8. Tommy Loughran: 121-32-14 (14) – .084 knockout percentage
Loughran’s boxing genius was a product of necessity, not nature. Knowing his left hand likely would break after landing his first hard blow, Loughran wisely shelved an otherwise powerful left hook in favor of jabbing, feinting and combination punching that won him rounds, and eventually fights.
The “Phantom of Philly” was an innovator, for he was among the first to use mirrors to study his own style and to correct flaws.
“I studied myself in the mirrors, punch the bag, skip rope, shadowbox, and I studied my movement in these mirrors in such a way that I knew exactly how I appeared to every fellow that I was boxing,” Loughran said in Peter Heller’s “In This Corner.”
“See, he didn’t know how he looked to me. All he saw was me. But I saw what he saw. I had learned this from studying it in the mirror.”
This cerebral approach enabled Loughran to out-fox the best fighters of his day. Loughran was one of the few fighters ever to beat Harry Greb (he won fight three by a 10-round decision when he was one month short of 21 but went 1-4-1 in the series) and he holds victories over Mike McTigue (from whom he won the light heavyweight title), Jimmy Darcy, Jeff Smith, Johnny Wilson, Georges Carpentier, Johnny Risko, Jimmy Slattery, Pete Latzo, Mickey Walker, Young Stribling, Leo Lomski and James J. Braddock at 175.
He defended the world light heavyweight title six times and was named THE RING’s Fighter of the Year in 1929 during his 175-pound reign and in 1931 after he gave up the title to compete at heavyweight. In that year Loughran, though outweighed by double-digits, went 8-2, out-pointing the likes of Max Baer, Ernie Schaaf, Tuffy Griffins, Risko and Paulino Uzcudun. Other heavyweights he beat included Jack Sharkey (who he floored in the 10th) and Arturo Godoy, and many thought he did enough to lift the heavyweight crown from Primo Carnera, who outweighed Loughran by a then-record 84 pounds.
His ring smarts enabled him to overcome tough situations. Lomski floored Loughran early in their title fight and Kingfish Levinsky did the same in a heavyweight bout, but both times Loughran regained his bearings and swept to victory.
His body of work, especially at light heavyweight, fueled his induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991 and he is still ranked by many among the top 10 175-pounders who has yet lived.