When a Good Fighter Beats a Better One is He Better?

By Ken Hissner - 03/23/2024 - Comments

In the history of boxing some good fighters defeat a better fighter who are passed his prime. Does that make him a better one?
In October of 1951, Rocky “The Brockton Blockbuster” Marciano, 37-0, knocked out Joe “The Brown Bomber” Louis, 66-2.

Louis had won all of his eight fights in 1951, not losing since the Ezzard Charles loss in September of 1950 in a loss of his world title.

Afterwards it was reported Marciano though the winner cried because Louis was his hero. It would be the last fight in career of Louis and be another four fights before Marciano would get a title shot coming from behind knocking out champion “Jersey” Joe Walcott, 49-18-1, in the thirteenth round.

Marciano knocked out Walcott in one round in the rematch. Walcott was warned never to fight again after their first fight due to the injury after the defeat.

Did this mean Marciano was a better fighter than Louis? I have never seen anyone that thought so even though Marciano ended his career at 49-0 with 43 stoppages.

WBA, WBO, WBC, and IBF World Super Middleweight champion southpaw Joe “Pride of Wales” Calzaghe, 44-0, made his US debut in April of 2008, winning a split decision over former middleweight champion Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, 42-4-1, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Prior to the fight Hopkins said “no white boy is going to beat me or I won’t be able to go back to the hood!”

Was Hopkins through prior to the fight? In his next fight, I was in attendance in Atlantic City when he all but shut out Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik, 34-0, by scores of 117-109, 119-106, and 118-108.

In November of 2008 Calzaghe defeated former four division world champion Roy Jones, Jr., 52-4, at Madison Square Garden. Jones was coming off a win over Felix “Tito” Trinidad, 42-2, in January.

Calzaghe was dropped in the first round but won on all scorecards of 118-109. Jones would go on to lose to Hopkins in April of 2010.

Does that mean Calzaghe was better than both Hopkins and Jones? Few ever reported that. Possibly better than Hopkins, but not Jones.

Calzaghe never fought again after defeating both Hopkins and Jones due to hand injuries, ending his career at 46-0 with 32 stoppages.

In October of 1980 Muhammad Ali, 56-3, was stopped for the first and only time losing to Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes, 35-0, in ten rounds. Ali would have one more fight losing to Trevor Berbick.

I saw Ali at his Deer Lake camp training for Holmes, and he was so out of shape and had a big belly. I questioned why he once had one of the best physics among heavyweights, but look at the shape you are in, and I asked why he was taking this fight. He padded his belly and said, “I like my ice cream!” I knew he would lose to Holmes, but was Holmes better than Ali? No way anyone has ever written that, including me.

Holmes would go on to be 48-0 as world champion when he lost to light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks, the first time a light-heavy champ would defeat a heavy champ. Afterward, Holmes said, “Marciano couldn’t wear my jock strap!” What did Marciano have to do with his loss to Spinks?

Holmes was one fight short of equaling Marciano’s 49-0 record. Holmes ended with a 69-6 record with 44 stoppages. I agreed with Spinks defeating him 8-7 in rounds but felt Holmes was robbed in losing the rematch with Spinks.

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