Friday, July 04, 2008

A good big man...

It is a maxim of unarmed combat that even a very skilled smaller man is always at a disadvantage versus a skilled bigger man. In other words, size matters - a lot. This, by the way, is one of the reasons I've always advocated weapons as an "equalizer." I don't care how many martial arts classes a small woman or elderly person takes, they may never beat a large vicious male, or more than one attacker. A weapon changes that dynamic completely.

Back to the subject at hand, let's use the match-up of a good big man and a good little man here to illustrate the point. Watch Joe Frazier versus the big George Foreman. Some of you may not know this, but at one time George wasn't just a grill salesman on TV. Watch.

What do you take from this? I'll give you my impressions, and ask for yours in the comments below.

  1. George Foreman outweighed and outreached his opponent. Joe Frazier was 5'11" to George's 6'3", but their disparity in weight and reach was certainly greater, with Foreman probably weighing close to 225, and Frazier no more than 205 (he would be a very small heavyweight today).
  2. Frazier was the certainly a skilled "little man." He was the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world at the time, and had earned the belt by first winning a "tournament" of bouts to fill the vacated throne of Muhammad Ali (who was stripped of his belt by refusing induction into the military during the Vietnam conflict), and then legitimizing his reign by convincingly beating Ali in a 15-round decision. Prior to Ali and Foreman, Joe Frazier had defeated a who's who of top heavyweights of the day: Jerry Quarry, Jimmy Ellis, Oscar Bonavena, and Georges Chuvalo. He was 29-0, with 25 KOs, and was on top of the world. Was the big Foreman a match?
  3. Frazier was never in this fight. Foreman took a few glancing blows by Frazier early in round one, but from that point on, it was a systematic and inevitable destruction of the smaller man. After three knockdowns of Frazier in round one, Foreman finished the fight in the second round after the Joe Frazier's sixth trip to the canvas.
  4. I am glad that there is a three knockdown rule today, as it spares fighters undue punishment and reduces the likelihood, in my opinion, of permanent brain damage due to concussion. Frazier and the fighters of his day had no such protections.
  5. Frazier was like meat served on a platter for Foreman. To fight a larger man, one should use angles of attack, and stay inside (closer). Foreman witnessed a small man who attacked straight ahead with indirect attacks (hooks), and couldn't stay inside because he was able to parry him aside or push him back to keep him at his ideal range. A smaller fighter needs to be behind or beside a larger fighter and force him to have to turn to bring his weapons to bear.
  6. As mentioned in the previous point, closing the gap should be done with a proper lead, or any weapon that forces a defense, thereby creating an opening.
  7. While Frazier's punching power was tremendous, it relied on the accuracy of his only real weapon, the left hook. He couldn't get close enough to George Foreman to land it. On the other hand, Foreman's power was based on his weight and uncanny strength. Any part of the body that Foreman hit was a good target - it hurt! He did a good job of mixing body shots with straight punches, then almost literally took Joe Frazier off his feet, seemingly without effort.

While this was a fight that, stylistically, George Foreman would win 99 times out of 100, it's worth studying to develop your own tactics.

For more information:

TDA What is an effective lead?
TDA The Three Cs of Sparring: Offense and Defense - repost

3 comments:

markstraining.com said...

Some good observations and comments about the fight Nathan. I think the bigger man will not always win though. If kicks or low blows to the groin was allowed in this fight,maybe there would have been a different account. Being just a punching sport however, frazier was very limited. Strategy is always needed and working on your oppponents weak areas goes a long way as Ali proved against the big man. These types of posts are realy good Nathan, keep them up.

Bob Patterson said...

This, by the way, is one of the reasons I've always advocated weapons as an "equalizer." I don't care how many martial arts classes a small woman or elderly person takes, they may never beat a large vicious male, or more than one attacker. A weapon changes that dynamic completely.

Or even small guy! Based on the yard fights I saw in the prison, *most* of the time the bigger thugs would win. However, there's that 20% who were natural fighters or had some skill who were also much smaller yet the big guys feared them.

The other thing your post hints at is someone who was a good fighter, but now has aged. In their head they may think they can do what they did at 22 and may not realize they cannot anymore.

This past year I realized this and it's a really good lesson because it forced me to change my strategies.

BBat50 said...

I really appreciate the analysis of the fights coupled with general thoughts. But with so much territory covered, there are questions. For instance:

With the correct strategy (angles and attacking), would Frazier have stood a real chance against the bigger Foreman?