The Top Ten Boxers of The Modern Era
My list of the best pugilists from 1990 to 2011.
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If a boxer was in his prime from 1990 to 2011, they qualified as a candidate for my list of the best exponents of the sweet science. For most fighters their prime years fall between age 25 and 32. This can vary though, depending on the damage that they take over the course of their careers, their lifestyle, and genetics. But, for the sake of making this list focus on the achievements within the said time frame, I decided to cap the entry age at around 26/27 years-old at 1990 (with one exception).
A boxer’s skill is not necessarily measured by his overall career record, it is something that is less tangible than that, a combination of his physical attributes, technique, mental fortitude, and heart. Sometimes a competitive loss can show you more about how good a fighter really is than a knockout victory. With that in mind, here is my list of the best of the best of the modern era.
Juan Manuel Marquez (53-5-1)
Technically-astute, balanced fighters are actually not that common in lists like these. Fighters who make it to the top are often gifted athletes, speedy explosive types or powerful knockout artists. Juan Manual Marquez is neither of these. He is a clever, disciplined fighter that is very tactical yet maintains the classic Mexican fighter’s aggression (though his is rather more measured than most of his compatriots). Even when he seems to be ‘brawling’ with big punchers like Pacquiao or Juan Diaz, it’s never a reckless attack. Marquez throws beautiful combinations, can counterpunch and has a good mix of speed, power and agility. The highlights of his career are his fights with Manny Pacquiao, both of which were extremely close affairs, and his bruising battle with the Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera.
Lennox Lewis (41-2-1)
For a guy with such a ridiculous reach Lennox Lewis had a weak jab. I’m not sure whether this raises or lowers one’s estimation of his boxing skill, but the bottom line about his career is that it was a dominant one. He did not shirk away from any heavyweight challenge. Furthermore, he avenged both of his losses in resounding fashion. He had quick hands, good balance and athletic coordination, especially for a big man. His list of heavyweight conquests is star-studded: Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, John Ruiz, Hasim Rahman, Vitali Klitschko, are among the most notable.