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Comparing New Age Heavyweights To Older Generations


Comparing New Age Heavyweights To Older Generations

Mark Robinson- Matchroom Boxing UK

Comparing New Age Heavyweights To Older Generations

The greatest sports stars of their generation are always going to be compared to their predecessors. It’s a natural thing to look back and try to identify which was the ‘golden era’. In the case of boxing, it may be true to say that the biggest names in the game have already passed on. Will anyone be mentioned with the same respect and admiration as the brilliant Muhammed Ali?

The current crop of heavyweights can only ever hope to be the best of their generation, but it is interesting to look back. Could any of these men compete against the greatest fighters of the past?

The Men at the Top

Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk goes into 2022 as the man at the top of the sport. He is the champion in four divisions as a host of other boxers start to line him up. Usyk’s next defence is likely to be against Tyson Fury. While a date has yet to be confirmed, promoters are suggesting that the contest will take place in the first half of 2023.

Initial boxing betting markets list Fury as the favourite to win that contest. Whoever does come through will have a choice between a number of potential challengers. Two more British fighters, Joe Joyce and Anthony Joshua are battling their way to the front of the queue.

Other men who will close out 2022 among the top ten ranked heavyweights will include Andy Ruiz jr, Dillian Whyte, Deontay Wilder, Luis Ortiz and Joseph Parker. These are some of the men who we need to assess when we compare them with history’s greatest.

History’s Greatest Heavyweights

In the opposing corner are some of the legendary names from years gone by. Muhammad Ali is an obvious name to start with, and we can also add some of his contemporaries including Joe Frazier, Leon Spinks and George Foreman.

By going back even further, we can include boxers such as Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano. By bringing matters more up to date, we would have to add Floyd Mayweather, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson.

Those are our contenders but how do they compare?

The Tale of the Tape

It’s interesting to note that there are a number of undefeated heavyweight boxers going into 2023. Tyson Fury has yet to lose in 34 professional fights while Oleksandr Usyk has twenty wins from twenty contests. Joe Joyce ends 2022 with a 100% record of 15 professional wins, 14 by knockout.

Even the great Muhammad Ali couldn’t match that record. Ali finished his career with five defeats from an admittedly higher set of 61 fights. Joe Louis lost three of his 69 fights while Mike Tyson lost six in 58.

Fury and Usyk are set to meet each other in 2023, while Joyce awaits the winner. Those unbeaten records will be on the line, but this is already an interesting comparison. Are today’s fighters better, or is a lack of top class competition allowing them to maintain long winning streaks?

Keeping Busy

Another interesting point can be drawn from those statistics. Today’s fighters simply aren’t competing as much as their predecessors. Even if the likes of Fury, Usyk and Joshua fight well into their 40s, they aren’t going to reach the 50 to 60 contests that Ali, Tyson and Louis contested.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Joe Frazier only fought 37 times as a professional, but the fights tended to come along with greater frequency in the past.

The extended breaks will clearly give today’s boxers a greater chance for rest and recuperation. Today’s men should be fresher ahead of every contest.

Training Regimes

Every fighter will have a different training regime, but are there any clear differences between generations of heavyweights? Muhammad Ali was known for being very light on his feet and it’s said that he preferred the skipping rope to weight training.

In contrast, Tyson Fury is known to rely heavily on weights. Calisthenic training helped Ali to become so fast around the ring. He was a one-off, but there does seem to be more emphasis on weight training among today’s boxers.

Nutrition will also be different. The trend for sports men and women in days gone by was to load up on carbohydrates before a contest. Carbs are still important, but there is more of a balance with protein and other nutrients.

Deontay Wilder famously follows a six meal a day plan that packs in protein and around 3,600 calories.

It’s almost impossible to compare boxers and ask which era was the best. Those competitors can only ever be the greatest of their generation. It is, however, interesting to note the differences between approaches.

It helps us to understand how the sport has evolved over the years, while giving us an indication as to where it might move to in the future.

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