Its been quite some time in which the Cruiserweight division could be considered as exciting, a stagnant weight class that has long been seen by some as a brief stop on a journey to the riches of the Heavyweight division but recently is one that has breathed resurgence amongst its ranks, the landscape is a lot easier on the eye than its predecessor.
The Super Six tournament is one of the reasons for its intrigue, bringing the likes of Oleksandr Usyk, Murat Gassiev, Yunier Dorticos, Mairis Breidis, Dmitry Kudryashov, Mike Perez and Krzysztof Włodarczyk together in a bid to crown its true champion which we will get a better understanding of on Saturday night.
That being said with a couple of the aforementioned fighters able to stake their claim for being the divisions best of all time in the years to come should they elect to stay the course, I decided to look into the boxing archives for some that could argue the point.
Evander Holyfield is the consensus pick for the greatest Cruiserweight fighter of all time. The ‘Real Deal’ it dont need me to remind anyone was absolutely phenomenal, a marker to which every fighter thereafter is judged against, winning the title against Dwight Muhammad Qawi and then unifying against Ricky Parkey and Carlos De Leon, Evander ruled the division never actually tasting defeat whilst holding the title for 2 years, 4 months and a 22-day span.
Carlos De Leon is one of Puerto Rico’s greatest exports and the first fighter to win a Cruiserweight title twice, a feat which he bettered twice more as he entered an elite group of individuals that includes the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali of men who captured the divisions title three or more times.
De Leon was a supremely talented fighter who could box and punch, a fighter who for the most part dominated the division, beating the likes of Yaqui Lopez and Leon Spinks.
Juan Carlos Gomez – One of few Cuban fighters who actually lived up to his Amateur billing, well at Cruiserweight he did, at Heavyweight not so much.
It is at Heavyweight that his reputation was slightly tarnished whereas his merits as a dominant Cruiserweight are sometimes overlooked. It’s a shame because if you remember the fighter in the lighter division, you will find one that was virtually untouchable.
He won the WBC title against Marcelo Fabian Dominguez in 1998 going on to defend it nine times in a ruling that lasted 3 years, 11 months and 29 days.
Dwight Muhammad Qawi Is a name in which we associate with Evander Holyfield’s iconic scuffle in 1986, one of histories best which was fought at high octane for fifteen rounds before Evander’s hand was raised via split decision, It was the first time that a fighter had even came close to defeating the great Evander Holyfield, for that he deserves a place in most listings.
Regardless of the result, Qawi was a solid cruiserweight who won the title in the backyard of the champion of the time Piet Crous in South Africa, he went on to defend the WBA title against Leon Spinks before losing it to Holyfield in the aforementioned bout above.
David Haye is mostly known for his exploits at Heavyweight but before that time he was a damaging cruiserweight who unified the division. In his time at Cruiser he won the European title before taking a shot at Jean-Marc Mormeck who at the time was the WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal cruiserweight champion. Mormeck had taken the titles from O’Neal Bell a fight prior but he succumbed to the power of Haye in the seventh, relieving him of his titles.
Haye defended those titles against Enzo Maccarinelli before moving up to Heavyweight, leaving a trail of devastation behind him.
James Toney may not have had the titles for most of his four year stretch at Cruiserweight but he can still be considered as one of the best that has ever fought at the weight limit. Toney fought some solid opposition since making the step up from Light Heavyweight following his quizzical Majority decision loss to Drake Thadzi.
His win over Vassily Jirov is a thing of beauty which I have often revisited, that was Toney at his best and one of the best fights the division has housed, It was a shame to see him leave without a defence of the title but he was unbeatable for the time spent.
Johnny Nelson may not have been everyones cup of tea as they say here in the Uk but later in his career was effective and still known to be the longest reigning champion at Cruiserweight.
The earlier stages of his career was littered with inconsistancy, in a profesisonal career that began in 1986 it took ten years before he hit a streak in which he would ride until his retirement, unbeaten.
Nelson held the WBO title from 1999 to 2005, making thirteen successful defences, a record shared with Germany’s Marco Huck.
Anaclet Wamba was a French based Cruiserweight who retired in 1994 a champion of the division. Wamba was unlucky not be undefeated when he drew the curtains on his career. A narrow loss to Horace Notice in his fourteenth bout and a disqualification against Massimiliano Duran in his first world title tilt was the only blemishes on an otherwise solid record.
He reversed his loss to Duran twice, once in the Italy and the other in France both by stoppage before going on to beat a less than competitve Ricky Parkey, Adolpho Washington in what many claim was a hometown decision and Marcelo Fabian Dominguez before he finally hung up his gloves.
Marco Huck shares the accolade of being the Cruiserweights longest reigning champion, having held the WBO title from 2009 to 2015. During his tenture he beat the liks of Victor Emilio Ramirez, Ola Afolabi and Denis Lebedev before trying to re-create the feat of Evander Holyfield and win a Heavyweight world title, coming up narrowly in his defeat to Alexander Povetkin.
He returned to Cruiserweight, taking the WBO title with a win over Firat Arslan before making three successful defences of his crown until he met Krzysztof Glowacki in 2015.
Vassily Jirov was a Gold Medalist at Light Heavyweight in the 1996 games in Atlanta, winning the Val Baker trophy for Outstanding Boxer and he continued where he left off in a career at Cruiserweight which for a time looked unbreakable, taking a very good James Toney to snap his winning streak.
Jirov held the IBF title for a span of 3 years, 10 months and 21 days, the ninth longest reign in history, successfully defending the title on six occasions.
Late in his career he dabbled at Heavyweight, where his other two losses came at the hands of Joe Mesi who he was robbed of a decision and Michael Moorer who he was beating, only to be dropped in the ninth and somehow stopped even though he beat the count.
Al Cole, Jean Marc Mormeck, O’Neil Bel, Guillermo Jones Carl Thompson, Ralf Rocchigiani, Nate Miller, Orlin Norris, Jeff Lampkin, Virgil Hill, Steve Cunningham.