Convicted Artist Magazine

Feb 25th
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greatest-cruiserweightsI know I’ve done this before years ago, with the cruiserweights who actually existed in the 30 year-old division.  Now, let us do a retrospective on old-time fighters who would have been cruiserweights today.  I will not speculate as to how they would have done today… rather how they would have fared had such a division have existed during their era.  I am not going back to the days 100 years ago when virtually every heavyweight was under 190lbs.  Rather, I wish to discuss those who might have been handicapped by this division not existing.  In my first entries, these men all existed back-to-back, and would have provided a golden era for cruiserweights in the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s
Ezzard Charles
If many historians list him as the greatest light heavyweight of all time, and he beat many great hall-of-fame heavyweights, odds are we may have been looking at the world’s best cruiserweight.  Charles was not exactly facing a prime Louis or Walcott, but he dominated Louis, and many believe he deserved the decision in all 3 fights with Walcott in which he was not caught with a perfect left hook (fight 3).  Charles himself was past his prime, when he became the only fighter to go the distance during Marciano’s championship reign.  In fact, he came closer than anyone to beating Marciano in the rematch, when Marciano’s nose split open.  Only his willingness to get close to finish the job, got him KO’d in 8 rounds.  Light heavyweights dodged him, so he never won the title there, but if there were a division for 190lb-ers during his era, it’s hard to envision anyone but Marciano beating him… and during Charles’ prime, perhaps no one.
Rocky Marciano – Yes, his “Suzy Q” right hand could separate many a big heavyweight from his senses.  Therefore, he was a 185lb heavyweight champion.  His dominance, however, was more a result of a weak division in the 1950’s.  If you want to see pure dominance, imagine Marciano following a supreme Charles’ era at cruiserweight, with one of his own.  Rocky is one entry into this category that may have even changed his style.  Forget the long bruising battles we saw with real heavyweights, and imagine his spectacular KOs occuring early.  Mike Tyson as a cruiserweight is what Marciano evokes when picturing him consistently matched against men of his own size.  Imagine him not even having a reach disadvantage in some of his matches.  We might have even seen a decent jab, and then, potentially the most explosive one-two in boxing history.
Archie Moore – Men like Moore and Bob Foster enter this category because of their dominance at one division, and failure at another.  Never a heavy, while too big and strong for light heavies, Moore was ducked like Charles but he stubbornly hung around and refused to age.  During the early 50’s, Moore and Charles were the only smaller men to tangle evenly with Marciano.  No one else of that size could have matched up with Moore ’s attack, persistence, and power.  His own chin deficiencies would have made virtually every fight at 190lbs a potential Yvon Durelle-like battle.  Moore ’s own observation said it all, “heavyweight jabs feel like light heavyweight knockout punches.”  He would have had his most exciting competitive matches in-between.
Up next: Floyd Patterson, Jimmy Ellis, and Bob Foster.

Chris Strait

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