Heavyweights and knockouts go together like artillery and shells, submarines and torpedoes. Several active heavyweight fighters have impressive knockout records. David Haye (26-2, 24 KOs), Tyson Fury (19-0, 14 KOs), Seth Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 KOs), Chris Arreola (35-2, 30 Kos), and WBA belt holder Alexander Povetkin (24-0, 16 KOs) are a few of the heavyweights noted for carrying clout in their fists. Haye, Povetkin, and Arreola are veterans; Fury and Mitchell are up-and-comers, and prize fighting aspirations for all presumably include supplanting a Klitschko on the heavyweight throne.
Boxing fans need to be hopeful somebody from today’s group of heavyweights will light up the flickering heavyweight division, and there is no better way for fighters to garner attention and make fans crave for fights than to engage in significant bouts in which thunderous punches and action drain boxing fans as much as the activity in the ring takes a toll on the fighters. To capture imaginations and create demands for their fights, heavyweights of today would be wise to take commentary from a boxing hall of fame inductee as advice to execute the ring.
During the thrilling sixth round of Andre Berto’s failed title defense against Victor Ortiz, HBO’s Jim Lampley exclaimed, “Unbelievable! What a fight!” Lampley continued with a reference: “George Foreman and Ron Lyle stand aside. We have an amazing slug-fest in Connecticut.” Foreman-Lyle, the words conjure images of violence for those who have seen it, particularly for fans–including this writer–who saw the fighters unload on live television on a Saturday afternoon, January 24,1976. Lyle, a big man with power, had three losses on his record: decision losses to sturdy contender Jerry Quarry and tricky boxer Jimmy Young, and an 11th round TKO in his most recent fight to champion Muhammad Ali. Foreman, on the other hand, hadn’t fought since his KO loss to Ali in Zaire in October of 1974. Credit the two big bangers for not crushing tomato cans before taking on a legitimate threat.
The effusive Howard Cosell called the bout with future International Boxing Hall of Fame member Ken Norton as his color analyst. Lyle staggered Foreman in the first round; Foreman wobbled Lyle in the shortened second round, and after a slow-for-this-fight third round, punches rained in the fourth round, as did Foreman and Lyle in the direction of the canvas. Lyle was decked once, and Foreman hit the canvas twice, the last knockdown occurring near the end of the round and leaving George in an unusual knees and face position on the canvas. Foreman beat the count, and his and Lyle’s continued slugging in the fifth prompted the reserved Ken Norton to make a dead-on point to Cosell: “This is really a heavyweight fight, Howard. Just total guts here and power.” In the end, Foreman’s power prevailed and put Lyle on the canvas for a 10-count.
The time has arrived for today’s heavyweights to embrace Norton’s statement and fight with “total guts” and “power.” Haye and Arreola had their chances at a Klitschko. Both men failed. Mitchell showed his guts and power in a KO of Chazz Witherspoon (30-3, 22 KOs), after being badly shaken in the first round. Povetkin showed his mettle against WBO cruiser weight champion Marco Huck (34-2-1, 25 KOs). Similar courageous acts in the ring might be more difficult to summon against a Klitschko, however. Glimmers in the heavyweight division catch the eye occasionally, but for now are no more than a grain or two of gold in a heavyweight-sized pan of sand and murky water.
According to boxing writer Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, Vitali Klitschko might be at the end of his career pending the outcome of a political election. Vitali’s retirement will create a void in the heavyweight division, a space to be filled by his brother Wladimir or a hard-nosed contender. Big, heavy hitters exist in the heavyweight division; now these heavyweights must answer a simple question before laying claim to greatness: will you bring “total guts” and “power” into the ring each fight? Fighters will invariably answer yes. Their actions in the ring will provide answers for boxing fans regarding the state of the heavyweight division.
Sources: http://boxrec.com/ for records and dates of fights.