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FIGHTER AT THE CROSSROADS
Ernest Havemann
December 24, 1973
In a watershed year for the heavies George Foreman insists that he can solve his legal problems and bring renewed life to the richest division
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December 24, 1973

Fighter At The Crossroads

In a watershed year for the heavies George Foreman insists that he can solve his legal problems and bring renewed life to the richest division

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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."

D'Amato's opinion 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 tournament."

Even Loubet, 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.

"All athletes 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."

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