Top 12 All-Time Greatest Southpaws

According to the latest research, roughly ten percent of the human population is left-handed. This presents few problems for the other ninety percent, but in boxing, those problems become very serious indeed. In the past it was common for orthodox boxers to simply refuse to face “lefties,” which led to many a natural southpaw being converted to a right-handed stance. Thus, the number of great southpaw champions has always been small. Here we rank the greatest southpaws to ever lace up the gloves.

12. Lou Brouillard: Achieving success at both 147 and 160, this converted southpaw boasts wins over a long list of Hall of Famers, including Baby Joe Gans, Jimmy McLarnin, Mickey Walker, Young Corbett III and Bob Olin.

A prime Brouillard.

11. Khaosai Galaxy: The hard-punching Galaxy scored 43 knockouts in 49 wins while dominating the super-flyweight division from 1984 to 1991.

Khaosai Galaxy

10. Joe Calzaghe: Retired undefeated with 22 world title wins, including victories over Roy Jones Jr., Bernard Hopkins and Mikkel Kessler.

The pride of Wales.

9. Gabriel Elorde: One of the greatest of the great Filipino boxers, “Flash” Elorde was a long-reigning champion boasting wins over Teddy Davis, Harold Gomes, Fujio Mikami, Ismael Laguna and the great Sandy Saddler.

greatest southpaws
Elorde lands a southpaw jab on Sandy Saddler.

8. Vicente Saldivar: Arguably the finest featherweight of the 1960s, Saldivar defeated such top-notch talents as Sugar Ramos, Howard Winstone and Jose Legra.

Vicente Saldivar

7. Freddie Miller: Featherweight champion in the 1930’s, Miller notched victories over Petey Sarron, Baby Arizmendi, Chalky Wright, Panama Al Brown and Freddie Cochrane.

greatest southpaws
The great Freddie Miller.

6. Lew Tendler: One of the greatest to never win a world title, Tendler had the misfortune to compete in the lightweight division at the same time as the great Benny Leonard. Gave “The Ghetto Wizard” two of his toughest fights while also notching wins over Richie Mitchell, Rocky Kansas and Johnny Dundee.

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Lew Tendler

5. Young Corbett III: With 124 victories, many against some of the best boxers of all-time, Corbett remains a true southpaw great. Avoided by champions for years, he finally seized the welterweight crown by defeating Jackie Fields. He holds wins over fellow Hall of Famers Ceferino Garcia, Gus Lesnevich, Mickey Walker, Billy Conn and Fred Apostoli.

greatest southpaws
Young Corbett III

4. Tiger Flowers: Competing with Mickey Walker and Harry Greb automatically sets Flowers apart. He gave “The Pittsburgh Windmill” two tough battles and his loss to Walker was widely viewed as a robbery. Racked up an incredible 118 wins in less than a decade.

The great Tiger Flowers.
The great Tiger Flowers.

3. Marvelous Marvin Hagler: Hagler was a dominant middleweight for a full decade. Avoided by the champions of his time, he finally won the world title in 1980 and held it for over six years, defeating, among others, Vito Antuefermo, Alan Minter, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and John Mugabi, as he tallied 62 victories in 67 bouts.

Southpaw Hagler
Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Painting by Damien Burton.

2. Manny Pacquiao: One of the dominant boxers of his time, Pacquiao has won ten world titles in eight divisions and defeated such champions as Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Oscar DeLaHoya, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, Timothy Bradley, Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman. Amazingly, having passed the four decade mark, “The PacMan” continues to be a top talent in the sport.

greatest southpaws
Defying Father Time, Pacquiao remains forever young.

1. Pernell Whitaker: Arguably the finest boxer, pound-for-pound, of the 1990’s, “Sweet Pea” won world titles in four divisions and did not suffer a truly legitimate defeat until he was 35-years-old. One of the greatest defensive boxers of all-time, he boasts victories (official or unofficial) over such excellent fighters as Freddie Pendleton, Azumah Nelson, Jose Luis Ramirez, James McGirt, and of course, Julio Cesar Chavez.

greatest southpaws
The sublime “Sweet Pea.”

Honourable Mentions: Jiro Watanabe, Duilio Loi, Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Mark Johnson, Hilario Zapata, Rolando Navarette, Winky Wright, Marvin Johnson, Melio Bettina, Terence Crawford, Al McCoy, Jose Luis Ramirez, Rafael Limon, Yoko Gushiken, Ayub Kalule, Vasyl Lomachenko, Hector Camacho, Antonio Tarver, Daniel Zaragoza, Sergio Martinez, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Michael Moorer, Oleksandr Usyk, Zab Judah, Johnny Wilson, Naseem Hamed.

16 thoughts on “Top 12 All-Time Greatest Southpaws

  • May 20, 2015 at 5:19 pm
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    Lew Tender perhaps the most romantic/ironic case listed. Topping our list anytime. And Sweat Pea, a sentimental favorite as well. Good Listing!

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  • April 20, 2017 at 3:45 pm
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    Great list, but Whitaker over Hagler? Come on!

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  • May 31, 2017 at 11:14 pm
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    What Dave Farrell said, seriously.

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    • April 7, 2018 at 8:50 am
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      The omission of Camacho is glaring

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      • June 24, 2021 at 3:53 pm
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        WBO title, okay.

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  • June 14, 2018 at 8:34 am
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    Did you ever hear of Michael Moorer? Bad research.

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    • October 27, 2018 at 5:43 pm
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      Think the list said “all-time best” Moorer doesn’t belong anywhere near those nouns

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  • October 23, 2018 at 3:46 pm
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    Tiger Flowers over Calzaghe? Flowers was KO’d more than half a dozen times even before winning the title from Greb, in a questionable decision for some. Calzaghe never lost.

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  • October 23, 2018 at 8:30 pm
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    Greb was far from his prime when he fought Flowers.

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  • March 9, 2021 at 5:14 pm
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    What about Joe “The Boss” Hipp?

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  • May 17, 2021 at 10:08 pm
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    Sweet Pea never defeated the The Best Ever, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. In fact Whitaker ran away from him. Julio Chavez Sr. won.

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    • May 21, 2021 at 12:01 am
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      You must be kidding: that was a blatant robbery!

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  • May 18, 2021 at 2:08 am
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    Pacquiao should be #1. Modern day fighter who belongs firmly up with names like Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong, Sam Langford, etc. Eight weight divisions. Physical phenom. Absolute warrior. A few years ago it was premature. Time passing has allowed for context. Not only should Manny Pacquiao top this list, he is in the conversation of absolute best ever.

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  • July 15, 2021 at 5:31 am
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    Ranking Pernell above Pacquiao is simply laughable. Pacquiao has a far superior resume, far superior weight climbing accomplishments , far superior longevity. But he’s not American so I guess that puts Pernell above him for you.

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  • July 15, 2021 at 7:36 am
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    Pernell isn’t anywhere near as great as Pacquiao.

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  • August 21, 2021 at 1:49 pm
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    What bad research! Pac-man is not number 1? C’mon! Because he’s an Asian guy?

    Reply

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