Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mark's Top 40 At 40: (35-31)

Mark Lyons is back with another installment of his top 40 list. Mark's turning 40 soon, and in honor of that milestone, he's counting down his 40 favorite fighters that he's followed since he started watching the sport back in the seventies. This week he covers numbers 35 through 31.

Take it away Mark...

35. Junior Jones

Career Record: 50-6 (28)

Three Favorite Fights: MAB TKO5 (DQ my ass) & UD12, Jorge Eliceo Julio UD12

Long and lanky warriors with punching power will populate a few spots on here. poison was always willing to lay it on the line and though his chin was a chink in his armor. His heart was as big as his wingspan. No excuses can be made from Barrera or his fans. Jones was just flat out the better man. He met Marco head on and brought out the dark side of him for the first time. It certainly wouldn't be the last.

Nice jab and a hard cross behind it. Jones was a tough puzzle for anybody from 118-122. Another great fight was his victory over HOFer Orlando Canizales. Jones isn't an all time great. But he was capable of beating guys of that caliber. Just a super exciting fighter.

34. Pipino Cuevas

Career Record: 35-15 (31)

Three favorite fights: Angel Espada II TKO12, Harold Weston TKO9, Pete Ranzany TKO2

Cuevas career had a rough beginning and a rough ending. But in between he was a stone cold killer. The man broke jaws like Chris Rock cracks jokes. Violent left hook to the head and the body. Very underrated by many because of his career record. Weston, Clyde Gray, Ranzany & Espada were all very solid fighters that he murdered.

Pipino had a chin that was considered among the best in boxing and his power was an 11 on a scale from 1 to 10. Then he ran into Thomas Hearns, much more on him later. Many over look that fight nowadays. But what BoxRec wont tell you is that Tommy was a slight underdog in there. That's how good Cuevas was.

In the message board era of Boxing "limited" is a greatly overused term. Pipino didn't have great feet and his hands were slow. But the two equalizers in his fists rendered slick boxers unable to leave their stools.

33. Julian Jackson

Career Record: 55-6 (49)

Three Favorite Fights: Terry Norris TKO2, Buster Drayton TKO3, Herol Graham KO4

I grew up when Boxing was more main stream. My friends were into the big ones and would watch other fights when inclined. The Hawk was one where I would call and say, "flip on Showtime, this guy is about to kill somebody." That's how it was with Jackson. Somebody was getting KTFO.

I don't think Julian would win as many as he would lose against the greater fighters in history. But he would always make it thrilling, and as Terry Norris found out, he could snatch victory from the hands of defeat with a single, devastating shot from the missile launchers he attached gloves to. One of the most memorable knockouts for me was when he pointed Buster Drayton to the canvas after an other worldly left hook.

Say what you want about him. But The Hawk was as exciting as the SI swimsuit issue for a 12 yr old. Always looking to take his opponent to his version of the guillotine.

32. Rocky Lockridge

Career Record: 44-9 (36)

Three Favorite Fights: Tony Lopez I LUD12, Julio Cesar Chavez LMD12,Eusebio Pedroza LSD15

As was customary with the Duva stable, Rocky took on all comers. You may find it odd that he lost all three of my favorite fights. But they were all wars and he could easily have gotten the win in all three fights. His one punch title winning KO of Roger Mayweather is one for the highlight reels.

Lockridge was tough as nails and always pressed the fight looking to land his booming over-hand right. An excellent inside fighter and body puncher. Rocky was able to push the best in two divisions to their absolute limit. The decision to Wilfredo Gomez was as bad as they come.

Anybody that faced Lockridge had to bring their lunch pail and be ready for war. As a fan, I don't ask for anymore than that.

31. Yoko Gushiken

Career Record: 23-1 (15)

Three Favorite Fights: Jamie Rios II TKO13, Rigoberto Marcano II KO7 & Alfonso Lopez KO7

I moved to Boston for a couple of years from age 9 to 11. They had a series on Saturday mornings that would run fights of Gushiken, Canto, Cuevas, Chacon, etc., yes even as a kid it was Boxing over Cartoons. That being said I had to chance to watch many Gushiken fights several times.

He won the world title in only his ninth fight and defended it thirteen times before retiring after his only defeat. Between Ring magazine, The Title Bout board game and that series in Boston, the Fierce Eagle continues to be my favorite Jr Flyweight and I don't think that will ever change.

He really had no weaknesses in the ring. Could fight inside and out, solid power and excellent defense. it's a shame he retired so early as a trilogy with Pedro Flores would have been nice. It's even a bigger shame he isn't in this watered down version of the HOF.

Check out last week's installment: 40-36

By Mark Lyons e-mail