By Stephen "Breadman" Edwards
The Daily Bread Mailbag returns with Stephen "Breadman" Edwards tackling numerous topics such as the career of Terence Crawford, Demetrius Andrade vs. Billy Joe Saunders, the best middleweights in history, and much more.
I always appreciate your thoughtful responses to your readers. As a 32 year old, it's often hard to completely contextualize past boxing greatness. Access to certain true boxing historians and journalists thoughts via social media has been a blessing in that regard because it allows us to better understand CONTEXT. That's what i think is so great about these discussions, mythical matchups, comparisons, etc.
Please bear with me as i get to my question but i think framing it is important. I started my morning watching some amazing footage of Gene Tunny's technical skills on youtube. That led me to his boxrec page where i just marveled. But then I got stuck on Greb. Not only did he hand Tunney his only defeat. He also beat Tiger Flowers early before losing twice to him later. His activity rate was just INSANE. He fought 16 times in 1923 (including victory over Tunney); 17 times in 1924 (including victory over Flowers); and he fought 25 times in 1925 . . . being a fan that started watching 12 round championship fights as a kid in the 1990s that's just unfathomable to me. God bless those gladiators. My questions are fairly straightforward:
1. Where do you rate Gene Tunney all time and can you give a few words on his career/legacy?
2. Does Harry Greb have a legitimate claim to being The Best Ever? What, if anything, distinguishes his career or greatness from Sugar Ray Robinson's.
3. Have you ever publicly shared your all-time Top 10? I know you somewhat discuss who you consider "Mount Rushmore" via the mailbag, but i wasn't sure as to whether you have formally put it out to the public. I know we would all love to see it, but i understand it's probably a difficult endeavor to force rank an all time top 10 so feel free to save that question one for another time.
We appreciate you, Bread.
Bread’s Response: This is a great question. I once did a list of the greatest middleweights ever for boxingscene. A few things caught me by surprise after extensive research. I didn’t realize how high Dick Tiger and Gene Fulmer rated. I also didn’t realize I would put Marvin Hagler at #3. I assumed it would go to Carlos Monzon but after extensive research and forensic examination I realized that what separated the 2 was Hagler’s extreme pre title run. So I don’t want to disservice any great fighter without proper research. What I will do is a quick overview and give you my opinion of the top 10 ever. I will show integrity and do 2 days worth of research..
1. I rate Gene Tunney as an all time great fighter but not an all time great heavyweight. He just happened to win the heavyweight title much like Michael Spinks and Roy Jones. I rate Tunney top 5-7 ever at lightheavyweight. Tunney had a special record in a time where special records were tough to accumulate.
Tunny was a master boxer who was tougher than he was given credit for. He had excellent IQ and stamina and an educated left hand which was the sign of the times. Tommy Loughran and Billy Conn are often compared to Tunney but Tunney was more consistent fight for fight. Some think Tunny caught Dempsey at the right time and he may have. But Dempsey would have had a tough time with that style on his best night.
If Tunney had 3 fight series with the best fighting men in history circa 175-190lbs. He has a reasonable to chance to win at least one fight vs EVERYBODY. If boxing stopped in the 1930s he would easily be top 10 ever.
2. Yes Harry Greb does have a legitimate claim to being the best fighter ever. If you apply logic. If you look at the men he defeated, when he defeated them and how they rate, you understand that Greb may have fought the best resume in the history of the sport. A fighter can only fight the men in his era. So if you go by that, Greb fought the killer middleweights and lightheavyweights of his era and he beat them more than anyone else of the era. That’s all you can really ask.
The difference between Greb and Robinson in my opinion is film. Greb is not caught on film at all. Robinson is on film as an amateur, despite the myth there are about 5 fights of him in or close to his prime in the 1940s and 3 or 4 fights in 1950 vs Jean Stock, Hans Stretch and Luc Van Dam.
Robinson passes an eye ball test like no fighter before or after. Greb doesn’t have that luxury. But Greb does have a strong case for actually fighting tougher comp than Robinson who fought Murderous comp.
3. I have never publicly discussed my top 10 fighters ever. But here is what I will do. I will factor in Eye Ball Test, Accomplishments, Competition Faced and Missed and Logic in Greb’s case. Here is a quick overview of what I came up with.
1.Sugar Ray Robinson- fought and defeated several HOF before ever receiving a title shot. Fritzie Zivic, Jake Lamotta, Sammy Angott and Henry Armstrong. He beat strong contemporary challengers like Marty Servo, Tommy Bell and Artie Levine. Levine and Lamotta were middleweights and most fans don’t realize that Robinson turned pro at 134lbs and fought close to that weight for his first 20 fights.
Consider this Robinson was 5’11 with a 72 inch reach who is one of the most feared punchers ever at middleweight. It’s logical to think if he fought in this era, he would most likely have won real titles from 130-160.
Robinson was robbed of two things historically. 1. Was being the lightweight champion in the early 1940s. He beat the reigning champion Sammy Angott but the title was NOT on the line. Many don’t view Robinson as a lightweight but he was terrific there and undefeated. 2. He should’ve been welterweight champion long before 1946. The War and strategic matchmaking hurt the length of his welterweight reign.
If you throw in Robinson’s welterweight reign where he turned back Kid Gavilan who is at least a top 5 welter, defended his title 5 times and consistently beat the best middleweights in the world in non title fights. You may already have a case for him being the best before he won the middleweight title in 1951. But in 1951 he beats Jake Lamotta another top 10 middleweight ever, and he goes on to have a case for being the best middleweight ever. He wasn’t the most dominant middleweight ever but he’s most likely the best because he did what the others in the argument did not do. Hagler, Monzon, Hopkins, Lamotta, Tiger, Greb…none of them was able to win the middleweight title after losing it. Robinson won it 5 times all past his prime.
In the 1950s when 30 years old is an old man because your fighting in 6oz horse hair gloves, 10 times/year. Robinson showed resilience that has never been seen. So now he not only passes the eye ball test for being the best on his best day. But he passes the accomplishment test. Every fighter that Robinson beat for the middleweight title, Lamotta, Turpin, Fulmer, Olson and Basilio is in the HOF. And he knocked them all out to win the title for the exception of Basilio. Also factor in they were mostly younger and bigger than him.
For good measure you throw in Robinson was only stopped once in over 25 years as a pro and that was corner retirement to HOF lightheavyweight in a fight he was winning, Robinson was 128-1-2 over his first 131 fights and the loss and draws were avenged. And that half of his career losses come after 1960 when he was 39, he has to be the best and greatest one. One last thing Robinson turned pro the same year that Willie Pep and Ezzard Charles. Both had strong cases for being the best fighter of there eras until Robinson outlasted them both by a mile.
2. Muhammad Ali. Many will argue that Ali is top 10 but not top 2. But in my opinion Ali is the best heavyweight so literally he can beat any other man in the history of boxing more times than they could beat him. On top of that he reigned supreme in the toughest era ever 1970s, when he was past his best days and his contemporaries were in their primes. No other fighter in history can say that except him. His win over George Foreman is the most history altering win in history. If Ali does not beat Foreman in 1974 there is a chance that Foreman goes 60-0 and into the 80s. The only man who had a shot at a full blast Foreman would have been Larry Holmes in the later 70s and he would have been an underdog to do so.
If you throw in Ali’s peak eyeball test in the 60s, his wins over 4 Gold Medalist in Spinks, Foreman, Frazier and Patterson. Winning the title 3 times. Winning his first two titles as a huge underdog. His will power to overcome adversity and his advanced skillset. I think he’s the 2nd best fighter in history. If everyone was the same size I don’t know if anyone can beat 1966 version of Ali. Not even today.
3. Harry Greb. There is no eyeball test for Greb. But Greb’s record holds up for the newspaper era and the ear that was fast approaching. Greb was a swarmer without a big punch. Greb did not discriminate in a time where he could have. He fought the best black fighters in Tiger Flowers and Kid Norfolk, he fought ATG middleweights in Tommy & Mike Gibbons, Mickey Walker and Tiger Flowers, ATG light heavyweights in Tommy Loughran, Maxie Rosenbloom and Gene Tunney, and solid heavyweights in Gunboat Smith, Battling Levinsky and Willie Meehan.
If there was footage of Greb it could harm or enhance him but just imagine GGG being good enough to hold Michael Spinks even in a real fight. That’s the equivalent to what Greb did with Tunney.
4. Roberto Duran. Yeah I know he quit in the 2nd Leonard fight. But he’s special. I won’t go to deep because you guys have google. But just watch the Hagler and Barkley fights and realize he’s 25lbs over his prime weigh and 10 years past his prime age. Did I mention he could have the best win in history over Ray Leonard in their 1st fight? His big wins were not at his peak weight. Peak weight he is as dominant a lightweight champion we have ever seen and none of the other lightweights could beat a 6’1 Iran Barkley.
5. Sam Langford. There is footage of Langford and wow. You see a graceful practioner. He parries punches with ease. He’s literally built like a tank. Barrel chested, long arms, high butt, thick legs. It allowed him to compete with larger men while not being tall but he was long and powerful. Langford stood 5’7 but had a reach of a man 6’2. He was a freak.
Black fighters were treated horrible in that era. Langford was no different. He had to fight heavyweights consistently for peanuts and more times than not he won. He also destroyed Jim Flynn who has a ko win over Jack Dempsey. He kod Harry Wills who is considered by many one of the real top 10 heavyweights ever. He stopped Tiger Flowers the man who dethroned Greb, he beat Stanly Kletchel another ATG middleweight and as a pup he beat Joe Gans who was ridiculously good.
Langford could be higher but it’s picking straws at this level of greatness.
6. Henry Armstrong. Armstrong simply had the best run in history. Going from 1936 to 1940 he lost 2 fights with 69 wins. He won 3 titles and caught a draw with the middleweight champion who had previously defeated.
I concede that Armstrong would not have been a welterweight in this era but he would have been a ridiculous featherweight-lightweight in any era.
Pound for Pound he most likely is the strongest fighter ever, with the best stamina ever. His big wins over Barney Ross and Lou Ambers still hold up. Both are top 10 ever at welterweight and lightweight.
7. Ezzard Charles- Charles gets overlooked because he came along with Joe Louis, Willie Pep and Sugar Ray Robinson. But his run from 1943-51 was just as good any thing they ever did. He fought harder fights than Pep. He wasn’t as dynamic as Robinson and he didn’t have Robinson’s longevity but on his best night they were close. He didn’t have the iconic stature of Louis but P4P he could have been better.
Charles beat Jimmy Bivins, Joey Maxim, Charley Burley, Archie Moore, Joe Walcott, Lloyd Marshall, Elmer Ray and Joe Louis during this time.
There is a myth that Ray Robinson ducked Charley Burley which is proven to not be true when you examined when Burley retired and when Robinson fought at middleweight full time. But Charles was so good I know a story that happens to be true. My grandfather Stanley Edwards asked Robinson after he kod George Costner in Philadelphia, to fight Ezzard Charles. My grandfather who thought Robinson was the best fighter he ever saw until the day he died, told me Robinson’s reply. He claimed Robinson told him that Charles was just too big for him. He went on to say that Charles is just as good as him but 25lbs bigger. My grandfather wouldn’t lie to me about Robinson. He literally loved him and once he smacked me in the face because I said Ray Leonard could beat him.
8. Joe Louis. Louis gets a bad rap for this supposed BUM of the Month Club. But the critics don’t repeat Louis fought 9 HOF. How ironic? I guess no one takes the time to research.
Some critics don’t think Louis would fare well today as a heavyweight. But I always factor in what privileges this era would have. If Lamon Brewster, John Ruiz and Hasim Rahman can win belts in the last 20 years I have no doubt that Louis with his 6’2 frame and 79 inch reach could.
Louis is the most consistent fighter ever. Scoring 21 kos in 25 title defenses. What’s scary is he could defend his title for 4 years of his reign because of WWII. Just imagine….He could have possibly caught 20 more title defenses.
9. Willie Pep. Pep may be the best stick and mover and out fighter ever. He would be higher if he had the same comp that Robinson and Charles had at their weights. Nevertheless he was 134-1-1 before the 1st Saddler fight. Pep’s only loss came to a HOF lightweight in Sammy Angott. Similar to what Robinson had to go through vs Lamotta and what Greb went through vs Tunney. The difference is Pep never avenged the loss vs the bigger great fighter. Pep has a great resume but not it’s special as fighter for fighter as Robinson’s or Charles’s. Where he really rates is the Eye Ball test and that one Sadler win which was perfection.
If you wondering why Pep is universally rated over Saddler it’s simple. Pep was in a bad accident and it’s presumed he lost a step by the time he fought Saddler. Even deeper for me is Saddler lost too many non title fights for my liking. He was no where near as consistent. In fact Saddler lost 3 fights in a row after his last win over Pep and many of the fighters like Paddy Demarco who beat Saddler several times, Pep handled them.
Saddler was no doubt a great fighter but I think Saddler vs Pep may be a case of Norton vs Ali, Zivic vs Armstrong, Harada vs Jofre, Marquez vs Pacquiao and Flowers vs Greb. Where both fighters are recognized as GREAT. But the one who presumably got the worse end of the fights is almost universally recognized as better and the other great fighter while he achieved great things he never did anything close to defeating his better nemesis.
10a & 10b. Sugar Ray Leonard & Joe Gans. I couldn’t decide between the 2. There is footage on Gans and if you look at his record, his advanced style, his wins vs Battling Nelson and his excellent size for the era you know he was special. Gans scored 100 career kos which shows superior punching power in an era where high % were not the norm. He was 145-10 which is a real record and fought until his mid 30s whih is ancient for the times. Gans also had serious chin. He went the distance with Sam Langford who routinely kod heavyweights. If there was more footage on Gans he could be #1 lightweight ever.
Sugar Ray Leonard does not have the quantity but he has the QUALITY. Leonard was 25 when he first retired and he was 32-1. Just think in this era it takes fighters 15 years to fight 30 fights. Leonard it in 5 years. Just think Errol Spence the monster welterweight of this era is only 24-0 and he’s 29 years old.
But Leonard got a detached retina and that’s that. So he only has 40 fights. But in those fights one could argue that he has the 4 best wins of any elite fighter ever. I mean take the 4 best fighters that the greats have defeated and consider Duran was the #1 fighter in the world in 1980. Hearns was the #1 fighter in the world in 1981. And Hagler was the #1 fighter in the world in 1987. There could be some argument about Hagler because of the emergence of Tyson and Chavez but he was the more established star.
If you throw in ATG Wilfred Benitez, 36-0 Ayub Kalule at junior middleweight and for bragging purposes the size he gave up to Donny Lalonde. My goodness. And please don’t talk about the eye ball test. I don’t even study his best fights. I watch Kalule to study his shifting vs southpaws. His Olympic victory of Aldama, his finish of Andy Price and how calm he was vs the outmatched Bruce Finch. Ray Leonard is that dude.
I did this list in 5 hours. Benny Leonard, Eder Jofre, Roy Jones, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Tony Canzoneri, Julio Cesar Chavez, Marvin Hagler, Carlos Monzon and Pernell Whitaker were all strongly considered and deserve mention.
I wanna get your take on the proverbial Garcia vs Garcia match at 147. What I'm about to say is my perception of what I heard of the fantasy fight. I feel Mikey is a good fighter he's technical & all that but I've seen Naazim say Mikey is a "Hispanic Floyd Mayweather" & I couldn't disagree more. I know DSG isn't a wow you type of fighter but tbh Mikey isn't either. DSG has mainly struggled with movers in his career which I don't consider Mikey (not saying he can't move at all). To me Mikey has never dominated anyone that was THAT respected at the lower weights to be a favorite & foregone conclusion against a top fighter in a division he's yet to fight in. I don't want this to sound as if I don't respect Mikey's skills I just feel people are getting a little carried away.
Just for perspective I personally thought DSG lost to Peterson (barely) & he lost to Thurman & he barely beat Shawn on my card but I wouldnt argue either way. But the reason DSG is the favorite to me aside from certain obvious things is.. Mikey is naturally smaller & he's not particularly fast even at lower weights, very economical with his punches, mainly stands in the pocket. DSG does well with the type of fighter Mikey is imo. They both have good timing, Mikey footwork is slightly better, I don't think there's a significant gap between their defense. Even if Mikey had more power which I don't think he does, I think everyone will agree DSG has the better chin so w.e. power he possesses won't hurt DSG. Some things I said about Mikey apply to DSG as well but again I think DSG does well with that style. All in all that’s my take what's yours?
Demetrius Andrade vs Billy Joe Saunders breakdown & prediction.
For so long I thought the ring magazine & lineal belt meant the same thing but from some things I read it's not. Can you clear up the difference & misconceptions between the two?
I think the 160 division is underrated period but underrated in the sense that I truly believe this is a golden era we're witnessesing & it's not being marketed as such but it should be. Idk if it will happen but it would be magical if we got a round robin. I think depending on the match up (the top 6) & when they fight a lot of these guys can beat each other. Which is why I think it's the best division right now. The only disappointing thing about this is the fighter who may not win against the consensus top 6 will probably be called a "hype-job" by the fans. But I think every fighter worthy of the round robin are all good to HOF level fighters.
All that said leads me to this: who's the best fighter at 160 in your opinion currently? I'm not asking this in terms of status. I'm asking who do you think will actually win if they fight, who will be the last man standing out of Canelo Alvarez, Daniel Jacobs, Demetrius Andrade, Gennady Golovkin, Jermall Charlo, Billy Joe Saunders who's the best to you?
Bread’s Response: I don’t want to spend too much time analyzing DSG vs Mikey because Mikey is fighting Errol Spence. Depending on how he comes out of that fight would determine on my assessment. What I will say is if they fought tomorrow I think the odds would be close to even. But Mikey is considered the better P4P fighter.
I slightly favor Andrade over Saunders because I think Saunders has a terrible time making 160. But I also feel Saunders has a terrible style for Andrade and he could really frustrate Andrade. But you just never know what Saunders will show up. Andrade is more consistent. This is really a tough fight and I’m only picking Andrade because I think he will perform better under VADA. Saunders took something prohibited that helps you lose weight and it’s unknown if he can make the weight without it. If he can Andrade has a tough scrap.
Lineal is beating the guy who beat the guy who beat the guy. RING is when the top two rated RING Magazines guys fightm the winner is the RING champion. Sometimes that same person can be the lineal champion but it’s not a prerequisite. Canelo is the lineal guy at 160 and he’s the RING. But Tyson Fury has a lineal claim at heavyweight but he’s NOT the RING. I hope I helped you understand the difference.
I think 154, 160, 175 and heavyweight are in “potential” Golden Eras and no one realizes it. It’s a shame 160 doesn’t get that attention. I think Canelo is the best fighter at 160 but I think it depends on matchmaking if he’s the last man standing. If they all fight each other multiple times they all will lose. Canelo, Jacobs and GGG are the only ones on the list you named that have fought multiple people on the list. Andrade, Saunders and Charlo have to get into the mix. Because the experience from these tough fights in your prime allows you to get better. It’s why Canelo is the best in my opinion. It’s why Jacobs has quietly improved. And it’s why GGG is respected. Charlo is Canelo’s age. Andrade and Saunders are just slightly older and they haven’t fought anyone in the top 3 in the division ever. It’s not Andrade’s fault that Saunders tested hot but there are other fighters. It’s not Charlos fault that GGG hasn’t fought him in respect of the WBC’s orders but again there is other smoke to clear. But something has to give at this point…
The reason why Jacobs was picked to fight Canelo is because he fought GGG. It’s because he took on an undefeated Peter Quillin. It’s because he took on an undefeated SD and undefeated Sulecki. If GGG and Saunders are not available for Charlo and Andrade if they want that Canelo lottery they may want to think about unifying and fighting each other.
-Lots of Heavyweight news, though I’m not sure all of it is as positive as others are making things seem. Tyson Fury signing with Top Rank is great-for Tyson Fury. Whereas before if he went thru with the Wilder rematch , he had limited bargaining power-now after his deal with Top Rank, he suddenly has a myriad of options should he decide he doesn’t find what %40 of the purse bid would be, he could turn his attention now in another direction equally/nearly as viable, with assistance from Top Ranks stellar match makers. I’m I reading this situation somewhat correctly? How does affectWilder-Fury 2? It once seemed definite, now I’m not so sure. All we need is three heavyweight champions NOT a fighting each other. It will bring back the dark days before Don King’s /HBO’s/Seth Abraham’s Heavyweight Tourtament-which gave us upsets, the bitter, controversial end of a legends reign and Kid Dynamite. That would be beautiful now, but wholly impossible I know, still if you could throw 8 Heavyweights together, beside the obvious 3, who would you choose? You may choose Wlad, given recent rumors? How would you seed them?
-I’m not an Anthony Joshua fan. I have enough self awareness to note I PROBABLY underrate because of this. All that being said, I like Big Baby Miller, but from what I’ve seen of their respective styles and most importantly temperament I think he plays right into Joshua ‘s hands. I don’t think Miller tests him, this is a showcase for Joshua’s grand unveiling in the States. Big Baby doesn’t realize he’s a bit player in this play. I think Joshua eradicates Miller with extreme prejudice. Give me some hope Bread! Tell me I’ve got this one all wrong!! Lol....
-I don’t agree with everything you say, that said I wouldn’t dare challenge your acumen. Most impressive to me is your ability to call things before they actually happen. Your latest comments on Loma raised my eyebrows. It’s very, very interesting (Perception vs Reality) when looking at say his last six opponents from Walters (where his apex truly began) to the José Pedraza fight-with Sosa, Rigo, Marriaga & Linares contests all representing varying degrees of challenge and danger, but in all cases, pretty much maid to order-even Rigo a Top Ten in the world talent, who Loma himself admitted was “too small” and Linares who’s good enough to win rounds off ANYBODY-but who’s physical blind spots were bound to surface once stress was introduced into the situation, he tends to break down.
It’s totally against PBC’s temperament and behavior & im not entirely sure he’s ready. Conventional wisdom is Davis’s Team (I.e Floyd) wants nothing to do with Loma-for now. Wouldn’t it be something to see Davis go for it tho and test him. Maybe that gap isn’t that huge anymore? Davis should treat Loma similarly to how Salido did. Make him as uncomfortable as possible. I realize Loma will be far better protected by the referee this time, but a few low blows and elbows might just bring back bad memories that lead to frustration and more dangerously a lack of focus. I just worryTank doesn’t outgrow Loma. Thoughts.
-I want to get into Spence/Garcia in detail when I have more time. I’m starting to come around on this fight-regarding Mikey’s chances. The last three times fighters have been so thought to be overmatched-to the point that were in considerable danger of being hurt physically was
Holyfield-Tyson 1 (most thought Holyfield was being led to the slaughter), Oscar-Pac Man (Manny was giving up way too much size) &
Leonard-Hagler (The narrative was SRL was risking his health and perhaps eyesight, challenging Hagler after basically 4yrs)-given his realative skill compared to the aforementioned Legends and their respective mountains they climbed-is Garcia REALLY up against it worse than any of those three were? He’s being disrespected a tad & I’m a Spence fan. I now see that fight 55-45 in his favor, shrinking from 70-30.
-Why is Erik Morales looked at as the weakest of the legendary Mexican triumvirate (Barrera, Marquez & Morales)? Can one legitimately argue he had the most dominant peak-at Super Bantamweight.
HWT-Marciano/Holyfield (Holyfield SD15)
154lbs-Hearns/Mugabi (Hearns KO2)
175lbs-Saad Muhammad/Spinks (Spinks UD15)
175lbs-Ward/Foster (Foster KO 7)
175lbs-Moorer/Hill (Moorer TKO 11)
Bread’s Response: Four Heavyweights stand out to me that could defeat each other on any given night. Fury, Wilder, Joshua and Ortiz. The last 4 would most likely be Whyte, Brezeale, Usyk and Kowanacki. I would seed Joshua #1, Fury#2, Wilder #3 and Ortiz#4, Usyk #5, Whyte #6, Kowanacki #7 and Brezeale #8. I have no idea who would win but I would favor Joshua and Fury.
I think Joshua will win but I don’t know if he thrashes Miller. I think Miller has some nice skills, an excellent chin and good IQ. I think Joshua has someone really knowledgeable matchmaking his fights. I think Miller is an infighter who works his in game with touch shots. Joshua struggles with guys who can match his jab and give him movement. Miller needs to be in close to imply his short game and Joshua has a hard jab, good movement and a bigger punch than people realize. He won’t just let Miller walk up on him and panic him. It’s a bad stylistic match up for Miller. This could be like Lennox Lewis vs David Tua. I like AJ by decision.
I view Spence vs Garcia as 65/35 in Spence’s favor. I don’t know how to equate your analogy because we don’t know how good Spence is yet. I think Garcia has a chance also but I don’t like the height and length disadvantage I observe when he stands next to Spence. It’s disturbing in this particular case because he may not be the faster or more athletic fighter. That’s a lot to give up. But I keep watching the Kell Brook fight. Mikey is better than Brook and they line up the same with their straight punches. Spence deserves credit for breaking Brook down. His power and relentlessness is top notch. But Brook was right with Errol from a tactical and skills POV and I just think stylistically this won’t be easy for Errol. Brook wasn’t landing some point scoring and nice right hands. If he doesn’t physically damage Mikey then it will get really rough. Mikey’s durability is the biggest factor in this fight. The compelling thing is this could Norris vs Taylor or Hagler vs Duran.
I don’t think Morales is viewed as the weakest of the 3 greats. I just saw two respectable all time list and Morales was rated as the 3rd best fighter of the 2000s by ring behind Mayweather and Pacquiao. And I saw another excellent list not sure which website it was but Morales was rated 1 slotted over Barrera in an all time top 100 list.
I think all three are roughly in the same place historically. Morales had a terrific reign at 122 where he was undefeated but I swear he lost that 1st Barrera fight. There is just no way he could have won that fight especially with the late knockdown. But he has a case for being over Marco because Marco couldn’t beat Junior Jones and Morales iced him, and Morales gave immortal Pac his 1st loss after hitting the mainstream where as Barrera couldn’t do much with Pac.
Barrera also had an excellent reign at 122…..Marquez didn’t reign supreme in one division as a champion as long as either but his higher weight success generally gets him rated over them..That Pacquiao win was huge but Marquez does have losses to Freddy Norwood and Chris John. I thought both fights were close. There is a myth about the John fight. People who didn’t see the fight say that Marquez lost clean. Watch the fight. Marquez beat John. I still can’t tell who won the Norwood fight but Norwood’s style troubled him.
Greater and Better are slightly different. Barrera and Marquez have unique handspeed advantages over Morales so they look better in head to head match ups. But Morales could be equally as great. I personally like Barrera. I thought he was jobbed vs Marquez with that terrible no knockdown call that no one remembers. And his run on early HBO boxing after Dark was amazing to me. That Kennedy McKinney fight is the stuff legends are made of but you can’t go wrong with any of the 3. Very close and they are all top 100 fighters ever. Somewhere on the last half of the 100.
Marciano vs Holyfield at 190 is a death match. I don’t know who wins. My goodness I will go with Holy but he had life and death with a slightly past it Qawi and Bert Cooper rocked him bad. Both are built similar to the Rock.
Hearns would most likely ice the Beast but pre Hagler Beast better not touch Tommy. He could clip him.
Spinks would just foot box Saad. Both had roots in Philly and everyone wanted to see it. I love Saad but I don’t think he could’ve beaten Jinx.
Ward vs Foster ….so you pick Foster to stop Ward in 7. Um…I just don’t know. Dre has that way about him where his sum total outweighs his parts. I admit Foster is a tough fight for him because of that 6’3 79 inch reach frame, lights out power and he had a jab just as good if not better than Ward’s. Foster is the tallest and rangiest fighter to ever win the lightheavyweight title. It’s a really tough fight Andre Ward stylistically. But I don’t think Foster would ice him in 7. Dre is too smart for that and something tells me Dre takes him on the inside. Today I have no idea who wins this fight. One part of me leans Foster because of the trouble Dre had with Kovalev’s long range. Foster is a little better than Kovalev and Foster has a much better left hook than Kovalev if Ward was able to collapse the pocket. But something else tells me Dre would work Foster inside and turn him behind his left shoulder and muscle him. They may have to fight 3 times to decide this one. Foster was great but not invincible. As I study this I see Ward has a distinct foot speed advantage. The problem he would have is that brutal jab of Foster’s. It’s top 10 in history.
I have no doubt that Ward could eventually figure him out. The dilemma is could he do it within 1 fight. I don’ think so. I think it would take a series of fights to beat the man who never lost a fight weighing under 175lbs.
Moorer vs Hill at 175. I will go against the grain with this one and take Hill by split decision. Better feet and more equipped to win a close distance fight.
Hope all is well. Big thanks for answering my mail a couple weeks back, hope you pick this one as well . I'm going to ask a question that I know would be somewhat difficult for you to answer, since we all know you're not the type of person to talk bad about boxers and just people in general. But I know you will answer this as truthfully as you can as always.
Bud Crawford towards the end of his Top Rank contract just fought Jeff Horn at welterweight and already knew Bob Arum had nothing in his stable to make anything resembling a big fight for him. Yet he renewed his contract with Bob and he is fighting Amir Khan. I can only think of Mikey Garcia who chose to sit out two years so he could get out of Top Rank, and he is fighting Errol Spence. I would like to think it's the money and a matter of securing his future and health first, but sorry I can't even pretend to give Crawford a mental pass on this.
I know most experts, including you, rate Bud highly for passing the eyeball test so well, even tabbing him as the favorite against Thurman and at least even money against Spence. If he goes on for the rest of his career without fighting the PBC standout welters, will you continue to rate him as highly, considering it was his well-informed decision, thus his fault, not to jump over the fence to PBC?
He is 31, and as he is not particularly big for 147 he will probably end his career at welterweight. When Spence outgrows welterweight in two years, and Thurman does not regain his old form, will Bud's eyeball test score be justifiably enough to proclaim him the "best welterweight" without even fighting the best welterweights?
More power and thanks again.
Bread’s Response: I really respect Bud Crawford. More black urban fighters are signing with Top Rank and I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I don’t have a problem with him signing with Top Rank. He can sign with who gives him the best deal. I heard his deal is incredible.
Now here is the dilemma. It’s Top Rank’s job to make the fights that Crawford needs for his legacy. It’s their job to create worthy opponents and/or do deals with other Promoters. If this does not happen then we can pass some blame. But Crawford just got to welterweight, if he gets by Khan let’s see if he can make some fights with PBC stand outs. I think Team Crawford has tried to make some PBC fights with the bigger names but no one has bitten yet. I have YET to hear about a PBC welterweight offering Crawford a BIG fight…..
I will also say that the PBC did serve up some B side work to Crawford in Felix Diaz and John Molina. Everyone seems to forget they were not with Top Rank and were affiliated with PBC and were able to get the Crawford fights on HBO.
I also think Team Crawford should suggest to the other sanctioning bodies that he be ranked and possibly become a mandatory. So we can see who is truly ducking who. Right now let’s reserve judgment. By the end of this year or beginning of next year if Crawford still hasn’t fought a big name at 147 then we can reevaluate. But you have to be fair.
Fault and responsibility are different. It’s Crawford and Top Rank’s responsibility to make the big fights for what looks to be a special fighter in his 30s.
One more thing, who’s to say Crawford won’t get ducked if he was with the PBC? Spence gets ducked also and has never got a unification fight with any of the other PBC welters…..
What's up Bread?
How would today's boxing landscape be different if same day weigh-ins were reintroduced?
William in West Palm
I don't know.
No idea at all.
That's a great question.
Bread’s Response: 2 things would happen. Fighters would start cheating more than they are now. Or they would simply move up at least one weight class. Simple.
Hello Mr Breadman. Recently there have been some letters in your mailbag regarding my all time favourite fighter, the incomparable middleweight king Harry Greb. What Greb accomplised in the ring is insane! In the words of Max Kellerman:" Grebs record literally shames the record of any other fighter in the history of boxing. Every single middleweight and light heavyweight of note (white and black) between 1916 and 1926 were whipped at least once, and usually they were whipped multiple times."
In the previous letters it was noted that Greb fought two dozen times in a year. Well, in 1917 he actually fought 37 times, including a couple of 20 rounders. His record that year: 34-2-1. Then in 1919 he really got busy, fighting a record 45 times despite being injured for almost two months. So 45 fights in roughly 10 months. His record that year? 45-0. Yes that´s right, 45-0. That year he fought class fighters like Mike McTigue, Joe Chip, Chuck Wiggins, and George "KO" Brown. He fought Hall Of Famers Billy Miske, Mike Gibbons and Battling Levinsky. Greb defeated the light heavyweight Hall Of Famer Levinsky no less than 4 times in those 10 months. He also defeated heavyweights such as Bill Brennan (4 times...) and Willie Meehan, guys that Jack Dempsey really struggled with. Can you guys comprehend what I just wrote? That single year of Grebs career is so much more stacked with accomplishments compared to almost all other boxers entire careers that it is ridiculous to even try to compare it. All in all Greb had 300 professional fights in 13 years. Busy guy.
-Greb was a light punching middleweight who had a better record than Jack Dempsey against common opponents. And some of those guys outweighed Greb by 50 pounds. Greb reportedly was chasing a fight with Dempsey for years, but Dempsey never signed. Jack Dempsey was the Mike Tyson of that era, imagine Tyson not wanting to sign for a fight versus a middleweight or super middle. Reports state that Dempseys reluctance to fight Greb came from him being handled by Greb in sparring, resulting in a split lip.
-Greb won the middleweight championship and defended it several times while secretly blind in one eye. Despite sight diminishing in his other eye as well, Greb fought on with success. Grebs personal physician, Dr McGivern, claimed he had been stone blind in his right eye since 1921.
-The legendary Hall Of Famer and heavyweight king Gene Tunney had 85 fights in his career, with just one single loss. Against whom? Harry Greb, of course, who beat Tunney into a bloody mess in their first meeting.
-Most experts say Henry Armstrong had the best stamina of all time, but I think Greb might be the proper holder of that title. While Armstrong bulldozed his opponents and stayed in their chest just swinging away, Greb had a different style. Reports say that he was everywhere, that his footwork was like no other figters. He kept punching from the first bell and didnt stop until the fight was over, all while jumping around his opponent, popping up here and there and behind their backs. He was fast as lightning!
-A little story about how competitive he was: Greb fought the legendary light heavyweight Hall Of Famer Tommy Loughran on January 30, 1923. He won, of course. Then he had another fight scheduled three weeks later for February 23, against none other than Gene Tunney. But Greb wanted to stay busy, so on February 5 he won a non-title twelve rounder. And then on February 17 he won another twelve rounder. Five days left to the Tunney title fight, and Harry Greb was planning on jumping on the train up to Montreal to face the hard hitting Soldier Jones. Grebs manager had to use every trick in the book to prevent him from going and that made Greb furious, threatening to fire him. Now you all have to agree, Harry Greb was a bad bad man.
Tommy Gun, Sweden
Bread’s Response: If you factor in opponent for opponent, win for win, Greb has the best resume in the history of boxing. He was a real GUN. He has NO misses and didn’t draw the color line. But I also factor in the eyeball test and I would like to have seen some footage of the bad man that was Harry Greb. Just one or two fights close to his prime.
To some the eye ball test is not important but I am not one of those people. I rank Greb as a top 2 or 3 fighter ever because I used logic and I applied the eyeball test to Tommy Loughran, Gene Tunney, Tiger Flowers and Mickey Walker. I also loved the description of Greb’s style. He was a swarmer but not like Henry Armstrong. He had more of a Pryor and Loma type of swarm.
What a shame that no one filmed him. It’s quite ridiculous if you really think about it. Other greats of his era were filmed but he never was. There is only one video of Charley Burley. Only a handful of Robinson in the 40s and 1 or 2 fights of Sam Langford. My goodness what were those historians thinking?
Thanks so much for the column every Saturday, look forward to it every week. I wanted to make 2 points regarding questions you've answered over the past few weeks and ask 2 more questions of my own:
1. A few weeks ago someone asked you what happened to Tommy Hearns in the fight with Marvin Hagler, why he seemed to gas out and his legs were wobbly so quickly. I think your response was dead on, Hagler gambled and went all out from the opening bell and Tommy was shocked into going from 0 to 60mph in no time. But in addition, there is actually an interesting quote from Manny Steward on this issue in the Hagler/Hearns Legendary Nights episode. If you fast forward to about the 12-minute mark of the version on Youtube, Manny says that Tommy had probably the biggest entourage in history, there were a million people in the locker room before the fight, and one of these hanger-ons massaged Tommy's legs down; as soon as Manny saw this he ran the guy out of the room, because a massage like that leaves the body totally spent. But it was too late. Manny said he knew right then they were going to have a problem that night...
2. A reader pointed out this past week to you that Anthony Joshua has been doing VADA testing for his recent fights. This is true, but Dillian Whyte's point regarding testing for a potential fight between them is not that AJ wasn't willing to do VADA testing, it was that there wasn't enough time to do proper testing before an April fight. We know what happened with Canelo when VADA testing happened 3 months out instead of the usual 2 months out when camp starts; Tom Loeffler takes credit for demanding earlier testing. And we also now know from the Billy Joe Saunders debacle before the fight with Demetrius Andrade that the year-round testing that UKAD does for all fighters in the UK is not as stringent as VADA testing. Just wanted to add that as a point of clarification regarding Whyte's issues with doing proper testing before any fight with AJ.
3. I think you've mentioned before that modern boxing evolved in the 1920s. I was wondering what you meant by that, and if that is the last time there was a major evolution. Do you think it is ever possible to have another evolution, or over 100 years have we pretty much discovered all of the best ways to approach a boxing match.
4. I think you've mentioned that the 1940s was the best era ever in boxing. I was wondering what you meant by that, and what do you consider to be the second-best era.
Please feel free to post/respond to all or any part of this email as you see fit if you find any of it worth discussing. Thanks again.
Bread’s Response: 1. Yes Hagler jumped on Hearns. I have done that on a treadmill to fighters. Turn the speed way up before they warm up and then make them fight through the fatigue once the fight settles down. Tommy never recovered. His heart rate was never under control.
I believe the great Emanuel Steward when he says Hearns got a massage. But I do wonder what type of massage it was. Because if you look at sports races often times runners get massages in between meets to release lactic acid. Some massages pump you up. I also know fighters who enjoy being rubbed in between rounds to release lactic acid.
There are some massages that relax you and some that spruce you up. There are also some the relieve you. It’s just too hard to determine.
Trainers may not all be superstitious but they all have ritualistic thinking. For some is sex. Others believe in locked away camps. Some believe in no drinking alcohol. Some love long running miles. Some like short wind sprints. Some spar a set number of rounds. Etc Etc. I can go on for days. I’ve heard Steward say personally that Hearns was a fighter he didn’t like fighting relaxed. He became too loosey goosey. He liked him tight and sharp like a Detroit Piston.
2. Thanks I didn’t know that. And if that is the case I agree with Whyte. People in boxing act ignorant to PEDs and it’s disturbing. I don’t believe they are all ignorant. I believe they don’t want fighters getting caught because they lose money when they do. 2 months is not long enough in this era because potential cheaters have figured out how to cycle before the traditional 8 week camp starts. Tom Loeffler did a great job in insisting in earlier testing. I wish more people thought like Tom.
3. I think small subtle advancements will occur but not too much. I think the advancements will come more in diet and conditioning. Technique and skillset is what it what is. Unless a fighter will grow 3 arms there is only but so much you can do besides perfecting the basics. Show me a better punch deliverer than Joe Louis and tell me when he fought lol. Punch delivery technique has not advanced in 80 years since Louis’s prime.
4. I feel the 1940s was the best era ever because more all time greats were in or close to their primes in any other era ever in my opinion. The 1940s consisted of as follows: The killers from Black Murderers Row- Aaron “Tiger” Wade, Holman Williams, Jack Chase, Cocao Kid, Elmer “Violent”, Eddie Booker, Eddie Booker, Bert Lytel and Charley Burley. I named them 1st because never before had so many great black fighters been denied a title shot during a specific time span. Because they were denied so many opportunities and made to fight each other so often we will never know how good they really were because they eliminated each other through attrition. Much like what was done in the Sam Langford, Harry Wills era 30 years before.
The 40s also consisted of the end of Henry Armstrong’s reign. Armstrong is still to this day universally recognized as top 5 ever. The middle and end of Joe Louis’s reign. Louis is considered the most consistent champion ever. Did I mention Sugar Ray Robinson turned pro in 1940. Along with Willie Pep and Ezzard Charles. So let’s look at this close. Robinson has consensus case for best fighter, welterweight and middleweight ever. Charles has a case for best lightheavyweight ever and top 5 fighter ever. Pep has a case for best featherweight ever and top 10 ever. Louis has a case for best heavyweight ever and top 10 ever. Armstrong along with being a top 5 ever type, he has a case for being the best lightweight and welterweight ever.
I didn’t even get to guys like Sandy Saddler, Ike Williams, Jake Lamotta, Tony Zale, Marcel Cerdan, Billy Conn, Kid Gavilan and Archie Moore who all have legit top 10 cases for their respective divisions. The 40s is just ridiculous with talent. Even the top contenders like Harold Johnson and Jimmy Bivins were killers and would be P4P types in other eras. Never before or after was there a decade that produced so much talent at the same time.
The 2nd best decade ever is tough but for me but I am partial to the 80s. Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran, Benitez, Spinks, Holmes, Tyson, Holyfield, Whitaker, Chavez, Nelson, Gomez, Sanchez, Pedraza, Jones, Bowe, Lewis, Witherspoon,Pryor, Arguello, Curry, Nunn, Toney, McCallum, Chandler, Canizales, Carbajal, Rosario, Jackson, Mugabi, Hopkins, Benn, Eubank, Benn, Camacho, Saad Muhammad, Qawi, Hill, Fenech, Galaxy, McGuigan.. All of these guys turned pro or made their prime runs in the 80s. It’s just absurd to think about how many good guys were fighting in the 80s. I know I forgot about 20 fighters because I did this off the top of my head but the 80s were just rough to compete in.
You were right about Billy Joe Saunders most likely not being able to make weight without the stuff that he was taking. He just announced he was moving up to 168. I wanted your opinion on Big Baby Miller’s comments about VADA notifying fighters when something new comes out on the banned list and how their objective is to catch people and if they don’t catch anyone then they would be useless. I bring this up because the substance that Saunders was taking was complex. It wasn’t banned in the UK, it was only banned if it’s taken close to the fight.
Bread’s Response: Yes I think Saunders who I feel is a terrific fighter has lots of trouble making weight which was 160lbs. Saunders weighed 178 for a non title fight. I have never seen a middleweight do that before except for Saunders. So I just logically assumed he gets to 200lbs and making 160 is just deadly for him. I’m not saying it’s impossible to do but I am saying that in order to do it you have to do 1 of 3 things. Either live a Spartan lifestyle which obviously he doesn’t or he wouldn’t get as high as he does. Cheat….Or leave a part of your resistance in camp.
Now that people will look at Saunders more close, I think it was smart for him to move up to 168 and I think he’s going to be sharper and more crisp now that he’s at 168.
I don’t understand why a substance would be banned close to a fight but not banned totally. I think that is a counterproductive rule that makes no sense. I think creating gray areas with these things is also counter productive. It also gives a fighter who test + an OUT.
Big Baby actually made some interesting points. I heard his comments and suggestions and I don’t oppose to them. But let me add. Unless you’re a sports scientist you won’t even understand most of the substances on the banned list. And there are new things that keep coming up. Where I disagree with Miller is the WHY.
I think VADA does a great job and the reason why new substances keep coming up banned is because of advancement of sports science and it’s VADA’s job to stay up to date. If they don’t, potential cheaters will have an edge on them. Here is a compromise.
So if VADA sent out an app blast of everything new on the banned list to the fighters, most fighters wouldn’t know what a substance was. But the sports scientist they deal with do. So I think that’s ALSO who needs to be notified. On top of that when an over the counter product is found to contain a banned substance that is when it needs to be made public. For instance if VADA was around when Rip Fuel contained a banned substance, awareness should have made to the fighters and their teams that this over the counter product had something in it that would be prohibited.
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