The greatest light heavyweights in boxing history

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Danny Howard

October 20th, 2020

Boxing's light heavyweight division has hosted some of the best fighters in the history of the sport, but only a handful of these special combatants have separated themselves from the pack enough to stake their claim as the division’s greatest pugilists.

Without further ado, here are the top five light heavyweights in boxing history

5. Bob Foster

Aside from Foster’s 14 defenses of his title, he is also in the running for being the best puncher in the division’s history. While he may not have faced a murderer’s row of challengers, "The Deputy Sheriff" was clearly far more dominant than the fighters of his era. His propensity for explosive finishes and longevity at an elite level earns Foster a well-deserved spot on our list.

4. Michael Spinks

Spinks is unfortunately forever tied to his 91-second loss to Mike Tyson at heavyweight, but the reality is that the moment wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if Spinks wasn’t already a great fighter. During his run at light heavyweight, Spinks ran the gauntlet of some seriously stout opposition, and did so without taking a loss on his way to becoming an undisputed champion. Spinks also became the first light heavyweight to win the heavyweight title when he beat Larry Holmes in 1985.

3. Archie Moore

"The Old Mongoose" won his first world title at the age of 36, starting a reign that lasted a decade with several crumbled bodies left in his wake. There is no doubt that Moore is the greatest puncher in the history of the sport, but he was far from one-dimensional. Moore’s wins over the likes of Joey Maxim, Harold Johnson, and an all-time great battle against Yvon Durelle cemented his status as one of the division’s finest fighters.

2. Sam Langford

Sam Langford was one fighter nobody wanted any business with during his prime, and his record contains the heads of some all-time greats. Though the color barrier prevented Langford from fighting some top white pugilists, his wins over the likes of Kid Norfolk, Stanley Ketchel, Jack O’Brien and countless others made his run at light heavyweight his best. His incredible career and impressive 211 wins (126 by KO) makes up for the fact that he’s the only person on this list that never won a world title.

1. Ezzard Charles

At his peak, nobody could beat Charles, and there have been no light heavyweights since who could possibly topple him, either. Charles would win the heavyweight title, but his run at light heavyweight came at the prime of his career. He holds multiple wins over the likes of Moore, Jimmy Bivens, Joey Maxim, and Charles Burley. Often regarded as among the greatest fighters of all-time, Charles is an easy pick for the top spot.