I think this is pretty hard on Dempsey, but harder still on Willard. I suspect the problem is not that Willard didn't know how to fight - didn't he kill someone in the ring? - but that Dempsey was beating him so badly he wasn't really getting a chance to fight back. Another reason these old timers don't get much credit is, I suspect, because on film they look like ass physically. I'm not sure why that is - possibly everyone just looks shitty at a distance in these old films, because if you check out Dempsey when he's up close at 0:50 in this video you can see he's very athletic (and slightly scarily badass). Similarly, Willard looks pretty fit in this picture, if it is in fact his picture: It is hard to dispute old Cassius's claim (see what what I did there?) that the fight looks like a brawl - Dempsey comes at Willard all "WARGH WARGH", as James Toney might say - but I stumbled across an article by Mike Casey (although I don't really know how significant a figure he is, to be honest) in which he says that Mike Hunnicut (again, not sure who this is, but he's implied to be a big deal) has seen "real time" (whatever that means) footage of this fight, and that it's hugely different: He goes on to mention the praise heaped on Dempsey by Ray Arcel, another guy who is supposed to be a big deal: The final black mark against Dempsey - which Ali plays up to in the video in his quiet and understated way, is that he never tested himself against black fighters - or at any rate his promoters, the commissions and so on wouldn't let him; either way it's up for debate how far he would have gotten with them. I know he did fight blacks before he became champion, drawing with one - does anyone know how many it was, actually?