Friday, March 24, 2023  |



The best of all time A to Z: Moore


This is the 13th in a 26-part series in which endeavors to name the best boxers of all time based on last name – A to Z. We’ll post one letter each day for 26 days. Our criteria in making the selections were fairly simple: Accomplishments in the ring, with heavy emphasis on strength of opposition, as well as impact on the sport. This wasn’t easy, as our first installment — the letter “A” (Armstrong vs. Ali) — demonstrates. However, we’re confident that our choices are arguably the best. We also are including five more fighters for each letter to indicate others that were considered. Also, noted author and boxing historian Bert Sugar — who provided input — tells us where he ranks our choices among the greatest fighters pound-for-pound and gives us a thought on each selection. And, finally, we’d love to get your thoughts on the project. Here goes ÔǪ today’s letter: “M.”

Lifespan: 1916-1998
Hometown: San Diego (from Benoit, Miss.)
Record: 185-23-11 (131 KOs) (
Active: 1935-63
Weight class: Welterweight through heavyweight
Titles: World light heavyweight
Sugar’s ranking: No. 22
The thought process: Rocky Marciano fans will be aghast at our choice, which is understandable. The late heavyweight champion finished his career with a record of 49-0 (43 knockouts), which speaks for itself. Plus, he beat Moore head to head. The problem is this: Marciano’s overall body of work is inferior to that of the Old Mongoose. Marciano successfully defended the heavyweight title only six times before retiring prematurely at 32. And he beat only two truly elite fighters, Jersey Joe Walcott and Ezzard Charles (twice each). Joe Louis was badly faded when he was stopped by Marciano in 1951. Meanwhile, Moore fought and beat some of the best fighters ever in a remarkable 28-year career, in which he scored an all-time record number of knockouts. Moore suffered the same fate as many other black fighters during his era – a lack of opportunities. And the fact he was profoundly talented and could punch like a battering ram didn’t help his cause. He fought an astounding 17 years, beating a string of hall of famers along the way, before he received his first opportunity to fight for a world championship at the age of 39 (or 36, if you believe him over his mother). He easily outpointed Hall of Famer Joey Maxim to win the title and held it until 1962, when he gave it up at 48. He successfully defended eight times during a period when he also sought the heavyweight belt. His defense against Yvon Durelle in 1958, when he was about to turn 45, was one of the most-dramatic fights ever. Moore survived three first-round knockdowns and one more in the second to put Durelle down four times and win by an 11th-round knockout. Moore had a mind-boggling record of 43-4-2 (28 knockouts) after he turned 40, including a record of 8-2 in title fights. He failed in two bids to win the heavyweight title – losing to Marciano and Floyd Patterson – but his accomplishments were already beyond reproach. Moore also was one of boxing’s great characters. One reason he finally received a shot at Maxim’s title is that he engaged in a letter-writing campaign to boxing writers, pleading his case. And he was a noted wit. For example, in regard to the discrepancy about his birthdate: “I've given this a lot of thought and have decided that I must have been three when I was born.'' Moore was one of a kind.

Five more (alphabetical order): Rocky Marciano, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Terry McGovern, Jimmy McLarnin and Carlos Monzon.

Sugar quote: “He was some work of art, one of the greatest ever. George Foreman won the title at 45 but on the list of greatest methuselahs, I made Moore No. 1 because of overall superiority, his number of knockouts, his longevity. No man held the light heavyweight title longer. I think people forget about him.”

Note: Records on many fighters vary, particularly those who fought well into the past. Moore was 194-26-8 (141 KOs), according to The Boxing Record Book.

A: Armstrong:

B: Burley:

C: Charles:

D: Duran:

E: Elorde:

F: Foreman:

G: Greb:

H: Hagler:

I: Ibeabuchi:

J: Johnson:

K: Ketchel:

L: Louis: