Ahead of the return of ‘The Hayemaker’ this weekend in London, unbeaten welterweight prospect George Hennon listed his top-5 cruiserweights that the UK has ever produced.
The Kent boxer is a big fan of David Haye and British boxing, and has ambitions to one day add his name to the prestigious list of British titlists.
Trained by Johnny Greaves in the famous Peacock Gym in Canning Town, Hennon’s next fight is on March 4th in Essex which doubles up as his trainer’s 37th birthday.
The 21-year-old talent aims to make it to 3-0 to mark Greaves birthday with a win in his honour and has big plans to enter title contention by the end of the year.
Hear what Hennon had to say about the cream of the cruiserweight crop below:
5. Glenn McCrory (30-8-1)
World Titles: IBF World cruiserweight title
Most will recognise Glenn as the Sky commentator, a role that he has held since 1989.
Before that era, he enjoyed a glittering boxing career that saw him lift the Commonwealth, British, and IBF World cruiserweight titles during 1984-1993.
A unanimous points decision over Kenyan boxer Patrick Lumumba awarded the North East boxing star his world crown in front of a County Durham home crowd in June 1989.
He made one successful defence of the belt against Siza Makathini in October 1989 before losing it to American Jeff Lampkin in March 1990.
A stint in the heavyweight division saw him lose to a young, unbeaten Lennox Lewis with the British and European heavyweight titles on the line at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Aged 28, McCrory tried to regain his IBF crown, challenging American Alfred Cole but lost on points and decided to close the curtain on his career to remain on the safe side of the ropes, reporting on the pain game instead from then on.
4. Enzo ‘Big Mac’ Maccarinelli (41-7)
World Titles: WBO World cruiserweight title
The Welshman is a former WBO cruiserweight and Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion.
Aptly nicknamed ‘Big Mac’ for his size and punching power, the 35-year-old continues to triumph, recently knocking out former six-weight division world champion, Roy Jones Jr. in four rounds.
Rewinding the clocks back almost 10 years earlier and Maccarinelli fought against former WBC cruiserweight champion Marcelo Fabian Domínguez for the WBO interim cruiserweight title, winning via a ninth-round TKO.
The natural progression was a title fight against then WBO title-holder, Johnny Nelson but the pair never met due to several injuries to champion which brought about his early retirement, automatically relinquishing the belt and allowing his intended challenger to be promoted to full champion status.
Despite being crowned champion of the world by default, Enzo made a statement in his first defence in October 2006 by stopping former opponent Mark Hobson in the first round in a fight that was widely expected to last the distance.
He enjoyed three successful title defenses in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff before suffering his second career defeat in an all-British unification fight with David Haye at the O2 Arena in London.
The highly-anticipated fight billed as ‘Bombs Away’ lived up to its hype and name, ending in a second round stoppage for the victor and new undisputed world cruiserweight champion, David Haye.
A further three losses during the following two years sparked the decision to drop down to compete light-heavyweight division.
He has since lifted the British cruiserweight strap, Commonwealth light-heavyweight title and challenged for the WBA light-heavyweight belt.
Big Mac has put together three stoppage wins during 2015 and fights on with plenty left to offer still.
3. Carl ‘The Cat’ Thompson (34-6)
World Titles: WBO World cruiserweight title
‘The Cat’ is a former WBO, European and British cruiserweight champion.
His commanding punching power in his right hand brought him to contention, stopping the undefeated Nicky Piper in three rounds at the York Hall in 1991.
He then went on to win the British crown by beating Steve Lewsam in eight rounds the following year, adding the WBC International title in 1993 and the European strap in 1994.
His first crack at the world title in 1995 was unsuccessful, losing out in the 11th round to German champion, Ralf Rocchigiani, after dislocating his shoulder. Both fighters were down in an exciting fifth round of championship boxing.
After returning with three straight wins, Thompson finally won the WBO cruiserweight title by decision over Ralf Rocchigiani in a rematch in Hannover, Germany in October 1997.
He defended the honours twice, beating the smaller Chris Eubank in 1998 before losing via a controversial referee stoppage to Johnny Nelson in 1999.
Thompson went on to regain the vacant British title with a twelfth round knockout of Terry Dunstan in December 1999 and also regained the vacant European title.
After all of those honours, remarkably Thomson is most famed for his unexpected victory over an up-and-coming David Haye in a classic ‘youth v experience’ matchup in September 2004.
(Hat tip to Hideto Matsumoto for the upload):
The youngster started fast and caught the 40-year-old with constant barrages of power punches, coming close to forcing a stoppage at numerous points during the first few rounds.
Despite the early punishment, Thompson warmed up and worked his way back into the fight whilst the inexperienced Bermondsey boxer tired. ‘The Cat’ confidently heaped the pressure on Haye and knocked him down in the fifth round, his corner throwing in the towel to save their struggling fighter.
Thompson did fight again the following year, beating Frenchman Frederic Serrat on points in Sheffield but then called time on his remarkable career with the triumph over Haye securing his legacy as one of Britain’s greatest ever cruiserweights.
2. Johnny Nelson (45-12-2)
World Titles: WBO World cruiserweight title
Six years and fourteen world title defences are what earns the Sheffield product a place amongst the greatest cruiserweights of all-time.
With an awkward style taught by the great Brendan Ingle, who also educated Herol Graham, Naseem Hamed and Junior Witter, Nelson alternated between exciting and sleep-inducing for years.
However, whatever the effect on the audience, for the last nine years of his career he never saw the losers circle in stark contrast to a career which began with three straight losses in 1986.
Nelson began to show serious development in 1990 with a draw against then-WBC champion De Leon and a final round stoppage of a then undefeated Bott.
Three straight losses including a decision against Warring, seemed to derail his progress and a stint at heavyweight between 1993-1995 was fraught with disaster.
His wise return to cruiserweight level in 1996 marked the turn to lasting triumphs. A fifth-round stoppage of the afore-mentioned Carl Thompson for the WBO belt in 1999 led to his incredibly impressive and extended title-reign.
I could list the statistics and numbers all day long but it simply adds up to one of the most extraordinary CV’s at cruiserweight ever.
1. David ‘The Hayemaker’ Haye (26-2)
World Titles: The Ring, WBC, WBA, WBO World cruiserweight titles
The South London power-punching personality is my top cruiserweight of all-time.
Opening his career with ten straight knockouts, including a third round stoppage of former titlist Arthur Williams, Haye found the floor himself in his eleventh bout and was stopped in a five-round war with the veteran Thompson in 2004, showing a mixture of immaturity and over-enthusiasm to lose his first ever professional bout.
Undeterred, Haye dusted himself off with nine more victories, eight inside the distance, earning a shot at Jean-Marc Mormeck for the World cruiserweight title in November 2007, winning via a seventh-round dramatic KO.
Haye’s career-defining fight was the all-British showdown with WBO titlist Enzo Maccarinelli in March 2008, destroying the Welshman in two rounds in front of a sold-out O2 Arena, becoming the lineal world champion at 200lbs.
Naturally, The Hayemaker moved up to heavyweight and won the WBA World heavyweight title against the freakishly big 7ft-tall Nikolay Valuev, ending the Russian giant’s career.
Haye then took on WBA Super, WBO, IBF and IBO World heavyweight king, Wladimir Klitschko and, much to the disappoint of the entire nation, was easily out-boxed over the 12 rounds in Germany in July 2011, citing a broken toe as the reason for the tentative performance.
Exactly a year later, the Bermondsey boy destroyed bitter rival Dereck Chisora in five rounds at Upton Park.
Several injuries later meant that Haye hung up his gloves but seemingly not content with retirement, he has come back for one final foray, much to the delight of myself and many boxing fans worldwide.
His first fight back is this weekend against top-10 ranked WBA Aussie opponent, Mark de Mori, live on TV channel Dave at the same venue along the Greenwich Peninsula where he stopped Enzo Maccarinelli and Monte Barrett in consecutive fights back in 2008.
A convincing win will hopefully set up a summer showdown with the British and Commonwealth champion, Anthony Joshua.
Mark Hobson (27-5-1)
Titles: British and Commonwealth cruiserweight titles
From Huddersfield, Hobson gets a special mention for winning the British cruiserweight title and successfully defending it a record five times during 2003-2007, retiring as the champion.
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