Dempsey’s Arm and the State of Modern Boxing

By Mike Silver on December 23, 2015
Dempsey’s Arm and the State of Modern Boxing
Is a mountain lion too small to take on a bear that outweighs it hundreds of pounds?

I am still reeling from the experience of watching that awful exhibition (I cannot call it a fight) between Klitschko and Fury…

Heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey’s punching power was legendary. At a body weight of about 190 pounds the Manassa Mauler’s punches could render unconscious opponents who outweighed him by 50 or more pounds. His left hook was often compared to the kick of a mule. The astonishing muscularity of Dempsey’s left arm, as revealed in this fascinating photo, is a sight to behold and bespeaks of an awesome destructive force.

Dempsey’s impressive muscular development was achieved naturally, without benefit of weight machines, supplements or steroids. It was the result of genetics combined with years of hard manual labor, and countless hours spent in gymnasiums training, sparring and fighting. His body was perfectly suited for the demands of his sport. Unfortunately, many of today’s boxers mistakenly believe that enhancing their muscularity by lifting weights (20 to 100 pounds, or more) and targeting specific muscle groups will improve their punching power and overall athleticism. But such irresponsible training techniques do not take into account that a properly trained boxer’s muscles are highly refined and uniquely suited for his sport, just as a ballet dancer’s muscles are highly refined and uniquely suited for his activity. Old school trainers understood that. As far as they were concerned adding weight lifting to an elite boxer’s training routine was akin to pouring sand into the gas tank of a Cadillac.


Prior to the 1980s barbells or weight machines were never seen in a boxing gym. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” should apply to boxing. Former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier said it best: “We teach old school boxing training. We train fighters the way Louis and Dempsey and Henry Armstrong trained, and Willie Pep and Jack Johnson and Rocky Marciano, and all the other great fighters in history. Those guys were some of the best to ever fight, and if it was good enough for them it’s good enough for us too.”

Today’s boxers are not helping themselves by turning to fads that are not scientifically proven and serve no useful purpose.  Any exercise or training routine that compromises the speed or reaction time of the boxer—be it hand speed or leg speed—should be eliminated. Gennady Golovkin and Sergey Kovalev, two of the sport’s hardest punchers, are not overly muscled. To their credit (or the credit of their trainers) it is obvious they do not incorporate weightlifting into their training routines. Hopefully it will stay that way.

Competent boxing trainers—the few that are left—are not close-minded. They are open to new ideas, provided they result in improvement to the boxer. Sadly, most of the people currently training and managing boxers have no idea what’s broken and what isn’t.  As a result, they are incapable of showing the boxer anything that would school him in the finer points of technique. So they spend hours having the fighter perform useless “punch pad” routines or hire a strength and fitness coach from another sport and think it will make the boxer stronger and add power to his punches. They are evidently not aware that for a boxer strength and power are not synonymous.


Many so called trainers accept these unproven methods as a way to compensate for their lack of knowledge. Instead of concentrating on improving a boxer’s balance, timing and defensive and offensive techniques (which most are incapable of doing) they concentrate on conditioning. But it’s all a load of crap. Legendary trainers Ray Arcel, Jack Blackburn, Charley Goldman and Angelo Dundee would never have tolerated such nonsense.  As Teddy Atlas says, “Without the fighter or his management realizing it, they are undermining their own fighter. Instead of making him accountable in the areas that he needs to improve, they go looking for shortcuts.” Some of these new age boxer-training routines are not just silly (you can see them on YouTube) but also damaging.

Over the past 20 years too many fighters have been victims of wrong-headed training techniques. The list includes Tim Bradley whose career was practically ruined by strength coaches who had no idea how to condition a boxer (see YouTube accompanying this article). Fortunately, he fired his trainers and brought in Teddy Atlas who retooled his style and banned weight training. But a lot of damage had already been done. Another victim was Jeff Lacy, once one of boxing’s hottest prospects. Lacy made the mistake of hiring a strength coach who decided this already very strong athlete needed to bulk up. His career quickly went downhill. Sporting huge pecs and even bigger biceps, Lacy became stiff and slow, and was no longer able to throw a straight punch. He was easy prey for the swift moving Calzaghe, a fighter whose natural speed was never compromised by unnecessary weight training.

The late Emanuel Steward, who came up during the 1950s, was also disdainful of the new methods. In 2008 I interviewed Steward for my book “The Arc of Boxing.” Current trainers should heed his sage advice: “Many weight trainers and conditioners confuse the training techniques needed for boxing with the strength training needed for football and other physical sports in which strength training has been utilized for many years. I am very upset with having these strength coaches involved with professional boxers. Fighters like Michael Grant and Frank Bruno are so tight they can’t get their punches off normally. And after about five or six rounds their muscles become fatigued. A fighter also takes a chance tearing his muscles by weightlifting…look at Tommy Hearns, Bob Foster, Joe Louis and all those great punchers. They are usually rangy guys. Even Foreman was a loose, naturally strong kid. They didn’t have these tightly muscled builds that came from lifting weights.”


Compare Dempsey’s lean but muscular physique to the overly muscled anatomy of the recently dethroned Wladimir Klitschko. Who has the better build for boxing? Is it the slow moving, somewhat muscle bound 6’6”, 245-pound Klitschko or the 6’1”, 192-pound Dempsey, whose trip hammer punches were delivered with the speed of a fast middleweight? The answer should be obvious, irrespective of the fact that Klitschko is exactly the same height and weight of Jess Willard who Dempsey destroyed in three brutal rounds to win the title. I have no doubt that Dempsey’s superior speed and punching power would be the deciding factor in achieving the same result against Klitschko. 

I find the argument that today’s giant heavyweights would be too big for Dempsey, Louis and Marciano ludicrous to the extreme. At 190 pounds both Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano could deliver a higher volume of power punches with greater speed and accuracy than any dreadnought—past or present. And they did it without becoming exhausted. No 250-pound slab of beef has ever matched the combination of speed, stamina and power of a hard punching quality heavyweight in the 190- to 210-pound range. Is a mountain lion too small to take on a bear that outweighs it hundreds of pounds? If you think so then I suggest tuning into cable-television’s National Geographic Wild for a reality check. What could a strength coach do for a mountain lion? Speed, cunning, strength and courage will determine the winner.


A smaller but faster and smarter heavyweight will often prevail over an opponent possessing only superior size and strength. Any fighter who weighs between 190 and 210 pounds is big enough to handle a supersized heavyweight, providing he has the wherewithal and boxing smarts to know how to counter superior size and strength. In a battle between heavyweights survival of the fittest does not necessarily mean survival of the biggest. At least that’s the way it used to be. But things are different today because the current era of super-sized heavyweights exists in tandem with the era of super mediocrity. So, all things being equal, and taking into account today’s extremely thin and inadequate talent pool, size does matter.

If you remove the top talent from any group of performing artists those residing at the bottom of the barrel will rise up and take their place. But if you cannot tell who is good and who isn’t then you won’t be able to tell difference. That is what has happened to boxing over the past two decades as the sport continued its descent into ignorance and stupidity—at every level. Today the heavyweight division is so devoid of talent that what used to be found floating at the bottom of the barrel has now risen to the top.

I am still reeling from the experience of watching that awful exhibition (I cannot call it a fight) between Klitschko and Fury. I actually found myself yelling in disgust and disbelief at the TV screen. Over the past half century I have seen some horrendous matches, but this one was in a class by itself because someone had the gall to call it a fight for “the heavyweight championship.” The overall incompetence, amateurishness, and lack of fighting spirit of both contestants was astounding. I could not believe what I was seeing. That was the last straw for me. I figuratively threw in the towel on my once favorite sport. To be honest I really don’t care if I never see another contemporary boxing match again.

Mike Silver is the author of The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science, McFarland Publishers, Paperback, 2014.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Jack Dempsey & Joe Louis Newsreel and Training Footage

1919-07-04 Jack Dempsey vs Jess Willard (ALL ROUNDS)

Primo Carnera vs Joe Louis

tim bradley weight workout - EsNews Boxing

Calzaghe v Lacy (Full fight)


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  1. Tex Hassler 06:40pm, 01/12/2016

    I have no doubt that many will not like what Mike Silver said. However I agree with him 100 percent. Dempsey would have been a totally bad dream for Klitschko and to think he could not hurt a heavyweight that big is a pure joke. Dempsey had power and speed plus skill and heart.

  2. travis roste 06:37pm, 12/31/2015

    roy jones jr was heavyweight champ in 2003 and under 200 pounds. (193 lbs.)

  3. Mike Silver 03:43pm, 12/30/2015


  4. andrew 02:19pm, 12/30/2015

    Mike and Beau : at least we can agree Klitschko/Fury was devoid of action. Too bad they couldn’t each get a loss on their records for this non event.

  5. beaujack 08:34pm, 12/29/2015

    Andrew , I have been watching boxing since the talent rich 1940s, don’t need to take Geritol, but you need to take a dose of common sense..Do you good…

  6. Mike Silver 07:52pm, 12/29/2015

    Andrew: So you think my book is “based purely on Geritol based nostalgia” without looking at one page? That is quite amazing! How can you criticize a book without having read it? My book includes extensive interviews with top trainers Emanuel Steward, Freddie Roach, Teddy Atlas, Rollie Hackmer, Mike Capriano and a dozen other experts you probably never heard of. All agree with the premise of the book and explain why. But I guess you know more than these guys. How could I have overlooked interviewing you? Why not try and expand your knowledge, check out what I say and then offer an intelligent comment?

  7. andrew 04:09pm, 12/28/2015

    I’d like to know what you guys take to live long enough to have seen Dempsey box and remember the intricacies of his technique so many years later….and Mike, I wouldn’t spend any time, let alone money, on your book which purports to explain how boxers were better back in the day purely on the basis of your Geritol fueled nostalgia.

  8. tuxtucis 07:01am, 12/28/2015

    @Mike Silver: Dempsey a better bob and weaver than Frazier? Don’t think so: Dempsey was far better two-fisted hitter than Smokin’ Joe, but not for sure better in bob and weave. And Dempsey better chin than Foreman? Don’t think so…He was floored nine times by Sudenberg and then again by Firpo and Tunney (not to say he was kayoed by Fireman Flynn in a debated fight). Between them only Firpo can be compared to Lyle in terms of power (I repeat he was knocked down by Ali and Young more for exhaustion that for power). Maybe Dempsey must be praised to resist without a blink to the punches of former flyweight Carpentier? And someone can even imagine George Foreman fighting 5 times someone of the Willie Meehan level without knocking him out a single time (even in 4 round fights)?

  9. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 05:44pm, 12/27/2015

    Tuxtucis-I see your point and like you I am inclined to disagree with everyone here as well….for example, in my case I believe that Jesus probably looked more like Jackie Mason at an earlier age than that handsome Jeffery Hunter who portrayed him in the movies and the image in my mind of Saul of Tarsus/St. Paul is that of Marty Feldman….who can prove me wrong?

  10. Mike Silver 02:40pm, 12/27/2015

    Yes, styles make fights—but so does heart, chin, speed, stamina and experience. In every case Dempsey was superior to Foreman. Dempsey’s style was perfectly suited to defeat Foreman for the same reason it was suited to quickly KO Willard, Fulton, Morris and Firpo. Dempsey’s great asset was his ability to very quickly step in and weave inside a larger-and slower- opponent’s reach to land his devastating punches. His bob and weave was superior to Frazier’s who got hit far more often than Dempsey (who also had at least twice as many fights as Frazier when he won the title). Frazier and Foreman were great fighters but Dempsey would have the edge.

  11. Tuxtucis 12:12pm, 12/27/2015

    For me imaginary fights have sense when foes are distant in time no more than 10-15 years: what would have happened with a prime Tyson vs a prime Holmes, a prime Liston vs a prime Marciano or a prime Dempsey vs a prime Johnson…What would have happened with a prime Dempsey vs a prime Wlad is a no sense: Modernist Party does not consider that today Dempsey would weigh far more than he weighed in his era; Old Timer Party does not consider Dempsey today unlikely would have the same rage he had in his time (if you think how he became bourgeois and inactive after the Firpo’s fight, it’s not difficult to imagine how it would be distract and with no rage in today’s world).

  12. Eric 08:36am, 12/27/2015

    Sorry, but Foreman PROBABLY makes short work of Dempsey and Marciano the same way he did Frazier. Styles make fights and Dempsey’s style was made for George. Talk about underrated. What Foreman accomplished is amazing but yet he is often near the bottom on many all time top ten lists. Dempsey slew other “giants” but his reputation was largely made on the Willard fight. Jess was about 37-38 years old by then, might be off by a few years on that one, inactive, overweight, and poorly trained. Dempsey was in his absolute prime against basically a shot fighter or at least a fighter who was past it. Let’s not forget that Dempsey was also allowed to stand over a fallen Jess and pummel him when he started to rise off the canvas. Imagine someone like George or Tyson being allowed to hit a fallen boxer while he was trying to get up?

  13. peter 08:10am, 12/27/2015

    Yet another sagacious Mike Silver piece, accompanied by pugnacious comments and vivid video clips. What more could you ask for?

  14. Mike Casey 06:00am, 12/27/2015

    Dempsey could also do 15 hard rounds when required. And Foreman would have learned how to still be effective late in a fight if he hadn’t spent too much of his career knocking over easy opponents who never sufficiently tested him. He freely admitted that when I interviewed him in London several years ago.

  15. beaujack 05:56am, 12/27/2015

    William Jennings, you post that Dempsey did not ko skilled “big men”.Well why do you dismiss a Fred Fulton who prime Dempsey dispatched in less than one minute ?. Please do not underrate the Manassa Mauler…He was the real goods…

  16. tuxtucis 04:36am, 12/27/2015

    @Mike Silver: Both Alì and Young (specially the second) floored Foreman in late rounds, when he was exhausted by heat and both were slow starters…opposite Dempsey was a quick starter as the young Foreman was.

  17. Mike Silver 10:23pm, 12/26/2015

    What I am saying is Lacy’s hand speed, reaction time and ability to throw straight punches was compromised because of improper training with weights. Whether he was capable of beating Calzhage is not the issue. Weight machines did not exist in the 1920s time but barbells did.  Cable pulleys in Dempsey’s time never weighed more than 5 to 15 pounds. The medicine ball is 12 pounds tops. These are not harmful. Never heard of a “weighted vest”.  Dempsey would have loved to fight just 230 pounders. Easy meat for the Mauler. Too slow and much easier targets than swift lighter fighters. Cruiserweight was created in 1980s so the thieves in the alphabet groups could generate more sanctioning fees. If Lyle, Ali and Young (!) could drop Foreman, so could Dempsey and he was a much better finisher. Dempsey would have avoided most of Bowe’s punches and taken his heart. Please do yourself a favor and read my book.

  18. William Jennings 07:09pm, 12/26/2015

    Eric- we see things the same way here. 
    Back to Lacy-  are you saying that Lacy lost to Calzaghe because of his strength coach?  The Welshman had nothing to do with it ? 

    Side note -  Calzaghe worked regularly with weights.  And Dempsey didn’t use machines because none existed in the 20s.  What did exist -  weighted vests, cable pulleys, medicine balls-  Dempsey used often. 

  19. William Jennings 07:01pm, 12/26/2015

    I appreciate the responses.  Yes Dempsey would have beaten many of the 230+ pounders.  But not too many other guys.  And asking Dempsey to fight 230 pounders repeatedly would be awful management.  The cruiserweight division was created because it was too much to ask for 190 pounder to compete consistently against heavier opponents.  Keep in mind, I’m talking about skilled heavyweights.  Not just boxers who weight that much.  A prime Dempsey might’ve dented Lennox Lewis’s jaw but a match with Foreman or even Riddick Bowe would get a manager fired.

  20. Clarence George 05:15pm, 12/26/2015

    But the issue, Eric, isn’t so much how a current mediocre cruiserweight would do against a heavyweight counterpart, but how a top-flight heavyweight of the past, we’ll say Dempsey, would do against an opposite number of today, say, Klitschko.  All the Ukrainian has is size (height and weight).  That’s a factor, sure, but fat lot of good it would do him against Dempsey’s ring smarts and power-punching.  Klitschko can exhaust a Francesco Pianeta by clinching and holding, thus facilitating a stoppage, but he’d never get away with that with Dempsey.

    A heavyweight bout isn’t a strongman competition.  Anyway, it shouldn’t be.

  21. Eric 04:07pm, 12/26/2015

    Mike Silver…The cruiserweight division doesn’t stop a 190lb fighter from taking a shot at the heavyweight title. Michael Spinks and/or Holyfield could have fought for the heavyweight title at much lighter weights ala Roy Jones, but they chose to add bulk. No fighter would rot in the cruiser division if he thought he could claim the heavyweight title. Jones was one and done at heavy because he knew his limitations.

  22. Mike Silver 03:57pm, 12/26/2015

    How soon we forget. There haven’t been any heavyweight champs less than 210 pounds since the 1980s because that was when the cruiserweight division (175-200 pounds) was created, effectively eliminating competition between small and large heavyweights.  Over time that created the false impression that today’s huge dreadnaughts would have been too big and strong for the smaller, faster, smarter and tougher champions and contenders of yesteryear.  The best of the small heavyweights of the 1920s to the 1970s are infinitely superior to any of today’s giants. Fighters such as “Bonecrusher” Smith (6’4” 235 lbs.) and James Broad (6’5” 240 lbs.) would be right at home among today’s giants and have a much easier time of it. In the mid ‘80s both were easily outpointed by 198 lb. Marvis Frazier.  Can you imagine the field day a fighter like the 6’ 195 pound Jerry Quarry would have with today’s heavyweights?
        Note to beaujack: I envy your having seen in person fighters like Bob Montgomery and the original Beau Jack in action. I can understand your reaction to some of the comments. After you’ve sampled filet mignon it’s hard to get used to beef stew. 

  23. Eric 03:55pm, 12/26/2015

    William Jennings… Spot on assessment regarding Bradley. It isn’t as if Bradley has been unsuccessful and his muscular physique never hurt his stamina at all. He lacks power but IMO punchers are born, not made, so I doubt the weights had much of anything to do with his lack of power. @Clarence… Of course size is isn’t everything but it is asking a helluva lot for a 6’1” 202lb heavyweight to succeed in today’s world. The huge heavyweights like Buddy Baers, Carnera and Abe Simon were the exceptions rather than the rule back in the days of Joe Louis, and I don’t think they possessed the skills of the Klit brothers, not even close.

  24. Mike Silver 03:46pm, 12/26/2015

    If Lacy was stocky and muscular from the beginning, what the heck did he need a “strength coach” for? That only made things worse for him. Because of his ill advised weight training, Bradley can barely break an egg with his punch. He is very lucky Atlas is now training him.

  25. William Jennings 01:45pm, 12/26/2015

    Plenty of good stuff in Mr. Silver’s work.  But comments like Bradley’s career was ruined or that Jeff Lacy made the mistake of bulking up are inaccurate and give the appearance of agenda.  Lacy was stocky “bulked” up before he ever hired a strength coach.  There are pics of him as a teen. Bradley has had a very successful career- way before Silver’s buddy Atlas came along.

  26. Clarence George 12:30pm, 12/26/2015

    Those who disagree do not get fruit cup.  Quick!  Name that movie.

  27. Clarence George 12:15pm, 12/26/2015

    Ha!  I don’t know about that, Irish, but I appreciate the kind words.  And I agree with you and Mike—I don’t see Alvarez having any kind of chance against Golovkin.  I just hope they fight at 160 and not at some pansified catchweight.  All the best this Christmastide and for the New Year.

    I actually agree with you, Eric, that size matters.  My point is that it doesn’t necessarily trump everything else.

  28. Eric 10:33am, 12/26/2015

    Oops. Left out mighty Mike Weaver who slew the giant, Big John Tate.

  29. Eric 10:24am, 12/26/2015

    Irish…Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you as well. Can’t deny that the past legends were in better shape, P4P more talented, and more exciting to watch, but this is the heavyweight division and size does matter. The last NATURAL heavyweight champs to fall under that mythical 190-210lb range was Leon Spinks and the 209lb Larry Holmes who took the title from Norton. Spinks acknowledged his size was a handicap and decided to drop to cruiser, and Neon Leon was fighting guys around the 6’3” 220lb mark back then.

  30. Mike Casey 10:13am, 12/26/2015

    GGG is a terrific fist fighter. I simply cannot see Alvarez beating him.

  31. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:05am, 12/26/2015

    Speaking of subjectivity….everybody and their auntie seems to think they can kick GGG’s ass these days. Based on what?! Canelo’s underwhelming win over Cotto who Pacquiao (juiced or not) beat to a bloody pulp….Mayweather’s half assed win over Manny (injured or not) and GGG’s pulverizing of a very determined, highly motivated and for some reason very confident David Lemieux. Go figure! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the very talented Clarence George, the voice of reason on and to Eric, who actually pays attention to what happens in these fights, past and present.

  32. Eric 08:15am, 12/26/2015

    Can’t believe no one hasn’t brought up the Spinks-Cooney bout. Gerry was listed between 6’5”-6’7” depending on the source, and outweighed Michael by about thirty pounds in that fight. Gerry was just about the average size for the super heavies of today.  I still can’t figure out how in the hell Cooney blew that one. Sure, he was inactive as always and he might not have been living clean but Michael Spinks was no choir boy either and had been almost as inactive as Cooney. Cooney vs Fury? Cooney vs Wlad or Vitali?

  33. Clarence George 05:05am, 12/26/2015

    I found this in my files, and it may be of interest—Doug Fischer’s response to a reader who wrote in to one of his twice-weekly mailbags:

    I disagree with your opinion on “today’s giants” and “yesterday’s little big men.” I think best heavyweights of the past would have more than competed with the Klitschkos, regardless of their size, especially a puncher like Louis.  The Brown Bomber occasionally faced men who were 6-foot-4 or taller, 250-plus pounds with 80-plus-inch wingspans – Abe Simon, Buddy Baer, Primo Carnera (and Max Baer was no pipsqueak). These guys weren’t as athletic as the Klitschkos but they were experienced and very tough (probably more durable than Wladdy). Max and Buddy could punch.

    Louis, who stood 6-foot-1, only weighed 196 pounds to Carnera’s 260½ when they fought. He weighed only 202 to Simon’s 254½ when they fought the first time (it was 207½ to 255¼ for their rematch). He was 206½ to Buddy Baer’s 250 for their rematch. I don’t need to tell you that he knocked these giants the f__k out. (The guys who gave Louis the most trouble were savvy boxers who weighed less than he did – Max Schmeling, Billy Conn and Jersey Joe Walcott.)

    Wladdy’s much better than most of the giants of the past, but he’s not invincible, and that includes the Steward-trained version. Eddie Chambers (209 pounds) almost went the 12-round distanced with him. Tomasz Adamek (216) made it into the 10th round against Vitali. If little light-punching Eddie can almost make it to the final bell and a natural light heavyweight can go more than nine, I think Louis could definitely go rounds with either Klitschko and I’m certain he’d be able to land his legendary power on both.

    Of course, they’d be able to nail him back with their vaunted power, but my point is that I think a much-smaller ATG could compete with the K-brothers and the other giant-sized standouts of the modern era.

  34. beaujack 08:47pm, 12/25/2015

    Irish Frankie, No I did not see the ” dainty” fight where Bummy Davis and Fritzie Zivic fouled each other so violently that the ref stopped the fight in the second round, but I saw Zivic fight later on and I saw Bummy Davis fight several times including his tremendous one round kayo upset of the 8-1 favorite lightweight Bob Montgomery at MSG. In the very first round Davis hit Montgomery with his vaunted left-hook and flattened Montgomery. The packed house went crazy at the ko upset. A couple of weeks later we saw Bummy fight Beau Jack, and in the very first round Al Davis hit Beau on the chin with that left hook, but the powerful Beau survived that hook and went on to beat Bummy in 10 rds. A couple years later I saw Bummy and his missus in a luncheonette. About one month later he died a hero flattening some holdup men who held up a bar he just sold… 




  35. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:14pm, 12/25/2015

    beaujack-The only ones on your list that he couldn’t go hammer and tong with were Louis, Charles, and Moore.

  36. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:41pm, 12/25/2015

    Beau Jack—Fritzie Zivic fought just about half of the fighters on your list from LW to LH: Angott, Montgomery, Jack, Bell, Robinson, LaMotta, and Conn. Wondering if you saw the fight where Fritzie thumbed Bummy Davis in the eye and caused Bummy to have a shit fit and DQ out.

  37. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:24pm, 12/25/2015

    Tuxtucis-God Bless and Merry Christmas you old Grinch…. disagreeing with all the people on here….I love it! @ Eric-Happy Federal Holiday Bud!

  38. tuxtucis 02:29pm, 12/25/2015

    I disagree with all the people on here: with the Old Timers Party (Casey, Silver, George) cause I think boxers of the past would lose vs the today’s giants (it cannot be casual if all the heavyweight champions of the post Liston era weighed more than 200 lbs) and with the Modernist Party (Eric, Irish Frank Crawford) cause I think today’s heavies are less great than those of the past (and for sure, far more ugly to watch). I would even remember that even in the golden era of the heavies of the ‘70s it happened to watch awful exhibitions (Alì vs Young).

  39. Darrell 02:22pm, 12/25/2015

    It’s clear the article is inviting infantile responses…....the myth of 190-210lb optimum weight range!?!  That shit is dipping into the pseudo-science range worthy of a climate change grant!

  40. beaujack 01:59pm, 12/25/2015

    Great and valid article Mike Silver. No doubt…
    To Andrew who mocks the notion that “boxing was better in the good old days”. Well I’m a product of the 1940s sir and here is a small sample of those days you consider just “sentimental “.
    HW - Joe Louis
    LH- Ezzard Charles, Billy Conn, Archie Moore
    MW- Jake LaMotta, Tony Zale, Marcel Cerdan
    WW- Ray Robinson, Kid Gavilan, Tommy Bell, Billy Graham
    LW—Ike Williams, Beau Jack, Bob Montgomery, Sammy Angott
    FW—-Willie Pep, Sandy Saddler, Chalky Wright
    FW—- Manuel Ortiz..
    Now Andrew I saw most all of those guys ringside and if you think that today’s alphabet title holders hold a candle to that experienced bunch of the 1940s, please say so and why.

  41. Mike Casey 09:13am, 12/25/2015


  42. Whatever 09:08am, 12/25/2015

    Wow look at how muscular Dempsey’s arm is - he could beat anyone anytime— except Gene Tunney. But then again, Tunney could beat anyone anytime because he had nice muscles and fought before 1977.  Because everyone who boxed before 1977 could never lose and had nice muscles and used to walk eleven miles each way in the snow to school etc.  we get it.

  43. Clarence George 06:23am, 12/25/2015

    I agree with Eric and Mike.  The heavyweight division of the ‘80s was very mediocre, to say the least, and I’ve never understood Larry Holmes’ reputation as a “great.”

  44. Mike Casey 05:49am, 12/25/2015

    The heavyweights of the eighties niggled me every bit as much as today’s crowd. Talk about fat is beautiful. As for Mr Holmes, I thought he was a very good and competent half-a-champion (WBC), but nowhere near the greatest or even Top 5. He has been dramatically overrated with the passing of time. I wrote an article to that effect some years ago and got soundly battered for my impudence.

  45. Eric 09:27pm, 12/24/2015

    Anyone interested in seeing the fine skills of the contenders from the Larry Holmes era just simply google Greg Page -Tony Tubbs bout on Youtube. Warning: The moobs exhibited by both fighters might be offensive or too sexually explicit for younger viewers. Overweight, coked-up, out of shape, and downright boring fighters like Page, Tubbs, and Witherspoon dominated the Holmes era. Holmes even flat out ducked fat boys Page and Tubbs and wanted no part of Witherspoon in a return match. Quite possibly one of the worst eras in heavyweight history.

  46. derek 06:10pm, 12/24/2015

    Klitschko and Fury aren’t just big—there’s a lot of smarts, some skill, and quite a bit of strategy to their games.

  47. ant 01:44pm, 12/24/2015

    Wait a minute—was Jeff Lacy fighting a 1940s fighter?  Lol.  Instead of focusing on Lacy how about taking a look at Calzaghe-

  48. nicolas 11:46am, 12/24/2015

    Interesting article. However, just want to suggest, people watch not just the Tim Bradly YT video above, but as well as the other YT videos that pop up afterwards. They are far more interesting to this article I think..

  49. glen 11:02am, 12/24/2015

    Eric’s list of when size mattered was of great fighters vs great fighters.  Mike’s list was of great fighters vs big guys. 

    Dempsey was a special fighter. He’d have done well in any Era.  Pacquiao is a special fighter.  He’d do well in any Era. 

    The cougar video was ridiculous sorry.  There are videos of badgers backing off a lion.

  50. Eric 10:26am, 12/24/2015

    old school…Merry Christmas to you and your family. The attitudes of athletes today is the big turn off for me. Of course the attitudes of people in general today aren’t exactly what they used to be either. I would gladly go back in time if granted that wish, and I am only too happy not to be growing up in this day and age. I grew up in the 70’s and I am constantly lambasting what passes for music these days. I think the music of my generation (70’s & 80’s) was far superior to the (C)rap music of today.

  51. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:18am, 12/24/2015

    Did Dempsey fight any black fighters at all….really….maybe one or two show up on his record. Why didn’t he dial up Jack Johnson who was still at it in 1931 and KO him just for shitz and giggles? As far as that goes, Johnson had a helluva’ time with the black fighters he fought and while we’re at it, was Joe Louis really all about equal opportunity…. until late in his career, that is?!

  52. oldschool 10:04am, 12/24/2015

    Eric, that’s true what you say about each generation denigrating the prior generation. I’d like to think I’m not like that. I’ve been following all the sports since the mid 50s and going by my eye test I think every sport with the exception of boxing has evolved. I wish I was wrong. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that I’d ever miss a televised boxing match or continue to attend local boxing fight cards. Unfortunately, that is the case now. My wife of over 40 years still can’t believe that my obsessive passion for boxing is gone. The end of the 1980s started the rapid decline of my interest. PS, my passion for the NFL and the way it is played today is another sport I’m abandoning. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Also, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah to everyone else on BoxIng.Com.

  53. Eric 10:04am, 12/24/2015

    Irish…There is an old clip of Ali visiting the Joe Namath talk show back in the early 70’s on Youtube. Joe, Dick Schapp, and some actor started talking about the sex scenes in the movie that the actor would be participating in and Ali looked downward and became silent. Ali said that sex and nudity weren’t the things that civilized people talked about. Joe Willie seemed slightly offended by being called “uncivilized” and I thought Ali might have to make a comeback then and there. Joe was sipping on something and I don’t think it was coffee.

  54. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:47am, 12/24/2015

    Eric- Don’t go away yet…..Muhammad’s death bed last words to Aisha, referring to his eleven “wives” and the all important “rotation”: “Who shall I lay with tomorrow?” This from the last prophet of the Almighty as professed by a quarter of the world’s population.

  55. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:39am, 12/24/2015

    Mike Casey-Newly wed bride prepares dinner for her brand new hubby….he sez “That’s OK but not like my Mom’s.” She tries again and again and again with new and improved recipes….same deal “That’s OK but not like my Mom"s.” Finally she gets pissed and burns everything to a crisp and throws it on the table and hubby sez, ” Oh Boy! Now you’re cookin’ like Mom.” Your post about Archie the Ant was the best ever! Cheers!

  56. Eric 09:23am, 12/24/2015


  57. Eric 09:21am, 12/24/2015

    Interesting that every generation claims past fighters were better. I’ve read articles on Marciano while he held the crown stating that Marciano was lucky to be fighting in such a “mediocre” era. I was very much alive in the gawd awful Holmes era and remember hearing, reading and seeing the same things said about Holmes. I’m sure when Louis came along there were those that said the Brown Bomber would have been annihilated by the likes of Jack Johnson, Jim Jeffries. I will admit that the old-timers were physically & mentally a tougher lot, but their supposedly sound technique and skills seem lacking. Watching some clips of Max Baer box are downright laughable for example. However, old-school fighers were far better conditioned and I agree that a fighter has no business doing exercises out of Jane Fonda workout video ala Tim Bradley. Bouncing on a tire barefoot for extended rounds is a common part of a Thai boxer’s routine and it really works but what the hell was that thingy Bradley was doing?

  58. oldschool 09:11am, 12/24/2015

    While it’s true that all the other major sports have evolved over time; sadly the sport of boxing as Mike so aptly states is the only major sport that has devolved.

  59. Eric 08:59am, 12/24/2015

    Irish….Why stop at boxing. The Lombardi Packers would stomp the 2015 New England Patriots and Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner would still dominate in the decathlon event despite his/her condition.

  60. Mike Silver 08:46am, 12/24/2015

    Great to have Three Wise Men in my corner: Casey, Clarence and Crue! Thanks guys.

  61. Mike Casey 08:45am, 12/24/2015

    Irish, an asthmatic ant could knock out Ortiz and the Klitschkos. Have you ever studied their relentless attacking tactics and sheer industry? Now imagine what one of them could do with a pair of boxing gloves Their footwork is beyond belief. The brilliant ingenuity of the ant would enable it to quickly fashion a small springboard so that it could jump up suddenly and deliver the knockout blows. Never underestimate an ant. Especially Archie the Ant from Africa who is currently 28-0 (27 knockouts).

  62. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:05am, 12/24/2015

    Mike Silver-If Luis Ortiz hit Conn or Gibbons and yes Dempsey with that uppercut that he landed on Jennings where the snot literally flew up into the overhead lights he would have snapped their necks! There’s no “settled science” here and those that disagree with you aren’t “deniers” or incoherent or irrelevant.

  63. oldschool 07:23am, 12/24/2015

    This article is a breath of fresh air.  I agree totally with what you’ve written as well as the salient comments of Mike Casey, Clarence George and Jim Crue. It pains me to see Dempsey, Louis, Marciano, Frazier, etc pushed to the scrap heap as being too small for today’s mediocre heavyweights.

  64. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:15am, 12/24/2015

    Eric and Andrew-Be careful… very careful….you’re intruding on’s “Safe Zone” here.

  65. Mike Casey 06:33am, 12/24/2015

    The pub fights are pretty good here in my hometown - and I don’t have to pay extra to watch them.

  66. Jim Crue 06:04am, 12/24/2015

    Andrew, I think Mike’s article explained why boxing has not evolved over time. Watch old fights on DVD or Youtube and it’s obvious. I also suggest Mike’s book The Arc of Boxing for a complete explanation.
    Bravo Mike, another terrific article.
    I put the so called middleweight championship last week between Lee and Sanders in the same class as Fury v Klitch
    Happy Holidays to all

  67. Clarence George 03:48am, 12/24/2015

    My pleasure, Mike.  As you know, I strongly agree with you on this topic.  Boxing has deteriorated over the years to the point of disintegration.  This is particularly true at the heavyweight level, where every element other than size has been dismissed, or at least greatly diminished.  Height and weight aren’t irrelevant, to be sure, but there so many other factors, including willingness to engage, ability to set and evade traps, skill, speed, maneuverability, technique, and downright hitting power, among others.  Impossible to imagine, for instance, Dempsey allowing Klitschko to drape himself over him like a tablecloth.  The mistake, as you point out, is in looking at boxing as though it were somehow a variation of basketball, where height is preeminent, or football or wrestling, where weight and brute strength are.  Boxing is greater than the sum of those parts.

    Should have known it was a sparring session.  After all, the guy’s wearing a wifebeater.

  68. Mike Casey 02:22am, 12/24/2015

    Mike Silver is absolutely right and I’m not going to waste any more of my own time explaining why, because even a blind heavyweight champion in a wheelchair would be lauded as a superman in this era.

  69. Mike Silver 10:14pm, 12/23/2015

    When size DIDN’T matter:
    Holyfield (208) KO-3 Douglas (246)
    Quarry (196) W-10 Mathis (235)
    Jones (193) W-12 Ruiz (226)
    Chagaev (228) W-12 Valuev (319)
    Fitzsimmons (170) KO-2 Dunkhorst (260)
    Curtis Sheppard (183) W-12 Al Hart (228)
    Tiger Jack Fox (184) KO-9 Eddie Blunt (220)
    Loughran (184) W-10 Campolo (232)
    John Holman (203) W-10 Potgeiter (323)
    Barlund (203) KO-7 Buddy Baer (242)
    Lee Q Murray (192) KO-2 Elza Thompson (239)
    Marvis Frazier (198) W-10 Bonecrusher Smith (234)
    Holmes (205) W-10 Williams (238)
    Tommy Gomez (185) KO-6 Moroz (295)
    Walker (175) KO-1 De Kuh (228)
    Baer (204) KO-10 Santa (244)
    Burley (151) KO-7 Turner (219) (not a misprint)
    etc. etc. etc. etc….....

  70. Eric 09:11pm, 12/23/2015

    When size did matter.
    Hearns vs. Duran
    Foster vs. Tiger
    Frazier vs. Foster
    Foreman vs. Frazier
    Schmeling vs. Walker
    etc. etc. etc…....

  71. Mike Silver 09:03pm, 12/23/2015

    Thank you Clarence. Your words are appreciated. (Photo shows Dempsey sparring circa 1920).
    Andrew, it gets tiresome for me to keep responding with the obvious. Please note: Yes, measurable record’s have been surpassed but a boxer’s performance, unlike that of a swimmer, track and field athlete, or weightlifter, cannot be defined by a stopwatch, ruler or scale. Boxing’s interaction of athleticism, experience, technique and psychology is a far more complex activity than just running, jumping, lifting or throwing. I urge you and any other skeptics to read my book, “The Arc of Boxing” since the entire book is devoted to this topic!

  72. Eric 08:52pm, 12/23/2015

    The cougar was protecting its cub, and nearly all animals will avoid unnecessary confrontations if possible. It was a no win situation for the grizzly, but if properly motivated, the grizzly would have turned that kitty into cat food. Anyone who knows anything about the animal kingdom will tell you that a cougar is certainly not a match for a grizzly or even a large black bear for that matter. A fully grown African lion would have its hands full with an enraged grizzly. Man’s best friend, good old Fido & Rover, are capable of treeing a black bear or a cougar, but it isn’t as if a 65lb dog is capable of handling a 130-160lb cougar.

  73. Clarence George 08:30pm, 12/23/2015

    An early Christmas present, Mike.  And a bit of synchronicity, as I was wearing my Dempsey T-shirt while walking by Jack Dempsey Corner today.

    I’d put my money on the grizzly, and not just because it’s one of my favorite animals.  He could take the cougar, all right, but not without injury.  He thus wisely backed off.  Leaving aside the animal kingdom, however, I don’t see Klitschko taking Dempsey.  Quite the contrary, in fact.

    An excellent article, Mike, which should engender vigorous (if occasionally acrimonious) debate.

    By the way, I can’t at all make out the opponent.  Tommy Gibbons?

  74. andrew 08:25pm, 12/23/2015

    It gets boring hearing how much better things were back in the good old days. How many measurable world records date back many years? Subjective sentimental so-called experts or historians offer no explanation why boxing is the one sport that hasn’t evolved with time.

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