So Who’s Your Favorite Boxer? 15 Sage Boxing Buffs Make Their Picks

Recently this question was posed to me and my answer was almost Pavlovian. Vasyl Lomachenko is my favorite because of his athleticism and reflexes. I was then asked who my all-time favorite was and again I answered without hesitation: Bob Satterfield, a Chicago heavyweight back in the day. He was a chill-or-be chilled type and that made him Mr. Excitement and therefore my favorite.

As a matter of interest, I decided I would ask a number of boxing writers, ex-fighters, trainers, referees, promoters, and other boxing luminaries the same two questions. The respondents are listed alphabetically.

Jim Amato (writer, historian, and member of the BWAA)

My all-time favorite is Roberto Duran. My current favorite boxer is Mikey Garcia.

Duran was the most complete fighter of his era. I loved to watch him in action.

Joe DeGuardia (President of Star Boxing)

Favorite All-Time Boxer: There are so many great boxing all-timers so this isn’t as easy a question as it seems. I grew up during the Muhammad Ali era so he’s certainly on my list, as is Sugar Ray Leonard who won his gold as I was winning junior titles in my pre-teenager years–who can forget the greatness he showed in the first Hearns fight? I used to watch tapes of Ray Robinson and Willie Pep (my Dad knew both well and sparred with Willie) and they were both masterful and true artists in the ring.  Picking one from them is very difficult — so let’s say those three –and while I’m at it –I’ll throw in Rocky Marciano for his relentlessness, grit and determination.”

Favorite Current Boxer: I have many fighters that I promote that I enjoy watching fight. The punching power of the Hebrew Hammer, Cletus Seldin.The finesse of Demetrius Andrade. But the excitement Joe Smith Jr has been bringing to his fights, and certainly his last couple of fights, has really been something else. The Fonfara fight had me jumping more than I’ve jumped in years. I’d have to say Joe Smith Jr right now.

Outside of my guys I like the tremendous improvement as a boxer that Canelo has shown and when you combine that with his warrior style and business impact on the sport — well, it earns my respect.

Jill Diamond (boxing writer and matchmaker)

Sugar Ray Robinson and Christy Martin are my all-time favorites.

Triple G and Claressa Shields are my current favorites.

Character, overcoming obstacles, and staying power are key. I know Claressa is young, but I say that two Olympics, poverty and a wicked and thoughtful technique makes her p4p and one to watch.

Steve Farhood (award-winning TV boxing commentator and 2007 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee)

Favorite All-Time Boxer: Roberto Duran. He was as pure a fighter as I’ve ever seen. I was lucky to cover a few of his fights. He was a mix of brilliance, cunning, natural talent, and savagery. How could anyone NOT love him?

I often unofficially score fights, so I don’t want to name a current favorite. I enjoy watching many, including Errol Spence, Leo Santa Cruz, Canelo Alvarez, Naoya Inouye, and Jorge Linares.

 Bernard Fernandez (boxing writer and lifetime member of the BWAA)

Don’t know if this counts, but my favorite all-time boxer, whom I never saw fight (and there are no tapes of him in action) is the late welterweight Jack Fernandez, who posted a rather nondescript 4-1-1 record with one knockout. That would be my father, who went to his grave as Bernard J. Fernandez, Sr. As I was an only child who dearly loved his dad, and my dad loved boxing, I would watch the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports on Friday nights with him. He would tell me what was going on, and why, and boxing became something that bonded us in so many ways. Basically, he gave me the gift of boxing which led to the career that has been so very good to me. But if choosing my dad for No. 1 doesn’t count, then I would say Carmen Basilio. The “Upstate Onion Farmer” was my father’s favorite fighter, so he of course became my favorite fighter when I was a little kid, much in the same manner that Stan Musial was my favorite baseball player.

It was a thrill when I finally met Carmen in person, at one of my early trips to cover induction weekend at the International Boxing Hall of Fame. I only wish I had brought my father, who lived in the New Orleans area his entire life, with me to Canastota (he died on March 4, 1994) so he, too, could have met his ring hero. I did bring him to a major fight in Las Vegas (Tyson-Ruddock II) and to Europe for the only time in his life, Lennox Lewis-Razor Ruddock in London; he had served in the Navy in the Pacific theater in World War II. By the way, my proudest possession is an old fight poster in which the main event is Archie Moore vs. Jimmie Hayden with the principal lead-in bout (well, one of two) between — ta da! — Jack Fernandez and Jimmy Hatmaker, By extension, I also have a soft spot in my heart for the “Mongoose,” who I would have liked in any case because … well, just because.

 If my dad falls into a separate category, then I guess I would go with Roberto Duran. I became mesmerized by the “Hands of Stone” when he was a young, remorseless lightweight, in my mind the greatest 135-pounder of all time, and the ultimate fighting machine. Ironically, later on in my career I became close to Sugar Ray Leonard, so I have to also give him a high place of honor for reasons both personal and professional.

Favorite Current Boxer: This is a bit trickier. I was immediately enthralled with Manny Pacquiao the first time I saw him fight in the U.S., when he beat Ledwaba in Vegas on the undercard of De La Hoya-Castillo. He remained a personal favorite for some time, although he obviously is not the same fighter he was in his glorious prime. I was very fond of the entertainment value of the late Johnny Tapia who, I must say, also was a favorite of my father when the world was privileged to have both of them alive and kicking.I also go back further with Bernard Hopkins than with any other boxer of personal acquaintance, and I imagine the same holds true for him with me. Although technically he’s not active any longer, his work ethic and longevity are the cornerstones of his legend. Today, the skills and potential for the establishment of far-reaching legacies have VasylLomachenko and Errol Spence Jr. high on my list of must-sees, if not yet in Basilio/Duran/Pacquiao territory.

Lee Groves (boxing writer, author, and BWAA member)

Favorite All-Time Boxer: Roberto Duran. His second fight with DeJesus was the first fight I ever saw and it was the bout that reeled me in. In the intervening years I’ve been fascinated with his fusion of savagery and science inside the ring and his personality outside it.

I don’t have a particular favorite today, but I do like to watch guys like VasylLomachenko, Naoya Inoue, Roman Gonzalez and Leo Santa Cruz. These are action fighters who are also capable of stimulating the intellect. Lomachenko’s use of angles is superlative and the others’ combination punching is a joy.

Miguel Iturrate: (matchmaker, promoter, writer and Senior Archivist at The Boxing Channel)

Favorite All-Time Boxer: Wow, It’s tough to narrow down. I remember watching a trilogy between Jorge Paez and Troy Dorsey in the 90s that made Paez my favorite fighter, and then obviously that was the era of Roy Jones Jr and Julio Cesar Chavez, two who receive consideration as my favorites.

I love historical figures – like I’m a huge Ad Wolgast fan and I don’t think there are many people in the world who know as much about him as I do. That whole pre-Dempsey era is hugely attractive to me because it takes in history as well.

I have to say that of the current crop of boxers, my favorite to watch is Terence Crawford.

Harold Lederman (famous boxing judge and 2016 IBHOF inductee)

Favorite All-time Boxer: Bennie Briscoe. He was exciting and I like excitement.

Current Fighter: Terence Crawford is exciting as well.

Ron Lipton (world class referee)

 Favorite All-Time Boxer: I would have to say the one that stays in my mind the most was the early Rubin Carter. I saw Gene Fullmer fight Florentino Fernandez for 15 hard rounds and no one got dropped. I sat ringside in MSG and saw Carter take out Fernandez in 69 seconds and it has stayed with me forever. Then seeing him in person in Pittsburgh take out Griffith in one round just put him in a niche that lasts until this day. Yeah, I love Sugar Ray Robinson, but seeing those KO’s by Carter live as a kid who would end up sparring with him, and knowing how tough Griffith and Fernandez were just put him in a fistic Valhalla forever with me.

Modern Fighter: As an active professional referee I have no particular preference. Having sparred with some of the greats of the past, I ended up with some hard bark on me, so I’m not awed by anyone anymore, but I do have a finite appreciation of the skills and courage of so many of them today. I was the alternate referee for the Roman Gonzalez – SrisaketSorRungvisai fight on March 18, 2017. I could not believe the courage and determination of the Thai fighter Rungvisai. He kept coming on and on, walking through fire. He had my admiration for sure. I like and respect Lomachenko’s skills and speed. There are so many others it is hard to pick one.

Frank Lotierzo: (former fighter, writer for TSS, and lead analyst for The Boxing Channel)

Favorite All-Time Boxer: Ali.

I don’t have a favorite fighter today. However, if forced to pick the ones I like to watch the most, it’s between Terence Crawford, Mikey Garcia and Anthony Joshua.

Gordon Marino (philosophy professor, Wall Street Journal boxing writer, trainer)

Favorite All-time Boxer: I lived and died with Smokin’ Joe Frazier. Loved his grit, courage, left hook, and his pure human dignity.

Favorite Current Boxer: GGG. I love his technique, balance, power, but also his sportsmanship and his deep awareness that boxing is a sport, not war. I am also an ardent fan of Manny’s — who has a matchless and loving spirit. I am forever amazed at what MP has overcome in life.

When I began writing on boxing I really believed it was 90 percent talent and work but over the years I have come to appreciate the importance of the character, intelligence and perspicuity of the all-time greats.

“Iceman” John Scully: (elite trainer, former world title challenger)

 Favorite All-Time Boxer: Muhammad Ali. His ability to deal with adversity in and out of the ring is almost awe-inspiring. He influenced me in many ways, especially as a person. He was 100 percent his own man and I have always been attracted to that aspect of his being.

Favorite Current Boxer: Andre Ward, Gennady Golovkin and VasilyLomachenko. Each is tremendously focused and tuned-in to their own game and its very, very pleasing to watch. Being able to maintain yourself under the pressure of battle is an extremely underrated aspect of a boxer’s game.

Mike Silver: (boxing historian; author of “The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science” and “Stars in the Ring: Jewish Champions in the Golden Age of Boxing”) 

 Favorite All-Time Boxer: The one and only Sugar Ray Robinson–mainly because he was the “one and only.” There was nobody like him before and nobody since. He possessed every characteristic of a great fighter, both physical and mental. He had the  greatest combination of speed, power and eleganceever seen in a prize ring. The accolade “best pound for pound” was invented just for him. But — and this is most important — he epitomized artistry in the ring.

Favorite Current Boxer: It’s close between Lomachenko, Rigondeaux, Crawford and Triple G, but I’ll go with Golovkin, mostly because he is the most accomplished boxer-puncher of the four, has tremendous power and knows how to use it. He understands how to break down another fighter using skills and strategy rarely seen today. He is always exciting and interesting to watch.

Gary “Digital” Williams: (boxing writer, blogger and “Master of the Beltway”)

Favorite All-Time Boxer: Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson and Sugar Ray Leonard. For me, covering boxing in the Washington, DC area, they have meant the most to me. Although I started off being a fan when Muhammad Ali was competing, I saw Johnson and Leonard at their primes and they really were the major reasons I am doing what I do.

Favorite Current Boxer: VasylLomachenko. Seeing him in person last April, I just marveled about how good and technically sound he is. I do believe he will be an all-time great.

Peter Wood: (former boxer, author, and a member of the BWAA)

Favorite All-Time Fighter: That’s easy. How could it be anyone else but that poverty-stricken roughneck of the early 1900s? That prizefighter who fought all comers in saloons and back alleys–that mixed-race brute who traveled east–from hobo camp to hobo camp–via boxcars to seek his fortune? Jack Dempsey is my favorite fighter of all time.

I forgive Dempsey for ducking Harry Wills; I forgive him for posing as a shipyard worker during World War I while wearing glossy patent-leather shoes, and I forgive him for going Hollywood by pinning back his cauliflower ears.

Favorite Current Fighter: That’s not so easy. I respect Andre Ward’s natural ability. I admire Canelo’s sneaky overhand right, and I appreciate Danny Jacobs’s lightning reflexes and personal story. But my favorite fighter today is Gennady Golovkin. Golovkin, in a sense, is a modern day Jack Dempsey, a boxer who traveled far from home – Kazakhstan — to seek his fortune. Golovkin isn’t as colorful, or as charismatic, as Dempsey. But I appreciate that Golovkin doesn’t talk trash in order to be colorful, or box-office. He just wants to kick your ass—just like Jack Dempsey.

Observations:

Sugar Ray Robinson, Ali, and Duran got mentioned a lot, as did GGG and Lomachenko.

Who are your favorites?

Ted Sares, a member of Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame, is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and holds several records in the Grand Master class. He has won the EPF Nationals four years in a row.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.