Friday, March 24, 2023  |


Where do Marquezes rank among boxing brothers?


The profound success of the Marquez brothers – Rafael and Juan Manuel – begs the question: Where do they rank among the greatest brother combinations in history?

The answer: Very high, although how high is debatable.

The best combination of all time is probably the Gibbons brothers, Tommy and Mike, who fought in the 1910s and ’20s out of St. Paul, Minn. Neither won a world title – Mike never even fought for one – but their resumes are astounding.

First, they’re a combined 121-7-5 (86 knockouts). Mike Gibbons, a defensive wizard who would do Floyd Mayweather Jr. proud, beat a string of all-time greats by newspaper decisions during a time when official decisions were outlawed. Among his victims: Hall of Famers Harry Greb (against whom he was 1-1), Jack Dillon and Ted “Kid” Lewis.

Tommy Gibbons also had high-profile opposition, losing most-famously to Jack Dempsey in 1923 in the heavyweight championship fight that almost bankrupt the city of Shelby, Montana. He also went 1-2 against Greb and beat George Carpentier, Battling Levinsky and Billy Miske.

“For whatever reason they didn’t have the chance to be world champions,” said Cliff Rold, boxing historian and writer. “Their level of opposition was absurd, though, both of them. Tommy was one of the greatest middleweights and light heavyweights of all time, Mike one of the greatest middleweights.

“You gotta be a bad man to win a newspaper decision over Harry Greb.”

The Marquez brothers might not be too far behind the Gibbonses.

The Mexico City residents are a combined 88-10-1 (71 knockouts) and have won eight major titles between them. And their resumes also are impressive. Juan Manuel has beaten Marco Antonio Barrera, Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz, and many believe his 0-1-1 record against Manny Pacquiao should be 2-0.

Rafael beat Mark Johnson (twice), Tim Austin, Silence Mabuza (twice) and Israel Vazquez in the first fight of their trilogy, in which he lost the last two.

Both probably will join the Gibbonses in the International Boxing Hall of Fame one day.

“I would say the Gibbons brothers would probably be a little ahead of the Marquezes because of their depth of competition,” Rold said.

What about the Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir? They could be the best heavyweight brothers ever – better than the Spinkses and Baers, among others – but aren’t in the same class as their Mexican counterparts in part because of weak opposition.

“If the Marquezes were the same size as the Klitschkos, they’d mop up the ring with them,” Rold said.

Other brother combinations included great fighters but typically there is a significant drop off in regard to the second brother.

Orlando and Gaby Canizales are among the best, Orlando being a Hall of Famer. Donald and Bruce Curry were both accomplished. Terry Norris is another Hall of Famer and Orlin was capable. Khaosai Galaxy is in the Hall and Khaokor was a two-time titleholder. Koki and Daiki Kameda have both held titles. The brothers Tiozzo, Rocchigiani, Penalosa and Ruelas are among others who were successful.

But none quite reach the level of the Gibbons and Marquez brothers.