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Top 10 boxing Brits - Sky Sports


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David Haye may have claimed the WBA heavyweight championship at the weekend but there have been plenty of British boxers to pick up world titles on their way to greatness over the years. Here we pick a top 10 (actually 11) great British boxing world champions...

 

1) Joe Calzaghe (46 contests, 46 victories (32 KO), 0 defeats, 0 draws)

 

The undefeated Welshman finally said he would call it a day at the start of 2009 after a 15-year undefeated professional career - 11 of which were spent in possession of the WBO super middleweight belt. Calzaghe seemed to operate under the radar for most of that time but gained greater recognition when relieving Jeff Lacy of the IBF belt in 2006 before defeating Mikkel Kessler the following year to truly dominate the division. He topped up his pension plan in 2008 after moving up to light-heavyweight - Calzaghe making full use of his relentless style Stateside to outpoint Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr.

 

2) Lennox Lewis (44, 41 (32 KO), 2, 1)

 

Never wholly taken to the hearts of British fight fans, owing both to his North American accent and, to a lesser extent, a perceived conservative approach in the ring and yet his record tells its own story - as does the fact that Lewis is one of only five boxers to win a world heavyweight title three times over a decade. The native of West Ham defeated both Evander Holyfield and (an admittedly past his best) Mike Tyson in his decade at the top and avenged both his losses - against Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman - in rematches.

 

3) Ken Buchanan (69, 61, (27 KO), 8)

 

A former amateur star, the Scot claimed the British lightweight belt before scoring an upset in 1970: many thought that Edinburgh to Puerto Rico was a journey too far but Buchanan prevailed against Ismael Laguna to take the world title. He remained undefeated for 18 months but lost in controversial circumstances to Roberto Duran at Madison Square Garden in 1972. He boxed on for another decade, winning the European championship and also beating Sky Sports' own Jim Watt but fell short of another world title. Buchanan spoke of a return to the ring earlier this year at the age of 63.

 

4) Naseem Hamed (37, 36 (31 KO), 1)

 

British boxing's equivalent of Marmite, 'The Prince' started as he meant to go on by mercilessly taunting opponent Vincenzo Belcastro in taking the European bantamweight title in 1994. Moving up to featherweight the following year, he took the WBO world title off Steve Robinson in the latter's Cardiff backyard and picked up the IBF belt as well before beating WBC champion Kevin Kelley in 1997 - Hamed coming off the canvas three times to knock his opponent out in an incredible four rounds. Defeat finally came to Marco Antonio Barrera in 2001 and hand problems brought an end to the spectacular-yet-controversial fighter's career soon after.

 

5) Chris Eubank (52, 45 (23 KO), 5, 2)

 

Eubank's rivalry with Nigel Benn dominated British boxing during the early 1990s, the pair fighting twice with Eubank edging the honours. He went undefeated as a middleweight before claiming the WBO super middleweight title in September 1991. However, opponent Michael Watson received serious injuries in the fight - an outcome that left Eubank considering his future. He fought on, albeit adopting a more circumspect approach, and defeated the likes of Sugarboy Malinga before losing his unbeaten record to Steve Collins early in 1995. Another defeat came at the hands of Joe Calzaghe and retirement soon followed.

 

6) Nigel Benn (48, 42 (35 KO), 5, 1)

 

The 'Dark Destroyer' quickly gained an explosive reputation - an early blip albeit coming in 1989 when Benn was knocked out by Michael Watson. Re-applying himself in the States, he won the WBO middleweight title the following year but then lost it to Chris Eubank. The pair's match-ups - they fought again for the WBC and WBO super middleweight titles at Old Trafford in 1993 - loom large in the memory but Benn will be best remembered for his brutal contest against Gerald McClellan in 1995, in which he came back from being knocked out of the ring in the opening round to stop his opponent, who received grievous injuries. Having lost twice to Steve Collins, Benn quit the ring in 1996.

 

7) Lloyd Honeyghan (48, 43 (31 KO), 5)

 

Honeyghan's reputation is based almost entirely upon his stunning against-the-odds win against then welterweight king Don Curry in September 1986. That was pretty much the highpoint for the Jamaica-born Londoner and although he subsequently made a couple all-action title defences - losing and regaining the WBA belt in the process - he appeared well past his best just over three years later when, fighting against Mark Breland, he was knocked down repeatedly before the contest was stopped after just three rounds.

 

8) Ricky Hatton (47, 45 (32 KO), 2)

 

Probably the most popular British fighter of recent years, Hatton became world champion in 2005 after an against-the-odds win against Kostya Tszyu. He then unified the light welterweight division with victory against Carlos Maussa before stepping up to defeat welterweight Luis Collazo. His career subsequently saw him yo-yoing between the two divisions, a defeat of Jose Luis Castillo being a notable success before stepping up once more to challenge pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. Unable to take the fight to the American - some blaming referee Joe Cortez - Hatton eventually succumbed in round 10. Moving back down again, Hatton gained two more wins before being comprehensively dismantled by Manny Pacquiao in May.

 

9) John Conteh (39, 34 (23 KO) 1, 4)

 

A sort of David Haye for the 1970s, the charismatic Liverpudlian was probably as well known to the British public for his squat thrusts on seminal TV show Superstars as his appearances in the ring. Conteh won the WBC light heavyweight title in 1974 and successfully defended it until 1978. Two more attempts to regain the title proved unsuccessful and he retired in 1980.

 

10)= Howard Winstone (67, 61 (27 KO), 6)

 

Merthyr Tydfil surely holds the world record for erecting boxing statues - a town with a population of 56,000 having honoured Eddie Thomas, Johnny Owen and Winstone in such a manner. Thomas mentored Winstone and the former amateur star captured the British and European titles with relative ease. However, the world title proved more elusive and Winstone needed four attempts to finally claim the WBC belt in 1968. He lost the title in his first defence, however, and retired from the sport soon after at the age of 29.

 

10)=Barry McGuigan (35, 32 (28 KO), 3)

 

Born in Ireland but a British citizen, the 'Clones Cyclone' got star billing at Belfast's King's Hall in the 1980s and his skills as a featherweight were rewarded with a world title shot against Eusebio Pedroza at Loftus Road in 1985. McGuigan put the title holder down in round seven on his way to a unanimous points win. Two more defences followed; however McGuigan lost the title the following year to the lightly-regarded Steve Cruz - their gruelling encounter held under a fierce sun in a car park at the Caesar's Palace Hotel in Las Vegas. He retired immediately afterwards, although returned to the ring for a brief spell in 1988/89.

 

http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,12184_5685299,00.html

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