The 1990s was a decade that doesn’t seem appreciated until you look back years later at the decade. Roy Jones, Lennox Lewis, Delahoya etc.. great fighters all over and for the most part they fought each other.
Sure Lopez meets the eye test, but I almost didn’t include him on this list because his level of competition was, for lack of a better term, shit! Lopez never fought the other two best light flyweights of his era, Michael Carbajal and Humberto Gonzalez. That, to me, is inexcusable for a fighter that wants to go down as an all-time great! He could have fought better competition but chose not to.
Hopkins’s only loss in the decade was to Roy Jones Jr. The only issue for Hopkins was the level of competition he beat. He won his first title belt by beating Segundo Mercado for a vacant belt. His title defenses were against Joe Lipsey, Antwun Echols, Steve Frank, Bo James, Andrew Council and Robert Allen. Not a murderers row of fighters. Hopkins was better in the 2000s.
Mosley never lost during the decade but didn’t fight higher competition until 1997, when he defeated Phillip Holiday to win the Lightweight Championship. He defended that title by beating John Brown, Golden Johnson, Jesse James Leija, and John John Molina, to name a few.
Trinidad’s level of competition during the decade was not great. Tito won a portion of the Welterweight Championship in 1993, beating the always-tough Maurice Blocker. His most notable defenses were against Hector Camacho, Oba Carr, and Pernell Whitaker. Whitaker and Camacho had seen their better days. Trinidad would beat Oscar De La Hoya is one of the worst decisions of the decade.
In May 1991, Toney exploded onto the scene by knocking out IBF champion Michael Nunn while trailing on the cards. In 1993, he moved up to super-middleweight and stopped Iran Barkley in nine for the IBF title. Toney lost his title to Roy Jones Jr. in November 1994, then lost his next fight to Montell Griffin, at light heavyweight, in February 1995. Toney is a fighter that could have been much greater than he turned out to be, and it was his fault.
Holyfield began the 90s by beating Buster Douglas to win the Heavyweight title. He defended against Bert Cooper, Larry Holmes, and George Foreman before losing to Riddick Bowe; he would win the rematch but lose the third fight of a fantastic trilogy. He stopped Mike Tyson twice and beat Michael Moorer before losing his title to Lennox Lewis.
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The only knock against Jones is that he didn’t always fight the best competition. He could have fought Dariusz Michalczewski, Chris Eubank, or Nigel Benn. Not that I think any of them could have beaten him, but the fact remains that Roy did not always take on the most significant challenges. Suppose you want to go by the eye test though; Jones passes that with flying colors! Jones beat Bernard Hopkins and James Toney, and his only loss was by DQ to Montell Griffin, and he avenged that in a rematch.
Lewis only lost once in the 90s to Oliver McCall, who he would later beat in a rematch. Lewis was dominant in an excellent decade for heavyweight boxing. He beat Evander Holyfield twice even though the first fight was somehow scored a draw. Donovan “Razor” Ruddock, Ray Mercer, Tommy Morrison, and Shannon Briggs were among the fighters he beat during the decade.
Throughout the first half of the decade, Sweet Pea was the best. He started 1990 by unifying the Lightweight Title, beating Juan Nazario and Azumah Nelson. Whitaker won the Welterweight title by beating Buddy McGirt; he would completely outclass Julio Cesar Chavez in a fight that was somehow scored a draw. He would reign as Welterweight champion for four years before losing it to Oscar De La Hoya by a close controversial decision.
Oscar never lost in the entire decade and fought the highest quality competition. He won at least eight rounds against Felix Trinidad in a fight that was somehow scored in favor of Trinidad. Oscar would win the Super Featherweight title in just his twelfth professional fight with Jimmy Bredahl. He would add the lightweight title just two fights later as he would KO the tough Jorge Paez. He would defend the title against Rafael Ruelas, John John Molina, Genaro Hernandez, and Jesse James Leija. He stopped Julio Cesar Chavez to win the Super Lightweight title and defended that title by beating Miguel Angel Gonzalez; after the Gonzalez fight, De La Hoya would move up and defeat Pernell Whitaker for the Welterweight Championship in a close fight. He defended the Welterweight title by beating Wilfredo Rivera, Chavez(again), Hector Camacho, Oba Carr, and Ike Quartey before getting robbed of the title against Trinidad. Before you bitch that he is number one, compare his resume to Roy Jones and Lewis and anybody else on this list. Oscar has the best resume.
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