There’s been a resurgence in British boxing — with the likes of Carl Frampton, George Groves, Amir Khan, Scott Quigg and others all competing on the world stage and selling out arenas along the way, with fighters such as Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell already in the pipeline for the years ahead.
Will any of those fighters ever be amongst the best British fighters of all-time? Maybe not, but approaching the list of the top 5 British boxers of the 21st Century is certainly achievable with the right wins. Here are the top 5 British boxers of the century thus far.
Joe Calzaghe is one of the true British greats. Over a 15 year career he fought 46 times – and didn’t lose a single bout. He’s the longest-reigning Super Middleweight world champion in history and an inspiration to the likes of George Groves and Carl Froch, although the latter has long-since been bitter at not getting a fight against him, and is already claiming he’s outstripped the Pride of Wales’ legacy.
But Froch hasn’t fought and beaten two American greats in their own backyard. The 42-year-old finished his career by defeating Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr, along with signature wins over Mikkel Kessler and Jeff Lacy, and confirming his place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
The Cobra must be near the top of the British greats of the 21st century. The 37-year-old has a near insurmountable resume with an impressive number of scalps which include Kessler, Lucian Bute, and of course George Groves who he defeated in two epic encounters.
There are still plenty of intriguing opportunities and opponents for Froch, and another big win or two could vault him over Calzaghe.
It’s been a rough few years for David Haye, he’s pulled out of a duel with Tyson Fury twice due to injury and may not return to the ring at all. However, what he’s left behind is more than enough to put him in the same category as the best in the business.
The 34-year-old has 26 wins and 24 knockouts in an illustrious career which has made him a superstar both in the ring and out. It’s rumored that 2015 could see a return to the ring for the Hayemaker with London Olympics Gold medalist Anthony Joshua in line for a box office showdown.
One man who’s no stranger to box office, or the headlines, is Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton. During his prime he was one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet setting up huge fights with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao – both of whom knocked him out forcing him to retire before a brief return in 2013.
His finest moment came in 2005 in his hometown, when 22,000 Mancunians packed into the MEN Arena in an unforgettable atmosphere and one of the best fights and biggest upsets in British boxing history as he toppled Kostya Tszyu. It confirmed Hatton as an icon of the sport before going on to beat Juan Urango, Jose Luis Casillo, and Paulie Malignaggi.
Never mind a 21st century great, Lennox Lewis is a true boxing great. In the 2000s he knocked out Mike Tyson and beat Vitali Klitschko in what was billed as the Battle of the Titans, before calling it a day in 2003. Therefore, while he might be the best fighter on this list, most of his work was done in the ’90s, and not in era we’re actually dealing with.
Throughout his career The Lion was nearly unstoppable, defeating every man he ever faced (with two victorious rematches against those who beat him first) and is rated the number one pound-for-pound best British boxer of all time by BoxRec.
Like Haye, today he’s just as recognizable outside of the ring having appeared on Celebrity Apprentice, as well being a regular in the studio for big fights across the planet.