The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

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The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by 88Chris05 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 2:25 pm

Good afternoon, chaps. So, the sun is out, England topped the group and half the working week is gone - what better circumstances under which to talk some boxing?

In light of my corresponding article on the great Light-Heavyweight title fights being more of a success than I thought (thanks for all the comments again, lads), I've decided to turn it in to a series and, after last weekend's controversy surrounding the Bradley-Pacquiao fight, I've decided to turn my attention to the Welterweights this time.

As a quick reminder, I must stress that there are a number of different reasons and criteria for why I've picked the following ten bouts. Had I done it purely on which fights were the most exciting ones, the list would probably look a little different. However, certain fights have once more been picked on the back of a mix between excitement, sheer quality and also historical significance. Some are picked merely because they score very well in just one of those areas, too. Selecting the fights is obviously a personal and subjective task, so if a favourite of yours isn't there (and believe me, it was tough to have to omit Marlon Starling's first bout with Mark Breland or his second with Don Curry, as well as Ike Quartey-Crisanto Espana, Victor Ortiz-André Berto etc), I apologise - and feel free to add it in the dicussion below! Rather annoyingly, too, Barney Ross' fights with Jimmy McLarnin have now been removed from YouTube and, as I try to make sure each fight I list is easily available for anyone to watch, I've had to leave them out, too. Gggrrr....

Anyway, without further ado, here is the list.


# 10 - Oscar De la Hoya W PTS 12 Ike Quartey, WBC and lineal title, 1999

The skinny: The question of whether or not Oscar De la Hoya, arguably the biggest boxing star of the nineties, was a truly great fighter or just a very, very good one is a question which is still hotly debated today, and will be for years to come; and in 1999, it was no different. He had the looks, the telegenic personality and the celebrity factor, but despite world titles in four weight classes and a perfect, unbeaten record in early 1999, the jury was still out on whether or not the dazzling 1992 Olympic gold medal winner was worthy of all the hype. Quartey, the similarly undefeated man from Ghana, was perhaps not the opponent against whom Oscar could answer those questions but, nonetheless, this showdown was widely expected to be a tough night's work for De la Hoya, as well as hopefully giving a clearer indication to exactly who was the best Welterweight in the world. The only sour point was that boxing politics, which saw the hard-punching Quartey stripped of his WBA belt for inactivity a few months before, prevented this from being the first Welterweight unification fight for fourteen years.

The opening stages were largely De la Hoya's; both men had their jabs working well, Quartey arguably the best of the two, but at the same time De la Hoya was that little bit busier and was mixing his attack between the head and body nicely. A left hook bang on his chin made his eyes widen in apprehension at the end of the third, but when he briefly had Quartey trapped on the ropes and really let his hands go for the first time in the fourth, there didn't seem to be any great danger on the horizon.

Quartey banged home that jab with authority to secure the fifth round, but early in the sixth he was caught with a beautiful left hook from De la Hoya which sent him to the canvas. At that point, De la Hoya seemed totally in control, and he perhaps began to switch off just a little, falsely under the impression that the rest of the fight was going to be nothing more than a glorified lap of honour. Be it from a lack of concentration or a genuine mistake, however, such an idea would soon be forgotten when the African ducked low and fired off a hard counter left flush on the champion's chin - down went De la Hoya and, though he rose quickly, he was hurt. Another big left had him holding on, and all of a sudden the momentum was with the challenger.

That wobble seemed to plant a seed of doubt in De la Hoya's mind as he allowed Ghanaian to consistently get off first; for the next two rounds, Quartey completely bossed the battle of the jabs, jolting Oscar with punishing, straight ones time and time again, and catching most of the fire coming back on his gloves. Sensing that his title could be slipping away, De la Hoya made a much more positive start to the ninth; two good uppercuts in close gave him a foothold in the round, but again he couldn't contain Ike for the full three minutes and had to absorb a big right hand over the top near the end of the round. Reverting to looking for counters, De la Hoya boxed steadily to win the tenth and perhaps nick the eleventh, but going in to the twelfth and final round, the fight - as well as his title and unbeaten record - was still in the balance.

As you'd expect, he came out of the blocks quickly; Quartey met him head on and, within seconds, the challenger was down again from another big left hook. But he was hurt, and was forced to retreat to the ropes. Sensing blood, a snarling Oscar backed him up and landed some heavy hooks - Quartey appeared almost out on his feet at times, but De la Hoya was simply too tired to finish him off. However, he had done enough to win that last round, and win it big. In my eyes, it was enough to give De la Hoya the win by a single point - though the decision was a split one, the judges in question just about agreed with that sentiment.

Why it's here: This fight is often labelled a 'classic'. In fact, before announcing the verdict, Michael Buffer declared the bout the "finest Welterweight fight Las Vegas has seen since Leonard-Hearns." In all reality, neither is quite true. Rather, the sixth and twelfth rounds of this fight were classics, with the rest being largely forgettable and intriguing rather than gripping. However, I've long believed that the two combatants in question here are both somewhat undervalued as 147 lb men; Quartey produced a very fine effort in only narrowly losing his '0' and deserves his moment in the sun. Likewise, to remember De la Hoya as the over-hyped marketing tool some write him off as does the man a great disservice, and this fight is perhaps the best example of that. Facing a man who'd never lost himself, who produced the performance of his life, and yet he pulled out the win, and he did it the hard, gruelling way. It may sound unusual, as Quartey isn't one of the most glamorous names on De la Hoya's résumé, but to me this may just be his finest moment, certainly at Welterweight, at least. Where exactly Oscar ranks in the all-time standings is a debate which, I expect, will never have any kind of unanimity amongst boxing fans but, as this fight proves, he was at least a rock-hard fighting man when he had to be, and his harshest critics would do very well to remember that.


# 9 - Carlos Palomino W TKO 15 Armando Muniz, WBC and lineal title, 1977

The skinny: When the late Harry Mullan described Carlos Palomino as a "cool professional who was at his best when under pressure", this gripping fight surely couldn't have been too far from the front of his mind. Despite his Mexican origins (he was born in San Luis), Palomino was effectively coming home for his first defence of his world title, to Los Angeles, the city where he was now based. After having to travel to London to rip the belt away from John H. Stracey, it was the least he deserved. Muniz, despite also being US-based, was closer to your typical Mexican fighter - he had a cast iron jaw, loved to brawl and, come rain or shine, went out on his shield. Palomino's classier skills were expected to win the day comfortably, but that assumption quickly went out of the window; after a scrappy first couple of minutes, a quick left-right combination put the champion on the deck, although the bell saved him any possible further blushes.

The next half dozen rounds were all remarkably similar, and all highly punishing. The fight was fought at a high pace, with plenty of hooking up close in the clinches, too. For the most part, it was Palomino's trademark left hook (a weapon which got him out of so many sticky situations in his career) against the hard, menacing straight right of Muniz, and round after round the two of them traded those punches, with neither able to claw their way in to a position of control and dominance. There were flashes of Palomino's aforementioned class; in round eight, for instance, he began to box at range and his superior timing and speed was clear for all to see, and he finished the round by shaking Muniz to his boots with a clubbing one-two. Round twelve was a similar case, however these proved very much the exception rather than the rule - more often than not, the champion just couldn't figure out how to plug that gaps in his defence and seemed unable to contain the man who he'd been widely expected to beat with ease. He was hurt badly in the tenth, spinning towards his own corner, and in the eleventh, though he shook Muniz badly with three successive lefts, he was again in trouble when a flurry from the challenger had him back-peddling on jelly legs.

The fight was on a knife's edge going in to the fifteenth and final round - luckily for him, Palomino had that coolness under pressure which Mullan talked about to see him through it. Both appeared tired for the opening minute or so, but suddenly Palomino fired his famed left hook - what else? - perfectly to the point of Muniz's chin, and down he went. The challenger, as ever, was brave; he beat the count and tried with all of his might to fight back when the inevitable push for the finish came, but he had little left. An unanswered barrage of shots left the referee with little choice, and he finally threw his arms around Muniz to signal the end of a truly absorbing fight, with just thirty-five seconds left on the clock. Remarkably, the scores had been absolutely dead even at the point of the stoppage.

Why it's here: Virtually all talented, skillful fighters have one or two opponents who, while technically inferior, will always cause them problems and be something of a bogey man to them. In Palomino's case, it was Muniz. However, the fact that he worked, worked and then worked a bit more to overcome these difficulties, rather than just capitulate as many others would have, says much about Palomino, who I believe to be a very fine Welterweight champion who is perhaps slightly underrated in the grand scheme of things. Even if we take out the fact that this was a world title fight, the action in the fifteen rounds would provide any fan with their money's worth and, given the incredible closeness of the scores (I think Muniz was up going in to the final round), Palomino's big, big finish in the fifteenth was just about as perfect an example of a 'champion's heart' as you could wish to see.


# 8 - Simon Brown W TKO 10 Maurice Blocker, WBC, IBF and lineal titles, 1991

The skinny: As they seemingly always are, the Welterweight belts were divided in 1991, but there was one fact that year which couldn't be disputed; whoever won this fight was the best 147 lb fighter in the world. Blocker, in his second world title tilt (he'd lost a decision to Lloyd Honeyghan prior) had surprised everyone by outscoring Marlon Starling for WBC and lineal recognition the year previously, but the shadow of Simon Brown still hung over the division. Indeed, Brown had successfully defended his IBF belt seven times in the three years he'd held it, and his heavy punching and crouching attacks, from the outset, would gel perfectly with the upright, back-foot boxing of Blocker - and it did.

What makes the fight even more compelling is that the two of them, both now based in Washington and both of them having trained with each other for many years, were also old friends, and very genuine friends at that. Before the fight, both men appeared together explaining how close they were, as well as giving an insight in to how difficult it would be to put that friendship aside in the head of battle. In the early stages, the tall and spindly Blocker played the proverbial matador with great success; moving almost exclusively to his left, he put a couple of rounds in the bag throwing little or nothing in the form of power punches once he realised he could keep Brown on the end of his jab. Brown's frustrations were evident as early as round two when, on the break, he threw an angry foul punch which came closer to knocking out referee Mills Lane than it did Blocker.

However, Blocker had little in the way of an inside game, and it was only a matter of time before the robust Brown caught up with him. The IBF champion had his first real success in the third when he rocked the WBC belt holder with a left hook up close, and another right at the end of the round highlighted that, to keep his titles, he was going to have to give the performance of his life. He made a big effort to rise to such a challenge in round four, increasing his punch output as he evaded Brown's sometimes crude swings, and by the half way stage he was certainly on top, with rounds in the bank. However, by round seven there were signs that the brisk pace of the fight was beginning to tell on Blocker; he was forced to stand and trade with his opponent, absorbing some hurtful shots along the way.

Blocker proved his mettle by taking the eighth, but it was as if such an effort required a round off immediately afterwards; in the ninth he was under constant attack, and a long, reaching right hand from Brown had the taller man hanging on, to the point where, when he had a spare second to breathe, he had to jolt out and stretch his legs, as if trying to bring some feeling back to them. I can only imagine that such an experience made Blocker weary of trying to 'run' for the remainder of the fight to see it out, as what he did next defied all sensible logic. Strangely, he met Brown head on in round ten and initiated some snarling exchanges with him - and it proved very, very costly. Brown tagged him with a solid right, quickly adjusted his feet and, coming up from a crouching stance and evading a wild swing from his friend, planted a wicked left hook perfectly on the chin to send him down. Blocker somehow beat the count by the skin of his teeth, but the end was nigh. He hung on as best he could, but two more looping hooks towards the end of the round sent his legs in to spasm again, and Lane waved the fight off in a show of compassion. Immediately, the victor warmly and genuinely embraced his fallen foe, a great moment at the end of an excellent fight.

Why it's here: We all love a good 'style match up', and this was a great example of one. Mover against swarmer, boxer against fighter, technician against brawler, call it what you will. But the styles of Brown and Blocker were a great mix and, had they fought again, I'm fairly sure you could expect a similarly enjoyable fight. Also, the fight was a consummate demonstration by both men of what professionalism in boxing is all about. How often do we hear that fighter A and fighter B can't / won't fight due to their friendship? And even when such fights do take place, we're all too often treated to a dour affair with a hell of a lot of glove touching and very little in the way of vicious exchanges. And yet, the way these two went about trying to unify the Welterweight division, you'd think that they were enemies. Brown and Blocker were all business in spite of every instinct they have, presumably, telling them not to be - a feat which deserves serious acclaim.


# 7 - Felix Trinidad W TKO 4 Luis Ramon 'Yori Boy' Campas, IBF title, 1994

The skinny: In many ways, Puerto Rico's Trinidad would have seemed more at home as a Mexican, so perfectly did he fit the idea of the archetypal Mexican fighter; he was always an explosive puncher, particularly with the left hook, but was also short on defence a lot of the time. As it was, it took a Mexican opponent to display both the best and worst of 'Tito' in this excellent slugfest. Still only twenty-one, this was the fourth defence of his IBF Welterweight belt that he'd taken by wrecking the experienced Maurice Blocker in two short rounds in 1993, and only slippery old Hector Camacho, so far, had managed to take him the full twelve rounds in his championship tenure. Campas came out of the blocks quickly, probably under the impression that the cocky, big-punching youngster, having had so much his own way so far in his career, wouldn't like it up him. He had some success, too, but for the most part the Puerto Rican was able to meet his charge with stiff jabs and a couple of big scoring shots of his own. A similar pattern emerged in the second; lots of vicious hooking in close, with Trinidad perhaps getting the better of it. However, in the closing seconds of the round, Campas fired a short, sharp left hook while the pair broke from a clinch. 'Tito' just didn't see it, and his legs betrayed him, sending him to the canvas.

He was up at three, but seemed only half in control of his senses - and another left right before the bell had him in desperate need of the one minute break. He bounced back well in the third, swinging with great defiance, but Campas' constant pressure and buzzsaw raids meant that he just couldn't utilise his range and superior jab. When Trinidad was deducted a point in the that third round for a low blow, things seemed to be getting a little desperate. The end came, abruptly, in the fourth. A huge right hand caught Campas coming in, and from that point on, he was in trouble. Somehow, he stayed on his feet, and even managed to fire back in the face of Trinidad's artillery, but the fight was now on the champion's terms. A trademark left sent the Mexican back-peddling to the ropes, and a relentless Trinidad showered heavy shots down on him. A sickening right prompted referee Richard Steele to step in, and 'Tito' had held on to his title in a thriller.

Why it's here: Sometimes, as a boxing fan, you want to see a protracted chess match of great skill and intelligence. But there are other times when you just want to see a wild brawl, with each punch being delivered with knockout intent to see just who is the harder and tougher man. And to that end, this fight simply had to be included, as it perfectly meets the definition of a boxing 'shootout.' We're forever looking for the equivalent across the weights of Hagler-Hearns; for the Welterweights, this fight may just be it. It's also a real commendation for Trinidad, who was one of the fighters I loved watching as a lad. He splits opinion, that's for sure. Was he a true great, or just a one-dimensional slugger? Did he deserve the nod against De la Hoya? Was he exposed, so to speak, against Hopkins? You can all make up your own minds on those questions, I suppose - but whatever the truth, as this fight shows, he was nearly always unmissable entertainment.


# 6 - Kid Gavilan W PTS 15 Carmen Basilio, Undisputed title, 1953

The skinny: As strange as it may seem, sometimes a loss can prove to be the event which propels a certain fighter in to the big time - for Carmen Basilio, this fight did exactly that. Kid Gavilan, the elegant Cuban known as the 'Keed', was making the sixth defence of his world Welterweight crown; he'd been the only man to come even close to usurping the great Ray Robinson once 'Sugar' had got his hands on the crown himself, and as such was widely expected to dispatch the crude Basilio, his record littered with early defeats and draws, with something to spare.

That idea, however, was blown to pieces inside five minutes. After a largely uneventful first round, the stocky challenger practically jumped from his now famous crouched stance to deliver a right uppercut of tremendous ferocity on the Cuban's chin. The champion seemed to freeze upon feeling the impact, and was powerless to prevent a hard left hook immediately after from flooring him. As a side note, this may well have been the most iron-chinned Welterweight title fight of the lot; this was only the second time in over one hundred fights that Gavilan had been put to the canvas, and he was never stopped in a glorious career, while Basilio would go on to make walking through murderous punches a forté, and was never quelled inside the distance until the final few fights of his long, gruelling career which would span some eighty-odd contests.

Gavilan somehow beat the count - he was on his feet at 'nine' - but was forced to hang on desperately to see out the round, something totally out of kilter for such a smooth stylist. It seemed as if his head was still not cleared in round three, as he was again forced to hold while Basilio hammered his ribs in close without remorse. The upset appeared on the cards and Gavilan, by now considered one of the premier Welterweight champions of all time, was in serious danger of being dethroned by the hitherto little-known and certainly little-fancied challenger. The challenger regrouped well in the next two rounds, keeping the distance with his cultured jab as well as, of course, throwing in a couple of his trademark 'bolo' punches, but Basilio had him on queer street again in round six, and when a fast double right combination in round 7 landed flush on the chin, the Cuban was once again forced to hold on just to survive.

The turning point came in the eighth, when a sharp left hook by Gavilan forced Basilio to concede ground for the first time. Basilio, who'd been having the time of his life beforehand, had perhaps thrown too much, too early in the fight; he began to look tired and weary, unable to stalk the champion with the same purpose. Gavilan, owning the fresher pair of legs, danced his way through the next few rounds and, although the rugged Italian-American had his moments in the tenth, the tide had turned inexorably against him by the championship rounds, as his head was routinely rocked and jolted backwards by Gavilan's crisp jabs and looping hooks. Basilio staked his prey right until the final bell, but after a tense wait, the split decision was announced in Gavilan's favour - his coolness under pressure and wonderful stamina (as well as a big helping of champion's heart) had saved the day.

Why it's here: This fight, in essence, was the making of Basilio, who in turn went on to become one of the most fondly-remembered and colourful Welterweight champions of all time. Before this fight, he was regarded as simply another fighter. After it, however, he was considered a man to be afforded the highest of respect. I also believe that Basilio learned a great deal from this fight, and it's my contention that without such a learning experience, his own two title reigns at 147 lb wouldn't have been possible. His stamina here was a reason why the fight slipped away - he clearly improved in this regard, as he outlasted the likes of DeMarco in the future when the chips were well and truly down. And while he was never the most aesthetically pleasing fighter to watch, he did become a notably better and more polished fighter in subsequent years after this bout. As for Gavilan, this was certainly his crowing glory as a Welterweight champion, given how great his beaten opponent went on to be. Moreover, I've included this fight simply because the 'Keed' (or 'Cuban Hawk', as some knew him as) was almost always a pleasure to watch. Yes, he was all at sixes and sevens in the early rounds, but any fan of boxing can appreciate the timing, ring IQ and intricate skills he displays here in slowly and methodically unlocking Basilio.


# 5 - Pernell Whitaker W PTS 12 James 'Buddy' McGirt, WBC and lineal titles, 1993

The skinny: When 'Sweet Pea' and 'Magoo' met for the latter's WBC and lineal 147 lb championship in March 1993, there was a hell of a lot at stake. After becoming the first fully undisputed and unified Lightweight champion since Roberto Duran, Whitaker needed a new long-term challenge, and Welterweight was it. For McGirt, only twenty-nine but already a veteran of over sixty fights, the fight represented a chance to build on a reputation which had suddenly been propelled to lofty heights in light of his masterclass against Simon Brown, eighteen months earlier, to take the title - and as if he needed any more motivation, the fight took place in his home town of New York, and at the Mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden. Both fighters were in their primes, and so it came to pass that the fight was a superb one, and one in which the term 'the sweet science' couldn't possibly sound more appropriate.

It must have been a strange experience for Whitaker from the off; so used to letting the opponent make the fight and come to him, he found McGirt now playing that role. 'Pea' obliged, feinting with a right jab before darting in and back out with his sharp, straight left, but it wasn't long before McGirt had his first success, scoring with two sharp rights over the top in round two. Whitaker, the brilliant southpaw who'd looked so untouchable at 135 lb, replied almost instantly with a beautifully-timed left hook, but McGirt's crisp shots from inside the width of his own shoulder blades each time just didn't allow the challenger the same space he was used to having.

Virtually alone amongst the men Whitaker had faced in recent years, McGirt actually landed plenty of eye-catching and scoring shots in the early rounds - a rarity against a defensive master such as Whitaker. Certainly, after the first five stanzas, there were worrying signs for Whitaker, who was being extended more than he had been at any other time in his career. Forced to adapt, he began to box McGirt in a much more upright and mechanical manner than we've been used to seeing Whitaker use, and it paid dividends. Using his superior hand speed, there can be little doubt that Pea swept up the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth rounds. McGirt, with that lead left hand of his circling away before he jabbed and hooked as ever, rallied well to win the eleventh, but it was a little too late in the day. As he often did, Whitaker practically gave the twelfth away, but was still (rightly, in spite of the minor protests by McGirt and his team) given the unanimous verdict, with one card reading an admittedly very unfair 117-111, and the other two far more respectable and understandable 115-113 and 115-114.

Why it's here: Henry Armstrong, Barney Ross, Roberto Duran. Before this fight, these were the only three men who'd achieved the double of being the (rather than just a) world champion at both Lightweight and then Welterweight; that is the magnitude of the place in history which Whitaker was chasing. And with this tremendous performance, he secured his place amongst that very select and staggeringly great group. As such, this was a truly significant bout, as it represented the moment that Whitaker jumped from being a great within his own time to one of the greats of all time. But perhaps even more importantly in relation to this article, it was quite simply just a fantastic fight. A truly high quality encounter, there were no wild exchanges lacking in end product, no punches being winged in from the bootlaces etc. Just two supreme technicians intelligently looking for openings, showing the advantages of having the feet in perfect harmony with the hands and perfecting the art of hitting without being hit. If you're a true fan of boxing, you can't help but be compelled by this fight.


# 4 - Roberto Duran W PTS 15 Ray Leonard, WBC and lineal titles, 1980

The skinny: It would be hard to find two fighters or personalities less alike in nature than Roberto Duran and Ray Leonard, and it was that clash of personalities and style which made the 'Brawl in Montreal' such an incredible spectacle. Leonard, returning to the city in which he won his Olympic gold medal four years earlier, was making the second defence of his Welterweight crown which he'd lifted from Wilfred Benitez. Duran, fresh off the back of a fabulous seven-year reign at Lightweight, was looking to follow in the footsteps of Barney Ross and Henry Armstrong as a fighter who'd ruled the world at both 135 and 147 lb. The bookmakers (and most boxing critics) said he'd fail to do this - however, the swaggering, uncouth Panamanian was already striking blows long before the first bell sounded. Leonard, the sanguine young man with the endearing smile, couldn't quite believe the sheer ferocity and aggression of the man against whom he was risking his title. While walking through the streets of Montreal in the days before the fight, Leonard encountered Duran, only to find that aforementioned smile met with a torrent of malicious abuse. "Duran gave Leonard the finger, and really starts giving it to Ray and Juanita", remembered Angelo Dundee, Leonard's chief second. "Talking about 'I'm going to kill your husband', and stuff like that. That got to Ray." Leonard's testimony confirmed that a psychological blow had been struck. "He taunted me. He cursed my mother, my children, my wife. He said unbelievable things and I let them get to me."

Indeed, Leonard did seem a little spooked by it all when the two fighters came together for their final instructions, his furtive glances a stark contrast to Duran's truly intimidating scowl. The man from Panama seized upon Leonard's tension and took control of the fight early, pushing him to the ropes whenever possible and landing wicked hooks to the body. Unable to get off first and find the range he was so used to working in, Leonard was staggered by a fast right-left combination in round two, and after a fantastic bit of movement and feinting from the former Lightweight king resulted in another great counter right which had him back-peddling and holding on, Leonard must have been wondering, even at that early stage, how he was going to get in to the fight.

The champion finally got going in the fifth, however, catching Duran with some clipping shots as he was coming in, and finishing strongly with a nice right hand of his own. Gradually, he brought his jab in to play and finally was able to make Duran the miss (whereas earlier, it had been Duran's head and body movement which had left Leonard looking clumsy), to the point where, after eight rounds, the fight was surely dead even.

However, any idea that Duran's fires were starting to wane were quickly put to bed in the ninth, when he landed a hard left hook to nick a round which had perhaps been even up to that point. The next few stanzas, by large, were grim ones for the champion, as Duran rolled with most of his punches, trapped him on the ropes time and time again, and consistently landed the more eye-catching shots. There were plenty of gruelling exchanges up close, and in rounds ten and twelve, Duran even out-jabbed and out-boxed Leonard for long periods, something which hadn't seemed possible from the outset. Leonard, dispelling any doubts about his fighting heart, rallied magnificently to win the fourteenth, and when Duran's coasting towards the end allowed him to take the final round, there was a half-hearted celebration from Leonard as the bell rang, just a small spurt of hope that he'd perhaps retained his title. He hadn't. The scores were soon announced - unanimously in favour of Duran - and the man from Panama had joined the boxing immortals. Leonard would, of course, rise again; but this was Duran's night.

Why it's here: Just weeks before this fight took place, 'Ring Magazine' had voted Leonard their 'Fighter of the Year' for the previous twelve months (1979). Dundee, in his corner for this fantastic contest, was named as 'Trainer of the Year.' At the same time, the publication was also jointly bestowing upon Duran the honour of 'Fighter of the Decade' for the seventies. That, I feel, goes some way to demonstrating the sheer magnitude of this fight. As a boxing fan, it's the kind of bout you dream of.

What's more, the fight itself was a superb one. A perfect blend of styles, with Duran achieving the crowing moment in a career which has rarely been surpassed, and Leonard earning more kudos and respect in defeat than he'd previously done in any victory. In terms of significance, the 'Brawl in Montreal' was, and still is, huge. It was Duran's ticket to a place amongst the all-time greats, and provided Leonard with a lesson which he held close to him for the rest of his career - had Duran not shown him the importance of avoiding being sucked in to your opponent's fight, would we have ever seen Leonard roar back to stop Hearns, for instance, or cheekily dance his way to that contentious decision over Hagler? You could argue, perhaps, that the unpleasant stench surrounding the subsequent rematch takes some of the gloss off this fight. But leaving that aside, you have to ask yourself: has anyone in the history of the sport achieved a single greater win than the one Duran achieved here, all things considered?


# 3 - Emile Griffith W TKO 12 Benny 'Kid' Paret, Undisputed title, 1962

The skinny: This may well have been the most ill-tempered Welterweight title fight of them all; at the weigh in, before a punch had even been thrown, Paret infamously patted Griffith on the backside and labelled him a 'maricon', a direct reference to the rumours regarding Griffith's sexuality which had been circulating, causing an aggressive flare up. At the end of round three, Griffith shoved the Cuban Paret back to his corner, and they were flailing away at each other's throats at the conclusion of round seven, too, as Paret threw a rabbit punch after the bell. Similar 'afters' occurred at the end of rounds eight and nine. Paret was twice sternly warned about the use of his head in rounds four and five, and when he landed the most blatant and cynical of low blows in round seven - drawing gasps from both the crowd and his opponent - the way in which Griffith touched gloves afterwards resembled a highly annoyed man swatting away at a fly, almost left-hooking Paret's hand away.

Perhaps nobody should have been surprised - there was history between the two, having shared a couple of title fights in the past one apiece. The antipathy was evident right from the off. Griffith, usually the classiest of operators, almost completely abandoned his sublime technical skills and instead tore in to his Cuban opponent, now the champion after earning a decision over the Virgin Islands-born Griffith six months previously, something quite out of character for such a consummate stylist. The first three rounds were fought almost exclusively on the ropes, each man throwing devillish uppercuts and hooks to the body, but Griffith seemed to have control. That slowly began to change in the fourth, when Paret stunned the challenger with two hard lefts in the fourth. He continued his recovery in the fifth, and came agonisingly close to victory in the sixth; in the closing stages of the round, Griffith walked on to a quick one-two, the sharp left which punctuated it sending him to the floor for a heavy knockdown. He beat the count, but appeared very dazed and weary when waved back in to action. Fortunately for him, the bell sounded and Paret was denied the chance to finish the job.

However, whatever frantic work Griffith's corner did in the next sixty seconds to revive their man clearly worked - he had a big round in the seventh, landing two booming right hands which made the champion want to hold on. The eighth followed a similar pattern, but now it was the Cuban's tern to fight back, and fight back he did, rallying splendidly to win the ninth and keep the fight - as well as the title - very much in the balance. However, the frenetic pace of the fight seemed to be taking more out of the Cuban than it was the Virgin Islander now based in New York. In the tenth, Paret took two long, punishing onslaughts of unanswered hooks to the head, but somehow stayed on his feet, and he was hurt again in the eleventh by two strong lefts.

By the twelfth, both men looked almost spent, clinching at every opportunity and doing little in the way of fighting out of these clinches - and then, out of nowhere, Griffith fired off two quick rights which sent Paret reeling towards a neutral corner. Sensing blood, he then battered the champion with over twenty unanswered punches, all of them short hooks or devastating uppercuts. Around half way through this assault, Paret's head slipped underneath the top rope and he became tangled amongst them, totally defenceless and helpless against Griffith's brutal attack. Referee Ruby Goldstein should most certainly have stepped in sooner - by the time he did, to signal the title changing back in to Griffith's hands again at the end of an epic contest, Paret had folded to the canvas, body limp and totally unconscious to anything and anyone around him. He slipped in to a coma, and tragically never woke up from it.

Why it's here: As I'm sure you can all appreciate, I deliberated for a good while about whether or not it was right or appropriate to include this fight at all. As I've already alluded to, this was a fight which was seriously ill-tempered, and even more tragic. That said, I can't possibly deny that it was also an action-packed bout, one with plenty of ebb and flow, and one which , had it not been for Paret's terrible plight, would rightly be acknowledged as one of the finest Welterweight title scraps of all time far more freely and openly than it currently is. If there is anyone who feels that my inclusion of this fight is in bad taste, I truly apologise - I can assure you, I haven't placed it on this list to garner any 'shock value' or whatever you want to call it. However, it's a simple fact that Paret's death, while still representing a truly black day in the history of boxing, came at the end of twelve excellent rounds which, before the learned of Paret's awful condition, would surely be greatly appreciated by anyone in attendance that night at Madison Square Garden, as well as anyone watching on television.

Moreover, you could argue that the long-term significance of this fight makes it an automatic inclusion - for instance, it was this fight and the manner in which it ended which led to the introduction of the four-roped ring, a key development in the safety of the sport. And furthermore, it serves to remind us fans of just what can be at stake when we watch our heroes in battle. Yes, boxing is a sport for the most part, but every now and then, it becomes something far more serious and sobering than that - and we shouldn't ever forget this, nor the terrible price that some unlucky battlers have to pay for keeping us entertained.


# 2 - Ray Leonard W TKO 14 Thomas Hearns, Undisputed title, 1981

The skinny: This was the fight the world wanted to see in 1981, 'Sugar' versus the 'Hit Man.' The second half of 1980 dictated that Leonard and Hearns simply must meet; on August 2, the then twenty-one year old Hearns, owner of the most feared right hand in boxing, flattened the long-serving WBA champion Pipino Cuevas in two short rounds. And then on November 25, Leonard avenged his sole career defeat to this point, bewildering, confusing and, ultimately, humiliating his Panamanian rival Roberto Duran to an eighth round retirement to reclaim his old WBC and lineal titles. Now, the two men would meet to decide who could call themselves the first one hundred percent, unequivocally undisputed Welterweight champion since Jose Napoles six years previously.

For a good while, it seemed that it would be Hearns, southern in origin but the most famous product of Emanuel Steward's Detroit 'Kronk' gym, who wore that badge of honour. Proving that he was more than a one trick pony, it was his boxing skills, rather than his overwhelming punching power, which saw him dominate the early stages. Tall and upright, his rapier-like jab proved a little too vicious and prolific for Leonard. The footwork of the slick WBC champion kept him out of harm's way for the most part, and he had his moments in the second round, but even his sublime hand speed and movement couldn't force an opening, and his circling of Hearns seemed largely ineffective.

Things began to change slightly in the sixth - finally, Leonard found an opening and fired off a quick left, which had Hearns wobbling. Tommy, as ever, tried to fight fire with fire and threw plenty of leather in return, but he was visibly shaken and had to digest a few more hard left hands to both head and body before the bell to end the round sounded. For Leonard, the sixth was a ray of light at the end of what had, until then, been an extremely dark tunnel. For Hearns, it was an ominous sign, and the two of them exchanged long, furtive glances as the bell sounded. Hearns appeared still a little rubbery in the seventh and, unable to keep Leonard at distance as he'd been doing in the early rounds, had to absorb some punishing uppercuts in close - after the round, a worried Steward pleaded with him to stick to his boxing and keep that right hand cocked in defence while firing off his jab. Hearns listened, and stuck to his boxing, dominating the next few rounds with stern jabs to both the head and body of Leonard. In the eleventh, Leonard was momentarily staggered by a right-left combination, but there were signs that the pace was beginning to tell on his 'Hit Man', as he gradually became more and more flat footed, once again standing in front of Leonard. He did so again in the twelfth, but Leonard, oddly enough, seemed reluctant to commit, letting another round slip away.

Then, between the twelfth and thirteenth rounds, came that famous pep talk of Angelo Dundee's, Leonard's chief second, which we all know so well. It worked, and worked well. Half way through the thirteenth, Leonard landed a perfect right cross through Hearns' guard, and the WBA champion's legs buckled slightly, sending him across the ring. Leonard literally ran after him, and a mix of more punishing shots and a push from Leonard had Hearns partially falling through the ropes. The referee gave him the benefit of the doubt and didn't call it a knockdown, but the rest of the round was a grim battle for survival, as Leonard continued to pound away with shots inside. In the closing seconds of the round, Hearns was forced to take a proper count, and it was surely only the bell which saved him - and Leonard raised his arms as it sounded, a bold prediction of this impending victory. Leonard, battle-hardened by his gruelling encounters with Wilfred Benitez and Duran, both of whom had taken him in to and then all the way through the fifteenth round, now had Hearns, clearly fatigued having never gone beyond twelve before, exactly where he wanted him - a right hand in the fourteenth had Tommy tottering backwards yet again, and a string on unanswered blows soon brought an intervention from the referee. Leonard, behind on the cards, had produced a massive finish to unify the Welterweight division in stunning fashion.

Why it's here: Well, I guess that really doesn't require much explanation. The fact that this fight removed absolutely all doubt as to who was the king of the 147 lb division in 1981 isn't a bad starting point, of course, and then there's the fact that the fight itself was a pure classic, and would have been even if it had taken place on a much smaller scale. But to me, the stand out point here is the sheer size of the challenge which Leonard had to overcome in order to earn his place amongst the elite greats of the Welterweight class. Hearns was undefeated, and to call him a 'monster' or a 'beast' at Welterweight doesn't quite do him justice - very good fighters, such as the aforementioned Cuevas, Angel Espada and Randy Shields, had been systematically dismantled and, quite frankly, demolished in his wake. At the time, there existed no real blue print on how to beat him, but Leonard managed it, and had to show huge courage and resilience to do so. So not only did this fight answer, once and for all, the question about who the world's premier Welterweight was - it also marked the moment that Leonard went from being a great 147 lb man to one of the very, very greatest of all time.


# 1 - Carmen Basilio W TKO 12 Tony DeMarco, Undisputed title, 1955

The skinny: Basilio always claimed that, compared to his youth which he spent working on upstate New York's onion farms, boxing was "easy." I'm not quite so sure he'd have said the same if interviewed immediately after this epic tussle with DeMarco, who Basilio had ousted earlier in 1955 to claim the world Welterweight title in a fight which, on its own, would be worth consideration for this list. However, if the first fight was good, the second was sensational, to say the least. The fight was a decent style match up from the off. Basilio the rugged and sometimes crude brawler, DeMarco a slightly more 'easy on the eye' operator with a very good right hand in particular. And so, I'm still at a loss to explain why Basilio spent more or less the whole fight circling to his left, thus walking in to DeMarco's best punch. There wasn't a great deal to choose between them in the first two rounds, but DeMarco, looking to join Billy Smith, Jim Ferns, Ted Lewis, Jack Britton and Barney Ross as the only men to regain the Welterweight championship, got a foothold in the third when he rocked the champion with a series of right hooks.

Basilio, as always, rallied back with his trademark tenacity, throwing strength-sapping shots to the body while in the clinches (how he got away with this so much I'll never know), but a huge left hook flush on his chin at the start of round five seemed to daze him for the rest of the round, and there was even worse to come in the seventh. A left-right, Louis like one-two rocked him, and DeMarco had Basilio teetering right on the edge of defeat towards the end of the round when a left cross had the champions legs buckling and then in spasm, as he wobbled dangerously close to the canvas. The inspired challenger won the eighth, too - the points lead was increasing at an alarming rate. What followed was the stuff of legend. Basilio came out crouching low in rounds nine and ten, a tactic which seemed to disrupt DeMarco's rhythm. How and why, I can't fully explain, as the swinging Basilio was still a fairly open target. Nevertheless, for the first time in a while, Basilio took a couple of rounds that we unequivocally his. Having worked so hard to get the lead, however, DeMarco was in no mood to relinquish it, and rallied to take the eleventh and stamp his authority on the fight again.

He came out trying to stick and move in the twelfth, but those wicked body shots from Basilio had greatly reduced his speed and elusiveness, and it wasn't long before the 'Upstate Onion Farmer' had caught up with him. A series of hard, clubbing right hands sent DeMarco staggering to the corner and down on the deck - he somehow beat the count. But he was there for the taking, and the follow up attack from Basilio knocked him cold. He'd been a little over three rounds away from regaining his old title. Instead, Basilio had kept it under phenomenal circumstances.

Why it's here: Well, to put it bluntly, it's just impossible to leave out. Moore-Durelle, Chavez-Taylor, LaMotta-Dauthille....Dramatic comebacks in world title fights are always greatly appreciated. Rightly named the 'Fight of the Year' by Ring Magazine in 1955, it represented the start of an incredible five year run for Basilio in which he featured in each of the Ring's selected fight, be he the winner or loser; a statistic that truly bolsters his claim to be the greatest 'value for money' fighter of his era, and one of the greatest of all eras.


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Once more, I can only say sorry for the length of this article, which I'm sure has bored you all to tears! Either way, I still had fun compiling the list and, as long as this article gets a decent level of response, I look forward to continuing the series - the Flyweights are up next!

If anyone has anything to add, the floor is yours. Cheers.


Last edited by 88Chris05 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 7:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by Sugar Floyd Louis on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 2:52 pm

Articles like this make me think why am I on this site! Fabulously written with a lot of detail.

I'll check out the fights from this list I haven't watched.

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by 88Chris05 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 2:53 pm

Cheers, SFL! Yeah, I did notice that my 'skinnies' for each bout seem to be getting longer and longer....May need to address that for the next article! Thanks for the kind words, mate.
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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by BoxingFan88 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 2:57 pm

Wow Chris your boxing knowledge is just amazing! I have so much to learn.

Great article!

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by mobilemaster8 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 3:05 pm

Fantastic article Chris, really good read! Will be hitting some YouTube action later to view these!! boxing

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by fearlessBamber on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 3:07 pm

Not seen some of these fights and will certainly try and find them.

Used to like Curry's fights when he was on song and was amazed at how he dealt with Jones an McCrory. There was something video game / martial arts about his precise style.

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by 88Chris05 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 3:16 pm

Very true, Bamber. As I said earlier, I was really tempted to put Curry-Starling II in there, because there was some simply incredible skill on show from both men. Curry's balance was fantastic, he flowed so freely and smoothly. Couldn't quite find room for it here, but it wouldn't have looked out of place.

Anyone have any Welterweight showdowns which haven't been mentioned at all so far which they'd offer up?
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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by OasisBFC on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 3:35 pm

excellent article.

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by bhb001 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 3:52 pm

Superb. Thanks for this

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by Mind the windows Tino. on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 4:01 pm

Truly great stuff again, Chris. Really is excellent work.

No arguments from me over your list, as it is a pretty comprehensive who's who of great WW fights.

Maybe a nod for Barney Ross v Henry Armstrong? I know Ross was at the end of his career (literally!) but it is a real class demonstration of how good Armstrong was and a perfect example of how brave, courageous and a truly remarkable man Barney Ross was. I appreciate that there are rumours of Armstrong carrying Ross but in terms of its significance and historical place, it was a great fight (and still available on youtube I believe). Armstrong was all over Ross in that inimitable style of his but Barney never quit and he has to be one of the toughest hombres ever.

Certainly wouldn't usurp any fights in your list, but one that I love.

Mind the windows Tino.
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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by Soldier_Of_Fortune on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 4:05 pm

That killed a good 25mins in work Chris.

Great article.

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by ShahenshahG on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 5:07 pm

ARGH ME EYES. Excellent read once again chris although my eyes won't thank you for it. I havent seen Brown -Blocker/ Palomino Muniz fights so will note those as something to watch - then probably pop back to see if I agree - although the other fights you chose indicate that i'll probably agree. Particularly love the Duran-Leonard one as you know - am particularly partial to him.

I wonder though if we could make a list of fighters who pushed other fighters to greatness, its something akin to tempering a sword and an important process I think in seperating the greatest from the great and the Very Very good.

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by Guest on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 5:38 pm

Crumbs,some good stuff to investigate from this gem of an article-I only hope that if you write an article on Middleweights you find a mention for Joey Giardello...fingers crossed.

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by 88Chris05 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 5:43 pm

Thanks for the comments, guys.

Tino, I thought Armstrong-Ross had been removed from YouTube, save for highlights? Disappointing, because otherwise I'd certainly have included it.

Never quite been able to make up my mind if Armstrong really did carry Ross over the championship rounds; from what I remember of the closing stages, Hank was hitting Barney with everything but his corner stool! Referee Arthur Donovan wanted to pull him out as early as round ten, I believe, but Ross apparently pleaded with him to let the fight go on, promising that he'd retire immediately afterwards if he did.

The thing is, I've read - most recently in Herb Boyd's 'Pound for Pound' - that Armstrong may have been as much as 20-odd lb lighter than Ross come the time of the fight (the fight itself was delayed due to heavy rain, remember, in which time a few trips to the bathroom had seen Armstrong lose much of the 'artificial weight' he'd gained through plenty of glasses of beer and water prior to the weigh in) - and as great as Armstrong was, I find it a little far-fetched to think that even he, given that he was little more than a natural Featherweight himself, could afford to take his foot off the gas like that against a Welterweight of Ross' brilliance. Besides, as you've already alluded to, Ross owned one of the sturdiest chins the middle weight classes have ever seen.
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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by paperbag_puncher on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 5:45 pm

Ridiculously good article. More than good enough to be published somewhere. Good luck when you get to the cruisers... Although Holy Qawai 1 one of my favourites.

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by 88Chris05 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 5:48 pm

Ha ha, thanks PP! I forgot to mention that I only intend to cover the original eight weight classes in the series - if I tried to tackle the Cruiserweights, I'd probably be reduced to telling you all that Sammy Reeson's battle with Carlos DeLeon was a gripping classic, and that's a task which is certainly beyond little old me!

Besides, even I'm not lonely and sad enough to do this kind of thing for all seventeen weight classes (quiet, Tino).
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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by Rowley on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 5:49 pm

Chris, as others have said cracking read, the one fight I would offer up for finding a place is Ross Mclarnin, think I am right in saying the third fight is filmed and available, I have a good chunk of it at home on DVD and it is a belter and all the reports suggest the two that had gone before it lived up to that standard, two legends who deserve a berth IMO

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by 88Chris05 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 5:54 pm

Cheers, Rowley. As I said in the article, it looks as if (as far as I can see, anyway) the Ross-McLarnin series has been removed from YouTube for the time being, and as such I couldn't really include it here. I've seen the third fight, and parts of the first (not much, mind) and you're right, they're excellent.

Hopefully some wonderful soul will upload a.s.a.p.
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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by Rowley on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 5:56 pm

Sorry mate, skim read the article so did not see that, pity it is not on there though because it is a belter even allowing for the fact they fought in black and white and would have obviously lost to Colin Lynes nowadays.

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by Guest on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 5:58 pm

88Chris05 wrote:

Besides, even I'm not lonely and sad enough to do this kind of thing for all seventeen weight classes (quiet, Tino).

It's not being sad and lonely. It's being pale and interesting.


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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by azania on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 6:18 pm

Are you unemployed or something? Where the heck did you find time and energy to write something like that. Great stuff even if I say so myself. But it wouldn't be me if I didn't have issues with some of it.

On the SRL/Hearns fight you wrote: The fact that this fight removed absolutely all doubt as to who was the king of the 147 lb division in 1981 isn't a bad starting point.

A rematch with SRL winning would have done that. This bout highlighted Hearns' inexperience against a great great boxer. Lets not forget that he was being outboxed for most of the fight and who knows how a rematch would have ended? There was still much doubt and many would have backed Hearns to win a rematch had it happened within 12 months.

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by 88Chris05 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 7:10 pm

I earn my (admittedly sparse!) dosh, Azania - I can assure you, this little number was written in chunks over a few days!

As for the Hearns / Leonard issue you bring up, well Tommy and his team made the conscious decision to move up to 154 lb immediately after this fight, so to say that a Welterweight rematch was needed to cement Leonard's claim to be the top dog at 147 lb seems a tad unfair, to me at least.

Anyway, I've often wondered if Tommy, in the early days, campaigned at Welterweight at a cost to his body and stamina. Part of me suspects that he'd have been better off at Middleweight or higher all along, and given that Leonard always seemed to learn his lessons - whereas Hearns seldom did - it wouldn't surprise me if a rematch had finished in a very similar result.

Regardless of what the scores were at the time of the stoppage, inside-schedule wins over Benitez, Duran and Hearns is more than enough to establish Leonard as the top Welterweight of his era, nevermind just 1981.
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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 7:36 pm

Good list.....but Brown vs Blocker WTF!!!

Curry-Mcrory was a huge fight...probably one of the top 10 best kayoes of alltime..

and Curry became p4p number 1....as well as undisputed champ!!

Brown-Blocker was on a Tyson-Ruddock undercard...stunk... and only bonafide fans have heard of Brown....

Wrong choice chris but fantastic article...

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by 88Chris05 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 7:42 pm

Cheers for stopping by, Truss. With regards to Brown-Blocker, I thought it was a good enough fight. Certainly better in that pure sense than Curry-McCrory, which wasn't really much of a fight at all, so one sided was it! That said, it was significant, as you've said yourself.

I tried to make the list as varied as possible, with a couple of the selections being unexpected ones, hence the inclusion of Brown-Blocker, Trinidad-Campas etc. I enjoyed Brown-Blocker personally, but it's horses for courses.

Glad you enjoyed the article, anyhow.
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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 7:45 pm

Just might have thought that one of the greatest one punch knockouts of alltime...with the unification aspect and the winner's promotion to number 1 makes it a must!!!

I think you probably do to....

Brown-Blocker stunk for me.....Blocker was a perennial stinker...

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by azania on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 7:46 pm

I suppose moving up in weight immediately is some indication.

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by TRUSSMAN66 on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 8:00 pm

Chris answer Azania.....He's taken a shine to you and I don't want to see him brokenhearted by a non response!!! Tumbleweed

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by ChelskiFanski on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 10:20 pm

Fantastic article as always Chris.

I've recently started reading a few boxing books (got through Angelo Dundee's, Four Kings and Roberto Duran's so far) and couldn't help thinking as I read your article that a book I'd love would cover the top 10 fights from all 8 classes in real depth. If you ever get a spare few months maybe you could give it a go...

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by azania on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 10:27 pm

TRUSSMAN66 wrote:Chris answer Azania.....He's taken a shine to you and I don't want to see him brokenhearted by a non response!!! Tumbleweed

Grow a pair Truss. Even one will do.

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by rapidringsroad on Wed 20 Jun 2012, 10:34 pm

Good article Chris, if I didn't know better I could have sworn it was put on by Windy, keep up the good work and there are some fights that I haven't seen so I will be watching those as soon as I have taken the dogs a walk.

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by horizontalhero on Thu 21 Jun 2012, 8:20 am

Superb stuff Mate, Whilst I wouldn't critise any of your choices, I would ask that an asterix be placed next to Leonard v Duran , with an accompanying note that insisted that their second fight be included as compulsory viewing, least anyone forget that Leonard was magnificent in the sequel, perhaps his most pure performance , not only out boxing his opponent but destroying him psychologically ( I realise that this would make 11 welter fights that must be viewed, but this is boxing , so what's a little rule bending between friends?)

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by Mind the windows Tino. on Thu 21 Jun 2012, 9:02 am

88Chris05 wrote:Thanks for the comments, guys.

Tino, I thought Armstrong-Ross had been removed from YouTube, save for highlights? Disappointing, because otherwise I'd certainly have included it.

Never quite been able to make up my mind if Armstrong really did carry Ross over the championship rounds; from what I remember of the closing stages, Hank was hitting Barney with everything but his corner stool! Referee Arthur Donovan wanted to pull him out as early as round ten, I believe, but Ross apparently pleaded with him to let the fight go on, promising that he'd retire immediately afterwards if he did.

The thing is, I've read - most recently in Herb Boyd's 'Pound for Pound' - that Armstrong may have been as much as 20-odd lb lighter than Ross come the time of the fight (the fight itself was delayed due to heavy rain, remember, in which time a few trips to the bathroom had seen Armstrong lose much of the 'artificial weight' he'd gained through plenty of glasses of beer and water prior to the weigh in) - and as great as Armstrong was, I find it a little far-fetched to think that even he, given that he was little more than a natural Featherweight himself, could afford to take his foot off the gas like that against a Welterweight of Ross' brilliance. Besides, as you've already alluded to, Ross owned one of the sturdiest chins the middle weight classes have ever seen.

You're probably right then, Chris. I haven't watched it for well over 3 years so if the fight is no longer on, in full, then I am not going to argue. It is not like I can accuse you of a lack of research in this thread, is it!

As for the fight itself, I also find it difficult to establish the truth in the rumours of Armstrong carrying Ross. I have read that Hank actually asked Barney how he was feeling towards the end of the fight, to which Barney said something along the lines of "I'm finished". Legend has it that Armstrong, displaying all the respect he had for the great Ross, told him to keep throwing the left, but if he started to shoot his right hand, then Hank was going to have to finish it! Having said that, Barney was never a pulverising puncher, so whether he could have even hurt Armstrong is also up for debate.

The point you raise about Hank taking his foot of the gas is interesting. Had Ross gone on with his career and scored some big wins post 1938 I would agree without question. But the fact he didn't, and was clearly finished at elite level, at least leaves some element of doubt. Ross was made of iron, and I don't think for one minute that Armstrong would have taken him out with one or two punches, but a stoppage on his feet is not out of the question.

It is always hard to know how apocryphal many of these stories are though, so I guess we will never know if Hank carried him or not. Whatever the answer is, it takes nothing away from what a seminal fight it was, maybe not for its competitiveness, but for a passing of the torch moment.

Anyways, my congratulations again on what is a fine thread. You really should consider leaving accounts and start writing for a career. I mean that sincerely as well.

Mind the windows Tino.
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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by Valero's Conscience on Thu 21 Jun 2012, 9:40 am

Superb article Chris, you and few others are the reason I get behind on my work!

I often print articles like this off and read on the train home from work, much better than the Evening Standard!

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by superflyweight on Thu 21 Jun 2012, 9:59 am

Anyway, I've often wondered if Tommy, in the early days, campaigned at Welterweight at a cost to his body and stamina. Part of me suspects that he'd have been better off at Middleweight or higher all along, and given that Leonard always seemed to learn his lessons - whereas Hearns seldom did - it wouldn't surprise me if a rematch had finished in a very similar result.

It's tough one to call, Chris.

It's Hearns' performances at welter and light middle that built his legend. The advantages that his almost freakish physicality (combined with his incredible punching power and boxing skills) set him apart at those weights and on a head to head basis, he's a nightmare for anyone who has ever campaigned at those weights.

However, as you say, the fight against Leonard exposed how vulnerable he was the longer the fight when on (albeit it took one of the very best welters to expose this) and his legs (rather than his chin) seemed to let him down which suggests that he was perhaps no physically suited to maintaining the weight.

From middleweight and above, Tommy lost some of the physical advantages that set him apart at the lower weights and his punching power was nowhere near as devastating. It's tough to judge properly as we can't ignore the passage of time and the aging process would have had an effect, but he was much more inconsistent and certainly looked more beatable as he moved through the divisions. Yes, there were some great moments but I don't think I would class his post Hagler career as the career of a likely top 20 pound for pound fighter.

I guess the question is, how would Hearns have fared had he been a fully fledged middleweight from the outset?

Great article by the way.

Not in the same league as the others you've mentioned and not technically at welter (catchweight), but I loved Manny v Cotto and it carries a certain amount of significance in truly cementing Manny's greatness.


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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by 88Chris05 on Thu 21 Jun 2012, 10:22 am

Thanks for the kind words and opinions, everyone. Keep them coming if you can.

Good shout on Pacquiao-Cotto, Superfly. That one actually slipped my mind somehow, but it wouldn't look out of place here. Without doubt the best I've ever seen Pacquiao look - Cotto just couldn't do anything with him. His footwork was fantastic, creating shots from all angles at a frantic pace. I've never really thought that Pacquiao could beat Floyd, but that was the fight which made me think that maybe, just maybe, he could.

Certainly removed any lingering doubts about his greatness though, as you say. There were a lot of questions being asked before the fight - if he could take a shot from a hard-punching, fully-fledged Welterweight, whether or not he could deal with someone matching such natural size and very good boxing ability of their own etc - and he passed every single test with flying colours.

Superb performance. I remember feeling privileged to have seen it.
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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by TheMackemMawler on Thu 21 Jun 2012, 10:34 am

Great article, some of the fights I'd not seen but this wasn't a problem because the descriptions were rich.

I imagined every punch with every word untill, "McGirt's crisp shots from inside the width of his own shoulder blades each time just didn't allow the challenger the same space he was used to having" Didn't have a clue but
thanks for a great article and motivating me to seek out the bouts I hadn't seen..

Cheers!
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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by Guest on Wed 10 Jan 2018, 9:56 am

Thought that I would trawl the archives for a property classic article-cheers!

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

Post by smashingstormcrow on Thu 11 Jan 2018, 10:27 am

I reckon the hotly anticipated Amir Khan vs TBC will surely be a shoe-in for this list.

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Re: The ten Welterweight title fights you must see in your lifetime

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