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Foster possessed one of the most devastating left hooks in boxing history. Foster won the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association light-heavyweight titles in May 1968 with a fourth-round knockout of Dick Tiger of Nigeria, who had previously been the middleweight champion; it was the first time Tiger had ever been knocked out. Foster fought seven more times in the 60s after gaining the title, and he won all seven by knockout. Unfortunately, Foster seems to be more remembered for his failed fights at Heavyweight than he does for his dominance at Light Heavyweight.
Rodriguez was from Cuba, and before moving to the United States, he already had beaten Benny Paret twice. Campaigning in the U.S., Rodriguez quickly scored decision wins over top welterweights Virgil Aikins, Isaac Logart and Garnet “Sugar” Hart. He was unbeaten in 36 fights before losing a split decision to Griffith in a 1960 non-title fight. Rodriguez fought four razor-close wars with Emilie Griffith, Rodriguez would come out on the short-end in three of those battles, but all four fights could have gone either way. Rodriguez moved up to Middleweight and defeated George Benton, Hurricane Carter (twice), Bennie Briscoe (twice), Holly Mimms, Tom Bethea and Bobby Cassidy.
Saldivar is a primarily forgotten champion, and he shouldn’t be. Vicente defeated Ismael Laguna, Jose Legra, Johnny Famechon, Ultimino “Sugar” Ramos, Harold Winstone, Juan Ramirez, Eloy Sanchez, Raul Rojas, Mitsunori Seki, Jorge “Baby” Salazar, Dwight Hawkins, Frankie Crawford and Eduardo Guerrera.
Benvenuti was a superstar in his home country of Italy, and several top American fighters — such as Isaac Logart, Gaspar Ortega and Denny Moyer — traveled across the Atlantic to face him. Each one came home a loser. In 1965, Italy was beset by a Civil War when Benvenuti challenged reigning world junior middleweight champion Sandro Mazzinghi. Benvenuti knocked out Mazzinghi in the sixth round to win the crown. Before Ki-Soo Kim dethroned him in Seoul, Korea, he made two title defences.
In 1967, Nino jumped to Middleweight and traveled to New York City, winning Emile Griffith’s title at Madison Square Garden. Griffith won a rematch, but Benvenuti reclaimed the 160-pound belt in their third meeting in 1968. Nino made title defenses against American contenders Don Fullmer, Fraser Scott and Luis Rodriguez.
Tiger won the WBA Middleweight crown when he upset Gene Fullmer at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1962, winning a unanimous decision. He would have a trilogy with Fullmer, drawing with him in the rematch four months later and then retiring him for good – in August of 1963. Tiger would lose his title to Joey Giardello in 1963, but he bounced back to win the rematch. He would eventually lose his title to Emile Griffith. That did not stop Tiger as he achieved his greatest glory with a move up to challenge Jose Torres for the Light Heavyweight championship. Tiger would beat Torres on points to win the title.
Griffith first won a world title from Benny (“Kid”) Paret in a 13-round knockout on April 1, 1961; he lost it to Paret in a rematch by a 15-round decision on September 30, 1961; and he regained it by a knockout of Paret on March 24, 1962. Of course, the third fight was infamous for Paret dying from the beating that Griffith had administered him.
Griffith successfully defended his world welterweight title twice in 1962 before surrendering it to Luis Rodríguez by a 15-round decision on March 21, 1963. Griffith recaptured the title in the rematch by a 15-round decision over Rodríguez on June 8, 1963. In 1966, Griffith won the world middleweight (160-pound) title by outpointing champion Dick Tiger in 15 rounds. Nino Benvenuti defeated Griffith on points in a 15-round middleweight title match. On September 29 of that year, he won the middleweight championship for the second time by outscoring Benvenuti in 15 rounds. Still, he lost it again to Benvenuti by a 15-round decision on March 4, 1968.
Jofre defeated his first 37 opponents en route to a world title fight; three draws blemished an otherwise perfect record. On November 18, 1960, he scored a six-round kayo over Eloy Sanchez in Los Angeles to win the vacant NBA world bantamweight crown. He TKO’d Piero Rollo in Round 10 to win world recognition four months later.
Jofre returned and won a World Title again in the 1970s, but that does not count for this list of greatest 1960s boxers. He defended the title seven times before losing it on May 17, 1965, to former bantamweight champ Fighting Harada via a 15-round decision in Nagoya, Japan. It was Jofre’s first loss since the Olympics. Harada again got the nod over 15 rounds in a June 1966 rematch in Tokyo, and Jofre retired. He was 30.
Ortiz deserves the 3rd spot on achievement. He might not have been the most talented guy of his era, but his record stacks up – beating Joe Brown, Ismael Laguna (twice), and Flash Elorde (twice) is persuasive. When Ortiz challenged Joe Brown for Brown’s World Lightweight crown, Brown was one of the most dominant 135-pound titleholders of all time, having successfully defended his title 11 times over five and a half years. Brown, similar to Ortiz, was a boxer/puncher and a prohibitive favorite over the challenger. Ortiz fought brilliantly, out-boxing and out-slugging the legendary Brown throughout the 15-round bout. Check out the top boxing odds.
In my view, fighting Harada has the best win of the decade, and he proved it was no fluke by beating Jofre twice. Winning the flyweight title and then rounding out the decade by nearly winning the featherweight title but for a poor decision. Harada’s most significant victories are why he deserves a high ranking on this list. He claimed wins over the likes of Bernardo Caraballo, Eder Jofre (twice), Pone Kingpetch, Jose Medel, Alan Rudkin. Harada is the greatest fighter to come out of Japan.
Ali was almost untouchable in the 1960s, he rarely lost a round, and the competition he faced was very good. Outside of Eddie Machen by 1967, he had defeated every ranked contender in the division. He dominated Sonny Liston, a great Heavyweight, making many above-average heavyweights look average; Guys like Ernie Terrell, Zora Folley, Cleveland Williams, Henry Cooper, George Chuvalo, and Floyd Patterson. Of course, he was robbed of the last couple of years by the U.S Government but outside of Joe Louis, no heavyweight was ever more dominant in a decade than Ali was in the 1960s.
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