The continuing legacy of the old school
By Kasim Aslam: Over the past year boxing has gone through a difficult patch. Will David Haye fight the Klitschko’s? Will Floyd Mayweather fight Manny Pacquiao? And is this boxer taking performance enhancing drugs? These topics have figured prominently throughout the year and to some degree bore a lot of fight fans. However I would like to bring a positive atmosphere with this article and celebrate the careers of a handful of boxers who still remain on top of their game even though they are at the latter stages of their career.
The bout between Carl Froch and Glen Johnson on 4th of June was the catalyst for this article. Even though Johnson was not the victor, witnessing his determination and die hard attitude deserves great plaudits. Froch the younger and fresher of the two found it increasingly difficult to penetrate the stern defence of Johnson throughout the fight. At the age of 42 Johnson’s appetite for a fight is a real testament to his professionalism and attitude in a boxing ring. Speaking to the BBC Froch paid his respect to the ‘road warrior’ Johnson as he said “Johnson was very tough, very strong. He was like an oak tree”. To be fair Johnson looks a great deal older than 42 and even though at some stages it looked as though his age was catching up he still managed to last the full 12 rounds.
Glen Johnson is not obviously the only example that can be used. Recent battles have proven that age is no barrier especially when it comes to record breaker and WBC and IBO light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, who at 46 defeated Jean Pascal to become the oldest champion in history surpassing the great George Foreman. ESPN writer Dan Rafael states “Bernard Hopkins already had lived several boxing lifetimes, but he was born yet again in Saturday’s decision over Jean Pascal, becoming the oldest champion in history” To outclass and out-muscle an opponent at the age of 40 plus is a great achievement in itself but to do it when there are championships on the line is a greater achievement. The reason to their success could be the hunger and the aura the boxing gives them. Some such as Ricky Hatton could not handle retirement as well as other boxers therefore fighter such as Johnson, Hopkins and Vitali klitschko will continue to Basque in the buzz and success they receive from boxing and continue to prove either successful or remain consistent instead of taking the route of retirement.
The other side would be fighter such as Roy Jones. Jones was a terrific boxer in their prime and would undoubtedly cause boxing mayhem inside a ring. However he had been on a downhill slope the older he had gotten. Jones was unfortunately was convincingly knocked out by Denis Lebedev on the 21st of May in round 10, the knockout was brutal flooring a former decorated champion who required assistance to regain consciousness. There are other various examples of boxers retiring or continuing and failing that have caught the eye of many fight fans.
This is why I have grouped these veteran boxers as an elite cluster as they have maintained consistency and skill throughout their career. The likes of Hopkins, Foremen, Ali, Holyfield and Johnson should be recognized for their great successes but also the fact that at the age of 40 plus they are still able to mix it up with the best of the younger generations.