Vivek Wallace Presents: 'OPEN MIC FAN MAIL' - Measuring "Greats" & "G.O.A.T.'s" (Klitschko/Mayweather/Pacquiao/Hopkins/ and Beyond)
Every Wednesday ESB will feature a new published letter directly from hardcore fight fans just like you! Each letter will be published, with a response directly from boxing scribe Vivek Wallace. Send all 'Open Mic Fan Mail' letters to firstname.lastname@example.org, and remember to keep content short, concise, and profanity free. Today's segment comes from Jazz H. of Bronx, NYC:
Article posted on 01.12.2010
You and I have talked a number of times in the past about great fighters of today versus great fighters of yesterday, and it seems that you are the only writer who has even come close to giving warriors of today their props in this argument.. That being said, I would like you to elaborate on your points, if you would. I have dug up every batch of old fight footage that I could, and when I look at fights of yesterday, I just can't see how people can compare some of what they had then to what we have now. Lennox Lewis and Vitali Klitschko could have and would have found success in any other era. Leonard, Duran, Hagler and Hearns? Any era!
Everyone is rightfully buzzing on Manny Pacquiao, but what they don't realize is that he's just one example of the greatness we have in this era, and there are a ton more. I know that you're a huge proponent of skills, and today, hands down, Floyd Mayweather jr. is the most skilled fighter on the planet, but the guy has to resort to calling himself the best because these old-timers in the boxing media today (Merchant, Lampley, Bernstein, Steward, etc) are so fixed on the past that they won't dare give true props to someone as skilled has he is. Ivan Calderon was a very solid boxer, but most have never even heard of him, which is crazy! I must admit, I don't see many new comers of today cracking the list of fighters able to legitimately place themselves in that all-time "best of the best" group, but I wanted to ask:
If you looked at the sport over the last 20 years, (1990 - Today), which men 10 men would you peg to fall in contention for a potential "best of all-time" group?
Jazz H. (Bronx, NYC)
(RESPONSE TO LETTER BELOW)
This is one of those topics that will open a can of worms every single time! It's like the old "Barry Sanders vs Jim Brown" argument. Men of one era are more likely to say "there will never be another like him", but their fathers and their fathers would strongly beg to differ! I'll be the first to admit that it's all in the mind of the speaker, but what people don't stop to think is that it's common knowledge that men of today are bigger and stronger across the board in every aspect of life, yet when it comes to boxing, many historians would like one to believe that it doesn't apply to the sport.
I try to give credibility to the argument of some of the old-timers, considering that regardless of new found training regimens, supplements, etc, the only division where size truly matters is the heavyweight division, which is where the range and size can be endless. It would seem, in theory at least, that a welterweight (in example) of 50yrs ago, is never gonna be too much stronger than a welterweight of today, or the future. 147lbs is 147lbs. But, the flip side to that argument, and this is where I run into problems with the old-timers, is that athletes of today truly are from another planet, (physically speaking)!
There's no way in hell that any of these experts or historians are gonna tell me (with any luck) that a prime Roy Jones jr. would have been easy work for anyone in any other era! Or that Vitali Klitschko and Lennox Lewis would have been a cakewalk for Ali, or Foreman. You're just not gonna tell me that! Refuse my credentials.....don't invite me to your committee award ceremonies......do whatever you like, but there's no way in hell anyone is selling me on that stuff! PERIOD! Willie Pep was a monster, defensively! He was as slick as anyone. I can think of fights where the guy literally looked like he was ice-skating in the ring!
But despite the fact that statistics weren't tracked the way they are now, if we looked at his entire catalog, we'd probably be hard-pressed to find him do it against comparable talent to a spirited warrior like a Juan Manuel Marquez of today. How do you go 12 rounds against arguably one of the best precision punchers today and prevent him from landing more than 8 punches in any round over the course of 12? There were literally rounds where the guy didn't land one jab in 20+ attempts. And that's jabs.....the most common shot to land in the arsenal! How do you discredit such a feat? And how do you logically think that this is a fighter (Mayweather) who couldn't compete in any other era?
You asked for my list, and I must give the early disclosure that everyone knows I'm a hardcore fundamentalist, so it'll be a "fundamental happy" list. That being said, accomplishment will be weighted equally. If I had to drop names of 10 men over the past 20 years who I think could fight and be equally dominant in any other era, here goes:
1. Vitali Klitschko, 2. Lennox Lewis, 3. Ray Leonard, 4. Roy Jones jr., 5. Bernard Hopkins, 6. Roberto Duran, 7. Marvin Hagler, 8. Tommy Hearns, 9. Floyd Mayweather jr. and 10. Manny Pacquiao. For those who question my order, it should be duly noted that it was all based on size (HW's thru lower weights). Mosley, Calzaghe, Tyson, Whitaker, Holyfield, JM Marquez, and a few other men clearly belong, but again, if I had to narrow it down to 10, (which makes it extremely impossible), this would be my selection of men that could compete and find equal success in any other era.
Looking back at my list, I guess I've officially started the war with generation "next", as my son and his friends may one day look back and say, (similar to me with the old-timers of yesteryear), "Dad, what happened to the men of our era"? Unfortunately, when I look around at the 'new-school' crop, with the exception of Andre Ward, Jose Benavides, and potentially Saul Alvarez, I truly don't see ANYONE that I would be ready to ordain as part of this group! Sound like the old-timers, eh? What the hell? Maybe we're all getting old.....and I'm afraid that's not a new concept! But, stay tuned!
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at email@example.com, 954*292*7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEKWALLACE747), Skype (VITO-BOXING), FaceBook, and Myspace).
previous article: Manny Pacquiao vs Shane Mosley. Not Such a Bad Idea—But We Still Want Pacquiao-Mayweather
next article: A statement from Audley Harrison