Best Boxers from France in History
Today, France isn’t known as one of the hotbeds of boxing across the world. However, the sport has deep roots in the country, and some of the absolute finest boxers in history have been French. Here’s a look at the top 5 best French boxers in history.
1. Marcel Cerdan (1934-1949): Having lost 2 of his last 6, his 111-4 record seems even better, as Cerdan was as dominant a fighting force ever seen in European fistic history. After thoroughly cleaning out the European scene, he began taking on American contenders and beat great Holman Williams before a disputed win over cutie Georgie Abrams. Continued assault in the U.S. with wins over Harold Green, Anton Raadik, and Laverne Roach. In the 1948 Fight of the Year, he tore apart “The Man of Steel” Tony Zale in 11 rounds to claim the World Middleweight Title. Despite how the fight was characterized in the movie Raging Bull, a separated shoulder was the key element which caused him to lose his title to LaMotta. He passed away in a plane crash on his way to a rematch with LaMotta.
2. Georges Carpentier (1908-1926): After some hard-knocks, Carpentier found his groove at light heavyweight, where he was dominant for an extended stretch. In 1913, he won the European Light Heavyweight title and beat 19-0-1 Jeff Smith. Continued going along well, even claiming something called “The White Heavyweight Championship” with a DQ win over noted Gunboat Smith. Claimed the World Light Heavyweight Champion with a 4th-round knockout of Battling Levinsky. In his most famous fight, he gamely fell in 4 rounds to Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey before 80,000 fans in Jersey City. Knocked out Hall of Famer Ted “Kid” Lewis in the first round before his career hit the skids.
3. Fabrice Tiozzo (1988-2006): In a 48-2 career, only Virgil Hill got the better of him. Won titles at light heavyweight and cruiserweight, scoring plenty of key wins along the way in an often- overlooked career. Defeated a demanding roster of European talent before snagging WBC Light Heavyweight Title from 48-2-1 Mike McCallum, becoming the only man to ever floor the legendary “Bodysnatcher.” Moved up and decisioned WBA Cruiserweight Champion Nate Miller in 1997 and made 4 successful defenses. Moved back down to light heavy, beating Silvio Branco for a title and notching a 6th-round knockout of 48-1 Dariusz Michalczewski.
4. Alphonse Halimi (1955-1964): Had a fast rise to the top, winning the World Bantamweight Title in his first 18 months as a pro by beating highly-regarded champion Mario D’Agata in a 15-round decision. Scored a high-quality defense by beating 36-1 Raul Macias. Lost his title to all-time great Jose Bacerra, before reclaiming his belt in 1960 with a decision over Freddie Gilroy.
5. Laurent Boudouani (1989-1999): Under-appreciated former 154-pound champion scored some big wins and had a very successful career. After establishing himself as the best 154-pounder in Europe, claimed world title honors with a 5th-round knockout of 55-2 Julio Cesar Vasquez. Made defenses against 38-2 Carl Daniels and knocked out a shot Terry Norris. Interestingly, scored a pair of 154-pound defenses over Guillermo Jones–a current reigning titlist at cruiserweight. Also had a pair of victories over future middleweight titleholder Javier Castillejo.
The credentials of the best French boxers in history at the top of this list certainly cannot be questioned. The lingering question then is, are there any active boxers who can emerge and get into the top 5 of the list?