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The Top 25 Light Heavyweights of All-Time


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The Top 25 Light Heavyweights of All-Time – Top Ten

 

By Cliff Rold

 

For any new boxing fan, the time is not long before a fellow fan points out a magic number which grows more mythologized with time: eight. As in boxing’s original eight weight classes. The number represents in the mind of many a time when the sport was compressed into fields which couldn’t help but be talented, couldn’t help but draw crowds, because there were so few places on the scale to go. They were divisions marked by single champions ever challenged by a depth of contenders today’s seventeen weight classes rarely know.

 

Reflection and research reveals this was not always the case, but it was true often enough to bestow a mystique on boxing’s ‘original eight weight classes’ which carries through to the modern day. As good as they can be, as great as some of their competitors have been and still are, weight classes prefixed by a “Jr.” designation will always be seen some as bastard spawn which took something away from the game no matter what they added.

 

Even with classes taking up space in between the old markers, the eight continue to provide memories and spilled blood today. Over the course of this series, homage is paid to boxing’s original eight by identifying the best of their lot through the years.

 

Light Heavyweight

 

Previously, numbers 11-25 were unveiled as:

 

25) Virgil Hill (1984-2007)

24) Dwight Muhammad Qawi (1978-98)

23) Willie Pastrano (1951-65)

22) Paul Berlenbach (1923-33)

21) Dariusz Michalczewski (1991-2005)

20) Joey Maxim (1941-58)

19) Bob Fitzsimmons (1885-1914)

18) Philadelphia Jack O’Brien (1896-1912)

17) Matthew Saad Muhammad (1974-92)

16) Harold Johnson (1946-71)

15) Jack Dillon (1908-23)

14) John Henry Lewis (1931-39)

13) Jack Delaney (1919-32)

12) Roy Jones Jr. (1989-Present)

11) Harry Greb (1913-26

 

Today, the list moves to the top ten

 

10) Billy Conn (1934-48)

Record: 64-12-1, 15 KO

World Champion 1939-41, 3 Defenses

Light Heavyweight Champions/Titlists Faced – 2: (Melio Bettina, Gus Lesnevich)

 

The “Pittsburgh Kid” was almost the Heavyweight Champion of the World. He was great even before that, a picture of technical greatness whose fast feet and hands dazzled legends from Welterweight to, well, Joe Louis. Eschewing a notable amateur run, Conn turned professional as a sixteen-year old Lightweight and took his lumps while learning his profession, losing his debut and seven of his first fifteen. He wouldn’t lose again for 28 fights, dropping a points nod in 1937 to Young Corbett III. Inching into the Light Heavyweight class, Conn would avenge the Corbett loss, split fights with Hall of Famer Teddy Yarosz and future Middleweight champ Solly Kreigel and twice best another future Middleweight champ, Fred Apostoli, finally setting up at July 1939 shot at reigning Light Heavyweight champion Bettina (as recognized in New York; the NBA title was vacant). Conn made good on the shot, winning a commanding decision. Two fights later, he dusted Bettina in the rematch and then won a pair of decisions over future champion Gus Lesnevich, both in defense of the crown in 1939 and 40. Conn vacated the crown, chasing the dollars at Heavyweight while largely still weighing in below the Light Heavyweight line. Longtime contender Bob Pastor suffered a surprising knockout and Lee Savold couldn’t solve the master boxer over 12 frames. In June 1941, Conn led through twelve against Louis before round thirteen ended his dreams. The following year, with a Louis rematch hoped for, Conn bested reigning Middleweight king Tony Zale and then World War II came calling. Inactive from 1942-46, Conn was never the same, losing badly to Louis in his first fight back and posting two wins before retiring.

 

Why He’s Here: The legend of the first Louis fight so defines Conn it can sometimes overwhelm an otherwise excellent body of work. Without the war, perhaps Conn drops back down and regains the Light Heavyweight throne. The thought of fights with the likes of a young Ezzard Charles or prime Jimmy Bivins are tantalizing. They did not happen and so, while Conn merits placement in the top ten, one looks and sees most of his best wins coming over notable Middleweights whereas others here have fuller bodies of Light Heavyweight work. Regardless, Conn could know he stood a chance of victory with any Light Heavyweight who ever lived. Conn joined the roster of the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) as a member of the inaugural class of 1990.

 

9) Maxie Rosenbloom (1923-39)

Record: 210-38-26, 19 KO, 23 no decisions, 2 no contests

World Champion 1930-34, 7 Defenses

Light Heavyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 6: (Jimmy Slattery, Jack Delaney, Bob Godwin, Joe Knight, John Henry Lewis, Bob Olin)

 

Born in Connecticut and fighting out of New York, “Slapsie” Maxie was one of the great defensive specialists and he had to be because power just wasn’t going to cut it. A great chin, dented only twice in almost 300 paid contests, didn’t hurt him any either. Given the sheer volume of bouts, it isn’t possible in this space to go over all of the highlights. A contender by 1925, Rosenbloom would fall short in his first title try in 1927, losing on points to Slattery. He’d do better the second time around, besting Slattery in June 1930 to begin a lengthy run as champion, albeit not recognized by the NBA immediately. He’d best Slattery in the title rematch one year later and outpoint contender Lou Scozza for universal recognition in 1932. Bob Godwin, Hall of Fame great Mickey Walker, and Knight also failed to wrest the title away. It would be Olin who finally wrested the crown away in November 1934. Though active through the rest of the decade, with much success, Rosenbloom largely competed as a small Heavyweight and would not fight for a title again.

 

Why He’s Here: The above focuses largely on Rosenbloom as champion but there was so much more. Multiple wins, losses, draws, and newspaper verdict bouts throughout his career read as a who’s who of his times: Harry Greb, Johnny Wilson, Ted “Kid” Lewis, Young Stribling, Jim Braddock, Tiger Flowers, Tiger Jack Fox. He didn’t always win, but Rosenbloom held his own. Living in a time when fighters make taking two tough fights in a row, spread six months apart, a point of pride, Rosenbloom’s record just draws a shake of the head. That he also had a quality run as champion only adds to a picture which includes over 200 victories. No one likes to hear from the old timers that ‘they don’t make ‘em like they used to’ but Rosenbloom is a point to the senior statesmen. They don’t make them like Rosenbloom anymore and probably never will again. Rosenbloom was elected to the IBHOF in 1993.

 

8) Jimmy Bivins (1940-55)

Record: 86-25-1, 31 KO

Light Heavyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 4: (Anton Christoforidis, Melio Bettina, Gus Lesnevich, Joey Maxim)

 

Turned pro as a Middleweight, Bivins won his first nineteen including a decision over rated contender Charley Burley in only his 15th pro fight. The first loss came after a win over Christoforidis but Bivins would bounce back with four straight, including a points nod over Hall of Famer Teddy Yarosz. Three losses in five fights followed, including his first stoppage defeat and a points loss to Bettina only for Bivins to post two straight over former Middleweight champ Billy Soose and a non-title nod over reigning Light Heavyweight champ Gus Lesnevich. All of this was before Bivins hit his third year in the ring. A split nod over a young Maxim was still to come in 1942 and, in 1943, Bivins would win nine straight in a banner year. He began with a points verdict over Ezzard Charles (whose name comes up prominently a little later), immediately added Christoforidis for the “Duration” Light Heavyweight title (an honorarium during World War II while many titles were frozen), came off the floor to sop Lloyd Marshall over the summer, and avenged the loss to Bettina just over the Light Heavyweight line. Bivins would rarely fight near the Light Heavyweight limit again, though he would add a knockout victory over the great Archie Moore to his ledger in 1945. Moore, Charles, and Maxim would all figure out Bivins as the 40s dragged on, Bivins best Heavyweight form never quite what it was a division below.

 

Why He’s Here: Sometimes the world just gets in the way. Being black in the early 1940s made a climb to the title tough enough, but Cleveland’s Bivins also had to contend with the specter of the Third Reich and World War. The non-title win over reigning Light Heavyweight champion Lesnevich in 1942 should have meant a title shot, but the title froze when Lesnevich entered the Coast Guard in 1943, fighting only once that year and not again until 1946. By then, Bivins was gone mostly to Heavyweight…but for most of approximately 1941-43, Bivins was as good as any Light Heavyweight has ever been. Bivins was added to the IBHOF in 1999.

 

7) Bob Foster (1961-78)

Record: 56-8-1, 46 KO

World Champion 1968-74, 14 Defenses

Light Heavyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 2: (Dick Tiger, Vicente Rondon)

 

Bob Foster might not have been a killer in the literal sense, but he had the sort of left hook which could make anyone wonder if his opponents were getting up again. An intimidating 6’3, Foster was matched tough from early on and made the better for it even if he had to take some setbacks. Stoppage losses to Doug Jones and Ernie Terrell in his first seventeen bouts weren’t pleasant, but it said a lot that he would be matched two such quality veterans while still a professional infant. From 1964 to 68, his only other loss would come on points to Heavyweight contender Zora Folley and in March of the latter year, Foster got a crack at the great Dick Tiger for the World title. In a shot still replayed often today, Foster nuked Tiger in the fourth round, only the second man to stop the African warrior and the first in over a decade. Stripped of the WBA half of his crown in 1970, Foster reunified the titles in 1972 with a second round destruction of Vicente Rondon. Later that year, in his following bout, Foster stopped game former Olympian Chris Finnegan in 14 to garner Fight of the Year honors from Ring Magazine. Through a record setting run of 14 straight defenses, his only losses would come at Heavyweight by stoppage to Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. After a draw versus Jorge Ahumada in 1974, Foster briefly retired and vacated the throne, only to return the following year for seven fights at Heavyweight. Following two stoppage losses in 1978, Foster retired for good.

 

Why He’s Here: Foster may have been the most devastating puncher ever seen at 175. Archie Moore had more knockouts, but it is hard to say he could match Foster’s best blows. While Foster’s lack of success at Heavyweight is unfortunate, it has nothing to do with how he handled the best of the Light Heavies. His biggest drawback is that the best of the Light Heavies in his time weren’t among the best Light Heavies of all time. Like most long reigning champions, Foster’s faces the chick-egg argument of whether he was just too good or the era not good enough. It’s a little of both but there was enough quality in men like Tiger, Rondon, and Finnegan to insure no argument against Foster’s place as a weight class immortal. Foster joined the IBHOF in the inaugural class on 1990.

 

6) Tommy Loughran (1919-37)

Record: 94-23-9, 17 KO, 45 no decisions, 1 no contest

World Champion 1927-29, 6 Defenses

Light Heavyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 4: (Mike McTigue, Jack Delaney, Georges Carpentier, Jimmy Slattery)

 

The “Phantom of Philly” was a master boxer in one of the division’s brightest eras. Turned professional at 17, Loughran began to test the elite in 1922 with a news win over McTigue. Multiple battles with Harry Greb, Gene Tunney, and exceptional Middleweight Jeff Smith, and more with McTigue, would follow through 1923 as Loughran developed his craft. Over the years, he would lose a decision to Delaney while besting former champion Carpentier and former Middleweight champ Johnny Wilson. Sure, he didn’t always win, but he was tough for them all and, by October 1927, Loughran was ready for the biggest step of all. At Madison Square Garden, three fights removed from a points win over Hall of Famer Young Stribling, Loughran took the World title from McTigue over 15. Through 1931, his only losses would come against Heavyweights Jack Sharkey and Ernie Schaff while he posted successful defenses against Slattery, former Middleweight champions Petey Latzo and Mickey Walker, and future Heavyweight king Jimmy Braddock. In 1929, he vacated the crown to pursue the Heavyweights full time and, while he fell short in a title shot against Primo Carnera in 1934, managed wins over Max Baer and Sharkey before he got there.

 

Why He’s Here: Loughran didn’t reign as long as Foster but his pool of competition was outstanding and his title reign strong. It may not have been as long as Foster’s, but the toughness of the men he defended against is undeniable. In six fights with Greb, he managed only one official win but that’s one more than almost anyone else had. His successes at Heavyweight, with little in the way of punching power, speak to the skill level he held. Perhaps the strongest strike against Loughran is the distinct ‘color line’ drawn through his career but his overall resume trumps that for the most part. Loughran was elected to the IBHOF in 1991.

 

5) Michael Spinks (1977-88)

Record: 31-1, 21 KO

World Champion 1983-85, 4 Defenses

WBA 1981-83, 6 Defenses; WBA/WBC 1983-85, 4 Defenses

Light Heavyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 6: (Marvin Johnson, Eddie Mustapha Muhammad, Dwight Muhammad Qawi)

 

91 seconds. If those were all that most remembered of one’s career, they’d better be the right 91. For this 1976 U.S. Olympic Middleweight Gold Medalist from St. Louis, they were not and his 1988 shellacking by Mike Tyson is still good for a laugh in the barber shop. Spinks, at Light Heavyweight, was no laughing matter. A reluctant professional, Spinks brought his famed right hand “Jinx” to the paid ranks and by his 14th fight was stopping a serious contender in Yaqui Lopez. Two fights later, a fourth round knockout of fellow former Olympian (1972) and former titlist Marvin Johnson set up his first title shot. In July 1981, Spinks hit the desert in Las Vegas, besting Eddie Mustapha Muhammad over 15 to wrest the WBA belt. Five defenses followed before a much anticipated unification bout with WBC titlist Dwight Muhammad Qawi. Spinks right hand power stymied the aggression of Qawi in March 1983 and he left Atlantic City the undisputed king. After four more defenses, with little in the way of a serious challenge looming, Spinks climbed the scale in September 1985 and became the first reigning Light Heavyweight champ to top the reigning lineal Heavyweight king with a decision over Larry Holmes.

 

Why He’s Here: Spinks caught the tail end of arguably the last great Light Heavyweight era of the 20th century and made a case as its best product. While it would have been nice to see battles with Saad Muhammad or Victor Galindez, the timing just wasn’t quite right. What he did face was excellent in spots, shoddy in others, but that can be said of many. In the end, he never lost in the class and, unlike so many other Light Heavy kings, was able to finish the deal against the best Heavyweight in the world…and one of the best of all time. It took much less than 91 seconds to check off Spinks name when voters had the chance to vote him into the IBHOF in 1994.

 

4) Gene Tunney (1915-28)

Record: 61-1-1, 45 KO

Light Heavyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 3: (Battling Levinsky, Tommy Loughran, Georges Carpentier)

 

Greenwich’s “Fighting Marine” wasn’t always beloved, but his footwork, jab, and ring science were ahead of their time and the fickle public couldn’t keep him out of the winners circle for almost his entire career. A 1922 points verdict over former World Champion Levinsky extended what were become strong contender credentials; his first loss began the proving of his deeper substance. Competitive for the first ten, Tunney was worn down by the more experienced Greb over 15 in May 1922, his first loss in 43 contests. It would be his last and only defeat in over 60. Less than a year later, Tunney would solve Greb in 12 and again over 15 later in the year with a favorable news verdict against Loughran between the loss and wins. A 12th round stop of former champ Carpentier followed in 1924 and in June 1925 Tunney ended the career of Hall of Famer Tommy Gibbons in the 12th, the only knockout loss of Gibbons’ career. With no title shot forthcoming and having grown out of Light Heavyweight, Tunney pursued the big dollars of a showdown with Jack Dempsey, lifting the crown in front of over 120,000 in Philadelphia in September 1923. He’d defend twice, including the infamous “Long Count” Dempsey rematch the following year, before retiring as champion. Tunney would never return and was an inaugural member of the IBHOF in 1990.

 

Why He’s Here: Like Loughran, there is a distinct ‘color line’ in the resume of Tunney, but that doesn’t mean a ‘quality’ line. Tunney fought some damn good fighters, and he beat just about all of them. Literally. That he did not win the World title was a matter of timing and opportunity and less important than the overall body of work. The Dempsey wins, while not a factor in this ranking, nicely iced the cake for one of the all-time greats.

 

3) Archie Moore (1935-63)

Record: 184-24-10, 130 KO, 1 no contest

World Champion 1952-62, 9 Defenses

Light Heavyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 3: (Harold Johnson, Joey Maxim, Willie Pastrano)

 

The all-time knockout king hailed from Benoit, Mississippi and brought the southern hospitality of a nice nap to some of the best of any time. Turned pro as a Welterweight, Moore would grow into a Light Heavyweight force by the mid-1940s, traveling from East Coast to West for winning and losing battles against the likes of Charley Burley, Eddie Booker, Lloyd Marshall, Cocoa Kid and Jimmy Bivins. In 1945, he became only the second man to stop Hall of Famer Holman Williams in near 200 bouts and in 1947 avenged an earlier knockout loss to Bivins in nine. In between and around those triumphs, Moore battled the great Ezzard Charles three times but never solving the Cincinnati Cobra. 1949 would bring the first of four wins in five contests with Harold Johnson and on it went…mostly winning, occasionally losing through hard years of struggle for a shot at the crown. It would not come until 1952 when, at the age of 39, Moore secured a chance at Joey Maxim, prevailing on points in 15. From a loss to Johnson in 1951 until 1960, Moore would lose only to Heavyweight champions Rocky Marciano and Floyd Patterson while, after winning the title, twice defending against Maxim, stopping Johnson, and destroying reigning Middleweight king “Bobo” Olson. Already approaching his mid-40s, Moore would have arguably his finest hour in 1958, rising from the floor three times in the first and once in the fourth to stop upstart Yvon Durrelle in a legendary battle. Moore would only sporadically defend the crown from there before finally being stripped and petering out in 1963 with a loss to a young Cassius Clay and final knockout of Mike DiBiase, father of professional wrestling star Ted.

 

Why He’s Here: Someone had to be third and Moore gets the nod in a crowded field at the top of the class. His amazing ability as a finisher, startling longevity, innovative defense and lengthy title reign all receive high marks as does an epic quality of competition. While recent arguments have been made for Bernard Hopkins as boxing’s premiere over-40 warrior, Hopkins only does it once, twice at most, per year. Moore had ten fights in 1958 alone. Through the 1950s, no one at Light Heavyweight could touch him and even Marciano had to come off the floor to find victory. The “Old Mongoose” is the stuff fistic legends are made of and was an easy inaugural member of the IBHOG in 1990.

 

2) Sam Langford (1902-26)

Record: 167-38-37, 117 KO, 48 no decisions, 3 no contests

Light Heavyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 1: (Philadelphia Jack O’Brien)

 

Like Rosenbloom, Langford’s career is so rich as to make a short summary an act of injustice. Unlike Rosenbloom, figuring out which division to rate Langford in can be difficult. Born in Canada, the “Boston Tar Baby” belonged pretty much to the whole of the upper half of the scale. Turned pro somewhere between Lightweight and Welterweight at age 19, Langford would best Lightweight immortal Joe Gans over 15 in only his second year and draw with the best Welterweight of the day, Joe Walcott, in 1904. Competing as a Middleweight by 1905, standing only 5’6 ½, Langford began a career of facing much larger men which in 1906 meant lasting the full fifteen with the great Jack Johnson. He avenged a first loss to Hall of Fame Heavyweight Joe Jeanette more than once before the decade was over, stopped former Welterweight champion Dixie Kid twice, and dusted Heavyweight contender Jim Flynn a few times while besting Middleweight great Stanley Ketchell in a six round news verdict bout in 1910. In 1911, he stopped former Light Heavyweight champ Jack O’Brien in five and in 1912, he’d add wins over Hall of Fame Heavyweight Sam McVea. Around 1913, he’d packed on enough pounds to compete as an outright, if still small and portly Heavyweight with continued success for years. Langford was an inaugural member of the IBHOF in 1990.

 

Why He’s Here: As noted, Langford is just hard to do justice but this much is certain: any discussion of the greats at Middleweight, Light Heavyweight, or Heavyweight comes around to him at some point. Langford is one of a small handful of immortals who can dispute claims of Sugar Ray Robinson as the best that ever did it, and Light Heavyweight might have been his best weight class. With official weights tough to come by, a degree of presumption is needed but it’s not a reach. That small degree helps to keep Langford out of the top spot but so too does what the man above him got done.

 

1) Ezzard Charles (1940-59)

Record: 93-25-1, 52 KO

Light Heavyweight Titlists/Champions Faced - 5: (Joey Maxim, Archie Moore, Anton Christoforidis, Gus Lesnevich, Harold Johnson)

 

After an excellent amateur career, Charles entered the pro ranks as a 19-year old Middleweight, losing only to Ken Overlin and Kid Tunero before beginning to flirt with the Light Heavyweight limit at the end of 1942 after wins over Christoforidis, Charley Burley, and Teddy Yarosz at the lower class. He closed 1942 with a pair of decisions over Joey Maxim but, with impending service in World War II, ended the first phase of his career with a decision and stoppage loss to Jimmy Bivins and Lloyd Marshall in consecutive early-1943 bouts. With only two armed service related bouts in 1944, Charles would return for real in early 1946. Charles would lose only a single controversial decision to Elmer Ray until into 1951. Over that span, before rising to become Heavyweight champion of the world in 1949, Charles wreaked havoc at 175 lbs. Before 1946 was over, he’d top Moore by decision, come off the floor to avenge the Marshall defeat by knockout, and close the year with a unanimous decision over Bivins. Two fights later, in March 1947, Bivins was dusted in four and before the year was out Moore would drop another points nod while Marshall was caved in two frames. 1948 would be another banner year, if marked by tragedy. A January knockout of Moore in eight ended their rivalry but the following month, Sam Baroudi died of injuries sustained in a knockout loss. Many say Charles was never as aggressive again but his skill was such that he kept on winning. Bivins lost again on points and on February 28, 1949, he again outpointed Maxim to set up a shot at the Heavyweight crown left vacant by the retirement of Joe Louis. Finally given a shot at a title after being due for years, Charles defeated Jersey Joe Walcott in their first of four fights. He wasn’t done with the Light Heavyweights though, making his first defense against recently deposed Light Heavyweight champion Gus Lesnevich. Lesnevich never granted Charles a shot at his crown and Charles showed why with a seventh round knockout. He would continue on for years as a Heavyweight, too many years for that matter, winning only ten of his final 23 after an epic pair of battles with Rocky Marciano.

 

He entered the first Walcott bout with 60 wins against five losses and a single draw. Charles was an inaugural member of the IBHOF.

 

Why He’s Here: Charles’s Heavyweight work is a likely topic when the best Heavyweights are discussed and can be saved for there. Over the second half of the 1940s, and often before leaving for the service, Charles was a combination of speed, power, skill and killer instinct who faced down one of the most gifted fields the division ever produced. While there are five losses picked up while primarily battling at Middleweight and Light Heavyweight, none came against a fighter who wasn’t world class. They’re all ‘good’ losses. The only great Light Heavyweight who bested him and didn’t pay for it was Harold Johnson and that loss came years later, just prior to the Marciano bouts, with Charles on the slide. He didn’t have Moore’s longevity, and was never given the chance to add the World title which would have complimented his time at 175, but at his best Charles didn’t need the latter and was simply better than Moore.

 

And Burley…and Bivins…and Marshall…and Maxim…

 

…and just about any Light Heavyweight who ever laced gloves.

 

Source:

www.boxingscene.com

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  • 2 months later...

What about Tommy Hearns? He was a two-time Light Heavy champ after all. He also became the first former Welterweight champion to win the Light-Heavyweight title when he won the WBC title from Dennis Andries. Then he defeated the hitherto unbeaten Virgil Hill for the WBA title.

 

Andries deserves an honourable mention too, he was a limited fighter maybe, but he did win the WBC crown on THREE occasions.

 

Personally the number one should surely be Archie Moore, he was champ for years and never lost the belt in the ring.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Harold Johnson is leagues better than Bob Foster, who couldn't beat a credible Heavyweight to save his life. Foster is the only top 10 rated LHW to never be able to beat a credible Heavyweight. Most pathetic thing I've ever seen. Those who dare rate him in the top 5 should be shot. Johnson in the top 5 on the other hand? That'd be about right. My top 5:

 

Archie Moore (#2 in '40s and #1 in '50s, takes it on longevity)

Ezzard Charles (#1 in '40s)

Gene Tunney

Michael Spinks

Harold Johnson

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Harold Johnson is leagues better than Bob Foster, who couldn't beat a credible Heavyweight to save his life. Foster is the only top 10 rated LHW to never be able to beat a credible Heavyweight. Most pathetic thing I've ever seen. Those who dare rate him in the top 5 should be shot. Johnson in the top 5 on the other hand? That'd be about right. My top 5:

 

Archie Moore (#2 in '40s and #1 in '50s, takes it on longevity)

Ezzard Charles (#1 in '40s)

Gene Tunney

Michael Spinks

Harold Johnson

 

-------- Looks like you need to hire out an army to carry out your executions. North Korea could use the money, but maybe you should compare the price of Al Qaeda beheadings before committing.

 

Box rec ranks Foster 8th all time and 51st p4p with him knocking out #10 p4p, Dick Tiger. Johnson ranks 9th and 53rd respectively.

 

Ring uses a completely different system, but Foster was 55th in their 80 greatest boxer list, and 17th greatest puncher ever. Johnson was 80th and didn't rank as a puncher.

 

IBRO ranks Foster 5th greatest LH. Johnson is 17th.

 

Could be because Johnson was outclassed badly by Archie Moore so many times that they finally had to strip Arch at age 50 before poor Harold could win his title.

 

Foster was the only fighter to cut up Ali also, a near impossible feat.

 

Speaking of Ali, Foster beat some of the same heavies that Ali and Liston were beating, like Whitehurst, Moore, Besmanoff, Polite. Foster's first loss was as an ill advised last minute sub for Zora Folley against Doug Jones. The same Doug Jones that I and many others believe beat Ali a few months later.

 

Unlike Harold, Foster was also undefeated in his LH bouts. In a beauty contest, Foster has a lot of nice attributes that generate his ranking.

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Archie Moore ducked Johnson like the plague after the 5th fight. Wanted nothing to do with the man again. Archie was on the slide and knew he wasn't going to beat him any more. All the experts at the time knew it too. Quite shameless how long Johnson was the #1 contender and didn't get a title shot.

 

Johnson officially beat Moore the third time, lost a questionable decision the 2nd time, wasn't prime yet the first time, and had Archie all but beat in the 5th encounter. So this "badly outclassed" theory just doesn't hold water.

 

None of the Heavyweights that Foster beat were credible at the time he faced them. And quite frankly Whitehurst & Besmanoff weren't that good in their prime anyways. The other two guys you mentioned never were at any time credible. I'm surprised you even bothered to mention them.

 

Lastly, while you want to call Foster undefeated at LHW, it's really just a paper accomplishment. He lost to 2 of the 4 best LHWs he ever faced in non-title bouts where they came in around the 180 mark (Jones and Mina). Considering Heavyweights by this time averaged to be over 200+, I'd hardly label them as such in these fights. It's pretty typical to weigh that much in non-title LHW bouts. Not to mention, these guys actually happened to be prime. The remaining 2 best LHWs he beat were a past it Tiger (Prime days at MW) & Cotton. Cotton was 20 years into his damn career and would fight only once more afterward.

 

In short, Foster was mostly show with little ATG substance. He dominated one of the weakest LHW eras of all time. His resume simply isn't that great. Johnson's on the other hand? One of the best:

 

Heavyweight fights are acknowledged, Light Heavyweight fights are everything else

 

Notable Wins:

Arturo Godoy [Post-Prime] {Heavyweight}

Henry Hall (x3) {Heavyweight in 3rd win}

Jimmy Bivins [Post-Prime] {Heavyweight}

Bert Lytell

Elkins Brothers {Heavyweight}

Chubby Wright

Archie Moore

Clarence Henry {Heavyweight}

Leonard Morrow {Heavyweight}

Bob Satterfield (x2) [Post-Prime in 2nd win] {Heavyweight in 2nd win}

Nino Valdes {Heavyweight}

Jimmy Slade (x2) {Heavyweight in 2nd win}

Billy Gilliam {Heavyweight}

Toxie Hall {Heavyweight}

Ezzard Charles [Post-Prime] {Heavyweight}

Charley 'Doc' Williams [Post-Prime] {Heavyweight}

Paul Andrews (x2)

Julio Mederos {Heavyweight}

Marty Marshall

Bert Whitehurst (x2) {Heavyweight}

Clarence Hinnant

Wayne Bethea {Heavyweight}

Sid Peaks {Heavyweight}

Howard King {Heavyweight}

Sonny Ray

Jesse Bowdry

Von Clay

Eddie Machen {Heavyweight}

Eddie Cotton

Doug Jones

Gustav Scholz

Henry Hank

Hank Casey

Herschel Jacobs

 

Notable Losses:

Archie Moore (x4) [Johnson Pre-Prime in 1st loss] (UD 10, UD 10, UD 10, TKO 14)

Jersey Joe Walcott (KO 3) {Heavyweight}

Bob Satterfield I

Oakland Billy Smith (KO 2)

Julio Mederos II (TKO 2)

Willie Pastrano [Johnson Post-Prime]

 

Questionable Wins:

Clarence Henry

Ezzard Charles

Jimmy Slade II

Paul Andrews I

Eddie Cotton

 

Questionable Losses:

Jersey Joe Walcott (Johnson collapsed without being hit, he suffered an injury to an intervertebral disc in his back)

Archie Moore II

Bob Satterfield I

Julio Mederos II (Johnson was drugged and collapsed out of nowhere)

Willie Pastrano (Johnson was flat out robbed blind)

 

'A' level wins:

Archie Moore III, Eddie Machen

'A-' level wins:

Henry Hall (x2), Jimmy Bivins, Bert Lytell, Clarence Henry, Leonard Morrow, Bob Satterfield II, Nino Valdes, Jimmy Slade I, Ezzard Charles, Paul Andrews (x2), Eddie Cotton, Doug Jones

'B' level wins:

Henry Hall III, Bob Satterfield III, Jimmy Slade, Billy Gilliam, Charley 'Doc' Williams, Marty Marshall, Wayne Bethea, Von Clay, Gustav Scholz, Henry Hank, Hank Casey

'B-' level wins:

Arturo Godoy, Elkins Brothers, Chubby Wright, Toxie Hall, Julio Mederos, Bert Whitehurst, Clarence Hinnant, Sid Peaks, Howard King, Sonny Ray, Jesse Bowdry, Herschel Jacobs

 

-------

 

Don't know about you, but I counted 19 credible Heavyweights on his resume. 19 more than Foster has.

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Archie Moore ducked Johnson like the plague after the 5th fight.

 

------ Big NEWSFLASH:

Fifty year old Archie Moore, 4-1, 1 KO, ducks the great Harold Johnson, 1-4, 0 KO, so he can fight that lightheavy known as Willie Pastrami who whooped Johnson's title off him, and then that other loudmouth lightheavy pipsqueak more broadly known as the Louuyville Lip whom Johnson wouldn't fight.

 

Indeed, the GREAT WIND that broke across the lands after Johnson whooped the great Jesse Bowdry to win the vacant title led scientists to discover The Great Rip in the Time Continuum that ushered in the modern era.

 

All thanks to Harold.

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In short, Foster was mostly show with little ATG substance. He dominated one of the weakest LHW eras of all time. His resume simply isn't that great. Johnson's on the other hand? One of the best

 

At least Foster dominated the division, Johnson never did.

 

Wanted to quote LRR as well but I didn't see a multi-quote...

 

Anyways, Johnson was the dominate force in the LHW division for a long time.

 

Moore won the title at the end of 1952. Joey Maxim (former Champion) was immediately the number 1 contender, but was quickly displaced by Harold Johnson in 1953 after Moore won the rematch. Nonetheless, Moore gave Maxim a third fight in 1954 before giving Johnson a shot later that year. Johnson briefly fell off the mountain after that as a result of losing his very next bout to Oakland Billy Smith. By 1955 Floyd Patterson was the new #1 contender, but Moore took a shot at Rocky Marciano's Heavyweight crown that year instead. He'd actually fight Patterson the next year (1956) for the newly vacated Heavyweight title. Moore, getting KOed for the second time in a Heavyweight Championship attempt, moved back down to the Light Heavyweight division to continue to defend his title, however infrequently. By the time Moore first defended his title following his loss to Patterson, it was 1957, and Harold Johnson was top dog yet again. Harold would continue to be the best in the division year after year, without a loss since 1955, but no title shot came. Johnson had to wait until 1961 before the NBA stripped Moore of their version of the title to get a vacant title fight, which he of course won. The NYSAC would allow Moore one more title defense in 1961 before they eventually stripped him too. Johnson would have to wait until 1962 to get a shot at the unified titles, and he naturally came out victorious once again. Sadly, the year after becoming undisputed Light Heavyweight Champion, Johnson was nearly 35 and was 17 years into his career. To make matters worse, he got robbed blind by the younger Willie Pastrano, who competed in more of a track meet than a boxing match. Johnson would defeat a few more top Light Heavyweight contenders afterward, but was never again given a title shot.

 

Johnson's last fight while still an active top fighter was against Hank Casey in the middle of 1964. After witnessing Cassius Clay go life and death with Doug Jones (who Johnson defeated easily) the previous year, Johnson also tried to get a fight with the Louisville Lip. The Lip however had enough of small Heavyweights kicking his ass at that point to even entertain the notion of a fight with Johnson (Henry Cooper nearly KOed Clay immediately after the Jones war). Thus, unable to get a shot at the LHW title and a shot at Clay (top contender for the HW title), Johnson sat for nearly 2 years. Then aged 37, Johnson lost his return bout, losing to the first nobody of his career (drug incident with Julio Mederos aside). After that, the books were pretty much closed on Johnson, although he continued to fight until 1971 before ultimately retiring for good. His full career lasted nearly 25 years.

 

If that's not a dominate LHW reign I don't know what is. When people hijack titles, you have to look deeper.

 

You will note a difference of opinion between me and LRR on the Clay issue. He claims Johnson wouldn't fight Clay. I claim Clay wouldn't fight Johnson. If you take a look at the types of fighters on Clay's resume, he never fought a boxer remotely as technically skilled as Johnson until Jimmy Young after he himself was over the hill. Granted Ali was no longer the same man, he honestly didn't deserve to win 5 rounds of the Young fight. Ali made a career off beating up slow, plodding, large Heavyweights. He was never that great against smaller Heavyweights.

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You will note a difference of opinion between me and LRR on the Clay issue. He claims Johnson wouldn't fight Clay. I claim Clay wouldn't fight Johnson. If you take a look at the types of fighters on Clay's resume, he never fought a boxer remotely as technically skilled as Johnson until Jimmy Young after he himself was over the hill. Granted Ali was no longer the same man, he honestly didn't deserve to win 5 rounds of the Young fight. Ali made a career off beating up slow, plodding, large Heavyweights. He was never that great against smaller Heavyweights.

 

-------- More windage from you again, eh?

 

Nothing wrong with rating Johnson who was a fine fighter, but you keep having to create nonsense about Foster and Moore to do it which tells me you don't really believe in your guy.

 

It's not Moore's fault that Johnson kicked around and in and out of the rankings. Moore defended his title every year but one against Ring ranked fighters including against Johnson, so this notion that he's somehow ducking Johnson when there's 8-9 other Ring ranked fighters in those years that neither were fighting is daft.

 

Arch was making more money fighting heavies as the LH champ than he could make fighting LHs as champ and he didn't have to make weight, it was that simple. He did enough to keep his title, end of.

 

I don't see that Johnson was ever a ranked heavy like Moore was nor was he fighting many heavy bouts to warrant Ali giving him a title shot.

 

Liston, Patterson, Terrell, and Folley were near as skilled or better than Johnson and hardly slow and plodding and Floyd near his size, so again, you fail.

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Harold Johnson is leagues better than Bob Foster, who couldn't beat a credible Heavyweight to save his life. Foster is the only top 10 rated LHW to never be able to beat a credible Heavyweight. Most pathetic thing I've ever seen. Those who dare rate him in the top 5 should be shot. Johnson in the top 5 on the other hand? That'd be about right. My top 5:

 

Archie Moore (#2 in '40s and #1 in '50s, takes it on longevity)

Ezzard Charles (#1 in '40s)

Gene Tunney

Michael Spinks

Harold Johnson

 

Perhaps thats where everyone else is wrong and you are right eh? Mere mortals tend to judge fighters by the way they fought in their recognised division, whereas you judge them by how they fought in higher divisions.

 

So by your reckoning Sugar Ray Robinson becomes a shit fighter because he couldn't beat a light heavy, like say Joe Calzaghe did.

 

I must admit your way is more entertaining, total bollox, but entertaining.

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Harold Johnson is leagues better than Bob Foster, who couldn't beat a credible Heavyweight to save his life. Foster is the only top 10 rated LHW to never be able to beat a credible Heavyweight. Most pathetic thing I've ever seen. Those who dare rate him in the top 5 should be shot. Johnson in the top 5 on the other hand? That'd be about right. My top 5:

 

Archie Moore (#2 in '40s and #1 in '50s, takes it on longevity)

Ezzard Charles (#1 in '40s)

Gene Tunney

Michael Spinks

Harold Johnson

 

Perhaps thats where everyone else is wrong and you are right eh? Mere mortals tend to judge fighters by the way they fought in their recognised division, whereas you judge them by how they fought in higher divisions.

 

So by your reckoning Sugar Ray Robinson becomes a S**t fighter because he couldn't beat a light heavy, like say Joe Calzaghe did.

 

I must admit your way is more entertaining, total bollox, but entertaining.

 

SRR fought 1 credible LHW, had the fight won, and collapsed due to the 100+ degree heat. Totally different than Foster participating in ~5 HW bouts against credible Heavyweights and losing every time.

 

To top that off, it's a microcosm of my argument. Johnson has the vastly superior LHW resume as well. The man was so good at LHW he had no problem with the best Heavyweights either. That, for the most part, is consitent with all super great fighters in 1 particular weight division. If they step up to the next one, they're still elite.

 

Problem with Foster is simple. He was in a weak era, lost to 2 of the 4 best LHWs he faced, and never could beat a credible Heavyweight (which had a strong era at the time).

 

As for LRR, I was going to respond to your post until you topped it off with calling a fat past it Liston "hardly slow or plodding" and Terrell "near as skilled or better" than Johnson. I mean, none of what you said was remotely accurate aside from calling a back injured Patterson near Ali's size, but the Liston and Terrell comments were particularly insulting.

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  • 2 weeks later...

SRR fought 1 credible LHW, had the fight won, and collapsed due to the 100+ degree heat. Totally different than Foster participating in ~5 HW bouts against credible Heavyweights and losing every time.

 

To top that off, it's a microcosm of my argument. Johnson has the vastly superior LHW resume as well. The man was so good at LHW he had no problem with the best Heavyweights either. That, for the most part, is consitent with all super great fighters in 1 particular weight division. If they step up to the next one, they're still elite.

 

Problem with Foster is simple. He was in a weak era, lost to 2 of the 4 best LHWs he faced, and never could beat a credible Heavyweight (which had a strong era at the time).

 

As for LRR, I was going to respond to your post until you topped it off with calling a fat past it Liston "hardly slow or plodding" and Terrell "near as skilled or better" than Johnson. I mean, none of what you said was remotely accurate aside from calling a back injured Patterson near Ali's size, but the Liston and Terrell comments were particularly insulting.

 

------- If insults were punches, you'd never make out of the 1st 30 sec of the 1st round my friend.

 

Foster fought the prime heavies of a storied era, Frazier/Ali/Terrell two of which were better than any heavies Johnson fought, much less beat. Maybe you didn't get the email, but Johnson only won a few title fights, period, and never picked up a heavy title.

 

Here's the IBRO list:

 

Archie Moore

Ezzard Charles

Sam Langford

Gene Tunney

Bob Foster

Tommy Loughran

Michael Spinks

Bob Fitzsimmons

Billy Conn

Roy Jones, Jr.

Maxie Rosenbloom

John Henry Lewis

Harry Greb

Tommy Gibbons

Philadelphia Jack O’Brien

Jack Dillon

Harold Johnson

Jimmy Bivins

Georges Carpentier

Battling Levinsky

Just missing the cut: Jack Delaney, Kid McCoy, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Dwight Qawi, Joey Maxim, Joe Choynski, Kid Norfolk, Virgil Hill, Tommy Burns, and Tiger Jack Fox.

 

It's a fair list. One could argue the positions of the top 4 until the end of time. I'd swap out Jones for Fitz, Greb for Loughgran, and Carp for Johnson who looks lucky to have made the list given his limited title history.

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