June 12th, 2011 By Professor Chuck MarbyTIME & EXPERIENCE MAKES ONE BETTER
Las Vegas, NV- It is a law of nature that the more you do something, the better you become at it. Experience and challenge are necessary for any field of endeavor. The ‘Ol Professor has written hundreds of papers in college and Graduate School, yet here I am putting in my time, learning to write on the boxing beat. Its just the way it works.
COMPARING TODAY PUGS WITH YESTERDAY’S
Yet when it comes to boxing, and one of the reasons I continue to beat the “Old School is better” drum is this: it took the ‘Ol Mongoose, Archie Moore, four years to fight fifty fights. Roy Jones Jr. fought for 17 years to reach the same number of fights. The more you do something the better you become at it. In fact, if you go back and dig through the numbers you will see that in 1955, the average fighter had about 70 fights before fighting for a title. In 1995, the average fighter had 24 fights before fighting for a championship. These statistics show that fighters used to fight at least once a month, while now we are lucky to see a fighter fight two or three times a year.
NEED TO BALE HAY WHILE THE SUN IS OUT
You see, no matter how much athletic ability, talent, or skill a fighter may bring to the ring today, the fighting environment does little to help a fighter realize his or her full potential. It’s only when faced with a variety of styles, skill sets, and ring psychologies that a fighter can develop their own potential to the maximum, and learn how to overcome adversity. If you look at Roy Jones Jr., or the oldest legitimate champion, Bernard Hopkins, or even the enigmatic “galloping ghost” Floyd Mayweather, if you look at their last couple of fights, and then go back and look at film of some of their fights say at around twenty five or thirty pro fights, and study them closely, you will see that there is very little progression to be noted. And I would suggest that a big part of the problem is the frequency of fights, compounded with the quality of competition they are facing.
Let’s face it, “Old School” fighters used to fight a lot of fights, and yes most of that was due to economics, but I contend there was more to it than mere dollars. Tony Canzoneri, for example, had 175 professional fights. Tell me one fighter today that has a snowball’s chance in hell of coming close to having that many pro bouts. But not just because the top guys make crazy money, either. To be perfectly honest, while I still have all the respect in the world for anyone who has the intestinal fortitude to lace on the gloves and step into that squared circle (I have done it myself, so I know from whence I speak), but most of today’s fighters simply are not cut from the same cloth interstitially as Jake LaMotta, Ray Leonard, Harry Greb, Ray Robinson, Willie Pep, Battling Levinsky, et.al. And most are not willing to put in the sweat equity to learn the craft of boxing. (As an amateur, my trainer, Lou Kemp, had me shuffling around the ring for three month throwing left jabs into the air before he would even let me begin to punch a bag. How many kids would put up with that today?)
TODAY’S FIGHTERS LACK “OLD SCHOOL” STONES
So, now that I’ve come this far, I’ll go ahead and say it: I do not believe fighters today in general have the heart of “Old School” fighters. This generation of fighters are not as tough, and I don’t blame it all on them. They don’t have the trainers (teachers) today. Now a lot of it is tied to money that some of them make. (Not all, for there are still plenty of ‘Ham and Eggers’ who spill their blood at a moments notice for a payday, and a shot to get noticed). But with the “prospects,” it’s not a job with them, it’s something they use to try to get rich (Money Mayweather ring a bell?). And they become short time pseudo celebrities. Long gone are the days of men like “Jersey Joe” Walcott, or James J. Braddock. Boxing was their livelihood. It wasn’t just something to make big moolah and then be seen with a starlet on their arm. It was their craft- like a mechanic who doesn’t expect to become wealthy but it’s what he does for a living to care for his family, and those days are gone. The Old School attitude was ‘this is my job. I’ve got to get up in the morning and run. I’ve got to stay in shape. I’ve got a family to feed. If I’m not in shape and if I don’t learn my craft and try to be better with every fight, I’m going to end up working in the Lumber Yards, or worse.’
THE PROFESSOR’S PARTING SHOT
That is what motivated the Old School guys, made them willing to pay the dues, and that’s whats missing today!
Professor Chuck Marby