Before I begin, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dan Hanley
and I am a total boxing nut. So say no more! Despite, however, any
instability on my part, Marty Mulcahey has seen fit to bestow this
page on me. And may I say, following Marty on 'Ring Ratings of the
past' is a daunting task but one which I relish. I look forward to
hearing from any and all on my opinions of fighters, past and present,
so let's not be shy about voicing a disapproving opinion. Because,
let's face it, Fight Nuts, isn't that what it's all about? The
opportunity, while downing a pint, of screaming, "What?? Are you
crazy?! He bleeds at weigh-ins! He can't take it in the guts! If he
had any less nuts he'd be singin' soprano!"
I think you get my drift. So let's belly up to the bar boys, and
have a walk through the ages. Send any comments or questions to
I think you get my drift. So let's belly up to the bar boys, and have a walk through the ages. Send any comments or questions to
Awright, Fightnuts, are we ready for another go? I'm gonna stray a little this month on a pugilistic subject that is a favorite of mine, a somewhat bent subject in this day and age of champions only that requires perhaps, a bent mind to nurture. Implementing this wayward thought came to me while reading an article that has been written for the umpteenth time on the 20 greatest fighters of all time. Now, much as I still enjoy reading about these great fighters, I just feel some of these stories on the same fighters have been done to death. Therefore, in order to set a fire under everyone's stool, I'm gonna rattle the cage a bit and dwell on the great unsung heroes of boxing for a change. Of course we know them as CONTENDERS. Who are the greatest fighters never to win a world title at a respective weight? Whether avoided due to talent, denied because of race or simply unfortunate enough to have met an outstanding champion of their era, these fighters should be acknowledged for what they were, with their day having passed. So...a roster of boxing's 'nearly' men begged to be formed. Okay, so we have the 'what' in place, now we examine the 'how'. The criteria I've used in forming my listing is thus: 1) A fighter must have fought competitively at the designated weight. 2) A fighter cannot have held a 'world' title of any kind at the designated weight (Where do I draw the line? I tell ya, I was downright nasty on this one due to the spurious claims to world titles out there. Excluding those nonsensical White, Negro, Interim and any title below WBO in the alphabet categories, I counted every claim and, unfortunately, had to exclude great fighters like Hedgemon Lewis (Welter), Tiger Jack Fox (Lt. Heavy) and Len Harvey (Lt. Heavy) due to New York and European recognition as world champs at their weight class). 3) A champion from another weight class is eligible provided he meets points 1 and 2. 4) Straw, Jr. Fly, Super Fly, Super Bantam, Super Middle and Cruiser weight divisions are unrecognised. Therefore, champions as well as contenders from those weight classes are eligible as contenders at the next higher weight class. Awright, now that we know where we're going with this, I should add that this chronological listing (not a ranking) of my top 15 is based on opinion and not what a fighter may have achieved throughout a lengthy career. In other words, I've simply rated whom I feel was the better fighter. Now, I catch a lot of E-mails graced with both praise and criticism from you lot out there and I will admit you're a knowledgable bunch. So, before you Fightnuts out there scroll down, perhaps you should first form your own listing. My guess is you'll agree with me on ten of my fifteen and scream "Have Hanley committed!" on the other five. Ahh, but isn't the argument what it's all about? So, without further ado, let's have a little fun butting heads on this backbone of boxing. (Note: the fighter's name is followed by birthplace and number of title shots received at the weight)
Sam Langford (Can) (0) Joe Jeanette (USA) (0) Harry Wills (USA) (0) Tommy Farr (Wales) (1) Jimmy Bivins (USA) (0) Elmer Ray (USA) (0) Archie Moore (USA) (2) Zora Folley (USA) (1) Eddie Machen (USA) (1) Oscar Bonavena (Arg) (1) Jerry Quarry (USA) (2) Ron Lyle (USA) (1) Earnie Shavers (USA) (2) Jimmy Young (USA) (1) Gerry Cooney (USA) (1) Believe it or not, Sam Langford, probably a staple on everyones list, barely made mine. With apologies to some of you out there that believe I've committed boxing sacrilege, I just have a hard time placing someone on my heavyweight list who weighed 175 and was the same height as Marco Antonio Barrera. I had a much easier time ranking his contemporaries, Jeanette and Wills, who, admittedly, he stayed with on an even keel. But Jeanette at 5'10" and Wills at 6'4" had a much better chance of staying with the Heavys of the ages after the days of brawling gave way to technique. Tommy Farr earned his berth by way of a great chin, immaculate skills and by giving Louis, Baer and Braddock all they could handle. Jimmy Bivins, better as a Lt. Heavy, but engaged Louis, Walcott and a Heavyweight Charles in some real toe to toes. Also was Interim champ during Louis' war years. Elmer Ray, top dog in the 40's, beat both Charles and Walcott during his heyday. Archie Moore, old as friggin' Methusaleh and a Lt. Heavy to boot, yet beat Nino Valdez (twice), Bob Baker, Clarence Henry and took Marciano to a life and death struggle in '55. Zora Folley, victim of his ties to the IBC, entered the top ten in '56 and stayed there until receiving his only title opportunity in '67 at the age of 34. Eddie Machen, fought five Heavy champs and had all the tools, but always missed that big one. Oscar Bonavena, a snarling bull of a fighter who gave a peak Ali and Frazier some nasty lumps while taking the same in return willingly. Jerry Quarry, a 60's-70's version of Jack Sharkey. A counter-punching master whose head-strong character got him into unnecessary punch-outs. Ron Lyle, on his night he was something. Wins over Ellis, Bonavena, Shavers, Bugner and a memorable brawl with Foreman put him on the Heavy map. Earnie Shavers, if you could get him into the later rounds you might have a chance, but those first five rounds were an incredible gauntlet to run. One of the best one punch bangers ever, just ask Norton, Ellis and Young. Speaking of Jimmy Young, they didn't come any slicker. Only lacking a punch, Young's skills were at their peak when he was going at it with Ali, Foreman, Norton and Lyle (twice). Gerry Cooney, the much maligned Cooney I might add, suffered only from bad management. His talents needed a forum but he fought only sporadically. Although his power was evident (Norton, Lyle), his skills were underrated. His best night was when he ripped Jimmy Young's face to shreds with his left jab alone and then slipped into a once a year fight schedule. Talent never realized. Honorable mention: Luther McCarty, Sam McVey, George Godfrey, Larry Gains, Roland LaStarza, George Chuvalo, Cleveland Williams, Jeff Merritt.
Sam Langford (Can) (0) Harry Greb (USA) (0) Gene Tunney (USA) (0) Young Stribling (USA) (1) Mickey Walker (USA) (2) Jimmy Bivins (USA) (0) Lloyd Marshall (USA) (0) Ezzard Charles (USA) (0) Jorge Ahumada (Arg) (3) Avenamar Peralta (Arg) (0) Richie Kates (USA) (2) Yaqui Lopez (Mex) (4) Jesse Burnett (USA) (1) James Scott (USA) (0) James Toney (USA) (0) Now this is more like it for Langford, facing a man in the opposite corner who weighs 175. At this weight he would be awesome in any era. Harry Greb, fought 5 Lt. Heavy champs as well as banging heads (don't believe for a minute that I'm kidding) with Gene Tunney no less than 5 times. They've never been constructed any tougher. As for Tunney, he fought the most of his brilliant career at Lt. Heavy, not moving up until a year prior to his challenge for Dempsey's big man's crown. Young Stribling, the 'King of the Canebrakes', fought 6 Lt. Heavy champs and 3 Heavy kings, but was more at home at 175. Beat Loughran, Rosenbloom and Slattery but lost to Berlanbach for the title. Mickey Walker, fought everyone from Welter to Heavy and didn't give a damn what they weighed. Made two exceptional challenges for the title against Loughran and Rosenbloom. Jimmy Bivins, avoided like the plague in two divisions. Beat 5 Lt. Heavy champs including Archie Moore as well as future Heavy champ Ezzard Charles. So let's say no more. Lloyd Marshall, the closest he came to a shot at the title was his bout against Bivins for the 'Duration' title during WWII, in which Bivins had to pick himself off the canvas to stop Marshall in the 13th. Marshall, one of my two division contenders, beat Maxim, Christoforidis and Mills at 175. Ezzard Charles, my personal pick for the greatest Lt. Heavy of all time, beat 4 175 lb. champs as well as uncrowned kings Bivins (4 times) and Marshall (twice). Had Archie Moore's number, going 3-0 against the Mongoose. Jorge Ahumada, came out of the Buenos Aires ring wars seeking fame and fortune in NY. Was robbed in his 15 round draw with Foster and went head to head in unsuccessful bids against Conteh and Galindez for the WBC and WBA titles respectively. Along the way up the ladder he beat Galindez, Peralta, Andy Kendall, Bobby Cassidy and Ray anderson. Avenamar Peralta, Greg's little brother, had all the talent in the world but showed bad judgement when it came to displaying his wares. Whereas Ahumada chose NY to make his assault on the world stage, Peralta chose Europe, which afforded him a decent living but prevented that final stretch for the title. Nevertheless, he did beat Galindez (3 times), Ahumada, Bossman Jones, TNT Carroll and Ray Anderson. Richie Kates, with wins over Pierre Fourie, Len Hutchins, Jimmy Dupree and Don Fullmer, took on Galindez in two brutal 15 rounders and nearly decapitated Saad Muhammad for the NABF title in '78 before the miracle man got up and took him out in 6. Alvaro (Yaqui) Lopez, a fighting machine who fought competitively in four challenges for the crown against Galindez (twice), Conteh and Saad Muhammad. Also beat Rossman, Burnett (twice), Kendall and Tony Mundine. Jesse Burnett, the 70's version of Archie Moore. This slick old-timer beat Lopez (twice), Mundine (twice), Bossman Jones, Lonnie Bennett and retired Victor Galindez. James Scott, with only the four walls of Rahway State Prison holding him back and the ABC cameras rolling, he entertained audiences with his wins over Mustafa Muhammad, Lopez, Burnett, Kates and Bunny Johnson, until the novelty wore off and the cameras shut down. And finally, James Toney, at 168 (let's just call it Lt. Heavy) he displayed counter punching wizardry against Iran Barkley and proved he could war in the trenches against Prince Charles Williams. Unfortunately, excessive time at the dinner table prevented him from enjoying a lengthy stay at Lt. Heavy. Honorable mention: Tommy Gibbons, Bobo Olson, Doug Jones, Henry Hank.
Len Harvey (Eng) (1) Jock McAvoy (Eng) (0) Steve Belloise (USA) (2) Archie Moore (USA) (0) Georgie Abrams (USA) (1) Holman Williams (USA) (0) Charley Burley (USA) (0) Jack Chase (USA) (0) Lloyd Marshall (USA) (0) Spider Webb (USA) (1) Joey Archer (USA) (2) Luis Rodriguez (Cuba) (1) Bennie Briscoe (USA) (3) Ayub Kalule (Uganda) (0) Herol Graham (Eng) (2) Len Harvey, a pro at 12 years of age enjoyed his biggest success at Lt. Heavy but had an outstanding run as a Middleweight. Losing to Marcel Thil for the world title, a man he had already beaten, Harvey also went head to head with Vince Dundee, Ben Jeby, Dave Shade, Jock McAvoy and Jack Hood. McAvoy, himself an outstanding Middle cum Lt. Heavy, killed any chances of a title shot for himself by blowing away newly crowned NBA Middle king Babe Risko in one round in a non- title affair. Steve Belloise, one hard banger out of NY, lost a couple of squeakers to Ken Overlin for the title but beat among others, Ceferino Garcia, Anton Christoforidis, Al Hostak, Georgie Abrams and Robert Villemain. Archie Moore, thought of only as a Lt. Heavy/Heavy, had a very competitive run at 160, holding a spot in the top ten from '40-'43 and besting Lloyd Marshall, Jack Chase and Nate Bolden along the way. Georgie Abrams, not a big banger but sooooo talented. Gave Zale a run for it for the vacant world title and beat Billy Soose (3 times), Lou Broulliard, Teddy Yarosz, Steve Belloise and drew with Charley Burley. Holman Williams, one of the many great black fighters of the '40's avoided by every champ unless it was scheduled for 10. In a stellar career, Williams beat Kid Tunero, Charley Burley, Lloyd Marshall, Jack Chase and Archie Moore. Charley Burley, what can be written about Burley that hasn't already been written? Had Archie Moore down twice and beat him over ten. Also beat Billy Soose, Jack Chase and Holman Williams. One might say the frozen title during the war years was his undoing, but even a certain Mr. Robinson wsn't going near this guy. Jack Chase, the list seems endless regarding these largely avoided fighters. Chase had to content himself with the Calif. State title during the 40's and the fact that he held wins over Moore, Marshall, Eddie Booker and 'Kid' Matthews. Lloyd Marshall, his record is a who's who of world class Lt. Heavies and Middles. At 160 he KO'd Ezzard Charles and beat Burley, Williams, Chase, LaMotta and Overlin. Ellsworth (Spider) Webb was one rough customer who made a habit of interrupting ambitions. Beat future champs Tiger, Giardello and Downes while giving Gene Fullmer two rough goes of it, the latter bout for the title. Joey Archer, 'couldn't break an egg' they used to say, but was so slick. Beat Tiger, Moyer, Hurricane Carter and retired Sugar Ray over 10 rounds. He then lost two controversial decisions to Emile Griffith with the title on the line. Not bad for no punch. Luis Rodriguez, the former Welter king went through the Middles of his day like a dose of salts. Battled Benvenuti to the wire for the 160 lb. title until running into a one- puncher in the 11th. Beat Carter (twice), Briscoe (twice), Moyer, Georgie Benton, Vicente Rondon and Tony Mundine. Bennie Briscoe, a man whose name is synonomous with the term 'Philadelphia fighter', gave Monzon and Valdes a murderous go of it in non-title and title bouts. Also beat Mustafa Muhammad, Rondon, Benton, Mundine and Cyclone Hart. Ayub Kalule, a Jr. Middleweight in a Middleweight's body, thanks to his Promoter who ordered him to boil down to 154. Regardless, at his natural weight of 160 he was formidible in winning Commonwealth and Euro titles, and in beating Sumbu Kalambay, Lindell Holmes, Sugar Ray Seales and Kevin Finnegan. Lastly, Herol Graham, damn near untouchable in his prime. Had Julian Jackson all but out for the vacant title until he pulled a Billy Conn in the 4th. Held wins over Kalule, Holmes, Pazienza and Mark Kaylor. Honorable mention: Oh man, where do I begin, where do I end? There were so many who could have made this list I wish I could have stretched it to 25. Nevertheless, Dave Shade, Ace Hudkins, Kid Tunero, Jose Basora, Nate Bolden, Eddie Booker, Dave Sands, Hurricane Carter, Georgie Benton, Cyclone Hart, Tony Mundine, Ronnie Harris, Mustafa Hamsho.
Joey Giambra (USA) (1) Ted Wright (USA) (1) Stan Harrington (USA) (2) Stan Hayward (USA) (1) Gypsy Joe Harris (USA) (0) Charkey Ramon (Austr) (0) Elijah Makathini (SA) (0) Tony Chiaverini (USA) (0) Clint Jackson (USA) (0) Gary Guiden (USA) (1) Charley Weir (SA) (1) Tony Ayala (USA) (0) Herol Graham (Eng) (0) James Green (USA) (0) David Braxton (USA) (1) Okay, okay, I realize it's not what you might call 'deep' but I couldn't ignore the division and its nearly forty year history, so just bear with me. Joey Giambra, fought the best Middleweights of his day (beating Giardello 2 out of 3), but lost to Moyer for what is generally accepted as the inaugural 154 lb. title bout. Ted Wright, similarly fought the best out there (Griffith, Benvenuti, Rodriguez, Moyer) and fought Griffith for a version of the world title, only 3 days earlier than the Moyer-Giambra bout. However, this Euro version soon went into disuse. Stan Harrington, a tough perrenial contender who fought 6 world champs in his career, gave Moyer and Kim hell in separate title bids. Stan (Kitten) Hayward, beat Griffith, Cokes and Briscoe during his hectic career, but lost to Freddie Little for the Jr, Middle title. Gypsy Joe Harris, another product from the Philadelphia factory of leather slingers. Harris beat reigning Welter king Curtis Cokes, then lost to Griffith before it was discoverd he was blind in one eye and forced to retire. Charkey Ramon, this tough nut from Australia had a bit in common with Harris. Although their styles differed dramatically, Ramon, shortly after winning the Commonwealth 154 title, was forced to retire with a detached retina with a 34-1-1 log. Elijah (Tap Tap) Makathini, one of the best produced by South Africa, beat Griffith, Cokes, Dynamite Douglas, Juarez DeLima, Gary Guiden and Charley Weir, but could not nail down a title fight. Tony Chiaverini, was a top notch Jr. Middle who held excellent wins over Elisha Obed, Tony Licata and 'Mad Dog' Ross, but his eyes were bigger than his stomach and was put in his place when he would ascend to the next rung in class by fighters such as Leonard, Benitez and Briscoe. Clint Jackson, a fighter who would have achieved so much more if he stayed at 154, but the money has always been at 160. Nevertheless, his televised bout against Frank 'the animal' Fletcher is considered a classic. Gary Guiden, a beautiful short puncher out of Indiana was another who would stray north in weight to make ends meet. Took a hammering against a 160 lb. Makathini and Curtis Parker, but returned to the 154 division and gave Davey Moore a good go of it for the title. Charley Weir, had some excellent wins over Mike Colbert, Kevin Finnegan and Mike Baker and was quickly ushered into a title fight by the South Africa friendly WBA before Moore exposed his glaring weakness. A chin with the reiliency of potato salad. Of course, he was an absolutely deadly puncher and if you couldn't get to him, chances are you'd be gone. Tony Ayala, this bad boy is actually still active, albeit at a higher weight. But prior to his...career interruption, he was awesome. Wins over Carlos Herrera and Robbie Epps put him on the map and a tumultuous personal life veered him off. James (Hardrock) Green, the man NBC tried pushing down our throats after the Ayala conviction, was a nice pressure fighter who employed an effective Joe Frazier-bob and weave style. But losses to Frank Fletcher and Donald Curry ended his run. Herol Graham, was 26-0 and the British, Common- wealth and Euro Jr. Middle champ before abdicating and venturing north in weight. The 154 lb. division's loss. And finally David Braxton, a slick boxer/puncher out of Detroit who looked to be the heir apparent at 154 after Tommy Hearns' departure, only to be stopped by Mike McCallum in the Jamaican's first title defense. Honorable mention: Oh man, it wasn't the easiest nailing down 15 at 154, let alone those outside the elite sphere. But, here goes. Donato Paduano, Luigi Minchillo, Tony Braxton (the fighter, not the singer).
Ceferino Garcia (Phil) (2) Ernie Roderick (Eng) (1) Holman Williams (USA) (0) Charley Burley (USA) (0) Billy Graham (USA) (2) Gil Turner (USA) (1) Denny Moyer (USA) (1) Ralph Dupas (USA) (1) Manuel Gonzales (USA) (2) Ernie Lopez (USA) (2) Eddie Perkins (USA) (0) Clyde Gray (Can) (3) Armando Muniz (Mex) (4) Harold Weston (USA) (2) Dave Green (Eng) (2) Ceferino Garcia, better known as a Middleweight champ, fought the first ten years of his career at 147, duking it out with the likes of Freddie Steele, Young Corbett III, Izzy Janazzo, Kid Azteca and Bobby Pacho before failing in valiant attempts at the title against Ross and Armstrong. Ernie Roderick, British Welter and Middle- weight champ as well as Euro Welter champ, took Armstrong to the wire in '39 for the title. Holman Williams, beat Janazzo, Pacho, 'Slugger' White and Tommy Paul at 147, while Charley Burley beat Fritzie Zivic, Billy Soose and Cocoa Kid at the same weight before the two charitably engaged one another in a seven bout series across two divisions that ended up all even at 3-3 and 1NC. A pity the champions couldn't have been as charitable to either of these two. Billy Graham, generally recognised as an uncrowned champ due to the controversy surrounding his first title fight with Gavilan. Managed to beat Gavilan, Basilio, Giardello and Art Aragon over the course of his career. Gil Turner, fought 9 world champs and held wins over 5 of them. Lost an absolute classic to Gavilan for the crown in '52. Denny Moyer, began his career at Welter and ended at Middle. In between, he won the fledgling 154 lb. title but displayed great promise at 147. Although losing to Don Jordan in his lone effort for the crown, Moyer beat Robinson, Griffith, Saxton, Paret, Akins and DeMarco (Paddy and Tony). Ralph Dupas, another future 154 lb. champ. This native of New Orleans peaked at Welter during his long career, losing to Griffith over 15 in '62 with well over 100 bouts under his belt at the time. Beat 5 world champs in his career. Manny Gonzales had it all, barring the big punch. However, his skill held him in good stead as he managed to beat Griffith, Moyer, Cokes, Joe Brown and Charlie Shipes. Lost over 15 to Griffith and Cokes when it counted. Ernie (Indian Red) Lopez, long before his kid brother hit the Featherweight scene, big Ernie was cutting a mean swath through the Welters of the '60's and early '70's. Besides fighting Napoles (twice) for the title, Lopez also went toe to toe with Griffith (twice), Albarado, Stracey, Muniz and Raul Soriano (twice). Eddie Perkins, a two time 140 lb. champ, could never entice a champ to defend against him again at Jr. Welter or Welter. A true spoiler, in his mid-thirties he was beating Angel Espada, Gray and Muniz. Clyde Gray, won Canadian, North American and Commonwealth Welter titles and fought Napoles and Espada to the absolute wire in attempts at the title. Avoided no one and fought 5 world champs in 70 plus fights. Armando Muniz, robbed blind in his first title fight with Napoles, battled competitively in his other three title tries. Fought 8 world champs in a 'duck no one' career that saw him beat Hedgemon Lewis, Lopez, Gray, Adolph Pruitt and Pete Ranzany. Harold Weston, fought a who's who of boxing in, Antuofermo, Hearns, Benitez (twice), Cuevas, Lewis, Mamby, Arcari and Mattioli. So slick but retired early with a detached retina. And we end with Dave (Boy) Green. This hard man from England, slingin' that big right hand they called his 'muck spreader' first made a name for himself at 140 before taking on Welters Leonard, Palomino, Stracey and Andy Price. British and Euro champ at 147. Honorable mention: Jack Hood, Issac Logart, Gaspar Ortega, Raul Soriano, Adolph Pruitt, Oba Carr.
Contenders from Jr. welter to flyweight Click here to see the rest of the contenders!