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#1
Old 09-23-2010, 02:47 PM
gingeralbino
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Default Tommy Burns - most underrated Heavyweight?

This is an article I am just after reading on BBC about Tommy Burns. I don't know anything about him at all, and was wandering if you could shed some light on what you thought about his career, and if any of u rank him amongst the top 20 HWs of all time. I'm not sure who wrote it, i think it was just a poster on the BBC page.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A74607014

Ayup lads.

A lot of talk regarding the Klitschko brothers recently, and general consensus seems to be that they are underrated Heavyweight champions. With this in mind, I remembered a point I raised a while ago, and would like to get your views on it; in particular, your views on Tommy Burns, and if you agree with me that he is one of, perhaps the most, underrated Heavyweight champions of all time. Not only that, but has his historical importance to the Heavyweight division been unfairly overlooked?

Most of you will know that Burns, at only 5’ 7”, was the shortest Heavyweight champion in history. What some may not know is that he compensated for this with a surprisingly long reach and some considerable punching power; 36 of his 46 wins (or 39 of his 48 wins, sources seem to vary) came by knock out or stoppage. He was responsible for a number of notable ‘firsts’ in the Heavyweight division. He was the first non-American of the gloved era to hold the title. He was the first to defend the title (at least in the gloved era) outside the States. And, most notably, he was the first to defend his crown against a “coloured” fighter.

But a closer look at his record shows that his achievements go a long way beyond simply being a trend setter. He took the title from an average champion in Marvin Hart, but proved his worth by making 11 successful defences, which stood as a divisional record until a certain Joe Louis came along.

And while his era wasn’t a golden one for the Heavyweights, successful defences against the Langford, Dempsey and Papke-conquering Jim Flynn and Light-Heavyweight great ‘Philadelphia’ Jack O’Brien show that Burns was still an impressive performer, with some worthwhile wins under his belt – albeit, there was later some controversy surrounding the O’Brien bouts (see my article on O’Brien a few weeks ago for a bit more on that if you need it).

Burns was also the definition of a “world” champion, risking his title four times in America, twice in England, once in Ireland, twice in France and twice in Australia. That kind of globetrotting for a Heavyweight champion would be impressive now; in the early 20th century, it is nothing short of astonishing. He eventually lost his title to Jack Johnson after 14 gruelling rounds in 1908, and the significance of this win – Johnson becoming the first black Heavyweight champion – has probably made people forget that it was, in fact, a fine champion that he took the title from in the first place.

I’ll stress that I’m not arguing Burns’ case for being an elite Heavyweight great, because he isn’t. But I can’t remember him gracing many top 20 lists, or even being mentioned as a stand out performer of his era. For me at least, he’s worthy of both these accolades – and may well be the most underrated Heavyweight champion of all time. Do you agree, disagree or are you indifferent?
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#2
Old 09-23-2010, 02:48 PM
sonnyboyx2
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i have seen lots of his fights and i agree he is vastly underated
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#3
Old 09-23-2010, 03:11 PM
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The problem with Tommy Burns is that he really wasn't a Heavyweight by the standards of any era. He was a Middleweight who just so happend to win the Heavyweight belt. Rated as a Middleweight he was an excellent fighter.....he just wasn't that good of a Heavyweight which isn't something anyone ought to expect him to be.

I think there is a distressing habit on the part of boxing fans to place too much prestige on the Heavyweight title as compared to titles in other weightclasses. This leads to fighters who spend their entire careers at a lower weights then move up and win the Heavyweight belt but spend very little of their career fighting at that weight suddenly being labled a Heavyweight and rated with genuine Heavyweights regardless of where they spent the vast majority of their career.

Poet
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#4
Old 09-23-2010, 03:13 PM
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Very underrated! The Johnson loss near as dammit tarnished his legacy because the fight was so onesided.

But in his prime he was very fast and negated his natural physical deficiencies well.

I think he held the record of most title defenses consecutively by KO, until Larry Holmes broke it.

I wouldn't have him heavyweight top 20 ATG, but he demands more respect than he gets.
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Old 09-23-2010, 03:35 PM
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I've always wondered why he wasn't ranked higher p4p. And if there was only one HW belt today, hard to imagine someone his size winning and defending it a dozen or so times.
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Old 09-23-2010, 03:36 PM
gingeralbino
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugarj View Post
Very underrated! The Johnson loss near as dammit tarnished his legacy because the fight was so onesided.

But in his prime he was very fast and negated his natural physical deficiencies well.

I think he held the record of most title defenses consecutively by KO, until Larry Holmes broke it.

I wouldn't have him heavyweight top 20 ATG, but he demands more respect than he gets.
Just after looking into that as I read a comment under one of his fights on youtube, and according to boxrec (and the guy who made the comment) they both had 8 straight KO wins
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#7
Old 09-23-2010, 08:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gingeralbino View Post
Just after looking into that as I read a comment under one of his fights on youtube, and according to boxrec (and the guy who made the comment) they both had 8 straight KO wins

There is some confusion that surrounds his first title defense. He ended up beating up two unranked nobodies on the same day in his first defense.......both by first round KO (Walker and O'Brien). I think only one was billed as for the title, although the other might have had some retrospective consideration.

Nobody in a sane mind defends their title twice the same day. I think James Walker was brought on because of the first round disappointment of O'Brien. They were more like exhibition fights from what I gather.
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Old 09-21-2011, 04:58 PM
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I'm bumping this because I thought of creating a thread on the same topic, but when I checked, this had already been created

good thread, maybe someone can add something
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:26 PM
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Good fighter although I wouldn't rank him as a heavyweight. Even the heavyweights he fought were mainly 180 lbers and many of them had very little skill. Burns could fight though but he may have had more problems with the clever and quick middleweights than the slow, plodding heavyweights of his era.
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGreatA View Post
Good fighter although I wouldn't rank him as a heavyweight. Even the heavyweights he fought were mainly 180 lbers and many of them had very little skill. Burns could fight though but he may have had more problems with the clever and quick middleweights than the slow, plodding heavyweights of his era.
sounds like a fair assessment
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