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Boxing's Best Lightweights of All Time

Updated on November 11, 2016

Legendary Lightweights

 Lightweight Boxing Great, Benny Leonard had power and sublime boxing ability. He could stay on the outside or bang away up close.
Lightweight Boxing Great, Benny Leonard had power and sublime boxing ability. He could stay on the outside or bang away up close. | Source
Defensive wizard and 4 division champion, Pernell  Whitaker had a beautiful southpaw jab and an uncanny ability to avoid shots.
Defensive wizard and 4 division champion, Pernell Whitaker had a beautiful southpaw jab and an uncanny ability to avoid shots. | Source
Roberto Duran was Four division terror in the squared circle. He could pound the body and rip uppercuts or dance and box from a distance.
Roberto Duran was Four division terror in the squared circle. He could pound the body and rip uppercuts or dance and box from a distance. | Source
Julio Cesar Chavez went 89-0-1 before suffering his first official defeat. He could bang the body with accuracy and he had an iron chin.
Julio Cesar Chavez went 89-0-1 before suffering his first official defeat. He could bang the body with accuracy and he had an iron chin. | Source
Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao fought to a 12 round draw in their first encounter.
Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao fought to a 12 round draw in their first encounter. | Source
Sugar Shane Mosley has two wins over The Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya. Mosley had eight title defenses in the 135 pound weight class and he won ll eight bouts by knockout.
Sugar Shane Mosley has two wins over The Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya. Mosley had eight title defenses in the 135 pound weight class and he won ll eight bouts by knockout. | Source

Legendary Lightweights

1. Roberto Duran: Duran made twelve defenses of the title scoring eleven knockouts along the way. He left the weight class without ever losing the Championship. His record in this weight class was 62-1. He avenged his only loss by beating Estaban Dejesus twice by knockout. He was a ruthless puncher who ravaged opponents to the head and body. He had subtle head movement which he used to get inside. He battered Lightweight champion Ken Buchanan for his title and kept pounding on boxers. Duran has had a movie that was released in 2016.

2. Benny Leonard: He had a career record of 183 wins, 24 losses, and 8 draws. Benny Leonard had a great career with 70 big knockouts on his resume. Leonard held the title from 1917 until 1925. He defended the belt 7 times and also won several non title bouts. Among others he fought Freddie Welsh, Jack Britton, and Jimmy Mclarnin. His jab was hard and accurate and he threw knockout combinations most, all the time. A unique blend of power and boxing skills, Leonard was a fun boxer to watch.

3. Pernell Whitaker: He was Lightweight World Champion from 1989-1992 and won the Fighter of the Year Award in 1989. He beat among others Greg Haugen, Azumah Nelson, Roger Mayweather and Freddie Pendleton. He beat ten (10) contenders while defending his crown. Sweet Pea had an excellent jab, beautiful defense and great overall ring generalship. Whitaker embarrassed boxers by making them miss while his hands were down by his sides.

4. Joe Gans: Gans had 158 wins and only 12 losses during his Lightweight career. He held the Title from 1902-1908. Gans fought many 20 round fights and his boxing skill for his time was second to none. He beat Battling Nelson during his dominant run near the top. Gans was capable of boxing from the outside or he could battle it out on the inside with the best of them. An interesting fact about Gans is that there is very little footage on this fighter. The footage is choppy at best, and mostly there are just still photos to document this Lightweight fighter.

5. Julio Cesar Chavez: Chavez unified the Lightweight Championship and never lost in the 135 pound weight class. Among those he beat were Edwin Rosario, Rafael Limon and Jose Luis Ramirez. He had a brutal body attack and he never quit pressing forward against his appointment. Chavez was known for his iron chin and come forward style complemented by a bruising body attack featuring hurtful left hooks.

6. Juan Manuel Marquez: Marquez unified the Lightweight straps and beat many great boxers along the way. He beat Joel Casaymor, Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis all by knockout and gave Manny Pacquiao all he could handle. Marquez is a great counter puncher and he used that skill to defeat many top challengers.

7. Carlos Ortiz: Ortiz finished his terrific lightweight career with a record of 61 wins and 7 losses. He was the World Champion twice. The first time for 3 years, in a row and the second time for over two years, in a row. He fought Ismael Laguna, Sugar Ramos and Flash Elorde during his prime.

8. Shane Mosley: Sugar Shane beat Phillip Holiday for the Championship and defended the title 9 times all by knockout to amass a perfect 34-0 Lightweight record. He beat John John Molina and Jesse James Leijha during his deadly run through this weight class. Although he had superb skills he rarely needed them because his punching power was A+ in the 135 pound division. Mosley would have ranked higher if he had better challengers to deal with during his tenure as champ.

9. Floyd Mayweather: Money Mayweather beat Jose Luis Castillo for the Lightweight title and then beat him again in a rematch. He also schooled topped contender Victoraiano Sosa and knocked out top contender Phillip Ndou. His reflexes and defense are unmatched in the squared circle. Mayweather would have ranked much higher in this lightweight greats list but he did not stay long enough in the 135 pound weight class.

10. Alexis Arguello: He was Lightweight World Champion from 1981-1983 upon which he vacated the title. He beat Jim Watt for the belt. Among those he beat were Ray "Boom-Boom" Mancini and Maurice Hope. His power and his height and reach were his major advantages.

* Please let me know who your favorite lightweight boxer is and why by leaving your thoughts in the comments box located at the bottom of this hub.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Jose Luis Castillo

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. won the lightweight world title from Jose Luis Castillo and he then beat him again in the rematch.  The first bout was extremely close but the second was an easy win for Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. won the lightweight world title from Jose Luis Castillo and he then beat him again in the rematch. The first bout was extremely close but the second was an easy win for Floyd Mayweather, Jr. | Source

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Roberto Duran Career Highlights

Southpaw Genius

Pernell Whitaker was a slick southpaw with amazing defensive talent. His jab, body punching, footwork and defense were all routine moves of this legendary fighter. Whitaker rarely lost a round during the bulk of his career and he usually humiliated his foes for shut out wins.

Whitaker was born in Norfolk, Virginia and he represented the United States in the 1984 Olympic games winning a gold medal.

Pernell Whitaker's Greatest Hits

© 2012 Buster Johnson

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