Cruiserweight Division

By Tom Donelson
Updated: April 5, 2005
NEW YORK, NY–Cruiserweight division is one of boxing best kept secret. A division long since ignored by the public and boxing purists, who forever complain that we have too many division. Never mind the fact that the old divisions were established in a different era and that every other major sport has long since expanded. Cruiserweight is a logical division that sits between today’s heavyweights and light heavyweights. Since 1962, there has been only one Heavyweight champion that has weighted less than 200 pounds. (Leon Spinks was a paltry 197 pounds when he upset Ali in 1978.)

Athletes today are bigger due to training methods, diet and occasional help from pharmacology so it is only logical that new divisions be formed to recognize the new reality. In a world that has more than doubled in population and boxing, like other sports, have a wider pool to draw fighters from. The collapse of the Soviet Empire added to this pool as fighters, who were previously unable to fight professionally in the west, are now making their fortune in professional boxing. And when Fidel Castro finally join the rest of the Marxist world in the ash heap of history, then professional boxing will have yet another quality pool to draw from.

The problem is not that boxing has too many divisions but that boxing has too many champions for each division. 17 World champions for 17 divisions are not too many champions. 51 or maybe 64 champions are little too much for 17 divisions. The Cruiserweight division is every one ugly stepchild and yet there are some very good fighters in that division. As Al Bernstein observed, “This division has fighters who are blessed with heavyweight power but also can throw a lot of punches, thus capable of producing some great fights.”

Last Saturday night fight featured a classic boxer-slugger match up. Wayne Braithwaite is one of boxing best boxers, a fighter who can switch from orthodox to southpaw in a natural fashion. He can punch and box. Jean-Marc Mormeck is a slugger similar to Joe Frazier. The French fighter keeps the pressure on his opponent throughout a fight and came in this fight; riding a 27 fight winning streak. This promised to be a great fight.

The first round saw Braithwaite dominating as he nailed Mormeck from every angle with punches that went to the head and the body. His speed and combination won the round easy but in the second round, Mormeck changed the pace of the fight. Mormeck is a fighter with underestimated defensive skills. He kept his hands up and many of Braithwaite’s punches hit his shoulder and arms as oppose to hitting him flush. Braithwaite body shots were thrown wide and this allowed Mormeck to counter with straight and accurate shots in between the wider punching Braithwaite. There is an old adage in boxing- straight punches get to their targets quicker than wider punches. Braithwaite threw the wider punches and negated whatever quickness advantage he had. Mormeck straight and more powerful punches wore Braithwaite down.

By the fourth round, Braithwaite started to spend more and more time on the rope. This was not by design but due to Mormeck effective body shots and accurate right hand. As the fight wore on, Braithwaite found himself hanging on as oppose to winning. In the seventh round, he went down for the first time in his career and in the eighth, excessive holding cost Braithwaite a point deduction. Those two rounds produce a four-point swing that Braithwaite could not overcome. Braithwaite showed guts as he tried to counter but by the time of the tenth round; Braithwaite had nothing left in the tank. He boxed but the legs moved slowly. He punched but the power waned. Mormeck spent the last three rounds boxing and out jabbing the boxer.

For Braithwaite, he proved that he had heart but this night, it was Mormeck who dominated. He was the better fighter and his defensive skills forced Braithwaite to throw wide punches that made him easy to counter. Braithwaite’s punches did not slow the French man down but Mormeck punches sapped the strength from his more elusive foe. By the fourth round, Braithwaite no longer had the legs to move and jab for an entire round. Mormeck, like Frazier in his hey day, wore the boxer down and controlled the fight from the fourth round on.

This fight showed a division filled with technically sound fighters. When Toney fought Jirov in boxing fight of the year in 2003, both fighters totaled 160 punches per round. This was the Cruiserweight division at its best. Braithwaite-Mormeck would not match that fight but it was good fight, full of activity.

Mormeck is the best Cruiserweight in the world and there are still several excellent match ups available. Mormeck is an excellent fighter. He is not an easy target to hit and his heavy handed punching style wears opponents down. Give the man and his division their dues. Mormeck is one of boxing best champions.