Ranking the Top 6 Welsh Fighters of All Time

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Ranking the Top 6 Welsh Fighters of All Time
JON SUPER/Associated Press

One of the best servants of Welsh boxing in recent years, Gavin Rees retired this week after winning a farewell fight against Gary Buckland.

Rees was part of a golden era for boxing in the principality, and at one point in 2007 Rees, Enzo Maccarinelli and Joe Calzaghe all held world-title belts.

While Rees would certainly make a long list of the best-ever Welsh fighters as a British, European and WBA titleholder, he is edged out by three fighters from the era of eras for Welsh boxing, which occurred around 100 years ago.

Other men who just missed the cut are heavyweights Jack Petersen and Tommy Farr, who were both world ranked in the 1930s, with Farr famously going the distance with the great Joe Louis.

"Wee" Willie Davies and Tommy West spent most of their careers fighting tough opposition in the U.S. but were Welsh-born. Davies was a top flyweight who never quite got a full world-title shot; West got that honour as a welterweight and middleweight but came up short.

Going into the post-war period, Colin Jones managed a draw with Milton McCrory in a 1983 bout for the vacant WBC welterweight title but lost a rematch as well as a further title shot against Donald Curry.

At a similar time, Johnny Owen lost his life in the cruel aftermath of his challenge to Lupe Pintor's WBC Bantamweight Championship in 1980. Owen was just 24, and Hugh McIlvanney famously wrote of the shy young fighter that "it is his tragedy that he found himself articulate in such a dangerous language."

More recently Maccarinelli, Steve Robinson and Nathan Cleverly have had extended WBO title reigns but without really proving themselves to be truly world class.

Maccarinelli and Cleverly will come again, with one going down a division and the other going up. In addition, both Lee Selby and his brother Andrew may one day challenge the all-time greats.

For now, though, here are the six absolute best Welsh fighters in history.

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