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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 15 Light Heavyweights of All Time: Where does Roy Jones Jr. Rank?

Top 15 Light Heavyweights of All Time: Where does Roy Jones Jr. Rank?

Top 15 light heavyweights of all-time!
Publish Date: 12/14/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Greatest Light Heavyweights

The Light heavyweight division, for the most part, has been looked over for years as most of the attention goes to the heavyweight division. Today we break down the greatest Light heavyweights of all time. While looking at the greats, think of where you could rank a Bivol or Beterbiev.

15) John Henry Lewis

World champion with a career record of 99-11-5, Lewis has victories over Bob Olin, Tiger Jack Fox, James Braddock and Maxie Rosenbloom.

Video: JOHN HENRY LEWIS CAREER

JOHN HENRY LEWIS CAREER

14) Jimmy Bivins

Bivins’s resume is impressive, with wins over Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore, Joey Maxim, Lloyd Marshall, and some elite heavyweights.

Video: FORGOTTEN WARRIORS #15 Jimmy Bivins

FORGOTTEN WARRIORS #15 Jimmy Bivins

13) Maxie Rosenbloom

“Slapsie” Maxie was an accomplished defensive specialist, as power alone wasn’t enough. His great chin, which had only been dented twice in nearly 300 paid contests, didn’t hurt either. Given the vast number of matches, covering all the noteworthy highlights here would be impossible. Although Rosenbloom had become a contender by 1925, he would fall short in his first title attempt in 1927, losing on points to Slattery. He’d make an even more remarkable comeback, defeating Slattery in June 1930 to begin a long reign as champion, though not recognized by the NBA yet. One year later, he defeated Slattery again for universal recognition and outpointed Lou Scozza for universal recognition in 1932; Bob Godwin, Mickey Walker (Hall of Fame member), kept his crown until November 1934 when Olin finally took it away.

Video: Remembering Slapsie Maxie

Remembering Slapsie Maxie

12) Harold Johnson

Johnson was an impressive technical wizard with a powerful punch, winning battles against Archie Moore, Jimmy Bivins, Doug Jones, Eddie Machen and Ezzard Charles.

Video: Harold Johnson - Beautiful Boxing

Harold Johnson – Beautiful Boxing

11) Matthew Saad Muhammad

Saad was the original blood and guts warrior, the difference between Saad and a guy like Arturo Gatti is that Saad had a high skill set. His wars with the likes of Yaqui Lopez and Marvin Johnson are legendary.

Video: The Devastating Power of Matthew Saad Muhammad

The Devastating Power of Matthew Saad Muhammad

 

10) Billy Conn

Most known for his losing effort at Heavyweight against Joe Louis, Conn was excellent. He proved it against the bigger Louis as Conn controlled much of the fight. He held wins over Young Corbett III, Fred Apostoli, Gus Lesnevich, Fritzie Zivic.

Video: Billy Conn - The Pittsburgh Kid

Billy Conn – The Pittsburgh Kid

9) Roy Jones Jr.

He moved from 168lbs, where he appeared to be invincible, to the light-heavyweight division, which may have been too big for him. At 5’11 and with a reach of just 74″, Jones looked more like someone out of the fifties than anything else; with larger frames being allowed into 175lb weight limit on weigh-in day before weigh-in, Jones almost operated independently from his opponent anyway.

However, Roy’s opponents are the focus of some criticism; many speculate that part of Roy’s unnatural appearance was caused by the limited competition he faced in the ring. Let us start with the negatives: yes, Jones needed Dariusz Michalczewski to assert dominance over an era lacking depth truly. Nonetheless, Jones consistently destroyed so many highly-ranked contenders ranked by Ring Magazine that his win total reached double figures. Of course, The Ring’s rankings aren’t perfect, but these two statements can be guaranteed: only a handful of light-heavyweights from any era have defeated ten or more men to appear in these rankings; Roy usually engaged his opponents in non-competitive bouts. A lot of this ranking for Roy is the eye test.

Video: Roy Jones Jr: The Light Heavyweight Years (Highlight Video)

Roy Jones Jr: The Light Heavyweight Years (Highlight Video)

8) Bob Foster

Foster is a man I may have rated too low here, but the quality of opposition was not excellent at the time; he was the best Light Heavy in the World, but his power can’t be questioned. Unfortunately, wins over Dick Tiger, Mike Quarry, Chris Finnegan, and Vicente Rondon make it hard to put Foster much higher on this list.

Video: Bob Foster - Brutal Knockouts

Bob Foster – Brutal Knockouts

7) Tommy Gibbons

Harry Greb, Kid Norfolk, Billy Miske, Georges Carpentier, and Battling Levinsky are all on the winning side of the ledger for Gibbons, and anytime you have a win over Harry Greb, you know you can fight! Of course, his most famous fight was a Heavyweight title loss to Dempsey, which bankrupted an entire city, but he should be remembered for his skill in the ring.

Video: Gene Tunney vs Tommy Gibbons HD

Gene Tunney vs Tommy Gibbons HD

6) Tommy Loughran

Loughran was one of the most outstanding ring technicians in boxing history. Wins over Harry Greb, Mickey Walker, Young Stribling, Jeff Smith, Arturo Godoy, King Levinsky, and Georges Carpentier put Tommy on this list. If you don’t believe me, watch his performance in an easy win over the Cinderella man James J.Braddock.

Video: Tommy Loughran - Phantom of Philly

Tommy Loughran – Phantom of Philly

5) Archie Moore

Wins over Holman Williams, Jimmy Bivins, Lloyd Marshall, Bobo Olson, Eddie Cotton, Joey Maxim, and Harold Johnson put Moore this high on the list. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he has the most knockout wins in boxing history.

 

4) Sam L

Langford fought the majority of his career in the vicinity of the 175-pound division, and his list of victims is astounding. Sam McVea, Philadelphia Jack O’Brien, Harry Wills, Joe Gans, Kid Norfolk, Jack Blackburn, Gunboat Smith, Big Bill Tate, Stanley Ketchel, and Joe Jeannette. I know the younger people reading this list will scream they haven’t seen him fight, so they can’t rate him. Just ignore them because they’re idiots! For my money, Langford was the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in history.

Video: Sam Langford - The Boston Bonecrusher

Sam Langford – The Boston Bonecrusher

3) Gene Tunney

Another all-time great Light Heavyweight on this list that never actually held the title but wins over Tommy Gibbons, Harry Greb, Jeff Smith, and Georges Carpentier before moving up to heavyweight to defeat the legendary Jack Dempsey make Tunney more than qualified to be on this list.

Video: Gene Tunney Highlights - The Fighting Marine

Gene Tunney Highlights – The Fighting Marine

2) Ezzard Charles

Charles Burley, Joey Maxim, Lloyd Marshall, Gus Lesnevich, and Jimmy Bivins, not a bad list of victims! Start with three victories over Archie Moore; that alone would put a fighter in the top five all-time. Now, look at Charles’ other Light heavyweight wins, and you will see why he sits this high on the list.

Charles never won the title because nobody wanted to give him a shot. So he moved up, won the Heavyweight title over Jersey Joe Walcott, and gave Rocky Marciano two of his most challenging fights.

Video: Ezzard Charles - Counter-Punching Excellence

Ezzard Charles – Counter-Punching Excellence

1) Michael Spinks

I know people, in general, won’t like this, but Spinks was a dominant champion at a time with the Light Heavyweight division was deep. Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Yaqui Lopez, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Marvin Johnson, and a few. He easily beat Qawi and Muhammad and knocked out Lopez and Johnson, which was not easy to do in their primes. Then, at heavyweight, which doesn’t matter in these rankings, he became the first Light Heavyweight champion to rise and win the Heavyweight title.

Spinks is unfortunately remembered the most for a one-round knockout in defense of the title he won for Larry Holmes. Remember this, though, he was unbeaten at Light Heavy and was at the end of his career when he fought Tyson. So, in the end, Tyson may have beaten Spinks, but what Spinks accomplished in his career blows what Tyson did utterly out of the water.

Video: 10 Michael Spinks Greatest Knockouts

10 Michael Spinks Greatest Knockouts

Honorable Mention

Harry Greb(Best weight was Middleweight)

Kid Norfolk

Bernard Hopkins

Jack Dillon

Victor Galindez

Lloyd Marshall

Jack Delaney

Marvin Johnson

Dwight Braxton

 

 

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