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10 of the best boxers from Philadelphia

Bernard Hopkins
Action Images/Reuters/Mike Segar
Philadelphia, the largest city in Pennsylvania, can lay claim to Bernard Hopkins, Joe Frazier and a host of other brilliant world champions

1. Bernard Hopkins

Hopkins won his first middleweight title in 1995 and defended it a whopping 20 times in the process of unifying the division. He then won another title at light-heavyweight, at the age of 42, before five years after that becoming the oldest world champion of all time (48).

2. Joe Frazier

Frazier started his life working in a slaughterhouse and punching slabs of meat but would later become one of the world’s all-time great heavyweights, beating the likes of Oscar Bonavena, Jerry Quarry, Jimmy Ellis, George Chuvalo, Bob Foster and, of course, Muhammad Ali, with whom he shared three classic fights.

Olympic Games
Smokin Joe Frazier (Action Images)

3. Tommy Loughran

Loughran boasted wins over the likes of Harry Greb and Georges Carpentier, and had drawn against Gene Tunney, ahead of conquering Mike McTigue for the world light-heavyweight title in 1927. His reign would last three years before he ventured to heavyweight and found success there, too. 

4. Battling Levinsky

Born Barney Lebrowitz, Levinsky held the world light-heavyweight title for four years and boxed Jack Dillon, the man from whom he won the belt in 1916, a staggering 10 times. He also fought Jack Dempsey, Georges Carpentier and Harry Greb.

5. Benny Bass

Jack Dempsey claimed Bass, a world junior-lightweight champion, was the greatest fighter he ever saw. Known as ‘Little Fish’, he boasted wins against the likes of Johnny Jadick, Eddie Cool, Charles ‘Bud’ Taylor and Tony Falco in a career spanning almost 200 pro fights.

6. Matthew Saad Muhammad

Consistently thrilling, and a real fan favourite, Saad Muhammad was the WBC light-heavyweight champion for almost three years and defeated John Conteh, Marvin Johnson, Jerry Martin, Richie Kates and Yaqui Lopez. Many of his comebacks were hard to believe, earning him the nickname ‘Miracle Matthew’.

Marvin Johnson
Saad Muhammad trades with Marvin Johnson

7. Joey Giardello

In 1963, Brooklyn-born Giardello established himself as a top contender with a victory over an aging ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson before defeating Dick Tiger for the WBA and WBC middleweight titles. He also shared the ring with Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, Joey Giambra, Billy Graham, Ralph ‘Tiger’ Jones and Gene Fullmer.

8. ‘Philadelphia’ Jack O’Brien

In 1905, O’Brien stopped the great Bob Fitzsimmons to earn the world light-heavyweight title, a belt he never defended. As well as Fitzsimmons, O’Brien beat Joe Choynski, Young Peter Jackson, Dixie Kid, and Joe Butler, and drew against heavyweights Tommy Burns and Jack Johnson.

9. Meldrick Taylor

Taylor, a 1984 Olympic gold medallist, will forever be defined by a 1990 fight against Julio Cesar Chavez and referee Richard Steele’s decision to stop him with only two seconds left. He was, however, a two-time world champion as a pro and scored notable wins over James ‘Buddy’ McGirt, Aaron Davis and Glenwood Brown.

Julio Cesar Chavez v Meldrick Taylor
Meldrick Taylor

10. Jeff Chandler

Despite drawing his pro debut, Chandler went on to win the WBA bantamweight title against Julian Solis in 1980, a belt he defended nine times before retiring in ’84.

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