- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) - George Chuvalo fought the best boxers of his day. He looks around at today’s heavyweights and forgive him if he’s bored.

Chuvalo, a heavyweight contender from Canada who tangled with the likes of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, points to the Klitschko brothers, who dominate the heavyweight division. He says they’re part of the problem.

“They’re not exciting at all,” he tells The Canadian Press. “I yawn an awful lot when I see one of their fights. They win because they’re so darn big and that’s their biggest asset.”

Vitali Klitschko has retired to be in politics in his native Ukraine, while Wladmir Klitschko retains his heavyweight title.

“It isn’t like watching Rocky Marciano,” Chuvalo says. “It isn’t like watching Joe Louis, it isn’t like watching Mike Tyson, it isn’t like watching Muhammad Ali.”

Chuvalo defines boxing eras by the great heavyweights. He never won the heavyweight title, but he did go the distance with Ali. He also fought Frazier, George Foreman and Floyd Patterson and held the Canadian heavyweight title from 1959 pretty much until it was time to quit in 1978, with only a few breaks. He had 93 fights as a pro and was never knocked down.

Chuvalo turns 77 on Friday. Boxing has defined his life, but he’s now been out of the ring longer than he was in it. He says he works out daily and looks as if he could still do damage with those big hands.

“I was a fighter from the age of 10 to 41,” he says.

Chuvalo was in Winnipeg this week to help promote an Olympic-style match between members of Canada’s national team and Puerto Rico’s, arranged as a fundraiser for the United Boxing Club.

His prescription for reinvigorating boxing is grooming fighters who can bring back some excitement. And he focuses on heavyweights.

“The biggest guy is the best guy,” he says.

Right now, the face of boxing may well be Floyd Mayweather, who has held 10 titles but all in light divisions.

“It gets a little thin after Mayweather,” Chuvalo says. “He’s pretty much got it all to himself.”

Chuvalo understands that these are tough times for his sport, some of the interest siphoned off by mixed-martial arts.

“I think it’s struggling a little, and one of the problems is we don’t have an era,” he says.

But he thinks some riveting heavyweights can change that.

“The MMA isn’t really converting real boxing fans. … It’s just the fact there aren’t enough exciting fighters out there in the boxing game,” he said.

“Boxing needs another Mike Tyson, boxing needs another Joe Louis, boxing needs another Rocky Marciano. They need someone in the heavyweight division especially to garner interest.”

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