Mr Lightskintwin inspired me (without him knowing, so no blames on him please) to look up and write on this subject. The 3 points that grabbed my attention were along the lines of:
- Wladimir Klitschko is not an All Time Great. This means, had he fought in a different era, he wouldn't have been as successful, to the point of probably never getting a belt, or in any case, holding it for long.
- Ali's time was such an era. Meaning, the overall level of the field back then was higher, or at least the top boxers, the ones that are fighting for championships, were much better than what we have today.
- Contenders and also rans from that and other eras would be elite today, even to the point of being talked about as future hall of famers because of the extraordinary results they would achieve.
For fun, I am going to pick the top10 from The Ring both at the end of 1970 and the end of 2012, and I'm going to list and briefly commentate each one of the matchups. Then I will add the results and see. I expect other people to post their own results and opinions.
Before starting, this is not scientific or anything. The sample is anecdotically small, the pairings themselves are random, the opinions are opinions. If we change years, the fighters change, the positions change, etc. This is only intended as a soft way to approach the subject. Plus there's the many style matchups that can favour one or the other group depending on how you sort them.
I choose 1970 because I think light casually mentioned this year, and it's also the last rankings before Ali vs Frazier. I think it's a good list, any other from within a few years would be equally good, better, worse, depending I guess, I haven't looked at them. I picked 2012 instead of 2013 because I wanted Haye and Vitali in, I know it's cheating a bit, but anyway Haye and Vitali are a part of what the elite of the division has been for the last few years, so well, they are in.
To list their weights, I have picked, for each one, their weight to the closest relevant fight I find around the time. For example, I'm going to use Foreman's weight against Chuvalo, Haye's' against Chisora or Wlad's against Thompson. I'm too lazy to check hundreds of numbers and do averages and all that.
As an additional disclaimer, I really don't know some of the fighters from the 70s, much less I have watched them fight. So any help is appreciated, I'm not really breaking the fights down, only listing them along with some information.
The Ring Heavyweight Rankings for 1970
Champion: Joe Frazier
- Muhammad Ali
- George Foreman
- Oscar Bonavena
- Jerry Quarry
- Mac Foster
- Henry Cooper
- George Chuvalo
- Sonny Liston
- Jose Ibar Urtain
- Jose Luis García
The Ring Heavyweight Rankings for 2012
Champion: Wladimir Klitschko
- Vitali Klitschko
- Alexander Povetkin
- David Haye
- Kubrat Pulev
- Tomasz Adamek
- Robert Helenius
- Dennis Boytsov
- Ruslan Chagaev
- Chris Arreola
- Tyson Fury
Fight 1: Frazier vs W. Klitschko
Frazier: 5′ 11½″, 206 lbs, 73" reach
Klitschko: 6' 6', 249 lbs, 81" reach
Not going to say much about this one. I think Klitschko would win more than he would lose against Joe because it would be almost impossible for Joe to get to Wladimir, plainly. 43 lbs, 6" in height and 8" in reach seem too large advantages for Joe to overcome with the different traits in which he had a definite advantage over Wlad.
Fight 2: Ali vs V. Klitschko
Ali: 6' 3'', 215 lbs, 78" reach
Klitschko: 6' 7", 243 lbs, 79" reach
This one is very different. For one, Ali is much closer in size than Frazier was to the other brother. Secondly, Ali's style is very different. He wouldn't try to overpower Vitali, nor would he need it. He was still young in 1970, he had his speed, his reflexes, so Vitali surely wouldn't land much hard on him. Even if he did, Ali had a tremendous chin. Over a series, I think Vitali could maybe catch Ali with something nasty eventually and win off it, but I give this one to Ali because I think he would win quite more often.
Fight 3: Foreman vs Povetkin
Foreman: 6′ 3½, 218lbs, 78½″ reach
Povetkin: 6' 2", 229 lbs, 75" reach
Big George was actually bigger than Povetkin, and he would get much bigger some decades later, even. I don't know what you guys think, Foreman is one of my favourites, and while I think Povetkin is good, I'm positive he would shit his pants in front of the Foreman of 1970, then get brutally knocked out just like the rest of them.
Fight 4: Bonavena vs Haye
Bonavena: 5′ 10½″, 204 lbs, 73" reach
Haye: 6' 3", 210 lbs, 78" reach
I don't know about Bonavena, honestly. Some of his losses came against true greats so I don't know if I'm making a terrible mistake here. After all, he was ranked 3rd by The Ring. Still, I think Haye, who would be a bit taller, heavier and with a bit more reach, while looking faster and more athletic, would take this so he has my vote.
Fight 5: Quarry vs Pulev
Quarry: 6', 197½ lbs, 72" reach
Pulev: 6′ 4½″, 251 lbs, reach not listed
Quarry also fought some greats in his time. Still, he was stopped 6 times in his career and he didn't have an awesome KO record either. So I don't know how he handles Pulev, but if he handles him, you tell me.
Fight 6: Foster vs Adamek
Foster: 6' 2", 222 lbs, reach not listed
Adamek: 6′ 1½″, 222 lbs, 75" reach
Well I didn't even know who Foster was. These two are the same size. Turns out I have read Foster's Wikipedia page and I liked what I saw there. All his wins were by stoppage!!! How f***ing cool is that? So I don't know, I think he beats Adamek, tell me if you think he doesn't.
Fight 7: Cooper vs Helenius
Cooper: 6' ½", 190 lbs, 75" reach
Helenius: 6′ 6½″, 243 lbs, 79" reach
So you tell me. I don't know. Helenius might be pretty bad but towering over Cooper and with a 50 pound advantage, I find it hard for Cooper to take him out there. If you disagree, tell me.
Fight 8: Chuvalo vs Boytsov
Chuvalo: 6', 231 lbs, reach not listed
Boytsov: 6'1'', 235 lbs, reach not listed
So let's see. I don't know, but they are the same size. And according to h0lydiver's rules of hypothetical matchups, when they are the same size, the one that is more badass, wins. Boytsov might be mildly badass, but Chuvalo is f***ing badass, he fought plenty of greats and he was never knocked down, so he is a thousand times more badass than Boytsov and he wins.
Fight 9: Liston vs Chagaev
Liston: 6′ 0½″, 219 lbs, 84" reach
Chagaev: 5'11", 242 lbs, 74" reach
I think Liston KOs Chagaev. Tell me what you think.
Fight 10: Urtain vs Arreola
Urtain: 5'11", 195 lbs, 70" reach
Arreola: 6'3", 245 lbs, 76" reach
Urtain!! El tigre de Zenoa!!! A Spanish Heavyweight in The Ring top10?? You bet! Turns out people from the Basque Country have the fame of being overly tough, and overly proud too, there's books of jokes about them. This is one of them:
A guy there enters a bakery and asks the shopkeeper: "two breads, please, and if you have eggs, give me two dozen". And he went back home with 24 breads.
*if you have eggs ----> if you have the balls, in Spanish
So yeah, I'm sorry about my countryman here but he would be probably be stopped badly by Arreola.
Fight 11: García vs Fury
García: 6'4", 191 lbs, reach not listed
Fury: 6'9", 232 lbs, 85" reach
Finally, the fight you all have been desperately scrolling down to find!! The Venezuelan was certainly tall for the times, but he's fighting Tyson f***ing Fury here. It's common knowledge Fury is the best heavyweight from the recent future so the smart money is on Fury here. I challenge you to argue otherwise.
FINAL RESULTS: 2012 CLASS WINS 6-5!!!!
So, if you pick Frazier taking out Wlad, 1970 class wins 6-5. And then, what else would you change? What's your score? Does thinking about this changes, even slightly, what you think about the difference in levels between those different eras? Does it not?
Do I have too much free time in my hands? I think so.