The Light Heavyweight Division is a rare lot indeed. In the annals, you will find Heavyweights (such as Ezzard Charles)who began as a LHW. Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) won his Gold Medal in the 1960 Olympics as a LHW.
You will also find blown-up Middleweights. Until the implementation of the Cruiserweight Division in 1979, this was the last stop before the big boys. If you were over 175 pounds, you could be fighting men 50 or 60 pounds heavier.
There have been some great ones. Let's take a look at my Top 10 Light Heavyweights in boxing history.
Maxie Rosenbloom (1907 - 1976)
Rosenbloom won the LHW championpionship in 1930 when he beat Jimmy Slattery for the title vacated by Tommy Loughran.
He lacked power and most of his fights went the distance.
Rosenbloom fought nearly 300 times in a career that spanned almost 16 years.
He has wins against John Henry Lewis, Jim Braddock, Jimmy Slattery, Mickey Walker, Harry Ebbetts, Kid Lewis, and Tiger Flowers.
His career record is 222-42-31-3nc with only 19 KOs.
Joey Maxim 1922 – 2001)
Born Giuseppe Antonio Berardinelli, he took the name from Maxim Gun, the first machine gun.
In 1950 in his 88th fight, Maxim won the Light Heavyweight Title with a 10 round KO of English champion Freddie Mills.
He won seven consecutive times (all non-title), and then fought Ezzard Charles for the Heavyweight Title. He was decisioned.
After losing a rematch to Charles, he beat Ted Lowry before knocking out Sugar Ray Robinson in a LHW title fight.
He also has wins over Floyd Patterson, Jersey Joe Walcott. He was beaten by Archie Moore three times.
Other notable opponents include: Bobo Olson, Willie Pastrano, and Eddie Machen. His career record is 82-29-4 with 21 KOs.
Young Stribling 1904 - 1933)
You won't find Young Stribling's name on most people's Top 10 Light Heavyweight list.
By the time he was 23, Strib had fought more rounds and had more knockouts than any fighter in history. He is arguably one of the two best fighters at any weight in history to never become a champion.
In 1923, he fought Mike McTigue for the World Light Heavyweight Championship. He was awarded a decision win and announced as the new world champion.
A few moments later, the referee came back inside the ring and reversed the decision, declaring it a draw.
In 1926, he fought Paul Berlenbach for the title and lost an unanimous decision. In 1929, he lost a heavyweight title elimination bout to future champion Jack Sharkey.
He has wins over Tommy Loughran, Maxie Rosenbloom, Battling Levinski, Jimmy Slattery, and Jimmy Delaney.
He was only stopped once in his career, by Max Schmelling in the final round of their bout.
Strib was killed at the age of 28 in an auto accident in the prime of his life. His career record is 259-11-18-2nc with 126 KOs.
Harry Greb (1894 - 1926)
"The Pittsburgh Windmill" is the only man to defeat the great Gene Tunney. He was a very energetic fighter and would overwhelm his opponents.
He won the American Light Heavyweight Title with the Tunney win. They would fight four more times with Tunney winning decisions in three of them and one was declared a draw.
Other noteworthy opponents include: Tommy Loughran 6),Tiger Flowers(3),Tommy Gibbons, George Chip, Battling Levinsky, and Mickey Walker.
He also won the Middleweight championship. Greb's ring record is 103-8-3 with 48 KOs.
Spinks began his professional career in 1977.
In compiling a 16-0 record with wins over prominent
boxers such as Murray Sutherland, Yaqui Lopez, and former champion Marvin Johnson, he fought Eddie Mustafa Muhammad (aka Eddie Gregory) for the WBA LHW Championship. Spinks won an unanimous decision.
In 1983, he added the WBC belt by winning an unanimous decision over Dwight Muhammad Qawi (aka Dwight Braxton).
In '84 he became the undisputed LHW Champion by decisioning Eddie Davis.
In 1985, he moved up in weight and wrested the IBF Heavyweight title from undefeated Larry Holmes in Ring Magazine's Upset of the Year.
In a controversial rematch a year later, he won by
a split decision. Spinks retired in 1988 after attempting to unify the heavyweight belts against Mike Tyson. Tyson knocked Spinks out in 91 seconds.
Other notable wins came against Vonzell Johnson, Johnny Davis, and heavyweight Gerry Cooney.
His career record is 31-1 with 21 KOs.
Tommy Loughran (1902 - 1982)
Loughran was not a vicious puncher, but was a very technical fighter.
"The Philly Phenom" won the LHW title in 1927 with a decision win over Jimmy Slattery.
After defeating Pete Latzo, Mickey Walker, and Jim Braddock in title defenses, he was knocked out in three rounds by Jack Sharkey in a failed attempt at the World Heavyweight Championship in 1929.
In 1934 while giving up 74 pounds to champion Primo Carnera, he lost a decision in another HW title bid.
He is well-known for his epic fights with Harry Greb. He beat Greb once,lost four, and fought once to a draw.
He has notable wins over Mike McTigue, Georges Carpentier, Jimmy Delaney, Young Stribling, Jimmy Slattery, Max Baer, Jack Sharkey.
Loughran also fought the great Gene Tunney to a draw. He ended his career with a record of 117-29-13-14nc with only 17 KOs.
Foster won the WBA and WBC Light Heavyweight titles in 1968 with a four-round demolition of champion Dick Tiger.
He held the titles until 1970 when he challenged champion Joe Frazier for the Heavyweight crown.
The WBA stripped him for not fighting a contender for his crown when he fought Frazier. Frazier, outweighing his opponent by 21 pounds, knocked Foster out in the second round.
He won back the WBA title in 1972 with a two-round stoppage of Vicente Rondon. He successfully defended the titles two months later with a fourth-round knockout of undefeated Mike Quarry.
In Ring Magazine's 1972 Fight of the Year, he stopped Chris Finnegan in the 14th round.
In 1974 after fighting Jorge Ahumada to a draw, Foster retired from the ring for a short time. He came back the following year and fought seven more times, losing the last two by knockout.
Some of his notable opponents were Doug Jones, Ernie Terrell, Henry Hank, Zora Folley, Eddie Cotton, Muhammad Ali, and Pierre Fourie.
Foster's career record is 56-8-1 with 46 KOs.
Roy Jones Jr
Jones was one of the most talented fighters in the history of the sport. He won a Silver Medal in
the 1988 Olympics. The decision was controversial as Jones outpunched his foe 86-32.
Jones began his pro career in 1989 with four knockout wins against hand-picked opponents. With a record of 21-0, Jones fought Bernard Hopkins for the vacant IBF Middleweight title.
He won 12 more fights over the likes of James Toney, Thomas Tate, Vinny Pazienza, Tony Thornton, Merqui Sosa, and Mike McCallum (he won the WBC LHW title by beating McCallum) before fighting Montell Griffin.
Jones was in a competitive fight when he hit Griffin while he was still on the canvas, resulting in a loss by disqualification.
He knocked him out in the first round of their rematch five months later. In 1999, he completely outclassed Reggie Johnson in a unification bout.
In 2003, he relinquished his LHW belts to fight John Ruiz for the WBA Heavyweight title. Jones gave up 37
pounds yet won an unanimous decision.
His first loss (excluding the DQ) came at the hands of Antonio Tarver in 2004, in a crushing two round knockout.
Four months later, he was knocked out by Glen Johnson in the ninth round of an IBF LHW title fight.
Jones was thrashed by undefeated Joe Calzaghe in a 12-round decision in 2008 and was knocked out in the first round by Danny Green in 2009.
Some of his more notable wins have been against Glenn Thomas, Virgil Hill, Eric Harding, Julio Cesar Gonzalez, Glen Kelly, Clinton Woods, Felix Trinidad, and Jeff Lacy.
His record thus far is 54-6 with 40 KOs.
Archie Moore(1913 - 1998)
The Old Mongoose began his pro career in 1935, but didn't get his first world title shot until 1953 after fighting 161 times.
He won the LHW title by beating champion Joey Maxim in a 15-round unanimous decision.
In 1955, he fought the great Rocky Marciano for the World Heavyweight Title and was knocked out in the ninth round.
In 1956, he dropped back down to LHW and knocked out Yolande Pompei in the 10th round to win back the LHW
Also in 1956, he climbed the ladder again only to be knocked out by Floyd Patterson in the fifth round for the vacant HW title.
In 1957, he dropped down again to fight Tony Anthony for the World Light Heavyweight crown. He knocked Anthony out in the seventh round to regain his LHW title.
He fought Willie Pastrano to a draw as a heavyweight and was knocked out by Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali) in 1962.
Some of his more prominent wins came against Jimmy Bivins, Cocoa Kid, Holman Williams, Alabama Kid, Harold Johnson, and Bobo Olson.
His career record is 185-23-11-1nc with 131 knockouts.
"The Fighting Marine" is remembered most by this wins over Jack Dempsey as a heavyweight.
I struggled with which weight class to list him but after researching, I decided that the bulk of his body of work came as a LHW.
His only loss as a professional was to Harry Greb. With a record of 45-0-1 he faced Battling Levinsky for the LHW title in 1922.
Tunney won the fight by a unanimous decision. Tunney lost his first defense when he fought Harry Greb and was at the shortend of a decision.
He reclaimed the title from Greb in 1923 with a decision win.
In 1926, he beat Jack Dempsey for the World Heavyweight title with a 10-round decision. He beat Dempsey in the rematch or better known as the "long count fight" one year later by a decision.
In his next defense of the title, he knocked out Tom Heeney in the 11th round and retired from the ring shortly thereafter. Some more of his notable wins came against Leo Houck, Tommy Loughran, Jimmy Delaney, Georges Carpentier, and Tommy Gibbons.
His career record is 80-1-4-1nc with 48 knockouts.
HONORABLE MENTION LIST
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
Billy Conn, Jimmy Bivins, Jimmy Delaney, Bernard Hopkins, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Yaqui Lopez, Victor Galindez, Tiger Flowers, Virgil Hill, Jimmy Slattery, John Henry Lewis, Willie Pastrano, Battling Levinski, Dwight "Braxton" Qawi, Marvin Johnson, Dariusz Michalczewski, Georges Carpentier, Jim Braddock and Harold Johnson.