There’s an incredibly rich history of boxing
across British soil. This dates all the way back to the 1600s, when the first
documented bare-knuckle fights are believed to have taken place there.
Prize-fighting surfaced during the early 16th
century and continued to develop throughout the eras, eventually ditching the
brutal ungloved and ungoverned set-up to undertake safer sporting methods.
From the bare-knuckle times, through to Jack
Broughton’s Rules, the London Prize Fighting Rules and later the Marquess of
Queensberry rules, boxing in Britain has progressed with the times.
Throughout the centuries of development there
have been many esteemed fighters to rise to the pinnacle in the UK. Here, we look
back and rank the 10 greatest British fighters throughout history.
10. Jim Driscoll
The greatest British combatant never to get his
hands on a world title but his career feats were still highly impressive
Welshman “Peerless” Jim Driscoll used his ring talents to battle out of poverty and was ultimately inducted into the Hall of Fame for his achievements, which included victories over world champions Abe Attell and George Dixon.
9. Chris Eubank Snr
The hugely flamboyant Chris Eubank Snr left a
lasting impact on British boxing after rallying to world honours at both
middleweight and super-middleweight.
His intense rivalry with long-standing nemesis
Nigel Benn also captured the British public’s attention, while his granite chin
and eye-catching knockouts added to his eventually popular persona.
8. Ricky Hatton
Perhaps the most beloved and well-followed
British fighter of modern times.
Ricky Hatton attracted huge rapturous crowds in
his hometown of Manchester and even took legions of supporters abroad.
“The Hitman” was a devastating body puncher and
regarded for his brilliant use of angles and inside work.
His 2005 victory over Kostya Tszyu sealed his
name in British boxing history as well as brilliant Luis Collazo, Carlos Maussa and Jose Luis Castillo wins.
Losses to Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao
didn’t dent his overall stature either, finishing his career as a two-weight
world champion and a true fan favourite.
7. Joe Calzaghe
Welshman Joe Calzaghe reigned supreme at
super-middleweight and briefly light-heavyweight.
He overcame a host of illustrious names before
retiring with an unblemished record of 46-0.
Many critics point out the masterful southpaw’s
most prominent wins over the likes of Mikkel Kessler, Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr
came when those legends were faded.
Though his dominance over Jeff Lacy stands out
and he managed to drop and outpoint Chris Eubank Snr as well.
6. Ken Buchanan
Widely considered Scotland’s finest pugilist,
Ken Buchanan reigned as undisputed lightweight king during an illustrious
The Edinburgh-native controversially lost to
all-time great Roberto Duran but earned high-profile successes over Maurice Cullen, Ismael Laguna, Carlos Ortiz and Jim Watt before becoming a Hall of Fame inductee.
5. Randolph Turpin
Another Hall of Famer up next.
True English great Randy Turpin secured one of boxing’s greatest victories when he upset the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson in 1951 to win the middleweight championship.
Robinson had only tasted a single setback across
132 ring outings prior to their London meeting.
“The Leamington Licker” lost their rematch but
later sealed a British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight triumph over Don
Cockell before a tragic and disturbing end to his life.
4. Ted Lewis
A relentless and punishing fighter, Ted “Kid”
Lewis incredibly embarked on what would be a prestigious professional career at
just 14 years of age.
He twice won the welterweight crown but was a
force from featherweight up to light-heavyweight too.
“The Aldgate Sphinx” was involved in a famous 20-fight rivalry with Jack Britton and was described as “probably the greatest fighter to come out of Britain” by Mike Tyson.
3. Lennox Lewis
One of the all-time elite heavyweights in
history, Lennox Lewis was a superior force during his era following an Olympic
Gold medal success in the amateurs.
The undisputed heavyweight king finished his
career having beaten every man he ever entered the ring with.
This included wins over Donovan ‘Razor’ Ruddock, Frank Bruno, Mike Tyson, Vitali Klitschko, Evader Holyfield and rematch revenge over both Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman.
2. Jimmy Wilde
Often hailed as Britain’s leading light, Jimmy
Wilde is one of the greatest flyweights in history and a formidable knockout
artist among the lower divisions, managing to oust bantamweights and
featherweights at his peak.
The Welshman, brilliantly known as “The Ghost
with the Hammer in His Hand”, bested Young Zulu Kid, Sid Smith, Joe Symonds, Tancy Lee
and Memphis Pal Moore in a grand career.
It’s typically a tossup between two old-timers
for Britain’s top man status, so “The Mighty Atom” is undoubtedly worthy of
that position too.
1. Bob Fitzsimmons
Taking his seat at top spot is the world’s
first-ever three-division world champion, with Hall of Fame legend Bob
Fitzsimmons reigning from middleweight, heavyweight then light-heavyweight.
The Cornwall-born “Freckled Wonder” is considered one of the best pound-for-pound combatants ever.
On his remarkable rise through the weight
classes he knocked out Nonpareil Jack Dempsey and beat Peter Maher, Jim Corbett
and George Gardiner.
Other notable names: Jack Broughton, Lloyd Honeyghan, Naseem Hamed, Tommy Farr, James Figg, Howard Winstone, Sir Henry Cooper, John Conteh, Duke McKenzie, Nigel Benn.
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