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Top 10 Boxers of the 1940s

The best of the 1940s!
Publish Date: 02/21/2023
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

The 1940s was a great year for boxing as we saw legends like Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis and Willie Pep all in their prime at least for part of the decade. Today we will look at the top 10 fighters of the entire decade.

10) Rinty Monaghan

During Monaghan’s career, he won the NBA Flyweight Championship of the World, the EBU Flyweight Championship of Europe, the Flyweight Championship of the British Empire (Commonwealth) and the BBBC Flyweight Championship Great Britain. Rinty defeated Dado Marino, Jackie Paterson, Terry Allen, Maurice Sandeyron and Ed “Bunty” Doran. Rinty was a great boxer, he lacked power, but he was a brilliant boxer. One of the most loved boxers in the history of Belfast!

Video: new rinty monaghan interviews

new rinty monaghan interviews

9) Archie Moore

Moore debuted in the world rankings as a middleweight in the early 1940s. By 1945, Moore moved up to light heavyweight, and although he was continually passed over for a title shot, he remained a fixture in the 175-pound rankings. His championship years were in the 1950s, but that was simply because the champions of the 1940s wanted nothing to do with Moore. Moore secured victories over Lloyd Marshall, Holman Williams, Jimmy Bivins, Oakland Billy Smith, Bob Satterfield, Leonard Morrow, and Harold Johnson.

Video: Earliest Footage of Archie Moore vs Ron Richards (rematch) - July 11, 1940 in Color

Earliest Footage of Archie Moore vs Ron Richards (rematch) – July 11, 1940 in Color

8) Bob Montgomery

One of the all-time greats is best remembered for his classic series against Beau Jack (4 fights) and Ike Williams (2 battles) during two runs as lightweight champion. Montgomery fought at one of the best times to be a Lightweight; Montgomery, Jack, and Williams make a murderers row of Lightweight champions, and the fights they had with each other are a thing of legend.

Video: Bob Montgomery

Bob Montgomery

7) Beau Jack

Jack burst onto the scene in 1942, winning all 13 bouts and three against top-10 contenders.  That year Jack stopped Tippy Larkin via third-round kayo in December to capture the New York state version of the lightweight title. He opened the 1943 campaign with wins over former champions Fritzie Zivic and Henry Armstrong. In May, he lost the title, dropping a 15-round decision to Bob Montgomery in the first of what would be a thrilling four-fight series. In November, Jack regained the title from Montgomery, then handed it back in March 1944. They met for the fourth and last time at Madison Square Garden in a bout that made history five months later. Jack took a 10-round decision in the non-title fight, but the sellout crowd produced a still record gate of $35,000,000 — with the proceeds going towards War Bonds.

Video: Beau Jack Documentary - From Shoe Shine Boy to World Champion

Beau Jack Documentary – From Shoe Shine Boy to World Champion

6) Manuel Ortiz

He engaged in 23 contests for the world bantamweight title, only coming up short twice and failing to beat just one of those opponents. Ortiz was a dominant champion for eight years and was tough as nails; he was never stopped in his entire career. Ortiz was well-balanced technically, a nasty looking inside game and stamina that lasted days. Ortiz had some of the issues as Joe Louis, where the competition was not great, but he was, so he dominated his competition. My guess is Ortiz could have competed in any decade at the Bantamweight division.

Video: Manuel Ortiz - Legendary Champion

Manuel Ortiz – Legendary Champion

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5) Ike Williams

Williams turned pro in 1940 and established himself as a force in Boxing when he twice beat Sammy Angott in 1944. One year later, he earned recognition as NBA lightweight champion with a second-round knockout of Juan Zurita. Williams was on a roll and unified the lightweight crown in 1947 by knocking out fellow Hall of Famer Bob Montgomery. Williams was one of the greatest lightweights in boxing history, and he owned wins over Sammy Angott, Kid Gavilan, Bob Montgomery, Johnny Bratton, Tippy Larkin, and Beau Jack.

Video: Ike Williams - Lightweight Legend

Ike Williams – Lightweight Legend

4) Joe Louis

Louis fought eighteen times in the decade and won every one of those fights; Louis defeated the great light heavyweight champion, Billy Conn, twice. Before retiring, he also beat Arturo Godoy(twice), Buddy Baer, and Jersey Joe Walcott.  Louis’s competition was not remarkable, but he could only face who was there and avoided no one. The men listed above Louis were more active and faced much tougher competition.

Video: The Impossible Greatness of Joe Louis - Boxing’s Most Dominant Champion (The Real Captain America)

The Impossible Greatness of Joe Louis – Boxing’s Most Dominant Champion (The Real Captain America)

3) Ezzard Charles

Charles was the greatest fighter to emerge from Cincinnati, saying a lot as Cincinnati was a hotbed of Boxing at one time. For my money, Charles is the greatest Light Heavyweight in history and a top 20 heavyweight in boxing history. Notable wins, including multiple wins over Archie Moore and Charley Burley! His legend doesn’t stop there, though, as he beat Jimmy Bivins, Lloyd Marshall, Elmer ray, and Joey Maxim.NNearthe decad, he moved up and beat Je, he moved upset Joe Walcott to claim the Heavyweight crown.

Video: Ezzard Charles - Counter-Punching Excellence

Ezzard Charles – Counter-Punching Excellence

2) Willie Pep

Pep then went on a 73-bout undefeated streak over the next five years. He won his first 63 fights before losing a 10-round decision to a former lightweight champion, American Sammy Angott. Before his loss to Angott, Pep had won the world featherweight championship by beating American Albert (“Chalky”) Wright in a 15-round decision on November 20, 1942. On October 29, 1948, Pep was knocked out for the first time, falling to Saddler in the fourth round of their match. Pep regained the title with a 15-round decision over Saddler on February 11, 1949. Saddler vs Pep was one of the most intense rivalries in boxing history.

Video: Willie Pep Highlight Tape

Willie Pep Highlight Tape

1) Sugar Ray Robinson

Most people consider Robinson the greatest boxer ever, so it would make sense that he would be the best of this decade. Robinson won 40 consecutive professional fights before losing to Jake LaMotta in their six battles. On December 20, 1946, he won the welterweight championship by defeating Tommy Bell on a 15-round decision. Robinson lost just one fight during the entire decade to Jake LaMotta who he beat four times during the decade. His most impressive victories were Kid Gavilan, Sammy Angott, Jake LaMotta, Tommy Bell, Henry Armstrong, Jackie Wilson, Fritzie Zivic, and Marty Servo.

Video: Sugar Ray Robinson - The P4P Greatest

Sugar Ray Robinson – The P4P Greatest

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