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 Last update:  8/11/2009       Read more by Cliff Rold         
   
The Top 25 Flyweights of All-Time – Top Ten
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By Cliff Rold

The Eight, Pt. 1

For any new boxing fan, the time is not long before a fellow fan points out a magic number which grows more mythologized with time: eight.  As in boxing’s original eight weight classes.  The number represents in the mind of many a time when the sport was compressed into fields which couldn’t help but be talented, couldn’t help but draw crowds, because there were so few places on the scale to go.  They were divisions marked by single champions ever challenged by a depth of contenders today’s seventeen weight classes rarely know.

Reflection and research reveals this was not always the case, but it was true often enough to bestow a mystique on boxing’s ‘original eight weight classes’ which carries through to the modern day.  As good as they can be, as great as some of their competitors have been and still are, weight classes prefixed by a “Jr.” designation will always be seen some as bastard spawn which took something away from the game no matter what they added.

Even with classes taking up space in between the old markers, the eight continue to provide memories and spilled blood today.  Over the course of this series, homage is paid to boxing’s original eight by identifying the best of their lot through the years.

Flyweight

Yesterday, numbers 11-25 were unveiled at http://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=21492 as:

25) Guty Espadas (1971-84)
24) Yoshio Shirai (1943-55)
23) Jackie Paterson (1938-51)
22) Rinty Monaghan (1934-49)
21) Sot Chitalada (1983-92)
20) Mark Johnson (1990-2006)
19) Yuri Arbachakov (1990-97)
18) Chartchai Chionoi (1959-75)
17) Peter Kane (1934-51)
16) Newsboy Brown (1922-33)
15) Pone Kingpetch (1954-66)
14) Hiroyuki Ebihara (1959-69)
13) Betulio Gonzalez (1968-88)
12) Santos Laciar (1976-90)
11) Fighting Harada (1960-70)

Today, the list moves to the top ten

10) Horacio Accavallo (1956-67)
Record: 75-2-6, 34 KO
WBA Titlist 1966-67, 3 Defenses
Flyweight Champions/Titlists Faced – 3: (Salvatore Burruni, Hiroyuki Ebihara, Efren Torres)

One of the greats of the 1960s, the southpaw Accavallo never lost in his native Argentina.  Of course, fighting mostly in Argentina meant a lot of non-descript opposition but he squeezed in a fair share of quality.  Accavallo won two of three non-title affair against Burruni, all of them going the distance, with wins in Burruni’s native Italy and his own Buenos Aires.  In 1966, he traveled to Japan to narrowly outpoint Katsuyoshi Takayama for  the vacant WBA belt and then brought one of Japan’s best home three fights later, posting a unanimous decision over Ebihara in his first defense.  A couple of years before Efren Torres would begin his epic rivalry against Chartchai Chionoi, Accavallo gave him his first shot at gold, retaining via unanimous decision.  In a shocker, Accavallo would follow the Torres win with a non-title sixth round TKO loss in Japan.  It would be, in his 81st professional start, the only stoppage defeat in his career which would hold only two more starts.  In his farewell bout, Accavallo would retain his crown for the second time against Ebihara, a debated split decision in Buenos Aires which convinced Accavallo to hang up his gloves just shy of his 34th birthday.

Why He’s Here: Accavallo was a brilliant boxer-puncher who stood out in a tremendously talented era in the Flyweight division.  His numbers are clearly phenomenal but he lacks just slightly in comparison to other greats on this list for not facing more of the top men of his time.  The men in front of him on this list did not and while most picked up more losses than Accavallo, they also had a greater depth of defining victories to call their own. 

9) Masao Ohba (1966-73)
Record: 35-2-1, 16 KO
WBA Titlist 1970-73, 5 Defenses
Flyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 5: (Bernabe Villacampo, Berkrerk Chartvanchai, Betulio Gonzalez, Susumu Hangata, Chartchai Chinoi)

Like the great Featherweight Salvador Sanchez or fellow Flyweight great Pancho Villa, Japan’s Ohba is a case of a great fighter cut short of what could have been more.  Killed in a tragic car accident just weeks after his fifth title defense, Ohba was only 23 years old and yet had left already an indelible mark on Flyweight history.  Wildly exciting with the ability to get his man out of there or outwork them the full route behind a schooled left jab, Ohba left the victor in 25 of his first 28 contests to earn a crack at Charvanchai.  He made good, handing the Thai only his second loss, and first by stoppage.  He maintained his winning ways through to the end of his career.  He made his first defense with a decision against Betulio Gonzalez in 1971 and avenged one of his two career defeats against Susumu Hanagata in 1972.  Later in the same year, he won a war with contender Orlando Amores in arguably his most memorable brawl, a savage five round affair.  Two fights later, he left one last battle for the world, stopping the blood and guts Chionoi in thirteen.

Why He’s Here: Ohba left the scene so early it’s hard to say what would have happened.  Would he have flamed out early as so many in the lowest classes do or gone on to disrupt the history which unfolded.  The 1970s produced an excellent Flyweight class which included Shoji Oguma, Venice Borkhorsor, and Miguel Canto among others.  Would Ohba have had the chance to unify the crown and, if he had, could any of those men have become what they eventually were?  It’s the sort of tantalizing question which only the imagination can answer.  Without those answers, there was still enough on his ledger to suggest genuine greatness and Ohba’s exclusion from the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) to date is hard to fathom.

8) Midget Wolgast (1925-40)
 Record: 136-35-16, 17 KO (19 No Decisions, 1 No Contest)
NYSAC Titlist 1930-35, 3 Defenses
Flyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 7: (Izzy Schwartz, Johnny McCoy, Pinky Silverberg, Willie LaMorte, Newsboy Brown, Frankie Genaro, Small Montana
)

Wolgast, standing just over 5’3, was one of the ring’s greatest defensive geniuses with a chin to go with it.  He was stopped only five times in 215 bouts.  Three of those in came in his last seven bouts and one in his first ten.  Born Joseph Robert Loscalzo, Wolgast was the son of a fighter and took on a ring name which suggested greatness as soon as he stepped between the ropes.  Wolgast lived up to the billing, winning or contesting in more battles against top competition than this small space could ever provide justice to.  A best attempt is made to define some of the career highlights.  Wolgast garnered his first major title try under the then-powerful New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) banner, outpointing the outstanding Black Bill over fifteen rounds in March 1930.  He would fight eleven more times, that year, losing only in a non-title points affair to Newsboy Brown and defeating Silverberg, LaMorte, and the tough Speedy Dado en route to a Madison Square Garden unification with National Boxing Association (NBA) champion Frankie Genaro.  Their contest was ruled a draw, maintaining a disputed World title scene which held for a decade from 1927-37.  Wolgast would rarely venture below the Flyweight line again, pursuing bigger game over the years and extending Bantamweight champion Lou Salica, future three division king Henry Armstrong, and tough Lightweight Lou Feldman the distance in losing efforts.  While the NYSAC stripped Wolgast in 1934, Small Montana still staked a claim to the belt in 1935 with a points win in Wolgast’s final, ill-advised Flyweight encounter.  He would avenge the loss above the Flyweight limit later in the year.

Why He’s Here: Wolgast’s standing here could have been slightly improved by a unified crown and more impressive title run, but it’s hard to say given the men ahead of him.  It’s also hard to say he could have improved on a ring tenure as deep and impressive as what he amassed.  Looking only at the various Flyweight title claimants he faced, only Brown and Genaro whom he faced one time each could officially keep him from the winner’s circle at least once.  Schwartz did as well, but only because of no-contest rules in place in parts of the U.S. in the 1920s; the newspaper decision favored Wolgast.  Wolgast was inducted into the IBHOF in 2001.

7) Benny Lynch (1931-38)
 Record: 81-12-15, 34 KO
World Champion 1937-38, 1 Defense
NBA/BBBofC Titlist 1936-37, 1 Defense
Flyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 3: (Jackie Brown, Small Montana, Peter Kane)

Lynch was the arguably the greatest fighter ever produced by Scotland and it would be hard to find much argument at that.  While brief in years, Lynch’s career was marked by thrilling wars, subtle defense, and some massive crowds.  It was Lynch who would end any dispute about who the champion at 112 lbs. was after a decade of leathered debate.  He began his ascent in 1935 with a second round destruction of the veteran Brown to snare recognition from the NBA and British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) as champion.  He fought eight non-title bouts in his next nine, losing only once on points, to set up a unification showdown with Montana, the NYSAC title claimant.  At famed Wembley, Lynch would win over fifteen in January 1937 and make his most famed defense in October of the same.  In front of some 40,000 screaming Scotsman at Shawfield Park in October of 1937, Lynch outdueled Peter Kane in one of the all-time Flyweight classics, stopping the Brit in thirteen.  Kane would never make Flyweight again, weighing in near 120 lbs. for the Kane rematch, a March 1938 draw, and losing the title on the scales even as he defeated the talented Jackie Jurich by twelfth round stoppage a few months later.  Lynch would fight only twice more, losing both and being stopped for the only time in his career to bid the ring farewell.  He was just 25 years old and would die penniless six years later battling alcoholism and malnutrition.

Why He’s Here: Lynch is one of the most storied names in Flyweight history for a reason as the memories of his fights carried over time.  So too does a lack of depth on his record.  While there are spots of genuine excellence, Lynch missed quite a few of the top names of his time and occasionally suffered losses to men who, historically, couldn’t shine his ring boots.  Still, from a 1932 mark of 25-6-7 to the Montana fight where he entered 73-8-14, he was all but unbeatable.  Even past his best and vexed by the scale, the fact he was still able to beat a serious contender like Jurich spoke volumes about the warrior Lynch was.  Benny Lynch was inducted into the IBHOF in 1998.

6) Pascual Perez (1952-64)
Record: 84-7-1, 57 KO
World Champion 1954-60, 9 Defenses
Flyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 3: (Yoshio Shirai, Pone Kingpetch, Efren Torres)

Standing 4’11 is usually not a recipe for being a bad ass but Perez defied such categorization.  The 1948 Olympic Gold Medalist from Argentina built one of the finest legacies ever at 112 and he didn’t waste time in doing so once he got started.  In December 1952, Perez made his professional debut at age 26, more than four years removed from the U.K. Games.  Perez ran off 23 straight wins, 22 by knockout, before a non-title draw with Flyweight Champion Yoshio Shirai in July of 1954.  The result was enough to earn him a crack at the crown and in November, 1954 he headed to Japan and wrested the title away from Shirai by unanimous decision.  With less than two years as a professional, he was the king at 112 lbs. and would stay that way for just shy of six years, making only nine defenses but also winning numerous non-title starts.  Perez would not suffer a pro defeat until January 1959 when, entering 51-0-1, he would fall to upstart Sadao Yaoita by a ten-round decision in Yaoita’s Japanese homeland.  Perez did not let the blemish slide, returning to Japan later in the year for November showdown.  Perez came off the floor in the second round to stop Yaoita in the thirteenth.  It would be his last great night as champion.  In his very next bout, then age 34, Perez would lose his crown on a split decision to Kingpetch and in the return, making his first start in the U.S., Perez would suffer his first knockout loss in eight rounds.  Perez was done as champion but not as a fighter.  From 1961-63, Perez would win 28 in a row before journeyman Leo Zulueta stopped the streak with a split decision and began the drawing of the curtain, the first of four losses in six contests which included a knockout loss to a rising future champion Efren Torres.

Why He’s Here: As is often the case, boxing trades off between deep eras of relative parity and dominant champions.  It’s a chicken and egg question as to whether the dominance reflects a weaker era or just a truly special fighter.  Perez was certainly the latter but there were elements of the former.  Perez had his share of legitimate challengers, men like Dai Dower, Oscar Suarez, and Leo Espinosa, but he lacked for the rivals of the decades which preceded and followed him.  He made the most of it regardless, displaying a naked aggression and two fisted power rarely seen in any class and making a case, alongside Middleweight Carlos Monzon, as Argentina’s finest prizefighter.  One can only wonder how much more impressive his resume, and already staggering numbers, might have been had he elected for a professional career straight out of the 1948 Games.  Those are four youthful years worth pondering.  Perez was inducted into the IBHOF in 1995.

5) Frankie Genaro (1920-34)
Record: 83-20-8, 20 KO (22 No Decisions)
NBA Titlist 1928-29, 3 Defenses; 1929-31, 8 Defenses
Flyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 8: (Pancho Villa, Willie LaMorte, Fidel LaBarba, Newsboy Brown, Frenchy Belanger, Emile Pladner, Midget Wolgast, Victor Perez
)

Genaro didn’t win them all but he could almost say he fought them all at Flyweight.  Never weighing much more than 116 lbs., he added some of the finest Bantamweights and Featherweights of his day to the ledger as well.  Born Frankie DiGennara in New York City in 1901, Genaro represented the U.S. at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium and brought home the Gold before venturing into the paid ranks.  Winning most of his contests, his biggest early break may have come in 1922 with a ten-round points win in his second of three fights with the great Pancho Villa.  He’d equal the feat the following year in fifteen rounds, capturing the American Flyweight title, as part of a fifteen fight campaign in 1923 which featured a newspaper win over Bantamweight great Bud Taylor and only one newspaper loss.  Weighing in as a Bantamweight, he’d add wins over the excellent Bushy Graham and Hall of Famer Kid Williams in 1924 and 25 before losing his American crown at 112 to LaBarba in a showdown of Olympic champions.  He followed by dropping a decision to Newsboy Brown.  It would be over two years before he claimed Gold again, when he avenged a loss to Frankie Belanger from a few months prior to claim the NBA share of the World title in 1928, squeezing a win over LaMorte between the two bouts.  A shocking first round knockout loss to Pladner kicked off a shaky 1929, though it was immediately revenged, and the title regained, just six weeks later on a controversial disqualification.  Genaro followed with a loss to the excellent Willie Davies in a non-title affair before returning to defense of his crown.  As noted previously, no winner could be found in an attempted 1930 title unification with Wolgast and Genaro began inching towards his end when stopped in two by Victor Perez for his title.  It was the first of six losses in Genaro’s final eleven contests.

Why He’s Here: Genaro can be a hard fighter to characterize amongst his most honored peers.  At his best he was a great fighter but he could be inconsistent, losing to men he shouldn’t along way.  And yet when one looks at his record, they find almost everyone who counted for a generation, maybe the greatest generation, at 112 lbs.  He usually came up biggest with titles on the line indicating a gamer of highest order.  He had tremendous speed and technique, outworking dangerous fare without much of a knockout punch to back his play, and a keen fighting mind.  Even well past his prime, and after losing his NBA title, there he was schooling a young future Featherweight champion, Joey Archibald, in 1933.  He was stopped only four times in 131 starts, 3 of those in the same final eleven which marked his quick decline.  Genaro was inducted in the IBHOF in 1998.   

4) Miguel Canto (1969-82)
Record: 61-9-4, 15 KO
Lineal World Champion/WBC Titlist 1975-79
Flyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 5: (Betulio Gonzalez, Shoji Oguma, Antonio Avelar, Chan-Hee Park, Gabriel Bernal)

Canto turned pro at 21 and began what would be a four year climb through the ranks towards his first major title shot, honing a craft which rates him with some of the great defensive wizards of all-time.  When Venice Borkhorsor vacated the crown in 1973, Canto was matched with Betulio Gonzalez for the vacant WBC belt and dropped a majority decision.  It would the last title fight he’d lose for a long time.  He defeated Gonzalez’s conqueror, Shoji Oguma, for the title and avenged the Gonzalez loss in his first defense, both wins in the early months of 1975 and added a non-title win over future 108 lb. titlist Lupe Madera.  In 1976, he bested a recent WBA titlist in Hanagata and then finished his rivalry with Gonzalez by capturing a narrow split decision.  Two wins against the tough Martin Vargas, and two more versus Oguma stood out in 1977 and 78 and he made his last of a then-record 14 consecutive defenses against the future champion Avelar in February 1979.  One month later, his time as champion was done as Canto would travel to South Korea and drop the title on hostile turf to Chan-Hee Park.  Returning to Korea for the rematch, Canto could only snare a draw.  While he never regained the crown, he would add a win to his ledger over former 108 lb. titlist Sung-Jun Kim and split a pair with future champion Gabriel Bernal.

Why He’s Here: The Mexican ring genius amassed arguably the greatest of all title reigns at Flyweight.  While his record of 14 consecutive defenses has since been broken twice by the still-active duo of Omar Narvaez (WBO, currently at 16) and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (former Lineal/WBC, 17), neither has faced even the relative level of competition Canto did.  Regrettably, neither has even faced each other while generating their numbers.  Of his nine losses, three came in his first thirteen fights and four in his final five.  In between, he ran off streaks of 25-0-1 and 24-0 between losses.  Canto was inducted into the IBHOF in 1998.

3) Fidel LaBarba (1924-33)
Record: 72-15-7, 15 KO
World Champion 1927, 1 Defense
Flyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 3: (Newsboy Brown, Frankie Genaro, Willie LaMorte)

Oscar De La Hoya was far from the first Los Angeles-based superstar birthed in the Olympics.  Born in the Bronx but raised out west, LaBarba was still in high school when he traveled to Paris in 1924 and captured the Gold before returning to the States for one of the most compelling, and for its time richest, careers in boxing history.  A fighter who faced future Welterweight great Jimmy McLarnin, Newsboy Brown, the excellent Georgie Rivers, and Hall of Famer Frankie Genaro over the course of a career would be lauded for their quality of competition.  LaBarba knocked that out in seven of his first eleven contests, opening his tenure with a mark of 7-2-2, both losses coming on points to McLarnin along with a draw against the same and a draw with Brown.  He would never lose at Flyweight again. 

Against Genaro in 1925, and in front of over 25,000 Los Angeles fans, he was crowned the American Flyweight champion over ten rounds.  He would add the NBA’s recognition as World champion in 1926 with a third points win over Rivers in a bout which saw both men come off the floor over ten frames.  Less than a year later, in 1927, LaBarba made only his second Madison Square Garden appearance, defeating Elky Clark to claim the undisputed crown.  With his body already regularly reaching into the Bantamweight division, it would be LaBarba’s last notable Flyweight fight.  He dropped two straight on points to Johnny Vacca at Bantamweight following Clark but added a win over stalwart contender of the time Memphis Pal Moore and a revenge decision over Vacca before 1927 was out.  He vacated the title after the third Vacca fight, retiring to attend Stanford University.   

Why He’s Here: On his best day, LaBarba could have, might have, defeated any Flyweight in history and he proved it by facing the elite almost from the day he began.  LaBarba of course wasn’t gone to class long, returning to the ring in 1928 and campaigning from Bantamweight to Jr. Lightweight over the remainder of his career.  While he never won another World title, he garnered tries at both Featherweight and Jr. Lightweight and managed wins over outstanding fighters like Kid Chocolate, Bud Taylor, Bushy Graham, and Tommy Paul along the way.  A narrow loss to Chocolate for the 130 lb. honors in 1932 prevented him from becoming the first man ever to bridge the gap from 112 to 130 lbs. in terms of title honors, a feat accomplished in the modern era by Manny Pacquiao.

LaBarba did all of this without a notable punch.  He got by with a plenty of everything else: great speed, footwork, defense, ring intelligence and a granite chin which kept him afoot through all of his 94 career bouts.  He didn’t have the lengthy stay at Flyweight many others on this list did, growing out of the division by his 21st birthday, but the level of work he got done was unreal and LaBarba helped define in many ways the idea of what we now call pound-for-pound.  LaBarba was inducted into the IBHOF in 1996.

2) Pancho Villa (1919-26)
Record: 79-5-4, 25 KO (20 No Decisions)
World Champion 1923-25, 4 Defenses
Flyweight Titlists/Champions Faced – 2: (Frankie Genaro, Jimmy Wilde)

Born Francisco Guilledo in 1901 in the Philippines, Villa was the first Asian-born world champion in the sport.  A whirlwind of aggression, Villa wasn’t a huge puncher but he couldn’t be taken lightly either and few men could keep his pace.  Turning professional in Manila in 1919 would win his first 18 contests into 1920.  The latter year provided him his first and most faced rival, American future Jr. Lightweight champion Mike Ballerino.  In ten tries, Ballerino could never do better than a draw.  His success abroad caught attention in the States and in 1922, as part of a seventeen bout campaign on the year, Villa made his U.S. debut in New Jersey against future Bantamweight champion Abe Goldstein, picking up the newspaper decision.  A no-decision and loss to Genaro followed shortly after but Villa rebounded to win the American Flyweight title against future-Bantamweight champion Johnny Buff.  He added another win over Goldstein before the year was out before again dropping a points nod to Genaro in early 1923 for the American crown. 

Villa had bigger prizes ahead.  Luring long time king Jimmy Wilde out of an over two-year retirement, Villa sent the Welshman back to the rocking chair with a seventh round knockout on June 18, 1923 in front of over 20,000 at the Polo Grounds in New York.  Over the next couple years, he would defend only four times, notably never against Genaro, while engaging in tough contests against notable Bantams like Abe Friedman, Bud Taylor and Kid Williams, often while still below the 112 lb. line and almost always victorious be it by newspaper decision or official points verdict.  In 1924, Villa was suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission for failing to make a defense against Genaro and the third fight of his 1925 campaign made it impossible to ever do so.

Entering a heavy favorite, Villa gave up six pounds (115 vs. 121) for a July 4th bout with rising and still growing future Welterweight champion Jimmy McLarnin.  Suffering from a dental infection and the pain of a tooth extracted the day of the fight, Villa was outworked on points and the infection grew worse.  Complications led to his death just ten days later, still the Flyweight champion, still only 24 years old.
Why He’s Here: While there are votes today for Manny Pacquiao, and votes still for the great Flash Elorde, it may be that some ninety years have not removed Villa from his perch as the greatest Filipino or Asian fighter in boxing history.  In six years, he faced more legitimate World Champions and Hall of Fame greats than most modern men do in twenty. 

Remarkably, weighing in as a Flyweight, he could also be argued as one the great Bantamweights, unafraid to give up pounds on the scale for the extra pounds in his pocket.  That his life was cut so tragically short leaves the mind to wander with what if scenarios.  Given the rigors of the time, 24 was older then than it is now but he certainly had some quality years left in him.  What if he could have figured out Genaro?  What would a battle with LaBarba or even the Bantamweight version of Tony Canzoneri looked like?  And then of course there is the question of how he might have fared had he come along just a little earlier and found a prime Wilde.

In the end the separation between number one and number two is the ultimate in splitting hairs.  Villa was inducted to the IBHOF in 1994.

1) Jimmy Wilde (1892-1969)
Record: 132-3-2, 100 KO (13 No Decisions)
World Champion 1916-23, 6 Defenses
Flyweight Titlists/Champions Faced - 5: (Tancy Lee, Joe Symonds, Sid Smith, Young Zulu Kid, Pancho Villa)

Wilde or Villa, almost a century after their clash, remains the question.  Here the answer favors the Welsh titan.  Standing 5’2 and weighing less than 100 lbs. for much of his career, to say Wilde was near unbeatable in his prime is an understatement if only because he was unbeatable before he even got there.  While some note him fighting for coin years before, Wilde’s official professional debut is listed between 1910 and 1911 and he would contest 94 bouts before suffering his first defeat in 1915.  Along the way, he collected various titles (the 98 lb. British crown, British and Welsh Paperweight crowns, and the European Flyweight crown) before suffering a 17th round knockout at the hands of Tancy Lee in London January 25, 1915 for a share of the World title. The Lee loss came after a decision over the excellent Joe Symonds and a knockout of Smith.

Defeat did not sit well with Wilde.  In twenty starts between the first Lee fight and the June 26, 1916 rematch, Wilde averaged more than a fight a month.  Stepping to scratch twenty times, he scored nineteen knockouts including two more over Smith and a 12th round stoppage of Symonds.  Returning to the scene of the crime, Wilde entered the National Sporting Club a second time against Lee and exited with an eleventh round stoppage.  Six months later, he secured universal recognition as the world champion by besting Young Zulu Kid and unifying his American share of the world title into all of Wilde’s other trophies.  Wilde would spend the rest of his career bouncing between Flyweight battle and contesting against Bantamweights while giving up sometimes as much as fourteen pounds, even snaring a win against Bantamweight great Joe Lynch along the way. 

Wilde’s reign of terror on the littlest men would come to an end in the early 1920s.  Giving up almost ten pounds, he was stopped in 1921 by Bantamweight great Pete Herman in 17 rounds.  Announcing his retirement after a win over Young Jennings later in the year, Wilde would elect to come back in 1923 to defend his rights to the Flyweight crown against Villa and it might have been better to stay away.  Wilde could last only seven rounds before time, and the title, finally passed him by.

Why He’s Here: Given the number of fights he had, there are obviously lots of stiffs on Wilde’s record.  There is also a representative class of much of the early history of the Flyweight division.  It is not very often in sport that things are gotten right the first time, but in this case Wilde’s pioneering validation of the Flyweights is an exception.  That two of his three losses took seventeen rounds to get done says all anyone need know of his toughness and, oh my, the power.  That two of those losses came in his final three of some 150 bouts says even more.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Wilde, relative to his size, the greatest puncher who ever lived.  He’s certainly in the hunt if he isn’t in the top spot.  Like John L. Sullivan at Heavyweight or “The Nonpareil” Jack Dempsey at Middleweight, Wilde is the break point where a modern era truly begins and, unlike those men, it is not hard to imagine him just as dominant today as he was in his own time.  Given the multiple divisions and belts of this era, Wilde could easily have won titles in five weight divisions.  An inaugural member of the IBHOF in 1990, Wilde remains the face of the Flyweights almost 100 years after his debut.

He was and is the greatest little man of them all.

Semantics

The results here are compiled in two parts which tweaks the format used for the review of the nine Jr. Divisions conducted earlier this year.

First, a points-based comparison assigns points in part based on:
Number of fellow champions faced (total) then divided into a competition score to flatten the field due to the fluctuation in titles recognized.
Lineal World Titles
Sanctioning Body Titles
Title Defenses
2 Points per KO; -2 per KOBY; 1 per UD against fellow titlists
Quality Wins (Points Assigned based on opponent accomplishments; i.e. lineal champions can count for 1, a single sanctioning body champion based on their sanctioning body total, discretionary points for established champions from other weight classes)
Quality Losses (Losses to champion opponents -1 point; selective non-title losses)
Draws (.5 points)

From this, a baseline is established and the top fifty fighters are identified.  Further analysis focuses on the context of wins and losses, the relative dominance displayed in a fighters prime, and the strength of one’s era versus the competition faced, to get to a final top twenty-five.

Note: The websites of the Cyber Boxing Zone, International Boxing Research Organization, and BoxRec.com were all heavily consulted in compiling this effort.

Coming Soon: The Top 25 Bantamweights of All Time

Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com




 User Comments and Feedback (must register to comment)

comment by Frank Martin, on 09-17-2009
I already expect Jimmy Wilde or Pancho Villa to be in top 2

comment by crold1, on 08-11-2009
[QUOTE=The Monk]Great stuff Cliff. I tried (its an ongoing process) to make my own top 10 boxers for every weight division so can definitely appreciate the time and effort needed to complete such lists. The knowledge you possess to be able to do write-ups like this is first class. I would m...

comment by Isola, on 08-11-2009
Congratulations on a thoroughly enjoyable and informative article Cliff, keep it coming.

comment by The Monk, on 08-11-2009
Great stuff Cliff. I tried (its an ongoing process) to make my own top 10 boxers for every weight division so can definitely appreciate the time and effort needed to complete such lists. The knowledge you possess to be able to do write-ups like this is first class. I would maybe have Kingpe...

comment by FasTHarD, on 08-11-2009
Good stuff right here.

Post A Comment/View More User Comments (11) 

   
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