Lee Groves

10: Greatest middleweight champions

 2. Carlos Monzon – WBA titlist (November 7, 1970-July 30, 1977), World champion (November 7, 1970-November 30, 1974, June 26, 1976-July 30, 1977)

Monzon, the most accomplished fighter Argentina ever produced, was the personification of greatness. At 5-11½, Monzon was unusually tall for the weight class and he used every bit of his 76-inch reach to command distance and set up his brutally powerful right crosses. One such blow blasted the crown off Nino Benvenuti’s head and began what would become a nearly seven-year dynasty. As he aged, Monzon morphed from big banger to supreme volume puncher, a style that helped extend his reign and amplify his credentials.

His 14 defenses – a record for nearly two decades – included several important names. He twice defeated Emile Griffith, and his 14th round TKO in their first match was one of only two knockouts Griffith suffered in his 19-year, 112-bout career. He retired Benvenuti following their rematch (KO 3) and other title victims included longtime welterweight champion Jose Napoles (KO 7), rugged Philadelphian Bennie Briscoe (W 15), former junior middleweight champion Denny Moyer (KO 5), Frenchman Jean Claude-Bouttier (KO 13, W 15), tough Tony Mundine (KO 7), the 50-1-3 Tony Licata (KO 10) in his only U.S. appearance and perennial contender Gratien Tonna (KO 5).

Only sanctioning body shenanigans prevented Monzon from his rightful status as undisputed champion for his entire reign. The WBC stripped Monzon in April 1974 for failing to defend against mandatory challenger Rodrigo Valdez, but Monzon soon rectified that by beating the Colombian in back-to-back fights before announcing his retirement.

Few fighters ever achieved a better swan song; Monzon left boxing as undisputed middleweight champion and the owner of one of boxing’s most astonishing records. From October 9, 1964, when Alberto Massi beat Monzon over 10 rounds in his 19th fight, until his final fight on July 30, 1977, the 87-3-9 Monzon was unbeaten in his final 80 fights. In that time Monzon avenged eight of the nine draws he tallied during the streak, scoring knockouts over seven of them. He also defeated all three men who had beaten him previously, two of them three times over. The only man who escaped Monzon’s vengeance was Ubaldo Bustos, who never granted a rematch.

Around the web