If you were to take all the boxers in the middleweight category and pitted them against each other, betting on your champ would be an exciting but tough challenge. As the standard male falls into the 160-lbs weight category, it is unsurprising that this is a weight division with a huge depth of talent.
Which of the greats in this weight bracket would demolish the field with their might? Here we run through some of the possibilities for the top spot, so you can begin to make your choice who to put your money on.
It is difficult to take different generations of boxers and compare them. Ketchell, in 1908, dispatched Sullivan as World Champion with an ease that few could have predicted. He then went on to floor the heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, which was billed as David against Goliath. This talented boxer was murdered in 2020 at the age of 24, so who knows what his potential would have been. Also, imagine if he had the input of today’s psychologist, physiotherapists and professional trainers! He would have been an unstoppable force!
Griffin spent a lot of his career in the welterweights, where he would have come in as the greatest of all time without a doubt. However, he also deserves to rank in the greats of the middleweights, as he was the first native of the US Virgin Islands to take the world title. While you might look at his record and think it is nothing special, it is because he carried on fighting way too long. He cemented his talent and skill by becoming a world-class training, helping to train Wilfred Benitez and Juan LaPorte.
Born in Nigeria but an immigrant to Liverpool, England, Dick Tiger beat Fullmer to win the world title, retaining the title three times in meetings with this classy boxer. In the third match-up, Tiger knocked Fullmer out. He has made many lists for the best boxer in any category, so deserves a high place in the greats of the middleweights.
We are entering the realms of legends now, as we explore the career of Bernard Hopkins. While all the boxers named to date deserve some recognition, you can argue that Hopkins truly competes for the greatest of all time. Hopkins made 20 successful defenses of his middleweight title and so dominated an era of middleweight boxing.
He began his fighting career in federal prison at the age of 17 and most people overlooked him. However, people never understood how prison cemented a devotion in Hopkins for this sport and how it picked him up out of what would have been an awful existence.
As if his title defenses were not enough, he recently became light heavyweight champion at the age of 46.
Born in Cornwall in the South-West of England, Fitzsimmons first fought in Australia in 1883. He won the world championship 8 years later, beating Dempsey. Fitzsimmons knocked Dempsey down 13 times in a time when brutality was applauded and fighters left unprotected. Eventually, the fight came to an end as Dempsey was left unconscious and had to be carried away. He went on to be the smallest man ever to hold the heavyweight title. He was badly beaten by Corbett in the early rounds but just outlasted the bigger man and managed to knock him out in the latter part of the bout.
Greb is something of a myth in boxing circles, as there is little record of his career beyond the stats. However, people still write about him with awe. Such is this mystery around the man, it is difficult to comment reliably on his career. It is thought he won over 300 bouts. He was said to have destroyed some of the very best in the world, no matter the weight. He was said to have fought 37 times in 1917. No matter the truth versus the legend, the mythic reputation of this man gives him enough reputation to make it to this list.
Sugar Ray Robinson
You know you are hitting the legends when the name is enough to prompt a sage nod of the head – yes – you think – Sugar Ray – a great of the ring. His record most definitely holds up to the general reverie that Robinson enjoys. He was fast, with agile footwork and huge power in both hands. You would likely argue he deserves to top this list – however – much of his success was in the welterweight division.
Let’s not quibble too much, Robinson was still a dominant force amongst the middleweights too. He was victorious over greats such as Lamotta, Fullner, Olson, Graziano and Basilio.
With the swagger to match the talent, Hagler was a huge personality in the arena of middleweight boxing. He was constantly refused the right to contend for the world championship, most recognizing that this is because he posed such a genuine threat to the titleholder. His first shot at the title ended in a controversial draw. However, Hagler decided to take no chances with the judges when he faced Minter. He knocked him out in three rounds.
He may not have had an era-defining defence of his title like some, but he did produce one of the most exciting bouts of all time against Thomas Hearns.
Monzon was the first fighter to ever knock out Emile Griffin. He was middleweight champion for 7 years and defended the title 14 times. He retired at the top. This is the sort of record that demands the legend branding, as he dominated an era of middleweight boxing and understood when to bow out as the great he was.
Monzon might not have global recognition like Robinson and Hagler, but he was a superstar in South America.