Do Not Question the Power of Earnie Shavers.

M y brother sent me a link to a particularly sad blogpost from a blog that is dedicated to heavyweight boxing. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t give the time of day to 90% of anyone else’s opinions on boxing unless there was some good reason. Reasons like, they are somehow involved in boxing, or study it beyond watching a few Tyson fights and buying pay-per-view now and again. Even then I have to keep on my toes, because I’ve seen some of the best get swept up by their fantasies and start thinking that what they want to happen is what will actually happen. For example, the majority of ESPN writers actually had Pacquiao beating Mayweather. Frankly, it was kind of embarrassing. In the interest of assisting those who are new to the sport, there are a few people out there whose opinions are generally worth listening to:

1. Jim Lampley – HBO commentator for I don’t know how many years. You know the voice of that guy who you associate with basically every fight you’ve ever seen on HBO? That’s him, unless you’re thinking of the voice that sounds like a sad, broken pensioner pathetically asking for a second helping of lunch loaf at the rest home for terminally forgotten family members. That’s Larry Merchant. For the love of god, don’t listen to anything he says, and if he give a prediction about who he thinks is going to win a fight, take 99% of everything in your bank account, pull a second and third mortgage out on your house, go to the bookie, and hopefully you’ve figured out where I’m going with this.

2. Roy Jones Jr. – His commentary is always excellent, and he knows what’s going on in that ring. Don’t listen to a word George Foreman ever says though. He can sell grills, but when you give him a headset and put him ringside it’s like listening to your father describing the advantages and disadvantages of various fishing flies. And you also hate fly fishing. And it’s cutting into your game of Assassin’s Creed you had to pause when he called you over, and he keeps talking and saying things like “let me just show you one more thing” every time you try to get out of there.

3. Bernard Hopkins – He’s a fantastic boxer, a master scholar of the game, and is the oldest fighter ever to win a major title belt. He also whooped Roy Jones Jr.’s ass in a rematch a few years back, but poor Roy was shot and didn’t know when to quit. He’s still fighting…

4. Paulie Malignaggi – Malignaggi is very good boxer who didn’t quite have the skills to compete against the tip top elite of the division. He’s an excellent personality, fun to listen to owing to his gregarious New Jersey accent, and generally knows what he’s talking about. My favorite quote was after the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight: “yeah, you random drug test the guy (Pacquiao) and all of a sudden he can’t keep up.”

Yep. pretty much.

5. Roger Mayweather – I’m not actually serious about this in terms of commentary, but you need to get on Youtube and listen to everything he’s ever said because it’s hilarious. I don’t even know why sometimes, but the best way I could describe it is that he’s a man who gets the absolute most disdain and contempt for everyone else in the business for the least amount of facial movement, and when he talks it’s like listening to a 90-year-old obese house cat begrudgingly summon the energy to lean back and hurl a slur at anyone who walks by it just for the sake of keeping the general tone of the household spiteful.

6. Max Kellerman – He’s not tippy top, but he’s definitely proven that he’s teachable and has come a long way over the last few years. He used to try to make his mark by tossing in horrible metaphors a la Larry Merchant, but I think he’s finally figured out that he sounds like a douche and has made the necessary adjustments. Personally I’m not always the biggest fan of his delivery, but he really does know what he’s talking about.

7. Dan Rafael – Dan is the primary boxing corespondent for ESPN, and he really knows his stuff. He’s not pretentious, enthusiastic, and extremely well schooled on the back of probably 25 years of experience. Be very careful elsewhere on HBO, because they often subscribe to the “hair and flair” philosophy of televised sports commentary, but good things can be found. Kieran Mulvaney is also excellent, and his thick Irish accent lends an air of authenticity somehow. I particularly respect his opinion because when he started he knew nothing about boxing, and as a result he has spent what must have been an absolutely absurd amount of time ensuring he knew his crap before putting pen to paper.

8. Me – yeah, I said it. Read my blog, dammit. I do want to make the point very emphatically that at no time do I ever intend to disparage or speak with condescension to people who are interested in boxing but are still learning about the sport. Boxing is my passion, so obviously I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time sucking up everything I can get my hands on. My goal with these posts is to assist anyone who wants to get to know the sport better by providing some information and thoughts that I had to learn myself the hard way. Boxing is a fantastic sport, but unlike football or baseball, it’s not always easy to get something out of it if you don’t have a bit of background and knowledge of the ins and outs of what’s going on in the ring between knockdowns.

In short, I don’t know everything, but if you have any questions or want a piece about a particular fight or fighter, I’m happy to see what I can come up with. Also, read a lot of other stuff by guys like Bert Sugar and the guys I mentioned above, and then read who they say they read and watch a bunch of fights. I’m probably off base now and again too, and besides, not everyone favors the kinds of fighters and styles I happen to favor. History is probably the most important part though, and do spend time watching old fights. I’m talking black and whites going all the way back to the turn of the century. If you want to know how often those guys come up in boxing conversations, watch the barbershop scenes from Coming to America. It’s not far off.

The only people who are going to get themselves in trouble with me are people who start making bold statements that are so patently idiotic that they are wholly deserving of public disgrace. I am largely referring to the kind of individual that flagrantly comments on ESPN all the time. That is a sure-fire way to to identify someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about.

…which brings us back to the Earnie Shavers/Klitschko issue as expressed by El Capiturd.

It is never an unworthy effort to consider one’s first principles, especially when most people are only familiar with the current stars. The point made by the particular pundit in question, although badly written in general, is that Earnie Shavers is a powder puff hitter, and Wladimir Klitschko – the current heavyweight turd who has floated to the top of the open sewer that is heavyweight boxing – is far, far more powerful and dangerous as a puncher. If this strikes you a bit like the Evolution vs. Creationism debate, you’re not wrong. There’s a reason one of those does not deserve equal time in the classroom, but I suppose the conversation must be had now and again to ensure that people remember that the entire history of boxing has not occurred within the last five years.


I will provide a link to the page as it’s the focal point of the discussion, but I’m doing so with incredible reticence because I do NOT want to give this guy any kind of publicity or credibility. I mean it. It only takes one piece like this to tell you exactly which direction to run from their opinions: (For the record, I will be summarizing the major points in later posts, and you will be able to get a somewhat vague but coherent sense of what’s in here.)


For those of you scratching your heads wondering who Wladimir Klitschko is, I will give you a brief summary:

1. He is the current undisputed heavyweight champion of the world – see: “cesspool” in Webster’s

2. He is 6’6”, and far larger than most other heavyweights today – this is because our best heavyweights are all currently under contract as linebackers for the NFL.

3. He’s on one of the longest reigning heavyweight champions of all time – see: “cesspool” in Webster’s

4. He’s current dating, and has fathered a child with, Hayden Panettiere – I give him full credit for this. Full credit.

Because of his streak of title defenses, and the fact that he and his brother Vitali dominated the heavyweight division for some time so Klitschko is a relatively household name, there has been some rumbling lately to the effect of “well, Wladimir is setting records and crushing everyone, so maybe he’s actually something great.”

This is nonsense. If Rocky Marciano was a rose amongst thorns, then Klitschko is a goathead amongst, well, I guess maybe some pile of dead weeds the gardener pulled out by the root three days ago and have been baking in the sun like World War I corpses after Verdun or something.

Seriously. The heavyweight division is really, really bad. Like, really bad. About a month ago my 23 lb. Brittany Spaniel was put on notice by three major sanctioning bodies that she is now the number one contender for Klitschko’s titles, and she’s trying to cut weight to get out of there.

What will follow this post is a categorical refutation of the idea that Shavers is not the hardest hitting heavyweight of all time, and especially not compared to Klitschko.



Ben Tomkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colorado. He hates stupidity and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of an issue. Reach Ben Tomkins at

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