Firstly, it is important to point out the irrepressible Steve Bunce was fully aware his selection of the best fantasy fights sent in by viewers wouldn’t be unanimously approved and in the subjective nature of these types of theoretical debates, disagreement is inevitable but come on Steve, Ricky Hatton the bull strong 10 stoner versus Prince Naseem the short featherweight? Surely, there is a better, more realistic fight than that for either man.
The other choices were mouth-watering, pairing Dennis Andries and Carl Thompson was inspired as neither were pretty, both had vulnerabilities and both punched hard. Tremendous to and fro encounter that would have been. Pairing Chris Eubank and Carl Froch, appeared to doff the cap to another promotional house more than ratify the match up as one of the best eight the masses could conjure, is Froch really like to mesh well with Eubank? Both capable of posing, counter punching, both awkward too.
True, pitting Britain’s favourite heavyweight sons Henry Cooper and Frank Bruno together would have filled any London arena but the two men would have been 40-60 pounds apart. Cooper and Bruno both ably demonstrated their guts and one punch power over long careers but it has the look of a weight mismatch in many respects. The Bruno v Lewis rematch which was mentioned in the preamble would hold more competitive appeal wouldn’t it, as a spectacle?
Credence to the contributor who threw in Nicolay Valuev and Primo Carnera, the ambling giants of the heavyweight picture. Buncey shoe-horned them in via ring appearances in London and being trained by, in Carnera’s case, the Gutteridge twins – tenuous British connections but done out of gratitude for the tremendous mock Fight Posters the contributor created. I’ve seen those before I think and they are first class, so that wild-card could be excused.
More notably, Joe Calzaghe was pitched in with Jake LaMotta – a fight with a perfect style clash, an all-Italian angle if required and two tremendous fighters. A real treasure of a fight. There are endless permutations for Calzaghe, and many of them were from his own era, but I’ll avoid the temptation to mention Sven Ottke, Glen Catley, Glen Johnson, Clinton Woods or even a Rob Reid rematch, none have the fizz of the Raging Bull in the opposite corner.
I liked the Nigel Benn v Julian Jackson fixture too, that would almost certainly have been as crazy and ferocious as Benn’s clashes with Eubank and McClellan. Prince Naseem Hamed gets a second entry, Buncey picking a mouthwatering encounter with Alexis Arguello who at 5’10 and with a 72 inch reach would have been a nightmare for Hamed, all 5ft 4 of him.
All in all an eclectic mix of fascinating and ludicrous. Stylistically, I can see the sense in Hamed v Hatton, and I perhaps the victories of Mayweather and Pacquiao should implore fewer misgivings about size disparity if the talent set is there. But the Hamed fight which would have burnt up the box-office and been an accurate, but entirely more in proportion version of Hamed v Hatton, would have been Hamed v McGuigan.
Now that would have been a fantasy fight. Imagine those two across the ring from each other, the strains of Danny Boy fading ahead of the thudding base of “here comes the Hotstepper….”. Electric.
And of course, I’d have paid good money to see a peak Herol Graham mixing it with Benn, Eubank or even Hagler. I’d have loved to have seen the bemused look on all of their faces, imagine Hagler cut, on his stool between rounds and being asked by Richard Steele, as he was in the tumultuous clash with Thomas Hearns if he was “alright”, a growling Hagler could have replied “I’m still missing him aren’t I?” as Herol and Brendan smiled at the ease of it all.