Home Columns Heavyweight March Madness – The Sweet Sixteen

Heavyweight March Madness – The Sweet Sixteen

The results of the Sweet 16 of our Fantasy Heavyweight Madness Tournament are in.  The first round had several interesting matchups and some surprise outcomes.  The winners advance to round two, the Elite Eight of our March Madness for heavyweights. Take a look at how these matches played out and which fighters advanced.

heavyweight madness bracket elite 8

1. Ali vs. 16. Jeffries

The Tournament Committee gave us a gift in this coupling.  This is a rematch of the infamous 1967 computer simulation bout created by Murray Woroner. In that simulation, Jeffries beat Ali which enraged Ali to the point where Ali actually sued Worner for defamation of character.

In our simulation, the outcome is a bit different. Jeffries is probably an underrated Heavyweight. He has great power and a great chin. His overall boxing skills were a bit cruder than Ali’s but his chin, power and endurance are legendary. The fight begins:

The first few rounds are uneventful. Ali dancing and Jeffries crouching without many meaningful exchanges. As the middle rounds wear on, Ali continues to land from distance and Jeffries has trouble landing anything with power on the elusive Ali. In the late rounds, Ali continues to rack up points with stinging combinations and Jeffries is unable to get Ali into any trouble at any point in the fight. Ali cruises to the final bell. The fight goes to the judges’ scorecards.

Ali by Unanimous Decision

8. Liston vs. 9. Frazier

On paper, this one is about as even as you can get.  Liston is a bit longer but Frazier has the edge in speed. Both men have legendary power and a killer instinct. No telling who will have their hand raised in this one. The fight begins:

Right from the opening bell, Frazier is on the attack, ripping shots to the body of Liston, crowding and frustrating him. Frazier is winning exchanges on the inside and Liston has not yet been able to establish his jab. In the middle rounds, Frazier slows a bit; allowing Liston to land a few solid lefts but for the most part, Frazier keeps close and continues to work the body and head of Liston.

In the 9th, Frazier’s body work is showing its toll on Liston and he looks weary and is clutching and grabbing now, more than punching.  Frazier continues to come forward and finally drops Liston to the seat of his pants with a signature left hook in the 11th. Liston answers the count at 8 but Frazier jumps on him and finishes him off moments later.

Frazier By 11th Round TKO

5. Marciano vs. 12.Charles

Charles is considered the slicker boxer, Marciano the better brawler. This would be the 3rd time these two have met, with Marciano the victor in the previous 2 bouts. Will Charles finally break through?  The fight begins:

As expected Marciano rushes and pressures Charles right from the opening bell. Charles wisely moves side to side, throwing the occasional left jab to keep The Rock off of him in the first couple of rounds. By round 3, Marciano is cutting the ring off much better and forcing Charles to trade a bit more.  Marciano is clutching and grabbing and clubbing as we reach round 5.

Charles is still bouncing, though markedly less now and still throwing his jab and left hook but Rocky is walking right through them. By round 6, Charles looks spent and is willing to clinch more now, to try and slow down the charging and menacing Marciano. In round 7, Charles is knocked down by a crushing blow just below his ear. He is on his knees and pawing at the ropes but is unable to answer the count.

Marciano by 7th round KO

4. Dempsey vs. 13. Lewis

The Manassa Mauler will bring his crouching yet adaptable attack and constant head movement in versus the much larger Lewis. The classic style of an all-time great versus a modernly skilled giant. The fight begins:

Right out of the gate Dempsey is on Lewis. The size difference is remarkable as Dempsey is giving up about 50lbs and 5 inches. Despite that, Dempsey is the aggressor in the first 2 rounds, constantly springing his attack from his crouched position and getting Lewis backed up on the ropes. In round three, Dempsey stuns Lewis with a big overhand right which flashes Lewis onto the canvas, but he pops right back up.

The referee administers an eight count and Dempsey rushes back in for the attack. Lewis collects himself from the flash knockdown and begins to catch Dempsey on the way in with a stiff left jab, during the middle rounds. Lewis begins to absorb Dempsey’s punches with his back to the ropes and starts to land his stellar uppercut with greater frequency. Lewis’ girth and uppercuts have worn Dempsey down by the late rounds which allows Lewis more space to manage the fighting space a bit better and now he is ripping his left jab on a regular basis.

Dempsey’s bobbing and weaving has given way to more clutching and holding. Despite the early knockdown, Lewis is the much fresher and poised man in the final rounds.  The fight goes to the judges:

Lewis by Majority Decision

2. Joe Louis vs. 15. Jersey Joe Walcott

This would be the 3rd meeting of “The Brown Bomber” and Jersey Joe.  Both of the first two meetings were won by Louis. The first was a closely contested split decision and the second won by Louis in a late knockout, after a fairly even contest otherwise. We’ll see if the 3rd time is a charm for Walcott. The fight begins:

As expected, Walcott comes out with great movement and a useful jab.  Louis pursues but is unable to wrangle the dancing Walcott.  Several rounds go by with a similar scenario. Walcott is working off the jab and Louis is patiently choosing his attacks.  By the 7th round, Walcott is ahead on points scoring with the jab and right hand while Louis hasn’t mounted much of an offensive.

In round 8, Louis catches Walcott with a good combination that hurts Jersey Joe. After sensing he hurt Walcott, Louis now presses more and begins landing solidly. In the 9th round Louis continues to press and Walcott’s pride seems to take over, as it did in their 2nd fight and he begins to trade.  This time however, Walcott’s right hand lands flush to “The Bombers” jaw and Louis drops. He answers the count and the bell shortly thereafter, ends the round.

The 10th round sees Walcott pressing and Louis appears to have shaken off the effects of the knockdown. In round 11, Walcott is still pressing and Louis looks fresher now. Walcott has completely abandoned his game plan and is now wearily trading. Louis gets the better of an exchange in the center of the ring and Walcott goes down. He is up at the count of 6 but is crumpled again moments later as Louis goes in to seal the deal.

Louis by 11th Round TKO

7. George Foreman vs. 10. Gene Tunney

A significant contrast of styles and size here.  Tunney will need all of his legendary ring savvy to survive Big George’s thudding power. The fight begins:

The first 3 rounds consist of Tunney wheeling about the ring as Foreman stalks and at times, swings wildly at his smaller foe. Neither man has landed much of note. A tough one to score through 3. The middle rounds see Tunney masterfully working the ring and avoiding Foreman’s attempts to cut the ring off.  George’s jab has not been effective and Gene is starting to score on a more consistent basis.

The later rounds are more of the same as Tunney continues his well calculated assault and George is unable to put anything of meaning on him. Foreman’s face is now swollen and he is looking gassed. Tunney finishes the fight strong, scoring numerous combinations as Foreman’s arms are heavy and his jab remains non-existent. The fight goes to the scorecards:

Tunney by Unanimous Decision.

3. Jack Johnson vs. 14.Mike Tyson

A young and aggressive “Iron Mike”  will have the advantage in weight and hand speed while the legend Johnson could give Tyson fits with his ring savvy and defense.  An interesting contrast of styles. The fight begins:

The first round is frenzied. Tyson is attacking and Johnson is slipping and blocking. Most of Tyson’s blows are landing on the gloves and arms of Johnson.  Round two is more of the same. Tyson is much more the aggressor but Johnson is starting to counter effectively. Round 3 starts like the others but at about the midway point, Tyson catches Johnson with a wild right hook that buckles Johnson’s knees.

Tyson smells blood and attacks. Johnson is clutching and grabbing while Mike hammers away. Johnson survives the round and a sense of frustration is becoming evident in Tyson’s corner. 4th round commences and seemingly stabilized Johnson sets the pace as it appears Mike is taking a breather.  But then, at the 2 minute mark, Tyson lands a bomb to Johnson’s head and the lighter man drops in a heap. Jackson is up at 6 but stumbles about trying to clutch as Tyson savagely attacks. At 2:40 of the round the referee step in and stops it, covering a stunned Johnson.

Tyson by 4th Round TKO

6.Larry Holmes vs. 11. Evander Holyfield

This is a bit more leveled rematch of their first meeting in 1992 when Holmes was at a beyond-prime 42 years old. The fight begins:

The early rounds are uneventful. Holmes is using his trademark jab and staying cautiously at distance. As the fight wears on towards the middle rounds, it is becoming evident that Holmes’ jab and defense is set up effectively versus an active Holyfield as most of what Holyfield is throwing is landing on Holmes shoulders, arms and gloves. We reach rounds 8,9,10 and neither man has been in trouble.

Holyfield has been busier but appears to be slowing as he is hanging and grabbing more frequently now. It is not clear, at this point, who is leading on the judges’ scorecards. In the final few rounds, Holmes has picked up the pace and has ripped Holyfield with a few vicious uppercuts. Holyfield is able to corner Holmes for brief moments and does some effective body work in those stanzas but his activity level has dropped way off.

In the final round, Holyfield is still pushing Holmes to the ropes but isn’t working inside once there, as fatigue and repeated jabs and uppercuts from the Easton Assassin are taking their toll. Holyfield pushes Holmes to the ropes and chases him around the ring but just doesn’t have enough left in the tank to do anything meaningful and winds up eating a few more uppercuts before the final bell rings. The fight goes to the judges.

Holmes by Unanimous decision.

Here is what the Elite 8 looks like:

  • Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier
  • Rocky Marciano vs. Lennox Lewis
  • Joe Louis vs. Gene Tunney
  • Mike Tyson vs. Larry Holmes