Heavyweight Champions Respond
My presumption to rank and write about the Top Ten Heavyweight Champions provoked comments I initially considered severe…
My presumption to rank and write about the Top Ten Heavyweight Champions provoked comments I initially considered severe: I was author of the worst list ever and an April Fool beset by fatally flawed logic. At least energy from the online debate helped me recover from psychic hooks and crosses and I felt better until preternatural forces pinned me to a chair, deactivated my vocal chords, and unleashed these voices:
Rocky Marciano – I don’t appreciate you—and lots of others—leaving me off lists or ranking much too low. I never lost. That’s unique in heavyweight history. When I was in my forties I boxed Ali for some computerized fight, and the computer said I would’ve won by knockout. More importantly, I guarantee I would have. He couldn’t keep me off him even then. I’d KO George Foreman, too. I don’t care how much bigger he is. I’d take his punches and get off the deck and wear him down. Same for even young Joe Louis. In his prime he never fought anyone like me. But I hated pounding old Joe through the ropes. Those two big Ukrainian brothers, Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, remind me of Primo Carnera. Okay, that’s not fair. I respect all champions but I’m still the only guy who always won and no one’s going to write me into a loss now.
Jack Dempsey – I’ve always felt I’m better than Marciano. I’m just as powerful and quicker and move better. Don’t bore me about how great Gene Tunney is. He decisioned me twice but knows I’d softened during a three-year layoff and would’ve earlier beaten him. And believe me, I’d bury dancers like Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes, and batter George Foreman and Sonny Liston. When I fight bigger guys I’m like a mountain lion mauling a St. Bernard. And quit reading those online articles that claim I said I was afraid of Sam Langford. I wasn’t afraid of Sam and other black boxers. I just didn’t want to fight them.
Gene Tunney – I respect Jack and he respects me because we both understand I boxed and moved and quick-hands carved him up, and for the first time millions learned styles make fights. I also know Jack’s aware I could’ve gotten up several seconds into the Long Count. After that Jack was a tired and open target. I’m a prudent man, more scholar than pugilist. I’ll fight some light heavies and cruiserweights and then assess, without bravado, whether I can take the Klitschkos.
Evander Holyfield – Where’s my name? I beat Mike Tyson twice in his prime, and I outboxed one of the largest and most talented heavyweights in history, Riddick Bowe. True, I did lose twice to him but that means Bowe should also be ranked. His fists at ends of long powerful arms would’ve finished Tyson before he got near enough to strike. I think he wouldn’t done the same to Joe Frazier, whose short frame and inviting head remind me of Tyson. Respectfully, I must tell Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano they’re not big enough to fight a guy like me and certainly too small to survive against Bowe.
Wladimir Klitschko – Only one man today can compete with me and that’s my big brother Vitali. We’re both gentlemen giants with PhDs so don’t complain much about often being ignored in the United States. Really, we don’t care. We’ve pounded the best heavyweights for ten years, and in Europe we’re kings. And we’re confident historical recognition is imminent. Who but an oaf denies the mortal danger I carry in my right hand, which I fire like artillery and immediately reload and keep pounding? Who but a nincompoop fails to note Vitali’s the size of a power forward yet agile enough to keep his hands low, like a young Ali, prior to pulverizing opponents? We’re teachers as well as boxers and sluggers so tell all fans no heavyweight champion would go undefeated against nine colleagues in any Top Ten list.