Convicted Artist Magazine

Sep 26th
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pound-per-poundIn the discussion of the greatest all-time fighters... there are the usual suspects that enter the top 3.  Most have Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, and Sugar Ray Robinson in those spots.  There may be disagreement as to the order, but rarely are there others in the top 3 spots.  When looking at the next few names down the list, there are of course a few I'd put in different places.  In my not-so-humble option, here is a list of a few names who often rank lower than they should.  I will later list a few that rate too high.  To start, let's look at my criteria for what makes an all-time great: 
1) Offensive ability (should have top shelf speed, power, combinations, the basics of "hit and not get hit" at the highest level)
2) Defense (self explanatory)
3) Chin (when you got through that defense, did anything happen?)
4) Adaptability (did he win fights that he should not have won, by adjusting... even going against his own nature?)
5) Heart (when pushed, did he show a champion's mettle?)
6) Quality of opposition (who was there to push him?)

Willie Pep - Ok, he couldn't hit, but only Sugar Ray Robinson scores a 10 in all 6 of my categories.  Pep scores an 11 in many of the others, and a 20 in defense.  Hardly ever touched, let alone beaten.  Imagine Roy Jones' untouchability, but against better opposition, for far more fights.  Heart and adaptability?  He had every physical disadvantage against Saddler, and was over the hill.  He still found a way to beat him once.  Came back from a plane crash to even have that great 4-bout series.  The story about his winning a round without throwing a punch is a bit exaggerated, but he was good enough that people believe it.  On most lists, the "Wil of the Wisp" usually is in the teens.  Not fair.  I'd put him around 5 or 6.
Henry Armstrong - Yes, I know, he is usually there, but needs to be higher.  In fact, if I saw a new name in the top 3, I'd expect it to be him.  No fighter was more accomplished.  Fought at break-neck speed without ever tiring, and held 3 different world titles simultaneously.  126, 135, and 147.  Even cleaned out the Welterweight division, when he was probably more comfrotable as a Lightweight.  This was all at a time when competition was fierce.  If not for a lousy decision, when fighting for the Middleweight title, he would have been champion in half of the 8 available weight classes at one time!  He usually makes the top ten, but beneath Dempsey and Marciano.  No way!  He should be 4, maybe 5 at the lowest.
Pernell Whittaker - He rarely even makes anyone's top 30, and being the greatest Lightweight of all-time (Yes, purists!  Barney Ross and Roberto Duran would have tested him, but not beaten him), makes that a shame.  He should be at the bottom of the top 10, maybe even 11 or 12, but he should make these lists.  Not a puncher, but he made up for it with the slickness of a Willie Pep.  Defense?  Check.  Chin?  Not a perfect one, but was never KO'd.  Heart?  Yes, and we can add adaptability, when he was forced to slug to pull out victories against Wilfredo Rivera and Diosbelys Hurtado.  He even surprised Juan Nazario with a first-round KO, proving that he was a fighter who could go against his own nature, and pull out fights.  He also dominated other champions of his day.  Greg Haugen and Azumah Nelson couldn't touch him, and those guys touched everybody... Nelson usually beat them.   "Sweet Pea" also beat Chavez and Ramirez clearly, despite what corrupt decisions denied him.  He even leapt up two divisions to take the Junior Middleweight title.  Only a debatable decision against a prime Oscar de la Hoya started his slide.  He even managed to go the distance with a broken jaw against a prime, and much bigger, Felix Trinidad.  Those are his only two legitimate losses!  Left out of discussions because of his ethnicity?  Style?  Time period?  Who knows... but he should be remembered and much more appreciated.   POUND PER POUND PART 2

Chris Strait

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