Sugar Ray and the Greatest
Some of of you will like my list and agree with its entrants. Some of you may ask yourself, "What on God's green Earth is this guy smoking?"
Nonetheless, I offer you my top five boxers of all time and welcome your comments.
5. Sugar Ray Leonard* (36-3-1, 25 KO's)
In the post entitled "Who is the Best Boxer of My Generation?," I proclaim the "second Sugar" to be just that. You can find my explanation there.
4. Joe Louis (66-3, 52 KO's)
Until the No. 3 selection on my list entered the heavyweight fray, "the Brown Bomber" was universally recognized as the greatest heavyweight ever.
He defended the heavyweight title a whopping 25 straight times (still unmatched), arguably threw the hardest, straightest punches in heavyweight history and transcended the sport like no other champion before him.
He was the most popular African-American athlete ever until No. 3 on my list stormed the boxing scene.
3. Muhammad Ali (56-5, 37 KO's)
Who is the greatest boxer ever?
The self-proclaimed Greatest of all time was just that, in the heavyweight division at least. No fighter in the history of the sport combined the natural athletic ability, intestinal fortitude, ring generalship and media smarts quite like Ali.
He performed in the golden age of heavyweights and defeated the best that it had to offer. No other champion challenged and defeated the level of obstacles (George Foreman, Joe Frazier and Sonny Liston) within the ring or outside it (racism and the Vietnam War).
2. Henry Armstrong (150-21-10, 101 KO's)
To call ring royalty like "Homicide Hank" underrated seems laughable on the surface. But in my books he is because outside of true students of the boxing game, he's largely unknown to many casual sports fans.
In an era in which top fighters often fought monthly or more, Armstrong's fight schedule mirrored his hyper-kinetic activity in the ring. For my money, he is the personification of the pound-for-pound moniker often used to describe boxing's best fighter regardless of weight class.
And here's why. He simultaneously held world titles in three divisions: featherweight, lightweight and welterweight. That, is the epitome of "pound-for-pound."
We'll never see it again.
1. Sugar Ray Robinson (173-19-6, 108 KO's)
What do you get when you combine the fancy footwork of Fred Astaire, the striking speed of Bruce Lee and punching power that matches a kick from a mule?
It sounds like I am describing a superhero, right? You're thinking The Amazing Spiderman or some other Marvel comic mutant?
No, Walker Smith, Jr., popularly known as Ray Robinson, was not one of the X-Men, but his in-ring talents were indeed quite freakish.
He's best known as one of the greatest middleweights of all time, but the peak of his "fistic" powers was at 147 pounds.
Simply put, "Sugar" was the greatest man to ever don boxing gloves, and no one has come close since his sweet reign decades ago.
*It really pains me to leave defensive savant Willie Pep outside of my top five. I mulled it over, again and again.
However, his three losses to Sandy Saddler are the reason why I did not include him. I do realize that Pep was not at his peak powers when he battled Saddler due to the unfortunate plane accident that he survived during his fighting prime.
But being bested by another ring rival that many times close enough to his prime caused me to insert Leonard over Pep.