After British heavyweight prospect Fabio Wardley took his record to 7-0 against German import Dennis Lewandowski at the Nottingham Arena, Twitter was awash with disparaging criticism for the rotund German who weighed in for the fight at 294lbs.
At 6ft 2In the 25-year-old Lewandowski appeared as round as he was tall and lacked the ability to be competitive with Wardley in any department. What was the point in the fight taking place at all was my first thought, well this is boxing, the hurt business and trainers want their prospects to get ring time in fights that allow them to relax, be confident and try out combinations and footwork that they have worked on in the gym. Lewandowski fitted the bill perfectly.
One important note to make is that Lewandowski now has 4 losses after 17 pro bouts, the first of those losses was to Tom Schwarz less than 3 years ago, this is the same Tom Schwarz who will face Lineal heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on June 15th.
With no upper weight limit, heavyweights can enter the ring with a little excess poundage without too much rebuke, in fact, in the 1980s one or two heavyweight world champions carried a bit of unnecessary weight throughout their careers. Former WBA champion's Tim Witherspoon and the aptly named Tony Tubbs never resembled the cut physic of a Holyfield, Klitschko or Joshua.
The most famous roly-poly heavyweight of them all must be "Two Ton" Tony Galento who challenged Joe Louis for the title at Yankee Stadium in 1939, lasting only 4 rounds but shocking the champion with a 3rd round knockdown before being battered to Tko defeat.
Stylistically, Galento was pretty awful, but he had thunder in his left hook and could take heavy punishment, his bar-room brawling approach was difficult for classically trained boxers, they just hadn't faced such an opponent in a boxing ring. Galento built the Louis fight up by famously stating "I'll moider da bum."
Anthony Joshua's June 1st opponent Andy Ruiz Jr has been under media scrutiny since he was announced as the challenger for Joshua's titles, most of that scrutiny based on Ruiz's blubbery physique even though the American of Mexican descent had been unlucky when losing a majority decision to Joseph Parker when challenging for the vacant WBO title in Parker's native New Zealand, judge Salven Lagumbay scoring 114-114.
Ruiz Jr is the replacement for Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller who failed 3 drug tests to lose his chance at Joshua's titles. Whilst not carrying the same amount of loose flesh as Ruiz Jr, the 300lb Miller was not exactly cut, so facing the 255lb Ruiz might have been a clever choice of replacement by Joshua's management.
Britain had its own roly-poly heavyweight title challenger in Don Cockell who faced Rocky Marciano for the title in San Francisco in 1955. The best part of Cockell's career was spent as a Light-heavyweight but wins over Roland LaStarza, Harry Mathews and Tommy Farr showed that he could mix it with the big boys. After a heroically brave showing, ending in 9th round Tko, Marciano said "He's got a lot of guts. I don't think I ever hit anyone else any more often or harder."
So, when you see a heavyweight with a blubbery physique struggling through the ropes don't automatically think "Oh no, this guy's going to be useless," because some of them can really fight.