Tag Archives: Boxers

Top 10 British boxers of all time (Part Two)

In the first part of Ken Irons’ article he revealed the first half of his top ten British boxers of all time, this time we find out who made the top five (and more importantly the number one slot!)  So who did our man at ringside feel were the premier pugilists from the land of the Rose? Read on and find out…

5) Chris Eubank 

Middle & Super Middleweight (45-5-2, 23 KO’s)

London born Eubank moved, in his teens, to New York, where he eventually fought off drug, alcohol and shop lifting dependencies when he took up boxing. 

On his return to the U.K. he was undefeated world middleweight champion for over five years and unbeaten in all fights in his first ten years as a pro.

His lisping drawl, eccentric attire and foppish attitude antagonised some (including arch adversary Nigel Benn) but masked a steely character.

 4) Carl Froch

Super Middleweight (33-2, 24 KO’s)

Froch, from Nottingham, is generally regarded as the best pound for pound British fighter currently plying his trade.

Nicknamed ‘The Cobra’, the 38 year-old has won 33 of his fights (24 knock outs) and suffered his only defeats by decision, with a record of 9–2 in world title fights, four victories being by knock out.

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3) John Conteh           

Light Heavyweight (34-4-1, 23 KO’s)

Aged only 19 Lancastrian Conteh won a gold medal at middleweight in the 1970 Olympics.

On turning professional he won the WBC light heavyweight crown in 1974 and held it until 1977. He retired in 1980 with a record of 34 wins, 4 losses and a solitary draw.

Regrettably he was another superbly talented fighter who could have done better still had it not been for an alleged penchant for the high life.

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2) Joe Calzaghe CBE

Super Middleweight (46-0, 32 KO’s)

British Lionhearts v Italia Thunder - World Series of Boxing

Welsh southpaw Calzaghe held WBO, WBA WBC & IBF super middle titles and is the longest reigning super middle champion in history, retiring undefeated in 2009.

His popularity has since resulted in appearances on national TV shows, while a perfect professional record of 46-0 is one of the finest in the history of elite level sparring, trumped only by Rocky Marciano (49-0) and Floyd Mayweather Jr (47-0).      

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1) Lennox Lewis CM, CBE

Heavyweight (41-2-1, 32 KO’s)

Born in West Ham, Lewis moved to Canada in childhood but retains dual nationality. At 6 feet 5 inches and around 17 stone, easy going, chess playing Lewis was a supreme boxer with a knock out punch in either hand.

He held the undisputed world title and never ducked a fight in an era (nineties) when there were plenty of dangerous fighters around, such as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Vitali Klitschko (all of whom Lewis subjugated.)

His only professional defeats were duly and emphatically avenged in resultant re-matches.

What do you think of Ken’s choices? Should Ricky Hatton have made the cut? How about Frank Bruno or Herbie Hyde (ok, the last one might be a joke!)

Written by Ken Irons

I have always had a love of the written word and have frequently, over the years, exasperated editors, publishers et al with my copious submissions of work. My highly advanced years I find a plus, as it means not having to research so much - I can remember it if it's in the last century or so!

Top 10 British boxers of all time (part one)

Britain has produced some incredible pugilists over the past century, but who are the cream of the crop? In part one of this article Ken Irons gives the first five of his top ten British boxers of all time, focusing on numbers 10 to 6.

Nigel Benn

It is inevitably difficult to assess athletes of any kind when comparing different eras; the contemporary boxer has the advantages of improved fitness levels, whereas fighters of fifty and sixty years ago, in the days before multi titles for each weight division, had but one world title to fight for.

They didn’t, like today, get a shot at a title when they’d only had to undergo a handful of fights. Taking these points into account, I have done my best to come up with a fair assessment of the top ten British boxers of all-time based on a series of criteria that includes longevity and performances on the big stage; the latter one reason why some notable names have missed the cut.

10) Sir  Henry Cooper OBE KSG

 Heavyweight (55 fights, 40 wins,  14 losses, 1 draw, 27 K.O’s)                                                         

Cooper, otherwise fondly referred to as Our Enery’, was arguably the most popular British fighter since the war and, although he held only Commonwealth and European titles as opposed to a world strap, is still remembered for his fearsome left hook.

It was this punch which, famously, floored Muhammad Ali in perhaps Cooper’s most notorious bout although Ali, aided by some alleged sharp practice from his corner to give him extra recovery time, went on to stop Cooper with a badly cut eye.

9) Barry McGuigan MBE

Featherweight (32-3, 28 KO’s)

McGuigan, born in Clones, Republic of Ireland, and nicknamed the ‘Clones Cyclone’, was a skilful boxer and powerful puncher whose 32 winning professional fights included 28 knock outs. 

He won the world title and successfully defended it twice. His career was at it’s height during the time of ‘The Troubles’ (a religion conflict mainly based in Northern Ireland) and McGuigan earned tremendous respect and admiration from both sides of the political divide, not only via his in-ring accomplishments, but also by his heartfelt, authentic neutrality. 

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8) Naseem Hamed

Bantam, Super Bantam & Featherweight (36-1, 31 KO’s)

Southpaw Hamed, born in Sheffield, was a very exciting, if unorthodox fighter who packed a great punch with either fist, knocking out 31 of his 36 victims (losing only one fight in his professional career).

He held WBC, WBO, IBF & WBA world titles but retired at only 28 years of age, this despite being hailed by some as potentially Britain’s best ever fighterwhose only fault allegedly was a limited enthusiasm for training camp.  

7) Lloyd Honeyghan     

Welterweight (43-5, 31 KO’s)

Jamaica born Honeyghan, a supreme combatant, was responsible for one of the greatest world championship wins ever achieved by a British fighter when, in 1986, he travelled to the USA to defeat their seemingly invincible champion Donald Curry in 6 rounds.

He was WBC, WBA & IBF champion from 1986 to 1987 and WBC champion 1988  1989, although he famously dumped his WBA belt in a trash bin due to their policy of allowing fights in South Africa.  

6) Nigel Benn

Middle & Super Middleweight (42-5-1, 35 KO’s)

Ex soldier Benn, born in Ilford, was one of the most exciting fighters Britain has ever produced and the crowds would flock to witness his aggressive, barnstorming approach to contests, which resulted in many knock out victories.

He won world titles at both middle and super middleweight and had two epic battles against his nemesis and arch rival Chris Eubank, the first of which he lost, with the rematch concluding in a hotly disputed draw.

Check back with Kureen tomorrow for the top five and let us know if you agree with Ken’s selections or not! 

Written by Ken Irons

I have always had a love of the written word and have frequently, over the years, exasperated editors, publishers et al with my copious submissions of work. My highly advanced years I find a plus, as it means not having to research so much - I can remember it if it's in the last century or so!

Top Ten Heavyweight Boxers of all time (part two: 5-1)

Yesterday Ken Irons shared the first half of his top ten heavyweight boxers of all-time, now it’s time to step into the ring with the elite, as he reveals his top five!

Butterbean: Failed to make the cut
Butterbean: Failed to make the cut

5) JOE LOUIS
Record: 66-3 (52 KO’s)

Joe Louis is a boxing icon who held the title (before it became fragmented) from 1937 until 1949, the longest period ever for a champion to reign.

He was undefeated until sustaining a 12-round loss to Germany’s Max Schmeling in 1936. After winning the title he had a return fight with the German in 1938, a fight which triggered deep emotions owing to the anti-Nazi feelings prevalent at the time (Hitler had reportedly personally encouraged Schmeling to win the title for the honour of the third Reich, although there was never any question that the fighter himself was involved in politics in any way). The fight lasted 124 seconds with Schmeling knocked senseless having been floored 3 times.

A tribute to Joe Louis in Detroit
A tribute to Joe Louis in Detroit

Louis retired in 1949 but then had to come back due to financial problems as he owed a large sum in taxes. This caused anger amongst fans and the general public as a whole because Joe had served his country well, both in wartime (in the U.S. Army) and as a unifying personality, loved by both blacks and whites.

The Government displayed no such sentimentality and Joe was reduced to working as a wrestler to pay off his debt, having first lost comeback fights to both Ezzard Charles and Rocky Marciano. He did receive official approval in death however, when the then U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, requested that he be buried at Arlington Cemetery.

4) GEORGE FOREMAN
 Record: 76-5 (68 KO’s)

George Foreman

Foreman, at 6 feet 3 inches, was not a stylish fighter but he was a devastating puncher, winning the title in 1973 against the seemingly invincible Joe Frazier when he demolished him in 2 rounds.

The following year, at age 25, he lost the crown to 32 year-old Muhammad Ali in the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Zaire. Foreman was expected to win the contest but was overcome by Ali’s ‘rope a dope’ tactics whereby the latter leaned on the ropes, raised both gloves in protective mode and encouraged Foreman to eventually punch himself out.

Foreman always maintained that he had not felt right during the fight leading to some speculation that his water may have somehow been ‘spiked’, but this idea never got beyond the unsubstantiated rumour stage.

Foreman retired soon after and practised religion as a preacher. He came back to regain the title against Michael Moorer, at age 45. This made him the oldest man to win the title. He finally hung up the gloves for good in 1997.

3) LENNOX LEWIS
Record: 41-2-1 (32 KO’s)

London born but having spent part of childhood in Canada, Lewis holds dual nationality. At 6 feet 5 inches and 245 pounds, he was a superb boxer with a knock-out punch in either hand. 

Dispensing of all of the elite pugilists of his era, Lewis achieved amateur success when representing Canada at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, defeating future great Riddick Bowe for the gold medal, subsequently turning professional and switching allegiance to Britain during the same year.

He held the undisputed world title and never suffered an unavenged defeat, retiring in 2004, having stopped Vitali Klitschko via TKO in his final bout.

2) LARRY HOLMES
Record: 69-6 (44 KO’s)

Larry Holmes

Holmes has suffered more in his rightful claim to immortality than perhaps any other fighter due to the unfortunate timing of his rise to fame.

The fact that Muhammad Ali’s career was still ingrained in the hearts and minds of fans the world over when HolmesAli’s ex sparring partner, came into prominence, detracted greatly from the new champion’s overall standing.

He was, however, at 6 feet 3 inches, a consummate boxer/ fighter who could, in truth, match Ali in most aspects of his craft. As a one punch knock-out specialist he was perhaps superior to his old ‘employer’ who was more of adamaging’ puncher and his left jab is generally considered to be the best ever in the division.

Holmes was champion from 1978 – 1985 and his 19 consecutive defences of the title ranks second only to Joe Louis.

1) MUHAMMED ALI
Record
: 56-5 (KO’s 37)

Muhammed Ali

Muhammad Ali was a man whose fame transcended the sport due to his strongly held and fearlessly expressed political and religious beliefs (including his refusal to fight in Vietnam) and his generally extrovert personality.

He was the first champion to overtly ‘wind up’ his opponents, often causing trouble at press conferences, pre fight interviews and the like. This however was all part of his deliberate practice of getting the better of an opponent mentally which he invariably did, and which usually paid off for him in terms of results.

Ali’s dancing style, lightening fast reflexes and astonishing hand speed, wherein, in his own words,he “floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee”,were just too much for most of his bewildered and disheartened opponents to cope with

He is the only three time lineal world heavyweight champion, winning the title in 1964, 1974 and 1978. It should also be remembered that his ‘prime years’, 1967 – 1971, were taken from him when his license was taken away following the Vietnam draft incident.

So there it is, the top ten heavyweight boxers of all-time and not a Rocky Balboa or Butterbean in sight! Let us know your thoughts on Ken’s choices in the comment section below.

Written by Ken Irons

I have always had a love of the written word and have frequently, over the years, exasperated editors, publishers et al with my copious submissions of work. My highly advanced years I find a plus, as it means not having to research so much - I can remember it if it's in the last century or so!

Top 10 heavyweight boxers of all time (part one: 10-6)

His “Best of British Boxers” article received a double thumbs up from legendary pugilist Riddick Bowe last month, now Ken Irons returns to share his top ten heavyweight boxers of all time. Part one focuses on numbers 10 through 6.

The legendary Riddick Bowe enjoyed Ken's previous article
The legendary Riddick Bowe enjoyed Ken’s previous article

In assessing the comparative merits of fighters whose respective careers span a long period of time, I have resorted to the commonly held premise that all sportsmen/women can only improve as time progresses due to the better fitness levels, diet, training regimes etc. now available.

 It is for this reason that I have deliberately omitted some of the champions of yesteryear – men like Dempsey, Johnson and Tunney – from my selection.

However, whilst it is true that Rocky Marciano, had I included him, would not have been the oldest fighter to appear, I feel that his small stature (today he’d have been a cruiserweight) goes against him.

Another negative is the fact that, although he holds the only perfect record in the division, the fifties was not an exceptional era for heavyweights and he never really fought any outstanding fighters (with the exceptionof Joe Louis, at that time well past his bestand Archie Moore – also past his best and, in reality, only a blown up light-heavyweight).

As is inevitable when constructing such lists, there are also other great champions with exemplary records who narrowly miss the cut – Wladimir Klitschko and Riddick Bowe amongst them.

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10) KEN NORTON
Record: 42 wins, 7 losses, 1 draw (33 KO’s )

Ken Norton Muhammed Ali

Norton, only the second man to beat Ali, was famous for his idiosyncratic cross armed defence which he used to good effect against the great fighters around in his era. Although he was subsequently outpointed by Ali in a return fight, the judges’ verdict in this contest was deemed at the time to be one of the most ill considered and unfair on record.

Norton’s unsuccessful fight with Larry Holmes for the title is rated one of the very best ever seen in the division.

Unfortunately however, it left Norton with the dubious distinction of being the only heavy weight champion who never won a title fight (the WBC having awarded him the crown prior to the Holmes fight as a result of a contract dispute they had with Leon Spinks). Any dreams Norton may have had of regaining the crown were then crushed by Holmes retaining it for the next 7 years!

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9) EVANDER HOLYFIELD
Record: 44-10-2 (29 KO’s)

Holyfield, nicknamed ‘The Real Deal’, was aundisputed world champion at both cruiser and heavyweight.

He is the only 4 time world champion, winning the WBA, WBC and IBF titles in 1990, the WBA and IBF titles in 1993 and the WBA title in 1996 and 2000Among those he defeated were Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes and George Foreman although, it has to be said, both Holmes and Foreman were in their early forties at the time he fought them.

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8) VITALI KLITSCHKO
Record: 45-2 (41 KO’s)

Vitali Klitschko

Klitschkoqualified PhD, nicknamed Dr Ironfistand currently Mayor of Kiev, was the first European for many years to make an impact on the heavyweight boxing scene

At 6 feet 7 inches and a superbly fit 240 pounds or so, he brought a new focus to the division which was traditionally ruled by American fighters. Whilst interest in the sport had begun to wane in the states, via the gradual decline of activity in the amateur ranks. By the turn of the century in Europe a new enthusiasm was taking hold. Klitschko took the WBC title in 1999 beating Herbie Hide in 2 rounds.

Klitschko’s height, reach, punching power and boxing skills established him as an all time great. His only 2 losses were to Chris Byrd and Lennox Lewis. He has always maintained a steadfast refusal to fight his younger brother, Wladimir, another outstanding champion.

7) JOE FRAZIER
Record: 32-4-1 (27 KO’s)

Ali and Frazier

“Smokin'” Joe Frazier was an aggressive, bustling type of fighter with a thunderbolt left hook, who won the title in 1970 and, in retaining it in the massively hyped ‘fight of the century’ in 1971, was the first man to beat Muhammad Ali. 

He lost the title to another attacking fighter in 1973 when he took on the heavier George Foreman who, after flooring Frazier several times in a brutal encounter, knocked him out in round two.

He subsequently lost twice to Ali (the second of these fights being the gruelling “Thrilla in in Manila, which left both men in hospital) and again to Foreman, leaving Big George and Ali as his only conquerors.

6) MIKE TYSON
Record: 50-6* (44 ko)

Tyson, the youngest man to win the WBC, WBA and IBF titles at 20, is perhaps the most destructive puncher the division has known.

This made him capable, especially in the early days of his career, of suddenly demolishing an opponent in a split second, no matter the current state of the contest. He won the WBC title in 1986 and the WBA and IBF in 1987. He defended the title 9 times before losing to underdog James ‘Buster’ Douglas in 1990.

His downward slide was not helped when he changed management. He also achieved notoriety for the ear biting escapade in his rematch with Evander Holyfield and activities outside the ring, which included a rape charge, imprisonment and money problems(despite his massive ring earnings and lucrative endorsements).

*Tyson also fought two bouts that ended as ‘no contests’.

Tune in tomorrow for the second part of Ken’s article, where he’ll reveal his top five heavyweight boxers of all time. In the meantime let us know your thoughts on the list so far in the comment section below, and please ask people to ‘like’ our Facebook page.

Written by Ken Irons

I have always had a love of the written word and have frequently, over the years, exasperated editors, publishers et al with my copious submissions of work. My highly advanced years I find a plus, as it means not having to research so much - I can remember it if it's in the last century or so!