by Fox Doucette
Once upon a midnight dreary (and holy hell, was I ever weak and weary as I wrote those forgotten pieces of heavyweight boxing lore), this site played host to a ginormous World Cup-style heavyweight tournament that culminated in Joe Louis defeating Ezzard Charles for the distinction of the greatest of all time, in a fight that, truth be told, your intrepid columnist never topped before or since as a writer.
This was made possible because Charles defeated Muhammad Ali in the semifinal of that tournament. But what if Ali won? Hell, what if the version of Ali that fought wasn’t the raw talent from 1965 but the older, wiser, craftier Ali from the Rumble in the Jungle? The Temporal Commission, which doesn’t have a broader narrative to consider, can go get Ali from any time they like, and this time they’ve chosen 1974.
Louis, of course, comes in from the greatest knockout in all of boxing history, greater even than Mike Tyson’s win over Michael Spinks, June 22, 1938, over Max Schmeling in their rematch.
But that’s the main event. The co-feature? It’s a doozy. Marvelous Marvin Hagler, late in a stretch where he was one of the most dominant middleweights of all time, takes on Carlos Monzon, who some say timed his retirement so he wouldn’t have to face the rising star from Brockton, Massachusetts, who might very well have destroyed him.
Then again, Monzon’s also regarded by plenty of folks as the greatest 160-pound fighter who ever lived. Comments sections predicting this fight all seem to think it’d be Monzon by a hard-fought decision, but you all know your columnist doesn’t set stock by rabble on the Internet, so…
From the Historical Fight Night Arena Presented By You, If You Donate On Patreon, in San Dimas, California, these fights are scheduled for 12 rounds using the Unified Rules of the Association of Boxing Commissions. Scoring is on the 10-point must system, there is no three knockdown rule, no standing eight count, only the referee can stop the fight, and a fighter cannot be saved by the bell in any round including the twelfth and final round.
Now, for the thousands in attendance and the millions watching from around the world…
Let’s Make History.
Marvelous Marvin Hagler (5/27/1983, 57-2-2, 48 KOs) vs. Carlos Monzon (5/8/1971, 72-3-9, 58 KOs)
We grab Hagler from his win over Wilford Scypion, and he’s had a stop off at the Place Outside of Time (it’s in the late 27th century, home of the Temporal Commission and excellent waterslides, and it’s where the advanced medical types fix up our fighters before sending them back to their own time, in case you wondered why the battered and broken fighters were able to resume their careers) to fix his knee.
Monzon comes in from his slaughter of Nino Benvenuti in their second contest, because Argentine fighters don’t often have fights with commentary in English, and Howard Cosell called that fight, making for more trenchant analysis. It also comes with the interesting twist of Benvenuti’s corner throwing in the towel and Nino, on his feet and having recovered from a knockdown, kicking the towel out of the ring as the referee stepped in to keep the fighter from turning on his own corner.
But never mind that. We’ve got a fight to do here.
And what a fight from the outset…if you like tactical combat, with Monzon trying to control range and keep Hagler at the end of his jab, and Marvelous coming out orthodox rather than his usual southpaw in an effort to get more leverage out of the right hand than he’d get trying to throw it as a lead. Monzon enjoys a two-inch height advantage here, and Hagler’s intent was clearly to try to get Carlos to give up his height.
It was a feeling-out process. So was the second round. Monzon landed the bulk of the jabs; Hagler landed the harder shots, but he was kept tethered to the end of Monzon’s left arm for most of it.
Hagler landed the first big bomb of the fight, a crunching right hook when he went back to southpaw to try to lead over the top of Monzon’s jab. As the Argentine staggered back, Hagler pursued him into the corner, laying on the punishment, throwing hooks to the head and straight lefts to the body, enjoying quite a bit of success in rattling the man who had 80 fights without a defeat after starting out 17-3.
It’s interesting to note that Monzon was down three times in his 14th pro fight, but he didn’t hit the canvas again until the very last bout of his career. Hagler might’ve staggered Monzon, but knocking him out would take something very special.
Of course, when Monzon landed a crushing straight right hand, the punch that is so often known as the “southpaw killer” when orthodox fighters throw it, a punch that by all rights should have deposited Hagler on his ass, Marvelous merely shrugged it off like he’d been slapped with a dueling glove rather than punched with a boxing glove.
Hagler was down only once in his career, and that “knockdown” is pretty well universally regarded as a slip that the referee loused up the call on.
So it was going to come down to tactics, and Monzon, knowing that he could do better for himself landing those hard shots without subsequently exposing himself to retaliation in an ill-advised effort to go in for the kill, set himself up once again to control the distance. It served him well for three rounds.
Hagler, with Goody Petronelli yelling at him to put his punches together and to work inside behind the jab, worked inside behind the jab and put his punches together. He went orthodox to jab, backed Monzon up (and, in truth, pushed him enough that one wonders why referee Mills Lane didn’t do more to stop it), and when he got to the ropes, he went back to southpaw to dig the left in to the body with a bit more of a windup. Monzon wasn’t ready for the ferocity of the attack, and for three rounds, the timbre of the fight swung yet again, sticking points back in the column of the American over the Argentine.
The championship rounds commenced with the same back-and-forth, and with Monzon mixing in the right hand to try and keep Hagler from timing his jab. The remaining two rounds were a matter of opinion, some judges perhaps preferring the movement and harder punching of Hagler when he was successful working his way in; others preferring the apparent control of range and pace that Monzon brought to the fight.
When it was all over, and it went to the cards, judge Dave Moretti had it 114-114, a draw. Judges Harold Lederman and Steve Weisfeld scored the bout 115-113, for your winner, by majority decision…
RESULT: MONZON W-MD12 HAGLER.
Muhammad Ali (10/30/1974, 45-2, 32 KOs) vs. Joe Louis (6/22/1938, 36-1, 30 KOs)
When you bring a fighter in off the most devastating knockout in boxing history, and you put him up against the greatest strategic execution in an eight-round fight that the world has ever seen, well, that’s irresistible force and immovable object waiting to happen.
Would Ali’s tactical brilliance stop a man who might very well have been unbeatable on a day in history where no fighter who ever lived could stop him? There’s only one way to find out.
Tactical brilliance was exactly the fight plan Angelo Dundee and Ali himself put together for this fight. Ali knew Joe Louis was going to be treating this fight like a chance to make his case as the greatest of all time in front of a crowd so far out of his time, where only the most grizzled old souls in attendance were even alive during Joe’s heyday; after all, someone born on the day Louis stepped into that time machine is 77 years old today in the winter of 2016.
Ali went to the ropes, and he had one advantage in this fight that he didn’t have against Foreman; Ali is the naturally bigger man, enjoying an inch in height, two inches in reach, and 25 pounds in weight.
For Joe Louis, that became apparent from the very beginning; Schmeling was five pounds lighter than Joe, after all. Ali wasn’t going down easy, and as soon as Louis could finish with a flurry, Ali countered and made a punching bag of Joe’s face.
This would be no first-round knockout. Ali won the round easily.
Ali continued to score off the counter, with Louis attacking, landing a few, but always getting the worst of it when the punches came back at him.
It may be the Historical Fight Night Arena in San Dimas and not the Stade du 20 Mai in Kinshasa, but the crowd, knowing what they were seeing and with a keen sense of the history of the sport, took up the chant:
“Ali, bomaye! Ali, bomaye!”
Louis got angry. He stepped up the attack. He threw punches with worse intentions. Ali invited him in, trash talked him, taunted him, called him a gorilla, the whole nine yards.
Louis began to see the inferiority of power over speed when caught in a tactical fight, but he was committed. Much as he had in the first fight with Schmeling, Louis found himself outboxed, and what’s more, he wasn’t going to wait until the late rounds to go for the big shot that would turn the fight and overcome the superior command of the ring that Ali displayed.
Louis expended a tremendous amount of energy over the next three rounds, but as the fight reached the halfway mark, all it managed to do was get Joe Louis to punch himself out.
Ali repeated a taunt from so many years ago, with only the name changed: “That all you got, Joe?”
A heavyweight tournament may have made the claim that Joe Louis was the greatest of all time, but Ali, personally slighted by such talk, showed everybody in attendance that the term became his nickname for damn good reason. A jab, a right, another right, and a big looping left later, and Louis was on the ground, Steve Smoger got to the count of ten, and this one was over.
RESULT: ALI KO7 LOUIS.
We’ve moved to Saturday for fight night, something for your weekend, and next week’s Saturday night special brings you Emile Griffith, at 154 pounds, taking on Saul Alvarez in an old-vs-new main event.
The co-feature? We’ve got featherweights. Specifically, we’ve got Marco Antonio Barrera and Salvador Sanchez. Barrera’s 1-1 on this show, with a win over Diego Corrales and a loss to Juan Manuel Lopez; Sanchez has a win over Manny Pacquiao and a loss to Edwin Valero on his Historical Fight Night record.
Someone gets to claim a winning record. We’ll see who it is next Saturday night!
As always, thank you for reading, and thanks for supporting Historical Fight Night.