Convicted Artist Magazine

Jan 21st
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heavyweight-boxingMake no mistake, heavyweights nowadays are sloppy.  They are missing key fundamentals.  They punch wide, seemingly all have questionable chins (except maybe Mike Perez, and Arreola), and frequently gas out later in fights.  Some of this is not their fault.  Most heavyweights nowadays did not take up the sport at age 7 like the old days.  Boxing, having long been deposed as a mainstream sport is not on the radar of most children as a viable sporting option.  Most of them pick it up later in life, after failure in another sport, such as basketball or football.  many times, the fighter in question has not started fighting until they are well into their 20s.

The other problem is lack of trainer discipline.  Indeed, even in some cultures besides USA, fighters are getting sloppier.  There is also the aspect of not having to make weight, meaning many fighters show up in less than perfect shape, which affects what styles they are capable of using.  Even some of the most decorated amateur stars look less fluid than those of yesteryear.  While this new crop of heavyweights may be missing some of the well-trained movements, the recent battles of Tyson Fury, Amir Mansour vs. Steve Cunningham, and pretty much every fight involving Dereck Chisora and Cris Arreola let us know that this may be a blessing in disguise.

The more perfect Wladimir and Vitali were getting, the more boring their fights were becoming.  People marvel at the clinical work of men like Roy, Jones. Floyd Mayweather and Pernell Whittaker, but rarely were their fights scintillating.  These new sloppy heavyweights are providing wars, and Arreola-Stiverne is sure to deliver much more action than your average Klitschko defense as of late.  The sloppiness leads to the abandonment of jab, as well as dirty fighting, and clinchfests... so not all about it is good.  More often than not, however, as long as their is heart and power, we will still get our slugfests and high-light reel knockouts.  Even seasoned Cuban amateurs like Luis Ortiz and Mike Perez are not taking long to adjust to the bomb-throwing of today's pros.

Most writers call the 1970's the best decade in terms of heavyweight talent, but the level of fighters around then was only part of the equation that created so many memorable match-ups.  The other part was being on the same level with one another.  Even if the talent level is much lower for today's big men, as long as there are none rising well above and beyond, the even-matchup aspect will still be there.  What leads to a lack of interest in heavyweights is 3-fold: lack of home-grown talent, too many slicksters that are impossible to hit, and too wide a gap from the top fighters to the remainder of the contenders.  

We have two of those three at work now, the lone missing being slicksters.  They are not making heavyweight boxing home lately, and the few that have been, are a bit too small to win at the higher levels (Johnson, Chambers, Toney, etc)  However, Bryant Jennings may develop into a hard to beat fighter.  If Malik Scott ever rises again, his game is speed and movement.  Perez has a chin and toughness.  The rest are vulnerable punchers.  None of them seem to rise above the rest.  That spells fun for the fans for the next decade, I predict.

Chris Strait

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