Willie Pep and the 5 Greatest Defensive Fighters of All Time
If you talk about the art of defense with most boxing fans nowadays, without a doubt the name Floyd Mayweather will be brought up. There is no doubt that Money Mayweather is probably the best defensive fighter in recent years. As impressive as Mayweather's defense may be, he still falls quite short of the No. 1 spot on this list.
Given that Mayweather is an active fighter, many current boxing fans may think highly of him in terms of all time. But in this article we take a look back at the true and undeniable "best defensive fighters in the history of the sport."
Read on to find out who tops him on the list.
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5. Muhammad Ali
During his prime, the 6'3", 215 lbs heavyweight possessed the moving abilities and reflexes of a welterweight. He was hard to catch, he could move, he could dodge punches, he was fast and he was slick.
Later on in his career during his fights with Foreman and Frazier, those abilities were taken over by his iron chin, which became his most-used tool for defense. Still no one can forget his young days and the many times he made opponents look amateurish in the ring.
Who can forget his flashy days of "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee"? There is no doubt that when at its best, Ali's defense was a thing of beauty.
4. Floyd Mayweather
Mayweather is a masterful defensive fighter and a great counter puncher while at it. With his shoulder roll-based defense, he has almost never failed to make his opponents look bad.
Another reason Mayweather is a great defensive fighter is his ability to always adjust to any offense that is presented to him and in the process overturn it in his favor.
Mayweather has proved so far in his career that his defense can't be figured out. And the fact that he has fought against great offensive fighters makes his defense performances even more impressive.
3. Pernell Whitaker
The man known as "Sweet Pea" was a true wizard inside the ring. He had some of the best reflexes of any fighter and with it made opponents miss, miss and miss again.
In general, Whitaker was the total package when it came to defense. He could stand in front of any opponent and easily slip, duck or block continuous punches.
Overall, Whitaker will go down as a handbook in many gyms for many young fighters on how to be a great defensive fighter.
2. Nicolino Locche
If your nickname is "El Intocable," meaning "The Untouchable," then you better have a good defense. Locche's defense was more than that; it was superb. During his long career, the Argentinian stepped in the ring a total of 136 times and only lost four of them.
With his great defensive skills, inhuman reflexes and the ability to dodge and slip punches, he would stand in front of fighters or go into the corners with absolutely no fear. And why not...He usually made his opponents miss widely and sometimes even fall.
In the video provided you can see for yourself the work of Locche, which can only be described as an art form.
1. Willie Pep
Willie Pep, in my mind, is the greatest creative fighter that ever lived. In his prime days the man known as "Will o' the Wisp" possessed a defensive ability and an intelligence inside the ring that are unmatched to this day.
Throughout his entire career Pep faced strong and top opposition on a consistent basis, sometimes even fighting twice a week. While doing so, with his great defense he managed to accumulate a super-impressive record of 229 wins and only 11 losses.
How great was Pep's defense?
Just think about this, in a fight against Jackie Graves in 1946, he told ringside reporters, "Watch me, I'm going to win the third round without throwing a single punch." For the entire round he made Graves chase him desperately while he slipped, blocked and avoided every single punch that Graves took and missed widely. When the bell rang, he had won the round on all three judges' scorecards. Enough said.
Roy Jones, Jr.
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