Friday, March 24, 2023  |



The best of all time A to Z: Qawi


This is the 17th 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: “R.”

Lifespan: 1953 –
Hometown: Lindenwold, N.J. (from Camden, N.J.)
Record: 41-11-1 (25 KOs)
Active: 1978-98
Weight class: Light heavyweight to heavyweight
Titles: Light heavyweight and cruiserweight
Sugar’s ranking: None
The thought process: For those who aren’t familiar with Qawi, think of a smaller (5-foot-5¾; 166cm) version of Joe Frazier, a durable fireplug who bobbed and weaved and never, ever stopped coming. He was his opponents’ worst nightmare. And he was good enough to earn induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. That fact is remarkable when you consider where he started. Qawi, then Dwight Braxton, was convicted of armed robbery as a young man and spent several years in prison. He happened to land in a correctional facility with a boxing program, Rahway, and learned the fundamentals of the sport when he was behind bars. He turned pro upon his release from prison in 1978, at 25, and learned the game quickly. He won a light heavyweight title only three years later when he stopped fellow hall of famer Matthew Saad Muhammand in 10 rounds in 1981. He knocked out Muhammad again the following year to reaffirm his place as one of the best little-big men in the game. Qawi would go on to lose his belt by a fairly close decision to another hall of famer, Michael Spinks, and then win a title in the newly created cruiserweight division by stopping South African Piet Crous in 1985. He lost that belt to a young (11-0) Evander Holyfield in what was probably his most-memorable fight, a frenetic, give-and-take 15-round brawl that the future heavyweight champion would win by a split decision. Qawi never displayed more fire. He never again held a title and failed in an attempt to become a viable heavyweight but he left us with the memory of a champion who seemed to fight hard for every second of every fight. And he has made something of himself outside the ring: He works as a counselor for those who struggle with drugs and alcohol. Turns out the ex-convict is an all-around winner.
Five more (alphabetical order): Jerry Quarry, Ike Quartey, Manuel Quintero, Robert Quiroga and Francisco Quiroz.
Sugar quote: “Qawi was a tough little guy. He gave Holyfield all he could handle – twice. The first fight was one of the greatest I ever saw.”

A: Armstrong:

B: Burley:

C: Charles:

D: Duran:

E: Elorde:

F: Foreman:

G: Greb:

H: Hagler:

I: Ibeabuchi:

J: Johnson:

K: Ketchel:

L: Louis:

M: Moore:

N: Napoles:

O: Olivares:

P: Pep: