By Stephen "Breadman" Edwards
The Daily Bread Mailbag returns with Stephen "Breadman" Edwards, who answers questions on Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter, Manny Pacquiao vs. Terence Crawford, HBO vs. Premier Boxing Champions in terms of talent, Mike Tyson place in heavyweight history and much more.
Hi Stephen, been a while since I have written into your awesome mailbag. Congrats on all your recent success as a trainer and the success of J-Rock and the other fighters you are training. I knew you guys would be where you are at. I wanted to state my opinion on where Holmes and Tyson are ranked all-time. I think that if Larry Holmes is considered a top 10 all-time heavyweight, so should Tyson because when you compare their reigns, Tyson was a lot more dominant and the eras were on par. The funny thing is, Tyson was so dominant in his prime that historically speaking, his opponents were criticized more than Tyson was praised which is ironic because Holmes fought many of the same types of opponents and a few of the same ones! This is proof that one can be too good for his own good.
The same thing happened to Roy Jones in his prime. Jones and Tyson were arguably two of the most dominant champions ever when they were in their prime, with Jones’ prime lasting much longer. Neither fighter received enough credit for defeating his respective opposition in such dominant fashion and in both cases the opposition was criticized rather than praising the person who destroyed them. I have always believed that one has to be special to dominate world class opposition. If Tyson and Jones weren’t special then why weren’t any other fighters in their weight class running through those same guys? If GGG isn’t special where is the other middleweight running through the dudes he has run through? Same is true of Wladimir Klitschko. If all his opponents suck, why isn’t there another heavyweight dominating these guys and for a decade to boot? Could it be that these guys are that damn good?
I understand that Holmes fought the common opponents when they were a little younger but a guy like Berbick for example was far from shot when Tyson destroyed him. He had just beat Pinklon Thomas (26-0-1 at the time) and won the WBC title. This is in addition to the fact that Tyson was the only fighter to knock Holmes out and Holmes went on to beat an undefeated Ray Mercer, won 4 rounds against a prime Holyfield, and came within a hair of regaining the title against McCall so he was far from shot. I understand that Holmes had a longer reign. I get it that he had 20 title defenses (technically 19 because the Marvis Frazier fight was a non- title fight) to Tyson’s 9 title defenses plus 1 when he regained it and didn't self- destruct like Tyson did and deserves credit for that (while Tyson deserves criticism), but Tyson did come back from a 4 year hiatus and regain 2/3 of the undisputed title which helped enhance his legacy a bit. The losses to Holyfield hurt him a lot I believe and the fact that Holmes did better against Holyfield and at an older age makes him slightly higher all-time but no more than one or two notches in my book.
The common opponent that stands out to me is Michael Spinks. Spinks (6'2 with a 76" reach) beat Holmes twice (the second fight was very controversial and probably should have gone to Holmes, but regardless it went 15 rounds and was very close). At the time Holmes was 48-0 and trying to tie Marciano's record. Spinks was fighting at heavyweight for the very first time and had even become acclimated to the weight. He was clearly a special fighter. After the Holmes fights, Spinks knocked out Tangstad and Cooney and then was utterly destroyed in 91 seconds by Tyson (5'10.5 with a 71" reach) and retired afterwards at 31-1. For the life of me I can't understand why Tyson doesn't get more credit for destroying Spinks in a matter of seconds after what Spinks had accomplished up to that point and considering that it was a superfight that many boxing experts either picked Spinks to win or at least provide a very stiff test. History basically states that Tyson beat a “blown up Light Heavyweight” (again who was 6’2 with a 76” reach that beat an all time great heavyweight in Holmes who was 48-0) in Spinks and an “old man” who was “shot” in Holmes.
What really irks me is that in addition to that, historians elevate fighters like Holyfield and even Lewis (who beat an overweight, pot smoking, shot version of Tyson) for having beat Iron Mike, but when Iron Mike is singled out, label him "overrated". If Tyson was an "overrated" champion, then beating him shouldn't elevate anyone's legacy! Seems like Tyson is only "great" to historians when it's convenient for them ---when they wish to elevate another fighter's all-time status. Again, I am not saying that Tyson deserves to go down as high as Ali, Louis, Foreman, Holyfield, or even Lewis but having him slightly below Holmes seems about right to me. Most historians don’t even have Tyson in the top 10! The only three fighters that I believe beats the Tyson h2h who destroyed Spinks in ’88 was Ali, Holyfield and Foreman. Everyone else gets stopped. I am willing to rank guys who a prime Tyson would have defeated head to h2h higher than him because of what they accomplished against other opponents but I am unwilling to do what many historians do in regards to Tyson and that is to use him and conveniently label him “great” in order to justify elevating someone else who defeated him while forgetting to properly rate him. Below is my top 10 list. I would love to know your thoughts on my list and my aforementioned statements/points.
Thanks so much,
Darrell La Montre
Co-Host of the Knuckles & Chuckles Podcast (downloadable on I-tunes for free)
1.) Ali (best heavyweight resume ever, super athletic, amazing footwork for a heavyweight, genius IQ, very solid chin, insane recuperative powers. Not unbeatable but #1 for sure)
2.) Louis (great resume, great power and technique. Very good boxing skills for a puncher)
3.) Foreman (monster puncher, very underrated heart and IQ, greatest comeback in boxing history)
4.) Frazier (tough as sh*t, amazing left hook, win over Ali in first fight was epic)
5.) Holmes (amazing jab, incredible recuperative powers when hurt, high IQ, very good hand speed and footwork, long title reign)
6.) Lewis (solid resume, great jab, high IQ, great power, very coordinated for a super heavyweight)
7.) Holyfield (quintessential overachiever, great chin, very underrated left hook and power in general, great technique and combination puncher, very good athleticism and footwork, amazing resume, heart of a lion).
8.) Tyson (youngest champion ever, greatest combination of speed and power ever for a heavyweight, amazing punch resistance. Was never knocked out by one punch ---was hurt more by shoddy recuperative powers than punch resistance, very elusive in his prime. All-time great power in both hands. Very good technique. All- time great dominant reign made even more amazing by his short stature and reach).
9.) Liston (great jab, amazing reach for his height, great power, very underrated boxing skills. Only made one title defense but scores very highly on the eyeball test.
10.) W. Klitschko (great jab, very underrated hand speed, great power in both hands, super athletic for a big man, has learned to protect shaky chin ala Lewis under the late great trainer Emanuel Steward, hasn’t lost in almost a decade, still dominating at almost 40 years old.
Bread’s Response: You have a point about Tyson. I’m a huge Tyson fan and now that revisionist can be as accurate as they choose to be, Tyson is somehow a bum. I personally think he was slightly overrated early in his career but not as overrated as some state. I also think he would have always defeated Holmes despite Holmes being the better historical fighter. You also make a great point about Michael Spinks. That was a great victory and it should be viewed that way. I am very high on Michael Spinks as a fighter. He was a top 5 for the decade of the 80s and the 80s was the second best decade ever.
I also agree with you that Tyson was totally shot when he fought Lennox Lewis. But that’s Tyson’s fault because he put the fight off for years giving Lewis step aside money and he didn’t take care of himself.
But the Holyfield loss is what hurts Tyson’s legacy. And that is where we disagree. Holyfield is 4 years older than Tyson and Holyfield had just been kod in the previous year by Riddick Bowe. Going into that fight Tyson was 30, Holyfield was 34. Tyson had only lost to Buster Douglas up until that point and his comeback fights were easy. Holyfield was viewed as the worn fighter and there a good reason he was an 8 to 1 underdog. If there was ever a fight that Tyson had to win it was that one.
I like your top 10. No two lists will be the same. But you didn’t put Jack Johnson in the top 10. I know he fought in an era before the modern style was adopted. But I saw footage on him in several fights and I watched the documentary “unforgivable Blackness”. There is no way he’s not top 5 heavyweights ever. He had a better resume than Tyson and he would have beaten him head to head without much trouble in my opinion. He was too strong mentally and adaptable defensively.
Great work again with the mailbag
When you do mythical match ups at Heavyweight do you factor in weight?
I'm a massive Lennox Lewis fan, I feel on his day nobody in history can beat this man, he had size, speed, power and a underrated jab, beat everyone in his era. Had many augments about mythical match ups vs Lewis but so many people forget that the greats before the 90s would be blown up Cruserweights, David Haye is classed as a small HW but is the same height as Ali.
How do you feel the greats would of faired vs Lewis and the Klitchkos?
What would you say is the best form of defense? Tight guard? Head movement? Legs?
Bread’s Response: The best form of defense is the form which enables you to take the least amount of punishment while still being able to implement your offense enough to win a fight. When you label a defense as the best you confine your mind because what works best for one fighter may not for another.
I consider lots of things when I rank heavyweights. I consider head to head, legacy, how they would have fared in contrasting eras given resources and performances. Despite heavyweights like Lewis and the Klitschkos brother being dominant fighters in their respective eras, I saw each of them troubled big time by much smaller fighters.
Lewis had hell with Holyfield in their second fight and Holyfield was well past it by time they fought , although he was still capable. Lewis was also kod brutally by two decent but not great heavyweights who were just 6’2.
Wlad Klitschko was kod by Lamon Brewster who is about 6’1 on his best day. He was also taken in deep waters by Ross Purity who was a big guy but not better than the Ernie Terrell type that Ali had to fight. People dismiss the Purity fight but I don’t. Wlad was an Olympic Gold Medalist and he had about 28 pro fights going into the Purity fight. He was not an infantile when Purity took him into deep waters. And if you look at the fight he was relieved and happy it was stopped. Wlad also panicked vs a 6’2 Alexander Povetkin. Povetkin in my opinion is a little better than Axel Shultz type of a previous era.
Vitali Klitschko was frustrated and made to quit by Chris Byrd in a fight he was winning. Vitali is considered the less talented of the two brothers. He’s slightly gangly and I believe the dexterity of smaller heavyweights would have bothered him greatly and that’s why he packed it in vs Byrd.
All these things lead me to believe that they would have had lots of trouble with smaller but elite level heavyweights. Like Ali, Louis, Foreman, Liston, Holyfield, Johnson and Holmes. And in a 15 round era, their weights would have been a disadvantage not an advantage. I believe all 3 are great fighters but not the greatest at their weights.
What's good Bread? Haven't written in since the Btalk days. Congrats on your continued success in the game, and with J-Rock. Wanted to get your take on a couple subjects. How do you see Porter vs. Thurman playing out? Interesting match up between two athletic guys that can crack. Collazo was able to do some good body work on Thurman and had him badly hurt with a nice uppercut to the gut. Porter is murder to the body, and he moves well. If Thurman gets caught with a few vicious shots to the body he won't be able to get away from Porter like he did with Collazo. However, Porter has a tendency to sometimes run in with his chin up and Thurman can definitely catch him with a big shot. Also how would you feel about including Porter vs. Thurman in a small tournament with the winner fighting the winner of a proposed Garcia vs. Khan rematch? The top guy out of that tournament could take on Kell Brook which would go a long way in crowning the top dog in the division (contrary to what ESPN says, I don't believe Pacquiao is the top guy in the division). On another note I think J-Rock beats Trout when they finally rumble.
-Chris from the Chi
Bread’s Response: I think Porter vs Thurman is a fascinating match up. A true 50/50 fight. As time goes on boxers reveal themselves. The boxing ring is a truth machine. Sometimes the truth comes out sooner, sometimes it comes out later but it always comes out.
So what do we know about Keith Thurman. He was advertised as a supreme killer a few years ago. He gets on HBO and knocks out Orlando Lora and he sort of took off and got better with each fight. But in his last 3 or 4 fights Thurman has cooled off greatly in my opinion. If you watch him fight and not just the advertisement he’s not the seek and destroy killer he was made out to be. He’s more Acelino Freitas than Julian Jackson.
Thurman is an athletic boxer who can punch. But I think he over moves and can be worn out by smart pressure. I think the reason why Thurman is so skiddish is because he doesn’t have in the box defense and he conscious about taking too much punishment. So he uses his legs as his defense because that is his gift. Thurman is still an elite talent but I think he has cooled off greatly.
Shawn Porter has always had his detractors. Most don’t like “how” he fights. He’s not a sharp shooter of the Terry Norris ilk. He’s a pressure guy but not a ko machine like Mike Tyson. He’s more of an athletic grinder but his fights do get sloppy at times. Porter had his trouble with Kell Brook but since then he has bounced back nicely.
I really respect Shawn Porter because of his character. The deck was stacked against him vs Adrien Broner. Porter was sucked down in weight and made to be the B side in a fight where he was the more accomplished fighter. Porter still won going away despite suffering a last round knockdown.
While Porter doesn’t have the most pleasing style to look at, he is extremely effective. He hustles like hell. He’s extremely physically strong. He also has an extensive amateur background, so he finds ways to win fights. Porter has faced better competition than Thurman has as a pro.
If you look at this fight you see two guys who are made to order for each other, which usually means we will see a good fight because both guys will do what they are comfortable doing. Porter likes to put the pressure on and grind you out. But while doing so, he has defensive flaws. He doesn’t have the best defensive reflexes in the world. I know most come forward pressure guys can be hit but Porter is not like say a Roman Gonzales who is adept at blocking and parrying punches.
Thurman wants you to come to him, so he can move away and then spring into you with his power shots. IT accentuates the power on his blows. Head on collisions….But Thurman is not an infighter and he’s starting to tire later in fights because he doesn’t understand how to get a rest while still winning rounds. Thurman may look tall but he’s only about 5’7 he’s not much bigger than Porter.
I really don’t know who is going to win this fight. Sometimes I can see Thurman running Shawn into something and clipping him. Other times I can see Shawn pressuring Thurman and forcing him to hold and flee and lose a decision. Get back to me once it gets signed and stamped. 50/50….
What do you think of Terrance Crawford’s performance and how does he match up with your boy Manny Pacquiao?
Bread’s Response: I think Terrance Crawford is as good as all around fighter as there is in the game. In this fight he showed his walk down pressure game. Crawford has 3 trainers who don’t have other big name fighters so he gets that special fine tuning that you need. I suspect we will see him get better and better. He destroyed Dierry Jean and I actually thought Crawford would win a distance fight.
Yes I really respect Manny Pacquiao. For this era which will known for the businessman he has as few misses as any top A side fighter. Pacquiao entered in several fights where he was a huge underdog and gave up huge differences in height and reach. That is very uncommon for this era. If Pacquiao takes on a prime Crawford it will be the equivalent of Ali taking on Larry Holmes, Ray Leonard taking on Terry Norris and Bernard Hopkins taking on Sergey Kovalev. He will get all time gun status.
I also think the result will be equally disastrous. Pacman surprised me by winning 4 rounds against Floyd Mayweather but Mayweather fights to win points. Crawford is much more violent in his approach. I think Crawford does get caught in exchanges and Pacquiao is murder in exchanges. So Manny has a shot but I think Manny is shot mentally. I don’t believe he will be able to put together another camp where he will be able to get into the kind of shape he will need to get into to beat a younger, longer, fresher fighter. Pacquiao does not have the muscle tone he used to have and quite frankly I’m surprised he’s still as good as he is. He has over 60 fights, he’s almost 37, he’s a high energy fighter, who is short for the weight. There has never in history been a fighter with that description that was this good in his late 30’s. If Pacquiao fights Crawford his career will end in a cruel fate.
Whats going on bread? Hbo seems to be in a good spot as far as having the 5 best fighters in the world in gonzalez, Crawford, kovalev, pac, and ggg. But everytime they mention p4p nobody on the hbo side ever mentions kovalev? Why do you think that is? In my opinion he has a better resume then ggg, Crawford, and gonzalez and he is every bit as good and exciting as they are. Also we would all love to see pbc fighters fight hbo fighters, I have come up with a suggestion and can you tell me if its doable and a good idea? Why don't hbo and pbc agree to make 10 big fights a yr which each network getting 5 fights to air on there network. I think this give us a lot more options as far as super fights and still allows the networks to maintain credibility. The promoters will still get there % and it can also serve as a measure of who has the better fighters. lastly give me your winners and how in these hypothetical matchups, iran Barkley vs Arthur Abraham @160or 168, meldrick taylor vs danny Garcia, shane mosley vs Edwin Valero @135, erik morales vs nonito doniare @122,prince nasheem vs yuri gamboa @126 and wilder vs Michael grant.
Bread’s Response: You have a great point that’s why I couldn’t understand why PBC was getting sued. I analyzed the top 10 best fighters in boxing and the large majority were not in the PBC. Only Floyd Mayweather made the top 10 before he retired.
You left out Andre Ward, Wladimir Klitschko and about 3 elite level Japanese fighters. The reason I don’t think Kovalev is mentioned as THE top guy is because he just doesn’t have the promotional push. It’s a shame but that’s the only thing I can think of. The job that K2 has done with GGG is much better than what has been done for Sergey. I am not bashing Main Events whatsoever but it’s just true. I personally think the p4p race is intriguing because there are about 8 guys who are one significant victory away from having the best argument.
I would love if PBC vs HBO were to happen. But I that would take a lot. As long as fighters can get decent money to fight sub par competition the majority just won’t risk certain fights.
Abraham clips Barkley in a war. Meldrick is probably a little too fast for Danny but he would have to be careful. Shane Mosley at light weight was a monster. There aren’t 10 men in history who could beat him at 135 head to head. He beats Valero. Morales by a tough decision over Nonito. Great fight. I say Naseem clips Gamboa. Gamboa has always had a shaky chin and Naseem is one of the better punchers in the history of boxing. He’s a legitimate lights out one punch guy with either hand. Arguably the best puncher of the 90s. Wilder knocks Michael Grant out. That fight would remind you of Chad Dawson vs Adonis Stevenson. Grant was a solid guy but his mind processed too slow for a quick twitch guy like Wilder. Early round blowout.
Send questions to email@example.com