Lee Groves

10: Greatest middleweight champions

On Friday, Jermain Taylor will fight undefeated Minnesotan Caleb Truax at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. This ShoBox main event marks the second step in what Taylor hopes will be a middleweight rebirth following a disastrous stay at 168 pounds. There, Taylor lost three of four fights – all by knockout – with the only win coming against an even more shopworn Jeff Lacy.

Taylor looked sharp in stopping tough but overmatched Jessie Nicklow in eight rounds last December. He accelerated his notoriously slow work rate, he showed no signs of the stamina issues that had dogged him in recent fights and his accuracy was off the charts as he landed 73 percent of his power punches. At times, Taylor seemed to resurrect the fighter that had pundits proclaiming him “the next great middleweight” in 2004-05.

While Taylor put together a respectable reign – four defenses against Bernard Hopkins, Ronald “Winky” Wright, Cory Spinks and Kassim Ouma – he wouldn’t crack any list of the top 10 middleweight champions in history. That’s a tough club to break into, for this division ranks only behind heavyweight in terms of glamour and boasts an enviable fusion of speed, power and skill. Unlike the behemoths that now occupy the heavyweight ranks, fans can better relate to the more modestly sized 160-pounders but remain awestruck by their destructive power.

Some of the greatest fighters who ever walked the earth wore the middleweight crown, as the following list will attest. When assembling this countdown, much weight was given to length of reign and quality of the conquered. Some truly great fighters like Mickey Walker didn’t make this list because he made only three defenses in four years, two of which came against Ace Hudkins in 10-rounders. Tony Zale, another true great, made four defenses in two reigns but probably would have made many more had World War II not cut short his tenure. Tiger Flowers, another tremendous fighter, only had one defense.

As for who did make the cut, read on:

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