The 100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Two: 90-81

By Matt McGrain on March 6, 2013
The 100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Two: 90-81
How, in the end, do you go about separating Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera?

I do not ascribe to the notion that a fighter cannot be great unless there are other great fighters in his era. Domination counts for much; talent for no little…

We could spend some time arguing about what “great” means, if you like? In the end, this definition is as important as the fighters that litter this list, which bows under the weight of the talent crammed into it. For some, greatness is defined purely by the talent of the opposition. I sympathize with this point of view, but I do not ascribe to the notion that a fighter cannot be great unless there are other great fighters in his era. Domination counts for much; talent for no little. So it is with my selection at #87, Jack Dempsey, the Nonpareil. Aside from having perhaps the best nickname in the history of boxing, Jack had the dubious honor of having his professional moniker (his real name was John Edward Kelly) adopted by William Harrison Dempsey, aka The Manassa Mauler, who basically eclipsed him—John became the second most famous fighter bearing his own name. It is a small irony then, likely pleasing to few, that Kelly makes the list but William Harrison Dempsey does not. 


William Harrison was, after all, the heavyweight champion for seven years. He was a knockout artist that dominated an era and who, at around 190 lbs., can likely only be bested by a tiny handful of fighters at around his poundage—and he made the IBRO list, at #18 no less. I commend the work done by the IBRO, and I enjoyed reading their list. This, though, is my list and in my considerations of William Harrison’s credentials I found him wanting. Yes, he was a heavyweight champion for seven years, but for half of that time the title sat on ice whilst Dempsey enjoyed himself in Hollywood. He was indeed a knockout artist, but at no time did he knock out his #1 contender, one Harry Wills, who likely occupied that birth for Jack’s entire reign in an unparalleled failure by a champion to meet the best of his time, whatever the circumstances.

Most of all it was my concern at his habitual insistence of fighting the leftovers of the other extraordinary fighter of his era and his avoidance of that fighter, Harry Greb, which you can read about here. All in all, William’s is an excellent record matched by a superb skillset but it is not enough to render him special in this kind of company.

His namesake, however? Yes indeed.

#90 Young Griffo (69-9-44; 9-1-3 Newspaper Decisions)

Say hello to the list-maker’s nightmare, the inscrutable, the irascible, the mercurial Young Griffo. Just look at that record—forty-four mysterious draws and one hideous robbery to be investigated and interpreted. The temptation to leave him out was enormous—in the end that proved impossible.

From the beginning then: Griffo (real name, Albert Griffo) boxed his way through the forest of featherweights then competing in his native Australia mostly in no decision bouts where a draw would be declared in the event that no knockout was scored—which was often for Griffo who hit without power but was almost impossible to tag clean. He picked up the Australian featherweight title in 1889 and after a couple of defenses annexed the world’s featherweight title with a fifteenth round stoppage of the hard-swinging “Torpedo” Billy Murphy who had rather impressively dropped Griffo twice in the first couple of rounds but by the eleventh was struggling. In the fifteenth, he quit, a bare-knuckle fighter by nature he seemed displeased at having to wear gloves, which he claimed had been tampered with; this seems not to have been the case but either way and although it was amidst no little controversy, Griffo was now the champion. His first defense ended in a 13th round knockout of Paddy Moran, a routine win, but the next day report in the Barrier Miner contains a line of great interest—“Moran had plenty of supporters and was in better condition than Griffo.” Whether Griffo was yet the alcoholic he surely became during his years in America is unknown to me but he seems to have developed distaste for hard training and a habit for turning up to important fights out of shape very early in his career.

With me so far? Good. Because things are about to get worse. Unless you are a director in search for a project for your next biopic, in which case things are about to get better.

First George Powell quit to Griffo in March of ’91 and then Griffo beat Murphy in a rematch that July after he pushed or punched Griffo to the canvas then threw himself on top of him, continuing the attack for which he was subsequently disqualified in a fight he was apparently controlling. Griffo defended his featherweight title once more, renounced it, and sailed for America where the deepest lightweight division in all of history was stirring.

Griffo met them all. He met the long-reigning lightweight champion Jack McAuliffe. He met the future champion Frank Erne. He met tombstone puncher Kid Lavigne. He met the brilliant Joe Gans three times. He met the genius that was George Dixon three times. And Griffo did not win a single one of these fights. Worse, many of them were total farces. 

Nevertheless, this is the time from which is reputation as the most physically talented boxer of his era springs. Lavigne, who met him first over a drawn eight-rounder of which he had the better, described him as the cleverest and best boxer he had ever met. When the two fought again over twenty rounds in 1895, Lavigne again got the better of their draw although unfortunate reproductions of the Nat Fleischer story concerning the fight may have given the opposite impression over the years. Next day reports are clear; the draw was “inevitable” but Lavigne had the better of Griff—or perhaps Griff had the better of Griff. By this time he was drinking heavily and “carried a paunch.”

Against Erne, he fought a drawn four-rounder almost universally regarded as a fake. He claimed himself that his first fight with Joe Gans, fought in November of 1895, was also faked, although the 1897 rematch was a superb performance. “He completely out-boxed me,” Gans is said to have told The Washington Post. “He was the greatest defensive boxer that ever lived.” A draw was the result. Gans caught up with the shot version of Griffo and stopped him in eight rounds three years later.

The smaller George Dixon fought three draws with the Australian. Many sources have him holding the tiniest of margins over Griffo the first time around over twenty, both men boxing with utter brilliance in their second drawn fight over twenty-five. Griffo had gone to fat by the time of their third fight over ten and my impression is of a fighter who just doesn’t want to get hit rather than one who wants to win a fight. Such were his abilities in this area that nobody thought to complain. Another draw was declared.

Finally, to Griffo’s contest with the legendary Jack McAuliffe. It is in keeping with the perversity of Griffo’s career arch that his greatest win was a loss.

I am uncomfortable turning over the judges’ verdict for the purposes of historical rankings even when we have the film of the fight, so for me, naming Griffo a winner over McAullife is no small matter. It is a fact, however, that not a single next day report labels the reigning lightweight champion the winner. The best that can be seen for him is the draw declared by the San Francisco Call. The Witchita Daily Eagle wrote that Griffo had “punched [McAuliffe] all over Coney Island, slapped his face and wiped up the United States with Mr. Jack, the referee bobbed up and takes the battle away from him.” The Salt Lake Herald wrote that “there was never such a demonstration against a referees decision…McAuliffe attempted to speak to the crowd but was hissed down.” Griffo’s chance to be named lightweight champion was snatched from him.

Where does all that leave us? At #90, but you could rank him almost anywhere. If we were ranking fighters purely based upon their physical abilities he would be right there alongside Harry Greb and Roy Jones. If we were ranking him based upon squandered potential he would be #1. In an overall sense, I don’t think he can be higher than I have him here, however. His best results are draws and a loss, and my job is not to unpick what might have been had he turned up for his biggest fights sober and in shape but to appraise what actually occurred and what actually occurred was his matching some of the greatest fighters in all of history based upon a defensive style of boxing the like of which may not have been seen in the sport again until Nico Locche hit his stride nearly seventy years later.

#89 Marco Antonio Barrera (67-7)
#88 Erik Morales (52-9)

There are no ties on this list.

Nevertheless some fighters are so closely linked that it is not possible to write about one without discussing the other. How, in the end, do you go about separating Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera? They couldn’t even do so themselves, in a trilogy as good as anything that side of Vazquez-Marquez.

I disagreed with the judges on every occasion in those three fights. The first, perhaps the best fight of 2000 and a split decision win for Morales, was a Barrera win on my card, Marco Antonio breaking off the last two rounds against a tired Erik to sneak the decision; the second, I saw a close Morales win whilst all three judges found it for Barrera. The third, another absolutely outstanding contest, I scored a draw whilst the judges again were split but came out with a Barrera win. Having said all that, I wasn’t ringside for these fights—the decision of the judges should be respected.

Part of Erik’s problem with Barrera was the difference in speed. Marco Antonio is quicker and so in a round where neither man excels themselves or momentarily overpowers the other the only way for Morales to win the round is to outwork an opponent who is an excellent counterpuncher and works well with angles. In other words, Barrera’s superior versatility made life hard for Morales, who was working at a slight style deficit.

But in the second fight I thought Barrera showed some tactical naivety, going away jabbing, taking the wrong range. Yes, he was more versatile but that versatility was not always put to the perfect use and it gave Morales space to box his fight here. In the tenth round of this fight Morales perfected his thinking aggressor’s offense for three breathtaking minutes in which he dominated with three different styles, arguably the highest level either of these men reached in the ring, stopping a rush by Barrera on the scorecards. I came away from these first two fights with the strange impression that Barrera had more but that Morales knew better what to do with what he had. This impression was confirmed for me by their respective go-rounds with the great Manny Pacquiao. Morales did not just beat Pacquiao, he told us before the fight exactly how he was going to do it, mixing boxing and punching to produce the “intelligent fight” he needed to defeat the Filipino. In the build-up, Freddie Roach spoke endlessly of “the Manilla Ice”, his nickname for Pacquiao’s newly included right hand, the final piece of the puzzle in making Manny the complete fighter. Prime-for-prime, Morales bested the Filipino. 

At their respective bests each was a wonderful talent that probably failed to distinguish one from the other, but whilst Morales was beaten only by Barrera, Barrera himself lost to stop-start herky-jerky stylings of Junior Jones in their 1997 contest. Outboxed and, bizarrely out-dogged, Barrera not for the last time seemed a tiny bit confused by his own possibilities. A more accomplished fighter overall that Morales in my opinion, he won straps at super-bantamweight, featherweight and super-featherweight.

Erik won titles of various meaning at these weights and added a bauble at light-welterweight. 

Beating Cesar Cano for the vacant WBC 140 lb. trinket is not what separates him from Barrera by the tiniest of margins though. That would be preposterous. It’s a feeling—you have one too. It could be the same as mine, or it could be quite different and I am satisfied with either one—we only have two things we must agree upon.

One: it is close.

Two: they are great.

#87 Nonpareil Jack Demspey (50-4-11)

In April of 1887, Jack Dempsey stepped into the ring with Billy Baker, a heavyweight out of Buffalo New York and knocked the bigger man around the ring for four rounds. Due to the rules the two men had agreed, however, Baker took the win—the 145 lb. Jack Dempsey had agreed that if the 180 lb. Billy Baker remained upon his feet after just four rounds, he would be named as the winner. And that was it. That was the only loss Jack Dempsey posted between turning professional in 1883 and the infamous “lucky punch” landed upon him by George LaBlanche in 1889. For six years he was undefeated and for much of that time was regarded as the best fighter on the planet pound-for-pound, to the extent where he was considered a serious proposal as an opponent for the then legendary heavyweight champion, John L. Sullivan, who frequently carried more than 200 lbs. to the ring with him. This may have been something of a reach, even for Jack, but it is true that he made a habit out of thrashing men who were bigger than he. 

“Denny Kelliher,” wrote The New York Evening World of Kelliher’s 1887 contest with Jack Dempsey, “is a big muscular pugilist whose weight is upward of 220 lbs.…still, Dempsey defeated him in the usual invincible way…Kelliher could no more land his right in the neighborhood of his small but wonderfully scientific opponent than he could wing a swallow with an ape.”

This was the essence of Dempsey’s boxing, and it worked at odds with what had gone before him. Fighters worked always to avoid being hit, but the Nonpareil seems to have been the man to make this de rigueur. His contribution to boxing, in conjunction with the wonderful lightweight champion Jack McAuliffe, seems to have been nothing less than the legitimization of defensive boxing at the expense of the heartfelt slog to the finish—but nor can he be accused of abandoning his offense.

“Dempsey made a chopping block of the big Philadelphian in the fourth and last round. He counted on Kelliher with both hands. The audience went wild over the wonderful exhibition of cleverness.”

A legitimately two-handed boxer-puncher, Dempsey was the sublime general of his generation with the ability and the fighting intellect to adopt whatever strategy was necessary for winning, sans drama. The New York Evening World is quite right; the “usual invincible way” is the exact manner in which he dominated an era.

Dempsey lost two fights during his extraordinary prime, the 1889 shocker against previous victim LaBlanche (“Chance blow”—The Helena Independent, “Dempsey had the best of it”—The St.Paul Globe, “Demspey was considered a sure winner at all times during the contest”—The Sacramento Daily Record-Union) and the 1891 drubbing by Bob Fitzsimmons. Fitzsimmons represented yet another evolution in boxing’s lightning development in that late part of the 19th century and he marked the end of what was likely the most clear domination of a division by any fighter up until that point.

Only a lack of truly great opposition keeps him from scaling the very heights; but the ease with he dominated the thirty-plus men he bested during his prime assures his inclusion.

#86 Wilfred Benitez (55-6-1)

Wilfred Benitez was only seventeen years old when he tenderly slipped into the Puerto Rican ring to meet 4-1 favorite and champion Antonio Cervantes, lifting the WBA light-welterweight title over fifteen rounds, boxed with the earnest sincerity of youth. Benitez was arguably never better, although he would impress many times between this, the first victory of his prime in March of 1976 and his July 1983 defeat by the brawling Mustafa Hamsho up at middleweight. In between he was beaten just twice and by men who lie further up this list, Thomas Hearns and Ray Leonard. When he stepped into the ring with Leonard in November of 1979, his record stood at 38-0-1 and he was about to impress once more, albeit in defeat. 

Benitez assuaged aggression in fighters as well as anyone in boxing with a combination of direct and hurtful counterpunching and that tricky head-movement that bought him the nickname “El Radar.” “Chasing a ghost,” is how Leonard described boxing him. “He slipped one punch after another…I never missed so many punches.”

Losing that fight and a later one to Tommy Hearns pegged Benitez as a fighter that belongs in the bottom half rather than the top half of this list, but wins against Roberto Duran, Harold Weston, Carlos Palomino and his lifting straps from light-welterweight to light-middleweight make him a lock for the lower reaches. 

#85 Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1)

So what did Juan Manuel do to distinguish himself from Barrera and Morales? He may have spent several years chasing both but failed to get Morales into the ring with him at all, and his eventual win over Barrera, although clear, is hardly a victory over a fighter in his pomp. 

The answer, of course, is Manny Pacquiao.

In many ways, Morales did the more impressive work by getting a clean win over the Filipino at or near his best, but the career arch of Juan Manuel is more complex. Squint just a little when you look at his stats and you will see a fighter with arguably only one legitimate loss, to the P4P #1 and much bigger Floyd Mayweather. The early career loss to Freddy Norwood is eminently arguable (I have it to Marquez) and the loss to Chris John has always perplexed me. Before anyone cared, it was seen as a clean win for John. As Marquez became more and more crucial to the perception of Manny Pacquiao’s legacy, it became a robbery. Then, when some kindly soul uploaded the full fight to YouTube, it became fashionable to deem it a clean win again. For me, Marquez won the fight top to tail and I can never find more than four rounds for John, so I have the Mexican winning out of sight despite the two legitimate deductions for low blows. 

Another myth concerning this fight is that it is the fight that “changed Marquez’s style,” that he somehow became more aggressive behind this injustice (if injustice it was). That too is inaccurate. Marquez fought very aggressively in this very match, it was in part the reason he dominated. Nevertheless it is true that at some point between his 2004 draw with Manny Pacquiao and his 2006 loss to Chris John, Marquez seemed to accept that he was going to be hit, quite a lot. A classic counterpuncher with an instinctive understanding of range this attribute never translated on defense; Marquez is leaky. On offense, he is amongst the best of his generation, arguably the best, certainly he is the most fluid combination puncher of the last decade and this has resulted in a surprising 40 stoppages in 55 victories—all the way up to welterweight. 

Perhaps this is the reason Marquez ranks higher than Barrera and Morales. He’s traveled all the way to welterweight and in one of the most stunning stoppages in recent boxing history he knocked Manny Pacquiao unconscious with a single punch. Their rivalry has been a great one and in many ways it does define Marquez despite two razor thin decision losses. For the record, I don’t feel that Pacquiao has beaten Marquez once, my cards read 3-1-0 in the Juan Manuel’s favor. The judges, of course, had a better view than I did and in the end their decision must be respected, but either way, it is Marquez that has shaken more stardust from Pacquiao than any other fighter. Taken in tandem with his longevity, devastating the #2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world nearly twenty years after his professional debut, and you can see the daylight creeping in between him and his Mexican brethren.

And he’s not done yet.

#84 Jake LaMotta (83-19-4)

“I was able to convince my body that I could take it and nobody could hurt me.  I might’ve got cut, stitches over my eyes. Broken nose.  Broken hands. But I never really got hurt.

Jake LaMotta’s ability to absorb punishment is legendary and perhaps even unparalleled but it has led to an eclipse of his other fine attributes, which actually includes an outstanding jab, a crucial augmentation punch for his relentless stalking style.

Priceless ringside-eye view footage of his famous middleweight title tilt against French idol Marcel Cerdan gives us the best insight into his fighting style as he jabs and stalks the champion back whilst dipping and slipping, searching relentlessly for the opening for his left hand, which he used liberally to head and body. LaMotta’s punches were crude in the sense that he tended to throw them wide but there is actually a certain thuggish fluidity to these shots which he pours on with the wanton abandon only a granite chin can support. Getting hit for Jake was just a part of going to the office; punches held no fear for him. Despite his apparent feather-fistedness, it made him dangerous. Nobody ever managed to make LaMotta go away. Whatever poison you fed him he was there from the first bell until the last, begging for more.

These brutal stylings brought Jake wins over Fritzie Zivic, Tommy Bell, Bert Lytell, Jose Basora, George Costner, the great Holman Williams, Robert Villemain, Tiberio Mitri and Bob Murphy, returns that give him one of the more pleasing win resumes in the division’s history. He also beat Sugar Ray Robinson, and although the great welter and middleweight dominated the series between them it is as glittering a win as exists in boxing, Jake being the only man to beat Robinson in 130 tries.

Prime losses to the smaller Fritzie Zivic, Cecil Hudson and Laurent Dauthuille and the one-sided drubbing he suffered at the hands of the brilliant Lloyd Marshall means ranking him higher than the eighties is a bit of a stretch, but one of the most unpleasant styles in ring history combined with a litany of middleweight and a smattering of light-heavyweight scalps make him difficult to leave out.

#83 Lloyd Marshall (70-25-4)

Yes, LaMotta was hard to leave out and his daring-do was a part of that reasoning. LaMotta did what very few white contenders did without very significant managerial or promotional pressure and stepped out to take on two members of the Murderer’s Row. He beat a past-prime Holman Williams in the summer of ’46, but the fight he never should have taken was against Riffmaster-General Lloyd Marshall in April of ’44. Marshall was a guy who didn’t care too much for the sheet music; a jazz musician, if you will.

Marshall freestyled his way to a clear points decision over the Bronx Bull after splitting his cheek, his nose and actually rocking the un-rockable middleweight in the fifth round. His left hand, an improvised instrument designed only for a drunken jam session, tore both LaMotta’s face and air of invulnerability apart. Marshall, along with Zivic and Robinson, would be the only men to beat Jake between July of ’42 and September of ’47.

One of the great delights of the last decade has been the emerging footage of Marshall. Reading about him before seeing him we were regaled with outlandish tales of a gunslinger that threw left hooks and right from the same stance with the same lack of tells, hands low in spite of a questionable chin. The stories of his falling all the way back onto the ropes and using the bottom strand to catapult himself back into the fray (sometimes prompting startled referees into starting a count) were charming, but once playtime was over it was with a shake of the head that we dismissed the colorful ramblings of the 1940’s press. Only for it all to come magically and delightfully true when the footage stated to creep out.

Best of all was the silent film of his losing effort against Ezzard Charles. Marshall actually beat Charles in March of ’43, the jewel in the crown of his resume which includes such notable names as Teddy Yarosz, Lou Brouillard, Charley Burley, Holman Williams, Joey Maxim, Jack Chase and Freddie Mills in addition to LaMotta. A weak chin (given the company he kept) and, perhaps, a tendency to make certain agreements with certain gentlemen regarding the outcome of certain fights, led to his losing no fewer than twenty-five duels, many of them slam-bam in his extravagant prime, and this keeps him just outside the eighty.

#82 Pascual Perez (84-7-1)

Pascual Perez is as brilliant a flyweight as has ever lived. The Argentine amassed nine defenses of the title in six years at the top, more than any other fly on this list aside from Miguel Canto (more of whom later). Sporting a delightful fifty-seven stoppage wins and a knockout percentage in the sixties he was a little man who could box or punch but who, at just 4’11, had to overcome huge physical disadvantages. Even in the 112 lb. division he would often give away big chunks of weight to his title opponents. Despite this, he went unbeaten for the best part of eight years, picking up a national title in just his sixth fight and the world title in just his twenty-fourth, going to Japan to outclass and outpoint national idol Yoshio Shirai who was taller by five and a half inches and heavier by four pounds. Shirai was a brilliant operator with the scalps of Dado Marino and Terry Allen hanging from his belt and was a trailblazer for Japanese boxing as well as much bigger—in a rematch Perez knocked him out and sent him into retirement. 

As soon as Perez began to slip, the physical disadvantages he had to suffer made life impossible, as the excellent Pone Kingpetch proved by beating him back to back in 1960 to remove him from the title picture, but that didn’t stop the little man adding another twenty-eight wins before losing four of his last six darkened his record slightly.

An utterly brilliant and dominant flyweight at his best, his 51-0-1 run perpetrated against taller and heavier men over a period of just six years is perhaps the most celebrated in the history of his division. It is interesting to ponder how long he might have ruled weighing in as a modern-day minimum or light-flyweight. It seems a rather terrifying prospect.

#81 Panama Al Brown (133-20-13)

An aspect of ranking fighters that i very difficult to get proper control of is the dreaded “head-to-head” equation.  This is where the differences between the achievements and legacies of fighters become so hard to differentiate that you start to fall back on the oldest of fight adages, “who would win?” It is strange that it tends to be thought of as the grubby little cousin of “historical achievement” when ranking fighters on any all-time list. You don’t sit down in front of the television on Saturday night and handicap your boxers based upon what they’ve done in the sum total of their careers, just how good they are and maybe upon how they performed last time out. Panama Al Brown is a fighter whose high ranking rests in part upon his astonishing head-to-head abilities.

Brown was 5’11 and had a 76” reach. For the sake of comparison, Anselmo Moreno, who is rated at #1 by the Transnational Boxing Board in the current bantamweight division, is 5’6 with a reach of 70”. In an era of same-day weigh-ins, Brown was taller and rangier than current middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. He was physically capable of throwing, and landing, uppercuts without breaching his opponent’s jabbing range. The advantages he held over the field are almost unparalleled but he did not rest upon these physical laurels. He was technically gifted, capable of attacking on the front foot from suddenly from unseen angles, did a very nice line in a shucking defense and whilst he was not a huge puncher, his stringy elegance made him a dangerous hitter capable of one-punch knockouts with either hand.

Such were his skills and physicality that he was able to go unbeaten at his favored bantamweight for an astonishing and fight-filled eight years, from his questionable points loss to Belgian idol Henri Scillie in Paris in 1927 and 1935, when he lost to Spain’s Baltasar Sangchili (later avenged). Not a fighter shackled to any one country for fear of bad judging, Brown was the ultimate road warrior, boxing forty times on the European continent in these years, beating the best the world had to offer—perhaps the Panamanian’s persistent drinking and smoking went down better over here than it might have in the United States. He did box in America and visited Canada for some of his very best performances, including the two-minute knockout of the storied Emile Pladner, his jab clinic against the superb Pete Sanstol (then 76-2) and his utter domination of Eugene Huat (who holds a win over Newsboy Brown and tragically beat Pladner into a coma from which he would fortunately recover). He was unquestionably the best bantamweight in the world for the best part of ten years, should be favored to beat every bantam to have come before him and depending upon your own view on the evolution of boxing you might reasonably pick him over every bantam that came after him too.

Although he performed well at featherweight, he lacks the genuine pound-for-pound achievement to put him nearer the top of this list. His tendency to lose to the quill of his featherweight competition even in his prime years despite considerable physical advantages even those few pounds north, a factor. Were it based purely upon the head-to-head equation with his abilities at bantamweight the only factor, he would be considerably higher.

100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part One: 100-91
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Two: 90-81
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Three: 80-71
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Four: 70-61
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Five: 60-51
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Six: 50-41
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Seven: 40-31
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Eight: 30-21
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Nine: 20-11
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Ten: 10-1

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Erik Morales vs. Marco Antonio Barrera

Antonio Cervantes vs Wilfred Benitez (03/06/1976) (1/6)

Antonio Cervantes vs Wilfred Benitez (03/06/1976) (2/6)

Antonio Cervantes vs Wilfred Benitez (03/06/1976) (3/6)

Antonio Cervantes vs Wilfred Benitez (03/06/1976) (4/6)

Antonio Cervantes vs Wilfred Benitez (03/06/1976) (5/6)

Antonio Cervantes vs Wilfred Benitez (03/06/1976) (6/6)

Juan Manuel Marquez vs Chris John

Jake LaMotta | Marcel Cerdan 1/1

Ezzard Charles KO 6 Lloyd Marshall II

Yoshio Shirai - Pascual Perez

Panama Al Brown Highlights.

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  1. Don from Prov 10:15am, 03/11/2013

    Well, Mr. Mosley, he certainly did put on a clinic—

    Picked up Cloud, put him in his back pocket and just strolled.
    I have to say that I enjoyed watching him.

  2. Matt Mosley 03:53am, 03/11/2013

    Serious? Of course i’m serious Don my good man.  :)
    We witnessed a master at work once again on Saturday.
    A true ATG.

  3. Don from Prov 01:40pm, 03/10/2013

    Mr. McGrain: I did reply but very obviously I don’t understand the simple mechanics of logging in and the response may have straggled off into the ozone: Basically said I was going on and on with a side discussion that might be fine if we were sitting around having a drink and bullshitting but was taking up far too much space on a discussion forum.  Plus, you were on the right track anyway about where you thought I was going—but, again, getting there was not really worth taking up any more air.  Then told you, “Good stuff” and wondered if the other Matt, Mr. Mosley, was serious about Hopkins and went off to watch college hoops, which I will return to now for the duration.
    Once more: Good stuff.

  4. Matt Mosley 01:22pm, 03/10/2013

    I like this site btw.
    Thanks to Ted Sares for recommending it to me.
    There are some quality writers on here.
    One or two famous one’s too.

  5. Matt McGrain 12:39pm, 03/10/2013

    B-hop and Manny are still to come. As for where?  You’ll just have to wait and see!

  6. Matt Mosley 11:58am, 03/10/2013

    Just a couple of quick points here:

    1/ RE: JMM. Personally i have Pacquiao up 3-1 and certainly have Manny ranked higher as an ATG. I presume/hope you have Manny ranked higher?
    Surely he’s not been booted out with Dempsey has he?  :)
    2/ Bernard Hopkins. Does his latest winning of another belt at 48(!) years old bump him up a bit.
    Imo, he should be at or around the Top 50 of all time .

  7. Matt McGrain 11:03am, 03/10/2013

    I think i’ve fallen behind a bit Don.  Are you saying that anyone can be wrong about anything for the reason that people see what they want to see/what they don’t want to see to one degree or another?

  8. Don from Prov 10:30am, 03/10/2013

    It doesn’t offend me, Matt—not at all.  Part of the point that I was trying to make was that folks were saying, “Well who did Louis/Marciano/etc. etc. really beat?”  And that is exactly where a lot of the fun involved in an article like yours comes from.  For instance, Eric just wrote making a defense of Foreman.  Though I was just using Big George as an example of how chinks could be found in most any fighter, what’s fun is hearing the responses and weighing them up—to me anyway.  As to the other part, about “seeing what we want—or expect to see” I know that I’m certainly guilty of it.  I also know that advertising firms make a whole lot of money basing what they do on some form or branch of that idea.  However, I’m completely comfortable with the thought that you—or any number of other people-may be capable of more subjectivity when it comes to boxing than I sometimes am.  If I was more subjective and could always see clearly what was in front of me and know what it meant, I sure as hell would make a little bit of money betting on fights—but I often don’t see as clearly as I’d hope.

  9. Matt McGrain 07:31am, 03/10/2013

    Well I did my best with what you wrote Don - in the main by quoting your directly.  At the risk of offending you again, I don’t agree that I “ignore certain realities.”

    In fact, my write-up on Foreman includes every single point you made, I think.

  10. Eric 07:23am, 03/10/2013

    George Foreman in his first career beat some decent competition, not great, but decent fighters like Chuvalo, Lyle, Wepner, Halloran, Norton, Dino Denis, “the aging” Peralta, Boone Kirkman. These aren’t legendary fighters but then again what fighter takes on “prime” top notch fighters while coming up. Louis beat a line of ex-champs but they had all seen their better days. Ali NEVER would give George a return bout. I think the Jimmy Young loss has as much to do with George losing desire and focus WAITING for Ali as it does on Jimmy Young’s skill and style. Jimmy Young also defeated Ali and Norton in many people’s minds, and he outboxed the dangerous Ron Lyle twice. Jimmy Young in his prime was a VERY GOOD albeit light punching fighter. Even in 1980, while Young was overweight, and just going through the motions, there were glimpses of his brilliance against the giant, thunderous punching Cooney. Sure, Cooney busted Young up in four, but Young displayed flashes of his skills and IF the right or prime Young would’ve been in there, you coud see how he would have defeated another monster puncher.

  11. Don from Prov 07:09am, 03/10/2013

    No, I didn’t accuse you of ignoring fighters—

    What I said is that we all (at times) see what we want in a particular fighter while—consciously or not—passing over flaws in the fighter’s game.
    And I wasn’t arguing for Dempsey again.  Nor was I questioning your criteria.
    Foreman was just an example of how anyone of us can find holes in the resume of just about any fighter.  If you want to become a bit “techy” with me, you might make it about something that I actually said—but you might not.
    Either way is fine.

  12. Matt McGrain 07:44pm, 03/09/2013

    No fighters are “ignored” - the inclusion or exclusion of fighters is decided by their career arches and how those interact with the finite space available.  The only way i can avoid “ignoring” fighters would be to make a list long enough to encompass every “inarguably wonderful fighter” there has ever been.  I would say that’s about 220 spots, although you could experience drag to about 300, easily.
    Foreman>Dempsey is an opinion, of course, but one that can be defended.  So that is 120 plus great fighters that don’t make the 100 of which Jack Dempsey is just one.

  13. Don from Prov 07:30pm, 03/09/2013

    Most any fighter can have his record dissected and questioned.  One heavyweight who IS on the list is George Foreman, but really there were two George Foremans: pre- and post-the initial retirement George.  The pre-retirement Foreman was given all he could handle by a blown-up and aging light heavyweight.  In his second coming, Big George never knocked out anyone of real consequence, and back to those younger days: George had SERIOUS stamina issues.  The combined Georges beat one out of three great fighters that he faced (Fraizer) but was knocked out by Ali and beaten—as I recall fairly soundly—by Holyfield: So, one out of three in that category.  Then there was the Jimmy Young fight that led to the initial retirement, and George pillow-punched to the floor.  So, how great was George—and WHICH George was great?  Both had real flaws.  But I do think that George was great—just what I have in my mind at this juncture—

    All which is to say that what we are doing here is speculation—a lot of fun, but speculation,  and that when we claim greatness for very many fighters we “ignore” some realities: Basically, excepting some inarguably wonderful fighters??, we see what we want to see and ignore the rest.  Again, I KNOW Foreman was great, unless I look too hard—then I wonder—just a little.

  14. Eric 03:33pm, 03/09/2013

    The only opponent that Louis had that I can envision beating Dempsey would have been Joe Walcott given the old adage, “styles make fights.” Ezzard Charles would’ve been competitive but I picture a Charles-Dempsey fight being very similar to his second fight with Marciano. I favor Dempsey over Marciano and Frazier, however,  I wouldn’t pick Dempsey to beat fellow “swarmer” Tyson, Tyson just too fast for Dempsey. Dempsey defeats Schmeling, Max Baer, Jim Braddock,  destroys the giants Carnera and Buddy Baer, etc. The “Bum of the Month Club?” Unless someone pulls off a Douglas-Tyson miracle, it is hard to imagine anyone of those fighters beating Dempsey, but with heavyweights anything is possible.

  15. Matt McGrain 02:30pm, 03/09/2013

    “Who did Joe Louis beat that was so outstanding?”—Everyone, is the answer.  Everyone.  Every significant contender of his reign aside from Elmar Ray.  The status that you try to claim for Dempsey actually belongs to Louis, who really did “beat everyone around” in his time.

  16. Eric 01:46pm, 03/09/2013

    Joe Louis will certainly rank high on this list, but really who did Joe Louis beat that was so outstanding. Sure, he beat ex-champions, Sharkey, Max Baer, Primo Carnera, Max Schmeling, but all were past their primes. Look at who Louis defended his title against. The same people who point to the length of time Louis held his title fail to acknowledge the same feat performed by the Klit brothers of today. Louis really lost his first fight with Walcott and was losing the second fight. And hard to imagine any other heavyweight great to be actually losing to a 170lb fighter after 13 rounds. Can you imagine either Klit brother going up against a 170lb “super middleweight.” OUCH! With heavyweights there are no P4P better “heavyweights.” A “heavyweight” is a fighter who fights in an unlimited weight division and if that weight advantage makes him a better fighter than so be it.

  17. Matt McGrain 11:40am, 03/09/2013

    Yeah, LaStraza was a cracking fighter at his very best.

  18. Matt McGrain 11:18am, 03/09/2013

    But Eric, Dempsey DID NOT “beat who was around at the time.”  If he was included on this list i would wager that he was the only champion on the list who NEVER met his #1 contender - unless you consider that Tunney overhauled Wills, in which case he fought his #1 contender once, and was thrashed.

  19. the thresher 10:24am, 03/09/2013

    Roland LaStarza was pretty good

  20. Eric 09:12am, 03/09/2013

    Dempsey, like all others before and after him can only beat who is around at the time. If Wills, who probably gained a lot of his reputation off of his multiple victories over much smaller, albeit great black fighters like Sam Langford, Kid Norfolk etc., was avoided by Dempsey’s management, it isn’t like this hasn’t been done before. It has been said that Joe Frazier while coming up avoided the aging Sonny Liston. Speaking of Smokin’ Joe, let’s take a look at his competition. Before winning his portion of the title in 1968, the only names that jump out on his record are the predictable and erratic Oscar Bonavena, blown-up light heavyweight Doug Jones, and an old Eddie Machen. Joe would win his title against the huge but nonthreatening Buster Mathis. He would defend his title against people like Manuel Ramos, Dave Zyglewicz, and the capable but unpredictable Jerry Quarry. Quarry, although an outstanding fighter was tailor made for Frazier. Quarry,  being an under 200lb heavyweight who cut easily and would abandon his counterpunching style and elect to engage in a slugfest with Joe was actually a “safe” fight. Frazier would go on to defeat a former middleweight named Jimmy Ellis and then later defend his title against a 180-something pound Bob Foster. Frazier would win the “Fight of The Century” but then would defend his title against “little” Terry Daniels, and glorified club fighter Ron Stander. Look at fellow “swarmer” Rocky Marciano’s list of opponents. All of his “name” opponents were well into their 30’s and had seen their better days, and the others like Roland LaStarza and Rex Layne were not world beaters.

  21. Matt McGrain 06:12am, 03/09/2013

    I think it’s certainly “normal” to include him. But this wasn’t begun, or completed with anything specific in mind.  There are fighters that I expected to appear on the list, who do not.  Without giving too much away, Eddie Booker, Kid McCoy and Billy Graham don’t make it -  I expected them all to make it.  What happens is, fighters get squeezed out by an expanding list.  “I forgot that guy”...“i forgot this guy”...“if this guy’s in, why wouldn’t this guy be in?”...100 isn’t that many slots, there are so many wonderful fighters.  I won’t lie - I realised that based upon my perception of him, Dempsey wasn’t going to get in by the time I hit about 40.  That’s not because of what he didn’t do (though that is a concern) but because of what he did do…not enough, not for this list.
    If I had to guess….i’d guess at about 150.  But then I have him lower than most on my own HW list although I do think of him as a great fighter).

  22. Matt Mosley 05:39am, 03/09/2013

    Also, while at first i was one of those who disagreed with leaving JD off the list, i think you make some very valid points, especially the fact that he avoided all the top black fighters of the time.
    It’s an interesting, and original, point of view. imo.
    Saying that, although i can understand why he might be dropped further down the list than most would have him, personally i wouldn’t leave him off entirely.
    However there are those, such as yourself, who know much more about boxing history (and specifically Dempsey’s career) than i do.

  23. Matt Mosley 05:28am, 03/09/2013

    Very interesting stuff here, both the article and the comments.
    Credit to you for doing it Matt.
    I wouldn’t know where to start, especially with the old timers.

  24. Matt McGrain 01:36pm, 03/08/2013

    Yeah, it’s a unique challenge, to say the least.  I do feel confident about these guys, however.  I mean, Young Griffo is kind of a perfect storm of ranking disaster, but him aside, i’m easy-ozzy.  Greb will be high - sorting out NP JD’s spot was not difficult.  It’s actually easier because you don’t have to spend ages and ages watching footage:-D

  25. the thresher 12:13pm, 03/08/2013

    Maybe I’m in the minority on this, but I just can’t analyze an old time fighter. Different eras, diffrent rules, differnt styles, different training techniques, etc, etc.

    I give you lots of credit for doing it Matt. I start with Louis and work my way forward as I can’t imagine anyone beating him prior to his prime unless maybe it it was Dempsey who at least had the size.

  26. nicolas 11:18am, 03/08/2013

    In fairness to Jack Dempsey, when he did not want to fight Langford, it was very early in Jack’s career, and Jack realized that at the time he would not have a chance against him. When Jack Dempsey became champion, while I think it would have been a tough fight for him, in the early 20’s at least, Wills was on the down swing, and such a fight might historically be compared to when Jeffries beat Peter Jackson, a fighter also way past his best years, and coming near his death. As for Harry Wills, I just feel that many wanted to avoid any possible race riots like after the Johnson-Jeffries fight, and the ones in the USA in 1919 if Wills won. Yes Dempsey may have feasted on big men, and I have heard people claim he busted up black fighters in sparing, but seriously, your a black man in the 1920’s,  getting a good pay day sparing with Jack Dempsey, are you going to try to beat him in sparing? In regards to ERIC’s comment about the Marciano-Valdez drivel, the fact remains that Valdez was number one contender for nearly two years by Ring Magazine, but Marciano never defended against him, choosing to fight Charles, who had lost to Valdez, and fighting also Cockell, who after the beating Marciano handed to him would be stopped by Valdez in three rounds. I will confess that fighters who fought Marciano were not the same afterwards.  I have to feel that Marciano’s management may have been trying to avoid Valdez as long as possible, and of course, Archie Moore who said he was being avoided by Marciano, provided the solution when he won a rather close, and possible controversial win over Valdez.

  27. Clarence George 09:33pm, 03/07/2013

    I, too, think Dempsey would have won against Langford.  But the fact remains that Dempsey didn’t want to fight him, despite Langford being literally half blind.  An even better fighter than Dempsey, Jack Johnson, refused to give Langford a crack at his title.  He’d fought him once…and that was enough.

  28. the thresher 05:31pm, 03/07/2013

    Why are mine since 1950?

    Because I actually witnessed each listed boxer fight at one time or another (except Jofre), and I don’t mean by video. Of course, I carefully analyzed their records, style, chin, KO percentages, skill-sets, the era in which they fought, entire body of work, quality of opposition, and other important criteria as well.

  29. Matt McGrain 05:10pm, 03/07/2013

    Those struck down with this “delusion” would include Harry Wills, Jim Flynn (who fought both) and Charley Rose.  But, for what it’s worth, I agree Dempsey should be slightly favoured against Langford.  He would be by *far* the most accomplished heavy ever to have been beaten by Jack though.

  30. Eric 05:01pm, 03/07/2013

    Honestly, as great as Sam Langford was, lets be real here, Langford was 5’6 3/4” tall, and had to stuff himself to even approach 180lbs. Anyone who actually believes Sam would have beaten Jack Dempsey is seriously delusional. Harry Greb beating Dempsey in a REAL fight. teehee, yeah right. And I also have my doubts about Harry Wills beating Dempsey. Dempsey feasted on large men like Wills. The Wills-Dempsey thing is on par with the Nino Valdez-Marciano drivel. An amateur wrestler out of Oklahoma(believe his name is Danny Hodge, not sure will check) took Valdez eight rounds before the fight was stopped on a cut. It was Hodges? eighth pro fight, and the rumor was Hodge was going to be stiffed in pay so he told his corner to stop the fight. Dempsey surely belongs in the top 100. He lost to Tunney twice and was soundly beaten in both fights, however, despite being only 32, Dempsey had already tasted the spoils of easy living and with all the inactivity he was long past his prime.

  31. Matt McGrain 04:26pm, 03/07/2013

    Dempsey went 0-2 with Tunney.  My point is that this could have been 2-2, 3-2 if he’d entertained Wills and Greb.  But now we just can’t know.  And I can’t include a guy in my 100 whose best win is against Jack Sharkey, without his showing a very serious streak of domination at any rate.

  32. Don from Prov 01:00pm, 03/07/2013

    Well, there’s room to argue how much Dempsey had left vs. Tunney—

    (he did fight much more often on the way up)

    But who is the other major loss to?
    Anyway, I was only responding to the comments that you made about Dempsey in your article—they highlighted Greb and Wills and they are not cut and dry issues (especially racism and how it pertained to Dempsey/Wills), but again, I love that you are writing this and would never try to do so myself.

  33. GlennR 12:59pm, 03/07/2013

    My pleasure Matt….. now im waiting to see if Tunney gets in ;)

  34. Clarence George 12:56pm, 03/07/2013


  35. Matt McGrain 12:53pm, 03/07/2013

    Cheers Glen….Clarence, you’ll just have to wait and see!

  36. GlennR 12:42pm, 03/07/2013

    Hey Matt, brave but correct decision to leave Dempsey out IMO as well

  37. Clarence George 12:33pm, 03/07/2013

    All this talk of Dempsey has got me thinking of another fighter he was reluctant to take on—Sam Langford, who is surely included.  Surely.

  38. the thresher 12:26pm, 03/07/2013

    Well, I might have missed on Papp.

    BTW, this is a fun thread

  39. Clarence George 12:01pm, 03/07/2013

    Papp would have beaten Giardello.  As for where I’d rank him…hmmm, probably somewhere between #60 and #70.

  40. Matt McGrain 11:50am, 03/07/2013

    Nic, I agree that if your ranking Papp highly it has to be based upon his am career.

  41. Matt McGrain 11:48am, 03/07/2013

    Don - Demspey isn’t out of the list because he was beaten by Greb in sparring.  He doesn’t make the list because he went 0-2 versus the exceptional talents of his era, of which there were 3.  He’s off because his overall achievements and level of competition are not as impressive as Foreman or Herman.  No, Leonard doesn’t lose a spot for not rematching Hearns - but he probably would have lost spots if Hearns had been clearly the outstanding challenger for him and he had never met him during seven years of agitating in spite of Tommy’s clear desperation for the fight.  It’s not key though.  What he did is key, not what he didn’t.

  42. nicolas 11:28am, 03/07/2013

    I’m amazed that the Thresher (I believe that’s Ted Sares) and Clarence would rank Lazlo Papp so high. Because even in his professional career the only big name he really defeated was Tiger Jones, and that was late in Jones’ career. Most of his wins were over top European opposition, and they certainly weren’t of the same caliber of Benvenuti.  I sometimes feel that Papp is in the hall of fame more because of his amateur career. His biggest win there was over a young Jose Torres, and that was only by split decision. People will always wonder what if he and Joey Giardello had met in the ring. I don’t know though that Papp would have won. I sometimes think that the Hungarian government did not end his career because of communist principles, I feel that they were really afraid that he would lose being that he was 38, very old for the time, and I believe would have been the oldest man ever to win the middleweight title, and felt it would not represent communism well if he did lose.  I sometimes wonder, if the Nazi’s had not let Max Schmelling go over to the United States to fight Joe Louis for a second time, if boxing historians would not rate Max over Joe Louis.

  43. Don from Prov 11:17am, 03/07/2013

    Dempsey off because of sparring sessions with Greb—

    And not fighting Wills?  Greb himself said that he would beat Dempsey over short rounds but not for a full fight—sparring is not an actual match.  Does Ray Leonard lose his spot because he waited so long before granting Hearns a rematch?  Or will Mayweather not make the list for refusing to face Antonio Margarito who pretty much shadowed him around the country?  The Wills controversy reminds me of Chinua Achebe deciding to brand Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” as racist without taking the context of the times into consideration.  In the Dempsey/Wills case, the context would also have to do with the racist taint of the time,  but in this case the idea would be a white man not wanting to fight a black man . 

    But, it is your list and conversation is the thing.

  44. Matt McGrain 11:15am, 03/07/2013

    Yeah, it was an interesting night in bud.

  45. dollarbond 11:01am, 03/07/2013

    This is some serious research.

  46. Matt McGrain 10:56am, 03/07/2013

    Aaaah, yes that was my next question…a lot of things about your bottom twenty make more sense to me now than they did!  You’ll see i generally have fighters ranked lower than you for this reason. The cool thing about lists is you can always touch ‘em up.  Maybe, looking at the fact that you have Perez way up at 40 and no Canto, this could be a starting point.  After all, Canto beat better opposition AND has all those defences.  I think it’s a struggle to put 60 places between them in any direction, but Canto should always be higher up IMO.

  47. the thresher 10:44am, 03/07/2013

    Hmm. I don’t, but I have Jake way up.

    I only have my list going back to 1950

  48. Matt McGrain 07:59am, 03/07/2013

    Perez that high is crazy beautiful; where do you have Canto?

  49. the thresher 07:38am, 03/07/2013

    Matt, here are the criteria I used 7 years ago when I put together my list.

    1) Was there a reasonable distribution regarding weight classifications? Too many heavyweights means something is very wrong.

    2) Was there a reasonable distribution regarding era?

    3) Did I know enough about each boxer to make a qualitative judgment? Have I ever seen Percy Bassett fight?

    4) Did I benchmark? For example, if Joe Frazier is too far away from Rocky Marciano, something is probably amiss.

    5) Did I avoid personal bias in making the selections? Was Bobby Chacon a valid choice?

    6) Did Hall of Fame induction bias my selections?

    Lists are subjective at best, You try to close the gap by developing criteria and then follow that criteria as best you can. That’s all that I’m saying.

    And yes, I do have Perez about 40 notches north. Number 40 to be exact.

  50. Clarence George 07:23am, 03/07/2013

    Disagree, but if I didn’t…I’d be a lot less interested.

  51. Matt McGrain 07:00am, 03/07/2013

    On a list of the 100 most interesting fighters, I would also list Marshall above LaMotta (again, probably only just).  He had a more interesting style for one!  He crossed swords with every member of the murderer’s row crew and was hideously marginalized by managerial and promotional interests.  So he went to the UK where he became the absolute delight of the “so what?” gym rats in London.  But as I said, it’s all about criteria.  Yours are very different to mine and so of course that will produce very different lists.  Analyse fighters from the point of sporting achievement and ability only it is not possible to have LaMotta at #55 and Marshall at #101; that does not make sense.  You can take that to the bank.  Not just because he beat LaMotta’s ass.  In a wider sense, too.

  52. Clarence George 06:50am, 03/07/2013

    This will no doubt incur your displeasure, but I probably wouldn’t include Marshall at all.  If I did, he certainly wouldn’t be higher than LaMotta.  Who’s the more interesting fighter?  And, yes, I absolutely take that into consideration.

  53. Matt McGrain 06:27am, 03/07/2013

    It’s all about criteria in the end Ted.  And I get to explain my choices, of course, whereas yours are just listed here.

  54. Matt McGrain 06:24am, 03/07/2013

    That’s high, high!  But i’m curious, what would you do with Lloyd Marshall in that instance?  Marshall beat LaMotta pretty badly, and although LaMotta has the best win of the two, Marshall’s resume is as good overall.  I mean, unless you are also talking about moving Perez forty spots north you would have LaMotta forty places above one of the most dominant champions in boxing history…i’m confused as to what criteria might justify this?  Do domination and title defences not interest you as a historian?

  55. the thresher 06:21am, 03/07/2013

    I just might have to concede that I like yours better than mine which follow:

    81. Oscar “The Golden Boy” De La Hoya, * 38-5
    82. Felix Trinidad, 42-2
    83. Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez, 46-3
    84. Michael “Manitas De Piedra” Carbajal, 49-4
    85. Jung-Koo “The Korean Hawk” Chang, 38-4
    86. Ismael “El Tigre Colonense” Laguna, 65-9-1
    87. Mike “The Bodysnatcher” McCallum, 55-5-1
    88. Yoko “Fierce Eagle” Gushiken, 23-1
    89. Laszlo Papp, 27-0-2
    90. Bobby Chacon, 59-7-1

  56. Clarence George 06:18am, 03/07/2013

    I think I get it (which is what I used to tell my math teachers)—placement is according to your established criteria.  But a certain degree of subjectivity is unavoidable.  I’d have, for example, LaMotta much higher, say, somewhere between #50 and #60.  And…I’d have “The Manassa Mauler” somewhere on this list!

    By the way, is the great Laszlo Papp included?  Or do I have to retrieve my Louisville Slugger?

  57. Matt McGrain 05:58am, 03/07/2013

    No, I do understand what you mean Clarence.  What i’m saying is that it’s *not possible* to rank him that high under the existing criteria.  There are other guys at 75, 76, 77 who must rank above him.  78 and 79 are more arguable; but then so are Perez, Marshall and LaMotta who could also be above him…

  58. Clarence George 05:50am, 03/07/2013

    I wouldn’t have thought McGrain a Germanic name.  I’m kidding.  I’m actually quite impressed by your very analytical approach.  But I don’t consider placing Brown at #75 (or so) arbitrary.  My point is that he deserves a somewhat higher ranking than you’ve assigned him.

  59. Matt McGrain 05:32am, 03/07/2013

    His original tier was 76-84.  The problem with arbitrarily assigning him a number, independent of pattern, is that, as you will see, the fighters arranged 75-80 all beat better fighter or were more dominant or performed better pound-for-pound or a combination of these three.  Looking at my list I could see him argued as high as 78; no higher.

  60. Clarence George 04:50am, 03/07/2013

    Matt:  Solid reasoning on Brown.  Still, I’d have him a bit higher, at #75 or so.

  61. Matt McGrain 02:33am, 03/07/2013

    Nicolas - for sure, there are difficulties in analysing cross-era.  But fighters of that era are absolutely great and globalization doesn’t matter so much as depth of era.  The idea that Joe Gans isn’t great because the Filipinos then did not box is as appealing to me as the notion that Mayweather isn’t currently great because the Chinese don’t really box now.

  62. Matt McGrain 02:19am, 03/07/2013

    Clarence!  Ah, no joke i’m afraid…there are more heavies to come, but not that many.  Big Jack isn’t one of them.  I do think that PAB could be higher, but it’s a resume problem.  He isn’t as dominant as Zarate or Ortiz and he isn’t distinguished by his competition like Olivares and Harada.  IN short he could be higher but not that much higher.

  63. nicolas 08:49pm, 03/06/2013

    When I see a fighter like Young Griffo and pre-1900 Jack Dempsey, I have to kind of question such a placement in one’s rankings. Boxing back then really was not the world sport it is today, even with today’s imperfections. It is safe I think to say it was a very controversial sport that was illegal in some parts of the world. Griffo benefited I believe because the sport was more accepted there. While he may have been one of the top fighters back then, many other areas did not give the opportunities in the fistic arts. What would happen for example if Australian Rules Football,or the Gaelic Sports from Ireland suddenly became big sports in the rest of the world, and Ireland and Australia were not the best in that sport. Would we be saying that one of the all time greatest 100 players was from the 1950’s, would it have much credibility during an era when it was not as big a sport in the world.? Already I see, four fighters pre-1922 on this list. I could understand around 10 fighters in the top 100, but the way it is going, I expect to see around 20 on this list.

  64. Clarence George 08:44pm, 03/06/2013

    Massively impressive, but…overshadowing your placement of Jake LaMotta and Panama Al Brown too low on your list is your announcement that Jack Dempsey, one of the greatest heavyweights of all time (number five on my list of heavies), isn’t among your top 100 pound-for-pounders.  Oh, Matt, you will have your little joke, won’t you?

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