Tony Bellew has had his say on the best boxers to come out of the United Kingdom, choosing three legends with a huge list of achievements.
In answer to a question from another fighter-turned-pundit in Paulie Malignaggi, the former cruiserweight world champion from Liverpool named who he considered to be the top three fighters his country has ever produced.
In a career spanning fifteen years, ‘The Pride of Wales’ won world championships in two weight classes and became the longest reigning super-middleweight champion in the sport’s history.
Whilst many fighters peak and decline towards the end of their career, often entering the ring one or two too many times, Calzaghe left the sport on a high. In his penultimate fight he fought Bernard Hopkins for The Ring light heavyweight title, and his final showing saw him defend that successfully against Roy Jones Jr.
Known for his intelligence and ability to adapt, Calzaghe formed a historic father-son training partnership with father Enzo, and has been inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame as well as winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
Lennox ‘The Lion’ won heavyweight titles on three occasions and is the last fighter to be crowned undisputed champion in the division – although fans will hope that changes soon.
Unlike Calzaghe, Lewis didn’t retire undefeated, although his two losses to Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman were avenged. With 32 knockouts, the big man from London is regularly ranked highly on best heavyweight lists.
Despite possessing great skill, the two-time lineal champion will be remembered for his raw strength and punching power, as well as setting a blueprint for heavyweight success that many British heavyweights would go on to follow.
Conteh, born 1951, was a decorated amateur who went on to hold the WBC light-heavyweight title for four yers in the late 70s. He hung up the gloves in 1980 after a battle with alcoholism.
In the days of 15-rounders, he lost his title by not fulfilling a mandatory defence and went onto mount three more unsuccessful challenges to win it back.
He’s perhaps most remembered for becoming Liverpool’s first fighting world champion – one of the many reasons he may mean so much to Bellew. In a fairytale ending, the now 71-year-old fought his last fight at Anfield, ending the action with a fifth round knockout over James Dixon.
Whilst there were many other interesting opinions in the replies to Malignaggi’s query, it’s hard to argue that Bellew has picked a tremendous trio in his Great British Box Off.