Ranking the Most Successful Brothers in Boxing History
When Vitali Klitschko stepped away from boxing last December, it ended more than a decade-long reign at the top of the heavyweight division for him and his younger brother Wladimir. The younger Klitschko brother remains the world heavyweight champion, but the time that he and his older brother spent as de facto co-champions remains a unique era in the sport's history.
Even at 40, Juan Manuel Marquez is still looking to add to the fabulous legacy established with his younger brother Rafael over the past two decades.
Brothers grow up fighting and playing together, so it shouldn't be unusual that they sometimes follow each other into professional boxing.
With Jermell Charlo of the highly touted Charlo twins returning to action this weekend, I present this look at the top 10 boxing brothers of all time.
10. Mikey and Robert Garcia
When Mikey Garcia beat Orlando Salido for the WBO featherweight title in January 2013, he was carrying on the family tradition. His older brother and trainer Robert reigned as the IBF super featherweight champion in 1998 and 1999.
The older Garcia has since gone onto become a top trainer in the sport. His boxing academy in Oxnard, California, has attracted stars and prospects from around the world.
At age 26, younger brother Mikey is already a two-division world champion. He is an intelligent and dangerous puncher who looks like a future superstar.
9. Roger, Floyd and Jeff Mayweather
It's no mistake that Floyd Mayweather Jr. has developed into a pound-for-pound superstar. The boxing equivalent of a prodigy like Mozart, Floyd Jr. was raised around the sport in the shadow of one of boxing's greatest families.
His father Floyd Sr. was a crafty welterweight contender in the 1970s and 1980s. Uncle Jeff was a fringe contender at lightweight in the 1990s.
Middle brother Roger was the best of the trio, winning world titles in two divisions. All three brothers are respected for their boxing knowledge and have had success as world championship-level trainers.
8. Jerry, Mike and Bob Quarry
The famed Quarry brothers were known for their toughness and heart, qualities that made them popular with the fans. An undersized heavyweight in the golden era of the 1970s, Jerry was an intelligent and aggressive counterpuncher with a durable chin. He is considered one of the best to never win a title.
Younger brother Mike was a top contender at light heavyweight. Managed by their hard-nosed father James, the two brothers engaged in sparring sessions that were legendary for their intensity and likely contributed to both men later being diagnosed with severe dementia.
Youngest brother Bob was a sub-.500 journeyman in the late 1980s and early 1990s who was most notable for losing by stoppage to Tommy Morrison and Jimmy Ellis.
7. Tommy and Mike Gibbons
Neither of the Gibbons brothers ever won world championships, but they fought during an era when world titles meant something. Merely to be a contender in the early years of the 20th century was a tremendous accomplishment.
Fighting out of Minnesota, the brothers were skilled technicians. Mike was a main event fighter at welterweight and middleweight, engaging in some notable battles with the legendary Harry Greb.
Light heavyweight Tommy also battled with Greb, as well as Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey. He is the only fighter to ever last 15 rounds with Dempsey.
6. Gene, Don and Jay Fullmer
Gene Fullmer was a two-time middleweight champion during an era when the division was stacked with all-time greats. He captured the belt the first time by defeating pound-for-pound king Sugar Ray Robinson in 1957.
He dropped the belt to Robinson by knockout in a rematch. He won it a second time after Robinson had vacated it, stopping fellow Hall of Famer Carmen Basilio in 14 rounds.
Younger brother Don followed in Gene's footsteps and was a ranked contender at middleweight and light heavyweight during the 1960s, challenging twice for the world title at middleweight.
Middle brother Jay compiled a 20-5-2 record during a brief career at lightweight and welterweight.
5. Terry and Orlin Norris
Terry Norris was a three-time world champion at junior middleweight. He captured the WBC version of the title in stunning fashion in 1990 when he knocked out John "The Beast" Mugabi in the first round.
An extremely fast and athletic fighter, Norris beat the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard by one-sided decision in 1991. Other notable wins came against Meldrick Taylor and Donald Curry.
One of the top fighters of his era, Norris was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Older brother Orlin was an amateur standout, winning a National Golden Gloves championship. Despite being undersized, he was a contender at heavyweight, fighting some of the top stars of his era. He was a world champion at cruiserweight, holding the WBA belt.
4. Khaosai and Khaokor Galaxy
Despite competing at super flyweight and virtually never fighting outside of Asia, Khaosai Galaxy of Thailand managed to become an international sensation during the the 1980s thanks to his explosive knockout power.
Highlights of his work on shows like ABC's Wide World of Sports hooked boxing fans of the era on "The Thai Tyson." It's intriguing to speculate on how his reputation might have developed in today's YouTube era.
Originally a successful professional muay thai fighter, he transitioned to western boxing and thrived. He defended his WBA title 19 times, winning 16 of those bouts by knockout.
Although Khaosai was the biggest star in the family, twin brother Khaokor was a two-time world champion in the bantamweight division.
3. Michael and Leon Spinks
The Spinks brothers first achieved fame as members of the legendary U.S. Olympic boxing squad of 1976. Along with Sugar Ray Leonard, Howard Davis Jr. and Leo Randolph, both brothers came home from Montreal with gold medals.
Older brother Leon shot to stardom first, defeating Muhammad Ali in just his eighth professional fight to capture the heavyweight crown. Ali was in serious physical decline by this point but still won the rematch. Spinks' career would eventually be a disappointment, as he devolved into a 26-17-3 journeyman.
Still, to have won a 15-round fight against the great Ali, even at that point in the champ's career, gives a glimmer of what Spinks' true potential might have been.
Younger brother Michael was ultimately the greatest professional in the family. He easily ranks among the top 10 light heavyweight champions of all time. He eventually captured the heavyweight crown from Larry Holmes and retained it in a rematch.
I think Holmes actually deserved to win both those fights, but the fact that Spinks was able to adjust his style and fight so well as a heavyweight is a credit to his talent and intelligence as a fighter.
2. Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko
They might not be extremely popular with North American fans, and the era that they competed in has been one of diminished talent. But the Klitschko brothers still deserve credit for what they have accomplished in boxing.
Together, they ruled the heavyweight division for a decade. And younger brother Wladimir may very well have a few years of supremacy left ahead of him.
In my opinion, older brother Vitali was clearly the greater of the two. A nimble, 6'8" giant who enjoyed fighting, he lost just twice during his career—once when he injured his shoulder and once when he was stopped on cuts in a fight he was winning against fellow-great Lennox Lewis.
Klitschko had taken that fight on short notice, and Lewis later retired, leaving millions of dollars on the table, rather than fight a rematch.
Younger brother Wladimir has been famously stopped on three occasions. But all those losses happened more than a decade ago. Under the guidance of elite trainer Emanuel Steward, Klitschko developed a perfect style for his height, employing one of the best jabs in the history of the division to set up his thunderous right hand.
1. Juan Manuel and Rafael Marquez
Guided since their youth by Hall of Fame trainer Nacho Beristain, Juan Manuel and Rafael Marquez are the most talented pair of brothers to ever compete in the sport.
Older brother Juan Manuel has been the bigger star of the two. His four-fight rivalry with Manny Pacquiao has been the most important boxing series of this century. Marquez has won world titles in four divisions and is viewed by some as the greatest fighter to ever come out of Mexico.
At 40, he is fresh off an impressive win over Mike Alvarado and will likely face Pacquiao for a fifth time this year in a quest to become Mexico's first five-division champion.
Younger brother Rafael is a future Hall of Famer as well. He was a world champion at bantamweight and super bantamweight. His rivalry with Israel Vazquez produced three of the most exciting fights of this century.
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