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Ranking the best Romanian boxers of all time


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Now, I have done most of Eastern Europe, but not Romania. They have also had a few notable boxers and still do today. Lucian Bute was probably the most successful and best fighter from Romania, even tho he fought in Montreal, but he was definitely a Romanian. Then we had Leonard Dorin, probably the first Romanian to win a world title as a pro, who was a very good technical lightweight and a tough guy too. At the same time as Bute, there was Adrian Diaconu, a short light heavy who won the interim WBC title in 2008. And since then, we've had a few other good fighters like Ionut Dan Ion, Ronald Gavril and Christian Hammer. Here we go.


1. Lucian Bute (last name pronounced "Boo-teh") 

A splendid fighter who had both the skills and the punch, especially to the body and was also rather tall for a super middle (6'2), Bute captured the IBF title in October 2007 when he stopped the Colombian puncher Alejandro Berrio by a TKO 11 and held it until May 2012, making 9 successful defenses. One of those defenses was the dramatic first fight against Librado Andrade, where Bute made a mistake in trying to knock out Andrade in the last round, only to be put down and nearly stopped, but he held on to win on points. There were accusations of a long count made against the referee, but Bute beat Andrade impressively in the rematch, stopping him with a left hook to the body in 4 rounds. He also stopped the too-cocky Edison Miranda in 3 rounds in his next fight, after Miranda lowered his guard and stood there clowning in front of him. After also stopping the solid Brian Magee by TKO 10 and decisioning Glen Johnson in his ninth defense, Bute had to travel to England for the first time to face Carl Froch and he performed poorly, getting a beating and was stopped by TKO 5. His career was largely unsuccessful after that and he was even found guilty of using a banned substance after his 2016 fight against Badou Jack (which he won by UD) and his victory was turned into a disqualification loss. After getting knocked out with a single right to the chin by Eleider Alvarez in February 2017, Bute retired, aged 37. His record is 32 wins, 25 by ko, and 5 losses. 

2. Leonard Dorin 

Real name Leonard Doroftei, Dorin was a splendid amateur who won the bronze at the 1992 Olympics as a light welter and also competed at the 1996 Olympics, going out in the quarter finals. His record is 239-15. He became a pro in 1998 and in 2000 beat Gairy St. Clair, a future IBF-champion, by UD 10. He also beat Emmanuel Augustus the same way in 2001. In his next fight on 5 January 2002, he faced Argentinian WBA-champion Raul Horacio Balbi in San Antonio and beat him by SD 12. He made his first defense in the rematch with Balbi in Bucharest, Romania and won by UD this time. On 17 May 2003, he faced the IBF-champion Paul Spadafora in a great fight which was a true slugfest. Dorin looked like he won more rounds and indeed landed 85 punches more than Spadafora, but was denied the victory in a split draw. Harold Lederman had him winning by 116-112. There would be no rematch and Dorin also got stripped in October that year for not making the weight before a planned defense against Miguel Callist. He therefore had to enter the 140-division and after stopping Charles Tschorniawsky by TKO 4, he fought against the WBC-champion Arturo Gatti on 24 July 2004 and was knocked out with a left hook to the body late in round 2. That was his final fight. Dorin was 34 by then and retired with a record of 22 wins, 8 by ko, 1 loss and 1 draw. 

3. Mihai Leu (Mee-ha-ee Le-oo) 

The only famous Romanian fighter to retire undefeated, Leu (known as Michael Loewe in Germany) was born in Hunedoara, Romania (birthplace of a famous Hungarian warlord John Hunyadi) and fought in Germany as a pro. As amateur, he was the Romanian Junior Champion between 1983 and 1986. He also won the 1987 World Junior Championship and ended his amateur career with a record of 190-10. He represented the club Dinamo Bucharest as amateur. As a pro, his career was cut short after a hand injury, but he managed to win the WBO welter title. Turning pro in 1991, he went 26-0, winning the WBO Inter-Continental title in 1995 against Craig Houk (who fought Julio Cesar Chavez and Hector Camacho) by TKO 11. He then fought for the vacant WBO title against Santiago Samaniego of Panama, a future WBC super welter champion. It was on 22 February '97 that Leu became a world champion winning by a mostly comfortable unanimous decision. He made one defense against Irish Michael Carruth on 20 September, winning by majority decision. However, he had suffered a bad hand injury against Samaniego and that also affected him in the Carruth fight. Eventually, he was forced to retire after that one defense, with a record of 28 wins, 10 by knockout. He later became a referee and a judge in boxing. 

4. Adrian Diaconu (Ah-dree-an Dee-ah-konoo)

Standing only 5'9, Diaconu was a short but stocky light heavyweight who hit pretty hard and could take a good punch too. Like Bute, he fought out of Montreal, Canada. Diaconu comes from Ploiesti, like Dorin. He won the bronze at the 1997 World amateur championships as a light middle and the silver at the 1999 WC, as a middleweight. He also represented his country at the 2000 Olympics and won his first two fights before losing the third by first-round ko to Jorge Gutierrez of Cuba. He turned pro in March 2001 and was undefeated in his first 26 fights. He moved to Montreal and won the Canadian lhw title by TKO 5 against Conal McPhee in June 2005 and also beat McPhee in his first defense by TKO 3. He then won the WBC International title by stopping Darrin Humphrey by TKO 11. In May 2007, he beat the then-highly rated and 6'3 tall Rico Hoye by TKO 3 in a WBC-eliminator. On 19 April next year, he fought Chris Henry, then 21-0, for the interim WBC title and beat him by a close UD in the end. He then faced Jean Pascal for the full WBC title on 19 June 2009 in Montreal and was down once in round five before losing on points, 111-116, 112-115 and 112-116. He fought Pascal again on 11 December and this time the fight looked to be closer, but the scorecards were curiously even wider for Pascal in the end. Diaconu started 2010 by beating Omar Sheika in a tough fight where he had to take the knee in round 2, but eventually he won by a wide UD 10. On 21 May 2011, he fought Chad Dawson and lost to him convincingly on all scorecards. He retired after that, with a record of 27 wins, 15 by ko, and 3 losses. 

5. Ionut Dan Ion (Ee-onoot Daan Eeon)

Ion had an extensive amateur career but only had significant results in smaller tournaments. As a pro, he was a very solid welterweight who lost two controversial decisions to Selcuk Aydin early on and was easily handled in his only world title bout by Kell Brook. He fought between 2004 and 2017 and beat Raul Horacio Balbi (faded by then) by KO 3 in 2008 and also went 26-0 before his first loss to Aydin, winning the North American Boxing Association and WBC Continental Americas light welter titles before that. He knocked out Miguel Casillas in 11 to win the last title. He then lost his first fight to Aydin on 5 June 2010, fighting away in Istanbul. He was down in the first round but he claimed it was a punch thrown after the break. Despite outboxing Aydin for much of the fight, the knockdown went against him and in the end he lost by 114-113 from two judges while the third had him winning 116-111. After beating Steve Forbes by a technical decision, he faced Aydin again, this time in Trabzon, Turkey, on 26 November 2011. He was down twice this time but again did well in the fight, only to lose by the scores of 115-111 and 113-112 twice. On 30 November 2013, he beat the undefeated Kevin Bizier by SD to win the NABA and IBF Inter-Continental welter titles. On 28 March 2015, he fought against the IBF-champion Kell Brook in Sheffield and looked poor, going down easily twice in the second and twice in the fourth round before retiring in his corner after the fourth. On 12 November 2016, he was also stopped by Jarrett Hurd in a fight at 154, by a TKO 6 in a one-sided fight. Next year, he won one easy fight by TKO 5 before losing to Jamal James by UD 10 on 15 July and then retiring. His record is 36 wins, 19 by ko, and 5 losses. 



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Oh well, seems like I can't just edit this post...damn. So I will just continue the list here. 

6. Christian Hammer

A small heavyweight for this era, Hammer had a few successes against fighters that were either past their prime or were chinny, like David Price. Otherwise, he lost to the best fighters he faced. Hammer was always a tough guy and despite lacking in size, was willing to slug it out, but was also able to fight smart when he wanted. He was only stopped twice by real knockouts and not corner retirements: against Mariusz Wach early on (KO 6) and in his so far last fight against Joe Joyce (TKO 4). Hammer was born as Christian Ciocan in Galati, northeast Romania and was the 2006 World Junior gold medallist at heavyweight and also the 2007 European Union Championships gold medallist, also at heavyweight. He relocated to Hamburg to start a professional career and lost his very first fight by a shoulder injury after 1 round. He then won his next 7 fights before being brought up too soon against the gigantic 6'7 Mariusz Wach of Poland, who already had 21 fights. We know how that went. After also losing on points to Taras Bidenko of Ukraine, he won the German International title by TKO 2 against Serdar Uysal in February 2012. He also won the WBO European title by stopping the faded Danny Williams by a TKO 4 in September that year and made 2 defenses of it before losing it in his third against Tyson Fury, February 2015. Hammer was down in round 5 and retired in his corner after 8 rounds of beating. In October 2016, he achieved his by then biggest victory by defeating the up and comer Erkan Teper by SD and then in his next fight in February next year he came off the canvas in round 5 to stop a tired Price in round 7 by TKO. In December that year he fought Alexander Povetkin and lost to him by UD. He has also fought and lost to Luis Ortiz, Tony Yoka and Frank Sanchez, all by decision, and also to Hughie Fury he lost after injuring his bicep and having to quit after 5 rounds. In his last fight on 2 July this year, as mentioned, he was stopped by the much larger Joe Joyce in 4 rounds. His record now stands at 27(17)-10(5)-0. It is uncertain wether he will continue fighting but it is certain that his best days are behind him.

7. Ronald Gavril 

Mostly known for his two fights against David Benavidez, both for the WBC super middle title, Gavril is a hard hitting and 6'2 tall fighter who resides in Vegas. Born in Bacau, Romania, his claimed amateur record is 165-15. He became a pro in 2011 and first lost in his 12th fight, on points to Elvin Ayala. On 8 October 2016, he stopped Christopher Booker by TKO 10 to win the NABF title, which then gave him a crack at the WBC title against Benavidez. He faced the equally-tall (circa) Benavidez first time on 8 September 2017 in Vegas and after a hard competitive fight where Benavidez was down in the twelfth round, a split decision victory was proclaimed for Benavidez. One judge had Gavril winning by 116-111, the other two 117-111 and 116-111 for Benavidez-a VERY uneven score, indeed! They had a rematch with the title at stake on 17 February next year at Mandalay Bay and this time, Benavidez won with a shutout on two scorecards while the third only gave Gavril one round. Since then, he's only had 3 easier fights, last one on 28 May this year, and won them all by stoppage. He is already 36 however, so he cannot hope to achieve much more. His record is 21(17)-3-0.

8. Daniel Dancuta

A heavyweight contender of the early 90's who was the first Romanian to enter the pro boxing scene, Dancuta stands 6'3 1/2 or 192 cm. Curiously, he was also born in Bacau (it is not a very big town) and as amateur he won the Romanian national heavyweight championship in 1990 and 1991. He made his pro debut after the Iron Curtain came down, on 25 June 1992 in USA after moving to Anaheim, CA. He won his first five fights and in the fourth he beat the formerly-feared 80's contender James Broad by UD 4. In his sixth fight, he was upset and lost by a majority decision in 6 to the talented Larry Donald. After winning 3 more fights, he was chosen to participate in "People's Choice One-Night Heavyweight Tournament" on 3 December 1993. In the first fight, he beat former WBA champion James "Bonecrusher" Smith on points and then also beat Derrick Roddy by TKO 1 in the semi-finals, before losing in the final to Tony Tubbs on points. That pretty much turned out to be the highlight of his career, as the rest of it was pretty forgettable, until his last fight in 1995 when he lost to Jimmy Thunder, who was then still some sort of an exciting contender, getting stopped by TKO 2. Dancuta retired after barely 3 years as a pro, with a record of 16(11)-3-0. After retirement, he became involved with organized crime, more precisely credit card scam in some European countries. Dancuta was also at one point the sparring partner for Mike Tyson.

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