The greatest lightweight boxers of all time

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April 29th, 2020

Often regarded as the best of the lower weight classes, the lightweight division has had an illustrious assortment of stars in its rich history.

Let's take a look at five of the greatest lightweights of all time.

5. Pernell Whitaker

Considered one of the greatest defensive fighters of all time, “Sweet Pea” won his first title in his 18th pro fight and later became an undisputed champion.

Whitaker’s trademark elusiveness was on full display during his run at lightweight and was dominant against Roger Mayweather, Greg Haugen, and Azumah Nelson.

4. Ike Williams

One of the greatest punchers in the division’s history, Williams made eight defenses of his title, from 1945 to 1951, and won in devastating fashion.

The New Jersey brawler was as fast as he was tough and came up big against Juan Zurita, Kid Gavilan, Beau Jack, and Sammy Angott. After his career was over, Williams testified before Congress, about the role of the mob in boxing and how many of his fights were fixed against him, because of his unwillingness to cooperate.

3. Carlos Ortiz

Considered by some to be the greatest Puerto Rican fighter ever, Ortiz reigned unchallenged for the better part of the 1960s as lightweight champ.

Ortiz embodied the term “ring generalship.” He set the pace and picked off opponents, after he took them into deep waters.

His run included wins over Flash Elorde, Joe Brown, Sugar Ramos, and Duilio Loi.

2. Benny Leonard

“The Ghetto Wizard” was perhaps the fastest, most tactically sound boxer of all time. Leonard captured the lightweight title in 1917 and held it for nearly a decade.

Leonard is often considered the gold standard from a stylistic standpoint.

1. Roberto Duran

Duran was so great that even before his career-defining win over Sugar Ray Leonard, he was already the greatest lightweight of all time. Ferocious, iron-chinned, and ruthless, Duran dominated the 1970s as champion only and only lost once, in a non-title affairm to rival Esteban de Jesus.

There was no difference between meandering challengers and formidable foes. Duran defeated almost everyone he fought with ease. While Duran continued his winning ways in the decade that followed, it was his run at lightweight that started his legend.