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Best Boxers of the 1920s

Updated on May 1, 2017
Gene Tunney gets knocked down in his rematch against Jack Dempsey.
Gene Tunney gets knocked down in his rematch against Jack Dempsey. | Source
The Toy Bulldog Mickey Walker is a hall of Fame middleweight champion.
The Toy Bulldog Mickey Walker is a hall of Fame middleweight champion. | Source

Who is The Best?

Who is the best boxer from the 1920's?

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The Ghetto Wizard

Benny Leonard is one of the best lightweight champions in boxing history.
Benny Leonard is one of the best lightweight champions in boxing history. | Source

Top 10 Boxers from the 20s

1. Harry Greb: The Pittsburg Windmill is considered one of the best Middleweight and Light Heavyweights of all time. Greb held the 160 pound title from 1913-1916 and he beat many Champions along the way. Greb had immense stamina, a great chin and he was a non-stop swarming pressure fighter. Although, not a power puncher, Greb was very accurate and he had great timing and he judged distance perfectly. The best wins in his career came from beating: Gene Tunney, Mickey Walker, Tommy Gibbons, Kid Norfolk, Jimmy Slattery and Maxie Rosenbloom. Greb retired with an official record of 104-8-3 with 48 knockouts.

2. Benny Leonard: The Ghetto Wizard was a wonderful boxer and puncher who had a solid chin, tight defense and great offensive skills complemented by two fisted knockout power. Leonard is considered one of the best Lightweight boxers in history. He knocked out Freddie Welsh for the title and he held in from 1917-1925. Leonard's biggest victories have came against: Welsh, Jack Britton, Johnny Kilbane, Rocky Kansas, Lou Tendler and Willie Ritchie. Leonard retired with a resume reading 90-6-1 with 70 knockouts.

3. Gene Tunney: The Fighting Marine is a former two time Light Heavyweight Champion (three defenses), and former Heavyweight Champion (two defenses). Tunney had knockout power in both hands especially the right and he knocked out several top foes with body shots. His jab, right hand accuracy and footwork allowed him two beat Jack Dempsey twice, the first time to become Heavyweight King. He also, beat Harry Greb for the Light Heavyweight title and a slew of other contenders. Tunney's best wins were against Dempsey (twice), Greb (twice), Tom Heeney, Tommy Gibbons, Georges Carpentier, Battling Levinsky, and Charley Weinert. Tunney left the ring with a record of 65-1-1 with 48 knockouts.

4. Mickey Walker: The Toy Bulldog was Welterweight Champion from 1922-1926 and Middleweight Champion from 1926-1929. He had a solid jab, good footwork and non-stop stamina. Walker. also has showed a solid beard and knockout power in both hands. Walker had many quality wins over Welterweights, Middleweights and Heavyweights but, his close loss to Harry Greb stands out. Among his best wins were victories over: Ace Hudkins, Tommy Milligan, Tiger Flowers, Dave Shade, Mike McTigue, Jack Britton and Paul Berlenbach. Walker retired from the squared circle with a record of 94-19-4 with sixty knockouts.

5. Jack Dempsey: The Manassa Mauler was a two fisted puncher who fought with wreckless abandon. His search and destroy style worked because he hit hard, knew where to place his shots, and had good accuracy to his shots. Also, Dempsey showed guts and heart in several of his bouts. Dempsey pummeled Jess Willard for three rounds to win the Heavyweight World Title and held it from 1919-1926. Dempsey defended his crown five times plus, he fought in several exhibitions. He lost the crown to Gene Tunney and barely lost the rematch after knocking Tunney down and nearly out in the 8th round. Dempsey stopped wins came against: Willard, Jack Sharkey, Luis Angel Firpo, Tommy Gibbons, Billy Miske, and Fireman Jim Flynn. Dempsey's final career mark stands at: 54-6-9 with forty-four knockouts.

6. Pancho Villa: One of the best Filipino boxers ever, Villa won the Flyweight World Championship by knocking out the legendary Jimmy Wilde. Villa was not a big puncher but, he threw punches in bunches and his shots were fast and accurate. Also, his footwork was solid and he boxed well circling the ring boxing with his stiff jab. He beat Wilde for the Flyweight title and made three defenses to go along with several non title victories during his reign. Villa's best accomplishments came from beating: Wilde, Kid Carlin, Bud Taylor, Frankie Ashe, and George Marks. Pancho Villa retired from the ring sporting a record of 78-4-4 with twenty-two knockouts.

7. Tommy Loughran: The Phantom of Philly was a great ring technician with a terrific jab, superb footwork and solid defense and ring generalship. He won many bouts with feints, footwork and a stiff, accurate jab. Loughran beat Mike McTigue to win he light heavyweight crown and defended it successfully six times. His best victories came against: McTigue, Jack Sharkey, King Levinsky, Max Baer, James Braddock, Mickey Walker, and Pete Latzo. Loughran's final record stands at 90-25-10 with 14 knockouts. He took on and beat many top middleweights, light heavyweights and heavyweights of his era.

8. Tiger Flowers: The Georgia Deacon had above average knockout power especially in the left hook which he used well to the head and body. He also was adept at fighting on the inside or moving on his feet and sticking the jab. He won the middleweight crown on a close decision over Harry Greb and made two defenses including another clo win over Greb. Flowers best victories came from beating: Greb (Twice), Pete Latzo, Ted Moore, Johnny Wilson and Jock Malone. Flowers retired from the boxing ring with a record of 117-15-7 with 54 knockouts.

9. Bud Taylor: Taylor beat Tony Canzoneri for the Bantamweight championship and defended it twice including a rematch win over Canzoneri. Taylor had a terrific jab, good footwork and perfect timing in the squared circle. Taylor's top victories came from topping: Canzoneri, Battling Battalino, Abe Goldstein, Mushy Graham and Bobby Wolgast. Taylor had very good stamina and he took on any and all comers. Taylor had fast hands and feet and he beat many top contenders along the way. Taylor left the ring with a record reading 71-22-8 with 37 knockouts to his credit.

10. Tony Canzoneri: Canzoneri is the former featherweight, lightweight and welterweight world champion. He took on all comers and although his power and hand speed was average his will and determination took him along way. He was not great at anything but very good at everything. Tony Canzoneri's best wins came over: Jimmy McLarnin, Johnny Jadick, Frankie Klick, Lou Ambers, Baby Arizmendi and Kid Chocolate. Canzoneri finished his career with a record of 137-24-10 with 44 knockouts.

Who Beat Him?

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The Pittsburg Windmill

Harry Greb is a former middleweight and light heavyweight boxing legend.
Harry Greb is a former middleweight and light heavyweight boxing legend. | Source

Harry Greb's Biggest Victories

Gene Tunney
Mickey Walker
Maxie Rosenbloom
Johnny Wilson
Jimmy Slattery
Tommy Gibbons
Battling Levinsky
Kid Norfolk
Gunboat Smith
Mike Gibbons
Ten of Harry Greb's victims inside the squared Circle.

The Manassa Mauler Mauls Jess Willard!

Jack Dempsey slaughtered Jess Willard for the heavyweight championship of the world.
Jack Dempsey slaughtered Jess Willard for the heavyweight championship of the world. | Source

Great Boxing Matches From The 20's

1. Jack Dempsey K.O. 2 Luis Angel Firpo (1923) Dempsey is floored and falls out of the ring but he manages to score ten knock downs for a second round knockout.

2. Gene Tunney W10 Jack Dempsey 2 (1927) Tunney is knocked down for the famous long count in the 8th round, Dempsey goes down hard himself in the 9th on the way to losing a decision.

3. Harry Greb W15 Mickey Walker (1925) Greb took an early lead landing hard right hands only to have Walker take the middle rounds. In the 14th round Greb hurt Walker bad only to be hurt himself in the 15th and final round. Greb won a close but clear decision.

4. Mickey Walker W15 Jack Britton (1922) Walker fought on even terms with Britton. Britton actually out jabbed and out maneuvered Walker but he got caught twice producing two knock downs during the bout. Walker won a close, bruising decision.

5. Pancho Villa K.O. 7 Jimmy Wilde (1923) Villa took a pounding from Wilde for two rounds before finding his range and taking over. Finally, in the seventh round Villa unloaded everything he had in his arsenal until Wilde was knocked out cold.

Benny Leonard Tribute

Rare Harry Greb Training Footage

Birthplace of Jack Dempsey (Manessa, Colorado)

Jack Dempsey Crushes Jess Willard

© 2013 Buster Johnson


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