Ranking the 10 Best Defensive Fighters in Boxing Today

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Ranking the 10 Best Defensive Fighters in Boxing Today
Al Bello/Getty Images

We live in a boxing era when defensive skill has become an extremely underrated attribute. To a large degree, it's a product of the larger culture. This is a thrill-a-minute media world we are living in and the subtleties of impeccable defense just don't stir the contemporary imagination the same way a stand-and-bang war does.

To a degree this is understandable. Slugfests where both men dig deep and let their hands go have always been more exciting and dramatic than any other contest in sports.

But boxing fans in previous generations seemed to have more capacity for appreciating the defensive wizards, too. Fighters like Willie Pep in the 1940s and 50s and Pernell Whitaker in the 1980s became pound-for-pound stars based on their defensive acumen.

Protect yourself at all times is the most important rule of the boxing ring. So fighters who manage to minimize the punishment they take should be praised and celebrated, not criticized for being "boring." 

Boxing is a sport built around two men punching each other. That's inherently exciting. It's the sweet science, yes, but the "sweet science of bruising."

It doesn't become boring just because one or both men are skilled at avoiding punches. That should merely crank up the tension.

The big-time KO artists will always be the sport's biggest stars, and that is understandable. The knockout is sudden excitement and primal in its appeal.

But to really appreciate the sport and enjoy it to the fullest extent possible, a fan absolutely has to learn enough to appreciate great defensive boxing.  


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