary critics. Under-rated as a boxer. Not the same fighter after he got married and enjoyed the highlife. Losses to Tunney deceptive after a three year lay-off with no tune-ups in first fight, and nearly knocked Tunney out in second fight. Rated #1 Heavyweight in 1950 AP Poll, and in Dec. 1962 Ring magazine by panel of 40 boxing experts.
Gene Tunney: 6' 1/2" 192 lbs. A scientific boxer and technician with excellent footwork. Had a great defensive jab. A superb counter-puncher. Possessed a solid chin. Fought most of his career at light-heavyweight before moving up to win heavyweight title. Upset Dempsey twice with cool-headed boxing. Retired as champion after only 2 defenses. Didn't have many fights at heavyweight. Had he stayed around for two more fights against Sharkey and Schmeling we would have seen whether he was truly an all-time great.
Max Schmeling: 6' 1" 195 lbs. A master counter-puncher with a strong right hand. Max was an intelligent fighter. Often pawed with jab to set-up destructive right. Biggest win was upset 12 round ko against Joe Louis. Max said "I see somezing". He noticed Louis dropped his left after jabbing and before launching his powerful hook and was able to counter with his accurate right hand. Possessed a solid but also vulnerable chin. Was beaten by a prime Max Baer, and Joe Louis. Not particularly quick with his hands. Only man to win heavyweight title on a foul.
Jack Sharkey: 6' 201 lbs. An often under-rated boxer with a wide arsenal of punches. Sharkey gave a faded Dempsey a good licking before turning to complain to the Ref about a low blow when Jack knocked him out. Best win was victory over Harry Wills. Won a close and controversial decision over Schmeling in their 2nd fight for heavyweight title. The question of Sharkey is which one would show up? The talented fighter or the half-trained, over-confident one? Chin is also debatable kayoed by Dempsey, Carnera, and Louis.
Max Baer 6' 2 1/2" 210 lbs. One of the hardest right hand punchers in history. Right hand was deadly accounting for the lives of two men. A chaotic character who never trained seriously. In one fight he would destroy his opponent such as his victories over Carnera, Schmeling, and Galento all of whom he knocked out then would fight poorly. Had trouble with slick boxers like Loughran, Braddock, and Farr all of whom won decisions over him. Only Joe Louis ever won a slugging match from him in his physical prime.
Joe Louis: The epitome of the classic boxer/puncher. Louis had great hand speed and was an explosive combination puncher. Threw every punch picture book perfect. Jab had the power of most heavyweights right hand. A great finisher. Deadly in rematches where he was 10-0. Had longest title reign and made most successful defenses of any heavyweight champion. Of his 25 defenses 21 were by ko, five in first round. Louis weakness was a tendency to drop his left which resulted in several knockdowns. He had strong recuperative ability and quickly knocked out most of his opponents in those fights. Louis also had a certain range he liked to work in and those who could stay at long range could give him some difficulty, though it should be noted he eventualy caught and finished them.
Ezzard Charles: 6' 185 lbs. The "Cincinattin Cobra" was a fast moving, slick boxing fighter. Earlier in his career, as a light-heavyweight, he was also a strong combination puncher. After killing a man in the ring he lost his desire to really try and finish a man. Even so he remained a skilled practitioner with excellent speed and mobility. Chin not at the highest level as he suffered 7 career knockouts.
Jersey Joe Walcott: 6' 194 lbs. One of the finest technicians in heavyweight history. Had great balance and footwork, pivoting, and counter-punching. An adept feinter. Possessed a powerful left hook. Not a very agressive fighter, and could be ko'd by a top notch puncher like Louis or Marciano.
Rocky Marciano: 5' 10 1/4" 185 lbs. Marciano was a small but powerful hitter who fought out of a crouch. He was a non-stop puncher, and every punch was meant to do damage. His right hand was among the best in heavyweight history. A strong body puncher with great stamina. He was always in top physical condition. Was somewhat cut prone. Lacked a great defense and was sometimes wild when he missed. His lack if competition has hurt his standing in the eyes of some authorities.
Floyd Patterson: 6' 184 lbs. Floyd had a pair of the fastest hands in heavyweight history. He was an exceptional combination puncher who fought out of a "peek-a-boo" defense. He had a strong left hook. On the downside he had the weakest chin among all heavyweight champions. He was floored 16 times and kayoed 5 times.
Ingemar Johansson: 6' 1/2" 196 lbs. Reknowned for his "Toonder and Lightning" right hand punch. It was a scinatillating shot that accounted for Henry Cooper, Eddie Machen, and Patterson. Only pawed with his jab. Not much of a hook. A one handed fighter. Not a great chin either destroyed in his two rematches with Patterson.
Sonny Liston: 6' 1" 214 lbs. Liston was a menacing puncher with power in both hands. His powerful left jab came at the end of a 84" reach- tied for third best in heavyweight history. His left hook was a fearsome weapon. Sonny also had good boxing skills. His chin was normally quite durable. His two controversial fights with Ali have diminished his rep, but he was one of the most dangerous punchers in all of history.
Muhammad Ali: 6' 3" 212 lbs. The fastest heavyweight of all time of hand or foot. Blinding speed in combination. A quick rapier-like jab. One of the strongest chins in heavyweight history, his heart and courage are unquestionable. Faced the stiffest competition in division history and came out on top. The only knock on Ali was that he ignored classical defense. He held his hands low, he leaned away from punches. These tactics are normally suicidal. However, Ali's great sense of distance and timing, combined with his natural athletic ability (speed, reflexes, and ability to absorb punishment) allowed him to escape from his errors. This does not mean he was invicincible. He was nearly kayoed by Cooper, and beaten by both Frazier and Norton.
Joe Frazier: The bobbing, weaving, aggressive, non-stop punching machine. He gave three minutes of work every round. A powerful body puncher. Had the best left hook since Dempsey. A crowder who never gave his opponents a chance to breathe. Frazier had a strong chin, but was vulnerable to an early knockdown (Bruce, Bonavena (2 fights), and Foreman, and wobbled in 2nd round of 2nd Ali fight). A strong chin, but perhaps not enough to survive the truly big punchers.
George Foreman: 6' 3" 220 lbs. The heavyweight destroyer non-pareil. Foreman possessed awesome, almost freakish strength and punching power. But, in his prime, was short on stamina. George's powerful fists could lift a man off his feet. Had a strong ram-rod like left jab, a hammering hook, and crunching right, and a booming uppercut. Could knock out a horse with either hand. George was also a master at cutting off the ring. This made him one of the most dangerous sluggers in heavyweight history. George was slow, and not too difficult to hit. Slick boxers like Peralta, Ali, and Young gave him trouble. Few who stood in front of him had a hope to survive.
Larry Holmes: 6' 4" 214 lbs. Larry was a superb technician with a quick and heavy jab. His jab is possibly the best in division history with one major exception. Larry had a tendency to drop his left after jabbing, a mistake which nearly got him killed by Earnie Shavers, and Renaldo Snipes. Larry had a strong chin which helped him to survive such encounters. He had a strong right cross and a powerful uppercut. A fine combination puncher. Larry had good footwork but was not the dancing master that a prime Ali was. Often over-shadowed by Ali, Holmes was nevertheless, an outstanding champion.
Michael Spinks: 6' 2 1/2" 202 lbs. One of the greatest light-heavyweight champions and the only one to go on to capture the world heavyweight championship (Fitz won light-heavy title after being heavyweight champ.) A far better fighter than his brother Leon who briefly held the title in 1978. Michael was known for his "Spinks Jinx" right hand. He combined slippery movement and ring intelligence to finesse heavyweight title from a fading Larry Holmes. Beat Larry again in controversial decision in their rematch. Scored knockouts over Steffan Tangstad and Gerry Cooney before succumbing to Tyson.
Mike Tyson: 5' 10 1/2" 216 lbs. "Iron" Mike Tyson was one of the most menacing and devastating punchers in boxing history. He possessed great hand speed and explosive power. He was an outstanding combination puncher. In his prime he exhibited good head movement and defensive slipping and countering. He had a strong chin and could not be taken out by one punch. However he was a "front-runner" with psychological weaknesses who did not fight well in the face of aggressive counter-punching. Had a tendency to get wild and became a punch at a time stalker when he fell behind. Losses to Buster Douglas and Evander Holyfield proved a smart combination puncher who was not afraid of him could beat him.
Buster Douglas: 6' 4" 230 lbs. Douglas fought the fight of his life and looked like a world beater when as a 42-1 Underdog he upset Mike Tyson. Then in his next fight he lost quickly to Evander Holyfield. Since he also quit against tony Tucker, his heart is a big question mark as well as his chin. Had the tools to be a great fighter, a punishing left jab behind an awesome 84" reach (same as Liston). He was a nice combination puncher with good footwork. Threw a right uppercut from the outside which cost him against Holyfield. Lacked the grit to be a great fighter.
Evander Holyfield: 6'2" 215 lbs. Holyfield was a fighter with tremendous will and heart. As a heavyweight Holyfield devoloped into one of the best counter-punchers in division history. He had a nice jab, threw solid combinations, and had a strong left hook. Not a huge puncher he could finish a man when he had them hurt. Evander also possesed one of the stronger chins among the heavyweight champions. Holyfield had a tendency to fade late in a number of his fights (Holmes, Foreman, Bowe 1, and 3, Lewis 1)
Riddick Bowe: 6' 5" 230 lbs. An in-shape Bowe was the best in-fighter of all the big men. He was strong, a hard puncher with either hand, the possessor of a solid jab and a punishing uppercut. Bowe was also a debilitating body puncher. He also was an adept combination puncher. The knock on Riddick was that he was lazy and didn't train as hard as he could have. Not really quick handed either. A massive under-achiever.
Michael Moorer: The only southpaw heavyweight champion. He was actually a natural righty who fought from the unorthodox stance. Moorer had a great right jab, one of the better jabs in division history. He had a solid right hook and a punishing left cross. He had a weak chin, suffering several knockdowns, and kayos to Foreman and Holyfield. Also lacked confidence against a big puncher. Another fighter who had a tendency to get lazy/complacent in the ring. Beat Holyfield with his jab in their first fight which was his best fight.
Lennox Lewis: 6'5" 242 lbs. The first non-american heavyweight champ since Johannsen. Lewis has the second largest reach in heavyweight history at 85" (sometimes shown as 84"). He has a long punishing jab, and a powerful right cross. Improvement on the inside was apparent in Holyfield fights. Bad habit of dropping his left after jabbing is what cost him in his lone loss to McCall, this poor habit remains. He is sometimes tentative and could be more aggressive. Has all the physical tools and has demonstrated heart. His chin looks solid but may be vulnerable against a truly big puncher.
Round One Begins First Friday in February!