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Opinion

The 10 greatest featherweights of all time

This week Tony Connolly asks Birmingham Mail boxing journalistic legend Mike Lockley to name the finest featherweights to ever lace them up

1. Sandy Saddler

In a division where Willie Pep is genuinely considered the undisputed number one, the selection of Saddler – heavy handed and mean as a junkyard dog, will prove controversial.

But there’s method in the madness. Saddler, who struck terror through the nine stone division from 1944 to 1956, fought peerless Pep four times, winning three – all by stoppage.

Sportsmanship never clouded Saddler’s all-consuming desire for victory. He was a dirty fighter who was not averse to using thumbs, head and elbows. And that X-rated approach has undoubtedly tainted his legacy.

His third encounter with Willie, in 1950, was foul-filled. Their last meeting, a year later, is generally regarded as one of the dirtiest in history, with both taking turns to gouge, butt, grapple and generally tear-up the rule-book.

Pepp, roughed-up and exhausted, quit before the start of the eighth.

The lanky Boston fighter, who twice reigned as world champ, didn’t have to be dirty – he carried dynamite in both hands. It was simply in his psyche.

His 162-fight career (144 wins) is littered with wins over greats such as Flash Elorde and Paddy DeMarco.

Saddler’s career was cut-short by eye injury sustained in a 1956 car crash.

He lived his last year’s in a twilight world clouded by mental health issues. He died in a Bronx nursing home in 2001 aged 75.

sandy-saddler

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