Back in 2017 premier and oldest British fight publication Boxing News produced a special edition magazine titled ‘100 Greatest British Boxers’. Being the professionals they are, the staff of the paper deliberated long and hard over their election of the top hundred and then opened it up to wider scrutiny and challenge.
This is an excellent and comprehensive read and is still available online at https://www.boxingnewsshop.com/store/product-category/boxing-news-special-editions/
Spoiler alert – for the purpose of this article I have to reveal the top ten at that time read :-
10 – Randy Turpin, 9) Jim Driscoll, 8) Joe Calzaghe, 7) Freddie Welsh, 6) Bob Fitzsimmons, 5) Jack ‘Kid’ Berg, 4) Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis, 3) Benny Lynch, 2) Lennox Lewis and 1) Jimmy Wilde.
Yes; the winner was ‘The Mighty Atom’, a legendary Welsh flyweight who campaigned in the early decades of the twentieth century and compiled a professional record of 132-6-1 (99 KO’s). In doing so, winning British, European and World flyweight titles and finishing in 1921 as a bantamweight with a 75% knockout win percentage in the toughest of eras.
Wilde was in fact rated in an earlier Boxing News publication as the eighth greatest boxer of all time, across any division and era. Only being topped by the likes of Ali, Robinson, Louis, Leonard and Duran. Some accolade.
The Boxing News top ten of British boxers was dominated by boxers from a bygone era with only Calzaghe and Lewis being the modern day exceptions.
Of equal interest was the remaining ninety boxers in the log and how fighters from each era were scored and ranked. How did the modern day ‘greats’ Hamed, Benn, Hatton and Bruno fare ? You will have to purchase the special edition to find this out.
The reasoning for mention of this now is that special edition is but a mere three years old, yet, there are boxers recently retired or currently active who should force their way into the next top hundred, whenever BN choose to review – but where ?
A quick review of British boxers and fistic accomplishment since 2017 shows we now have two of our greatest heavyweights in Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, certainly since Lennox Lewis made the runner up position. Both are two-time and multiple world champions in the division and should crack the top ten. Certainly Fury who remains undefeated and deposed two champions who reigned beyond ten defences. Where they finally settle in the pantheon of British boxers will be determined by their career ending record, or at the time BN review.
In addition, we have a former Ring magazine fighter of the year in Carl Frampton (something only achieved by two other British fighters in Hatton and Fury) and arguably the highest honour in the sport. Add in two recent winners of the World Boxing Super Series – Muhammad Ali Trophy, – a three-fight elite unification tournament to determine the best in the division – in Callum Smith and Josh Taylor, both still undefeated.
Then throw into the mix double ‘world’ champion Amir Khan and former IBF welterweight champ Kell Brook who won his title spectacularly overseas against a champion in Shawn Porter whose stock has risen since that defeat.
All of these are still active so their final position will still be work in progress. What is certain is all will crack the top hundred, when the experts at Boxing News choose to update their ultimate guide to the best British boxers.
Maybe the most interesting and outstanding question is should ‘The Gypsy King’ remain undefeated, or Anthony Joshua win (if and when they meet) will it be enough to top Lennox Lewis achievements ? Or, indeed replace ‘The Mighty Atom’ further down the track. Once we recover from the present troubles and some semblance of normal service resumes it will be fascinating to see where these modern day British boxers ultimately end up in the historical roll of honour.
To be continued …….