By ARNE K. LANG
The Manning brothers – Peyton and Eli – are the most famous brother combination in the annals of football. Sons of Archie Manning, another outstanding quarterback, the brothers each own two Super Bowl rings. Watching Peyton Manning earn his second in the recently concluded Super Bowl got us thinking about the best brother combinations in other sports.
Here’s a Top Ten list for boxing with the best of the best listed in descending order of “eminence.” Needless to say, the selections and the rankings are subjective – it could not be otherwise. Feel free to disagree.
THE KLITSCHKO BROTHERS
The Klitschko brothers were never superstars in America, but their legend will grow with the passage of time. Decades from now people will debate which brother was more talented.
Vitali Klitschko, 52 months older than his sibling, finished 45-2 (41 KOs). He left the sport riding a 13 fight winning streak that included 11 defenses of his WBC heavyweight title.
Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) was the lineal heavyweight champion until he was dethroned by Tyson Fury. Heading into his match with Fury, he was 19-0 in bouts sanctioned for the heavyweight title by the IBF and/or WBA.
THE MARQUEZ BROTHERS
Juan Manuel Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KOs) needs no introduction. His four fights with Manny Pacquiao will live forever in the pages of boxing lore. Rafael Marquez (41-9, 37 KOs) won the IBF bantamweight title at the expense of previously undefeated Tim Austin and made seven successful title defenses before moving up in weight.
THE TIOZZO BROTHERS
The Tiozzo brothers – Fabrice and Christophe – were collectively 81-4 with 55 KOs. Fabrice (48-2) held the WBA light heavyweight title at the time of his retirement. Both of his setbacks were to future IBHOF inductee Virgil Hill. In his next-to-last assignment he sent 48-1 Dariusz Michalczewski into retirement with a 6th round stoppage.
Christophe Tiozzo (33-2), older by six years, won the WBA super middleweight title from In Chul Baek, sending the South Korean off into retirement, and made three successful title defenses. A third brother, Franck Tiozzo, was 8-2-1 as a cruiserweight.
THE GIBBONS BROTHERS
Tommy Gibbons came up short against Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney, but defeated such notables as Georges Carpentier and Kid Norfolk and split four bouts with Harry Greb, the legendary Pittsburgh Windmill. Counting newspaper decisions, his record (or at least a close approximation of it) stands 96-5-4. In retirement, the pride of St. Paul, Minnesota served four terms as Sheriff of Ramsey County, home to St. Paul, the state capitol.
Mike Gibbons was a scientific boxer like his younger brother. In the years preceding World War I he was widely recognized as the middleweight champion, a distinction to which some lesser fighters had stronger claims. He was 113-11-8 in documented fights when factoring in newspaper decisions.
THE CANIZALES BROTHERS
The pride of Laredo, Texas, Orlando Canizales retired with a record of 50-5-1 (37 KOs). He won the IBF bantamweight title in 1988 and made 16 successful defenses before moving up in weight.
Orlando’s older brother Gaby Canizales was also a world bantamweight title-holder, taking the belt from Richie Sandoval in a bout that was nearly fatal for Sandoval who left the ring on a stretcher. A loser in his first title defense, Gaby left the sport with a 48-8-1 record.
THE NORRIS BROTHERS
Terry Norris (47-9, 31 KOs), whose list of victims included Sugar Ray Leonard, was 19-5 with 14 stoppages in matches sanctioned for the 154-pound title. Two of those losses were by disqualification to Luis Santana, a man he would later knock out.
Orlin Norris (57-10-1, 30 KOs) peaked in 1994 when he knocked out Arthur Williams in the third round in the first defense of his WBA cruiserweight title. As a heavyweight he was little more than a journeyman, but he was good enough to defeat former IBF heavyweight champion Tony Tucker in the second of their two meetings.
THE ATTELL BROTHERS
Abraham Washington “Abe” Attell, born on Washington’s Birthday in 1883, was a finagler who could never be trusted to render an honest effort, but he was a ring marvel when he played it straight. A cursory look at his record transports us back to an age when boxing was unregulated where it wasn’t banned. At the age of 18, Attell, a scrawny featherweight, battled legendary George “Little Chocolate” Dixon on even terms in three bouts consuming 45 rounds.
Monte Attell had a brief, albeit tenuous, hold on the world bantamweight title. He should have called it quits after his 1910 war of attrition with Frankie Conley — the bout lasted into the 42nd round (!) – but he kept at it for another six years as he went progressively blind. A third brother, Caesar Attell, had a brief and undistinguished career.
THE SPINKS BROTHERS
With Olympic gold medals and heavyweight title belts, the Spinks were the most famous brothers in boxing history until the Klitschkos came along. The level-headed brother, Michael Spinks (31-1, 21 KOs), earned his gold as a middleweight, was the best light heavyweight of his generation, and scored two wins over Larry Holmes.
In his eighth professional fight, Leon Spinks won a 15-round decision over Muhammad Ali. No one can ever take that away from him. But Neon Leon degenerated into the punchline of a joke which keeps me from placing this duo higher on the list. How absurd that a man that conquered the great Ali would subsequently lose to a fighter that finished 3-53-1.
THE TURPIN BROTHERS
Randy Turpin, born in 1928, finished 66-8-1 (45 KOs). He had two big fights with Sugar Ray Robinson spaced two months apart. He won the first in London, an outcome that sent his British countrymen into a spasm of joy. Sugar Ray was 128-1-2 going in. Robinson returned the favor in the rematch, reclaiming his middleweight title, but Turpin went on to win the British Empire light heavyweight title.
Turpin had two older brothers who had long and fruitful careers. Dick Turpin was a British Empire middleweight champion. Jackie Turpin, who competed mostly as a featherweight, had his best year in 1948 when he was 15-4-1. Both of Randy Turpin’s brothers went on to become prominent boxing trainers.
THE MAYWEATHER BROTHERS
In the aggregate, the Mayweather brothers – Roger, Jeff, and Floyd the Elder – were 119-29-6. Floyd the Elder was sufficiently talented to command engagements with Marlon Starling and Sugar Ray Leonard. Jeff Mayweather, a reluctant warrior who lacked a hard punch, was a cut above a conventional journeyman. But the Brothers Mayweather would not have made this list if not for Roger, the original Black Mamba.
Roger Mayweather (59-13, 35 KOs) won the WBA super featherweight title in his fifteenth pro fight and went on to claim the WBC 140-pound title. He was stopped twice by Julio Cesar Chavez but defeated so many Mexicans in Los Angeles rings that he acquired a second nickname: the Mexican Assassin. (That was bad terminology, lacking the “s” and perhaps an apostrophe on “Mexican,” but we got the drift.)
Like the older Turpin brothers before them, the Mayweathers went on to become prominent trainers. In time, thanks to Floyd’s son, the Mayweather name became synonymous with the sport of boxing. It’s an awkward comparison, to be sure, but the multi-generational Mayweathers are the pugilistic equivalent of the Manning family of football fame.
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR
Here are some other outstanding brother combinations. They are listed alphabetically.
The Alvarez brothers – Canelo, Rigoberto (and more)
The Baer brothers – Max and Buddy
The Espana brothers – Ernesto and Crisanto
The Fullmer brothers – Gene and Don
The Galaxy brothers – Khaosai and Kaokor
The Lopez brothers – Ernie “Indian Red” and Danny “Little Red”
The Morales brothers – Erik and Diego
The Quarry brothers – Jerry and Mike
The Stecca brothers – Loris and Maurizio