Boston's Best Boxers: Marciano, Hagler, Sullivan, Pender, Ruiz

Colin LinneweberSenior Writer IOctober 12, 2010

Marciano is the best fighter to hail from Boston.
Marciano is the best fighter to hail from Boston.Getty Images/Getty Images

“The Town,” a crime film set in Boston, has received rave reviews since it opened in theaters last month.

Prior to the start of the motion picture, “The Fighter” was previewed.

“The Fighter” is an upcoming movie starring Mark Wahlberg that centers on the life and professional boxing career of “Irish” Micky Ward from Lowell.

Boston is a fight town and few cities have produced as many legendary boxers as Beantown has.

Below are the five greatest pugilists to hail from “The Hub of the Universe.”


1) “The Brockton Blockbuster” Rocky Marciano

Marciano (49-0, 43 KOs) was born and raised in Brockton, Mass.

 Marciano, one of the rare titlists to retire undefeated, is an absolute sports icon who was rightfully inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

“The Brockton Blockbuster,” rated 14th by Ring Magazine on its list of the 100 greatest punchers of all-time, landed arguably the most famous knockout blow ever when he crushed Jersey Joe Walcott (51-18-2, 32 KOs) with a devastating right hand in the 13th round of their epic 1952 championship bout.

Sadly, Marciano died prematurely in a tragic plane crash at the young age of 45 in 1969.

Nevertheless, in his brief life, Marciano left an indelible impression on boxing and he is an immortal athletic figure who will forever be remembered for his ring greatness.


2) Marvelous Marvin Hagler

Hagler (62-3-2, 52 KOs) also came from Brockton.

Hagler, inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993, was the undisputed world middleweight champion from 1980 to 1987.

Hagler, named the 17th greatest fighter of the past 80 years by Ring Magazine, went without being defeated in an astounding 37 consecutive bouts after he lost a unanimous decision to Willie Monroe (40-10-1, 26 KOs) in March 1976.

During his 15-year career, Hagler managed to trump legends Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns (61-5-1, 48 KOs), Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Duran (103-16, 70KOs) and John “The Beast” Mugabi (42-7-1, 39 KOs).

Hagler bitterly retired after he lost an extremely controversial split decision to “Sugar” Ray Leonard (36-3-1, 25 KOs) in April 1987.


3) “The Boston Strong Boy” John L. Sullivan

Sullivan (35-1-2, 30 KOs), inducted into the International Hall of Fame in 1990, was born in Roxbury.

“The Boston Strong Boy,” recognized as the last heavyweight titlist of bare-knuckle boxing under the London Prize rules, is also considered the first gloved boxing champ.

Sullivan, the original millionaire American athlete, lost his closing match to James J. Corbett (16-4-3-2, 4 KOs) by knockout in the 21st round.


4) Paul Pender

Pender (40-6-2, 20 KOs) hailed from the ritzy Boston suburb of Brookline (also the town of John F. Kennedy’s birth).

Pender was a solid fighter whose brittle hands unfortunately prevented him from ever becoming the dominant pugilist he was capable of becoming.

Nonetheless, Pender beat the brilliant “Sugar” Ray Robinson (173-19-6, 108 KOs) on two separate occasions.

Pender emerged victorious over Robinson, both times by split decision at the Boston Garden in January and June 1960.

If a fighter could beat the spectacular Robinson once, let alone twice, he is great.


5) John “The Quiet Man” Ruiz

Ruiz (44-9-1-1, 30 KOs) was born in Methuen and he is widely regarded as the first Latino heavyweight king in the annals of pugilism.

Ruiz, a Puerto Rican who twice captured the WBA crown, was an unpopular fighter due to his boring clinch-and-grab defensive tactics.

Still, Ruiz beat three world champions, Evander Holyfield (43-10-2, 28 KOs), Hasim Rahman (47-7-2-1, 38 KOs) and Tony Tucker (59-7, 48 KOs), and that demands respect and admiration.