Bob Foster is regarded as one of the greatest light heavyweight champions in boxing history. He dominated his division for over a half-decade in the late 60’s and early 70’s, utilizing his excellent jab and exceptional height of 6-ft, 3 1/2-inches.
I have had the privilege to speak with the Hall of Fame champion several times. During our most recent conversation not long ago, I asked Foster, who started boxing at age 12, how he would like to be remembered by boxing? “As the greatest light heavyweight champion that ever lived,” he answered. “I don’t know those guys from 1913 or 1920 but I had the best jab. If I didn’t knock you out I was gonna bust you up by the third or fourth round. I didn’t miss you with the jab. Those guys today just go out there and mix it up, fight. The way I learned it was to hit and don’t be hit. I could count the times on one hand that I really got nailed as a pro in 15 years.”
His answer articulated the imagery of a style which translates rather accurately to this current generation, and quickly brought to mind the intelligent styles utilized by the Klitschko Brothers.
Both Wladimir and Vitali utilize a dominant jab and the ‘hit and don’t get hit’ strategy which has dominated for them, just like it did for Foster, who won his world title with one left hook against the 5-ft, 8-in Nigerian, Dick Tiger.
It’s funny how today’s media and fans complain about the Klitschko style but you don’t ever hear about or read about criticism of the great Bob Foster’s excellent jab and height which he smartly used to succeed and prosper. It’s just one of many double standards for the Klitschkos – and everybody else.
When Foster first saw Tiger in person, he knew he could not lose. “I remember I used to watch him on the Gillette Friday Night Fights. I used to say, ‘This guy is tough, boy,’ Then when I saw him in person I said, ‘Geez, no way in God’s creation can this guy beat me. Too small.'”
Next time you watch the Klitschkos, look for the parallels of their styles and how they resemble Bob Foster, perhaps the greatest light heavyweight champion in history.