Still and all,
virtually everyone around boxing agrees that today's fighters—though they may
not work so hard or so obsessively at their trade—have more to work with
"Today's fighters are bigger and stronger and faster; they've just got to
be better," says Brenner.
Partly it is a
matter of skills. D'Amato says, "You can almost divide the history of
boxing into two periods—the old and rather primitive days and the modern era of
superior techniques that began with Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson. Even
Tunney, though he was considered an exceptional boxer, didn't so much have
skill as speed, something there is a lot of today."
is shared in large part by Film Archivist Jimmy Jacobs, who probably has spent
more time watching light movies than anyone else. Jacobs disagrees about
Tunney: "The impressive thing about Tunney was that he didn't win any close
decisions; he usually won shutouts. He fought 20 rounds against Dempsey and won
19 of them." But he believes emphatically, "Anybody of the earlier
times, like a Corbett or a Jack Johnson, fighting now the way boxers did in
their day, couldn't get past the first round of a Golden Gloves
though he includes oldtimers on his list of the best, does so only on the
theory that a man has to be judged on the degree of superiority he displayed
over the other heavyweights of his era.
are better today," he says. "The swimmers swim faster and the runners
run faster, so why shouldn't fighters fight better? Besides, the trainers know
more and the corner men do a better job on cuts. The ringside doctors stop a
fight before a man gets all busted up and gets scar tissue that will open the
next time out. The fighters don't do a lot of body punching that leaves them
open for a damaging counterpunch. Any way you look at it, the really top
fighters today are better than any of the oldtimers of the past."