With the decade coming to an end, fight fans like nothing more than a good old argument over who the best fighters of the past ten years have been… and we Brits are no exception. From Lennox Lewis pulverizing Michael Grant in two rounds back in 2000, to more recently David Haye becoming WBA heavyweight champion, the decade has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for U.K. fans. So who have been the five best pugs from this side of the pond?
Top 5 Boxers from the U.K. Over the Last 10 Years
1. Joe Calzaghe 46-0 (32)
World super-middle champ, 1997-2007
O.K., so the Pride of Wales took his time in convincing his skeptics outside the U.K. of his greatness, but boy didn’t he deliver big time in destroying the previously unbeaten American Jeff Lacy, in what was one of the finest ever performances inside a British ring. Wins over Lacy, Mikkel Kessler, future Hall of Famers Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones, coupled with a record 21 defenses of the WBO Super-middle title spanning over 10 years, places Calzaghe in the greatness category, not just in British boxing but in world boxing.
Top 5 performances: Chris Eubank W12, Jeff Lacy W12, Mikkel Kessler W12, Bernard Hopkins W12, Roy Jones W12.
2. Lennox Lewis 41-2-1 (32)
World heavyweight champ, 1992-2003
After winning gold for Canada in the 1988 Olympics, Lennox Lewis relocated back to his birth place of London England, where he was to embark on what was to become a remarkable professional career. He combined his great technical ability with defensive smarts and at 6ft 5in was the supreme athlete. Often criticized for having a cautious mentality and suspect chin, Lewis defeated every man he ever faced. He retired champion and will be remembered as Britain’s greatest heavyweight since Bob Fitzsimmons.
Top 5 performances, Frank Bruno TKO7, Evander Holyfield W12, Michael Grant KO2, Mike Tyson KO8, Vitali Klitschko TKO6
3. Ricky Hatton 45-2 (32)
World light-welter champ, 2005-2009
There’s only one Ricky Hatton…you know the song! If there is any other fighter alive that can take an estimated 30,000 fans across the Atlantic to watch a prize fight, I would love to meet him. What people tend to forget about Hatton is that he can actually fight a bit. Crashing onto the world scene back in ’05 forcing the great Kostya Tszyu to retire on his stool, Hatton became the first ever British recipient of Ring Magazine’s Fighter of the Year. His only two defeats have been against modern day legends Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, nothing to be ashamed of. In an era when European fighters have gained a reputation for staying at home and being over protected, time and again Hatton has gone after the best fighters the division has to offer, when he could so easily have stayed in Manchester earning big money in capacity arenas. That is why he has a huge fan base. British fans love their fighters with big b…..
Top 5 performances: Ben Tackie W12, Kostya Tszyu RTD11, Luis Collazo W12, Jose Luis Castillo KO4, Paul Malignaggi TKO11
4. Prince Naseem Hamed 36-1 (31)
World featherweight champ, 1995-2000
The Prince just about scrapes onto the list as he had two World title fights in 2000, even though most of his best work was done in the nineties. By the turn of the millennium Hamed was still the most exciting fighter the U.K. had to offer, even though he was on the slide. Trained in his hometown of Sheffield under the tutelage of the Ingles in their now famous Wincobank gym, Hamed was the most naturally gifted British fighter in living memory. Hamed had an extraordinary unorthodox switch-hitting style, freakish punch power and a tongue as sharp as a razor. Easily Britain’s best featherweight since Howard Winstone, along with Lennox Lewis Hamed put the U.K. on the boxing world stage in the nineties. His seven knockdown thriller with Kevin Kelly will go down as one of the most remarkable ever staged. Love him or hate him, or even love to hate him, one thing is for sure, no one on either side of the Atlantic will ever forget the little prince.
Top 5 performances: Vincenzo Belcastro W12, Steve Robinson TKO8, Billy Hardy TKO1, Kevin Kelly KO4, Wayne McCullough W12
5. David Haye 23-1 (21)
World cruiserweight champ, 2007-2008
The Hayemaker is probably the most controversial choice on the list as he is still very much active and still has a lot to prove. Even so, he makes the list on merit. Haye became undisputed cruiser king by knocking out Jean Marc Mormeck in his own backyard back in 07, then unifying the titles with a brutal second round demolition job on local rival Enzo Maccarnelli, in what was Britain’s biggest fight since Benn-Eubank a decade earlier. Who knows what the future holds for Haye, there are a couple of brothers from the Ukraine that stand in his way of superstardom. The biggest puncher on the list with the most suspect chin makes Haye pure gold to watch and whatever the future has in store for the Hayemaker, I personally cant wait to watch it unfold.
Top 5 performances: Giacobbe Fragomeni TKO9, Tomasz Bonin TKO1, Jean M Mormeck TKO7, Enzo Maccarinelli TKO2, Nikolay Valuev W12
Photo Credit: Ben Duffy/Ian Monk Associates – Creative Commons 3.0 License