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To Be The Best: The top 100 boxers in the history of The Ring Rankings (10-1)

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao were the Fighters of the Decade for the 2000s and the 2010s.
15
Feb

Please read:

The Introduction.

The Author’s Note.

***

Oh my god! We’re here! The FINAL TEN of Cliff Rold’s unique 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 Bible of Boxing’s rankings.

And the final part of this series (originally published in the February 2022 issue of The Ring) makes its RingTV.com debut on the 100th birthday of the venerable boxing magazine.

Just as the men who ranked from #20 to #11 were beyond “mere” hall of famers, each individual in the top 10 is a bonafide all-time great – the man the world knows as THE GREATEEST and the Sweet Scientist that The Greatest and most boxing historians called the G.O.A.T are among the near-mythical legends and modern icons in this group.

To be the best, you have to beat the best. These are the best of the best.

***

#10 – Archie Moore

Career Record: 186-23-10, 1 No Contest (132 KOs, 7 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #5 Middleweight (July 1940)

Last Ring Ranking: #9 Heavyweight (May 1963)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 39-19-7 (18 KOs, 7 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 22

Peak Score Rank: 17

Win Total Rank: 4

Ring Magazine Championships: Light Heavyweight (1952-62)

Archie Moore was a Ring-rated fighter from middleweight to heavyweight during the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Photo: The Ring Magazine/ Getty Images

One of boxing’s great, ageless wonders, the “Old Mongoose” tackled contenders from middleweight to heavyweight for 17 years before finally getting a crack at a world title. Moore made the most of his opportunity and would be recognized by The Ring as champion for the next decade.

Moore moved in and out of the middleweight top 10 from 1940 to 1944, reaching the No. 1 contender spot at middleweight just once, in the March 1943 issue. He would enter the top 10 of his signature weight class in the March 1945 issue and have several stints as the top contender in all but one issue from August 1945-July 1946; the June-August 1949 issues; and then for all but two issues from April 1950 to his victory over Maxim for the title as recognized in the February 1953 issue. Moore would also have a lengthy stint as the No. 1 contender at heavyweight from the July 1955-January 1957 issues, though boxing’s highest honor eluded him.

Moore’s record entering his challenge of Maxim was 133-19-8. Twenty-seven of those wins came against ranked opposition after Moore entered the rankings for the first time. That’s really earning a shot at the champ.

Moore faced everyone in the famed “murderer’s row” of the 1930s and ’40s, and while he didn’t best them all, Moore’s remarkable durability allowed him to long outlast the field. He posted five wins over The Ring’s No. 1-ranked contender at light heavyweight, four in defense of the crown, five more over No. 2 contenders, and bested No. 1-ranked heavyweight Nino Valdez to set up an ill-fated shot at Rocky Marciano. The stretch to Marciano was one of Moore’s most impressive. In three straight fights, Moore knocked out longtime rival and leading contender Harold Johnson, jumped up to decision Valdez at heavyweight and then returned to light heavyweight to knock out reigning middleweight champion Bobo Olson.

Missing Quality: Before he entered the rankings for the first time, Moore split fights with Johnny “Bandit” Romero in 1938. Romero was ranked intermittently at light heavyweight from 1937-38 and for most of 1943. Moore suffered defeats to Teddy Yarosz and Shorty Hogue as well before breaking through at middleweight with a win over Ron Richards. Moore’s first win over Jack Chase came when Chase was unranked, though Chase’s name comes up often from there. As an interesting footnote, a fight that has gained fame over time came at a time when Moore was unranked: his defeat at the hands of Charley Burley. Moore had slipped from the middleweight top 10 after a knockout loss to Eddie Booker.

Scoring Results: 

[Ron Richards TKO 10 – (6) – 160

Atilio Sabatino TKO 5 – (5) – 160 – 06/40]

Ron Richards W 12 – (6) – 160 – 08/40

Shorty Hogue L 10 – (UR) – 160 – 03/41

Eddie Booker D 10 – (UR) – 160 – 04/41

Eddie Booker D 12 – (5) – 160 – 01/43

Jack Chase UD 15 – (9) – 160 – 06/43

Jack Chase L 15 – (6) – 160 – 09/43

Aaron Wade L10 – (UR) – 160 – 10/43

Jack Chase MD 10 – (3) – 160 – 01/44

Eddie Booker TKO by 8 – (UR) – 160 – 03/44

Charley Burley L 10 – (4) – 160 – 06/44

Nate Bolden UD 10 – (5) – 175 – 05/45

Lloyd Marshall UD 10 – (1) – 175 – 07/45

[George Kochan TKO 6 – (3) – 175

Lloyd Marshall TKO 10 – (2) – 175 – 08/45]

Jimmy Bivins KO by 6 – (2+) – Hvy – 10/45

Cocoa Kid KO 8 – (9-) – 160 – 11/45

Holman Williams L 10 – (1-) – 160 – 12/45

Holman Williams TKO 11 – (1-) – 160 – 01/46

Ezzard Charles L 10 – (5) – 175 – 07/46

[Oakland Billy Smith D 12 – (9) – 175

Jack Chase D 10 – (10) – 175 – 12/46]

Jack Chase KO 9 – (8) – 175 – 05/47

Ezzard Charles L 10 – (1) – 175 – 06/47

Bert Lytell UD 10 – (4-) – 160 – 09/47

Jimmy Bivins RTD 8 – (3+) – Hvy – 10/47

Ezzard Charles KO by 8 – (1) – 175 – 03/48

Oakland Billy Smith UD 10 – (2) – 175 – 06/48

Leonard Morrow KO by 1 – (UR) – 175 – 07/48

Jimmy Bivins MD 10 – (2+) – Hvy – 08/48

Henry Hall L 10 – (UR) – 175 – 12/48

[Lloyd Gibson DQ by 4 – (UR) – 175

Henry Hall UD 10 – (10) – 175 – 01/49]

Charley Williams KO 7 – (7) – 175 – 02/49

Jimmy Bivins KO 8 – (7+) – Hvy – 05/49

Harold Johnson UD 10 – (10) – 175 – 06/49

Clinton Bacon DQ by 6 – (UR) – 175 – 07/49

Leonard Morrow KO 10 – (3) – 175 – 01/50

Bert Lytell UD 10 – (5) – 175 – 03/50

Karel Sys D 12 – (UR+) – Hvy – 08/51

Harold Johnson UD 10 – (7) – 175 – 11/51

Harold Johnson L 10 – (5) – 175 – 01/52

Harold Johnson UD 10 – (3) – 175 – 03/52

Jimmy Slade UD 10 – (10) – 175 – 04/52

Bob Dunlop KO 6 – (7+) – Hvy – 07/52

Clarence Henry UD 10 – (5+) – Hvy – 08/52

Joey Maxim UD 15* – (C) – 175 – 01/53

Joey Maxim UD 15 – (1) – 175 – 08/53

Joey Maxim UD 15 – (2) – 175 – 03/54

Harold Johnson TKO 14 – (1) – 175 – 09/54

Nino Valdes W 15 – (1+) – Hvy – 06/55

Bobo Olson KO 3 – (C) – 160 – 07/55

Rocky Marciano KO by 9 – (C) – Hvy – 11/55

Yolande Pompey TKO 10 – (1) – 175 – 07/56

Floyd Patterson KO by 5* – (2) – Hvy – 01/57

Tony Anthony KO7 – (2) – 175 – 10/57

Howard King D10 – (UR) – Hvy – 09/58

Yvon Durelle KO11 – (3) – 175 – 01/59

Yvon Durelle KO 3 – (1) – 175 – 09/59

Giulio Rinaldi L 10 – (5) – 175 – 12/60

Giulio Rinaldi UD 15 – (2) – 175 – 07/61

Alejandro Lavorante TKO 10 – (6+) – Hvy – 05/62

Willie Pastrano D 10 – (UR) – Hvy – 07/62

Muhammad Ali TKO by 4 – (7) – Hvy – 12/62

 

#9 – Manny Pacquiao

Career Record: 62-8-2 (39 KOs, 3 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #1 Flyweight (April 1999)

Last Ring Ranking: #5 Welterweight (December 2021)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 23-7-2 (11 KOs, 2 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 6

Peak Score Rank: 9

Win Total Rank: 23

Ring Magazine Championships: Featherweight (2003-05), Jr. Lightweight (2008), Jr. Welterweight (2009-10)

Manny Pacquiao was Ring’s 2006, 2008 and 2009 Fighter of the Year. Photo: The Ring archive

The Filipino icon cracked Ring Magazine top 10s in four different decades from the 1990s to the 2020s with wins over reigning champions or opponents ranked in the top two of every weight class he competed in from flyweight to welterweight.

Pacquiao entered the rankings winning his first major title at age 19 with a come-from-behind knockout of Chatchai Sasakul. While Pacquiao was widely unknown when he received his second title shot against Lehlo Ledwaba at junior featherweight, it’s easy to overlook that he was a fixture in The Ring’s junior featherweight top 10 for almost two years prior to the fight. He would never be unknown by anyone again.

Along with Ring Magazine titles at featherweight, junior lightweight and junior welterweight, Pacquiao also achieved No. 1-contender rankings at junior featherweight and welterweight along with a No. 1 ranking at flyweight in the era when The Ring did not recognize singular champions.

Pacquiao couldn’t solve the riddle of Mayweather in the richest fight of all time, but several multi-fight rivalries magnified the greatness of Pacquiao. He topped Tim Bradley in two of their three fights. In nine fights against the Mexican trio of Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao was an impressive 6-2-1 and rebounded from a devastating knockout loss to Marquez in the last of those fights to add seven more wins over ranked opponents before what appears to be his farewell loss to Yordenis Ugas.

Missing Quality: Pacquiao is one of the most decorated fighters in history and the highest-finishing southpaw in this study. Combining sanctioning body and lineal and/or Ring championships, Pacquiao is the only fighter with title claims in eight weight classes. Antonio Margarito was not ranked by The Ring in the top 10 at junior middleweight when Pacquiao defeated him at a catchweight for a belt in that class but had been a fixture in the welterweight top 10 for nearly a decade. Had The Ring maintained its title policy through the 1990s, Pacquiao would likely have a fourth Ring title at flyweight for his win over Sasakul. Sasakul was “the man who beat the man” dating back to Miguel Canto.

Scoring Results: 

Chatchai Sasakul KO 8 – (2) – 112 – 03/99

Medgoen Singsurat TKO by 3 – (UR) – 112 – Holiday/99

Lehlo Ledwaba TKO 6 – (2) – 122 – 10/01

Agapito Sanchez Tech. Draw 6 – (10) – 122 – 02/02

Marco Antonio Barrera TKO 11* – (C) – 126 – 03/04

Juan Manuel Marquez D 12 – (1) – 126 – 09/04

Erik Morales L12 – (2+) – 130 – Vol. IV/05

Erik Morales TKO 10 – (2) – 130 – 05/06

Oscar Larios UD 12 – (2–) – 122 – 10/06

Erik Morales KO 3 – (3) – 130 – 02/07

Jorge Solis KO 8 – (8-) – 126 – 07/07

Marco Antonio Barrera UD 12 – (3) – 130 – 01/08

Juan Manuel Marquez SD 12* – (2) – 130 – 06/08

David Diaz TKO 9 – (2) – 135 – Fall/08

Oscar De La Hoya RTD 8 – (3+++) – 154 – 02/09

Ricky Hatton KO 2* – (C-) – 140 – 06/09

Miguel Cotto TKO 12 – (3+) – 147 – 01/10

Joshua Clottey UD 12 – (5) – 147 – 05/10

Shane Mosley UD 12 – (4) – 147 – 07/11

Juan Manuel Marquez MD 12 – (C–) – 135 – 01/12

Timothy Bradley L 12 – (1-) – 140 – 08/12

Juan Manuel Marquez KO by 6 – (4-) – 140 – 02/13

Brandon Rios UD 12 – (7-) – 140 – 01/14

Timothy Bradley UD 12 – (1) – 147 – 06/14

Chris Algieri UD 12 – (3-) – 140 – 01/15

Floyd Mayweather L 12 – (C/C+) – 147/154 – 07/15

Timothy Bradley UD 12 – (4) – 147 – 07/16

Jessie Vargas UD 12 – (8) – 147 – 01/17

Jeff Horn L 12 – (UR) – 147 – 09/17

Lucas Matthysse TKO 7 – (9) – 147 – 09/18

Keith Thurman SD 12 – (3) – 147 – 09/19

Yordenis Ugas L 12 – (6) – 147 – 10/21

 

#8 – Ezzard Charles

Career Record: 95-25-1 (52 KOs, 7 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #2 Middleweight (March 1942)

Last Ring Ranking: #10 Heavyweight (April 1956)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 36-16-1 (19 KOs, 5 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 24

Peak Score Rank: 8

Win Total Rank: 6

Ring Magazine Championships: Heavyweight (1950-51)

An illustrated portrait of Ezzard Charles graces the December 1950 issue of The Ring. Charles was Ring’s 1949 and 1950 Fighter of the Year.

The “Cincinnati Cobra” competed with the elite from middleweight to heavyweight for the better  part of a decade without a title shot. Charles had some big wins and losses in the first three years of his career, reaching The Ring’s No. 1 contender spot at middleweight in the October-December 1942 issues before assuming the No. 2 contender spot at light heavyweight in the January 1943 issue.

Charles lost most of three years’ activity (between 1943-45) to service in World War II and left for the war with a professional mark of 30-4-1. When he resumed his career in 1946, he engaged in one of history’s greatest runs. From February 1946 to losing the heavyweight title to Jersey Joe Walcott in July 1951, Charles went 39-1 overall with a 20-1 mark against opponents ranked at light heavyweight and heavyweight. The lone loss in that stretch, a debated decision versus Elmer Ray, was avenged by knockout. He also avenged pre-war losses to Jimmy Bivins and Lloyd Marshall multiple times apiece while winning all three battles with Archie Moore.

Charles was The Ring’s leading light heavyweight contender for all but two issues from August 1946 to October 1948 without ever receiving a title shot. He entered the heavyweight ratings at No. 2 and ultimately held the No. 1 contender spot from the April 1949 issue until earning recognition from The Ring as heavyweight champion in the December 1950 issue following a win over an unranked and recently unretired Joe Louis. Charles had won the NBA’s recognition as champion in June 1949 following his first win over Walcott.

Missing Quality: Charles is lauded by many, including biographer William Dettloff while writing for The Ring, as the greatest light heavyweight of all time. That championship is sorely missing from his resume. The Ring recognized only four men as light heavyweight champion from August 1941 to March 1962: Gus Lesnevich, Freddie Mills, Joey Maxim and Moore. Charles never faced Mills, but against the other three his record was 9-0. The first two wins against Maxim came in 1942 when Maxim was unranked and often competing at heavyweight. Louis might have been unranked when Charles defeated him, but Louis would immediately return to the top 10 after the loss and added two more top 10 wins before his career was complete. Charles also posted an early career win over Teddy Yarosz just one month after Yarosz exited the Ring rankings for the last time.

Scoring Results: 

Anton Christoforidis TKO 3 – (2+) – 175 – 02/42

Ken Overlin D 10 – (2+) – 175 – 04/42

Kid Tunero L 10 – (6) – 160 – 06/42

Charley Burley UD 10 – (3-) – 147 – 07/42

Charley Burley UD 10 – (4-) – 147 – 08/42

Booker Beckwith KO 9 – (3+) – 175 – 09/42

Jose Basora KO 5 – (10) – 160 – 10/42

Jimmy Bivins L 10 – (1/4+) – 175/Hvy – 02/43

Lloyd Marshall TKO by 8 – (4) – 175 – 05/43

Archie Moore UD 10 – (1) – 175 – 07/46

Oakland Billy Smith UD 10 – (9) – 175 – 11/46

Jimmy Bivins UD 10 – (10+) – Hvy – 12/46

[Oakland Billy Smith KO 5 – (6) – 175

Jimmy Bivins KO 4 – (5+) – Hvy – 04/47]

Archie Moore MD 10 – (5) – 175 – 06/47

Elmer Ray L 10 – (2+) – Hvy – 09/47

Lloyd Marshall KO 2 – (5) – 175 – 11/47

Fitzie Fitzpatrick TKO 4 – (9+) – Hvy – 01/48

Archie Moore KO 8 – (2) – 175 – 03/48

Elmer Ray KO 9 – (2+) – Hvy – 06/48

Jimmy Bivins UD 10 – (9+) – Hvy – 10/48

Joe Baksi TKO 11 – (6) – Hvy – 01/49

Joey Maxim MD 15 – (4) – Hvy – 04/49

Jersey Joe Walcott UD 15 – (2) – Hvy – 08/49

Gus Lesnevich RTD 7 – (7) – Hvy – 09/49

Pat Valentino KO 8 – (6) – Hvy – 11/49

Nick Barone KO 11 – (6-) – 175 – 01/51

Lee Oma TKO 10 – (4) – Hvy – 02/51

Jersey Joe Walcott UD 15 – (6) – Hvy – 04/51

Joey Maxim UD 15 – (C-/3) – 175/Hvy – 07/51

Jersey Joe Walcott KO by 7* – (2) – Hvy – 08/51

Rex Layne TKO 11 – (7) – Hvy – 11/51

Joey Maxim UD 12 – (C-) – 175 – 01/52

Jersey Joe Walcott L 15 – (C) – Hvy – 07/52

Rex Layne L 10 – (9) – Hvy – 09/52

Jimmy Bivins UD 10 – (10) – Hvy – 01/53

Tommy Harrison TKO 9 – (5-) – 175 – 03/53

Rex Layne UD 10 – (4) – Hvy – 05/53

Larry Watson KO 5 – (7-) – 175 – 07/53

Nino Valdes L 10 – (UR) – Hvy – 09/53

Harold Johnson L 10 – (2-) – 175 – 10/53

Coley Wallace KO 10 – (9) – Hvy – 01/54

Bob Satterfield KO 2 – (7) – Hvy – 02/54

Rocky Marciano L 15 – (C) – Hvy – 07/54

Rocky Marciano KO by 8 – (C) – Hvy – 10/54

Charley Norkus UD 10 – (9) – Hvy – 04/55

John Holman TKO by 9 – (UR) – Hvy – 06/55

John Holman UD 10 – (6) – Hvy – 07/55

Paul Andrews SD 10 – (6-) – 175 – 08/55

Tommy Jackson L 10 – (3) – Hvy – 09/55

Tommy Jackson L 10 – (3) – Hvy – 10/55

Toxie Hall L10 – (UR) – Hvy – 12/55

Young Jack Johnson TKO by 6 – (UR) – Hvy – 02/56

 

#7 – Willie Pep

Career Record: 229-11-1 (65 KOs, 6 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #9 Featherweight (August 1942)

Last Ring Ranking: #10 Featherweight (February 1959)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 29-10-1 (7 KOs, 6 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 16

Peak Score Rank: 7

Win Total Rank: 11

Ring Magazine Championships: Featherweight (1942-48, 49-50)

An illustration of Willie Pep adorns the July 1949 issue of The Ring. Pep was Ring’s 1945 Fighter of the Year.

Genius is a word easily abused, but not when it comes to Pep’s best years at featherweight. Pep won his first 62 fights with four wins against Ring-ranked opposition, including his featherweight title win over Chalky Wright, before his career was three years old. Pep spent only six months in the top 10, two of them as No. 1 contender, before winning a title he would hold in his first reign for almost six years. Sammy Angott handed him his first defeat in a lightweight contest in March 1943. By the time Pep lost again versus Sandy Saddler in October 1948, overcoming injuries suffered in a January 1947 plane crash along the way, Pep had run his record to 134-1-1. Saddler ended a 73-fight unbeaten streak.

From his entry into the Ring rankings until the Saddler loss, Pep’s record against champions and contenders from bantamweight to lightweight was 22-1-1, included wins over one of the dominant bantamweight champions ever in Manuel Ortiz and future lightweight champion Paddy DeMarco. Pep regained the crown from Saddler after two quick tune-ups in his most memorable win and added four more victories over ranked opponents in 15 more wins before losing the title to Saddler for the second time. Saddler and Pep would face off one more time, Pep losing the series to his archrival 3-1 with all three losses inside the distance.

Missing Quality: Pep’s dominance at featherweight included recognizable names who weren’t far removed from contention when Pep defeated them. Former champion Joey Archibald received his final Ring ranking, at No. 6, in the January 1942 issue. Seven months later, Pep defeated him by wide decision. Pep posted two wins over Jackie Wilson, in 1943 and 1946, both with Wilson outside the rankings. Wilson’s final Ring ranking, ninth at featherweight, came in the February 1946 issue. The second Wilson win came shortly after that.

Scoring Results: 

Pedro Hernandez W 10 – (1) – 126 – 09/42

Vince Dell’Orto W 10 – (8) – 126 – 11/42

Chalky Wright UD 15* – (C) – 126 – 01/43

Allie Stolz UD 10 – (3+) – 135 – 03/43

[Sammy Angott L 10 – (UR+) – 135

Sal Bartolo SD 10 – (3) – 126 – 05/43]

Sal Bartolo UD 15 – (2) – 126 – 07/43

Julie Kogon W 10 – (10+) – 135 – 07/44

Willie Joyce UD 10 – (5+) – 135 – 08/44

[Manuel Ortiz UD 10 – (C-) – 118

Lulu Constantino UD 10 – (6+) – 135 – 09/44]

[Charles “Cabey” Lewis TKO 8 – (7) – 126

Chalky Wright UD 15 – (1) – 126 – 11/44]

[Charles “Cabey” Lewis UD 10 – (7) – 126

Chalky Wright UD 10 – (4) – 126 – 01/45]

Willie Roache W 10 – (4) – 126 – 03/45

Phil Terranova UD 15 – (2) – 126 – 04/45

Jimmy McAllister D 10 – (UR) – 126 – 01/46

Sal Bartolo KO 12 – (1) – 126 – 07/46

Jackie Graves TKO 8 – (2) – 126 – 09/46

Humberto Sierra UD 10 – (8) – 126 – 09/47

Jock Leslie KO 12 – (5) – 126 – 10/47

Humberto Sierra TKO 10 – (1) – 126 – 04/48

Paddy DeMarco UD 10 – (6+) – 135 – 10/48

Sandy Saddler KO by 4* – (1) – 126 – 12/48

Sandy Saddler UD 15* – (C) – 126 – 03/49

Eddie Compo TKO 7 – (10) – 126 – 11/49

Harold Dade UD 10 – (9) – 126 – 01/50

Charley Riley KO 5 – (5) – 126 – 02/50

Ray Famechon UD 15 – (2) – 126 – 05/50

Sandy Saddler RTD by 8* – (1) – 126 – 10/50

Eddie Chavez MD 10 – (8+) – 135 – 06/51

Corky Gonzales UD 10 – (10) – 126 – 10/51

Sandy Saddler RTD by 9 – (C) – 126 – 11/51

Tommy Collins TKO by 6 – (10) – 126 – 08/52

Lulu Perez TKO by 2 – (5) – 126 – 04/54

Gil Cadilli L 10 – (UR) – 126 – 05/55

Tommy Tibbs L 10 – (UR) – 126 – 02/58

Hogan Bassey TKO by 9 – (C) – 126 – 11/58

Sonny Leon L 10 – (UR) – 126 – 02/59

 

#6 – Floyd Mayweather

Career Record: 50-0 (27 KOs)

First Ring Ranking: #10 Jr. Lightweight (July 1998)

Last Ring Ranking: Welterweight Champion (December 2015)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 23-0 (8 KOs)

Overall Score Rank: 4

Peak Score Rank: 4

Win Total Rank: 22

Ring Magazine Championships: Lightweight (2002-04), Welterweight (2006-08, 13-15), Jr. Middleweight (2013-15)

Floyd Mayweather Jr. on the cover of the April 1999 issue of The Ring. Mayweather was Ring’s 1998 and 2007 Fighter of the Year.

The biggest box-office attraction of his time, Mayweather won major titles in five weight classes, partially unifying welterweight and junior middleweight, without a defeat over nearly 20 years as a pro. A bronze medalist at the 1996 Olympics, Mayweather’s first win over a Ring-ranked opponent was also his first for a title (the WBC 130-pound strap). From that win over Genaro Hernandez to his farewell against mixed martial artist Conor McGregor, Mayweather would face 23 men found in the Ring rankings across 33 fights. Twelve of those 23 wins came against men The Ring recognized in their division as champion, No. 1 contender or next highest-rated contender after a division-leading Mayweather. That included wins at welterweight over the reigning lightweight (Juan Manuel Marquez) and junior welterweight (Ricky Hatton) champions.

Mayweather’s most impressive run may have come in his first weight class with five wins over ranked opposition in title fights at junior lightweight. Mayweather was nearly untouchable in the class. His success continued well after he moved up the scale. Mayweather was 8-0 against ranked welterweights, including a feud-settling decision over his most prominent contemporary in Manny Pacquiao to unify the WBA, WBC and WBO belts. Mayweather also briefly held the IBF belt in 2006. He was 3-0 against ranked junior middleweights, including handing Canelo Alvarez his first and to date only loss. Of the 25 fighters identified with between 20 and 29 wins against ranked foes, Mayweather finished the highest.

Missing Quality: Between wins over Diego Corrales and Jesus Chavez in a stellar 2001 campaign, Mayweather defeated Carlos Hernandez, who was unranked by The Ring at the time. Hernandez would go on to be ranked, and win a belt, in the 130-pound class in the years after that fight. Mayweather’s junior lightweight run came during the era where The Ring didn’t render championships. It cost him a fourth divisional crown from the publication. When Azumah Nelson defeated Jeff Fenech in their 1992 rematch, they were The Ring’s top two contenders in the class. Assuming that would have crowned a king, the straight line from there would have ended at Mayweather-Hernandez. Mayweather’s wins over Angel Manfredy and Diego Corrales were also “No. 1 vs. No. 2” fights and surely would have filled a vacancy had The Ring resumed recognizing champions again before either fight.

Scoring Results: 

Genaro Hernandez RTD 8 – (1) – 130 – Holiday 1998

Angel Manfredy TKO 2 – (2) -130 – 03/99

Gregorio Vargas UD 12 – (10) – 130 – 06/00

Diego Corrales TKO 10 – (1) – 130 – 05/01

Jesus Chavez RTD 9 – (4) – 130 – 02/02

Jose Luis Castillo UD 12* – (1) – 135 – 08/02

Jose Luis Castillo UD 12 – (1) – 135 – 02/03

Phillip N’Dou TKO 7 – (4-) – 130 – 02/04

DeMarcus Corley UD 12 – (5+) – 140 – 09/04

Arturo Gatti RTD 6 – (1) – 140 – 10/05

Zab Judah UD 12 – (3) – 147 – 07/06

Carlos Baldomir UD 12* – (C) – 147 – 02/07

Oscar De La Hoya SD 12 – (5+) – 154 – 07/07

Ricky Hatton TKO 10 – (C-) – 140 – 03/08

Juan Manuel Marquez UD 12 (C–) – 135 – 11/09

Shane Mosley UD 12 – (2) – 147 – 07/10

Victor Ortiz KO 4 – (2) – 147 – 11/11

Miguel Cotto UD 12 – (1+) – 154 – 07/12

Robert Guerrero UD 12* – (3) – 147 – 07/13

Canelo Alvarez MD 12* – (C) – 154 – 11/13

Marcos Maidana MD 12 – (8) – 147 – 07/14

Marcos Maidana UD 12 – (5) – 147 – 11/14

Manny Pacquiao UD 12 – (1) – 147 – 07/15

 

#5 – Emile Griffith

Career Record: 85-24-2, 1 No Contest (23 KOs, 2 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #10 Welterweight (May 1960)

Last Ring Ranking: #8 Middleweight (April 1976)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 36-19-2 (6 KOs, 2 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 8

Peak Score Rank: 5

Win Total Rank: 5

Ring Magazine Championships: Welterweight (1961, 62-63, 63-66), Middleweight (1966-67, 67-68)

Emile Griffith graces the cover of the March 1965 issue of The Ring. Griffith was Ring’s 1964 Fighter of the Year.

A consistent factor at welterweight and middleweight from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s, Griffith won five world championships against a bevy of tough competition. In a 111-fight career, nearly half of Griffith’s opponents could be found ranked in the pages of Ring Magazine. A thrilling boxer-puncher with exceptional physical strength and stamina, Griffith was No. 1 contender for only an issue before snagging his first title from Benny Paret. Griffith could be defeated, but his ability to consistently rebound from losses was remarkable. Along with his five world title wins, Griffith also posted wins over No. 1 contenders in their weight class from lightweight to light heavyweight.

Griffith’s career was marked by several multi-fight rivalries. He came out ahead 2-1 in a fateful rivalry with Paret, narrowly edged Luis Rodriguez 3-1 over four fights and pounded past Denny Moyer in two of their three contests. Above welterweight, Nino Benvenuti won their series 2-1. Carlos Monzon held off two challenges for the middleweight title while Dick Tiger came up empty-handed in two fights vs. Griffith, who held “Bad” Bennie Briscoe at bay with a win and a draw.

Missing Quality: A little luck goes a long way, and Griffith’s three wins over Rodriguez were all by split decision. History could have played differently for both with just a few rounds of difference. The junior middleweight division today is a 60-year stalwart of the game, but in the 1960s it was a new concept with which Griffith lightly flirted. Griffith’s 1962 win over Ted Wright crowned the first junior middleweight titlist (at least in Austria, where the bout took place, and other parts of Europe), though the WBA wouldn’t recognize the title on a global scale until soon after when Moyer defeated Joey Giambra.

Scoring Results:

Denny Moyer SD 10 – (5) – 147 – 04/60

Denny Moyer L10 – (7) – 147 – 06/60

Florentino Fernandez UD 10 – (6) – 147 – 10/60

Luis Rodriguez SD 10 – (1) – 147 – 01/61

Benny Paret KO 13* – (C) – 147 – 05/61

Gaspar Ortega TKO 12 – (7) – 147 – 07/61

Yama Bahama UD 10 – (7+) – 160 – 09/61

Benny Paret L 15* – (1) – 147 – 11/61

Benny Paret TKO 12* – (C) – 147 – 05/62

Ralph Dupas UD 15 – (1) – 147 – 08/62

Denny Moyer SD 10 – (5+) – 160 – 09/62

Ted Wright W 15 – (4) – 147 – 11/62

Jorge Fernandez TKO 9 – (4) – 147 – 01/63

Luis Rodriguez L 15* – (1) – 147 – 04/63

Luis Rodriguez SD 15* – (C) – 147 – 07/63

Jose Gonzalez MD 10 – (7+) – 160 – 11/63

Rubin Carter TKO by 1 – (8+) – 160 – 01/64

Ralph Dupas KO 3 – (4) – 147 – 03/64

Luis Rodriguez SD 15 – (1) – 147 – 07/64

Brian Curvis UD 15 – (3) – 147 – 11/64

Dave Charnley TKO 9 – (1-) – 135 – 01/65

Manuel Gonzalez L 10 – (4) – 147 – 03/65

Jose Stable UD 15 – (3) – 147 – 05/65

Don Fullmer L 12 – (UR+) – 160 – 09/65

Manuel Gonzalez UD 15 – (2) – 147 – 01/66

Dick Tiger UD 15* – (C+) – 160 – 06/66

Joey Archer MD 15 – (7) – 160 – 08/66

Joey Archer UD 15 – (7) – 160 – 03/67

Nino Benvenuti L 15* – (1) – 160 – 06/67

Nino Benvenuti MD 15* – (C) – 160 – 11/67

Nino Benvenuti L 15* – (2) – 160 – 04/68

Gypsy Joe Harris UD 12 – (9) – 160 – 09/68

Stan Hayward L 10 – (6-) – 147 – 12/68

Stan Hayward UD 12 – (3) – 160 – 07/69

Jose Napoles L 15 – (C-) – 147 – 12/69

Doyle Baird UD 10 – (8) – 160 – 03/70

Tom Bogs W 10 – (5) – 160 – 07/70

Dick Tiger UD 10 – (1+) – 175 – 09/70

Nate Collins UD 10 – (10) – 160 – 12/70

Ernie Lopez MD 10 – (3-) – 147 – 06/71

Nessim Cohen UD 10 – (4) – 160 – 09/71

Carlos Monzon TKO by 14 – (C) – 160 – 11/71

Armando Muniz UD 10 – (6-) – 147 – 03/72

Ernie Lopez UD 10 – (1-) – 147 – 05/72

Jean Claude Bouttier DQ by 7 – (4) – 160 – 02/73

Nessim Cohen D 10 – (UR) – 160 – 04/73

Carlos Monzon L 15 – (C) – 160 – 07/73

Tony Mundine L 12 – (1) – 160 – 01/74

Tony Licata L 12 – (7) – 160 – 04/74

Bennie Briscoe MD 10 – (4) – 160 – 12/74

[Vito Antuofermo L 10 – (9) – 160

Donato Paduano UD 10 – (9-) – 154 – 01/75]

Jose Luis Duran L 10 – (UR) – 160 – 07/75

[Leo Saenz UD 10 – (5-) – 154

Elijah Makhathini L 10 – (UR) – 160 – 09/75]

Loucif Hamani L 10 – (UR) – 160 – 03/76

Bennie Briscoe D 10 – (5) – 160 – 08/76

 

#4 – Tony Canzoneri

Career Record: 137-24-10, 4 No Decisions (44 KOs, 1 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #2 Bantamweight (February 1927)

Last Ring Ranking: #5 Lightweight (May 1939)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 40-21-7, 1 No Decision (8 KOs)

Overall Score Rank: 5

Highest Score Rank: 6

Win Total Rank: 3

Ring Magazine Championships: Featherweight (1927-28), Lightweight (1930-33, 35-36)

Tony Canzoneri

Tony Canzoneri was Ring’s 1934 co-Fighter of the Year (with Barney Ross). He was a Ring-rated fighter from bantamweight to lightweight.

A force from bantamweight to lightweight with big wins against welterweights to go with it, Canzoneri spent more than a decade in the rankings. Canzoneri’s record is loaded with multi-fight rivalries, including a four-way round robin with Jimmy McLarnin, Barney Ross and Billy Petrolle. Of his 40 wins against ranked opposition, 11 were against reigning champions or fighters ranked No. 1 in title and non-title affairs. They include a win over leading bantamweight Bud Taylor and two No. 1 contenders at welterweight (Harry Dublinsky, McLarnin).

Prior to championships at featherweight and lightweight, Canzoneri was rated the No. 2 bantamweight in the world and was ranked the top contender at junior lightweight from the March to August 1929 issues. Canzoneri never competed for the junior lightweight crown but defeated reigning champion Benny Bass in a non-title fight and defeated Kid Chocolate in defense of the lightweight crown. Canzoneri was the No. 1 contender at lightweight for all but two issues from October 1929 to July 1930 following his title reign at featherweight. Between reigns at lightweight, Canzoneri would hold the top contender slot from the August 1933-April 1935 editions.

Missing Quality: Canzoneri came close to being the first fighter with titles in four weight classes. The 18-year-old Canzoneri’s 1927 draw with Bud Taylor was for the vacant NBA bantamweight title, though The Ring recognized no one as champion between Charley Rosenberg earlier in the year and Panama Al Brown in 1931. Historians recognize Canzoneri as a three-division champion. Readers will note no such credit from The Ring. The NBA recognized the title change when Canzoneri stopped Jackie “Kid” Berg in three in 1931 with both Berg’s junior welterweight crown and Canzoneri’s lightweight crown billed as at stake. Writing in the July 1931 issue of The Ring, editor Nat Fleischer’s position came down to the scales, specifically that Berg “could not lose his junior-welter crown when compelled to enter the ring at the lightweight limit.”

Scoring Results: 

[George Mack D 6 – (UR) – 118

Davey Abad L 10 – (8) – 118

Andre Routis W 12 – (6+) – 126

Bushy Graham W 10 – (3) – 118

Joe Ryder D 10 – (UR) – 118

Johnny Green W 8 – (5) – 118

Bud Taylor D 10 – (4) – 118

Vic Burrone D 10 – (UR) – 118

Bud Taylor L 10 – (4) – 118 – 02/27]

[Eddie Anderson DQ by 3 – (UR) – 126

Ignacio Fernandez UD 10 – (8) – 126

Bud Taylor UD 10 – (1-) – 118

Pete Nebo D 10 – (UR) – 126 – 02/28]

Benny Bass SD 15 – (2) – 126 – 03/28

Harry Blitman L 10 – (9) – 126 – 07/28

Andre Routis L 15* – (7) – 126 – 10/28

Al Singer D 10 – (7) – 126 – 01/29

Joey Sangor TKO 7 – (2-) – 126 – 03/29

Sammy Dorfman W 10 – (6) – 130 – 05/29

Andre Routis UD 10 – (C-) – 126 – 06/29

Ignacio Fernandez W 10 – (2-) – 126 – 07/29

Sammy Mandell L 10 – (C) – 135 – 09/29

Eddie Mack TKO 8 (2-) – 130 – 10/29

[Johnny Farr W 10 – (6-) 130

Stanislaus Loayza UD 10 (8+) – 140 – 11/29]

Jackie Berg L 10 – (2) – 135 – 02/30

Stanislaus Loayza UD 10 – (4+) – 140 – 04/30

Steve Smith TKO 7 – (4-) – 130 – 05/30

Johnny Farr W 10 – (2-) – 130 – 06/30

[Joe Glick W 10 – (4+) – 140

Tommy Grogan W 10 – (7+) – 140 – 07/30]

Benny Bass UD 10 (C-) – 130 – 08/30

Billy Petrolle L 10 – (4+) – 140 – 10/30

Al Singer KO 1* – (C) – 135 – 12/30

Johnny Farr ND 10 – (4-) – 130 – 03/31

Sammy Fuller L 10 (8) – 135 – 04/31

Tommy Grogan W 10 – (5+) – 140 – 05/31

Jackie Berg KO 3 (C+) – 140 – 06/31

Jackie Berg UD 15 – (C+) – 140 – 10/31

Kid Chocolate SD 15 – (C-) – 130 – 12/31

Johnny Jadick L 10 – (9) – 135 – 02/32

[Battling Gizzy TKO 5 – (6) – 135

Harry Dublinsky SD 10 – (7) – 135 – 07/32]

Johnny Jadick L 10 – (9) – 135 – 08/32

Billy Petrolle UD 15 – (2) – 135 – 12/32

Wesley Ramey L10 – (2) – 135 – 05/33

Battling Shaw W 10 – (9) – 135 – 06/33

Barney Ross L 10* – (2) – 135 – 07/33

Barney Ross L 15 – (C) – 135 – 10/33

[Frankie Klick UD 10 – (8) – 135

Kid Chocolate KO 2 – (C-) – 126 – 12/33]

Cleo Locatelli MD 12 – (6) – 135 – 03/34

Baby Arizmendi W 10 – (4-) – 126 – 04/34

Frankie Klick TKO 9 – (2) – 135 – 08/34

Harry Dublinsky L 10 – (3+) – 147 – 10/34

Harry Dublinsky W 10 – (1+) – 147 – 11/34

Chuck Woods L 10 –  (UR) – 135 – 04/35

Lou Ambers UD 15* – (1) – 135 – 07/35

Frankie Klick SD 12 – (2) – 135 – 08/35

Frankie Klick W 10 – (3) – 135 – 10/35

[Joe Ghnouly UD 10 – (8) – 135

Al Roth UD 15 – (7) – 135 – 11/35]

Jimmy McLarnin UD 10 – (1+) – 147 – 06/36

Lou Ambers L 15* – (1) – 135 – 10/36

Jimmy McLarnin L 10 – (2+) – 147 – 11/36

Lou Ambers L 15 – (C) – 135 – 06/37

Eddie Zivic L 10 – (UR) – 135 – 11/37

[Eddie Brink L 10 – (UR) – 135

Jimmy Vaughn D 8 – (UR) – 135 – 05/39]

 

#3 – Muhammad Ali

Career Record: 56-5 (37 KOs, 1 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #9 Heavyweight (March 1962)

Last Ring Ranking: #5 Heavyweight (November 1980)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 32-4 (20 KOs, 1 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 3

Peak Score Rank: 3

Win Total Rank: 8

Ring Magazine Championships: Heavyweight (1964-70, 74-78, 78)

Muhammad Ali graces the cover of the December 1972 issue of The Ring. Ali was Ring’s 1963 (as Cassius Clay), 1966 (retroactively), 1972 (with Carlos Monzon), 1974, 1975 and 1978 Fighter of the Year. He was in Ring’s 1963, 1964, 1971, 1974, 1975 and 1978 Fights of the Year.

The self-proclaimed “Greatest” is the most documented boxer in history for good reason. A 1960 Olympic gold medalist at light heavyweight and the only fighter to capture the Ring (and lineal) heavyweight title three times, Ali entered the ratings less than two years into his career and defeated four top-10 contenders to earn his shot at Sonny Liston. Eight of the nine title defenses in Ali’s first reign, including a rematch knockout of Liston, stoppage of former two-time champion Floyd Patterson and reunification win against WBA titlist Ernie Terrell, were against Ring-ranked contenders.

Remarkably, after more than three years of political exclusion from the game, Ali skipped tune-ups and defeated two prominent contenders to set up his first of three fights with Joe Frazier. After the loss to Frazier, Ali would fight 14 times, going 8-1 in that run against ranked opposition (seven heavyweights and light heavyweight champion Bob Foster) before upsetting George Foreman to regain the title.

Ali would defend the title successfully 10 times in his second reign, with seven wins against The Ring’s top 10. Ali’s last win would come in avenging a stunning upset loss to Leon Spinks, retiring as champion before an ill-fated comeback. Across his years in the Ring rankings, Ali would face all six of the other men The Ring recognized as heavyweight champion during those years, defeating five, along with five No. 1 contenders.

Missing Quality: Ali’s lost years between 1967 and 1970 will always leave room to wonder if he might have been able to surpass Louis’ division record of 25 consecutive title defenses. Conversely, some scoring luck in Ali’s second reign against Jimmy Young and Ken Norton contributed to his placement here. Of note, the parameters of this study exclude Ali’s final loss to a rated Trevor Berbick. With Berbick, Ali can be said to have faced ranked opponents in 37 of 61 fights, a staggering 61 percent of his total professional starts.

Scoring Results: 

Alejandro Lavorante KO 5 – (10) – Hvy – 09/62

Archie Moore TKO 4 – (5) – Hvy – 12/62

Doug Jones UD 10 – (3) – Hvy – 04/63

Henry Cooper TKO 5 – (9) – Hvy – 07/63

Sonny Liston RTD 6* – (C) – Hvy – 02/64

Sonny Liston KO 1 – (1) – Hvy – 06/65

Floyd Patterson TKO 12 – (1) – Hvy – 12/65

George Chuvalo UD 15 – (9) – Hvy – 05/66

Henry Cooper TKO 6 – (4) – Hvy – 07/66

Karl Mildenberger TKO 12 – (3) – Hvy – 9/66

Cleveland Williams TKO 3 – (3) – Hvy – 01/67

Ernie Terrell UD 15 – (1) – Hvy – 03/67

Zora Folley KO 7 – (2) – Hvy – 05/67

Jerry Quarry RTD 3 – (1) – Hvy – 12/70

Oscar Bonavena TKO 15 – (3) – Hvy – 02/71

Joe Frazier L 15 – (C) – Hvy – 04/71

Jimmy Ellis TKO 12 – (7) – Hvy- 09/71

Mac Foster UD 15 – (6) – Hvy – 05/72

Jerry Quarry TKO 7 – (2) – Hvy – 08/72

Floyd Patterson RTD 7 – (3) – Hvy – 11/72

Bob Foster KO 8 – (C-) – 175 – 01/73

Joe Bugner UD 12 – (8) – Hvy – 03/73

Ken Norton L 12 – (9) – Hvy – 05/73

Ken Norton SD 12 – (2) – Hvy – 11/73

Joe Frazier UD 12 – (2) – Hvy – 03/74

George Foreman KO 8* – (C) – Hvy – 12/74

Chuck Wepner TKO 15 – (9) – Hvy – 05/75

Ron Lyle TKO 11 – (8) – Hvy – 07/75

Joe Bugner UD 15 – (4) – Hvy – 08/75

Joe Frazier RTD 14 – (2) – Hvy – 11/75

Jimmy Young UD 15 – (3) – Hvy – 06/76

Ken Norton UD 15 – (2) – Hvy – 11/76

Earnie Shavers UD 15 – (5) – Hvy – 11/77

Leon Spinks L 15* – (9) – Hvy – 03/78

Leon Spinks UD 15* – (C) – Hvy – 10/78

Larry Holmes RTD by 10 – (C) – Hvy – 10/80

 

#2 – Joe Louis

Career Record: 66-3 (52 KOs, 2 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #9 Heavyweight (February 1935)

Last Ring Ranking: #6 Heavyweight (March 1952)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 31-3 (24 KOs, 2 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 2

Peak Score Rank: 2

Win Total Rank: 9

Ring Magazine Championships: Heavyweight (1937-49)

Joe Louis was Ring’s 1936, 1938, 1939 and 1941 Fighter of the Year.

Arguably the most dominant champion in the history of boxing, the “Brown Bomber” reigned for a dozen years with a record 25 consecutive title defenses against all comers in his time. Louis is one of a group of seven fighters identified with between 30 and 39 wins against ranked opponents in the study. While the nickname “Bum of the Month Club” lingers on, a deeper look reveals those “bums” to be an assortment of the best heavyweights in the world for a generation. Louis began facing contenders just a dozen fights into his career and kept facing them for the rest of it.

Louis reached No. 1 contender in the December 1935 issue and held it until the August 1936 issue before his loss to Max Schmeling. The loss to Schmeling would be Louis’ only defeat from his 1934 debut until a loss to Ezzard Charles in 1950 after a brief retirement. Louis was 10-1 against Ring-ranked opposition before defeating James Braddock for the crown.

Seventeen of Louis’ 25 defenses came against ranked heavyweights, seven of them Ring’s No. 1 contender, along with a win over reigning light heavyweight champion John Henry Lewis. That included a 1941 campaign where Louis set a heavyweight record with seven defenses in a single year, five of them against Ring-rated contenders. From 1930-1956, nine men would hold the heavyweight crown. Louis knocked out seven of them. That included his most legendary win, the first-round knockout of Max Schmeling in their rematch.

Missing Quality: Louis could easily have been history’s first two-time heavyweight king. The decision in the first fight with Walcott was contentious and Louis answered the challenge with a knockout in the rematch. The biggest question for Louis might be how many more title defenses he would have had without service in World War II. Was anything from 30 to 40 out of the question? The most formidable challenger in the war years may have been Jimmy Bivins. Bivins just missed being another contender on the ledger for Louis here. Bivins was unrated on the eve of his 1951 fight with Louis but would continue to fall in and out of the top 10 into 1953. Bivins would be Louis’ final victory.

Scoring Results: 

[Lee Ramage TKO 8 – (10) – Hvy

Patsy Perroni W 10 – (6) – Hvy – 01/35]

Natie Brown UD 10 – (10) – Hvy – 05/35

Primo Carnera TKO 6 – (4) – Hvy – 08/35

King Levinsky TKO 1 – (10) – Hvy – 10/35

Max Baer KO 4 – (1) – Hvy – 11/35

Charley Retzlaff KO 1 – (4) – Hvy – 03/36

Max Schmeling KO by 12 – (2) – Hvy – 08/36

Jack Sharkey KO 3 – (4) – Hvy – 10/36

Al Ettore KO 5 – (3) – Hvy – 11/36

Bob Pastor UD 10 – (5) – Hvy – 03/37

James Braddock KO 8* – (C) – Hvy – 08/37

Tommy Farr UD 15 – (3) – Hvy – 10/37

Nathan Mann KO 3 – (3) – Hvy – 04/38

Max Schmeling KO 1 – (1) – Hvy – 08/38

John Henry Lewis KO 1 – (C-) – 175 – 03/39

Tony Galento TKO 4 – (3) – Hvy – 08/39

Bob Pastor KO 11 – (2) – Hvy – 11/39

Johnny Paycheck TKO 2 – (5) – Hvy – 05/40

Arturo Godoy TKO 8 – (1) – Hvy – 08/40

Red Burman KO 5 – (4) – Hvy – 03/41

Buddy Baer WDQ 7 – (5) – Hvy – 07/41

Billy Conn KO 13 – (2) – Hvy – 08/41

Lou Nova TKO 6 – (1) – Hvy – 11/41

Buddy Baer KO 1 – (4) – Hvy – 02/42

Abe Simon TKO 6 – (6) – Hvy – 05/42

Billy Conn KO 8 – (1) – Hvy – 08/46

Tami Mauriello KO 1 – (1) – Hvy – 11/46

Jersey Joe Walcott SD 15 – (1) – Hvy – 01/48

Jersey Joe Walcott KO 11 – (1) – Hvy – 08/48

Ezzard Charles L 15* – (1) – Hvy – 11/50

Lee Savold KO 6 – (4) – Hvy – 07/51

Cesar Brion UD 10 – (8) – Hvy – 09/51

Rocky Marciano TKO by 8 – (3) – Hvy – 12/51

 

#1 – Sugar Ray Robinson

Career Record: 174-19-6, 2 No Contests (109 KOs, 1 KOBY)

First Ring Ranking: #7 Lightweight (May 1941)

Last Ring Ranking: #8 Middleweight (July 1962)

Record vs. Ring-rated Opponents: 41-10-3 (17 KOs, 1 KOBY)

Overall Score Rank: 1

Peak Score Rank: 1

Win Total Rank: 2

Ring Magazine Championships: Welterweight (1946-51), Middleweight (1951, 51-52, 55-57, 57, 58-60)

Sugar Ray Robinson graces the cover of the December 1949 cover of The Ring. Robinson was Ring’s 1942 and 1951 Fighter of the Year. His back-to-back middleweight title wars with Carmen Basilio won Ring’s 1957 and 1958 Fight-of-the-Year award.

Often regarded as the greatest fighter of all time, Robinson’s results highlight just how dominant he was in his prime. Robinson turned professional in October 1940 and rose to No. 1 contender at lightweight in the October 1941 issue following a win over future champion Sammy Angott. Two issues later, Robinson’s defeat of former welterweight champion Fritzie Zivic resulted in Robinson being ranked the No. 1 contender to champion Freddie “Red” Cochrane. Robinson would stay ranked No. 1 in all but one issue from cover dates January 1942 to March 1944.

Robinson exited the ratings during his period of service during World War II, returned to the ratings ranked second in the January 1945 issue and then resumed as leading contender until defeating Tommy Bell for the vacant crown. Robinson was recognized as the welterweight champion until the March 1951 issue while also holding the No. 1 contender spot at middleweight from the November 1949 issue until he won his first of five middleweight crowns in the storied St. Valentine’s Day Massacre versus Jake LaMotta. At the time of his first retirement in 1952, Robinson’s career record stood at 132-3-2 with no losses versus welterweights, unbeaten streaks of 40 and then 91 contests, and a record against champions and ranked opposition from lightweight to light heavyweight of 35-3-2.

Across the years he was part of the Ring rankings, Robinson would post 14 wins over reigning champions or men ranked as the No. 1 contender in their division. Robinson is one of only three fighters in the study identified with 40 or more victories over Ring champions or ranked contenders. Returning to the ring in 1955, Robinson was never quite as consistent again but still added critical victories against Gene Fullmer and Carmen Basilio to further cement his legend.

Missing Quality: The welterweight top 10 of the early 1940s was tough to crack. How tough? When Robinson handed 42-0 future welterweight champion Marty Servo his first loss in September 1941, Servo had yet to crack Ring’s top 10. George Costner was not ranked in a Ring top 10 when Robinson first beat him, neither was Artie Levine or Carl “Bobo” Olson the first two times the future middleweight champ lost to Robinson, but all three would become fixtures of the ratings. A 1963 win over ranked welterweight Ralph Dupas was outside the study scope.

Scoring Results: 

Sammy Angott UD 10 – (1) – 135 – 09/41

Maxie Shapiro TKO 3 – (10) – 135 – 11/41

Fritzie Zivic UD 10 – (1) – 147 – 12/41

Fritzie Zivic TKO 10 – (3) – 147 – 03/42

Norman Rubio TKO 7 – (9) – 147 – 05/42

Marty Servo SD 10 – (7) – 147 – 07/42

Sammy Angott UD 10 – (C-) – 135 – 09/42

Tony Motisi KO 1 – (9) – 147 – 10/42

Jake LaMotta UD 10 – (10+) – 160 – 11/42

Izzy Jannazzo UD 10 – (10) – 147 – 12/42

Izzy Jannazzo TKO 8 – (10) – 01/43

Jake LaMotta L 10 – (6+) – 160 – 03/43

[California Jackie Wilson MD 10 – (3) – 147

Jake LaMotta UD 10 – (1+) 160 – 04/43]

Henry Armstrong UD 10 – (3) – 147 – 10/43

Vic Dellicurti UD 10 – (10+) – 160 – 01/45

Tommy Bell UD 10 – (7) – 147 – 03/45

Jake LaMotta UD 10 – (3+) – 160 – 04/45

Jose Basora D 10 – (6+) – 160 – 07/45

Jimmy McDaniels KO 2 – (6) – 147 – 08/45

Jake LaMotta SD 12 – (1+) – 160 – 11/45

Sammy Angott UD 10 – (7) – 147 – 04/46

Joe Curcio KO 2 – (10) – 147 – 09/46

Tommy Bell UD 15* – (3) – 147 – 01/47

Georgie Abrams SD 10 – (3+) – 160 – 07/47

Jimmy Doyle TKO 8 – (6) – 147 – 08/47

Bernard Docusen UD 15 – (1) – 147 – 08/48

Kid Gavilan UD 10 – (1) – 147 – 11/48

Henry Brimm D10 – (UR+) – 160 – 04/49

Kid Gavilan UD 15 – (1) – 147 – 08/49

Steve Belloise RTD 7 – (2+) – 160 – 10/49

George Costner KO 1 – (2) – 147 – 05/50

Robert Villemain UD 15 – (3) – 160 – 07/50

Charley Fusari W 15 – (5) – 147 – 09/50

Robert Villemain TKO 9 – (5) – 160 – 02/51

Jake LaMotta TKO 13* – (C) – 160 – 03/51

Randy Turpin L 15* – (1) – 160 – 08/51

Randy Turpin TKO 10* – (C) – 160 – 10/51

Rocky Graziano KO 3 – (10) – 160 – 05/52

Joey Maxim RTD by 13 – (C+) – 175 – 08/52

Ralph Jones L 10 – (UR) – 160 – 03/55

Rocky Castellani SD 10 – (2) – 160 – 09/55

Bobo Olson KO 2* – (C) – 160 – 01/56

Bobo Olson KO 4 – (1) – 160 – 06/56

Gene Fullmer L 15* – (1) – 160 – 02/57

Gene Fullmer KO 5* – (C) – 160 – 06/57

Carmen Basilio L 15* – (C-) – 147 – 10/57

Carmen Basilio SD 15* – (C) – 160 – 04/58

Paul Pender L 15* – (8) – 160 – 03/60

Paul Pender L 15 – (C) – 160 – 07/60

Gene Fullmer D 15 – (1) – 160 – 01/61

Gene Fullmer L 15 – (1) – 160 – 04/61

Denny Moyer UD 10 – (9) – 160 – 11/61

Denny Moyer L 10 – (9) – 160 – 03/62

***

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.

Click here to read 50-41.

Click here to read 40-31.

Click here to read 30-21.

Click here to read 20-11.

***

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.

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