Hamilton’s Heavyweight Historical Highs

Measuring Heavyweight Boxing’s Greats

Matt Hamilton, Reporting…

Lightest Lineal Heavyweight Champion of the World: Bob Fitzimmons, 167lbs. That’s a pound under the (what is now) super middleweight limit. His biceps were also the smallest in the history of the championship at only 12 inches.

Primo Carnera remains the heaviest of all lineal heavyweight champions at 260lbs (at time of claiming the strap); though his 18.5” biceps place him behind multiple record breaker George Foreman whose biceps had ballooned from 15 to 20 inches between his title victories in 1973 & 1994 – along with a waistline that had swollen from 34 to 39.5 inches.

Rocky Marciano – apart from his well known status as the only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated – was also the first heavyweight champion in history with a reach of less than 70 inches. The Brockton Blockbuster’s compact stature – with a reach of only 68 inches – did nothing to diminish his fabled ring success.

Sonny Liston had the largest fists of all former lineal champions in the heavyweight division with closed fists measuring 15 inches around. Paradoxically, two of the true giants of heavyweight boxing history – Jack Dempsey & Gene Tunney (them of the Long Count fight legend) – share the distinction of possessing the smallest fists of all lineal champions at only 11 & one quarter inches.

Heavyweight Champions Per Decade:

The dilution in value of the term “heavyweight world champion” ushered in by the alphabet soup era is often cited as a significant contributing factor to the downward spiral of the once revered heavyweight championship of the world. So I decided to track two key metrics & discover whether more champions means less public interest in a track-able manner.

Metric #1: How many different men held the (nominal) title of Heavyweight champion of the world per decade?

Metric #2: Largest grossing heavyweight championship fight for each decade in 2012 US inflation adjusted dollars (for the 1980s on-wards).

WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO, Universal, NBA, EBU & Joe Frazier’s NYSAC counted as world championship with the latter two only under the exceptional circumstances of their crowning in given instances.

1880s – 1 champion (John L. Sullivan)

1890s – 3

1900s (decade not century, obviously) – 4

1910s – 3

1920s – 2

1930s – 6

1940s – 1 (Joe Louis)

1950s – 6

1960s – 6

1970s – 7

1980s – 15 Champions; Tyson vs Spinks grossed $156.2 million in 2012 dollars.

1990s – 17 Champions; Holyfield vs Tyson II grossed $165.1 million in 2012 dollars.

2000s (year to 2009) -18; Lewis vs Tyson grossed $180.2 million in 2012 dollars.

2010s so far – 4 in the first 26 months which is on course for a whopping 18 again this decade.

Lineal Heavyweight Champions who were undefeated at the time they won the championship:

John L. Sullivan (15-0), Jim Jefferies (11-0-2), Rocky Marciano (43-0), Ingemar Johansson (22-0), Cassius Clay (20-0), Joe Frazier (25-0), George Foreman (37-0), Larry Holmes (36-0), Leon Spinks (7-0-1), Michael Spinks (29-0), Mike Tyson (35-0), Evander Holyfield (25-0), Riddick Bowe (32-0), Michael Moorer (35-0).

Interestingly there has not been a lineal heavyweight world champion who claimed the title as an undefeated challenger since Michael Moorer did so in 1994. Foreman, Briggs & Lewis all having previous blemishes on their records prior to their post-1994 lineal championship wins.

Heavyweight World Champions who previously won Olympic gold medals:

Floyd Patterson (at Middleweight, 1952); Cassius Clay (Light Heavyweight, 1960); Joe Frazier (Heavyweight, 1964), George Foreman (Heavyweight, 1968), Leon Spinks (Light Heavyweight, 1976), Michael Spinks (Middleweight, 1976), Lennox Lewis (Super Heavyweight, 1988), Ray Mercer (Heavyweight, 1988); Wladimir Klitschko (Super Heavyweight, 1996), Aleksandr Povetkin (Super Heavyweight, 2004).

Teddy Atlas left Mike Tyson’s camp in 1982 after an altercation with the then 15 year old Tyson after the future youngest heavyweight champion in history had sexually harassed a 12 year old female relative of Atlas’s (Tyson admitted to groping the girl’s buttocks). Atlas put a handgun to the teenage Tyson’s ear and warned him to never again touch a member of his family or he would kill him.

Ruslan Chagaev, a two-time world amateur champion, beat Cuban amateur legend Félix Savón to take gold at the World Championships in 1997 but was later stripped of his medal for having had two professional fights before the championships.

Matt Hamilton, for ESNewsReporting!

Matt Hamilton SEO

Matt Hamilton: Reporting!

Matt Hamilton is a leading SEO consultant.