Russian wrecking machine Sergey Kovalev makes a homecoming eighth defence of his world light-heavyweight belts at the DIVS Arena in Ekaterinburg, Russia on Monday. The ‘Krusher’ lays his iron fists upon Malawi born Isaac Chilemba and BoxNation screen live from 5.30pm.
As King Kov begins to canvas for consideration as one of the greatest 175lbers in the division’s 113 year history, Glynn Evans lists the men he needs to catch.
7) Virgil Hill
This part Native American from North Dakota was extremely hard to beat and sometimes even harder to watch!
A dour, feather-fisted technician who seldom ventured out of his home state and invariably prevailed on points, ‘Quicksilver’ was more likely to put the crowd to sleep than his opponent.
Nevertheless his stats alone merit his inclusion. In two reigns on the WBA throne between 1987 and 1996, the 1984 Olympic silver medallist triumphed in 22 of 23 title scraps – conceding only to Tommy Hearns – and conquered seven world champions.
His quality was most evident in November 1996 when he ventured to Munich to de-robe long reigning IBF rival Henry Maske via split decision. Hill later twice added the WBA cruiser title to his CV.
6) Victor Galindez
The stocky 5ft 9 ½ in ‘El Leopardo de Moron’ was a world champion in the very purest sense.
Though he captured the vacant WBA title with a 13th round stoppage of Len ‘Stinger’ Hutchins at Luna Park, in his homeland of Argentina in December 1974, globetrotting Galindez successfully retained the belt eleven times on foreign climes.
Turning pro at 20, he won just 12 of his first 22 but gradually morphed into a bull strong, free-swinging warrior who scalped quality men such as Jorge Ahumada, Richie Kates, Yaqui Lopez and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad during his four year title reign.
Galindez lost then reclaimed the belt in wars with Mike Rossman before bowing out with retina problems. He lived as hard as he fought and tragically died, just 31, after being struck by a rival car in an automobile race.
5) Michael Spinks
This 1976 Montreal Olympic middleweight gold medallist terrorised a high quality 175lb field with his savage ‘Spinks Jinx’ right hand during the first half of the 1980s.
The pride of St Louis ascended to the WBA throne in 1981 by outscoring Eddie Mustafa Muhammad over 15 rounds in Las Vegas. A towering 6ft 2 ½ in stylist, he retained his claim 10 times over the next four years, adding the WBC and inaugural IBF straps en route.
Eight of his challengers failed to cross the finish line as master strategist Spinks teed them up with an educated jab then chopped them down with ‘The Jinx’.....a crushing right hand scud over the guard.
In 1985, he made history as the first reigning light-heavy champ to claim the heavyweight title when he outfoxed Larry Holmes in a huge upset.
4) Roy Jones Jr.
Pensacola’s finest is probably the greatest natural talent that the 175lb division ever produced.
His sizzling fists, plus outrageous balance, co-ordination and reflexes enabled RJJ to hoover up global middle and super-middle titles by the age of 25. However, it was at 12st 7lbs that he really flourished.
In his first bonafide fight at the weight, Roy was red carded for striking Montell Griffin as he grovelled on the canvas following a knockdown. Enraged, he atoned five months later by cold-cocking the Chicagoan with a single chilling left hook in the opening round.
The gifted one successfully retained 13 times – eight by stoppage – but was compromised by tepid competition and was seldom required to leave third gear.
Had he retired after handing WBA heavyweight king John Ruiz his ass in 2003, there’d be a strong case to consider Jones among the greatest ever, P4P. Alas, 13 years on and a shadow of his prime, he continues to blot his legacy by remaining active.
3) Tommy Loughran
‘The Phantom of Philly’ couldn’t bruise a grape in a fruit fight and registered just 14 stoppage wins in 115 gigs. Nevertheless, the elusive defensive genius ruled the division almost single handedly during the 1920s.
Nimble of foot and a natural counter puncher, the Irish-American’s lead left was a poetic weapon that enabled him to dominate the 175lb class from 1927-29. His right hand, they said, was merely for stirring his tea.
Loughran acquired the undisputed title by decisioning Ireland’s Mike McTigue at Madison Square Garden, then tickled his way to six successful defences over the next 21 months. Fellow Hall of Famers Mickey Walker and James J Braddock were among the vanquished......on points, naturally.
Tommy renounced the title to operate at heavyweight and came mighty close to dethroning world champ Primo Carnera-despite spotting the Ambling Alp a hefty 84lbs!
2) Bob Foster
One senses that Albuquerque, New Mexico might have been a law abiding city during Bob Foster’s tenure as sheriff during the 1960s and 70s.
The gangly 6ft 3in law enforcer could knock a foe cold even when he half connected and his Mogadon fists enabled him to reign unchallenged on the light-heavyweight throne from 1968-74.
His coronation was a spectacular affair as he levelled two division undisputed champion Dick Tiger with a disturbingly hard left hook in round four. It was the Nigerian’s only stoppage loss in 81 gigs.
Thereafter, the ‘Deputy Sheriff’ lay 10 of his first 11 challengers endways, courtesy of firepower that belonged in the heavyweight class.
Alas, his chin did not and he was conclusively stopped by several – including Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali – when he gambled against the big boys.
1) Archie Moore
In a career that spanned four decades, the ‘Old Mongoose’ racked up more knockout wins (132) than any other pug in ring history but he was essentially a master strategist who out psyched as many as he outpunched.
Having embraced the Noble Art during a stint in reform school, Moore joined the pros at 20 but, due to his talent, power and skin colour, had to wait until four days past his 36th birthday to land a world title gig.
Ancient Archie bagged the undisputed belt with a 15 round pummelling of Joey Maxim in 1952 then embarked on a decade long reign, thwarting nine challengers.
Renowned for his unconventional cross armed defence and booming arrow-straight right, mid reign he became only the second fighter to drop Rocky Marciano during an abortive tilt at the world heavyweight crown.
Moore never lost his title in the ring but, aged 45, was finally stripped for inactivity. He is enlisted in most top tens for the greatest fighter ever.
[Image credits: This Fight City, Telegraph]