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Wilbur’s 100 Greatest Heavyweights of All Time: 91 – 100

By Brian Wilbur

Hello readers, I would like to welcome you to part one of a ten part column in which I chronicle, in order, the 100 best heavyweight boxers in history. For each fighter, I will start off with a brief biography, list their most famous fight(s), and then list some of their less famous fights that contributed to or established their status as a top caliber heavyweight.

The history of the modern fight game, which dates back to the 1880’s, is rich in history and full of interesting and amazing characters. I hope you enjoy the list and feel free to chime in with your own thoughts on the rankings, (or call me a moron for leaving out your favorite fighter, whatever works).

100. Bob Satterfield

If only every era of heavyweight boxing had a few Bob Satterfields, the sport would never have lulls in popularity like we are currently experiencing. Satterfield did not have a glossy record, piling up 25 losses and 4 draws in 79 fights, yet he was amongst the most popular boxers of his era. He fought with reckless aggression, jumping on his opponent and throwing haymakers. Every punch was thrown with full power, and what devastating punches they were. Bob fought as a light heavyweight for the first part of his career, and even had a couple middleweight bouts. He didn’t starting campaigning full time as a heavyweight until the 1950’s and weighed between 178 and 185 in his prime. Satterfield was one of the hardest hitting heavyweights of all time, but considering that he was a natural light heavyweight, his heavy punches were freakish and noteworthy for their pound for pound devastation. Bob’s downfall was what made him so popular, his all out approach that left him overextended, open for counter punches, and out of gas in the later rounds if the early KO did not come. His shaky chin did not help his cause either.

Most Famous Fight(s): KO2 loss to Ezzard Charles in 1954.

Notable Wins: KO3 over Cleveland Williams in 1954, UD over Nino Valdes in 1955, KO1 over Bob Baker in 1953.

99.  Lou Nova

The 1935 US amateur heavyweight champion turned pro in 1936 and hammered his way up the rankings. Standing at 6’2” and over 200 pounds, Nova was considered a large heavyweight for his era. His fundamentals were not stellar, as he often held his hands low and was there to be hit. Lou found success because he moved pretty well for a man of his size, had an effective jab, better than average hand speed, and a strong punch. Nova found a home in the top 10 heavyweight rankings for half a decade in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s.

Most Famous Fight(s): TKO11 over Max Baer in 1939, TKO6 loss to Joe Louis in a 1941 title fight.

Notable Wins: TKO8 over Max Baer in 1941, 15 round decision win over Tommy Farr in 1938.

98. Joe Baksi

Baksi was a son of a coal miner from Pennsylvania who boxed, not for love of the sport, but as a way to get out of a life of mining. He had a stocky, durable build and was a solid all-around technician. Baksi traveled around the east coast circuits building his record and learning his craft in the early 1940’s, but was not a highly regarded prospect. Joe surprised the boxing world when he had success stepping up in class against top ranked heavyweight opponents. Baksi’s hard-nosed fighting style and rock solid chin proved to be a difficult out. Though he did achieve a certain level of success as a contender in his own right, Baksi is perhaps most famous for being the springboard for the great Jersey Joe Walcott’s career, losing his #3 ranking to Walcott in 1945.

Most Famous Fight(s): 10 round points loss to Jersey Joe Walcott in 1945, TKO11 loss to Ezzard Charles in 1948.

Notable Wins: UD10 over Tami Mauriello in 1944, won 2 of 3 from Lee Savold in 1944.

97. Tommy Farr

Farr ranks as one of the most well known Welsh fighters in boxing’s history. Tommy had humble beginnings, fighting with intermittent success on the local pro circuit in Tonypandy, Wales during the 1920’s. A decade later he had captured a couple British titles and established himself as the island’s top heavyweight contender. Farr started to test himself against American contenders to see how he stacked up. His first fight against a top ranked heavyweight did not go so well, though he did earn a very controversial decision against Philadelphia’s Tommy Loughran in 1936. Follow up wins over a faded Max Baer and the German heavyweight champ Walter Neusel earned him a shot at the Joe Louis’s world title. Farr was different than the stereotypical European heavyweight because he fought from a crouch. His fighting style proved to be awkward and difficult for Louis because Farr put up a good fight and lasted the distance. Farr is still remembered for his brave battle against the Brown Bomber because that was when Joe was at his absolute peak.

Most Famous Fight(s): UD15 loss to Joe Louis in 1937.

Notable Wins: 15 round points win over Ben Foord in 1937, 12 round points win over Max Baer in 1937, KO3 over Walter Neusel in 1937.

96.  Luis Angel Firpo

He was known as the Wild Bull of the Pampas. That nickname accurately described his fighting style. Firpo was an offensive minded pugilist with the aggression and power of a charging bull. Like many sluggers, his career was short but scintillating. Firpo of Argentina is still a cultural hero and legendary sports figure in South America because of his time as a heavyweight contender during the roaring 20’s, primarily due to his epic fight with Jack Dempsey that is remembered as one of the greatest fights of all time and the quintessential heavyweight slugfest.

Most Famous Fight(s): KO2 loss to Jack Dempsey in 1923.

Notable Wins: KO12 over Bill “KO” Brennan in 1923, TKO2 over Charlie Weinert in 1923, KO8 over Jess Willard in 1923.

95.  Jack Renault

Renault was a top heavyweight contender during the Dempsey-Tunney era. Unfortunately for Jack he was also one of the most avoided, never receiving a title shot and rarely was granted rematches. He was a natural counter puncher and rarely pressed the action so he had a reputation for making the hometown fighter look bad. Renault was also famous for his battles with smaller boxers Harry Greb and Gene Tunney.

Most Famous Fight(s): Controversial 10 round points loss to Jack Sharkey in 1925.

Notable Wins: 10 round points win over George Godfrey in 1924, KO9 over Fred Fulton in 1923, TKO15 over Floyd Johnson in 1923.

94.  Greg Page

As I count down from 100 we are going to run into some heavyweights who made an impact but could have been much more if things had been different. Page is the first of many to come that falls into that group, only in his case, he has no one to blame but himself. Greg was a very skilled boxer-puncher with technique and a punch that would shake you to the bone. He first made a name for himself as an amateur sparring partner when Muhammad Ali complimented him to the press. His amateur pedigree allowed Page to step up in class quickly, fighting ranked contenders in just his 15th pro fight and ended up briefly winning the WBA title in 1984. The reason that Greg never fully realized his potential was his horrible work ethic. Page would often cut corners in training camp, or refuse to train at all. He would come to fight carrying extra weight and in no condition to fight for a world title. With so much raw talent you cannot help but wonder what he could have achieved if he had the training spirit of Manny Pacquiao.

Most Famous Fight(s): MD12 loss to Tim Witherspoon in 1984 for the WBC belt, KO8 win over Gerrie Coetzee in 1984 for the WBA belt.

Notable Wins: UD12 over Jimmy Young in 1982, TKO8 over James “Quick” Tillis in 1982, UD12 over Renaldo Snipes in 1983.

93. Joe Choynski

Choynski fought in a time when San Francisco was still relevant to boxing and pro boxing was illegal in many states. Most boxing was done in amateur athletic clubs, which is where early greats like Choynski and Jim Corbett learned their craft. During the 1890’s, the modern boxing game was in its infancy and only a handful of fighters had a grasp of proper technique. One such heavyweight was Choynski who was known for his boxing skills, toughness, punching power, and grit. He never ducked anyone and ended up fighting everyone relevant in a golden era of heavyweight boxing. He never won the big prize, but did enough to earn the respect of his peers and the voters of the boxing hall of fame. Perhaps his biggest impact on the sport was not done in the ring, but instead in jail. After knocking out a very green Jack Johnson, both Choynski and Johnson were arrested and sent to jail, which was quite common in those days since boxing was illegal. In a shared cell, the veteran Choynski schooled up Johnson on some of his moves, techniques, and tricks. Jack took full advantage of the free lesson and went on to become one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time.

Most Famous Fight(s): KO27 loss to Jim Corbett, 20 round draw to James J. Jeffries in 1897.

Notable Wins: KO3 over Jack Johnson in 1901, KO15 over George Godfrey in 1892, KO2 over Peter Maher in 1903.

92. Pinklon Thomas

Once upon a time, Pinklon Thomas was hailed as the next great champ who was going to save the heavyweight division from the boring and overrated Larry Holmes. Turns our Holmes was not overrated at all (boring maybe) and he went on to dominate the decade and prove himself as an all time great. Thomas did not live up to his reputation, but he deserves a spot on this list due to that brief moment in time when he was thought to be the #1 heavyweight in the world. Thomas had heavy feet, but a good jab, a stocky frame, good chin, and a knack for cutting off the ring. Pinklon was willing to trade punches and did not have much finesse, which proved to be his downfall. After getting roughed up by a prime Mike Tyson, Thomas was never the same and his career quickly fizzled out.

Most Famous Fight(s): MD12 win over Tim Witherspoon in 1984 to win the WBC belt, TKO6 loss to Mike Tyson in 1987.

Notable Wins: TKO8 win over Mike Weaver in 1985, TKO8 win over James “Quick” Tillis in 1982.

91. Ike Ibeabuchi

The second of the “What If?” entrants to the list robbed this generation of a potentially great era of heavyweights. Ibeabuchi was a beastly hulk of a man with a granite chin, endless stamina, and fought with the fury of mad man. He was able to beat the best slugger of his era in David Tua, then shortly after defeated the best pure boxer of his era in Chris Byrd. There is no telling what Ibeabuchi could have accomplished had he been able to continue fighting. I can only imagine how interesting fights between Ibeabuchi and the Klitschko brothers would have been. Or what about a match between fellow Nigerian power punchers, Ibeabuchi vs. Sam Peter? Instead, Ibeabuchi turned out to be just as crazy as he looked in the boxing ring and was sent to jail after being convicted of raping a call girl. So much potential down the toilet, it is enough to make your stomach turn.

Most Famous Fight(s): UD12 over David Tua in 1997.

Notable Wins: TKO5 over Chris Byrd in 1999.

Thanks for reading everyone. Come back next week to see who I picked for numbers 90-81.

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