Why Rocky Marciano could beat Lennox Lewis 

Why Rocky Marciano could beat Lennox Lewis

The strong possibility that Rocky Marciano could successfully compete with the heavyweights of today is not such a far fetched notion. There are many factors and variables supporting such a claim. The contention whether or not he could dominate can certainly never be proven, but absolutely can be argued using a valid fact driven argument.

The first point worthy of note is the simple fact that many more potentially great fighters are moving toward other sports now as compared to Rock's era. The two sports that offered the less fortunate a way out of poverty in those days were baseball and boxing. Nowadays there are so many sports including basketball, hockey, tennis, and golf which are accessible to the rich and poor alike. Any of the sports mentioned here certainly offer the opportunity for wealth and fame equal to or surpassing baseball and boxing in the 50's. When you consider the advent of extreme sports and endorsement contracts, the possibilities are far more ranging in this day and age. This is totally apart from the fact that the modern day drug trade can offer similar opportunity that didn't exist in the old days. Potential athletes do not have to work very hard to succeed in drug trafficking when compared to the plight of the serious potential pro athlete. In short, we lose many more potential hungry professional boxers now than ever before.

Another fact to consider is the great advances in food science and nutrition in the modern era. Much research has led to an improved understanding of how the human body operates and is fueled. These advances have led to the advent of sports supplements as well as the introduction of effective chemicals such as steroids. Just looking at the average modern athlete compared to the athlete of the fifty's tells the entire story here. Also consider the fact that the impoverished didn't eat beef, veal, and pork very often. They quite simply could not afford it. Less protein leads to less muscle and less muscle leads to less body mass. This alone makes it impossible to accurately compare boxers from yesteryear to those of today.

Many studies have shown that people are, on the average, larger both height wise and weight wise in modern time. This is directly due to the nutritional and scientific advances spoken of above. I would agree that it is fair to say that an athlete of 5'11" in 1950 would be about 6'1" nowadays. So in turn it is fair to say that if Rocky was born today, he would mature to a height of about 6'1". When you consider that he was the most meticulously trained athlete of the era, it is fair to assume that he could have weighed 220 pounds at 6'1". When compared to Lewis's 250 and 6'5", it doesn't seem like such a mismatch. Alternatively, if Lewis was born in the 50's he may have only reached 6'2" and weighed about 220 pounds. Again, it doesn't look like such a mismatch when all parameters are considered.

We've already established that less great athletes are becoming boxers and following that logic, not as many great fighters are getting in the ring together. In the current boxing scene, a fighter with two or three losses can easily be written off. This is in stark contrast to yesteryear. Fighters then had to fight other great fighters in order to get their title shot. When you look at a fighter like Archie Moore's record, compare it to modern fighters, and consider his status in the sport, it is a completely different landscape now. Ask any fighter that has a loss on his record and they will tell you that they learned more from a single loss than 10 average wins. Names like Moore, Ezzard Charles, and Jersey Joe Walcott are exceedingly valid examples. Another may be Oscar DeLahoya, but that remains to be seen. It is certainly true that managers and fighters alike steer away from most tough fights on their way up the ladder (especially the heavyweight ladder). If you also consider that the average pro fighter has very little amateur experience comparatively, it is easy to comprehend the dearth of great skilled craftsmen in the ring now. You can probably count on one hand the old school tricksters in the game today, and they are not even legitimate big heavyweights. Names like Chris Byrd, James Toney, RJJ, and Evader Holyfield spring to mind. What also springs to mind when considering these names is the fact that none of them are true heavyweights. A lot of that stems from the fact that being big and strong gets these mammoth fighters through the large majority of their fights on the way to a title shot. It could certainly follow the above logic that there are not as many great trainers now as well.

Most of the fighters that Rocky overcame were not only more skilled, but bigger than him as well. This most certainly was due to his indomitable will and desire. When you look at the hall of fame type fighters that he defeated, it is easy to believe that he could compete with any modern day fighter. Joe Louis, while on the down side of his career, was favored by most to beat Rocky in their fight. It is also important to consider that he was 37 years old, younger than Lewis, when he and Rocky met. Joe Louis was quoted as saying he could never beat Rocky because Rock had the crowding style to negate Louis's best weapons. He also said he had never been hit harder than when he fought Rocky. Add to Louis Charles, Walcott, Moore, and La Starza; and what you have is an impressive list of victims. It is also true that Rocky fought the best available guys in his era, and that they would most likely (because of skill set) be successful in this era as well. This is totally apart from the fact that the man NEVER lost a fight. 49-0 is an impressive record even if you are fighting bums, and it is fair to say that he was not.

When you consider that the greatest heavyweights were not very big, about 210 pounds, it is easy to see that Rocky would not have been at a big size advantage against them. Until just recently the 250 pound athletic heavyweight was non existent, and if you comprehended the reasoning brought forth above, it is easy to see why. In an antiquated study done some 30-40 years ago by an independent firm, it was found that on the average, smaller heavyweights(190-210) actually had more measurable power than the larger ones(220 and up). This may not hold true to this day, but it does still illustrate the basic principle that bigger and stronger doesn't necessarily give a boxer a power advantage. After all, power is the measurement of mass (strength) * speed. Using this logic it is very possible for a smaller faster guy to poses more power than a big slow fighter.

In summary, the perception that today's bigger stronger heavyweights would dominate the greats of yesteryear is most likely a farce. Simple math and science along with studies illustrate that a smaller man can poses more power than a larger man. It has been argued that Rocky faced better opposition (and more of it) than the heavyweights of the present. Add the factors of science, nutrition, supplements, steroids, and naturally bigger men in this day and age, and it is not far fetched to conclude that Rocky could compete with and beat the stars of today. Remember, with all things being equal, it is quite possible that the size disparity would be much less between fighters from the respective era's mentioned. Ultimately, it is an un-provable matter for conjecture.

Article by Sal

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Sat Sep 20, 2003 9:31 am MST by joe

Comment As unpopular as my opinion on this matter may be, I think Shane Mosley did indeed win the fight against Oscar De La Hoya. Granted a unanamous decision makes the fight seem far too one sided, I think Shane deserved the nod for being able to effect De La Hoya with his punches. Sure Oscar landed far more punches, but none of them seemed to even tickle Sugar Shane. Mosley on the other hand was knocking Oscar back with every punch,in my book effectiveness far out weighs volume when it comes to punches. I think far too many people watch the compubox numbers thinking that they somehow effect the judges scoring. I personally had the fight scored 115-113. But I felt there were some rounds that couldve went either way. But I would like to close by saying that I wish BOTH of these fighters would retire now with some dignity. Shane I feel that he just hasnt been able to regain confidence after his 2 losses to Vernon Forrest, I think that was evident in certain rounds of the fight when Shane couldve scored a knockout by pressing the action but chose to back away and allow De La Hoya to recover instead. Oscar on the other hand doesnt seem to really give a damn about fighting anymore, he didnt seem to come into this fight in top shape like the Oscar that fought Vargas. Oscar just doesnt have the hunger he once had. I'd like to see Oscar retire and work on Golden Boy Promotions and Shane retire and perhaps begin training new fighters. I hope both of them get out of the ring before its too late. No one wants to see another Meldrick Taylor situation.

Sat Sep 20, 2003 1:14 am MST by Dj Necrogenic

Comment Mr. Black, i couldn't agree more.

Thu Sep 18, 2003 7:44 pm MST by SAL

Comment ok, who wants to write the next article?

Thu Sep 18, 2003 10:57 am MST by SAL

Comment I can remember the first Lewis - Rahman fight.I thought that Lewis had left it too late to prepare properley, but his all round pedigree should have seen him home in about 8 rounds.After all, how could Rahman win? How could he pull off an act of giant slaying like that? He wasn't exactly 'Buster' Douglas was he? Oh. how wrong I was! And to look back and realise that Lewis was defeated by a boxer of the 'Rock's( Rahman) calibre, then I'm sure that the 'Rock' ( Marciano) would be in with more than just a punchers chance. I just wish we could see this fight happen in real life.Now wheres that DeLorean... Oh, and one last thing.The judges at last weeks DLH - Mosley rematch should never be allowed to judge again! If anyone has a tape of the fight, just look at Mosleys face when the decesion is announced, he cant believe his luck. Mr. Black

Wed Sep 17, 2003 10:42 am MST by MR.Black ( Innit)

Comment A strongly reviewed and contemplated article. Quite insightful! A must read!

Tue Sep 16, 2003 5:12 pm MST by Vicki

Comment A strongly reviewed and contemplated article. Quite insightful! A must read!

Tue Sep 16, 2003 5:12 pm MST by Anonymous

Comment First I wish to compliment this excellent article due to it's thorough research and great structure. Personally I agree with the logical theory presented regarding how smaller heavyweights can and are able to triumph over larger heavieweights, a prime example of how vast size can be subordinate would be Primo Carnera who struggled greatly with opposition 6-8 inches shorter than him and 4-5 stones/56-70lbs lighter than him. I also agree that with the differences in nutrition etc. that Marciano would've been larger had he originated from this era, despite considering this however I believe that he would've had no chance against Lennox Lewis. For me he would've been hit with a barrage of jabs on the outside and he wouldn't have been successful in being able to work on the inside nor would he have had a chance of landing "Suzy Q" as the most likely outcome for me would've been Lewis catching him with uppercuts as he tried to get inside in very much the same manner as Lewis-Tyson I, perhaps even more convincingly. I believe that Marciano would've held his own against merely the vast majority of fighters in the heavyweight division today and that he wouldn't quite have made it to the top 10. I base my opinion on looking into his period of dominance 1952-56 and recalling that arguably his best wins came over over the hill opposition in Charles, Louis, Moore and Walcott with their average age being 38 while Charles and Walcott were arguably poor champions even in their respective primes. Marciano never fought a young, up and coming fighter who was dangerous throughout his career, and there was conveinence at the timing of his retirement as had he fought on he would've found himself in his early 30s parallel to the rise of guys such as Zora Foley, Ingemar Johnanson and Floyd Patterson, who personally I believe would've dethroned him. Despite looking flawless on paper and maintaining a record of 49-0 with some very close shaves along the way and just over 50% of his wins coming within 3 rounds, I believe Marciano falls shorts of of a top 20 place among the greatest of all time. That one loss was to a Coley Wallace (12-4) during the golden gloves tournament held in New York.

Sun Sep 14, 2003 4:06 pm MST by Des Troy

Comment the above comment was from me. sorry.

Sat Sep 13, 2003 7:09 am MST by SAL

Comment i believe that it was ezzard charles he was fighting. the referee was going to stop the fight, but rocky and his corner begged for another round.....and the rest is history.

Sat Sep 13, 2003 7:08 am MST by Anonymous

Comment nice one SAL. ive finally got back on this site and read your article and thought we'd better call you champ instead of miller. to my knowledge the only fighter still around to do the full 15 was Holyfield when he was a cruiserweight but the article on Marciano was very well researched. I'm with the general opinion on him fighting todays super heavies as the advantages are too great but in terms of heart Marciano is up there with any of the greats. I remember watching him fight when he had his nose split like a banana and he kept going till he won. does anybody know who his opponent was by the way?? Guy

Sat Sep 13, 2003 5:35 am MST by Guy (Mr G)

Comment First off all,I'd like to say that this is one hell of a well written article SAL, and secondly, I feel you have approached this subject from an entirely different angle, one that that I had never even considered, and a highly thought prevoking one as well! I believe that if Rocky was a modern day fighter, with modern day training methods, and modern day medical help for that back problem of his that plagued him throughout his career, then I would have to agree that this match-up would be a close run thing. But if the present day Lennox Lewis hopped into a DeLorean and went back through time to face the fifties Rock , and I feel that I would have to put my money on Lewis. In my book todays heavyweight champ would just be just too big, too strong and too skilled.Of course, theres always the chance that Rocky could land one of his bombs on Lewis's chin, after all, Lewis has been stopped by lighter punchers than the Brockton Blockbuster.But Lewis, being extra cautious, wins this one in my book. A good point raised in this article is part about boxers these days getting written off after just a couple of losses.A fine example of this is 'Teamcannon'.Before there last fights they had a conbined record of 57 - 0.After there last fights they were 40 - 0.Why?, because one of the trio had been defeated, and after just one loss in twenty fights he seems to have been forgotern.Just go to the teamcannon website,and theres no mention of the third fighter.It almost seems like hes been erased and I've dreamt his existence! Going back to Rocky Marciano, I once watched something on Sky Sports where someone, who looking back, I think was Colin Hart, brought up the point that after Rocky had made his pro debut, he alledgely went back to to amatuers and lost a fight, before returning to the pro ranks. I cant remember much more about the program, and I cant remember anyone of the ins and outs of his statement. The british trade magazine, 'Boxing News' , had an article more or less saying something along the same lines. I was just wondering if anyone else in our club had heard this, and could fill me in with the finer details of Rockys 'loss', or could actually prove if it ever happened at all. Anyway, gotta go now, so I'll just say that I'll speak to you all soon, and for me its De La Hoya tomorrow night! Mr. Black

Fri Sep 12, 2003 4:26 pm MST by Mr. Black (Innit.)

Comment The Heavyweights of old we're also capable of going 15 rounds per fight, where as most of today's heavywights are out of energy by the 12th round. So Marciano, Ali, Liston and other past heavyweights could likely fight harder and throw more punches in todays fights, simply because they have to go 3 less rounds than before.

Thu Sep 11, 2003 1:17 pm MST by DjNecrogenic

Comment Great job on the article SAL. You bring to light many points that i have never considered. I have to disagree that Marciano could beat Lewis. Lewis's height and reach would be too much for the Rock to overcome. Very interesting reading, though!

Thu Sep 11, 2003 10:47 am MST by Niki

Comment Hey! Congrats on the site. At last we can all have proper postings and discussions without Naz/Tyson/Hatton fans making ridiculous, childish ill informed comments. Anyway, on to the article! A good effort from Sal. Ive always thought that the smaller heavyweights of yesteryear would more than hold their own with todays "super heavies". With the exception of Lewis and MAYBE (and thats a big maybe) Bowe, what huge fighter has really achieved anything in the last 15 years? They generally lack mobility/chin/heart. If you had to name the two dominate heavies of the nineties you would say Holyfield and Tyson. Neither are huge heavyweights. Look at the current heavyweight division, Byrds a champ, so is RRJ. Saunders again isnt a mammoth. The bottom line is 218-238 is the ideal weight so I believe the likes of Holmes, Liston, Ali etc who were surely more skilled than todays crop of ponderous, slow, straight forward fighters, would more than cope. Any opinions? - STEVO

Thu Sep 11, 2003 9:15 am MST by STEVO

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