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Crold1
11-05-2009, 01:11 AM
The Top 25 Light Heavyweights of All-Time – 11 to 25

By Cliff Rold

The Eight, Pt. 5

Light Heavyweight

This Saturday night, arguably the two premiere Light Heavyweights in the world, Chad Dawson and Glen Johnson, will square off for the second time. Their first turn around the bend was a doozy.

This is a division which has never been short on doozies. Skipping ahead from Lightweight in this series to coincide with the weekend action, Light Heavyweight has always been an interesting place on the scale. The biggest money usually lurked one class below or above and the best Light Heavyweights have often tested the larger waters. Set at 175 pounds since the National Sporting Club established the line in 1909, the division’s gloved era can trace its world title even farther to a 1903 battle between Jack Root and Charles “Kid” McCoy.

As noted in previous editions of this series, the only rule in “The Eight”’ is no one currently active in the division was considered…with one notable exception made this time around. Given the richness and depth of history at Light Heavyweight, it is only fitting that the best of today finish their runs to earn placement with the very best. The reason for the exception will be evident when it comes up in numbers 11-25.

The Top Twenty-Five

25) Virgil Hill (1984-2007): North Dakota’s “Quicksilver” followed a Silver Medal at Middleweight as part of the legendary 1984 U.S. Olympic squad with two lengthy title reigns at 175...career mark of 50-7, 23 KO…WBA titlist 1987-91, 10 defenses; 1992-97, 10 defenses; IBF titlist and lineal World champion 1996-97…turned pro in 1984, at Madison Square Garden, Hill used his quick hands and educated left jab to win his first 18 bouts, earning a shot at WBA titlist Leslie Stewart and scoring a fourth round stoppage…decisioned former IBF titlist Bobby Czyz over the course of his first reign before dropping the strap to the great Tommy Hearns in Hearns last great performance…Hill rebounded with a pair of wins before facing former Olympic teammate Frank Tate for the then-vacant WBA belt in September 1992, wining on points…the second reign would be more impressive than the first with wins over future Cruiserweight titlist Adolpho Washington and future Light Heavyweight titlists Fabrice Tiozzo and Lou De Valle…in his defining win, Hill would travel to Germany and unseat undefeated IBF titlist Henry Maske via spirited split decision…by virtue of his previous win over then-reigning WBA titlist Tiozzo, Hill earned the right to call himself, finally, the true Light Heavyweight champion…it would be a short lived celebration as he would lose his next bout to WBO titlist Dariusz Michalczewski by decision followed by a non-title fourth-round knockout loss to Roy Jones in his next bout…Hill would later go on to a pair of title reigns at Cruiserweight…decisive losses to arguably the three best men he faced at 175 hinder Hill but the Maske fight, and his lengthy title runs, deserve their accolades…Hill has not yet become eligible for a vote to the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF).

24) Dwight Muhammad Qawi (1978-98): Born Dwight Braxton, the “Camden Buzzsaw” began to learn his craft while incarcerated and, with no amateur career, built a lasting legacy in the sport with a take no prisoners style...career mark of 41-11-1, 25 KO…WBC titlist 1981-83, 3 defenses…drawing in his debut, and losing his third fight would be the only setbacks for Qawi in a first 16 bouts which featured a stoppage of former titlist Mike Rossman and a win versus then still-incarcerated fellow Rahway State prison alum James Scott (in the prison)…in his next bout, in December 1981, Qawi would end the thrill ride which was the reign of Matthew Saad Muhammad to win his first title…Qawi followed the tenth round stoppage of Muhammad with three defenses, including a stoppage of Muhammad in six of their rematch, before a unification showdown with WBA titlist Michael Spinks…the more experienced Spinks soundly outboxed Qawi over fifteen to be crowned undisputed Light Heavyweight…Qawi would move up the scale and briefly hold the WBA belt at Cruiserweight, losing what remains that division’s greatest fight in 1986 to a young Evander Holyfield…Qawi was elected to the IBHOF in 2004.

23) Willie Pastrano (1951-65): The New Orleans slickster began his career as a 15-year old Featherweight and toiled methodically for almost twelve years to make good on a shot at the top of the world…career mark of 63-13-8, 14 KO…World Champion 1963-65, two defenses...breakthrough win at Light Heavyweight came in a 1955 decision over former champion Joey Maxim and he would alternate between Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight for years…drew with an aging Archie Moore in 1962…finally snared a title shot against veteran champion Harold Johnson in June 1963, leaving with a competitive 15-round split decision in Las Vegas…he would defend twice, avenging a non-title loss to Gregorio Peralta and stopping former Middleweight champ Terry Downes in 1964…in his final fight, Pastrano was stopped in nine by Jose Torres…Pastrano on his best day could beat almost anyone but also had a penchant for losses at lousy times throughout his career…Pastrano was voted to the IBHOF in 2001.

22) Paul Berlenbach (1923-33): An Olympic Middleweight qualifier in 1920, sometimes errantly cited as a Gold Medalist though he missed Antwerp, New York’s “Astoria Assassin” turned to pugilism after a short run in amateur pugilism…career mark of 39-8-3, 33 KO, 1 no decision, 1 no contest…World champion 1925-26, 3 defenses…the big punching Berlenbach was matched tough from early on, stopped in only his 11th fight by future champion Jack Delaney…drew with Hall of Famer Young Stribling in 1924 and stopped former champion Battling Siki in ten the following year to set up a title shot…two years after winning the AAU Heavyweight wrestling title, Berlenbach defeated Mike McTigue in May 1925 on points for Boxing’s Light Heavyweight crown…lost one of seven fights over the next year, a non-title points loss to Johnny Risko, but successfully defended against the Hall of Fame trio of Delaney, Stribling, and Jimmy Slattery…dropped the title to Delaney in July 1926 and slid away from his prime as quick as he got there with additional losses to McTigue, Delaney and Mickey Walker by the end of 1927…while his peak was short, Berlenbach packed a lot into a short run…Berlenbach was voted to the IBHOF in 2001.

21) Dariusz Michalczewski (1991-2005): Following an excellent amateur mark of 133-15-2, Poland’s “Tiger” used a phone pole jab, powerful right, and crowd pleasing style to build a strong mark in class…career mark of 48-2, 38 KO…WBO titlist 1994-2003, 23 defenses; WBA/IBF titlist 1997; Lineal World champion 1997-2003, 14 defenses…Michalczewski won his first major title with a decision over Leeonzer Barber in September 1994 and made eight defenses, along with a one off WBO Cruiserweight title win, before a shot at the WBA and IBF belts and the lineal crown against Virgil Hill in June 1997…Michalczewski won a commanding decision over twelve…notably stopped former titlist Montell Griffin in four and avenged a controversial 1996 disqualification win over Graciano Rocchigiani in 2000 by decision…was 48-0 before suffering a first loss at age 35 to Julio Gonzalez in October 2003…stopped for the only time in his final bout in 2005 against Fabrice Tiozzo…suffers for sometimes poor opposition and the lack of a fight with the man who dominated the division in parallel to him, Roy Jones…gets credit for setting the overall consecutive title defense mark in the division as well as tying the consecutive lineal defense mark set by Bob Foster. Note: In a previous article, Michalczewski was errantly given credit for topping Foster’s mark at 15. The correction is noted here.

20) Joey Maxim (1941-58): Born Giuseppe Antonio Berardinelli, Cleveland’s Maxim, behind tremendous defense and a chin which could be dented only once in over 100 bouts, fought one of the toughest slates of foes ever seen in the sport…career mark of 82-29-4, 21 KO…World Champion 1950-52, 2 defenses…on his way up the ranks, avenged his only knockout loss (by first round KO in 1943) in his very next fight with a decision over Curtis Sheppard…lost to the outstanding Lloyd Marshall in 1994 but won the first of three contests with future Heavyweight king Jersey Joe Walcott in 1946…between 1948-49, defeated the rugged Bob Satterfield, avenged an early loss to Hall of Famer Jimmy Bivins, decisioned former World champion Gus Lesnevich while losing close in the third of five career fights with Ezzard Charles...crossed the pond to London in January 1950, scoring a rare stoppage in ten to win the title from Freddie Mills…fell short in a shot at then-Heavyweight champion Charles in 1951 but picked up his most notable win the following year, outlasting the great Sugar Ray Robinson to defend the title in a legendarily humid, outdoor Bronx battle; it was the only stoppage loss of Robinson’s career…lost the title in his following bout to Archie Moore, their first of three contests…upset a young Floyd Patterson in 1954 before beginning a final slide of eight losses in his final ten bouts…Maxim may have been seen as even greater in a less loaded era as eleven of his first 16 losses came to Hall of Fame greats Walcott, Moore, Charles and Bivins and two others came in his first twelve bouts…Maxim was voted to the IBHOF in 1994.

Read the rest at: http://www.boxingscene.com/index.php?m=show&id=23255

El Gato
11-06-2009, 07:53 PM
Pastrano outside of the top 20, behind Michalczewski of all fighters? I don't think that one can really be justified my man. Pastrano was far more proven and skilled than the Tiger could've ever hoped to have been.

Crold1
11-06-2009, 08:24 PM
I think it can. Michalczewski was plenty proven, IMO, and his title tumbers were phenomenal, even if he missed THE fight of his time. Pastrano was streaky and one of the choices I'm still debating in my head.

El Gato
11-08-2009, 01:06 PM
Who was the Tiger really proven against? His only decent wins were past prime versions of Montell Griffin and Virgil Hill. He was undeniably a very good stand-up boxer-puncher, but I can't see him placing higher than the LHW Willie Pep. Not by a long shot.

At least tell me we're gonna see Conteh in there somewhere.

Crold1
11-08-2009, 09:51 PM
Hill wasn't past prime; he was coming off the best win of his whole career. Griffin wasn't past prime either; he'd lost two fight to that point and one was a robbery versus Harding. Pastrano was no Pep either.

Conteh missed the cut.

hawk5ins
11-09-2009, 08:15 AM
I have always had such a hard time qualfying Hill's win over Maske, in their first bout.

It was probably his BIGGEST win and going into the bout, there were many reasons to expect Makse to win the bout, and I did as well.

I did think Hill's best days were behind him at that point in time, yet to go into Germany and win that bout, was a very nice feather in Hill's cap.

But then his DREADFUL showing against Mich was really tough to stomach. He was beaten up and dominated. ANd for much of the bout he looked lifeless.

I came away from that bout with the feeling that Hill, for the Maske bout, captured lightning in a bottle for the last time and the version we saw agianst Dariuzs, was more indicitive of where Hill was at that point in his career.

Of course Hill confounds us all by winning the Cruiserweight title in one round 3 years later, and then does so even more when Maske win their rematch 10 years later when Henry had NO bouts in between.

To me, losing to a pretty spent Tommy Hearns, in the peak of his (Hiils) career (So happy for Tommy that night), spoke more about Hill, than probably any other bout in his career.

A good solid fighter, but not a special one.

Hawk

El Gato
11-09-2009, 03:58 PM
Hill wasn't past prime; he was coming off the best win of his whole career. Griffin wasn't past prime either; he'd lost two fight to that point and one was a robbery versus Harding. Pastrano was no Pep either.

Conteh missed the cut.Well then I'm afraid this list has been an absolute misfire. It's a shame too, as I liked the other ones despite minor criticisms.

Crold1
11-09-2009, 08:56 PM
Well then I'm afraid this list has been an absolute misfire. It's a shame too, as I liked the other ones despite minor criticisms.

Sorry you feel that way but the top ten will still be coming. Hey, it's a quibble over one guy, and one placement, really, so I don't feel like an absolute misfire. Wouldn't be any fun if universal agreement took place. :) Dig the feedback anyways.

Crold1
11-10-2009, 07:46 AM
The Top 25 Light Heavyweights of All-Time – Top Ten

By Cliff Rold

The Eight, Pt. 5

Light Heavyweight

Previously, numbers 11-25 were unveiled as:

25) Virgil Hill (1984-2007)
24) Dwight Muhammad Qawi (1978-98)
23) Willie Pastrano (1951-65)
22) Paul Berlenbach (1923-33)
21) Dariusz Michalczewski (1991-2005)
20) Joey Maxim (1941-58)
19) Bob Fitzsimmons (1885-1914)
18) Philadelphia Jack O’Brien (1896-1912)
17) Matthew Saad Muhammad (1974-92)
16) Harold Johnson (1946-71)
15) Jack Dillon (1908-23)
14) John Henry Lewis (1931-39)
13) Jack Delaney (1919-32)
12) Roy Jones Jr. (1989-Present)
11) Harry Greb (1913-26

Today, the list moves to the top ten

10) Billy Conn (1934-48)
Record: 64-12-1, 15 KO
World Champion 1939-41, 3 Defenses
Light Heavyweight Champions/Titlists Faced – 2: (Melio Bettina, Gus Lesnevich)

The “Pittsburgh Kid” was almost the Heavyweight Champion of the World. He was great even before that, a picture of technical greatness whose fast feet and hands dazzled legends from Welterweight to, well, Joe Louis. Eschewing a notable amateur run, Conn turned professional as a sixteen-year old Lightweight and took his lumps while learning his profession, losing his debut and seven of his first fifteen. He wouldn’t lose again for 28 fights, dropping a points nod in 1937 to Young Corbett III. Inching into the Light Heavyweight class, Conn would avenge the Corbett loss, split fights with Hall of Famer Teddy Yarosz and future Middleweight champ Solly Kreigel and twice best another future Middleweight champ, Fred Apostoli, finally setting up at July 1939 shot at reigning Light Heavyweight champion Bettina (as recognized in New York; the NBA title was vacant). Conn made good on the shot, winning a commanding decision. Two fights later, he dusted Bettina in the rematch and then won a pair of decisions over future champion Gus Lesnevich, both in defense of the crown in 1939 and 40. Conn vacated the crown, chasing the dollars at Heavyweight while largely still weighing in below the Light Heavyweight line. Longtime contender Bob Pastor suffered a surprising knockout and Lee Savold couldn’t solve the master boxer over 12 frames. In June 1941, Conn led through twelve against Louis before round thirteen ended his dreams. The following year, with a Louis rematch hoped for, Conn bested reigning Middleweight king Tony Zale and then World War II came calling. Inactive from 1942-46, Conn was never the same, losing badly to Louis in his first fight back and posting two wins before retiring.

Why He’s Here: The legend of the first Louis fight so defines Conn it can sometimes overwhelm an otherwise excellent body of work. Without the war, perhaps Conn drops back down and regains the Light Heavyweight throne. The thought of fights with the likes of a young Ezzard Charles or prime Jimmy Bivins are tantalizing. They did not happen and so, while Conn merits placement in the top ten, one looks and sees most of his best wins coming over notable Middleweights whereas others here have fuller bodies of Light Heavyweight work. Regardless, Conn could know he stood a chance of victory with any Light Heavyweight who ever lived. Conn joined the roster of the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) as a member of the inaugural class of 1990.

Read the rest at: http://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=23364

Sharkey
11-10-2009, 02:02 PM
Gibbons?

hawk5ins
11-10-2009, 03:00 PM
(and much electro shock therapy by the Sharks over the years has convinced me he does. Basically the higher voltage he used on me, opened my eyes), would I think boost Greb up a bit as well.

I'd think Gibbons is top 12 or 15 at least and I'd have Greb as high as the #6 spot currently occupied by Loughran, whom Greb held the series lead over 4-1-1 (all bouts taking place at LH as well.)

BTW, sacrilege aside, and I know these lists are NOT designed with head to head in mind, but I do now and always have liked Saad over Jones.

Rally based Ko, I understand, but I think he KO's Jones clean around round 10 or 11.

Hawk

Sharkey
11-10-2009, 03:08 PM
Hawk.. is Spinks on this list near where you have him? I forget...

I'd ask the smahter crowd here to help me with Phila Jack. Did he not admit to most of his higher profile-fights being fixed? What I am driving at is: how do we say 'nah they weren't he was a joker' and yet arrive at a semblance of how good he was when we have to guess if he was lying about faking?

hawk5ins
11-10-2009, 03:20 PM
on Spinks.

You know me and the 80's.

O'Brien, Abe Attell......guys like that, REALLY have to have an Asterick next to their names IMO.

Cause like you said, you JUST DON'T KNOW.

Hawk

Sharkey
11-10-2009, 03:27 PM
Did you have Spinks numero uno?

been so long since list-Hawk was running wild I forget and am saddened believe it or not. One of my favorite Hawks by the way.. list-Hawk.

And you more than compensated for Gibbons with your hammering on Heavyweight Champion Tunney

hawk5ins
11-10-2009, 03:34 PM
Top 5.

MY list:

1-Ezzard Charles
2-Archie Moore
3-Sam Langford
4-Micheal Spinks
5-Bob Foster
6-Gene Tunney
7-Harry Greb
8-Billy Conn
9-Tommy Loughran
10-Harold Johnson
11-Tommy Gibbons
12-Matthew Saad Muhammad
13-Maxie Rosenbloom
14-Jimmy Bivins
15-Dwight Muhammad Qawi

Tunney simply doesn't get heavyweight credit for Light Heavyweight work.

That's not hammering. That Logicalism.

Hey, don't make me dust off the lists!

Hawk

Note, I corrected my list. Had Saad and Maxie reversed.

El Gato
11-10-2009, 05:47 PM
I'd have Conteh above Roy Jones to be honest, quite a few of those guys as well. Most certainly Harold Johnson. Jones was very overrated at the weight in my honest opinion, despite being one of my favorites to watch.

Crold1
11-10-2009, 09:14 PM
Gibbons just missed the cut for me but I can understand arguments for. I don't think Jones is overrated at Light Heavyweight as much as he was overrated in an all-time sense generally at his peak. His Light Heavy run was pretty good.

Surf-Bat
11-10-2009, 09:32 PM
Nice list, Cliff! I like it. Though- and you knew this was coming- I think you could make a case for many NON-champs of the past being better, more accomplished battlers than many of the lesser lights on your list(Virgil Hill, etc). Tiger Jack Fox, Al Gainer and Kid Norfolk all beat higher grade opposition, but unfortunately didn't have numerous belts floating around to snatch like modern fighters do. But their achievements all far outstrip those of fighters like Hill.

Irishlad69
11-11-2009, 10:02 PM
Slattery and stribling may deserve a mention.

hagler04
11-13-2009, 11:54 AM
Crold . . .solid list. I'm shocked I don't have as many qualms about the top 10 as I thought I would. I would push Hill out of the top 25 and put in Levinsky who IMO is much more deserving of a place here.

Interesting looking at Bivin's high ranking. He's a hard fighter to rate as he fought most of his career facing heavyweights but he was essentially a 175 lber who put on 5-10 lbs to face the big guys, whom he did very well against.

Crold1
11-14-2009, 01:53 PM
Levinsky, and Galindez, are both guys who could have had a space.

El Gato
11-14-2009, 04:02 PM
Galindez was a lock, certainly moreso than Qawi. He'd easily outrank Jones there as well. Who did Jones beat at LHW that would place him in the same league with Galindez's record?

Crold1
11-14-2009, 05:07 PM
Galindez was a lock, certainly moreso than Qawi. He'd easily outrank Jones there as well. Who did Jones beat at LHW that would place him in the same league with Galindez's record?

While Galindez beat some guys (Muhammad, Lopez) who would rate above the bulk of Roy's foes, I think the way he pancaked quality fighters like Hill and Griffin, along with the drubbing of Woods, were impressive over his seven years at or near the top of class. Outside Griffin the first time, Roy may have lost a total of four rounds in those years. He also unified three belts. If he beats Dariusz, I'd have had him higher. He lost points for not taking that fight but coming back for Tarver gets some credit of its own.

Galindez was easily arguable as a miss but I wouldn't personally rate him above Jones.

sr71ko
11-14-2009, 05:57 PM
Top 5.

MY list:

1-Ezzard Charles
2-Archie Moore
3-Sam Langford
4-Micheal Spinks
5-Bob Foster
6-Gene Tunney
7-Harry Greb
8-Billy Conn
9-Tommy Loughran
10-Harold Johnson
11-Tommy Gibbons
12-Matthew Saad Muhammad
13-Maxie Rosenbloom
14-Jimmy Bivins
15-Dwight Muhammad Qawi

Tunney simply doesn't get heavyweight credit for Light Heavyweight work.

That's not hammering. That Logicalism.

Hey, don't make me dust off the lists!

Hawk

Note, I corrected my list. Had Saad and Maxie reversed.
Can you imagine Langford vs. Charles or Langford vs. Moore. Those 2 would be barn burners.

theironbar
11-14-2009, 06:14 PM
Hi Cliff -- great list and obviously lots of work. Sorry to revisit this but, in terms of fighters like Dariusz Michalczewski, one of the factors I look at when ranking is what I call the "Road Warrior" -- I like to see guys win on the road (as an indication or nerve, fortitute, versatility, and so on). How do you factor something like that in? For me, unless the guy is fighting the top contenders at home, I really then question, not the quality of opposition per se, but the quality of the result. What are your thoughts?

-Peter

Crold1
11-14-2009, 06:42 PM
Hi Cliff -- great list and obviously lots of work. Sorry to revisit this but, in terms of fighters like Dariusz Michalczewski, one of the factors I look at when ranking is what I call the "Road Warrior" -- I like to see guys win on the road (as an indication or nerve, fortitute, versatility, and so on). How do you factor something like that in? For me, unless the guy is fighting the top contenders at home, I really then question, not the quality of opposition per se, but the quality of the result. What are your thoughts?

-Peter

I think you judge it on the fights. Dariusz had one really sketchy call (in the first Rocky fight) but otherwise won in such a way that he wasn't losing no matter where he fought. Sven Ottke would have had 5-6 losses outside Germany based on the fight he had, so I can hold it more against him.

theironbar
11-14-2009, 06:55 PM
Ottke was exactly who I had in mind! ;)

I'm thinking of the difficulty of fighting away from "home cooking" and in front of a hostile crowd, in addition of course to scoring (as you mentioned) or a "friendly" referee. This is just something I only recently started to look at when I'm ranking a boxer.