Alternate Realities: Herbie Hide As A Bigger Heavyweight During the 1990’s

    Having not fought since 2010 and unlikely to return to the ring, former WBO heavyweight champion Herbie Hide finished with a record of 49-4 with 43 wins by knockout. The Nigerian born Norwich boxer dazzled the early and mid 1990’s with his speed and punching power. His guard was often kept low and he took a lot of risks when he would throw quick flurries that would connect with an opponent’s chin before they could often respond back. Mobility wasn’t really Hide’s priority. He felt confident to stand in front of fighters in order to land power punches . Guys like Michael Bentt and Tony Tucker knew what it was like to get hit by Hide. Because they found themselves on the floor and unable to get up.

    But there was just one major problem with Herbie. Despite his height of 6’2, his stature wasn’t big enough to take on the bigger men of the division at the time. The ones that, today, you would call “elite.” Vitali Klitschko and Riddick Bowe proved that. American Bowe, who had three thrillers with Evander Holyfield, put Hide down multiple times before the fight was finally stopped in the 6th round. And the English resident’s entire body was made to literally freeze up on the canvas after Klitschko caught him with a right hook to the head which caused Herbie to lie on his left side while temporarily immobilised. A couple of more losses afterward against obscure opposition put paid to any chances of fighting for a world title again.

    But what if he was bigger? Would he have been able to overcome the bigger heavyweights of the division at the time?

    Well, the one thing that Herbie did was perhaps overly rely on power punches. Hooks and uppercuts. He loved to get a knockout. But he rarely used the jab to setup other punches. There were other guys at the time that were a little smarter and who I would say had a better ring IQ. Lennox Lewis was the main king of the heavyweight class back in the 1990’s and he was very intelligent in and outside the ring. He saw fighting in boxing as a tactical sport. Not something for anybody to express their macho side. I don’t believe that Hide would be able to draw Lewis into a war, as he would need to do. Evander Holyfield, on the other hand, could be drawn into a battle. And he wasn’t a big heavyweight, either, after having come up from cruiserweight. I could see Hide landing but Holyfield may have had a strong enough chin to take whatever Hide dished out. However, I would not completely rule out Herbie in that one. A 40 something year old George Foreman would have easily been too smart and experienced. He was a better fighter in his later years. Michael Moorer is largely thought to have a glass jaw after having been stopped by Foreman and Holyfield in a rematch. If Hide managed to get through then its fair to say that we could have seen a new IBF champion if the organisation gave him an opportunity. Mike Tyson would have just had too much power and tenacity, even if he was past his best by then. Lastly, if former gold medallist Ray Mercer became impulsive, which he sometimes did, and rushed in with his own power punches then he may have seen himself in trouble. But I think the likely scenario is that Mercer would have fought at a careful pace to break down Hide and possibly win on points or by a late knockout.

    All in all, had Hide been a little bigger then he may have had enough talent to shake up the division against a couple of big names. But I don’t think that size or the decent amount of ability that he possessed would have been adequate enough to replace Lennox Lewis as the king of the 1990’s heavyweights although certain careers of other fighters may have changed course.