Tyke turbo Josh Warrington is set to crash the world stage if he can overcome Danish menace Dennis Ceylan in their IBF featherweight final eliminator at the First Direct Arena in his home city this weekend.
Still only 26, the one-time dental technician has triumphed in 25 straight and already gobbled up English, British, Commonwealth, European and WBC International gongs.
But warmonger Warrington still has some way to go before he can eclipse this fistful of world beaters from the White Rose County.
5. Kell Brook
A product of the lauded Ingle family gym in Wincobank, crunch puncher Kell reigned on the IBF welterweight throne for 33 months between 2014-17.
British champion at 22, it seemed that his prodigious talent might remain unfulfilled as he meandered – albeit unbeaten – for over six years at domestic and Inter-Continental level.
And ‘Special K’ was unfancied when he finally took the plunge into a world championship ring against excellent US champion Shawn Porter - particularly as the fight took place in Carson, California - but he delivered the cleaner, harder blows to bag an upset majority decision.
Shortly after, Brook was the victim of a horrific machete attack whilst holidaying in Tenerife, but rebounded to retain his title three times – all be stoppage – against admittedly tame opposition.
With unification proving elusive, the Sheffield lad boldly jumped two divisions to tackle 35-0 (32) Kazakh terror Gennady Golovkin in September 2016 but, after acquitting himself admirably, was withdrawn with a damaged eye socket in round five. A similar injury led to the concession of his 147lb reign against white hot Texan prospect Errol Spence last May. Still active.
4. Clinton Woods
An incorrigible street-fighter and self confessed Sheffield Wednesday football hooligan, ‘Clint’ tranformed his life after his distraught mother wrote him a letter pleading that he mend his errant ways.
The one-time plasterer nailed the Commonwealth Super-Middle title at 25, then suffocated fellow Yorkie Crawford Ashley in eight rounds to bag the British, Commonwealth and European light-heavyweight belts in 1999.
However, success at world level was slow in coming. In 2002, a prime Roy Jones slaughtered him in six for the unified belts over in Oregon, then Jamaican road warrior Glencoffe Johnson twice repelled his efforts to claim the vacant IBF strap in Sheffield, outscoring Woods unanimously in February 2014 after a 12 round draw three months earlier.
Though a decent technician, Woods was feted for his lion heart, tungsten chin and irrepressible will. Two months before his 33rd birthday, he finally prevailed at world level bashing up Michigan motor mouth Rico Hoye in five to capture the vacant IBF crown in Rotherham.
In an Indian summer, he successfully retained four times against credible competition (and avenging Johnson). Almost 36, Woods finally surrendered his title to one time world amateur champ Antonio Tarver in the Yank’s home city of Tampa, then bowed out for good following an abortive IBF challenge to Tavoris Cloud in Hollywood. Clinton’s concluding 42-5-1 stats included five wins over world champions.
3. Jamie McDonnell
Joltin’ Jamie turned pro as a teen but his prospects didn’t look great after he dropped back to back decisions to Chris Edwards and Lee Haskins as a stringbean super-flyweight in the 2007-8 campaign. Nine and a half years on, the Doncaster dazzler hasn’t lost since!
A freakishly elongated 5ft 10in bantam, blessed with a 72in wingspan, ‘Super Mac’ gradually learned to optimise his advantages. In January 2010, he scalped Hackney’s Ian Napa to collar the British and Commonwealth titles in Brentwood then, less than two months later, journeyed to Le Cannet, France and defrocked home hero Jerome Arnould for the vacant European belt. He successfully retained the latter on four occasions before advancing to the global stage.
Since May 2013, McDonnell has triumphed in seven successive ‘world’ bantamweight contests. He first claimed the IBF belt by bamboozling Mexico’s Julio Ceja at the Keepmoat football stadium then, having been mysteriously stripped before he could defend, he added the WBA strap to his cabinet by grinding down 52-2 Thai Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat in 10 at Wembley Stadium in May 2014. Already he has staved off five challengers, including a brace of unanimous points wins over Japan’s longstanding WBO champion Tomoki Kameda.
Like Brook, he is capable of extending his legacy.
2. Johnny Nelson
A poster boy for perseverance, this painfully shy and self doubting adolescent - who lost 10 of 13 amateur contests plus his first three pro starts – rose to become the longest reigning world cruiserweight champion of all time.
But it wasn’t a smooth ride. Hugely gifted but riddled by insecurities, the 6ft 3in switcher snared British and Commonwealth cruiser crowns by the age of 23 but displayed chronic stage fright during his initial two world title challenges – a ‘no score’ draw with Puerto Rico’s WBC champion Carlos De Leon in his home city, and a similarly lame decision loss to IBF boss James Warring in Virginia, USA.
Nelson’s perceived ‘cowardice’ resulted in white feathers being posted to his home and he was effectively ostracised from British rings for four years. Away from the pressures, he fine tuned his skills and hardened his psyche, whilst performing in 11 countries on six continents.
Upon his return, the misnamed ‘Entertainer’ recaptured his domestic and continental crowns and spectacularly redeemed himself in 1999 by blitzing Carl Thompson in five to win the WBO crown in Derby. Over the ensuing six and a half years, he successfully retained on 13 occasions (six by stoppage, four on foreign fields) before retiring as undefeated champion.
A long term pundit for Sky Sports, he remains the blueprint for how The Noble Art can transform lives.
1. Naseem Hamed
In his prime during the second half of the 1990s, the Yemeni prince by way of Sheffield was possibly Britain’s greatest post-war ring talent at any weight.
Flash, brash and bombastic, Naz courted love and hate in equal measure and completely revolutionised the commercial side of the sport with his antics, acrobatics, attire and arrivals. Nevertheless, once the bell tolled, boy, could he rumble.
Another from the Wincobank conveyor belt – like Nelson – the all conquering junior talent swept to European bantam and WBC International Super-Bantam honours by the age of 20.
A year later, he snared the WBO Featherweight crown with a virtuoso stoppage of local hero Steve Robinson in a vitriolic cauldron at Cardiff Arms Park and successfully retained 15 times, with 13 explosive stoppages and nine world champions vanquished.
Hamed embarked on five super fights in the US and evolved into a global phenomenon. Quite possibly the hardest puncher in the history of the 126lb division, he was belatedly inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame in Canastota in 2015.
Bubbling beneath ....Bruce Woodcock, Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham, Henry Wharton, Paul ‘Silky’ Jones, Crawford Ashley, Paul Ingle, Ryan Rhodes, Junior Witter