Why do some greats have such short primes? It's the speed! :)

Discussion in 'Boxing News and Discussion' started by Joonie73, Dec 19, 2003.

  1. Joonie73

    Joonie73 Guest

    Why do some all-time greats have such ridiculously short primes? And when I say "ridiculously short," I mean primes that end when fighters are in their early 20s. I am often asked this question in regard to Chang, but other prominent recent examples include Tyson & Benitez (you could add Cuevas, though he isn't in the same class as these guys & also a different type of fighter in terms of physical tools, as I will explain).

    One common theory is the "partying" or "bad training habits" theory. Certainly, the theory applies perfectly to Chang, Tyson & Benitez. Another theory is ring-wear, esp. in terms of having too many big fights at an early age. This applies somewhat to the troika as well, though not as persuasively as the partying excuse.

    However, another common theme that unites the troika of Chang, Tyson & Benitez (in particular Chang & Tyson) was that they relied so much on their incredible speed & reflexes. But alas, speed & reflexes are the 1st things to go among physical assets that come to play in boxing. So it is my general hypothesis that fighters who rely primarily on (or whose main assets are) speed & reflexes decline at an earlier age than fighters who, for instance, rely on other physical attributes such as size or power (Foreman?) or non-physical attributes such as textbook technical correctness (Finito?). And in the case of Chang & Tyson, that decline was even accelerated by the obvious bad lifestyle they led outside the ring.

    Comments? Other examples or counter-examples?

    P.S. This post was prompted by a discussion I had with Val on why I think Pacquiao won't have longevity. Here is an excerpt:

    "There is 1 trait that Pacquiao has that reminds of me of the prime Chang & Duck has already mentioned this in another thread: his lightning ability to close & widen the gap, which derives mainly from his footspeed.

    Manny has that ability to close, deliver his shots & then quickly move out of the other's guy's punching range. In fact, the parallels are eery with Chang. What Pacquiao did to Barrera is a carbon copy of what Chang did to Amado Ursua & the slower-handed & slower-footed Mexican fighter in each case had no answers at all. But unfortunately, this asset is all physical & something that leaves you rather early. Pacquiao is already into his late 20s, I believe? How long will he retain it? Chang lost it when he was 22-23, though his is a very special case & Pacquiao obviously takes a better care of his body. But I think my overall point is that when you have a fighter who depends so much on physical advantages (in particular speed), you will likely not have longevity."
  2. Rebel

    Rebel Admin

    If you can't last then you don't compare to the greats that lasted unless you hold wins over Hearns, Duran, and Hagler. [​IMG]

    [ December 19, 2003, 09:23 AM: Message edited by: Rebel ]
  3. Rebel

    Rebel Admin

    I just read someone's response to you on Delphi.

    "All-time greats do not have ridiculously short primes or they are not on anyone's all time great list."

    Priceless! [​IMG]
  4. Rebel

    Rebel Admin

    I just glanced over the rough draft of my top 30 and I noticed that only 2 of the 30 had poor longevity when compared to the other 28. But they more than made up for it with huge wins and unrivaled boxing skills. The fighters? Sugar Ray Leonard and Pernell Whittaker. Of my top 30, I'd say that NONE had a ridiculously short prime. That doesn't cut it on my list. [​IMG]
  5. KoCav

    KoCav Guest

    I think it's the reflexive fighters that tend to drop off most quickly. Curry and Hamed are two examples, though both guys didn't like the gym much.

    Meldrick Taylor had a short prime, but he also put in a lot of rounds. He was a distance fighter who threw a lot of punches. Some styles just aren't made for longevity.

    And that's partly why I place less emphasis on a fighter's longevity than others might.
  6. Joonie73

    Joonie73 Guest

    So we are in agreement, Kocav.

  7. KoCav

    KoCav Guest

    Whitaker didn't have longevity? There was a 9 year stretch between the first Ramirez fight and De La Hoya. He also had 20+ title fights in his career.
  8. Joonie73

    Joonie73 Guest


  9. Rebel

    Rebel Admin

    I'm talking about the number of total fights in his career. He wasn't of those fighters that piled up 100 fights. And I was comparing him to others like Moore, Duran, Robinson, Charles, etc.. I said that in comparison to the other 28 his longevity was poor. BTW, That statement was made by mere glance. I'm sure if someone nitpicked, we could find a case where Whittaker and Leonard's longevity compares to a few of the 28.

    [ December 19, 2003, 12:29 PM: Message edited by: Rebel ]
  10. neil

    neil Guest

    Pacquaio turned 25 on Wednesday.

    [ December 19, 2003, 12:32 PM: Message edited by: Neil ]
  11. Joonie73

    Joonie73 Guest

    His listed age is believed to be 2 years off. This is a frequent occurrence in Asia. Sung-Kil Moon, for instance, is 2 years older than his official listed age.

  12. Rebel

    Rebel Admin

    That would explain why he doesn't look like a kid. Dude has a 50 year-old's face.


    [ December 19, 2003, 12:58 PM: Message edited by: Rebel ]
  13. Hut*Hut

    Hut*Hut Member

    Rebel aren't you confusing longevity with being active? I would associate the word longevity with timespan more than the number of fights.

    Good thread - longevity is an interesting thing to bring up but as KoCav said, some guys just have styles that are deleterouis to having extended careers and I dont think speed neccaseraly is the main thing....A guy like Frazier for example was unlikley to have ever lasted more than a few years at the top cause he took too many shots, not because he relied on speed or reflex' and Riddick Bowe was destined for a brief spike cause it seems he was geneticly prone to brain damage, though granted getting a fucking kitchen built in his bedroom done him no favours.

    Its a good point though....there was an advert in Britain for Kit Kat recently making the comparison between a cheetah and a tortoise. A cheetah lives for 6-8years while the torpid tortoise lives for up to 300 years.

    Another thing about longevity, maybe its slightly overrated in terms of judging greatness for the reasons already stated, cause if a guy is destined to burn out fast should he really be penalised for it? For example should Holmes really be rated so far above a guy like Frazier becasue his style or genetics was condusive to lasting? Shouldn't guys just be judged against each other at their peak?

    It would become alot more subjective and interesting that way.
  14. Valentino

    Valentino Member

    Keep in mind too that Whitaker is the MOST SUCCESFUL (IMO) amateur fighter in USA boxing history.

    He had the PANAM, AMATEUR WORLD, GOODWILL, and OLYMPICS gold medals.
  15. Valentino

    Valentino Member

    My experience is (watching boxing since the mid 70s) is that typically fighters that relied on SPEED or ATHLETISM are the ones that have shorter longevities. In particular those that fight frequently and against good fighters.

    Fighters with great boxing SKILLS (not to be confused with athletism) are the ones with longer longevities.
  16. Joonie73

    Joonie73 Guest

    Hut, you know I prefer peak performance & who-beats-who over longevity [​IMG]

  17. Valentino

    Valentino Member

    Longevity is what separates the LEGENDARY top 10 (like Duran, Grebb, Pep, etc.) over the GREAT ones outside the top 15, like Leonard.

    Watching a fighter that is PAST HIS PRIME fight a YOUNGER, BIGGER, and PRIME fighter at the younger?s fighter BEST WEIGHT?is what tells me how LEGENDARY that fighter is. Even if he loses, if he does a great job, he is already MOVING UP in high-regard.

    That?s why I rank Duran my TOP guy ALL TIME GREAT. Look at how he fought against Leonard and Hagler and later Barkley.

    Same goes with Pep?and Moore?and Grebb?and Robinson?and Amstrong?and Louis?and Ali?

    That is the mark of a LEGENDARY fighter.

    Any SKILLFUL and TALENTED fighter can beat good ones, when they are in THEIR PRIMES. Let?s see those same fighters fighting 10 or so years later against a YOUNGER VERSION of themselves.

    [ December 19, 2003, 04:20 PM: Message edited by: Valentino ]
  18. Hut*Hut

    Hut*Hut Member

    But Val, what do you think about guys who's styles just dont alow for a long prime? Shouldn't style be coincedental to greatness rather than such a deciding factor?

    To an extent Im just playing Devils Advocate here.
  19. Rebel

    Rebel Admin

    Longevity is a mark of greatness if you're constantly fighting the world's best. Look at anyone's top 30 and almost 85-90% of the fighters on there all had longevity.

    I don't put a major emphasis on peak performance because if that were the case, I'd have Mike Tyson at #1 all-time. [​IMG]

    If you fizzle quick, you don't compare to the other greats IMO.
  20. Rebel

    Rebel Admin

    Whittaker was a boring fuck but I can't deny his greatness. I believe I have him in my top 15 all-time list and top 10 in my Modern only list.

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