Floyd Patterson- the first man to regain the heavyweight championship of the world after losing it- the youngest heavyweight champion in history until Mike Tyson- the original Cus D’ Amato protégé, fought in between 1952 and 1972. He touched the Golden age of heavyweight boxing. But what would happen if he tried his hand in boxing until 1979. Could he hang in with this era’s champions. Let’s find out.
Vs. Joe Frazier: Floyd Patterson was a small heavyweight. He was just under 6 feet and fought at the light heavyweight limit for much of his early career and prime. His maximum weight was 189 lbs. Floyd was a combination sort of boxer. He was an outside fighter who stayed at bay but sought to rough opponents up on the inside. He would utilize stamina and athletic advantages against larger does to win battles after being damaged. The fun in observing Patterson is seeing how much damage he can take. He was floored seven times in losing his belt to Ingemar Johansson. He would doubly avenge this loss. Against Frazier, a fighter of comparative size, there would be no stamina advantage to exploit. Patterson would work to get inside early and find success as Joe Frazier would usually spend the first round analyzing opponents. The second round would be the last round. Joe Frazier possessed a destructive left hook. Patterson struggled with powerful punchers. His most prolific fights are knockout losses. Floyd would get inside and get butchered because of his willingness to fight. Twice he was the bull to Sonny Liston’s matador and twice he was dismantled in the opening frame.
Frazier wins by early knockout.
Vs. George Foreman: There is no deep analysis needed here. Floyd Patterson could not deal with heavy punchers. Of his 8 losses, 5 we’re by knockout. George Foreman as the hardest punching champion. Floyd would rush in to fight Foreman very bravely and lose very quickly. George would land a bolo shot and Floyd would be glued to the canvas. What would make this fight more damaging is that both fighters here would charge into the fight. But a slingshot will not be at a bazooka.
Foreman wins by first round knockout.
Vs. Ali: I believe there were two Ali’s. The Muhammad Ali of the 60’s was a fast, elusive sniper who would dance and confound the opposition. The Muhammad Ali of the 70’s was content to depend on attrition and condition. He could take more damage than his opponents and would take fighters deep into fights where his stamina would overwhelm them. This Ali would win due to the accumulation of punches. His opponents were hurt before they knew it, and when they did realize it, they were too late. Patterson got whooped by both. Ali retired him. Ali had every tool Patterson had. He had more attributes for every attack. Ali was bigger tougher, faster, stronger, and longer.
Ali wins by later round stoppage again.
Vs. Leon Spinks: Leon Spinks was a fighter excelled with work while on the front door. He was not a true puncher, extremely fast, or durable. His wins were hard fought. His losses were decisive. Ali avenged a defeat to him by just working. Leon was a bully in the ring. He did all of his best work while advancing, but if an opponent were to advance on him, Leon would shell up. Patterson would absolutely advance and land his shots. This would look like a. hard spar with Patterson battering Spinks for the full fight.
Patterson by wide decision.
Vs. Ken Norton: Black Hercules vs Floyd Patterson, the first Olympic gold medalist to win the heavyweight title. Norton would make Patterson frustrated with his cross arm block and movement. Norton’s power might be enough to put Patterson down but not out. Getting inside on Kenny Norton would have been difficult due to movement and a high work rate. Floyd would get pot-shotted repeatedly. Floyd packs a bigger punch, but his power would be wasted on Kenny’s defense. This is a sad case because the better man won’t win. The bigger one will.
Norton by unanimous decision.
Vs. Larry Holmes: Larry Holmes and jab. If you combine these words you get the meanest, most battle hardened champion of the era with a shotgun for a left hand. He also packed a sniper for a right. Floyd would attack from the outside and trade 1’s and 2’s. Feeling the difference in power, he would bull rush inside and get caught with a straight right on the way in, resulting in a quick, but nap.
Holmes by early technical knockout.
In my view, most champions would win against Floyd Patterson. Yes, he could have been champ at one point, but his time here would be better remembered for his losses over his wins. With a burgeoning group of fighters in lower weight classes Floyd might have found success, but at heavyweight-no. He was too small in stature for the land of giants and he had too much heart.