10) Jake LaMotta
LaMotta proved his abilities in the ring by beating Marcel Cerdan and Lamont Dauthuille and of course, he was the first man to beat Sugar Ray Robinson.
9) Tiger Flowers
Flowers won the title from the great Harry Greb and beat him 2 out of 3! It was an older Greb, but those are legendary wins. Flowers also dropped a controversial decision to Mickey Walker and beat a slew of middleweight contenders.
8) Stanley Ketchel
Ketchel may be best known for knocking down Jack Johnson in a battle for the heavyweight title but his prime was at middleweight. In 1908 he easily dispatched Mike “Twin” Sullivan to receive general recognition as the World Championship, a title which did not officially exist yet. Ketchel fought a murderous four-fight series with Billy Papke and also beat the great light-heavyweight Philadelphia Jack O’Brien. Ketchel died at an early age or he may have been much higher than this.
7) Mickey Walker
Walker, as I mentioned above, won the controversial decision against Tiger Flowers, managed 4 defenses, and never lost his title in the ring. Walker was one of the toughest fighters during the “Roaring 20s” and was competitive fighting all the way up to heavyweight.
6) Dick Tiger
Tiger beat the very tough Gene Fullmer to win the World Middleweight Title. He drew with Fullmer in a rematch then knocked him out in their third meeting. He split a four-fight series with Joey Giardello and also had two wins over one-time light heavyweight champion Jose Torres. Tiger was one of the greatest fighters during the decade of the 1960s, arguably the greatest African boxer ever, and twice Ring Magazine named him Fighter of the Year.
5) Bob Fitzsimmons
Fitzsimmons was an all-time great fighter who would eventually challenge the best at heavyweight, and even then he was not far from the middleweight limit. In 1891 he won the Middleweight Championship of the World from the legendary Jack “The Nonpareil” Dempsey. In a brutal fight, Fitzsimmons reportedly knocked Dempsey down 13 times and begged him to quit. Fitzsimmons gets overlooked by many but he shouldn’t as he was a truly great champion.
4) Carlos Monzon
Monzon was a tough, relentless fighter. Monzon won the title by beating Nino Benvenuti and in his first defense became the first man to knockout Emile Griffith. In a later rematch, he outpointed Griffith. He lost only three fights, but those were early in his career. At the end of his career, he had recorded 87 victories, with 59 coming by way of knockout. A case can be made for Monzon being number one on this list as the first 4 fighters on the list are closely matched.
3) Marvelous Marvin Hagler
Hagler was one of the most avoided boxers in history and was the number one contender for years in the middleweight division. He got a shot at the title finally in 1979 and was robbed of glory after the three blind mice in Vegas scored the bout a draw. In his next title shot a year later Hagler would leave no doubt, knocking the new champion Alan Minter out in the third round. All in all, Hagler dominated the division for the better part of the decade.
2) Sugar Ray Robinson
Robinson was probably the greatest welterweight of all-time and a strong case can be made that he was the greatest middleweight of all-time also. Robinson recorded victories over all the best 160-pound fighters of the era–fellow Hall-of-Famers like Jake LaMotta, Gene Fullmer, Bobo Olson, Rocky Graziano, and Carmen Basilio. Solid, tough competition, but in the end, I have Robinson at number three, but it is very close.
1) Harry Greb
A case can be made that Greb is number one in a few divisions and all-time he has to fit into anybody’s top-5. I know the youngsters will quickly scream, “There is no film!”, but I can read. Even without film just look at the people he was able to beat, more Hall of Famers than anyone.