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Eddie Futch Tribute – Trainer Extaordinaire

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Eddie Futch Tribute

Eddie Futch Tribute – Any “best-of” list is, of course, subjective. Whenever someone offers his or her opinion on such, it almost always makes for lively and sometimes heated debate. Boxing is no different; if you make the case that Sugar Ray Robinson is the greatest fighter of all time, be prepared to argue the point with contrarians who are just as staunch in their belief that Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Henry Armstrong, Willie Pep or Harry Greb deserves to be celebrated as No. 1. More recent devotees to the sweet science will nominate Floyd Mayweather Jr. for the top spot and, if they don’t, Floyd himself will.

It’s no different when the topic shifts slightly to discussion of who should be recognized as the greatest trainer ever. The list of renowned chief seconds without question is impressively deep. Contenders for designation as best of the best include such legendary corner strategists as Ray Arcel, Emanuel Steward, Charlie Goldman, Whitey Bimstein, Gil Clancy, Jack Blackburn, Cus D’Amato, Nacho Beristain, Angelo Dundee and George Benton, just to name a few. All have been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the Non-Participant category.

As the winner of an unprecedented seven Trainer of the Year awards from the Boxing Writers Association of America, Freddie Roach certainly deserves to be considered for the mythical status as the GOAT among trainers. But if you ask Roach — who presently is in the Philippines preparing Manny Pacquiao for his Nov. 5 challenge of WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas at Las Vegas’ Thomas & Mack Center — as to the identity of the true king of the hill among trainers, he said it’s an open-and-shut case. The late, great Eddie Futch, for whom the BWAA Award is now named, stands alone, according to Roach, and is likely to remain out front until the end of time.

“Eddie was a great trainer, a great teacher, but he was even better as a person,” Roach, himself an inductee into the IBHOF (2012), told me in a 2 a.m. telephone call (my time) from the Philippines. “When I went to work for him after I retired (as an active boxer), that was the best move I ever made in my life. I’m so happy I did.

“He really taught me the ins and outs of boxing. We cut no corners and worked our asses off the whole way. That’s why the fighters we had were great. He made sure their work habits were unbelievable. Here I am getting ready for another title fight with my best fighter, Manny Pacquiao, and he’s looking better than ever because I’m taking him back to my Eddie Futch days.”

Eddie Futch’s days were many, and almost uniformly glorious. He was 90 when he passed away on Oct. 10, 2001, having continued to train fighters until he was 86. Right to the end of his career and even his life, Mr. Futch never seemed to lose anything off his proverbial fastball; his memories of long-ago fights and fighters were richly detailed and he could call them up with WiFi speed. More than a few boxing writers, when asking about his remembrances about some of the fighters he instructed – a Who’s Who compilation that included, at one time or another, such notables as Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks, Alexis Arguello, Bob Foster, Riddick Bowe, Holman Williams, Virgil Hill, Mike McCallum, Marlon Starling and his very first champion, Don Jordan – were astounded that he could describe in detail not only particular rounds from decades earlier, but punch sequences during those rounds.

But near-total recall without perspective and foresight is essentially a squandered gift. Where “Mr. Eddie,” as he was reverentially known by his many admirers, excelled was his ability to put his breadth of knowledge into the sort of useful context that enabled his fighters to attain maximum efficiency on fight night.

“I think Eddie’s greatest asset was to build a game plan for a particular fight,” Roach said. “He was the absolute best at getting his guy ready to beat a certain opponent. Everyone remembers how he got Frazier, in what was his best performance, prepared to beat Muhammad Ali in their first fight. He did it with Norton, too. He did it with a lot of fighters.”

What is especially amazing is not only that Futch was such an exquisite strategist, but he could get his message across without ever seeming to raise his voice or to resort to the sort of expletives that are so common in a sport where expletives are as much a part of the terminology as nouns and verbs. Futch was unfailingly courteous and polite, but his genteel manner masked an inner strength his fighters quickly came to understand and respect. When he spoke, his quiet, measured comments were not so much a suggestion as a command, leaving little or no room for dissent. What else would you expect of someone who could quote verbatim from the works of his favorite 19th-century British poets, and whose bearing was as professorial as it was professional?

“Beautiful man, beautiful man,” Benton, who died on Sept. 19, 2011, said of Futch in Corner Men: Great Boxing Trainers, authored by Ronald K. Fried in 1991. “We never had a disagreement about anything because I knew that he was knowledgable about what he was doing. And he knew that I was the type of guy who was knowledgable about what I was doing – but I was still learning all the time, getting that experience with him.

“I would way the biggest thing I picked up from him was psychology. Eddie is a real psychologist when it comes to human beings. He knows what to say to you and how precisely to say it to you. That’s why he gets along with guys. It’s easy to teach when you’re this way, because every human being is not the same. They don’t think the same.”

Futch’s understated way was never more evident than in Ali-Frazier I on March 8, 1971, perhaps the most-anticipated boxing match ever. With Madison Square Garden a madhouse of emotion, Mr. Eddie was the calm eye of the hurricane, telling Smokin’ Joe to fight with fury but under control, and not to stray from the tactically brilliant plan he had outlined beforehand.

It is, of course, true that not every pupil of an outstanding teacher is able to instruct in the same way and with the same results. When it came time for Joe Frazier to train fighters, including his son, heavyweight prospect Marvis Frazier, Smokin’ Joe taught them all to fight exactly as he had, bobbing and weaving constantly forward and firing left hooks, often to their detriment. Frazier was indisputably a greater fighter than Roach and Benton, but some of the lessons Futch tried to pass along to his proteges were grasped more readily by some than by others.

Noting that many trainers scream at their fighters in order to be heard as noise and tension levels in arenas rise, Roach said that Futch was the quintessential embodiment of “grace under pressure,” which is how the celebrated author Ernest Hemingway defined courage.

“Eddie was never loud in the corner because he didn’t need to be,” Roach said. “He understood that a lot of yelling only confuses fighters. What Eddie was able to do in that minute between rounds was so important. That’s when you have to tell your guy what he needs to do in the next round in order to help him win the fight. If you’re overly excited, the fighter gets overly excited and the game plan starts to fall apart. What happens then? You’re lost. Eddie taught me that the quiet way is the best way.”

Born in Hillsboro, Miss., on Aug. 9, 1911, Futch moved to Detroit with his family when he was five. Years later, at the Brewster Recreation Center in the early 1930s, he frequently sparred with Joe Louis, despite giving away 50-plus pounds, because Louis wanted someone smart and swift to help sharpen his reflexes. By all accounts, even the great “Brown Bomber” never was able to consistently catch up with the nimble and observant Futch, who was learning as much from those sessions as Louis was from him.

Futch, a lightweight, was 37-3 as an amateur and won the 1933 Detroit Golden Gloves championship, but a physical examination revealed that he had a heart murmur shortly before he was to turn pro in 1936. He thus was obliged to shift his attention from fighting to the training of fighters, but it was hardly an easy or a seamless transition. There were bills to pay, after all, and Futch made ends meet by holding a variety of jobs unrelated to his passion, boxing. At various times he worked as a hotel waiter, road laborer, welder and distribution clerk for the main branch of the Los Angeles Post Office. It was his speed and accuracy at sorting mail that mirrored his finest traits as a trainer.

In Dave Anderson’s 1991 book, In the Corner: Great Trainers Talk About Their Art, Futch described his proficiency thusly:

“I think Texas had 737 cities and towns then. Big cities like Dallas and Amarillo were the distribution points for all the little towns. But no matter how well you knew where the towns were you had to take a test every year. You had eight minutes to throw 100 cards in the right cubicle. You had to get 95 percent correct. I did it in three minutes and I always got 100 percent.”
But for all that he did well, and without a lot of chest-thumping, Futch was not without his disappointments. Sometimes his fighters didn’t listen as closely as they might have, and sometimes, if things didn’t work out as well as planned, they required a scapegoat. In boxing, the trainer is always the most convenient target for assigning blame. Frazier, Holmes and Arguello were just three of the fighters who at one time or another disappointed Futch by turning away from him, although in more instances than not they regretted any rifts that were caused and apologized to him.

Futch was enough of a realist to understand how the game is played, and he wasn’t the kind to let grudges fester. But forgiving and forgetting are not always one and the same, as he told Fried.
“I’m in (boxing), but I don’t like a lot of things in it,” he said. “I tolerate some things because that’s the way it is. Ingratitude is one of them. The ones I’ve done the most for have been the ones who have been the most ungrateful.”

Eddie Futch would be 106 now, had he lived long enough to hit triple digits. When he was still an active boxer Roach admits to occasionally disregarding his mentor’s sage dictums, acts of impetuosity which continue to nag at him. But Roach is enjoying his own second act, as the foremost preacher of the gospel according to Eddie, and he vows that some of the mistakes he made back in the day will not be repeated in the here and now.

“I’m so fond of my fighter here in the Philippines,” Roach said, referring to Pacquiao. “We’ve been together 15 years now, me and Manny. He’s lost a couple of times here and there. Maybe it was my fault, maybe it wasn’t. But he’s stuck with me for those 15 years. Most marriages don’t last that long these days.

“I’ve got a real loyal guy, and that’s how I was with Eddie. If I didn’t listen to him sometimes, I would end up losing the fight. But he always got me back on track. He’d take the time to explain to me what I did wrong and what I should have done instead. It made perfect sense to me then, and it makes perfect sense to me now.”

Pictured: Eddie Futch with ken Norton and Joe Frazier.

Eddie Futch Tribute / Check out more boxing news and videos at The Boxing Channel.

 

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How Soon Before We Know the Fate of Ryan Garcia and Will the Result Stand?

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How Soon Before We Know the Fate of Ryan Garcia and Will the Result Stand?

Today. May 23, the results of Ryan Garcia’s B-sample were made known, The findings were congruent with the A-sample as they are in almost 100 percent of the cases. (Why wouldn’t they be? Both samples are derived from the same urine specimen. The B-sample, notes ESPN’s Mike Coppinger, is a safeguard to ensure that that there was no lab contamination or other error involved in the test that produced the original finding.)

As if there were any doubts, the B-sample confirmed that Garcia had the banned substance Ostarine in his system when he fought Devin Haney at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on April 30. Ostarine, popular among body builders, helps build muscle mass, improve stamina, and quicken recovery time.

What’s next for Ryan Garcia? He will undoubtedly be fined and suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission. But, as they say, the wheels of justice grind slowly.

Unlike the Nevada Commission, which meets every month, typically on the last Tuesday, the New York Commission does not meet at regular intervals. At their next meeting, whenever that is, one can expect representatives of the Garcia and Haney camps to stand before the body and argue in favor of their preferred dispensation.

It behooves Acting Executive Director Matthew Delaglio to recommend a course of action. He could, in theory, recommend exonerating Garcia, not even a slap on the wrist, or he could recommend coming down hard on the 25-year-old boxer in ways that would cost him a substantial sum of money and bar him from fighting in New York ever again. The other commissioners – there are currently only four – get to vote on it.

And what about changing the decision, retroactively declaring Devin Haney the winner?

There’s actually a precedent for it.

On April 30, 2016, Badou Jack defended his WBC world super middleweight title against Romanian-Canadian campaigner Lucian Bute, a former 168-pound title-holder, at the Armory in Washington, DC. After 12 rounds, one of the judges favored Bute, but the others had it even and the match was scored a draw.

On May 27, it was revealed that Bute’s post-fight urine specimen tested positive for Ostarine. He insisted the finding was wrong and exercised his right to have the B-sample evaluated.

Eleven weeks later, on Aug. 12, the DC Commission informed the WBC that Bute’s B-Sample confirmed the presence of Ostarine.

Lucian Bute still insisted that he was innocent. He blamed the finding on a contaminated supplement provided to him by his strength and conditioning coach and he threatened to sue the San Diego lab that manufactured the supplement. Neither Ostarine nor any other banned substance was listed in the ingredients of the supplement that Bute ingested with the understanding it would help him sleep and recover from a strenuous workout.

The DC Commission eventually accepted the argument that Bute did not knowingly use a banned substance, but still fined him $50,000 (in the form of a donation to the WBC Clean Boxing Program) and changed the result of the fight from a draw to a win by disqualification for Badou Jack. The revised outcome appears that way in boxrec, the official record-keeper of the United States Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports.

Here’s the interesting thing: The DC Commission did not resolve this case until the day after Thanksgiving and the public announcement didn’t come until the following week when one of the commissioners returned from a vacation. This case dragged on forever.

Ryan Garcia and his legal team continue to maintain his innocence. “Kingry” was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last weekend for the Fury-Usyk megafight and while there he was interviewed by DAZN reporter Emily Austin. In the video clip, which was widely disseminated, Garcia said, “I feel a little hurt and damaged by the accusations that are put on me because I know for fact that I’m not a cheater, never been a cheater. I’m dead hurt. I’ve put in so much work in my whole life, since I was seven years old, and it’s just one of my greatest victories is now being, you know, has a little bit of an asterisk because of a lie….I cry at night sometimes knowing that they’re trying to taint my victory.”

Devin Haney doesn’t turn 26 until November. Heading into his fight with Ryan Garcia, he was 31-0. At the same age, Floyd Mayweather Jr. was 27-0.

Because of his tender age, Haney was accorded a reasonable shot at breaking Mayweather’s 50-0 mark. A reversal of the decision would keep him on that path, albeit with an asterisk and the odds of him achieving that milestone dimmed substantially the first time that Garcia planted him on the deck. “Kingry” knocked him down three times in total en route to winning a majority decision and now that victory — his signature triumph — may be erased from his ledger.

Who will prevail? Stay tuned but don’t hold your breath. The adjudication may not come anytime soon.

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In a One-Sided Beatdown, Batyr Jukembayev TKOs Shopworn Ivan Redkach

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In a One-Sided Beatdown, Batyr Jukembayev TKOs Shopworn Ivan Redkach

The noted trainer Brian “BoMac” McIntyre had two fighters on tonight’s ProBox card in Plant City, Florida, and brought along the ace of his stable, Terence Crawford, to provide moral support.

The main event, contested at 140 pounds, had an Eastern European flavor pitting Kazakhstan’s Batyr Jukembayev against LA-based Ukrainian Ivan Redkach. Jukembayev, Crawford’s stablemate, needed no moral support as Redkach fought a survivor’s fight for as long as it lasted. A 33-year-old southpaw, the Kazkh won every second of the fight until the mismatch was halted at the 2:18 mark of round five.

It was the fifth straight win for Jukembayev (23-1, 17 KOs) whose only defeat was inflicted by Subriel Matias, the current holder of the IBF world title at 140. Redkach (24-7-1) was stopped for the fourth time including a fight with Regis Prograis where he succumbed to a phantom low blow. Now 38 years old, he should not be allowed to fight again. His showing tonight bore stark evidence that he is completely shot.

Co-Feature

In the co-feature, a 10-round junior lightweight affair, Jonhatan Cardoso, a 25-year-old Brazilian, advanced to 17-1 (15) with a split decision over LA’s Adam “Bluenose” Lopez. This figured to be a fan-friendly fight and didn’t disappoint. Both fighters threw punches in bunches although Lopez’s workrate declined in the late rounds.

Lopez, now 17-6-1, is better than his record. His first five losses came against opponents who were collectively 109-6 at the time that he fought them. The son of the late Hector Lopez, an Olympic silver medalist for Mexico and a three-time world title challenger, “Bluenose” doesn’t have a signature win, but has a signature moment. He knocked Oscar Valdez down hard in their first of two meetings, a fight he took on 1-day notice when Valdez’s original opponent was scratched after coming in 11 pounds overweight. As a pro he has limitations, but is a high-octane fighter who rarely has a bad fight.

Two of the judges favored Cardoso. Their tallies were 99-91 and 96-94. The dissenter favored Lopez 97-93. The scores were all over the map, but the right guy wn.

Also

In the TV opener, Omaha-bred junior welterweight Charles Harris Jr scored a unanimous 6-round decision over Oceanside, California’s Kyle Erwin. The judges had it 58-56 and 59-55 twice.

A protégé of “BoMac,” Harris Jr., who began his pro career in Mexico at age 16, improved to 9-1 (7). It was the second pro loss for Erwin (7-2) whose lone prior defeat was the result of a cut.

In an unrelated matter, today (May 22) was the day that Ryan Garcia’s B-sample would be opened and analyzed. So we were all led to believe.

Confoundingly, it appears that opening the urine specimen and testing the contents aren’t performed on the same day. Dan Rafael enlightened us. “Will take a few days for results but certainly possible it could stretch into early next week due to weekend and holiday,” Rafael tweeted today on his Fight Freaks Unite platform.

Why wasn’t this made known beforehand so that fight journalists could plan their day accordingly? I place the blame on the New York State Athletic Commission.

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Oleksandr Usyk from a Historical Perspective 

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Oleksandr Usyk flipped the heavyweight division onto its head this past Saturday night in the Kingdom Arena, Riyadh, travelling a long way from home to seal his greatest victory. Usyk, small by modern heavyweight standards, towers over most men at 6’3″ and 220lbs and sporting a reach that lineal champions Ezzard Charles or Joe Walcott would have killed for. Things have changed though, and in the middle rounds of his war with Tyson Fury, Usyk suddenly appeared tiny. Fury, a giant at around 6’8” and over 260lbs seems a heavyweight for this century. Usyk, a journeyman in the most ancient sense of the word, feels like a throwback to a more savage time. His greatest achievements have taken place on foreign soil. The last time he boxed at home was almost a decade ago and given the situation in Ukraine and given Usyk’s 37 years, it is unlikely he will ever box there again.

Usyk took chances in the seventh and especially the eighth to take charge of a fight that seemed to be slipping away from him. In the vertigo inducing ninth, it was he, not Fury who appeared the giant. Usyk draped the Englishman over the ropes like so much fresh meat and tenderised him to within an inch of unconsciousness, the sheer hugeness of Fury perhaps preventing a referee’s intervention on behalf of his opponent, and not for the first time. Against both Deontay Wilder (the first fight) and Otto Wallin, a more squeamish official would have stepped in and stopped the fight, and here, too, there was a case. If Usyk seems a throwback, then Fury has been refereed like one, spared stoppages likely to be inflicted upon his peers, he was allowed once again to continue boxing, as Joe Louis was against Max Schmeling, or Jack Dempsey was against Luis Pirpo. But with Fury buckled at the knees, Usyk seemed the true heavy man in the ring.

In historical terms, Usyk is not a small heavyweight. He would have dwarfed “The Galveston Giant” Jack Johnson in the ring and loomed large over “Big” George Foreman. Usyk has every attribute necessary to make an unpleasant evening for Joe Louis, but it should be noted that while his footwork and speed and technical excellence would be the source of the discomfort, his excess of height and reach are the wildcards. Usyk would seem two to three weight classes bigger than Rocky Marciano, mainly because he is, and the towering Sonny Liston would look up. Circus strongman Jess Willard and the mob-sponsored Primo Carnera would both look down on Usyk – but not by that much. Usyk would stand eye to eye with Muhammad Ali but prime-for-prime he would outweigh him by ten pounds, as he would Larry Holmes. We must skip Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield and reach all the way into the Lennox Lewis era before we find men from history that truly out-size Usyk on a consistent basis.

Size, as Usyk has proven, is far from everything. Big by historical standards, he is small by modern standards. What else is now true in the wake of the seismic fistic events of Saturday night? Firstly, Usyk is unquestionably ranked the #1 heavyweight in the world. Of this, there can be no dispute. Accounting for his two wonderful defeats of another “super” heavyweight, Anthony Joshua, he is 3-0 against the rest of the top five and sitting unassailably at the head of the heavyweight table. More, and I have been surprised to see it disputed in some corners, Usyk is now almost as equally unassailably the pound-for-pound number one. The only fighter breathing the same air as Usyk right now is Naoya Inoue. Inoue has been operating at or near the highest level for longer, but the level of his opposition has not been as rarefied. Comparing the first phase opposition defeated by Naoya to the murderer’s row of cruiserweights that Usyk ran into during the Super Six series can lead to only one conclusion. Although Naoya’s busy, weight-class-bursting style has topped him out for most of the past two to three years, only one of these men has consistently been beating bigger, taller, longer opposition at the highest level, and that is Usyk. It is not a matter of opinion – he is the smallest man in my heavyweight top ten.

01 – Oleksandr Usyk

02 – Anthony Joshua

03 – Joseph Parker

04 – Tyson Fury

05 – Filip Hrgovic

06 – Zhilei Zhang

07 – Agit Kabayel

08 – Daneil Dubois

09 – Martin Bakole

10 – Joe Joyce

Usyk lives among giants now and where there is parity of height (Kabayel) he is the lighter man by 15 pounds. This is not true of Naoya, who despite his weight-hopping, still manages to run into fighters of the same height and of shorter reach. The opposition argument is narrow, but the relative size opposition is not and there is no pound-for-pound credential more significant than that of consistently out-fighting bigger men. Usyk has done so and will continue to do so for as long as he fights. There is simply no smaller man in his class.

Not since the heyday of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield has a lineal heavyweight champion consistently fought bigger men and not since Mike’s hype-infused prime has a heavyweight menaced the number one pound-for-pound spot. Usyk has not enjoyed anything like the same machine support as Mike did; indeed, he has laboured in the shadow of more prominent men until such time as he thrashed them. He is a true manifestation of pound-for-pound glory in the unlimited class. Where does this leave him in terms of all-time standing?

I am reluctant to rate active fighters for reasons that are obvious enough; Usyk could be pole-axed in three by an irate Fury in a December rematch and all this ink is for naught. But what I am willing to do is play let’s pretend and imagine Usyk as retired and consider his place in heavyweight history now.

Usyk’s raw numbers are low-grade at just 22-0 with 14 knockouts. Worse, most of this was built in the cruiserweight division and not the heavyweight division. Against men weighing in as heavyweights, Uysk is essentially 7-0, and only 3-0 against ranked opposition. On the other hand, one of these victories came against Daniel Dubois, now ranked, and the 3-0 was posted against Tyson Fury, generally held to be the best or second-best heavyweight in the world, and Anthony Joshua, ranked behind only Fury at the time of his first fight with Usyk. So, when he stepped up, he stepped up to tackle the best in the world and has become lineal as a result. It’s a hard ledger to wrestle with, but fortunately we have a career that is comparable in the shape of Gene Tunney.

Tunney, a career light-heavyweight, earned a heavyweight legacy built of essentially one man: Jack Dempsey. Past-prime and inactive, Dempsey was ripped apart by Tunney in their legendary first fight and did better in a losing effort against the genius “Fighting Marine” in a rematch, much like Joshua did against Usyk. Tunney then boxed the limited but game Tom Heeney and retired. The rest of his heavyweight career was spent beating great middleweights like Harry Greb and limited losing-streak gatekeepers like Charley Weinert and Martin Burke. One thing that must be noted is that Tunney is matching men who are smaller than Usyk’s cruiserweight opposition to his heavyweight credit. Men like Mairis Briedis and Murat Gassiev would have been big men in Tunney’s era, but they aren’t counted towards heavyweight legacy for the Ukrainian – either would constitute Tunney’s second-best heavyweight scalp, I think. Tunney’s wider resume does not necessarily include fighters who compare that favourably even to Dereck Chisora or Chaz Witherspoon, the men who make up Usyk’s second layer of opposition.

The point is, Tunney was made a legend for defeating a champion. Both Fury and Joshua were active, physically enormous fighters that Usyk simply unmanned with a type of genius Gene Tunney would have stood to applaud. Tunney appended to his light-heavyweight career the important part of a heavyweight career – the part where you fight and beat the champion, and it has made him a stalwart of heavyweight history. This, Usyk too has achieved, but I have been more impressed with Usyk’s summit than Tunney’s. To be direct: Usyk should rate higher at heavyweight than Tunney.

What that means is that the top twenty at heavyweight is the minimum Usyk can expect from history’s eye should he retire undefeated. In such a case, I would place Usyk in this sort of company:

18 – Ezzard Charles

19 – Oleksandr Usyk

20 – Jersey Joe Walcott

21 – James J Corbett

22 – Peter Jackson

23 – Ken Norton

24 – Max Schmeling

25 – Vitali Klitschko

26 – Riddick Bowe

27 – Gene Tunney

Also illustrative of a point is Tunney’s career pre-heavyweight. Tunney, every bit as brilliant as Usyk in the ring (although notably smaller, and successful against notably smaller opposition), laced up his gloves on close to ninety occasions and his level of competition dwarfs that of Usyk. That is no indictment. All it really means is that Usyk isn’t among the thirty greatest fighters ever to have drawn breath, like Tunney is. He can join an enormous and star-studded cast that includes Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins and Carlos Monzon in that. I do think, though, that Oleksandr Usyk’s career, were it to end tomorrow, could be readily compared to that of Evander Holyfield and that means that an unbeaten Usyk, lineal cruiserweight and heavyweight champion of the world, current pound-for-pound king, is within spitting distance of a list that captures the fifty greatest fighters in history.

56 – Ruben Olivares

57 – Wilfredo Gomez

58 – Vicente Saldivar

59 – Oleksandr Usyk

60 – Evander Holyfield

61 – Ted Kid Lewis

62 – Lou Ambers

63 – Rocky Marciano

64 – Abe Attell

65 – Manuel Ortiz

A retired Naoya Inoue would join him in the top seventy, I think, and a retired Bud Crawford the top ninety.

Boxing is dead, haven’t you heard?

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

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