By Alan Hubbard
You’ve heard of Fantasy Football – so how about playing the Fantasy Fight Game to help lift the gloom and while away those tedious hours of lockdown? It is easy, a lot of fun and all in the mind – just as I suggested here last week had the two Titanic Tysons, Iron Mike and the Gypsy Giant, actually met in combat when at their peak.
All you have to do is use your imagination as there are scores of fascinating make-believe match-ups to ponder over and play out in your head.
The idea certainly caught the imagination of friends and fans, many of whom disagreed with my supposition that Mike Tyson would have eventually stopped the big man from Manchester, whom he was named after, first time round after coming from behind, but that Fury would win the return.
That’s what it’s all about of course – argument and debate. It is the lifeblood of boxing, which is so rich in the nostalgia, more so than any other sport.
Some say that the advantage would always be with the modern protagonist because of the advances in training, diet and sports psychology. I disagree. There are many instances when the old timers would have been superior on sheer ability alone. You need look no further than Muhammad Ali.
One example in football is Sir Alf Ramsey’s World Cup winners of 1966. I would back them to beat any team selected by subsequent managers up to and including the present day. Would you?
But back to boxing. Other Intriguing pairings that have been put to me includes Ali versus either of the Tysons. No disrespect to them both but there is no doubt in my mind that there would be only one winner, and you can guess who that is.
Regular readers of this column will know that I am a committed Ali-phile. I believe that Ali at his peak, whose career I have followed since the first whupped Sonny Liston, would have bettered any heavyweight who ever lived. The proviso is that it would be the Ali who dismantled both Zora Folley and Cleveland Williams in 1967 before being forced into exile, aged 27.
That superb Ali, I am sure, would’ve been too good for either Tyson. But the one who would’ve given him the harder fight undoubtedly is Fury.
Why? The Greatest would have seen much of himself style and personality-wise in the current WBC champion and it would have taken quite a few rounds to work him out. It would have seemed to him like he was shadow boxing. Then Ali’s blistering hand speed and cutting edge punches – like those which disposed of both Liston and George Foreman, would have caught up with a brave but embattled Fury in the championship rounds. But it would’ve been a great fight, one of the most memorable contests in heavyweight history – or so I think.
As for Iron Mike, although Ali was not usually at his best against smaller men, I think Tyson was made for him. The main reason is that fearsome as he was, Mike was so easy to psyche and Ali would rile him mercilessly, taunting and teasing. It. would not be long before a thin-skinmned Tyson lost his rag, as he did against Evander Holyfield. An enraged, unsettled opponent was meat and drink to Ali. He would pick him off and bamboozle him with those slicing jabs, making him blink and become wild in every sense. If he wasn’t disqualified again like he was against Holyfield for munching on an ear lobe, he would be stopped by the tenth with an arms-aloft Ali doing his soft-shoe shuffle in triumph.
At least, that’s my view.
I have often wondered what the outcome would be had the Klitschko brothers fallen out and agreed to fight each other. My guess is that big Vitali would ko his younger and more vulnerable sibling Wladimir quite early on.
Among other dream fights suggested to me are Lennox Lewis v George Foreman; Nigel Benn v Alan Minter; Floyd Mayweather jnr v Ken Buchanan; Manny Pacquiao v Roberto Duran; Lloyd Honeyghan v Ricky Hatton, and Sugar Ray Leonard against either of those battling Brits.
No limit to these ‘if only’ match ups and the one that is currently occupying my own mind before I drop off on these long nights would have had every fans’ brains buzzing.
The prodigious punch-up I wish I could’ve witnessed would be that between present-day hero Daniel ‘Dynamite’” Dubois and the nation’s everlasting fistic treasure, Frank Bruno. What a beefcake battle of the biceps that would be.
It is a collision of might and muscle I know Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren would love to have staged. “The perfect match” he says. “Both have great jabs and are tremendous punchers. I wouldn’t like to pick a winner.”
Nor me,. But for the sake of argument I will go with young Dubois, though not with great conviction. It really would be a case of last man standing and I edge towards Dynamite Dan, even though, at the moment, his whiskers haven’t really been tested, because he seems the more durable of the two.
Bruno would have experience on his side but he could be caught cold.
By Tyson (twice) of course, Lennox Lewis, Tim Witherspoon and James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith.
And remember the huge punch that Floyd ‘Jumbo’ Cummings landed on him at the end of the first round in Franks 19th fight. Had the bell not sounded he might have been out on his feet, possibly bringing down down the curtain on his career as a future world champion.
Bruno had a record of 38 ko’s or stoppages in 45 contests and unbeaten Dubois so far has clobbered 13 out of 14. Something would have to give.
The prospect of Britain’s two best bangers squaring up against each other and letting rip with those jarring jabs and booming right-handers makes the mouth water.
Fans can draw their own conclusions as to what the eventual outcome might have been while we wait for boxing’s come back to the arenas, small halls and TV screens.
How long will that be, who knows, but if we all follow the rules it will be sooner rather than later, and hopefully we can look forward to watching Dubois and Joe Joyce flex their mighty fists on the Queensberry blockbuster bill now scheduled for July 11.
Meantime, sit back and imagine those fights you wish you could savour. If only…
It will certainly help pass the time and keep the brainbox ticking over. So stay indoors, keep safe, and perchance to dream…
(If you have suggestions for great fights that might have been please email me:firstname.lastname@example.org)