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Manny Pacquiao and the 25 Best Non-Heavyweight Fighters Ever

Bob BajekAnalyst IIINovember 12, 2011

Manny Pacquiao and the 25 Best Non-Heavyweight Fighters Ever

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    Filipino great Manny Pacquiao just successfully defended his super welterweight title against rival Juan Manuel Marquez at Cowboys Stadium.

    Pacquiao was named "Fighter of the Decade" by the Boxing Writers Association of America and has won multiple titles across different weight classes.

    Pacquiao is certainly a great non-heavyweight boxer, but where does he rank among the all-time greats? 

    Read on to find out.

25: Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini

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    Ray Mancini inherited his nickname from his father, Lenny. The name acted as an extension for Ray's wild, intense fighting style.

    Mancini won the world lightweight titles from Alexis Arguello and Arturo Frias.

    However, Mancini's promising career was derailed when South Korean challenger Duk Koo Kim challenged him for his title. Kim suffered brain injuries during the fight and died five days later.

    Mancini was never the same after that fight. He did defend his title twice, but then lost it to Livingstone Bramble in 1984.

    He finished with a 29-5 record with 23 knockouts.

24: Jimmy McLarnin

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    Many boxers didn't let Jimmy McLarnin's boyish looks fool them.

    "The Babyfaced Assassin" could use both hands equally well in a fight and landed 21 knockouts during his career.

    McLarnin won the welterweight championship over Young Corbett III but lost it to legend Barney Ross. He would later beat Ross to reclaim his title, only to lose it again to his nemesis.

    "Murderous Mick" retired after defeating all-time greats Tony Canzoneri and Lou Ambers. He finished with a 54-11-3 record.

23: Eder Jofre

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    Brazilian boxer Eder Jofre was declared the best fighter of his era by American boxing writer Nat Fleischer.

    Fleischer might have been right, as Jofre dominated the ring from 1957-1976. He was bantamweight and featherweight champion and compiled a 72-2-4 record with 50 knockouts.

    Jofre was a hard-hitting boxer who utilized both offensive and defensive strategies.

    Boxing great Barney Ross also highly praised Jofre, saying he's "a marvel of boxing perfection” and, "there is nothing he cannot do.”


22: Roberto Duran

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    Roberto Duran was a great boxer from 1968-2001.

    The Panama native was called "Manos de Piedra" (hands of stone) by his opponents because of his punishing blows.

    He won world championships in the lightweight, welterweight and middleweight classes. He made 12 successful defenses of the lightweight championship.

    For a 13-year period, he was 71-1 with 56 knockouts.

    A defensive and tacit boxer, Duran finished his career at 104-16 with 70 knockouts.

21: Tony Conzoneri

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    Another top fighter, Tony Conzoneri was a triple crown champion boxer.

    The Italian American won world titles in the featherweight, lightweight and light welterweight divisions.

    Conzoneri was a punishing pugilist who defeated world champions Frankie Klick, Baby Arizmendi, Jimmy McLarnin, Lou Ambers and Kid Chocolate.

    He was 141-24-10 with 44 knockouts during his career

20: Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

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    Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has never lost a fight as a professional.

    Known as "Pretty Boy" and "Money," Mayweather is money in the ring, going 42-0.

    He has world titles in the super featherweight, lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight and super welterweight divisions.

    Mayweather is elusive in avoiding punches and has a damaging punch that has led to 26 knockouts.

    Currently, he is retired.

19: Daniel Mendoza

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    Boxing wouldn't be boxing today without the contributions of English pugilist Daniel Mendoza.

    Even though he was a heavyweight champion from 1792-1795, Mendoza won as a 160-pound middleweight due to his "scientific" approach.

    Boxing used to be trading punches back and forth. Mendoza developed side-stepping, movement, ducking and blocking to avoid punches. These defensive strategies are refined and used to this day.

    Mendoza opened his own boxing academy and wrote a book, The Art of Boxing, that every boxer should study.

18: Barney Ross

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    Jewish boxer Barney Ross was a tough-as-nails fighter who won world titles in three weight classes.

    Ross fought from 1929-1938 and compiled a 72-4-3 record with 22 knockouts. In his four losses, two were to Hall of Famers Henry Armstrong and Jimmy McLarnin.

    One impressive win Rose had was against lightweight and junior welterweight champion Tony Canzoneri. Ross won by decision in 10 rounds, becoming the first fighter to win two titles at the same time.

    He also defeated McLarnin for the welterweight title. Ross would then lose and regain his title from the Irish pugilist in one of boxing's top rivalries.

17: Mickey Walker

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    From 1919-1935, Mickey Walker was a terror in the welterweight division.

    Walker won the world tile in 1922 over Jack Britton. He then successfully defended his title four times before losing to Pete Latzo.

    He challenged middleweight champion Harry Greb in 1925 for his title but lost in a tough 15-round match. Walker later won the middleweight title in a controversial 10-round match against Tiger Flowers.

    Walker tried from 1929-1935 to win the light-heavyweight and heavyweight world titles but could not successfully make the transition.

    He ended his career 109-22-9 with 58 knockouts.

16: Hector "Macho" Camacho

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    Puerto Rican boxer Hector "Macho" Camacho is a legend in his home country.

    He won junior lightweight, lightweight and light welterweight titles, including beating former champion Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini.

    Camacho beat Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran but lost to Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad.

    "Macho" finished his career 79-5-3 with 38 knockouts.

15: Julio Cesar Chavez

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    Julio Cesar Chavez was once considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.

    Chavez held six world titles in three divisions while having an amazing 107-6-2 record. 

    The Mexican boxer was known his outstanding punching power, body shots, strong chin and constant stalking of opponents.

    He began his career 87-0 and didn't lose until Frankie Randall defeated him by decision for the light welterweight title in 1994.

    Chavez is now retired and his son, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., is the world middleweight champion right now.

14: Oscar De La Hoya

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    Oscar De La Hoya is one of the greatest boxers of all time.

    The Mexican American pugilist beat 17 world champions and won six titles in six different weight classes.

    "The Golden Boy" won a gold medal in the 1992 Olympics, while beating boxing great Julio Cesar Chavez twice.

    Top fighters Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Manny Pacquiao and Felix Trinidad all defeated De La Hoya.

    He finished his career as the richest fighter in history while posting a 39-6 record with 30 knockouts.

13: Manny Pacquiao

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    Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao sure earned "The Fighter of the Decade" title from the Boxers Writers Association of America for the 2000s.

    Pacquiao is 53-3-2 in his career with world titles in eight weight classes. He is the only boxer in history to achieve this feat and gained this distinction by beating Antonio Margarito Dec. 13, 2010 for the super welterweight title.

    A natural lefty, Pacquiao has been working on developing power in his right punch for a better attack. Further developing these punches will make the naturally aggressive Filipino pugilist even more dangerous in the ring.

    Tonight, he faces old nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez to defend his super welterweight title. Both boxers fought to a draw the first time and Pacquiao won the second match by one vote.

    If Pacquiao wins, he will only continue to grow his legend.

12: Benny Leonard

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    Benny Leonard, also known as "The Ghetto Wizard," was a spectacular lightweight boxer.

    From 1917-1925, Leonard dominated the lightweight class like no other. He was elusive, quick and used strategy to win fights.

    Legendary lightweights like Freddie Welsh, Willie Ritchie, Lew Tendler and others could not beat Leonard.

    He finished with an impressive 183-19-11 record with 70 knockouts.


11: Sam Langford

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    Sam Langford began his boxing career in 1902 as an unknown.

    24 years later, he was a household name.

    The Canadian pugilist could have been the most devastating puncher ever. He had 129 knockouts while compiling a 178-32-40 record.

    Langford competed in the middleweight division and never won a championship. However, he would often beat bigger and stronger opponents with his great bodily endurance and punishing blows.

    He knocked out top heavyweight boxers like Joe Jeannette, Sam McVey and Harry Wills while soundly defeating future middleweight champion Tiger Flowers while virtually blind.

10: Jimmy Wilde

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    Welsh boxer Jimmy Wilde is probably the greatest flyweight fighter in history.

    Standing a diminutive 5'2", Wilde was nicknamed "The Mighty Atom" for his forceful punches.

    When he was a teenager, Wilde fought much larger locals and crowds were surprised he could knock them down.

    Wilde began his career with 103 straight wins. He didn't lose until being knocked out in the 17th round by Tancy Lee for the vacant British flyweight title and Europe championship in 1915.

    Wilde won the British flyweight title after recording 16 consecutive knockouts and then the world title after beating American boxer Young Zulu Kid.

    He had a 137-4-2 record with 100 knockouts.

9: Joe Gans

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    Joe Gans was perhaps the greatest lightweight fighter ever to grace the ring.

    Called "The Old Master," Gans mastered all the fundamentals of the sport. He never wasted energy and could throw cruel blows with top speed.

    Top opponents like Young Griffo, Dal Hawkins, Bobby Dobbs, Kid McPartland and others could not beat Gans.

    He should have won a draw against welterweight champion Barbados Joe Walcott and successfully defended his title 14 times. He finished his career with a 138-10-15 mark with 96 knockouts. 

    Many boxing writers and historians compare Gans to Sugar Ray Robinson as the greatest pound-for-pound boxer ever.

8: Tommy Hearns

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    Tommy "Hitman" Hearns was the first boxer to win world titles in four, and then five, different weight divisions.

    Hearns was an outstanding amateur boxer, going 155-8 and winning two national championships at the light welterweight division.

    He then transitioned flawlessly to the pros.

    "Hitman" defeated future Hall of Famers Pipino Cuevas, Wilfred Benítez, Virgil Hill and Roberto Durán.

    Some key losses in his career were to world class fighters Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard.

    Hearns finished his professional career 61-5-4 with 48 knockouts.

7: Felix Trinidad

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    Felix Trinidad has had a stellar boxing career.

    The Puerto Rican won five national championships as an amateur and starting fighting professionally at 17. 

    He has won the welterweight, light middleweight and middleweight world titles while posting a 42-3 record. 

    Trinidad beat top competitors Oscar De La Hoya and Hector Camacho.

    Trinidad is an aggressive fighter who has 35 knockouts.

6: Marvin Hagler

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    Marvin Hagler was the undisputed world middleweight champion from 1980-1987.

    He was one of boxing's most powerful punchers, getting 52 knockouts in 67 fights. That is the highest percentage in the middleweight division.

    After losing two matches early in his career, Hagler only lost one more time.

    He beat Alan Minter for the world middleweight championship and defeated boxing greats Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns in defense of his title.

    Only Sugar Ray Leonard could pry the title away from Hagler, and that was in an extremely close bout that is still discussed today.

    He finished with a 62-3-2 record.

5: Sugar Ray Leonard

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    Sugar Ray Leonard won an Olympic gold medal and world championships in five different weight classes.

    From 1977-1997, Leonard was the man in the ring. He held world championships in the welterweight, junior middleweight, middleweight, super-middleweight and light-heavyweight classes.

    Leonard had a monster left jab and used his speed to his advantage.

    His best wins were against four current or future Hall of Famers in Wilfred Benitez, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler. 

    He finished his career with a 36-3-1 record and 25 knockouts.


4: Harry Greb

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    Harry Greb was called the "Human Windmill."

    He had quick hands and used them to pressure opponents with fast bursts and unrelenting attacks.

    One thing that set Greb apart from other boxers was how he defeated seven world light-heavyweight champions like Tommy Loughran and Maxie Rosenbloom as a middleweight.

    Greb beat Mickey Walker for the welterweight championship in 1923 and successfully defended it for three years.

    From 1913-1926, he was 261-19-18 with 48 knockouts.

3: Willie Pep

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    Arguably the greatest featherweight boxer of all time, Willie Pep had an amazing 229 career victories from 1940-1966.

    Pep, also known as “Will-o-the-wisp," had a peak record of 135-1-1.

    Utilizing good defensive technique, Pep could outlast many in the ring. He defeated tough competition in Willie roach, Spider Armstrong, Manuel Ortiz, Sandy Saddler and others.

    Pep developed a legendary rivalry with Saddler, losing the featherweight title to Saddler twice. He did beat Saddler in 1949.

    His final career mark was 229-11-1 with 65 knockouts.

     

2: Henry Armstrong

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    Henry Armstrong was known as "Hurricane Hank" for a reason.

    When he fought boxing great Barney Ross in 1938, Armstrong aggressively punched Ross in prolonged intervals. A commentator than said, "How do you stop a hurricane?"

    Armstrong was a triple crown champion who held the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight championships simultaneously. 

    His strategy of constantly pressuring opponents worked, as he successfully defended his welterweight title 19 times.

    He beat star fighters in Ross, Sammy Angott, Lou Ambers and others. "Hurricane Hank" finished a legendary career going 149-21-10 with 101 knockouts.


1: Sugar Ray Robinson

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    Sugar Ray Robinson dominated both the amateur and professional ranks with his speed, punching power and grace from 1940-1965.

    He was 85-0 as an amateur with 40 first round knockouts and won New York Golden Gloves titles.

    At one point as a professional, he was 128-1-2 with 84 knockouts. Robinson fought 18 world champions and defeated 10 Hall of Famers.

    He also was the welterweight and middleweight champion.

    Robinson retired with a 173-19-6 record with 108 knockouts.

    He is often disputed with boxing legend Gans as the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all time.

    Bob Bajek is a writing intern at Bleacher Report. He is also a freelance reporter and can be followed at Patch.com and Twitter.


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