By David Martinez / Boxing Historian
I started to officially watch boxing in the year 1961. I was 13 years old, and it’s been over fifty years since my love for the sport began. I have seen so many great boxers and I consider myself blessed to have been able to live to see them.
I thought it would be interesting to list the best fighters in each weight division – my opinion – that I saw during that time span. They all have one thing in common; they are great champions. As this period of time only covers 1961 to the present, the greats such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, and Rocky Marciano, are not included.
This has nothing to do with who beat whom; (i.e.) why Oscar De La Hoya isn’t listed and he beat Pernell Whitaker, or Holmes is ahead of Tyson and got beat by Tyson, or “where is Foreman; he beat Frazier?” It is about each boxer at the height of their career and how I saw them; this is what I am basing my ranking upon for the best of the best.
Here’s each division with the best boxers listed – in order – as I felt they were at the pinnacle of their careers:
Heavyweight Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, Sonny Liston, Mike Tyson, Joe Frazier
Cruiserweight (195 lbs) Evander Holyfield
Light Heavyweight (175 lbs) Bob Foster, Archie Moore, Michael Spinks
Super Middleweight (168 lbs) Roy Jones, Jr., Joe Calzaghe
Middleweight (160 lbs) Carlos Monzon, Marvin Hagler, Bernard Hopkins
Junior Middleweight (154 lbs) Terry Norris, Koichi Wajima
Welterweight (147 lbs) Jose Napoles, Sugar Ray Leonard, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Thomas Hearns, Felix Trinidad
Junior Welterweight (140 lbs) Aaron Pryor, Wilfred Benitz
Lightweight (135 lbs) Roberto Duran, Carlos Ortiz, Pernell Whitaker
Junior Lightweight (130 lbs) Julio Cesar Chavez, Alexis Arguello, Manny Pacquiao, Flash Elorde
Featherweight (126 lbs) Vicente Saldivar, Salvador Sanchez, Marco Antonio Barerra
Junior Featherweight (122 lbs) Wilfredo Gomez, Erik Morales
Bantamweight (118 lbs) Eder Jofre, Ruben Olivares, Carlos Zarate, Fighting Harada
Junior Bantamweight (115 lbs) Khaosai Galaxy
Flyweight (112 lbs) Miguel Canto, Mark Johnson
Junior Flyweight (108 lbs) Jung Koo Chang, Yoko Gushiken
Strawweight (105 lbs) Ricardo Lopez, Pone Kingpetch