Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali propel U.S. to top of ‘Mount Rushmore’ boxing countries

Kevin Iole
Boxing Experts Blog

Boxing is truly a world sport, and countries that don't have a very distinguished history in any other sports have produced some great boxers. Canada, for instance, isn't known as a breeding ground for boxers, but among those it produced are Hall of Famers Sam Langford and Tommy Burns.

I've picked the best four boxers from a number of countries to form each country's "Mount Rushmore." I then narrowed the list down to the top five countries.

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This ranking is by country. I then rank the top four within that country. Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments.

1. United States

A. Sugar Ray Robinson: Simply the greatest boxer who ever lived. Robinson began his career 40-0 before losing to future Hall of Famer Jake La Motta. He then raised his record to 128-1-2 before suffering his second loss, to Randy Turpin. He's considered the greatest welterweight and the greatest middleweight ever and is one of the hardest pound-for-pound punchers who ever lived.

B. Henry Armstrong: Another member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, many historians consider the aggressive Armstrong the second-best fighter of all-time. In an era when there were only eight weight classes, Armstrong incredibly won three of the eight at the same time. He won the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight belts and held them concurrently, and drew with Ceferino Garcia in a bid for the middleweight title.

C. Muhammad Ali: 'The Greatest' was an incredible combination of speed and power when he was at his peak. He was frighteningly fast, a powerful puncher and incredibly agile at his peak. He fought the best of the era, many of them multiple times.

D. Joe Louis: Louis made 25 consecutive successful defenses of his heavyweight title, a record that still stands, and held the title more 11 years. He was a small heavyweight, but had tremendous power, in both his left hook and his right cross.

2. Mexico

A. Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.: Chavez, who won his first 86 fights, was a brutal body puncher at 130, 135 and 140 pounds. He destroyed elite competition, having defeated quality opponents like Edwin Rosario, Jose Luis Ramirez, Roger Mayweather and Ruben Castillo, among others. He was also known for a brilliant chin.

B. Ruben Olivares: Olivares was 88-13 with 78 knockouts and was one of the hardest-hitting bantamweights who ever lived. He moved up and twice won the featherweight championship, but he lost it to the legendary Alexis Arguello.

C. Salvador Sanchez: Sanchez might have been the most gifted Mexican boxer ever, but he died in an auto accident at 23 while holding the featherweight title. He was 44-1-1 with 32 knockouts and was a big-time power puncher and a great counter puncher. The peak of his career came in 1981, when he met Wilfredo Gomez in a super bantamweight unification bout. Gomez was 33-0 with 32 knockouts entering the bout, but he was destroyed by Sanchez and stopped in the eighth round.

D. Ricardo Lopez: A wonderful boxer with great power, Lopez retired undefeated with a 51-0-1 record and 38 knockouts. He avenged the only blemish on his record, a draw with Rosendo Alvarez, by winning the rematch eight months later. He is considered by many the best small fighter of all-time. He never fought above light flyweight.

3. Argentina

A. Carlos Monzon: Considered among the two or three greatest middleweights ever, Monzon won his final 71 fights to finish 87-3-9 with 59 knockouts. He fought a slew of the best contenders of the 1970s, defending the title all over the world against the likes of Nino Benvenuti, Emile Griffith, Jose Napoles, Bennie Briscoe, and Jean-Claude Bouttier.

B. Niccolino Loche: An extraordinary defensive fighter seen by some as an equal in that area to Willie Pep, Loche's nickname "El Intocable" translates to "The Untouchable." He won 117 fights, though he had only 14 knockouts, showing he relied on boxing skill and not power.

C. Victor Galindez: He held the light heavyweight title for more than four years, defending it successfully against the likes of Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Richie Kates, Jorge Ahumada and Yaqui Lopez. He lost it to Mike Rossman, but then defeated Rossman in a rematch to regain the belt.

D. Sergio Martinez: One of the current best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Martinez is best known for a devastating one-punch knockout in the second round of Paul Williams. Martinez is a terrific athlete with superior conditioning who has been successful despite often being the smaller man.

4. United Kingdom

A. Joe Calzaghe: Calzaghe retired in 2009 after ending his career in 2008 with a 46-0 record and 32 knockouts. He finished on a roll, defeating Mikkel Kessler, Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. in his last three fights. He beat the tough Chris Eubank in 1997 to win the vacant WBO super middleweight title and never lost it, holding it over 10 years.

B. Lennox Lewis: One of the greatest heavyweights ever, Lewis had great size, tremendous power, great boxing technique and was a very smart fighter. He defeated Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Vitali Klitschko, Tommy Morrison and Ray Mercer in an illustrious career that ended in 2003 with a 41-2-1 record. He avenged his only two losses, defeating Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman in rematches.

C. Ken Buchanan: Buchanan is perhaps best known for losing his lightweight belt to the great Roberto Duran, but that overlooks the fact the Scotsman was a brilliant talent who beat some of the best lightweights of his era. A clever boxer and skilled technician, he beat the likes of Carlos Ortiz and Jim Watt en route to a 62-8 record.

D. Carl Froch: Froch beat Kessler on Saturday to improve to 31-2 and establish himself as the best 168-pounder in the world other than Andre Ward. He's on an incredible roll, having gone 8-2 against elite competition over the last four years.

5. Cuba

A. Kid Gavilan: Some consider him one of the three best welterweights of all-time and Gavilan lost an excellent fight to Robinson in a 1949 match for the 147-pound belt. He fought a series of top fighters and was known for always being in entertaining bouts.

B. Jose Napoles: Napoles was nicknamed "Mantequilla," which translates to butter, because of his slick, smooth style in the ring. He was also an underrated puncher, which led him to 54 knockouts among his 77 wins.

C. Sugar Ramos: A protege of legendary trainer Angelo Dundee, Ramos was one of the top featherweights of the 1960s. His most notable fight was when he defeated Davey Moore for the title at Dodger Stadium in 1963. Moore tragically died of injuries suffered in the fight. He was 55-7-4 with 40 knockouts.

D. Kid Chocolate: Born Elgio Sardinas Montalvo, he was known as Kid Chocolate throughout his career. He compiled a 136-10-6 record and became the first Cuban born fighter to win a world title.

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