Everyone's heard stories of the little guy triumphing against the big one. It's an age old tale that gives the underdog encouragement. It is true in boxing as well. People tend to look at potential fights and assume the bigger boxer will win, but that is not always the case.
Take for example, former heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson, one of the greatest boxers to ever step into the ring. In his prime Tyson beat men who were bigger and taller. He did so with purpose, accuracy and precision. Legendary boxing trainer, the late Cus D'Amato, famously stunted Tyson's growth as a teen, by making him jog with heavy weights on his back that were placed inside a bookbag. As a result, Tyson is shorter than many of his peers at 5'10.
David Haye v Nikolay Valuev WBA World Heavyweight Championship in 2009
Another fine example of this is the fight David Haye v Nikolay Valuev for the WBA Heavyweight title. On paper, the casual observer would assume 7-foot 320 pound Valuev would beat smaller, but still big opponent, Haye, who is 6'3 and weighs 235 pounds, but the find did not turn out that way.
Valuev, who was a worthy and skilled opponent, who is now retired, but to date only has 2 losses in 53 fights, was outclassed by his smaller rival, Haye, another pugilist with a great record. Haye put on a masterful performance feverishly circling Valuev the entire fight, landing accurate and effective shots. It was a masterclass and one of my favorite fights.
Haye's defensive skills during the fight were so good, that he was elusive, consistently evading shots that could have resulted in a knockout from towering Valuev. The fight was billed "David vs. Goliath" and it certainly lived up to its name with David winning.
Stills from Haye v. Valuev
In closing, if your opponent is bigger than you are, it does not mean they will win the fight. Great defensive skills (head movement and footwork) coupled with clean, accurate shots can win the fight.
At the end of the day to be a great, well rounded boxer, especially in the heavyweight division, you must be an effective power puncher with great footwork/head movement (defensive skills). You cannot just focus on one aspect of your boxing game, you must master them all. It means more time training, but that's a sacrifice you have to make if you want to win.
David Haye won the title
Side Bar: Mike Tyson was on the television show "The View" this week and he stated he doesn't miss getting into the ring, due to the nervousness and anxiety it created, coupled with the damage it did to his personal relationships from working all the time. Tyson still loves boxing though and is now a promoter.