A while back we published our list of the greatest middleweights of all time and when we did we promised to follow-up with additional rankings for all of the original eight weight divisions. So next up, the all-time best bantamweights, a division as deep in legendary talent as any other. One peculiar characteristic about the men who fought in the rooster division is the lack of argument to be made regarding the greatest bantam of them all. In fact, that name surely deserves more mentions when the topic of the greatest boxers of all time comes up. But for the other eleven, there is of course plenty of room for debate, so forthwith, our Top 12; let the arguments commence!
12. Johnny Coulon: “The Chicago Spider” boasts wins over Pete Herman, Frankie Burns, Kid Murphy, Jim Kendrick and Charlie Goldman.
11. Charles “Bud” Taylor: With victories over such greats as Battling Battalino, Joe Lynch, Benny Bass, Abe Goldstein, Tony Canzoneri, and Jimmy McLarnin, there’s no question “The Blonde Terror of Terre Haute” deserves a spot on this list.
10. Fighting Harada: A tough and gritty battler, Harada won both the flyweight and bantamweight titles. Boasts wins over Pone Kingpetch, Nobuo Chiba, Ray Perez, Antonio Herrera and the great Eder Jofre.
9. Carlos Zarate: One of the hardest punchers in bantamweight history, Zarate has 63 KO’s in 70 wins. Victims include Alfonso Zamora, Alberto Davila, Andres Hernandez, Paul Ferreri, and Rodolfo Martinez.
8. Manuel Ortiz: A two-time world champ, Ortiz was a complete fighter and a veteran of 23 world title fights. He bested Little Pancho, Jackie McCoy, Luis Castillo, Harold Dade, Benny Goldberg and many others.
7. Ruben Olivares: There’s no doubt “El Puas” belongs on any list of top bantams. A four time world champ, he defeated such top talents as Chucho Castillo, Lionel Rose, Art Hafey, Efren Torres and Bobby Chacon.
6. Kid Williams: The aggressive Williams, aka John Gutenko, battled a who’s-who of great fighters, losing only 17 in more than 200 contests. Johnny Coulon, Pete Herman, Eddie O’Dowd, Joe Dundee, Charley Goldman, Young Montreal and Midget Smith were among those who succumbed to his non-stop attack.
5. Terry McGovern: “Terrible” Terry was an aggressive battler and a powerful puncher. While his win over the great Joe Gans is considered suspect, he holds legit victories over a long list of formidable opposition including George Dixon, Tim Callahan, Frank Erne, Aurelio Herrera and Oscar Gardner.
4. Panama Al Brown: Boxing’s first Hispanic world champion was a top bantam for more than a full decade, not to mention the world champ for six. A sharp boxer with an iron chin, Brown was floored just a single time in 168 fights.
3. Pete Herman: Arguably, no bantam champion faced stiffer opposition than “Kid Herman.” He defeated a long list of terrific battlers, including Kid Williams, Jimmy Wilde, Young Solzberg, Abe Friedman, Frankie Burns, Joe Lynch, Young Zulu and Johnny Coulon.
2. George Dixon: A pugilistic innovator and the first black man to hold a world crown, “Little Chocolate” has been hailed as the finest fighter of the 19th century by Monte Cox and the greatest bantam of all-time by Nat Fleischer. Champion for almost a full decade, he fought in 23 title bouts, the most ever until Joe Louis broke the record.
1. Eder Jofre: Few historians do not rank Jofre as the best bantamweight of them all. His splendid career is one of the most impressive in the history of the sport. With only two losses in 80 fights, both to Fighting Harada, and more than 50 knockouts, Jofre is clearly one of the greatest boxers of all time.
Honorable Mentions: Orlando Canizales, Khaosai Galaxy, Lupe Pintor, Joe Lynch, Jeff Chandler, Sixto Escobar, Frankie Burns, Jose Becerra, Rafael Herrera, Jimmy Carruthers, Abe Goldstein, Memphis Pal Moore, Jeff Fenech, Rafael Herrera, Raul Macias, Lionel Rose, Miguel Lora, Veeraphol Sahaprom, Harry Jeffra.