The All Time Lightweight Tournament

By Cain Bradley on June 15, 2017
The All Time Lightweight Tournament
Duran turned 21 and Carlos Ortiz 36 and the team of Duran still saw Ortiz as dangerous.

I have taken the 16 best lightweights (any fighter can only be ranked in one division) of all time and put together a random draw…

People often try and compare fighters of different eras by discussing who is the greatest. One way to do this is to rank fighters by who achieved the most in their careers. However perhaps a more entertaining way is creating fantasy fights to work out the greatest ever. I have taken the 16 best lightweights (any fighter can only be ranked in one division) of all time and put together a random draw. Some of the fighters are admittedly not technically lightweight but I had to find a way to get them in a tournament. Who will be the winner? Let’s watch the tournament unfold! [Footnote one]

The Draw:
Julio Cesar Chavez v Jose Luis Castillo
Sammy Mandell v Joe Brown
Joe Gans v Lou Ambers
Sammy Angott v Lew Jenkins
Roberto Duran v Edwin Rosario
Willie Joyce v Barney Ross
Esteban De Jesus v Pernell Whitaker
Bob Montgomery v Willie Ritchie
Ken Buchanan v Beau Jack
George Lavigne v Benny Leonard
Ad Wolgast v Ike Williams
Carlos Ortiz v Jack Berg
Tony Canzoneri v Ismael Laguna
Battling Nelson v Shane Mosley
Frank Erne v Packey MacFarland
Freddie Welsh v Ray Mancini

Joe Gans 5.5
Benny Leonard 7
Roberto Duran 8
Carlos Ortiz 9
Packey MacFarland 14
Pernell Whitaker 16
Ike Williams 20
Tony Canzoneri 20

The Boxers:
Ad Wolgast—He won the lightweight title in 1910 by stopping Battling Nelson. He defended the belt five times before losing it to Willie Ritchie. He also impressed against Abe Attell. He was an extremely aggressive fighter with an iron chin which he later paid for. The final record was 60-13-17.

Barney Ross—Barney Ross was a three-weight world champion between Lightweight and Welterweight. He beat Tony Canzoneri twice for the titles. He edged a trilogy with Jimmy McLarnin. He also held three wins over Ceferino Garcia before ending his career with a loss to Henry Armstrong. The Ring rated him 21st in their top 80 fighters of the last 80 years finishing with a record of 72-4-3-2. He was a versatile boxer with an aggressive boxer-puncher style behind the jab.

Battling Nelson—The Greatest Danish boxer of all time, emigrated to America as a child. He begun boxing professionally at 14. Early losses came to Abe Attell and Jimmy Britt but he avenged the Britt loss to become world champion. He beat Terry McGovern and split bouts with Britt. He won a trilogy 2-1 against Joe Gans before losing to Ad Wolgast and Freddie Welsh. He was known for being incredibly tough, only being knocked out once.

Beau Jack—Jack was twice lightweight champion and one of the most popular wartime boxers. He split four fights with Bob Montgomery and has wins over Allie Stolz, Fritzie Zivic twice, Sammy Angott and Henry Armstrong. He also had losses late I his career to Kid Gavilán and Ike Williams. Cus D’Amato believed Jack was the greatest lightweight of all time and he also holds the records for headlining MSG the most times. He was a swarmer with great strength and stamina.

Benny Leonard—The Ghetto Wizard finished with a record of 183-24-8-4. He had brilliant technique and speed which he combined with power and a boxing brain. He took and came out on top of many great fighters from his era including Johnny Dundee, Freddie Welsh, Willie Ritchie, Johnny Kilbane, Rocky Kansas and Lew Tender. He is highly rated by many boxing historians. The Ring ranked him eighth in their top 80 fighters in the last 80 years while IBRO class him as the best lightweight of all time.

Bob Montgomery—The Bobcat was a naturally smooth boxer who was often drawn into brawls. By the age of 21 he had already lost to Lew Jenkins and Sammy Angott. He won the lightweight world title twice, beating Beau Jack twice. He also beat Ike Williams, who would beat him when he attempted to win back the lightweight title for a third time. In 2001, The Ring magazine ranked Montgomery as the ninth greatest lightweight of all time.

Carlos Ortiz—The Puerto Rican two weight world champion first won a world title at light welterweight but after losing a trilogy with Duilo Loi he moved down to lightweight. He beat Joe Brown and Gabriel Elorde before splitting bouts with Ismael Laguna. He would Elorde, Laguna and Ramos twice again finishing with a 61-7-1 record.

Edwin Rosario—Puerto Rican boxer who was like a bigger Wilfredo Gomez. He beat Jose Luis Ramirez to become world champion who he later lost to by stoppage. He won it back when beating Livingstone Beamble and then Anthony Jones. He lost to the top fighters including Juan Nazario, Julio Cesar Chavez and Hector Camacho. He finished with a record of 47-6 and is always regarded as a bit of a what-if power given his incredible power and occasional inability to perform under big pressure.

Esteban De Jesus—Another Puerto Rican, De Jesus was most famous for a trilogy with Roberto Duran. He handed the Panamanian his first defeat despite losing the other two bouts. His first two title shots saw defeats to Duran and Antonio Cervantes but won the WBC title beating Guts Ishimatsu. His final record was 58-5

Frank Erne—The Swiss man emigrated to the United States at seven. He was a great strategist with great ring generalship. He was a two weight world champion after beating George Dixon and Kid Lavigne. He also held an advantage over Joe Gans before an accidental head butt ended the fight. He finished with a record of 31-6-16.

Freddie Welsh—The Welsh Wizard moved over to America to make a name for himself. His early bouts saw him making a success of himself. Once near to title contention he lost and then drew to Packey MacFarland. He beat Abe Attell before capturing the European title. He drew to MacFarland in Britain before defeating compatriot Jim Driscoll by disqualification. Welsh would beat many contenders for the lightweight title so Willie Ritchie would fight him, eventually beating him for the title before losing it to Benny Leonard. His final record came in at 110-25-15.

George Lavigne—Kid Lavigne became boxing’s first widely recognized World Lightweight champion and had some marathon contests. He beat the bigger Barbados Joe Walcott, overcoming a slow start. He also had wins over Dick Burge, Young Griffo and Andy Bowen. Near the end of his career he lost to “Mysterious” Billy Smith, Frank Erne and George McFadden.

Ike Williams—Beginning his career in 1940, he rose to prominence in 1944 by beating Sammy Angott twice. He beat Juan Zurita and then Bob Montgomery to win and unify the lightweight titles. He kept defending his belt successfully until 1951 before losing to Jimmy Carter. He had management issues which hindered his career but still finished on a record of 126-24-4.

Ismael Laguna—The Panamanian who only fought six times as an amateur turned professional at only 17. His breakthrough came when outpointing Enrique Hitchman. He started his career with 27 consecutive wins before a defeat to Antonio Herrera, which he quickly avenged. Sugar Ramos avoiding giving him a Featherweight Title Shot and he was upset by Vincente Salvidar. At lightweight he became champion, beating Carlos Ortiz. He lost the other bouts in their trilogy and also felt defeat against Flash Elorde.

Jack Berg—‘Kid’ Berg, born in London was active fighter in between the wars. His great success came after moving to America where Ray Arcel would train him. He defeated unbeaten Kid Chocolate at only 20 and followed it up by defeating Mushy Callahan. Losses to Tony Canzoneri and Billy Petrolle were blamed on excessive womanizing and a struggle to make weight. His final record came in at 157-26-9.

Joe Brown—“Old Bones” became lightweight champion of the world in 1956 and went on to make 11 successful defenses. He did not make the most of his prime, only winning the title at 30 beating Wallace ‘Bud’ Smith. Wins include Ralph Dupas, Kenny Lane and Dave Charnley twice. He became The Ring Fighter of the Year in 1961 before eventually losing the title to Carlos Ortiz.

Joe Gans—“The Old Master” was ranked as the greatest lightweight of all time by Nat Fleischer. He lost his first title bout to Frank Erne but would stop him in their second bout. He had wins over Battling Nelson, Eddie Connolly and Mike Sullivan. He lost his title to the Dane, Battling Nelson and also had a loss to Terry McGovern. His final record was 145-10-16-6. He was one of the smartest boxers of all time.

Jose Luis Castillo—The Mexican is considered one of the best lightweights of his era, winning the world title twice. His first title came when underdog and beating Stevie Johnston in The Ring Upset of the Year. He then took Mayweather to the brink, his pressure and strength earning the most contentious decision Mayweather won. The rematch saw Mayweather win in a clearer fashion. He beat Juan Lazcano to regain the title and edged Joel Casamayor to retain the belt. He split incredible contests with Diego Corrales before moving up the weights.

Julio Cesar Chavez—The Mexican is a boxing great, winning six world titles in three weight divisions. He held the lightweight crown between 1987 and 1989, winning it against Edwin Rosario in a dominant performance. He also beat Rafael Limon and Jose Luis Ramirez in his best wins at the weight. He also had superb wins at Super Featherweight and Light Welterweight. He was a relentless stalker with power and a superb chin which left him unbeaten after 90 fights.

Ken Buchanan—Usually regarded at the best Scottish boxer of all time, Buchanan had a great record of 61-8. He became world champion when defeating Ismael Laguna in Puerto Rico. He unified by defeating Ruben Navarro. Then came the famous clash with Roberto Duran where he was famously stopped by an unpunished low blow in the thirteenth round. He also had wins over Jim Watt and Carlos Ortiz.

Lew Jenkins—Boxing in the golden age, Jenkins boxed at lightweight and welterweight. His greater success came at the lighter weight where he won a world title. His well known power got him the title when beating Lou Ambers. He lost it to Sammy Angott. He took on the best boxers at the time including Carmen Basillo, Beau Jack, Wesley Ramey, Bob Montgomery, Fritzie Zivic and Henry Armstrong.

Lou Ambers—‘The Herkimer Hurricane’ started his career strongly only losing to Tony Canzoneri in his first three years. He avenged that defeat to become world champion. He lost a controversial split decision to Henry Armstrong before winning the rematch. He lost his title to Lew Jenkins who stopped him twice. The Italian, who fought under Lou to keep his Mum from finding out, finished with an 88-8-6.

Packey McFarland—McFarland is widely considered the greatest boxer to never fight for a world title. Bert Sugar ranked him as the 32nd greatest fighter of all time. His final record was 106-1-6 with his only loss coming as a 16-year-old to Dusty Miller. Freddie Welsh, Jimmy Britt, Jack Britton, Tommy Kilbane and Mike Gibbons were all defeated.  He was fast and clever and possessed all the technical ability needed.

Pernell Whitaker [4]—The 1984 Olympic gold medalist, The Ring ranked him tenth in their 80 fighters of the last 80 years. He lost his first world title shot to Jose Luis Ramirez in a hugely controversial decision. He won his first title against Greg Haugen before avenging the defeat to Ramirez. He also had wins over Azumah Nelson, Freddie Pendleton and Juan Nazario prior to moving up to welterweight where he enjoyed success.

Ray Mancini—“Boom Boom” was an aggressive whirlwind from Ohio, Youngstown. He became NABF Champion and would defeat Jose Luis Ramirez as a defense. His first world title fight came in defeat against Alexis Arguello. He finally won the world title by defeating Arturo Frias. Mancini’s career and huge potential was damaged when his punches ended the life of Duk Koo Kim. He did beat Bobby Chacon after but looked lacklustre when losing the title to Livingstone Bramble. Mancini did not fulfill his potential but the fights he did have show just how good he could have been.

Roberto Duran—Duran is a four-weight world champion who excelled at lightweight. He won the title with a controversial stoppage over Ken Buchanan. He lost a non-title bout to Esteban De Jesus but would go on to defeat him twice. He also beat Guts Ishimatu, Ray Lampkin, Edwin Viuret and Saoul Mamby. He would go on to have a famous career at the higher weights including defeats of Sugar Ray Leonard, Davey Moore and Iran Barkley.

Sammy Angott—Boxrec lists Angott as the 6th best lightweight of all time. He boxed at both lightweight and welterweight but won the lightweight title beating Davey Day. He unified the world titles by beating Lew Jenkins. He ended up vacating the belt due to an injury. He fought a host of great names, including wins over Ike Williams, Willie Pep, Bob Montgomery, Baby Arizmendi and Wesley Ramey. His final record stood at 94-29-8.

Sammy Mandell—Mandell was highly active fighting 15-20 fights every year and only lost five fights on his way to a title shot. He beat Rocky Kansas to win the title and would continue to beat top boxers in Billy Petrolle, Jimmy McLarnin and Tony Canzoneri. He did lose twice to McLarnin and was shocked in a knockout defeat for his title by Al Singer. His final record stood at 143-26-16-5.

Shane Mosley—“Sugar” Shane was one of the best boxers at the turn of the 21st century being ranked first on The Ring pound for pound lists. He won the title, defeating Phillip Holiday. He made eight defenses of the title without beating anybody incredible. He also enjoyed success at Welterweight and is still boxing, currently with a 49-10-1 record.

Tony Canzoneri [5]—He was a three-weight world champion. His first came at Featherweight beating Benny Bass which he defended once before moving up. Sammy Mandell beat him in his first attempt at the title but he stopped Al Singer to become world champion. He stopped Jack “Kid” Berg for his third title. He also had bouts with Barney Ross and Sammy Mandell. His final record came in at 137-24-10.

Willie Joyce—The boxer from Chicago was unfortunate with his timing and is another boxer who never held a world title. His lost to Luther White and Tippy Larkin twice when challenging for the title. He has two wins over Henry Armstrong, Lew Jenkins and Ike Williams. Joyce possessed an incredible jab and finished with a record at 72-21-10.

Willie Ritchie—Another boxer who boxed under an alias so his Mother was unaware. He won the world title against Ad Wolgast and held it for two years before losing it to Freddie Welsh. Charley Rose has ranked Ritchie as the fourth best lightweight of all time. He was a clever boxer with fast hands who was game and willing to take punishment.

Round of 32:
Julio Cesar Chavez v Jose Luis Castillo
At first glance this seems a bigger mismatch than it perhaps is. They are friends and were sparring partners, always a difficult bout as two boxers know each other so well. Castillo is bigger and has a great chin. Chavez would be relentlessly aggressive and Castillo would enjoy some success with straight shots. Chavez was more versatile though and his body shots would begin to wear Castillo down, sealing the win late on.
Result: Julio Cesar Chavez defeats Jose Luis Castillo by Unanimous Decision (146-139 and 144-141 twice)

Sammy Mandell v Joe Brown
A superb bout in the first round. Mandell is possibly the most underrated boxer in the tournament. Mandell was a classic ‘out’ fighter who was lightning fast and accurate as well as hard to hit. Brown was also quick, moving a lot. He has a quick jab and a solid right hand. I think this is a fascinating tactical battle with both speedy, talented boxers. The fight that affects my prediction the most here is the Al Singer fight. He stopped Mandell and that makes me believe that Joe Brown definitely can. I see this being pretty even when Brown stops him with a big right hand.
Result: Joe Brown defeats Sammy Mandell by fifth round stoppage at 1:06

Joe Gans v Lou Ambers
Two smart boxers who are elusive and difficult to hit. Ambers was possibly even faster with a busy and aggressive style like a swarmer. His boxing skills meant that even so he was hard to hit. Gans was known as ‘Little Master’ and could be just as difficult to hit. He tended to take his opponents strengths away. Ambers is underrated but Gans will be too good here. Just an all around ability and he can get a points victory.
Result: Joe Gans defeats Lou Ambers by Unanimous Decision (148-137, 146-139 and 145-140)

Sammy Angott v Lew Jenkins
These two actually met near the prime of their careers. Jenkins entered as champion with Angott the challenger. Unfortunately Jenkins, as he often did, lacked interested. Lew Jenkins was the classic power puncher with a lanky frame. Angott was a difficult opponent to overcome, nicknamed the clutch he made it difficult for his opposition. He was tireless and only stopped once at the end of career. I think this was a hard fight for Jenkins, whatever condition he was in but he always had the chance of a wildcard knockout punch.
Result: Sammy Angott defeats Lew Jenkins by Unanimous Decision (148-137 and 147-138 twice)

Roberto Duran v Edwin Rosario
Rosario was actually a pretty sweet boxer but he fell in love with his immense power. His chin and toughness was questioned while his liking of drugs and alcohol meant he never reached his potential. Duran could do it all, at lightweight he was a sensational boxer who could counter puncher or could brawl. He was versatile. Against Rosario, I think Duran starts at the boxer but soon realize that he can dominate, especially on the inside. His constant pressure would trouble Rosario and he wears him down for the stoppage.
Result: Roberto Duran defeats Edwin Rosario by eighth round stoppage at 2:41

Willie Joyce v Barney Ross
An interesting bout as both probably did better works slight above 135 pounds. Willie Joyce is best known for his incredible jab which he landed with speed. He was also never stopped in his career despite a slender frame. Barney Ross was adaptable but did his best work as an aggressive boxer with great fundamentals. Ross often boxed behind his jab but with less speed and a worse jab, Joyce could definitely get the better of early exchanges. Ross could step up his aggression but being a non puncher harms him here as Joyce does not respect his attacks and even drops Ross late on.
Result: Willie Joyce defeats Barney Ross by Unanimous Decision (145-139, 144-140 and 143-141)

Esteban De Jesus v Pernell Whitaker
Esteban De Jesus was strong and quick. He was at his best when boxing and using it to set up his powerful combinations. Whitaker was a defensive genius out of his southpaw stance. Whitaker was too fast and too elusive in his southpaw stance for De Jesus. He never gets to grips with the movement and slowly ups his intensity and pressure. None of it matters although he does at one point land a big shot to Whitaker which backs him up onto the ropes. Whitaker is dominant and if he had more power, would have surely stopped De Jesus.
Result: Pernell Whitaker defeats Esteban De Jesus by Unanimous Decision (150-135 and 149-135 twice)

Bob Montgomery v Willie Ritchie
Bob Montgomery was famous for his crouching style. He was aggressive but had technical skills despite a tendency to be drawn into brawls. Willie Ritchie was considered a scientist boxer. He had fast hands and was willing to take punishment. I think the style of Montgomery means that Ritchie can use his speed and movement to get around Montgomery. He eluded Montgomery all night and takes a wide decision.
Result: Willie Ritchie defeats Bob Montgomery by Unanimous Decision (148-137, 147-138 and 144-141)

Ken Buchanan v Beau Jack
An underrated contest with two different stylists. Ken Buchanan was a superb pure boxer who had a great jab. His chin was also brilliant and was backed up by a lot of stamina. Beau Jack was a terrifying swarmer with power. He also had one of the best chins in the division. Duran was a long way up against Buchanan but Jack was almost more orthodox with his swarm. Buchanan was great at escaping tough spots and lateral movement. At times he would make Jack look silly. However, Jack was too relentless. He made a habit of defeating superb boxers and this was no different.
Result: Beau Jack defeats Ken Buchanan by Unanimous Decision (144-141 twice and 143-142)

George Lavigne v Benny Leonard
Another intriguing style clash. Lavigne was tough and had great stamina, useful when some of his fights went over 50 rounds! He was small and Benny Leonard would have had great reach advantage over him. His boxing brain should really help him especially given his advantage. He would not have been able to stop the tough Lavigne but cruised to a clear decision.
Result: Benny Leonard defeats George Lavigne by Unanimous Decision (150-135, 148-137 and 146-139)

Ad Wolgast v Ike Williams
Ad Wolgast will go down as a brawler deluxe. He was extremely aggressive with little regard for defense. He had a good ability to take a punch and had superb stamina. Williams was more versatile, a smooth puncher. He was an expert with range and was a big puncher. His defense was not as good. The boxers Williams’ tended to struggle against where those skilled, quick and could control the centre of the ring. Wolgast could not do that. He would come relentlessly at Ike. Williams had the ability to outbox him and the power to hurt him. I think he jumps on him when Wolgast gets desperate in the middle rounds and gets the finish. Wolgast shows his toughness as he gets up every time with the referee finally bringing it to an end.
Result: Ike Williams defeats Ad Wolgast by ninth round stoppage at 2:42

Carlos Ortiz v Jack Berg
An interesting bout where both men also impressed at light welterweight. Ortiz was the prototypical boxer puncher. He was versatile and well balanced. Kid Berg was a windmill puncher who was totally relentless. He was a nonstop volume puncher who had one of the best cornermen in the game in Ray Arcel. How does Berg beat Ortiz? His high volume outlanding Ortiz on the way to a decision win? Maybe, but Ortiz is too good to let that happen. I think after losing a few early rounds he takes over and soon becomes the aggressor. He gets the latest stoppage of the first round.
Result: Carlos Ortiz defeats Jack Berg by thirteenth round stoppage at 0:44

Tony Canzoneri v Ismael Laguna
Canzoneri had an old fashioned style that had little pieces of numerous boxers. He was a great offensive fighter who improved his defense, especially his upper body movement. Laguna was a smooth Puerto Rican. He was fast and technical but was also tough and had a high work rate. Canzoneri is definitely hittable and Laguna can take advantage of that. He is also a much bigger fighter than Canzoneri. I just think he has a boat load of advantages here and can beat the American by decision in what many will see as a shock.
Result: Ismael Laguna defeats Tony Canzoneri by Unanimous Decision (147-138, 146-139 and 144-141)

Battling Nelson v Shane Mosley
Battling Nelson was a swarmer who was hellacious to fight. He could take enormous amounts of punishment and his stamina was almost unmatched. Mosley was a hell of an athlete who was a puncher boxer. His judging of timing and distance was superb. This really is a matchup between the old and new school. The 15-round limit will really hinder Nelson and I think the movement of Shane dominates the early part of the fight and by the time Nelson begins to get to him it is too late.
Result: Shane Mosley defeats Battling Nelson by Unanimous Decision (145-140 twice and 146-139)

Frank Erne v Packey McFarland
One for the purists. Two legendary fighters who campaigned early in the 20th century. Both were considered scientific boxers at the time who used speed and movement. Both had top notch defense with McFarland being the more powerful on the two. Erne was stopped a few times and after a slowish start I think McFarland can hurt and stop the Swiss boxer.
Result: Packey McFarland defeats Frank Erne by sixth round stoppage at 1:32

Freddie Welsh v Ray Mancini
Another intriguing stylistic matchup. Welsh was a clever counterpuncher who had the skills to take apart brawlers. ‘Boom Boom’ was an all action fighter who fought coming forward with immense pressure. The lack of power coming from Welsh would have meant Mancini had no deterrent to stop him coming forward.  Welsh was probably a bit too clever for Mancini but Mancini had the power to drop Welsh and Welsh was also a dirty fighter who could have a point deducted.
Result: Freddie Welsh defeats Ray Mancini by Split Decision (141-142, 143-140 and 144-139)

Round of 16:
Julio Cesar Chavez v Joe Brown
Tough fight for Brown. He does not have the power to trouble Chavez. Chavez will be happy to stalk Brown, rolling his head to get in. Brown would struggle to use his movement to get away from Chavez as Chavez cuts the ring off so skillfully. Brown would have hated the constant attacks of Chavez and I see him badly suffering down the stretch and eventually his corner throws the towel in with Brown down big on all scorecards.
Result: Julio Cesar Chavez defeats Joe Brown by thirteenth round stoppage at 2:11

Joe Gans v Sammy Angott
Angott would have been a difficult opponent for anyone. He made fights brutal and it would be a test of the will of Gans which lacked to begin his career. Gans would find a way to maneuver from the holding of Angott and instead manage to turn it into a fight at range. His continual punching would turn into a disadvantage against Gans.
Result: Joe Gans defeats Sammy Angott by Unanimous Decision (148-137 twice and 146-139)

Roberto Duran v Willie Joyce
Duran is widely regarded as the greatest lightweight boxer who overcomes most matchups because of his adaptability. Joyce beat Ike Williams three times and a quick look at Duran may suggest that he could be in similar danger. However Duran could also be far more measured and could turn himself into a good boxer. I see him being patient here, taking the centre of ring and using his skills to outbox Joyce. He could turn it up whenever he needed to although Joyce was so tough I do not see it affecting him. The body shots may slightly slow him down but Duran comfortably wins a decision.
Result: Roberto Duran defeats Willie Joyce by Unanimous Decision (150-135 twice and 148-137)

Pernell Whitaker v Willie Ritchie
Ritchie was a fast, scientific boxer but he was nowhere near the speed of Whitaker. Whitaker’s defense was too such a good level that he could have pretty much shut out Ritchie here making sure he has no success.
Result: Pernell Whitaker defeats Willie Ritchie by Unanimous Decision (150-135 thrice)

Beau Jack v Benny Leonard
Benny Leonard loved making his opponent fight the bout they did not want. Against Beau Jack that would probably mean attempting to smother him and press forward. I actually think Jack was the stronger man and rather than go backwards would be happy to engage with Leonard in the middle of the ring. Leonard will not be able to hurt Jack while Jack can but Leonard is wily enough to survive. This happens in the sixth and Leonard changes strategy attempting to outbox Jack on the back foot. Leonard enjoys more success but has given too much of the fight away and loses the decision to Jack.
Result: Beau Jack defeats Benny Leonard by Split Decision (143-141, 141-143 and 145-139)[5]

Ike Williams v Carlos Ortiz
The best fight in the tournament so far. Williams is a savage with great speed and power. Ortiz is so complete in every facet of the game. Both have the power to hurt the other although both are so experienced and clever that I cannot see anyone actually taking a knockdown. It is the versatility of Ortiz that makes me edge towards the Puerto Rican. He can take it to Williams on the inside and not come off worse for wear. Ortiz is the boxer with the quicker jab and is a better fighter at distance. He is also the better defensive boxer and has great head movement which can keep him untouched at distance. This is a terrific fight where we see each fighter show their high level skills. If Ortiz can perform near his best and stay on his game all night then this is a fight he can win. I think he can and takes a clear but competitive decision.
Result: Carlos Ortiz defeats Ike Williams by Unanimous Decision (143-142 and 145-150 twice)

Ismael Laguna v Shane Mosley
A crafty good matchup. Laguna struggled against great technicians and pressure fighters but Mosley was neither. One of the biggest debates over recent years are about Mosley and how good he was. His boxing ability may not have shown but he was big, powerful, quick and tough. Mosley also has a two inch reach advantage. The movement of Laguna keeps Mosley from dominating with his power. But, I do think Mosley has enough to hurt Laguna occasionally and the hand speed to win the rounds.
Result: Shane Mosley defeats Ismael Laguna by Split Decision (143-142, 145-140 and 142-143)

Packey McFarland v Freddie Welsh
These two boxers competed on three occasions. Welsh was two years the senior of McFarland and both boxers were at or close to their prime. McFarland won the first fight before two draws. The final fight was for the world title. Away from home, McFarland dominated but was only given a draw verdict. He started fiercely, surprising Welsh but spent the majority of the fight evading Welsh. Welsh eventually saw late success with hooks but in this fifteenth round fight he does not have time. I do not see Welsh reversing his fortune.
Result: Packey McFarland defeats Freddie Welsh by Unanimous Decision (145-140, 147-138 and 148-137)

Quarter Finals:
Julio Cesar Chavez v Joe Gans
Chavez is absolute hell for Gans. He cuts the ring off at an absurdly high level. He stalks at a high pace and is surprisingly difficult to hit. Gans is fast and smart. The key for him here could be his stamina which would enable him to fight at the Chavez pace. I could actually see Gans leading this fight heading into the final third of the fight with clever, intelligent boxing. I have alluded to Gans perhaps not enjoying it when the going gets particularly tough and Chavez with his sustained body attack does that. I think Chavez shocks the late legend with a late stoppage when just behind on the cards.
Result: Julio Cesar Chavez defeats Joe Gans by fourteenth round stoppage at 2:36

Roberto Duran v Pernell Whitaker
This is the kind of bout that looks like it will lead to controversial judging depending on what you prefer. Whitaker was lightning fast and a fighter who primarily used his superb defense. Duran is known for being an aggressive savage but at lightweight he was quick and could box behind a great jab and solid defense. Duran is powerful but Whitaker had a great chin and I cannot see him being stopped although a flash knockdown is possible. Duran could be frustrated and I think the tactics of Whitaker can frustrate him here, with Duran even getting a point taking off him. I think this is back and forth but the edge is to Duran. His strength on the inside would help him as he tries to stay close and tire Whitaker out landing blows to head and body. He was also a speedy fighter at lightweight and while Whitaker has advantages in feet and head movement, Duran has similarly fast hands. The final issue is stylistically, Whitaker will be boxing on his back foot behind a jab for most of this fight. As seen through his career, close rounds do not tend to be given to that style. I think it is a debatable decision although most believe Duran deserves his win.
Result: Roberto Duran defeats Pernell Whitaker by Split Decision (144-140, 145-140 and 141-143)

Beau Jack v Carlos Ortiz
Jack has just caused the upset of the tournament, defeating Leonard. Ortiz is less likely to take it to Jack. He can use his speed and power to hurt Jack.  Ortiz is a great jabber and will use it to frustrate and dominate. Only Ike legitimately stopped Jack when in the prime of his career so I cannot see Ortiz hurting him. He takes a comfortable Decision win to move onto the semi finals.
Result: Carlos Ortiz defeats Beau Jack by Unanimous Decision (147-138, 145-140 and 144-141)

Shane Mosley v Packey McFarland
This is a titanic lightweight battle. McFarland was a big lightweight with Mosley that bit bigger. Mosley would not expect to be able to overpower McFarland and instead look to use his speed advantage while trying to walk him down. McFarland did not have the jab that bigger fighters used to beat Mosley. He is elusive but Mosley may have a speed advantage and his vaunted power would likely not matter against the Mosley chin. I think this is a poor fight with both men trying to avoid mistakes rather than create good offence. Mosley with his forward pressure gets a split nod.
Result: Shane Mosley defeats Packey McFarland by Split Decision (143-142, 146-139 and 141-144)

Semi Finals: [6]
Julio Cesar Chavez v Roberto Duran
Julio Cesar Chavez was a slow starter, with Duran the opposite taking the early rounds. Yet both men would gain confidence; Duran for recording points, Chavez for taking Duran’s best punches and walking through them. The attacks would only increase from Chavez through the middle rounds but Duran, in control of the fight, could confidently counter and mix it up when he needed to. I think Chavez could hurt and stun Duran but the tough Panamanian could get on his bike. His versatility takes him to a comfortable decision here.
Result: Roberto Duran defeats Julio Cesar Chavez by Unanimous Decision (147-138 and 145-140 twice) [7]

Carlos Ortiz v Shane Mosley
Shane does not get the big size advantage here with the same reach and Ortiz himself coming down from 140lbs. Ortiz does not have the hand speed of Shane but has quicker feet. Shane has the advantage in power and chin but are by no means a weakness for Ortiz. The major advantages for Ortiz come from his strong jab and ring generalship. He uses it to get on top early and get Mosley chasing the fight. Mosley may not excel chasing a fight but he is always dangerous and a right hand drops Ortiz in the sixth. Ortiz gets up and is still wobbly with Shane knocking him down again with a right hook. Ortiz manages to hold on to survive the round. More wary of the power, the fight gets worse as Ortiz looks to avoid the big right hand but he has enough to get the job done.
Result: Carlos Ortiz defeats Shane Mosley by Unanimous Decision (143-140, 145-138 and 146-137)

Roberto Duran v Carlos Ortiz
This is a fight that was apparently close to being made according to Duran’s book. His handlers believed the style of Ortiz was dangerous for him and choose to avoid him. In 1972, Duran turned 21 and Ortiz 36 and the team of Duran still saw Ortiz as dangerous. Both were different fighters in their prime. Duran learned how to control and use his savagery without allowing himself to be outboxed. Ortiz was comfortable in whatever fight occurred and had no obvious weakness. Both could often disappoint against lesser foes but motivation would surely be high for both, Duran more so as his hero Laguna was defeated by Ortiz. The winner of this fight likely comes from who dictates the pace. I think early Ortiz can pick up a few rounds with his quick movement helping him escape the attacks of Duran. The pace is all Duran though and he begins to wear Ortiz down to the body. Duran can set attacks up with the threat of his body punching and the Panamanian can win a comfortable decision.
Result: Roberto Duran defeats Carlos Ortiz by Unanimous Decision (144-141 twice and 145-140)

Footnote 1: I just had to make this 32 boxers, 16 was far too difficult
Footnote 2: The list of boxers who just missed out on the tournament include Wesley Ramey, Sid Terris, Nicolino Locche, Duilio Loi, Jack McAuliffe, George McFadden, Joel Casamayor, Jimmy Duffy, Rocky Kansas and Billy Petrolle
Footnote 3: Henry Armstrong will be in the Welterweight tournament. I know he fits naturally in this weight a big better but he just has better wins at welterweight and defending that belt
Footnote 4: Whitaker was at his best at lightweight. At Welterweight he lost to all the best boxers he fought and did not really beat any good welterweight.
Footnote 5: Shock of the tournament so far, sure plenty will disagree. I do think Leonard is the better fighter and would win any fight after the first thanks to his adjustments.
Footnote 6: Looking at the semi finals and thinking about previous tournaments, I possibly do have a bias to the more modern fighters. So many boxers have very little video which makes them hard to judge and also fought in an era that was very different.
Footnote 7: This was one of the first fantasy fights I ever did before I wrote for Editor I had cut at least 500 words off of it as unnecessary. Bugs me too this day.

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  1. Joel Daitch 10:15am, 03/25/2019

    You should take a look at Davey Day The Real Uncrowned lightweight Champion, Mike Silver agrees fully, and Willie Pep, Ray Arcel, Jimmy McLarnin, Jimmy Johnson, etc. etc.  There is a great story on Davey Day on Ebay item Exhibit card, search item #233168886534.  Read the context. Check it out. Thank you.

  2. nicolas 09:52pm, 06/21/2017

    Lots of difficulties with these predictions. I would feel that Ross and Canozerri would advance to the next round. Leonard losing to Jack, so Damato felt that Jack was the greatest? Nat Flincher must be rolling in his grave. Personally I feel that Armstrong should be in this field and he would be the best. But for the record, I would see a final here between Witaker and Leonard, with a slight edge to Witaker.

    Jack Fiske, a noted San Francisco boxing writer back in 1980 made a strong case why Duran would not be the greatest light weight of all time. Yes we can look back at Duran, and place him in the top ten. His greatness really comes from that he defeated Leonard the first time, a Leonard who had at that time the odds stacked against him, as in reality Duran had made a political point, if some here remember. Also his greatness might be determined as a light weight on his victories over Buchanan and De Jesus, the first man to beat him. In the second fight, for the title held in Panama City, the deck was cruel stacked against De Jesus. Panamanian referee, and all Panamanian judges. De Jesus had no choice but to go try to knockout Duran, and therefore could not fight the fight that would win. By the third time, I think De Jesis was already on the downward spiral that would lead to his death.

  3. David 04:30pm, 06/21/2017

    Roberto Duran would have smoked them all. He was, and still is, until someone comes along who can do it better, the greatest lightweight and the ‘Greatest” fighter to lace up a pair of gloves.

  4. Buster 10:31pm, 06/19/2017


  5. Alt Knight 06:53am, 06/16/2017

    I don’t see Chavez walking through Duran’s best punches at all. Manos de Piedra wasn’t exactly a one punch type of knockout artist at 135lbs but his power was still exceptional. Duran is without a doubt the greatest lightweight IMO, but I do think that Pernell Whitaker did have the style to give Duran fits. You had a very interesting take on that proposed matchup and were probably spot on as well. Overall, great article. Ironically, I’m interested in reading your take on the light heavies. The welterweights are going to be the Armstrongs, the Robinsons, etc, and we’ve certainly read or heard about great heavies and middleweights over and over. We can be certain the names will be Greb, Robinson, Ali, Louis, etc.

  6. tuxtucis 11:59pm, 06/15/2017


  7. Sean Matheny 02:08pm, 06/15/2017

    Great , well researched and thought out article Cain!  Personally, I see Benny Leonard against Roberto Duran in the finals.  But overall, a helluva of an enjoyable article!!  I can’t wait for the welters.!!

  8. peter 12:31pm, 06/15/2017

    Excellent work, Cain! Enjoyed it! One minor point—Laguna is from Panama—not Puerto Rico.

  9. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 12:07pm, 06/15/2017

    Finally…. someone who contributes articles involving great research and writing to recognizes Carlos Ortiz for just how good he really was…. he was the Puerto Rican version of Sugar Ray Robinson….period!

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