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Boxing's Best Welterweights of All Time

Updated on September 16, 2016

Legendary Welterweight Fighters

Sugar Ray Leonard won Championships in 5 weight classes. Leonard also won a gold medal in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.
Sugar Ray Leonard won Championships in 5 weight classes. Leonard also won a gold medal in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. | Source
Sugar Ray Robinson was a 5 time middleweight champion and a long time welterweight King.
Sugar Ray Robinson was a 5 time middleweight champion and a long time welterweight King. | Source
Felix Trinidad defended his welterweight Title against Oscar De La Hoya in a 12 round bout in Las Vegas, Nevada.,
Felix Trinidad defended his welterweight Title against Oscar De La Hoya in a 12 round bout in Las Vegas, Nevada., | Source
The legendary 147 pound champion Kid Gavilan works the double end bag.
The legendary 147 pound champion Kid Gavilan works the double end bag. | Source

Legendary Welterweights

1. Sugar Ray Robinson: Robinson had a Welterweight Record of 110 wins and no losses. He defended the Welterweight Title five times. Including wins over future Hall of Famer, Henry Armstrong and Kid Gavilan. His speed, power, footwork, accuracy, timing and jab were better than everyone else. He is universally recognized as the best boxer pound for pound in the history of the sport. Sugar Ray took on all comers and he beat all the best fighters of his era. He fought often and he did not just win, he always dominated his bouts. Robinson also won the Middleweight World Title on five separate occasions.

2. Henry Armstrong: Armstrong has the title Defense Record with eighteen successful defenses. He fought Barney Ross and Sugar Ray Robinson, among others. He was a power puncher who came with a non-stop punching motion style. Homicide Hank was a whirlwind fighter who is the only man to ever hold three championships in three different divisions at the same time. His offense was his defense. Armstrong overcame more technically skilled and taller boxers with a come forward style that was stamina filled and head and body punching laced. Homicide Hank finished his astounding career record of 150-21-10 with 101 knockouts.

3. Sugar Ray Leonard: The reason Sugar Ray Leonard is ranked so highly is that he dismantled three Hall of Fame Legends. He knocked out Thomas Hearns, Wilford Benitez and Roberto Duran. He finished his career with thirty six wins vs. three losses with twenty five of those being knockouts. He had a great, jab, flashy footwork, amazing reflexes and super speed in his hands. His conditioning was top notch and he seemed to get even better as his bouts wore on. Leonard won a gold medal in the 1976 Olympics and he won championships in five weight classes as a pro fighter.

4. Kid Gavilan: He successfully defeated the Welterweight Crown seven times. Among the Champions he faced were, Sugar Ray Robinson, Carmen Basilio, Johnny Bratton and Tony DeMarco. Gavilan finished his career with one hundred eight wins against thirty defeats. He invented what was known as the Bolo punch and he has knocked out and wobbled many good boxers with this particular shot. Gavilan could bang away on the inside or get on his toes and circle the ring.

5. Felix Trinidad: He knocked out Maurice Blocker for the Welterweight Title and defended it. He ended up defending it seventeen times. Among those he beat were Hall of Famers; Pernell Whitaker and Oscar De La Hoya. He has the most lethal left hook in the Welterweight Class Division. He was a pressure fighter who went to the head and body with equal ferocity. He fought all the best of his era, during his prime.

6. Jose Napoles: He was a two time Welterweight Champion of The World. He was also The Ring's fighter of The Year for 1969. He beat Curtis Cokes for the title and he also beat Emile Griffith during his Championship run. His career was eighty wins and seven losses with fifty four of those wins coming by way of knockout. He was a boxer puncher with good counter punching skills and a good defense featuring head movement. Napoles had every aspect of the game down to a science.

7. Emile Griffith: Three time Welterweight Champion of The World. He fought Jose Napoles, Joey Archer, Dick Tiger and Nino Benvenuti. He beat Benvenuti three times while in the 147lb weight class. He finished with eighty wins and twenty four losses. He could knock you out with one perfectly placed bomb or box you silly with angles. Griffith is an underrated fighter who on any given day could beat any boxer in his division.

8. Oscar De La Hoya: Former Welterweight World Champion, who excelled in this weight class in the 1990s. He fought Pernell Whitaker, Felix Trinidad, Oba Carr, Hector Camacho and Sugar Shane Mosley in this weight class. De La Hoya had a great jab and an educated left hook not to mention impressive footwork in the squared circle. The Golden Boy won titles in a total of six weight classes as a professional and he took home a Gold Medal in the 1992 Olympic games.

9. Barney Ross: He finished his career with an astonishing career seventy four wins and four losses. He fought great fighters such as: Carlos Garcia, Jimmy McLamin, Ceferino Garcia and Henry Armstrong. Ross had a solid beard and he was a boxer puncher with a stiff jab and he was a great judge of distance and timing. Ross took on all comers and even his few losses were extremely closely contested bouts.

10. Charley Burley: He finished his career with eighty three wins and twelve losses. He beat legends such as: Fritzie Zivic, Henry Armstrong, Archie Moore, Billy Soose. He even fought Ezzard Charles twice. Nobody would give him a title shot but, he still should be respected for fighting everybody and anybody who wanted to box. He had a solid defense, solid chin and he was good on the inside working the body or on the outside sticking the jab. Burley is one of the top prizefighters in history to never have worn a world championship.

Where was he born?

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Who is the Best?

Who is the best Welterweight boxer ever?

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Tito Holds The Record

Felix Trinidad holds the record for the longest title reign in welterweight history at just over 6 1/2 years.

Felix Trinidad's Best Victories

Oscar De La Hoya
York Boy Campas
Ricardo Mayorga
Maurice Blocker
Hector Camacho
Fernando Vargas
Oba Carr
David Reid
William Joppy

Birthplace of Felix Trinidad

© 2012 Buster Johnson


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    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 4 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Trinidad was a phenomenal fighter and the fight with De La Hoya was a great bout

      Nice hub. I'd recommend breaking each fighter and reasoning down to a separate text capsule and a photo for a few of them which would really help a visual searcher

    • profile image

      cletus 3 years ago

      why you didn't include Thomas Hearns in here i will never know

    • lesliebyars profile image

      Buster Johnson 3 years ago from Alabama

      HEARNS did flatten Pipino Cuevas but he was knocked out by Sugar Ray. I think HEARNS is close to top ten no doubt but some of his best wins such as knocking out Roberto Duran for example were at a different weight. The Duran win was at Jr. Middleweight. Good point though he is a devastating puncher with a great jab as well.

    • Rob Spencer profile image

      Rob Spencer 22 months ago

      No way Jose Napoles is that low and what about Hearns, how many of those guys really could beat him, LOL. but what I did in my own rankings to clear up the mess of fighters switching weights and such, I made a rule that you had to have fought a minimum of 10x in any division before being considered a top 10 great in that division to me it's only fair to the guys that fought a career or a lot of fights in any division, I don't believe Armstrong should be here, WW was not his best, and Ross is a top 10 JWW not WW, and Trinidad, not top 10, I'm not 100% sure which of these guys qualify by the 10 fight rule in this division, but I would start there first, eliminate anyone that does not belong, then include Hearns, he would beat Trinidad, Move up Napoles and then your top 10 would look 10x better.

    • lesliebyars profile image

      Buster Johnson 22 months ago from Alabama

      Your rule is good I like the idea but it can not work. First of all the rankings are not based on my opinion of who would win against who but it is who did the most in that division. Do your homework cause Henry Armstrong is in many historians opinion the best 147 pounder ever as he owns two major records in that weight class including most defenses. Hearns would probably destroy Trinidad if his chin could hold up but he lost his biggest welterweight bout by knockout to Leonard and Tito accomplished more than he did in this category. Either way pal, calm down it is just an opinion.

    • Rob Spencer profile image

      Rob Spencer 22 months ago

      if hearns did not fight 10x at WW then don't include him, I havent checked that stat yet, if he has, then he belongs there, and I will give Armstrong top 5 at best at WW,

    • lesliebyars profile image

      Buster Johnson 22 months ago from Alabama

      I do not have to check stats Hearns fought 33 times as a welterweight. I grew up watching him. Henry Armstrong is considered one of the top 2 or 3 best boxers in history and it is because of his welterweight accomplishments. Good luck finding four boxers better than him much less 4 welterweights.

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