The Ultimate Book of Boxing Lists: Book review

The late, great boxing writer and historian Bert Sugar teamed up with Teddy Atlas for the ultimate boxing pub argument book. List entries that will particularly pique the interest of Welsh boxing fans include the following:

Boxing’s biggest punchers

Jimmy Wilde is in at number 13.

Greatest southpaws of all time

Joe Calzaghe is rated the fifth best southpaw in boxing history behind Tiger Flowers, Manny Pacquiao, Pernell Whitaker and – at number one – Marvin Hagler. Howard Winstone‘s nemesis Vicente Saldivar is number 10 on the list.

Greatest British fighters

The Telegraph’s Gareth Davies was drafted in to write this list, and his selections are sure to be controversial. Winstone makes the list at number nine, but there’s no place for either Jim Driscoll or Freddie Welsh. Calzaghe’s position at seven seems somewhat low, especially as he is rated below fighters such as Naseem Hamed. Wilde is second on the list, behind only Johnny Basham‘s nemesis, Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis – Davies says there was “no question that he [Lewis] comes out on top”.

Most significant fights in boxing history

Colin Jones‘ first 1983 showdown with Milton McCrory is number 10 on this list, on account of it being the first world title fight contended over 12 rounds after the old 15-round limit was banned.

The cut in duration followed the tragic fight four months earlier when Duk Koo Kim died from the injuries sustained following his 14th-round knock-out defeat at the hands of Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini.

Most under-appreciated boxers in history

Wilde makes the list at number seven.

Saddest finale to a career

Wilde makes another unwelcome list, at number nine for his final fight against Pancho Villa.

Boxing’s greatest

The book concludes with Sugar and Atlas each producing a list of the all-time best fighters from each of boxing’s weight divisions. Inconsistencies and controversies are the inevitable result.

Welsh fans will be delighted to see that both authors rate Wilde as the greatest flyweight of all time. But those same fans are likely to be less than impressed by the fact that there’s no mention of Freddie Welsh amongst the greatest lightweights.

In the featherweight division, Atlas rates Saldivar at eight and Abe Attell at three, while Sugar has Attell at number two. But neither author ranks Driscoll in their top 10, despite ‘Peerless Jim’s’ celebrated outclassing of Attell in their 1909 no-decision bout.

For my money, though, the most inexplicable choices are in the super-middleweight division. Atlas rates protected German patter-puncher Sven Ottke as the greatest 168lb champion of all time, with Calzaghe at number two and Roy Jones Jr number five! Sugar does rate Calzaghe at number one, but still has the ludicrous Ottke at three, ahead of Nigel Benn and Jones. For some reason, both authors describe Ottke’s championship reign as lasting from 1998-2008, while Calzaghe is only said to have been a world champion in the period 2006-8.

Super-middleweight rant aside, this is an enlightening and entertaining book that will succeed admirably in sparking countless boxing debates.

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