THE TOP 10 GREATEST SOUTHPAWS OF ALL TIME
1/ Marvin Hagler :
The creme da la creme of ‘postsiders’ , Marvelous Marvin might just have been the most versatile fighter in history.
Often falsely categorised as an aggressive brawler with a seek and destroy type ethos, Hagler was actually a slick, switch hitting counterpuncher who could also fight with the best of them.
Granite jawed with serious power in either hand (as 52 KOs from 62 victories will attest) and almost as good in the orthodox stance, the big time didn’t come over night for this blue collar icon but when it did he held on to the prize with an obsessive single mindedness that set him apart.
12 defences during a 7 reign as undisputed middleweight champion of the world and victories over Watts,Hart, Briscoe, Minter, Sibson, Duran, Hearns and Mugabi cement his claim as King in this context.
2/ Pernell Whitaker :
One of the most sublimely talented fighters the world has ever seen, ‘Sweet Pea”s only fistic failing was a lack of wrecking power.
World Amateur champion and a 1984 Olympic Champion, this mercurial left hander went on to win world titles from light weight to light middle and carved a lasting niche in the annals of pugilism along the way.
If you want devastating knockouts then you will likely have recourse to a Mike Tyson or Julian Jackson compilation but if you’re looking for highlight reel defensive brilliance then Whitaker is arguably without peer.
A deserving Hall of Famer with victories over Greg Haugen, Jose Luis Ramirez, Azumah Nelson and Buddy McGirt, ‘Pea’ was robbed against the great Julio Cesar Chavez in their 1993 draw and many thought him extremely unlucky to drop a decision to Oscar De La Hoya 4 years later.
3/ Khaosai Galaxy:
An all action super flyweight phenomenon with crushing power in either hand, Galaxy made 16 defences of the WBA title during a seven year reign to cement his status as one of the fight games premiere little men.
While Khaosai was a decidedly aggressive fighter of the ‘perpetual motion’ variety he had a deceptively ‘cute’ defence and could manipulate an opponent on the inside or lay back from shots in the manner of a vintage Roberto Duran.
An inconsequential early career loss to obscure namesake, Sark Galaxy, in 1981 saw him go undefeated for the next ten years before finishing with a log of 47-1.
4/ Manny Pacquaio:
Opinion amongst the cognoscenti is divided regarding the ultimate greatness of the Philippines finest and quite where he belongs in this assembly.
Historians sometimes have a tendency of bias towards the grainy black and white era, which can be as spurious as the ‘casual fringe’ that only recognise those fistic luminaries who appeared in living colour on Showtime.
While Pacquiao doesn’t have a huge body of work in any single weight category his mantle of winning world titles in 8 separate divisions remains uncanny.
With the work rate of a peak Henry Armstrong, phenomenal hand-speed and power that he was able to carry from fly to light middle, not even caveats regarding the proliferation of world titles or rumours of performance enhancing drugs can banish one of the very top fighters of his generation from such a lofty ranking here.
5/ Tiger Flowers:
Theodore ‘Tiger’ Flowers was the first ever afro American to win the World Middleweight Title when he annexed the crown from the fabled Harry Greb in 1926.
Nicknamed the ‘Georgia Deacon’, Flowers was a deeply religious man who was said to recite a psalm before every fight.
While compiling a stellar 118-15-8 career slate, Flowers mixed with the very finest fighters of his era from middle to light heavy including Greb, Allentown Joe Gans, Mickey Walker, Mike McTigue and Maxie Rosenbloom.
Having scored a routine fourth round KO over one Leo Gates 1927, Flowers underwent surgery to remove scar tissue from his eyes and died on the operating table due to complications.
His tragic end was strangely reminiscent of the circumstances that caused Harry Greb’s death a year earlier.
6/ Joe Calzaghe:
When examining the hall of fame career of Gwent’s finest fistic export it is important to place it in context of the era.
Calzaghe was a phenomenal fighter with an relentless desire to win at any cost but there is equally no question that his 21 defences of the WBO super middleweight title were made in the era of multi champions who often seem to live in parallel universes.
The over all resume of John Conteh, for instance, compares favourably with Joe’s on a strictly qualitative basis but, on paper, the Welshman dwarfs the former Liverpool playboy’s achievements.