Where are the Heavyweights?

By Tom Donelson
Updated: March 16, 2008

IOWA CITY, Ia. — After watching the Samuel Peter-Oleg Masco fight, it brought back memories of big heavyweights in the 1990′s. That era was one of the deepest in heavyweight history and these fighters exhibited great skills often missing in heavyweights today.

In reviewing replays of the first Bowe-Holyfield, I observed how both men showed excellent boxing skills. Upper cuts, left hooks and right cross were thrown at breakneck pace.

There were times during the Peter-Maskaev bout, punches looked like they were coming in slow motion. Most of the top ten fighters today would be lucky to be in the top 20 in the 90′s.

The only champion who would be competitive with the best of the 90′s would be Wladimir Klitschko, but I don’t see Klitschko beating a prime Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield or Riddick Bowe.

Klitschko would have trouble with a prime Tyson despite the advantages in height and weight. Peter would be too slow to beat any of the top heavyweights of the 90′s. Nor does Peter have the skills to beat any of the top heavyweights of the 90′s.

It has been said that the best heavyweights are now playing middle linebacker in the NFL and the better heavyweights are now coming from Europe. There are certain truths but here is another theory that is rarely mentioned.

Maybe the best American heavyweights are actually becoming mixed martial artists. A Kimbo Slice a generation ago would have become a heavyweight boxer but today, he become a mixed martial artist.

Boxing was one of the big sports when Holyfield began his career and young men were taught to defend themselves by learning how to box. Today, they go to karate dojo.

Many American fighters are becoming mixed martial artists and that is one place to find young heavyweights. When David Haye fought Enzo Maccarinelli, they fought before a big crowd.

Boxing in Europe draws very well and most European fighters can make a nice living staying in Europe. When Joe Calzaghe fights Hopkins, it will be his first fight in the United States. For most of his career, he fought before sold out stadiums so why come to the states when he may fight in front of half empty crowd in America?

Young heavyweight are finding that big crowds are now flocking to the Mixed Martial Artists. Another advantage of the Mixed Martial Arts is that it is more than punching and many college wrestlers find that they can continue to be competitive by learning the punching and striking and combining their floor skills with karate or boxing skills.

Amateur boxing no longer as big as it was when Holyfield fought and this has certainly reduced American Heavyweights. Many Russian fighters like Oleg Maskaev and Wladimir Klitschko has extensive amateur careers and this shows up in the ring where European fighters are now moving ahead of American fighters in most of the division beyond Middleweight.

Heavyweights have become bigger but not necessarily better as many recent heavyweights fights have shown. As Mixed Martial Arts becomes more popular, more athletes will move in that direction.

Boxing is competing with Mixed Martial Arts for fighters. In fact, if you want to know where some of better fighters going, just look at the Mixed Martial Arts.