The Harder They Fall: Sunset's August Boxing Journal
By Sunset Thomas, Doghouse Boxing (July 24, 2009)  
I read in the Las Vegas Sun that they were conducting a poll to select the best boxer of all time from a host of different weight divisions. Of course, we’re all intoxicated with the heavyweights and that category had everyone from John L. Sullivan to Jack Johnson to Muhammad Ali…

Frankie Gambino ranted right off.

“For Gods sakes, who is alive that ever saw John L. Sullivan fight or even Jack Johnson for that matter? This friggin’ thing is rigged in favor of modern fighters. The only hope for old school is that young people don’t read newspapers and so maybe they’ll never even know about this deal!”

I guess it is in our nature to wonder whom would beat whom—maybe that’s why they recently pitted Shaq against the Golden Boy—circus type curiosity. Remember when Ali fought the Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki? I guess folks just want to know what might happen when things that aren’t meant to happen do—even if it’s just in a poll.

Frankie Gambino says no one, but no one, could beat Rocky Marciano and what he has in his favor is that the Brockton Bomber is the only unblemished heavyweight in history. The guy never lost.

I remind Frankie that frankly, Rocky never beat anyone of note (Frankie hates when I say that, and I need a taster when I eat his macaroni and gravy). Of course, that’s no fault of the Rock, it’s just the way the stars lined up in his era.

Hey, wasn’t it impossible to beat George Foreman. Weren’t a lot of anti-Ali (meaning anti-afro pride) people just salivating for the whopping the flag-bearing beast was gonna put on the Louisville Lip? Boy howdy, did that best laid plan go south!

And what of Mike Tyson? Japanese betters took it on the chin while Mike rolled around seeking his mouth piece (bizarrely the judges had Tyson leading up to that point—the only way he could have lost was by way of knock out, and by golly, that’s just what happened).

You just never know. But the thirst to want to know leads us into all kinds of silly situations.

It’s not just boxing of course, folks argue over who was the greatest hitter—Stan the Man, Hank Greenberg, Willie Mays, Jolting’ Joe—maybe even the Bambino…

What we all want to speculate on is who is the best at any sport. Frankie Gambino loves Joe Namath. He has friends from the boroughs who still rant about Broadway Joe. For others it’s Unitas or Elway or Montana—well, you get the point.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the best is a moment in time. Not to be confused with eternity, but a moment, a moment shared by all who witness or read or hear about the exploits.

You want to be a “Pound for Pound” prognosticator—fine—but let’s save memories and history and the debacle of a debate for the would-of/should-of/could-of types.

To me, or to Frankie Gambino, there is no answer—for you, it ought to be the same.

Respect for greatness is enough said. Of course, if you want to watch the “Greatest” reality show ever then log on to


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