Thursday, August 18, 2022  |

News

To Be The Best: The top 100 boxers in the history of The Ring Rankings (50-41)

Lennox Lewis in action during the Evander Holyfield rematch. Photo by Al Bello/Allsport
08
Feb

If you’re new to this on-going series, please read:

The Introduction. (Seriously, if you’re posting questions like “What does the asterisk next to some results mean?” in the comment section, you really need to read this. You can’t expect us to spoon-feed you everything.)

The Author’s Note.

***

We’ve gone through the first half of journalist-historian Cliff Rold’s comprehensive evaluation of The Ring’s 97-year-old divisional ratings and the 100 fighters who faced the best of their respective weight classes and eras during their time in the rankings.

The fighters included in Nos. 100-51 are among the most revered, talented and accomplished of the past 100+ years – Harry Greb, Henry Armstrong, Kid Gavilan, Rocky Marciano, Carmen Basilio, Ruben Olivares, Joe Frazier, Wilfredo Gomez, Wilfred Benitez, Aaron Pryor, Salvador Sanchez, Felix Trinidad, Mike Tyson, James Toney, Marco Antonio Barrera, Naseem Hamed, Erik Morales, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Joe Calzaghe, Nonito Donaire, Andre Ward, Roman Gonzalez, Vasyl Lomachenko, Naoya Inoue, and Terence Crawford, among other hall of farmers and future hall of farmers.

Also included in the “bottom” half are forgotten standouts, such as “Slapsie” Maxie Rosenbloom, Jackie “Kid” Berg, and Jackie Fields; as well as underrated masters like Benny Lynch, Ken Buchanan, Antonio Cervantes and Esteban DeJesus.

Who are the special fighters that comprise the top 50?

Among the 50-41 group: An all-time great heavyweight champion and the first two-time heavyweight champ, two of the best light heavyweight kings ever, the most talented lightweight from Panama (after Roberto Duran), a pound-for-pound ATG from the 1920s, one of the best fighters never to get a shot at a world title, an often overlooked southpaw from Mexico that Rold correctly describes as “the best featherweight of the 1960s,” and the most exceptional boxers ever to hail from Brazil and Ghana.

***

#50 – Vicente Saldivar 

Career Record: 37-3 (26 KOs, 3 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #8 Featherweight (August 1964)

Last Ring Ranking: #9 Featherweight (June 1972)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 12-1 (5 KOs, 1 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 28

Peak Score Rank: 34

Win Total Rank: 104

Ring Magazine Championships: Featherweight (1964-67, 70)

Vicente Saldivar was a two-time featherweight champion who made seven title defenses.

Mexico City’s “El Zurdo de Oro” was the best featherweight of the 1960s, building an incredible resume in just forty professional fights. Saldivar had been in the top ten just four months and was ranked seventh when he unseated Sugar Ramos for the crown. Saldivar’s seven recorded defenses came against four unique opponents, all of whom Saldivar would stop once. All were ranked in the top five by Ring, with three wins coming against Salidvar’s leading contender. Saldivar shocked the boxing world after the second win over Howard Winstone by announcing his retirement at just 24 years old.

Saldivar would return, regaining the title almost three years later only to lose the crown in his first defense. Saldivar would retire again after a win over Frankie Crawford and another comeback attempt was foiled at launch by Eder Jofre in 1973.

Missing Quality: Prior to entering the rankings, Saldivar suffered a stoppage loss to Baby Luis in 1962. Saldivar avenged it the following year by knockout. During his first reign at featherweight, Saldivar had a single non-title win over Delfino Rosales. It is noted only because both men weighed in below the featherweight limit, meaning some purist interpretations could credit the win as an eighth defense.

Scoring Results: 

Ismael Laguna UD 10 – (2) – 126 – 07/64

Sugar Ramos RTD 12* – (C) – 126 – 11/64

Raul Rojas TKO 15 – (4) – 126 – 06/65

Howard Winstone W 15 – (2) – 126 – 10/65

Floyd Robertson KO 2 – (5) – 126 – 03/66

Mitsunori Seki UD 15 – (1) – 126 – 09/66

Mitsunori Seki TKO 7 – (1) – 126 – 03/67

Howard Winstone W 15 – (1) – 126 – 07/67

Howard Winstone TKO 12 – (3) – 126 – 12/67

Jose Legra UD 10 – (2) – 126 – 08/69

Johnny Famechon UD 15* – (C) – 126 – 07/70

Kuniaki Shibata RTD by 12* – (3) – 126 – 02/71

Frankie Crawford UD 10 – (8+) – 130 – 08/71

 

#49 – Bob Foster 

Career Record: 56-8-1 (46 KOs, 6 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #9 Light Heavyweight (July 1964)

Last Ring Ranking: #9 Light Heavyweight (December 1975)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 14-4-1 (11 KOs, 3 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 36

Peak Score Rank: 44

Win Total Rank: 85

Ring Magazine Championships: Light Heavyweight (1968-74)

Bob Foster looks on as Chris Finnegan falls to the canvas. His 14th-round KO was Ring’s 1972 Fight of the Year. Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images

A murderous puncher with a fantastic jab, Foster was as dominant at light heavyweight as he was contained by the limits of the division. Foster broke through to contention after some early learning losses, rising to number one in the August 1967 issue and held the spot until he won the title from Dick Tiger. Between losses to heavyweight contender Zora Folley in 1965 and heavyweight champion Joe Frazier in 1970, Foster won 20 fights in a row with 19 knockouts.

Foster won another eight in a row, seven by knockout, between his losses to Frazier and Muhammad Ali. Five of those wins were against top ten light heavyweights. Foster defeated three number one contenders as champion, all of them by knockout. Foster was stripped of the WBA belt after the Frazier fight only to reunify it in the win against Vicente Rondon on the way to a then-record 14 consecutives defenses. The last of those, against Ahumada, was considered controversial in its time with Foster fortunate to get a draw. Foster retired as champion only to return a year later. Foster would never get another title shot.

Missing Quality: Prior to entering the top ten, Foster was matched tough in losses to contenders Doug Jones and Mauro Mina. Henry Hank was unranked prior to a knockout loss to Foster in 1964. In 1971, Foster successfully defended against Ray Anderson roughly a year after Anderson exited the Ring rankings; Anderson had been as high as number two at the end of 1969. The first of two wins against Roger Rouse, their non-title affair in 1968, came a few months after Rouse exited the top ten after several years in the rankings.

Scoring Results:

Allen Thomas TKO 1 – (9) – 175 – 06/64

Ernie Terrell KO by 7 – (5+) – Hvy – 08/64

Henry Hank UD 12 – (10) – 175 – 08/65

Zora Folley L 10 – (5+) – Hvy – 01/66

Andres Selpa KO 2 – (5) – 175 – 04/67

Eddie Cotton KO 3 – (3) – 175 – 06/67

Dick Tiger KO 4* – (C) – 175 – 07/68

Andy Kendall TKO 4 – (4) – 175 – 07/69

Mark Tessman KO 10 – (3) – 175 – 08/70

Joe Frazier KO by 2 – (C+) – Hvy – 01/71

Hal Carroll KO 4 – (4) – 175 – 04/71

Brian Kelly TKO 3 – (7) – 175 – 02/72

Vicente Rondon TKO 2 – (1) – 175 – 05/72

Mike Quarry KO 4 – (3) – 175 – 08/72

Chris Finnegan KO 14 – (1) – 175 – 11/72

Muhammad Ali KO by 8 – (1+) – Hvy – 01/73

Pierre Fourie UD 15 – (1) – 175 – 10/73

Pierre Fourie UD 15 – (4) – 175 – 01/74

Jorge Ahumada D 15 – (4) – 175 – 08/74

 

#48 – Mickey Walker 

Career Record: 93-19-4, 46 No Decision, 1 No Contest (59 KOs, 4 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #1 Welterweight (February 1925)

Last Ring Ranking: #5 Light Heavyweight (September 1934)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 14-9-3, 5 No Contests (3 KOs, 2 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 41

Peak Score Rank: 40

Win Total Rank: 84

Ring Magazine Championships: Welterweight (1922-26), Middleweight (1926-31)

Mickey Walker, pictured in 1922, during his welterweight heyday.

This study covers only a portion of the career of “The Toy Bulldog,” giving an indication of how special he was. Walker was already the welterweight champion and was rated the number one welterweight in the first two sets of Ring Magazine annual rankings. Walker ranked only behind Tiger Flowers at middleweight in the February 1927 issue and stood atop the rankings in the February 1928 edition. Walker would be recognized as middleweight champion until the July 1931 issue.

Eddie Borden wrote in the August 1931 issue that June of the year, “saw the retirement of one champion, Mickey Walker, from the middleweight throne. Mickey’s ambition is to win the world’s heavyweight title.” Walker fell short in a challenge of light heavyweight champion Tommy Loughran in 1929 and never got a shot at the heavyweight title but he made some noise, rising as high as number two in the September and October 1931 issues. Walker would later reach number one at light heavyweight in the July 1934 issue after a non-title win over champion Maxie Rosenbloom.

Missing Quality: Walker had significant victories in the years prior to The Ring’s inaugural rankings. Walker’s title victory over Jack Britton and a defense against future champion Pete Latzo in those years merit mention. At heavyweight, Walker defeated an unranked KO Christner in 1930 and Paulino Uzcudun in 1932. Christner had slipped from the top ten just a few months before. Uzcudun was ranked in the June 1932 issue but fell out of the top ten in the July issue on the eve of losing to Walker. Walker gave up close to thirty pounds in both contests.

Scoring Results: 

[Lew Tendler UD 10 – (4) – 147

Jock Malone ND 12 – (7+) – 160

Jock Malone ND 10 – (7+) – 160

Mike McTigue ND 12 – (4++) – 175

Bert Colima DQ 7 – (8+) – 160 – 02/25]

[Harry Greb L 15 – (1+) – 160

Sailor Friedman ND 10 – (7) – 147

Dave Shade SD 15 – (2+) – 160

Sailor Friedman ND 12 – (7) – 147

Pete Latzo L 10* – (UR) – 147

Joe Dundee TKO by 8 – (4) – 147 – 02/26]

[Tiger Flowers W 10* – (1) – 160

Tommy Milligan KO 10 – (9) – 160 – 02/27]

Mike McTigue TKO 1 – (4+) – 175 – 02/28

Ace Hudkins SD 10 – (1-) – 147 – 07/28

Armand Emanuel KO 7 – (1+) – 175 – 09/28

Tommy Loughran L 10 – (C+) – 175 – 05/29

Leo Lomski W 10 – (1+) – 175 – 09/29

Ace Hudkins W 10 – (1) – 160 – 11/29

Leo Lomski W 10 – (6+) – 175 – 03/30

Johnny Risko W 10 – (5++) – Hvy – 12/30

Jack Sharkey D 15 – (1++) – Hvy – 08/31

King Levinsky SD 10 – (6) – Hvy – 06/32

Johnny Risko L 12 – (UR) – Hvy – 08/32

Max Schmeling TKO by 8 – (1) – Hvy – 11/32

Lou Brouillard L 10 – (9-) – 160 – 08/33

Maxie Rosenbloom L 15 – (C) – 175 – 12/33

Bob Godwin D 10 – (1) – 175 – 03/34

Bob Godwin D 10 – (2) – 175 – 05/34

Maxie Rosenbloom W 10 – (C) – 175 – 06/34

Young Corbett III L 10 – (2-) – 160 – 09/34

 

#47 – Azumah Nelson

Career Record: 38-6-2 (27 KOs, 1 KOBY) 

First Ring Ranking: #10 Featherweight (September 1982)

Last Ring Ranking: #3 Jr. Lightweight (August 1997)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 13-4-2 (7 KOs, 1 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 33

Peak Score Rank: 39

Win Total Rank: 93

Ring Magazine Championships: None

Azumah Nelson battled four fellow hall of famers: Salvador Sanchez, Wilfredo Gomez, Pernell Whitaker and Jeff Fenech. His rematch KO of Fenech was Ring’s 1992 Upset of the Year.

Ghana’s “Professor” caught the attention of the boxing world in just his 14th pro start when he pushed featherweight champion Salvador Sanchez to the brink. It would be Sanchez’s final contest before his tragic death. Nelson wouldn’t lose again for almost eight years, winning WBC belts at featherweight and Jr. lightweight before coming up short in a challenge of lightweight champion Pernell Whitaker. Nelson would be Ring’s number one ranked featherweight contender from the February 1985-May 1988 issues during years where the WBA champion was also the Ring champion. Nelson never got a unification fight.

Nelson was central to the Jr. lightweight picture for most of the 90s. When Ring resumed recognition of the division after a two year break in the January 1990 issue, Nelson was ranked number one and remained there until a controversial draw against Jeff Fenech. After winning the Fenech rematch, Nelson returned to number one and remained from the July 1992-August 1994 editions. Nelson would have one more long stretch atop the rankings in the issues dated March 1996-June 1997. Nelson defeated three number one ranked opponents and never lost to an unranked foe.

Missing Quality: Ring’s title policy in the 1990s likely cost Nelson two Ring Magazine championships. Had The Ring maintained titles, the Jr. lightweight crown would have been vacant on the eve of Nelson-Fenech II due to the retirement of Brian Mitchell (the reigning champion when Ring eliminated Jr. lightweight from the rankings in 1987). Nelson slipped below Fenech after their first fight, leaving them ranked 1-2 prior to their rematch. Assuming rules as they are today, that fight would have crowned a champion and then Nelson would have regained the crown in his second win over Gabriel Ruelas.       

Scoring Results: 

Salvador Sanchez TKO by 15 – (C) – 126 – 08/82

Wilfredo Gomez KO 11 – (1) – 126 – 01/85

Pat Cowdell KO 1 – (7+) – 130 – 11/85

Marcos Villasana MD 12 – (4) – 126 – 04/86

Marcos Villasana UD 12 – (8) – 126 – 11/87

Mario Martinez SD 12 – (3+) – 130 – KO 05/88 

Lupe Suarez TKO 9 – (5) – 130 – KO 10/88

Mario Martinez TKO 12 – (5) – 130 – KO 06/89

Pernell Whitaker L 12 – (1+) – 135 – 09/90

Juan Laporte UD 12 – (8) – 130 – 01/91

Jeff Fenech D 12 – (4) – 130 – 10/91

Jeff Fenech TKO 8 – (1) – 130 – 06/92

Calvin Grove UD 12 – (7) – 130 – 02/93

Gabriel Ruelas MD 12 – (6) – 130 – 06/93

Jesse James Leija D 12 – (5-) – 126 – 12/93

Jesse James Leija L 12 – (6-) – 126 – 08/94

Gabriel Ruelas TKO 5 – (1) – 130 – 02/96

Jesse James Leija TKO 6 – (6) – 130 – 09/96

Genaro Hernandez L12 – (3) – 130 – 06/97

 

#46 – Jimmy Bivins 

Career Record: 86-25-1 (31 KOs, 5 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #9 Middleweight (August 1940)

Last Ring Ranking: #10 Heavyweight (August 1953)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 28-25-1 (7 KOs, 5 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 126

Peak Score Rank: 27

Win Total Rank: 12

Ring Magazine Championships: None

Jimmy Bivins was a Ring-rated middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight during an era of just eight weight classes and one champion in each.

Timing is everything. The “Cleveland Spider-Man” had the misfortune of having his best years during World War II and a losing streak at the worst possible time right afterwards. Bivins broke into the middleweight top ten less than a year into his career, eventually climbing to number four in the April 1941 issue. The next month, Bivins assumed the same ranking one class higher at light heavyweight. Bivins rose to number one at light heavyweight and held the top contender spot from the September 1942-November 1943 issues. Remarkably, Bivins would enter the heavyweight top ten in the January 1943 issue and held the number one contender spot at both light heavyweight and heavyweight from the March-November 1943 issues.

One problem for Bivins: champions Joe Louis and Gus Lesnevich were unavailable to challenge during the war. Bivins would win “duration” crowns at light heavyweight and heavyweight but exited the rankings in the August 1944 issue related to his own war service, still ranked number one at heavyweight. Bivins resumed top ranking for a few months after the war before slipping to second behind a returning Billy Conn. Between losses to Bob Pastor and Jersey Joe Walcott, Bivins went 26-0-1 with 14 identified wins against ranked opponents. The Walcott loss kicked off a three fight losing streak months before Louis’s return to the ring that saw Bivins fall out of The Ring’s top ten. Bivins returned, and moved in and out of the rankings for years, but never got a crack at the heavyweight title or consistently found his war years form again.

Missing Quality: The depth of Bivins war years win streak isn’t wholly reflected in the numbers. Future light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim slipped out of the top ten just a couple months before a loss to Bivins. Curtis Sheppard moved in and out of the heavyweight top ten from 1944-48; Bivins beat him during a stretch in 1945 when Sheppard was unranked. “Oakland” Billy Smith was unranked at light heavyweight in the March 1946 issue prior to a fight with Bivins but returned the following month. Smith was a regular in the rankings from 1945-55.

Scoring Results: 

Charley Burley UD 10 – (3-) – 147 – 10/40

[Anton Christoforidis UD 10 – (3+) – 175

Anton Christoforidis L 10 – (3+) – 175 – 01/41]

Teddy Yarosz W 10 – (4+) – 175 – 04/41

Lem Franklin TKO by 9 – (4+) – Hvy – 09/41

Tony Musto L 10 – (UR+) – Hvy – 10/41

Melio Bettina L 10 – (8+) – Hvy – 01/42

Billy Soose UD 10 – (2-) – 160 – 02/42

Gus Lesnevich UD 10 – (C) – 175 – 04/42

Bob Pastor L 10 – (1+) – Hvy – 06/42

Tami Mauriello SD 10 – (4+) – Hvy – 11/42

Bob Pastor SD 10 – (1+) – Hvy – 12/42

Lee Savold UD 10 – (9) – Hvy – 01/43

Ezzard Charles UD 10 – (2) – 175 – 02/43

Anton Christoforidis UD 15 – (2) – 175 – 04/43

Tami Mauriello MD 10 – (2) – Hvy – 05/43

Pat Valentino UD 10 – (6) – Hvy – 06/43

Lloyd Marshall KO 13 – (2) – 175 – 07/43

Herbert Marshall KO 6 – (10) – 175 – 10/43

Melio Bettina UD 10 – (3) – Hvy – 11/43

Lee Q. Murray UD 10 – (3) – Hvy – 01/44

Lee Q. Murray W 10 – (3) – Hvy – 04/44

Buddy Walker KO 2 – (7) – Hvy – 04/45

Melio Bettina D 10 – (5) – Hvy – 05/45

Archie Moore KO 6 – (1-) – 175 – 10/45

Jersey Joe Walcott L 10 – (5) – Hvy – 04/46

Lee Q. Murray L 10 – (UR) – Hvy – 07/46

Ezzard Charles L 10 – (1-) – 175 – 12/46

Booker Beckwith KO 4 – (8-) – 175 – 03/47

[Curtis Sheppard UD 10 – (7) – Hvy

Ezzard Charles KO by 4 – (2-) – 175 – 04/47]

Lee Q. Murray L 10 – (9) – Hvy – 06/47

Lee Q. Murray SD 10 – (3) – Hvy – 07/47

Bobby Zander UD 10 – (10) – Hvy – 08/47

Archie Moore RTD by 8 – (2-) – 175 – 10/47

Turkey Thompson UD 10 – (8) – Hvy – 04/48

Billy Thompson TKO 7 – (8-) – 175 – 05/48

Archie Moore L 10 – (8-) – 175 – 08/48

Ezzard Charles L 10 – (1-) – 175 – 10/48

Joey Maxim L 10 – (10) – Hvy – 01/49

[Rusty Payne SD 10 – (6) – Hvy

Archie Moore KO by 8 – (2-) – 175 – 05/49]

Leonard Morrow L 10 – (3-) – 175 – 08/49

Leonard Morrow UD 10 – (2-) – 175 – 11/49

Harold Johnson L 10 – (5-) – 175 – 12/49

Sid Peaks L 10 – (UR) – Hvy – 03/50

Archie Moore RTD by 9 – (1-) – 175 – 04/51

Clarence Henry L 10 – (4) – Hvy – 08/51

Joe Louis L 10 – (2) – Hvy – 09/51

Bob Baker L 10 – (4) – Hvy – 12/51

Coley Wallace KO 9 – (5) – Hvy – 11/52

Tommy Harrison L 10 – (UR-) – Hvy – 12/52

Ezzard Charles L 10 – (3) – Hvy – 01/53

Tommy Harrison L 10 – (5-) – 175 – 05/53

 

#45 – Ismael Laguna 

Career Record: 65-9-1 (37 KOs)

First Ring Ranking: #10 Bantamweight (November 1961)

Last Ring Ranking: #9 Lightweight (August 1972)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 18-9-1 (7 KOs)

Overall Score Rank: 58

Peak Score Rank: 58

Win Total Rank: 44

Ring Magazine Championships: Lightweight (1965, 70) 

Ismael Laguna fought fellow lightweight great Carlos Ortiz three times in lightweight title bouts.

Panama’s “El Tigre Colonense” competed successfully from bantamweight to lightweight, winning the world title in the latter twice. An intelligent boxer/puncher, Laguna’s longevity reflected his consistency as a professional. Laguna rose to number one contender at bantamweight for all but one issue cover dated January-June 1963 and achieved the same ranking at featherweight for two short stretches the following year. He never fought for the title in either class.

Once he rose to lightweight, Laguna would be a fixture in the top ten from the April 1965 issue until he exited for good in 1972. Impressively, Laguna would rank no lower than second from the June 1967 to February 1972 editions. Laguna only posted one successful title defense across his two title reigns but didn’t lose consecutive fights until his last two starts. He handed Carlos Hernandez only his second career stoppage loss, worked to a draw with Nicolino Locche on the road in Argentina, and ended a four-year, twelve fight winning streak when Laguna defeated Carlos Ortiz for his first title. Laguna stopped Mando Ramos on cuts for his second title, the first stoppage loss in Ramos’s career.

Missing Quality: In his lone successful title defense, Laguna stopped Guts Ishimatsu following the Ramos win in 1970. Ishimatsu was unranked by Ring at the time but would go on to win a belt at lightweight. Laguna defeated Eloy Sanchez in 1962. Sanchez fell out of the rankings the previous year at bantamweight. Laguna also had an additional win over Enrique Hitchman in 1962 after Hitchman had slipped out the top ten.

Scoring Results: 

Enrique Hitchman UD 10 – (10) – 118 – 10/61

Auburn Copeland UD 10 – (2++) – 130 – 04/63

Antonio Herrera L 10 – (UR) – 126 – 07/63

Don Johnson TKO 3 – (3) – 126 – 08/63

Antonio Herrera TKO 6 (8) – 126 – 10/63

Rafiu King UD 10 – (4) – 126 – 12/63

Angel Robinson Garcia W 10 – (1+++) – 140 – 04/64

Vicente Saldivar L 10 – (UR) – 126 – 07/64

Vicente Derado UD 10 – (4+) – 130 – 09/64

Percy Hayles TKO 7 – (8++) – 135 – 12/64

Carlos Ortiz MD 15* – (C) – 135 – 06/65

Nicolino Locche D 10 – (2) – 135 – 08/65

Carlos Ortiz L 15* – (1) – 135 – 01/66

Carlos Hernandez TKO 8 – (C+) – 140 – 03/66

Flash Elorde L 10 – (C-) – 130 – 04/66

Daniel Guanin TKO 8 – (3+) – 140 – 01/67

Frankie Narvaez UD 12 – (4) – 135 – 04/67

Carlos Ortiz L 15 – (C) – 135 – 10/67

Frankie Narvaez UD 10 – (4) – 135 – 06/68

Victor Melendez UD 10 – (9) – 135 – 08/68

Lloyd Marshall TKO 9 – (6) – 135 – 10/68

Eugenio Espinoza L 10 – (UR+) – 140 – 07/69

Eugenio Espinoza UD 10 – (7+) – 140 – 08/69

Mando Ramos TKO 9* – (C) – 135 – 05/70

Ken Buchanan L 15* – (7) – 135 – 11/70

Chango Carmona UD 10 – (9) – 135 – 05/71

Eddie Linder L 10 – (UR) – 135 – 08/71

Ken Buchanan L 15 – (C) – 135 – 11/71

 

#44 – Floyd Patterson

Career Record: 55-8-1 (40 KOs, 5 KOBY) 

First Ring Ranking: #10 Light Heavyweight (August 1953)

Last Ring Ranking: #8 Heavyweight (August 1973)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 16-8-1 (12 KOs, 5 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 47 

Peak Score Rank: 53

Win Total Rank: 60

Ring Magazine Championships: Heavyweight (1956-59, 60-62)

Floyd Patterson was The Ring’s 1956 and 1960 Fighter of the Year.

The 1952 Olympic gold medalist at middleweight, Patterson was a pro less than a year when he entered the top ten for the first time at light heavyweight. A loss to Joey Maxim in 1954 was controversial in its time and didn’t halt Patterson’s momentum. Patterson rose to number one contender at light heavyweight in the September 1955 issue and remained until June 1956, entering the heavyweight rankings the following issue on the eve of his first fight with Tommy Jackson. Patterson succeeded the retired Rocky Marciano as champion in his next fight with a knockout of Archie Moore.

Patterson’s vulnerability and lack of size at heavyweight was offset by his courage and perseverance. He avenged a loss to Johansson to become the first man to regain the title, winning their series 2-1, and rebounded from staggering losses to Sonny Liston and Ali to continue as a top ten contender for years afterwards. After being out of the ring for two years between 1968 and 1970, Patterson returned to post a nine fight win streak, climbing as high as third in the rankings for a few months in 1972, before retiring after a second loss to Ali.

Missing Quality: Yvon Durelle entered the rankings in 1957 and went on to give champion Archie Moore a legendary scare. Patterson won a decision over Durelle in 1954. Tommy Harrison slipped out of the heavyweight top ten just a few months before Patterson stopped him in one the same year. In rebounding from his losses to Liston, Patterson beat Charlie Powell between victories over Eddie Machen and George Chuvalo. Powell had been ranked for much of 1959 but was long out of the top ten by then.

Scoring Results: 

Joey Maxim L 8 – (2) – 175 – 07/54

Jimmy Slade UD 8 – (6+) – Hvy – 01/55

Willie Troy RTD 5 – (6-) – 160 – 02/55

Dave Whitlock KO 3 – (10) – 175 – 11/55

Jimmy Slade TKO 7 (5+) – Hvy – 01/56

Tommy Jackson SD 12 – (2) – Hvy – 07/56

Archie Moore KO 5* – (1) – Hvy – 01/57

Tommy Jackson TKO 10 – (1) – Hvy – 09/57

Roy Harris RTD 12 – (5) – Hvy – 09/58

Brian London KO 11 – (8) – Hvy – 06/59

Ingemar Johansson TKO by 3* – (1) – Hvy – 07/59

Ingemar Johansson KO 5* – (C) – Hvy – 07/60

Ingemar Johansson KO 6 – (2) – Hvy – 04/61

Tom McNeeley KO 4 – (9) – Hvy – 01/62

Sonny Liston KO by 1* – (1) – Hvy – 10/62

Sonny Liston KO by 1* – (C) – Hvy – 08/63

Eddie Machen W 12 – (4) – Hvy – 08/64

George Chuvalo UD 12 – (4) – Hvy – 04/65

Muhammad Ali TKO by 12 – (C) – Hvy – 01/66

Henry Cooper KO 4 – (8) – Hvy – 11/66

Jerry Quarry D 10 – (UR) – Hvy – 07/67

Jerry Quarry L 12 – (8) – Hvy – 12/67

Jimmy Ellis L 15 – (2) – Hvy – 11/68

Oscar Bonavena UD 10 – (4) – Hvy – 04/72

Muhammad Ali RTD by 7 – (1) – Hvy – 11/72

 

#43 – Lennox Lewis 

Career Record: 41-2-1 (32 KOs, 2 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #10 Heavyweight (July 1991)

Last Ring Ranking: Heavyweight Champion (May 2004)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 15-2-1 (11 KO, 2 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 37

Peak Score Rank: 46

Win Total Rank: 72

Ring Magazine Championships: Heavyweight (2002-04)

Lennox Lewis finished his hall-of-fame career as Ring Magazine heavyweight champion.

Born in the UK, “The Lion” used one of history’s great right hands to dominate the amateur and paid ranks. Lewis won super heavyweight gold for Canada at the 1988 Olympics, his second Olympic appearance, with a stoppage of future heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe. Undefeated in his first 21 starts, Lewis entered the underdog against Razor Ruddock on Halloween night and sent a scare through the heavyweight ranks to prove himself a player. Bowe won the undisputed title from Holyfield the following month and gave up the WBC belt rather than face Lewis as a mandatory challenger. The WBC awarded their belt to Lewis and Lewis defeated three straight Ring ranked contenders before a stunning loss to Oliver McCall.

Lewis rebounded with nine straight wins, five against Ring-ranked opponents, and regained the then-vacant WBC belt in a rematch with McCall in 1997 prior to a unification showdown with Evander Holyfield. Lewis was denied in what should have been his finest hour, held to an official draw in a widely decried decision but won the rematch to claim the undisputed crown. After three more wins, Lewis traded the title with Hasim Rahman before closing out his career with victories over Mike Tyson and Vitali Klitschko. Lewis was never out of the Ring rankings during the nearly thirteen years between his first and last appearances and was ranked as one of the two best heavyweights in the world for all but four months from the February 1996 issue until retiring as champion.

Missing Quality: Lewis was only the fifth man in history to win the lineal heavyweight crown twice. Had The Ring maintained championships in the 90’s, the first reign likely begins with his win over Shannon Briggs though current Ring policy could have seen George Foreman stripped prior to his loss to Briggs. Notable victories over an undefeated Gary Mason early in Lewis’s career, and against Oliver McCall and Ray Mercer later on, all came with those men outside the top ten.

Scoring Results: 

Donovan Ruddock TKO 2 – (3) – Hvy – 02/93

Tony Tucker UD 12 – (5) – Hvy – 08/93

Frank Bruno TKO 7 – (8) – Hvy – 01/94

Phil Jackson TKO 8 – (9) – Hvy – 08/94

Oliver McCall TKO by 2 – (4) – Hvy – Winter/94

Lionel Butler TKO 5 – (10) – Hvy – 08/95

Tommy Morrison TKO 6 – (10) – Hvy – 01/96

Henry Akinwande DQ 5 – (7) – Hvy – 11/97

Andrew Golota KO 1 – (4) – Hvy – Holiday/97

Shannon Briggs TKO 5 – (7) – Hvy – 07/98

Evander Holyfield D 12 – (1) – Hvy – 06/99

Evander Holyfield UD 12 – (2) – Hvy – 02/00

Michael Grant KO 2 – (3) – Hvy – 07/00

David Tua UD 12 – (2) – Hvy – 03/01

Hasim Rahman KO by 5 – (8) – Hvy – 08/01

Hasim Rahman KO 4* – (1) – Hvy – 03/02

Mike Tyson KO 8 – (2) – Hvy – 10/02

Vitali Klitschko TKO 6 – (10) – Hvy – 10/03

 

#42 – Michael Spinks 

Career Record: 31-1 (21 KOs, 1 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #6 Light Heavyweight (May 1980)

Last Ring Ranking: #5 Heavyweight (October 1988)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 14-1 (9 KO, 1 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 31

Peak Score Rank: 38

Win Total Rank: 83

Ring Magazine Championships: Light Heavyweight (1983-85), Heavyweight (1985-88)

Michael Spinks’ first 15-round decision over Larry Holmes was Ring’s 1985 Upset of the Year. It also marked the first time a reigning light heavyweight champ dethroned the heavyweight champ. Photo by Focus On Sport/Getty Images

One of five U.Ss. gold medalists at the 1976 Olympics, the “Jinx” would become the first reigning light heavyweight champion to dethrone the heavyweight king when he upset Larry Holmes in 1985. Spinks was developed deliberately, turning professional in 1977 and cracking the top ten three years later. Spinks won his first belt, WBA, with a decision over Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, later unified in a careful decision against Dwight Muhammad Qawi, and assumed the inaugural position as IBF titlist with his win over Eddie Davis. Spinks was the number-one contender to what would ultimately be Qawi’s Ring crown from the October 1981 to April 1983 issues.

Spinks’ record against champions and top-ten contenders at light heavyweight was 12-0 when he left the class. Eight of those 12 wins came against fighters ranked no lower than third. While the scoring of the second fight with Holmes can be described as controversial, the first fight was a commendable display of focus and strategy. Holmes was 48-0 when Spinks pulled off something Billy Conn, Archie Moore, Bob Foster and others could not in their times.

Missing Quality: Ring’s recognized champions haven’t always been decided directly in the ring. Spinks suffers from a particular occasion. In the October 1979 issue, The Ring declared WBA titlist Victor Galindez light heavyweight champion though he’d not unified the division. Galindez lost his next fight to Marvin Johnson so naturally when that outcome was reflected in the February 1980 issue, the new light heavyweight king was…Matthew Saad Muhammad. The reason wasn’t hard to understand, stated as “because of his two knockout victories against Marvin Johnson…Muhammad gains recognition by The Ring as the legitimate light heavyweight champion.” Johnson lost his belt to Eddie Mustafa Muhammad in his next fight. Had The Ring recognized Johnson’s win over Galindez instead, Spinks would have had a longer tenure as The Ring’s champion.

Scoring Results:

David Conteh TKO 9 – (10) – 175 – 09/80

Yaqui Lopez TKO 7 – (5) – 175 – 12/80

Marvin Johnson KO 4 – (5) – 175 – 05/81

Eddie Mustafa Muhammad UD 15 – (1) – 175 – 09/81

Murray Sutherland TKO 8 – (5) – 175 – 05/82

Jerry Celestine TKO 8 – (5) – 175 – 07/82

Johnny Davis TKO 9 – (7) – 175 – 10/82

Dwight Muhammad Qawi UD 15* – (C) – 175 – 04/83

Oscar Rivadeneyra TKO 10 – (9) – 175 – 12/83

Eddie Davis UD 12 – (3) – 175 – 04/84

David Sears TKO 3 – (6) – 175 – 04/85

Jim MacDonald TKO 8 – (4) – 175 – 07/85

Larry Holmes UD 15* – (C++) – Hvy – 11/85

Larry Holmes SD 15 – (2) – Hvy – 06/86

Mike Tyson KO by 1* – (1) – Hvy – 09/88

 

#41 – Eder Jofre

Career Record: 72-2-4 (50 KOs) 

First Ring Ranking: #9 Bantamweight (August 1959)

Last Ring Ranking: #7 Featherweight (August 1977)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 15-2-1 (11 KOs)

Overall Score Rank: 35

Peak Score Rank: 43

Win Total Rank: 71

Ring Magazine Championships: Bantamweight (1961-65)

Two-division champion Eder Jofre and his father, Kid Jofre. Photo credit: Estadão

Brazil’s “Galinho de Ouro” would be remembered as a great fighter even without an intriguing, unbeaten second act. Jofre failed to medal at the 1956 Olympics, losing on points in the quarterfinals. Turned pro in March 1957, Jofre entered the rankings a little more than two years later. Jofre reached number one in the August 1960 issue and earned recognition from the NBA as champion with a knockout of Eloy Sanchez. Following his win over Pierro Rollo, Jofre assumed his place as Ring’s champion to fill a vacancy left by the abdication of Jose Becerra.

Jofre won his first fourteen fights against ranked opponents at bantamweight and flyweight, including successful title defenses against number one contenders Johnny Caldwell and Jose Medel. Jofre retired after his second loss to Fighting Harada with a mark of 47-2-4. Returning in 1969, Jofre would post a mark of 25-0 at featherweight, capturing the WBC belt in 1973 with his win over Jose Legra.

Missing Quality: Prior to entering the rankings, Jofre had draws versus Ernesto Miranda (twice) and Ruben Caceres. Later, between losses to Harada, Jofre had an official draw against Manny Elias. Jofre defeated all three in rematches, leaving Harada the only unavenged blemish on his record. Jofre’s featherweight comeback isn’t littered with top contenders but the quality was deeper than the rankings might show. Shig Fukuyama, defeated in 1972, would be a staple of the featherweight top ten for a couple years later in the decade. Former featherweight champion Vicente Saldivar, still only 30, came out of retirement to face a 37-year old Jofre in 1973 and was dismantled. Mexico’s Juan Antonio Lopez, defeated in 1976, would go on to challenge Wilfredo Gomez for Jr. featherweight honors twice. Octavio Gomez slipped out of the top ten just a few months before Jofre defeated Gomez in Jofre’s final fight.

Scoring Results: 

Leo Espinosa W 10 – (4) – 118 – 07/59

Danny Kid UD 10 – (2) – 118 – 01/60

Ernesto Miranda UD 15 – (9) – 118 – 03/60

Ernesto Miranda KO 3 – (7) – 118 – 07/60

Jose Medel KO 10 – (7) – 118 – 09/60

Eloy Sanchez KO 6 – (7) – 118 – 12/60

Piero Rollo RTD 9* – (4) – 118 – 05/61

[Sadao Yaoita KO10 – (1-) – 112

Ramon Arias TKO 7 – (3-) – 112 – 09/61]

Johnny Caldwell TKO 10 – (1) – 118 – 02/62

Herman Marques TKO 10 – (8) – 118 – 06/62

Jose Medel KO 6 – (1) – 118 – 10/62

Katsutoshi Aoki KO 3 – (5) – 118 – 05/63

Bernardo Caraballo KO 7 – (4) – 118 – 01/65

Fighting Harada L 15* – (1) – 118 – 07/65

Manny Elias D 10 – (UR) – 118 – 12/65

Fighting Harada L 15 – (C) – 118 – 07/66

Jose Legra MD 15 – (2) – 126 – 06/73

***

Click here to read 100-91.

Click here to read 90-81.

Click here to read 80-71.

Click here to read 70-61.

Click here to read 60-51.

Scoring Details:

Scoring for total points and peak points relied on a base 11-point scale (i.e. a champion and the top 10 contenders). 

A win over the champion of one’s weight class, in a title or non-title fight, was worth 11 points, a No. 1 contender was worth 10, etc. 

Losses worked in reverse. A loss to the champion was a one-point deduction sliding to 11 for a loss to the No. 10 contender. 

Losses to unranked opponents drew a universal 12-point deduction. Draws against ranked opponents were worth half a win; draws against unranked opponents were a six-point deduction.

Fighters were then given a ranking in each scoring category: overall total, peak score (the highest point their points for wins and losses reached), and ranked wins.  

Wins and losses to opponents in higher and lower divisions were included. A formula based on body weight percentage differences between divisions of ranked fighters, rather than scale weights of the fighters, was applied. 

For instance, if a No. 2-ranked bantamweight defeated the No. 2-ranked featherweight, 126 was divided by 118 and then multiplied by standard win/loss points, making the win worth 9.61 points to the bantamweight and the loss a deduction of 3.2 points for the featherweight. If the featherweight won, 118 would be divided by 126 with the win worth 8.42 points for the featherweight and the loss meaning a deduction of 2.81 points for the bantamweight. 

The exception was fighters moving up to face heavyweights. There is no specific heavyweight ceiling so the formula divides the weight limit of the smaller fighter’s division against the actual weight of the heavyweight.  

Everyone who finished in the top 100 of preliminary research for those three categories was moved into a final pool of what came out to 150 fighters. Win total ties were broken based on peak score. Their rankings in each category were then averaged into a final score.

To best display the range of data, they were then divided into four groups to settle on the final 100. 

Group one: anyone who finished in the top 100 of all three scoring categories or whose scoring average was higher than those who did. (1-64). 

Group two was anyone else who finished in the top 100 for peak score and ranked wins but not overall points (65-69). 

Group three was derived from fighters who scored in the top 75 of any of the three scoring categories or whose final scoring average was higher than what would otherwise be the bottom ten of the top 100 (70-100).

The final average score was used to order the fighters in each group for those who made the top 100.        

The study tried to respect the varying standards The Ring has used to rank fighters over the last century. For instance, champions haven’t automatically secured the top spot in every era of Ring rankings. Mike McTigue was the light heavyweight champion for the inaugural rankings in 1925 and was rated fourth. 

For the 1925 rankings, and the period when Ring didn’t recognize single champions from 1989 to 2001, only 10 fighters per weight class were ranked. The points scale shifted for those years. The No. 1-ranked fighter became the 11-point win, deduction for an unranked loss was eleven points, and unranked draws were a 5.5-point deduction. 

The 1926 and subsequent annual rankings prior to the introduction of monthly rankings included more than 10 fighters so the first 11 were all factored in.  

The study is primarily based on monthly rankings. However, for a lengthy period of time the February, and later March, issue of the magazine would only feature the annual ratings for the year. Those were treated as that month’s rankings and, if needed, were reordered as champion and top 10 to maintain consistency. 

Rankings from 1925-1928 had no monthly movement. The solution was to include all results from 1924 in evaluating 1925 and then applying six-month increments with spare exception near mid-year dates until the debut of monthly rankings; i.e. results from January-June 1925 used the 1925 annual and the rest of the year used 1926’s.

close

SIGN UP TO GET RING NEWS ALERTS