Fantasy Boxing Matchups: John L. Sullivan vs Joe Frazier
John L. Sullivan vs Joe Frazier- Who Would Win?
Since the beginning of human existence, we have engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Fighting is a universal language all cultures and nationalities understand. Boxing, in particular, has been an Olympic sport since 688 BC when it was performed in ancient Greece. About 300-500 years ago boxing evolved from its origins into prizefighting. After the creation of the London Prize Ring Rules, the sport evolved into the more popularly known Queensbury Rules system. Throughout the sport’s history, there have been a plethora of greats in every decade of the sport’s existence.
A prevailing question throughout time has been, “Can fighter ‘X’ beat fighter ‘Y’ in each of their primes?” This is the ninth entry in the series. In this entry of fantasy boxing, we will see one of the original heavyweight king, John L. Sullivan, battle Olympic gold medalist and world champion, “Smokin” Joe Frazier. If you missed previous entries, you can click them below to see what you have missed so far.
First Entry in Series: Mike Tyson vs Deontay Wilder
Second Entry in Series: Ezzard Charles vs Roy Jones Jr
Third Entry in Series: Roberto Duran vs Vasyl Lomachenko
Fourth Entry in Series: Henry Armstrong vs Manny Pacquiao
Fifth Entry in Series: Jack Johnson vs Tyson Fury
Sixth Entry in Series: Marvin Hagler vs Canelo Alvarez
Seventh Entry in Series: Sugar Ray Robinson vs Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Eighth Entry in Series: Felix Trinidad vs Terence Crawford
Ninth Entry in Series: Jimmy Wilde vs Roman Gonzalez
John L. Sullivan (early 1880’s to early 1890’s) vs Joe Frazier (late 1960’s to mid 1970’s)
John L. Sullivan-Brief Glance
Born in 1858 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, actually played semi-pro baseball before taking on his first professional boxing match in 1879. Many dispute the timeline of the creation of the “world” championship. Many boxing historians and people of that time will dispute when the creation of the “world” championship was created. Due to the sentiment of Americans and Irish-Americans towards the British, especially boxers like Jem Mace, led to many going with the presentation of belt given to Sullivan in Boston on August 08, 1887, as the first presentation of the world championship. Regardless, Sullivan was known as the local tough guy who would take on any man in the bar or on the fairgrounds.
List of Accolades
Whether it was with the gloves on or bare-knuckle, Sullivan is considered by many as the first “world” heavyweight champion. It is claimed Sullivan had over 450 fights over his career. Sullivan is also considered the last bare-knuckle champion. In a battle under the London Prize Ring Rules in Mississippi, Sullivan showed his power and stamina going 75 rounds with Jake Kilrain, who was unable to answer the bell for the 76th round to meet Sullivan at the scratch. In the very early era of American boxing, accolades were not a thought. For much of Sullivan’s boxing career, there was not even a champion. Sullivan’s accolades come in the form of bringing boxing to the forefront of sports journalists and putting his name in the limelight alongside the world’s biggest superstars. Sullivan showed the world boxers can become cultural icons.
Sullivan’s X-Factors to Victory
Sullivan is a bruising, in-your-face, style fighter who could go quite a distance in the stamina department. His last three bouts were a total of 135 rounds. The last victory of his career was a 75-round battle with Kilrain which was nearly 2 hours and 18 minutes of action. The most a boxing match can go this era is 36 minutes. Standing at 5ft10 in his era made him a true heavyweight, unlike future generations of fighters. Lucky for Sullivan, Joe Frazier is not much taller at 5ft11. Sullivan often used the “one-two” along with feints and a heavy right hand known as the “Boston Special.”
Joe Frazier-Brief Glance
Joe Frazier was born on January 12, 1944, (nearly 86 years after Sullivan) in South Carolina. Frazier was a three-time Golden Gloves amateur champion along with winning the gold medal at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Frazier would turn pro the following year in 1965 and go 29-0 before suffering his first defeat. That came to the hands of the hall of farmer George Foreman. The Foreman loss was three bouts after Frazier’s famous victory over Muhammad Ali in their first of three matchups. In 1990, Frazier was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. “Smokin’ Joe” remains one of the most popular boxers ever in the sport’s history.
List of Accolades
If Frazier were still alive today, he would have quite the trophy case at home. In just his amateur career Frazier earned three Golden Gloves championships along with an Olympic gold medal. In the professional ranks, Frazier was the WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight champion of the world. He also holds a victory over a prime Ali, which is an accolade all in of its own.
Frazier’s X-Factors to Victory
Frazier’s movement, particularly his head movement, would be crucial in a matchup with Sullivan, who was known for being a bit of a head-hunter. His reach is only one inch shorter than Sullivan’s, which should aid in getting in close to lay on the pressure. His left hook could be the counter-strike to Sullivan’s “Boston Special.” Ali stated of Frazier, “The roughest and toughest fighter I fought was Joe Frazier.” Frazier would need every bit of that “rough and tough” stepping into the ring with a brawler like Sullivan.
Writer’s Opinion on this Fantasy Boxing Matchup
When the generational gap between fighters is so far as these two, it makes it really difficult to compare. There is no doubting at all the rugged toughness of Sullivan. But how much of what is documented is true and what may have Sullivan accomplished that is not documented? Based on what we know, it looks like Frazier would control the pace and keep the pressure on Sullivan long enough to win. Sullivan has a tough chin and can literally fight for hours so it will take a lot of what Frazier has in the tank, but this would be a fun, intriguing battle between two top-tier former heavyweight champions.
Who do you think would win this fantasy boxing match between John L. Sullivan and Joe Frazier?
I am a life-long MMA fan who has been a fan since UFC 1. I was born in Illinois but raised in South Louisiana, home of many great mixed martial artists. I started martial arts at the age of 4 and continued into my adult years where I served nearly 10 years in law enforcement. I feel my job is to convey the stories of the MMA fighters we enjoy to watch and share their stories with the world.
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