Best Mutual Display of Skills of All Time By Division

02.09.06 - By Rev. Marc Axelrod: Heavyweight - Ali-Frazier I - The very best Joe Frazier vs a not too far removed from prime Muhammad Ali. I have never seen a greater exhibition of heavyweight skill and heavyweight guts in a single fight. Only Conn-Louis I, Holmes-Norton, and Bowe-Holyfield I can compare. The Thrilla in Manila was great, but both fighters had seen better days. If the Toney-Peter fight is a stinker, pop Ali-Frazier I into your dvd player (or vcr) and all else will be forgotten..

Cruiserweight - Holyfield-Qawi I. This was by far the best fight in this division. Great skills shown by both guys. Lots of heart, lots of punches, and a lot of defensive skill (especially the bobbing and weaving Qawi). Evander received his Master of Sweet Science Degree in this fight, and Qawi earned our eternal respect.

Light-Heavyweight - You could make a case for Archie Moore vs Ezzard Charles I-III, or Saad Muhammad-Johnson 1 and 2, or Lopez 1 and 2. But my pick is for Moore-Durelle. What a war this was! Both guys gave it their all, and Moore picked himself up off the canvas four times to retain his title.

Super-Middleweight - Roy Jones Jr. vs. James Toney. Two of the best fighters of the 1990s near their primes. OK, it wasn't a great fight, and Toney was clearly outclassed, but it was a great display of skill, especially by Jones.

Middleweight - Hagler-Leonard - Some will say Hagler-Hearns, but that was more of a case of one great round, not one great fight. The Sugar Ray-Hagler fight was a huge demonstration of skill, guts, and determination by both guys for 12 rounds. I never get tired of watching reruns. ESPN Classic, are you listening?

Jr. Middleweight - This is a tough one, but I'll say Felix Trinidad vs Fernando Vargas. Can you think of another more evenly contested match of unbeaten warriors at this weight than this match? This fight ruined Vargas, but no one will forget the heart and soul he showed for 12 rounds.

Welterweight - It's between Robinson-Gavilan II for the title and Leonard-Hearns. Not having seen footage of the former, I'll go with Leonard-Hearns. Two unbeaten guys for the welterweight crown and retrospectively, for the title of best welterweight of the 1980s. I don't think I have ever seen a fight where the ebb and flow changed so dramatically. The boxer became the puncher and the puncher became the boxer. Some have suggested that rounds 9-12 may have been the four best rounds Thomas Hearns ever boxed, and others have pointed out that this was Leonard's most impressive and convincing big fight triumph.

Jr. Welterweight - Aaron Pryor vs. Alexis Arguello I. This was not only the best combined exhibition of skill ever at the 140 pound limit, but it was one of the best fights that I have ever seen. 14 pounds of pressure and a little black bottle helped Aaron win his career defining boxing match. But this was also a great performance by Arguello, who was probably past his peak, but still better than anyone else at 140 pounds.

Lightweight - This is tough. Duran-Buchanan deserves an honorable mention. Maybe Duran-Dejesus II and III. But I'm leaning toward Henry Armstrong vs Lou Ambers, June 22, 1938. This was was so heated that Hammerin Hank doesn't remember anything past round 10 if memory serves me (someone
help me out here).

Jr. Lightweight - Maybe Alexis Arguello-Alfredo Escalera 1 and 2. Two all out wars. Two of the best Jr.Lightweights ever! Escalera came into this match with an insane 17 straight successful title defenses (he probably deserved to lose against Tyrone Everett, but that's the subject of another article). Arguello said years later in an interview that the second Escalera fight was the roughest match he had ever been in.

Featherweight - I would have to say Willie Pep-Sandy Saddler II. The two best featherweights of all time in a fight that was not marred by fouls or injuries like their subsequent bouts. Barrera-Morales I and III are honorable mentions.

Jr. Featherweight - How about Wilfredo Gomez vs. Carlos Zarate? Well, it was evenly matched until the end of the 4th round, anyway ....

Bantamweight - Maybe Jeff Chandler-Julian Solis I, or Zarate-Zamora. I say the Z boys! Going into this match, both guys had a crazy combined record of 67-0 with 66 knockouts. You knew someone was going down when the combatants signed for this fight. Almost as entertaining was the fight between the fathers afterward!

Flyweight - Michael Carbajal-Humberto Gonzalez I

Article posted on 03.09.2006

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