There have been many great middleweight champions in boxing, however only four in the history of the sport have achieved the title of undisputed middleweight champion. They go by the familiar names of Carlos Monzon, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins and most recently crowned Jermain Taylor. Many people have and will continue to ask, who is the greatest of these fighters? This article will attempt to discover the answer.
Starting with the first of the four, it's Carlos Monzon, who held the WBA and WBC titles. "Escopeta" as he was nicknamed, meaning shotgun or rifle, had in total 100 bouts, wining 87 (59 by KO)while losing only 3 and drawing 9, an extremely impressive record. Monzon made what was at the time, a record of 14 title defenses, but his private life was highly controversial and ended in imprisonment for 11 years in 1989 before he died in a car crash in 1995.
He beat the living legend Emile Griffith twice, plus well known fighters such as ex-world champion Nino Benvenuti (twice), European champion Tom Bogs and the world welterweight champion at the time, Jose "Mantequilla" Napoles. His only fight and defense made in the United States ended in a tenth round KO over Tony Licata. Monzon even boxed on for four years after being shot in the leg by his wife, and reclaiming the undisputed championship after being stripped of it.
The Argentine, while having many personal problems throughout his career, certainly proved his belonging to the boxing all time great list, with his win percentage, quality of opponents, going undefeated for 12 years as well as retiring a champion. All told, he should certainly be considered as the greatest middleweight of all time.
The next to attain the undisputed crown was the iron chinned "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler. He was never knocked down properly in his entire career and was the middleweight king for no less than eight years, fighting off fellow legends such as Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns. He also had classic fights against Alan Minter, John Mugabi and "Sugar" Ray Leonard.
"Marvelous" went undefeated in the ring for 11 years and defended his crown twelve times. With 52 knockouts from his 62 wins, he also proved himself as a very worthy contender for the title of greatest undisputed middleweight of all time.
It took until 2001 for the next undisputed middleweight champion, "The Executioner", Bernard Hopkins. The Philadelphian was undefeated since 1993 and holder of the IBF and WBC belts at the time he took on WBA title holder Felix Trinidad, 40-0. Hopkins was masterful in his dismantling of the power punching Trinidad and finished the job with a late KO, to become the third man to unify the belts.
Hopkins, before being defeated by Jermain Taylor, defended one or more of his belts against ring legends such as Glen Johnson, the aformentioned Felix Trinidad and the "Golden Boy", Oscar De La Hoya. Hopkins has recently truly cemented his legacy by ascertaining the light heavyweight championship from Antonio Tarver via a dominating points decision.
While perhaps not having the power of his predecessors, Hagler and Monzon, Hopkins more than made up for it with superb ring craft and technical ability, superior to probably any boxer of his era with the exception of perhaps the great Roy Jones and Winky Wright. There is no doubt that the American has earned his place with Hagler and Monzon as an all time great.
Lastly and most recent Jermain Taylor, the man who displaced Hopkins and beat him in a rematch to prove he was not just a flash in the pan. Taylor is undefeated at 25-0-0 with 17 knockouts and "Bad Intentions" is set to take on former light middleweight champion Ronald Wright on Saturday to prove to the few doubters still left that he is of genuine top quality. Jermain has his WBC and WBO titles on the line and there is no doubt it will be a wonderful exhibition of technical boxing.
Taylor has the chance to put himself in the same class of remembrance as Hagler, Monzon and Hopkins, although he will no doubt have to prove himself many more times yet, as the three before him did. Until then however, there will be many more debates as to who was the greatest undisputed middleweight of all time.