Growing up as a young boxing fan in the 70’s and 80’s, I’ve had vividly colorful memories of boxers from those eras. As they say about automobiles, they don’t make them like the used to.
This list does not, by any means attempt to establish who the greatest of those eras were, but my personal top-of-mind favorites. In an era devoid of YouTube and the Internet, Betamax was the way to go.
Here is my partial list of non-heavyweight boxing greats from the 70’s and 80’s and who I think may be their present day counterparts. Feel free to pitch in your own favorites. Violent reactions are expected.
Salvador Sanchez—Erik Morales
At the young age of 19, a long and lanky, Sanchez annexed the WBC featherweight crown from a vastly experienced Danny Lopez back in the 70’s via a 13th round stoppage. He went on to rule the division for a couple of years until a car accident took his life at the age of 23.
Similarly, countryman Morales claimed the WBC bantamweight crown at the young age of 21, beating a more experienced David Zaragoza in 11 rounds. Both fighters were a joy to watch. Fine boxers who knew when to unleash explosive power on their opponents.
Thomas Hearns—Paul Williams
Who can ever forget Hearns’ fights with Duran, Leonard and Hagler? Although Hearns is, by far, the more accomplished boxer, both are exceptionally tall for welterweights (6’1"), where both began their careers. Both have explosive knockout power. Hearns went on to win world titles in six different weight classes. While the Punisher has won two (welter, light middle), he may be forced to move up weight classes if he keeps getting ducked, and perhaps win a couple more.
Sugar Ray Leonard—Manny Pacquiao
This comparison is sure to bring in a torrent of violent reactions. I still think Manny Pacquiaois the present day equivalent of Leonard if only for the flair both fighters bring into the ring. Both know how to get busy throwing a flurry of punches while keeping the science intact. Speed, dazzling footwork and a Hollywood appeal is what both men similarly possess.
Leonard, who started out at welterweight went on to win the light-heavyweight crown over Donny Lalonde in a career that spanned well into the 90's. The way the Pacman keeps moving up in weight, he may just win a welterweight, or possibly a light middle crown. But Paul Williams would have to move up first in order for the Pacman to find his Lalonde.
Ray “Boom-boom” Mancini—Ricky Hatton
Boom-boom’s losing effort to Alexis Arguello in his attempt to win the WBA lightweight crown in the 80’s brought to fore his toe-to-toe style, a guy who didn’t know how to take a step back. Winning the title on his next try over Art Frias, he reigned for a couple of years before the death of a Korean opponent changed him and the face of pro boxing. Hatton is the present-day Boom-boom. No holds barred, constantly charging like a bull on speed. A total crowd pleaser, Hatton’s style has resulted in a cult-following in his native land.
Please feel free to add to this list. More to come soon…