Ah the middleweights, that sublime mixture of the power of the heavyweights and the speed and skill of the lighter fighters.
The names of great middleweight fighters are timeless to a true boxing fan.
If talking about the unforgettable Harry Greb (107-8-3, 48 KO’s) for example, a fighter many boxing historians believe was not only one of the greatest middleweights ever, but indeed one of the greatest boxers of all time pound for pound. A fighter who boxed more in one year than most modern fighter would in a lifetime.
Another middleweight great would have had to of been the unfortunate Marcel Cerdan, who was considered by many boxing experts and fans to be France’s greatest ever sweet science practitioner.
Who knows how great he truly would have been, had it not been for the dislocated shoulder in the 1st round against “The Raging Bull” Jack LaMotta in , or the tragic circumstances of October 1949, when The Lockheed L-749 plane he was travelling on crashed into Monte Redondo (São Miguel Island, Azores), killing 11 crew members and 37 passengers on board, including Cerdan.
Also the unorthodox Randolph Turpin would surely have to be considered when talking about a list like this. The ex-navy cook who had a ready made meal of unorthodox boxing, lunging left jabs and a peculiar style that proved a distasteful meal for the fighter many rightly consider the greatest, Sugar Ray Robinson.
But as we all know revenge is a dish best served cold and only 64 days later (the shortest reign of a champion in the division’s history) and in front of 61,370 fans at the Polo Grounds in New York, but still having trouble with Turpin’s peculiar style (particularly his jab) Sugar Ray Robinson conjured a round of breathtaking boxing genius, with some of the fiercest, fastest and most accurate punches ever seen – to exact revenge.
Referee Ruby Goldstein had seen enough and moved in to rightly stop the fight.
Moving on to another truly special middleweight, Carmen Basilio who proved he could go 15 rounds with the great Sugar Ray Robinson, despite a horrifying injury to his eye suffered early on. Despite this, Basilio did so with distinction. One hell of a fighter in his day.
This list would not be compelte without a mention of the magnificent Carlos Monzon, a name still capable of making the hairs on the back of the neck of any boxing fan stand up.
With 14 middleweight title defences and only 3 defeats in an incredible 102 fights, an unbeaten run going 82 appearances, he has to get a mention. A truly outstanding fighter, a boxer who would hold his own in comparison to the vast majority of greats in any weight division.
And finally, no article on the middleweight division’s greats would be complete without talking about the marvelous one – Marvin Hagler.
Hagler made twelve middleweight title defenses as undisputed champion and holds the highest KO percentage of all undisputed middleweight champions at 78%.
Remember, Gennady Golovkin has more defenses, and a higher knockout percentage yes, but only holds the WBA title (currently).
Hagler’s path to the top was anything but easy, and he was at times shamelessly treated and avoided in equal measure, and only really gaining he’s due respect after his fight against Roberto Duran.
Duran arguably the greatest lightweight fighter in history, was the first challenger to last the distance with Hagler in a world-championship bout.
Haglers win against boxing’s ultimate hard man cemented his standing as a true Goliath and great of the sport, a true heavyweight of the middleweight division if you will.
So how do I rank the top 5 middleweights of all time? Well it might be controversial, but for me it would be:
1# Carlos Monzon
2# Sugar Ray Robinson
3# Marvin Hagler
4# Harry Greb
5# Mickey Walker
The particular selection at number 5 may raise a few eyebrows, as Walker’s resume against middleweights is slightly limited, but there is nothing limited about fighting Harry Greb, Tiger Flowers and Lou Brouillard.
So forgive my including him and my indulgence of the great man.
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