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Old 11-04-2009, 06:12 PM   #31
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

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Originally Posted by Manassa View Post
Roberto Duran:

Ken Buchanan
Ray Lampkin
Esteban De Jesus (x2)
Edwin Viruet (x2)

Benny Leonard:

Willie Ritchie
Johnny Kilbane
Jack Britton (x2)
Lew Tendler (x2)
Freddie Welsh (x2)
Soldier Bartfield (x3)
Johnny Dundee (x4)
Rocky Kansas (x4)

Doesn't this just speak for itself?

Yes, Leonard lost every once in a while, but you're talking about an era where you might fight four times in as many weeks. Nobody had a record like Leonard's back then apart from Harry Greb.

You can say Duran was better, and use that as part of your criteria - but if accomplishments are what you go by, there's no denying Benny Leonard.
This post i hope is seen as in no way being a criticism of Benny Leonard or his selection as the greatest ever.

Leonard won the lightweight title by beating Freddie Welch. Welch had held the title since 1915. He had three defences, one of which was a No decision fight against Benny Leonard himself, where he retained his title. He had before winning the title held the British and European title, had only lost to fights on points and both of those were avenged. He retired straight after the Leonard loss (presumably this suggest he had lost focus and desire by the time of the Leonard loss), They had 3 fights with 2 no decisions. I wonder whether there is an argument that Welsh may have been just as good or better than Leonard based on an argument similar to the Tyson-Lewis or Holyfield-Lewis or Dempsey Tunney Arguments.

Jack Britton - According to CBZ, he fought 2 No Decisions and lost a fight on DQ to Britton. And it seems that these fights took place over and above the lightweight limit, also. The ND was apparently a fight that Britton was winning but he was hit after a Kd. I think Leonard may have got Some newspaper necisions in the NDs. Anyone else have more info.

Johnny Dundee - was fought 4 times for 4 NCs. the first was (boxrec) a 4 newspaper decision to Dundee at lightweight. The second has Leonard over the lightweight limit and Dundee under the limit. Boxrec has Dundee winning a close fight on two newspapers and one listing it as a draw. The third again has Leonard over and Dundee under. Again the newspapers cited list Leonard as the loser one says by a big margin. The 4th has no weights listed with a paper cited for both a win and a loss. Dundee was a world Featherweight and Junior lightweight champion. It would appear at first glance that he bested leonard even though leonard weighed over the lightweight limit. This shouldnt really add that much to his lightweight legacy should it?

Soldier Bartfield - was a much bigger fighter and despite all fights being listed as NCs, it seems that Leonard won them comfortably. Still, Leonard was over the lightweight limit in at least one of them, and looking at his records you have to question whether he was over the limit for all of them. Actually, looking at his best wins you have outlined, i am starting to question wheter or not Leonard was in fact a lightweight at all. Or was he more of a junior welterweight.

Rocky Kansas - These seem good dominant newspaper wins, one by stoppage. Although technically he was a pound over the limit in one of the fights.

Ritchie - Is a good KO win, although again both were slightly over the lightweight limit.

Kilbane - Another excellent win against the Kilbane at a time when Kilbane was the reigning Featherweight champion of the world.

Lew Tendler - Was again, an excellent win and one no contest, although the papers seemed to indicate that Benny had the advantage although one did say it was a draw (boxrec again).

So looking through this list, much of Benny's best work was done just over the lightweight limit. And if boxrec is accurate Dundee, in particular appears to have bested Benny. If this is correct, would that make Dundee a better lightweight than Benny? I am not really sure, but i tend to think that Benny might have a fighter or two ahead of him at lightweight. McAuliffe springs out, but dare i say it, without investigating further i think Duran also may have the better record. And possibly Napoles too.
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Old 11-04-2009, 06:36 PM   #32
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

Leonard's record is similar to Harry Greb's - if you look at his, you'll see he mostly fought over 160lbs and therefore a hell of a lot of his career is more of a light heavyweight adventure.

Or maybe just a big middleweight's. With some fighters, especially in the old days where the best opponents frequently in non-title bouts, you have to give them the benefit of the doubt. The only time you wouldn't is if they couldn't actually make the weight, but Leonard always did upon defence of his championship.

The Britton fights should bode well for Leonard more in a pound-for-pound sense than a lightweight one, but then he didn't weigh above the limit by a monumental amount - he was hardly a welterweight. Just like Monzon's win over Bethea, it wasn't a light heavyweight victory.

Leonard was a lightweight as much as Harry Greb was a middleweight. Of course, Roberto Duran himself fought many non-title bouts over the limit during his reign as champion.

The Dundee series is difficult to gauge. Now I haven't looked into it properly, but I generally gathered that Leonard came out on top. Best for him if he did, but if not then it wouldn't necessarily mean Dundee was better. Ike Williams notoriously faced problems with Willie Joyce, losing their series 1-3, but we all know who the greater lightweight was.
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Old 11-04-2009, 06:44 PM   #33
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

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Originally Posted by Manassa View Post

You can say Duran was better, and use that as part of your criteria - but if accomplishments are what you go by, there's no denying Benny Leonard.
Well, Henry Armstrong trounced the ATG Barney Ross for the WW title and then beat the #1 WW contender all while weighing within the 135-pound limit himself. That's about as big an achievement as any lightweight had while still actually a lightweight.

Having said that, I usually rate Leonard and Armstrong #1 and 2 at the weight respectively. I rate them both over Duran at that weight (both in achievement and H2H) as I don't believe Duran beat competition on par with their's at 135, and besides which I don't think Duran really reached his peak until moving up to 147.
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Old 11-04-2009, 06:59 PM   #34
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

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Well, Henry Armstrong trounced the ATG Barney Ross for the WW title and then beat the #1 WW contender all while weighing within the 135-pound limit himself. That's about as big an achievement as any lightweight had while still actually a lightweight.

Having said that, I usually rate Leonard and Armstrong #1 and 2 at the weight respectively. I rate them both over Duran at that weight (both in achievement and H2H) as I don't believe Duran beat competition on par with their's at 135, and besides which I don't think Duran really reached his peak until moving up to 147.
I think i agree with you on this. Armstrong competed for a very short time, as a lightweight in terms of years, but not in terms of quality of opponents, he beat the best Welterweights as well as lightweights, and as a lightweight. I would be interested to see who else beat the world world class larger fighters, as a lightweight, it might take some level of thinking or digging, but i think that Armstrongs efforts here are probably better than any other lightweight.
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Old 11-04-2009, 07:15 PM   #35
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

joe gans
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Old 11-04-2009, 07:33 PM   #36
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

Something I ran into today

[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]



  1. <LI id=comment-23758 itxtvisited="1">burt bienstock Says:
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    As an oldtimer who saw my first pro card in 1942 ,Ike Williams vs Terry Young,I would like to relate an anecdote.Ruby Goldstein former top lightweight in the 1920,s was giving a seminar in 1955 in New Hampshire, which I attended. My question was” how would you,Canzoneri,Leonard Ross,Mclarnin, Armstrong etc compare with Ike Williams?He took his stogie out of his mouth, and curtley replied “Do not compare us in the same breath with Benny Leonard”,with much conviction…Iwas greatly impressed. I think that Leonard was the top lightweight of all time on a par with Ray Robinson who I saw fight twice as a welterweight. Ike Williams was the best I saw, followed by Duran…
  2. burt bienstock Says:
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] i would like to make a slight correction. i as a youngster saw my first pro card between beau jack vs tough terry young, st nicholas arena 1942, not ike williams,who i saw ko the great beau jack in Phildelphia 1948.Ike williams uncuffed, i rate as the best lightweight, since canzoneri, ross era. a real murderous puncher was Ike…Burt bienstock
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Old 11-05-2009, 12:46 AM   #37
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

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Originally Posted by turpinr View Post
benny leonard's not in my top 10,sorry
I'd like to see your top 10. I need a good laugh.
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Old 11-05-2009, 12:49 AM   #38
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

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Dunno why you left out Ben vs Ted Kid Lewis?
Leonard and Lewis fought at Welterweight
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Old 11-05-2009, 03:15 AM   #39
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

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Times have indeed changed, my friend. But the level of Benny's skill has not been topped by anyone I've ever seen. And his level of skill has not been topped by anyone you've ever seen either, despite your protestations to the contrary. Benny Leonard, like Joe Gans, is an exception to the argument that fighters before 1920 were something less.

...If "Ghetto Wizardry" or "Bennyology" were a college class, I'd encourage to study more.
I'm not impressed with Benny Leonard from the fights I've seen of him, he over reaches with his punches, his footwork is all over the place, he sticks his chin in the air and he is off balance most of the time, his record is great but I don't rate him highly when it comes to Hd 2 Hd .
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Old 11-05-2009, 03:17 AM   #40
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

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Sorry Turpin, but i just can't understand that you don't have Leonard in the top ten, and then when you put forward ten guys, Joe Gans wasn't even in there. I don't mean to be a critic, but it's a bit mad imo. I know your reasoning's a bit to do with the h2h aspect of greatness, but still, not in the top ten i can't handle.
i've never seen any film of joe gans and the films that i've seen of leonard don't make me change my opinion on him.sorry
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Old 11-05-2009, 03:21 AM   #41
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

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I'd like to see your top 10. I need a good laugh.
i've already written down 9 of them in this thread,but couldn't remember the 10th.by the way, it isn't in any sort of order.you can laugh if you want,its your prerogative.
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Old 11-05-2009, 03:50 AM   #42
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

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Originally Posted by turpinr View Post
i've never seen any film of joe gans and the films that i've seen of leonard don't make me change my opinion on him.sorry
Oh alright, i have Leonard in there because of resume but like we always say, it's subjective.
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Old 11-05-2009, 03:58 AM   #43
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

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Oh alright, i have Leonard in there because of resume but like we always say, it's subjective.
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Old 11-05-2009, 12:26 PM   #44
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

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Originally Posted by turpinr View Post
i've never seen any film of joe gans and the films that i've seen of leonard don't make me change my opinion on him.sorry
i got about an hour and 10 mins of Gans ill send it too you
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Old 11-05-2009, 12:27 PM   #45
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Default Re: Benny Leonard was the greatest lightweight of all time - by a long way

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Originally Posted by sugarsean View Post
I'm not impressed with Benny Leonard from the fights I've seen of him, he over reaches with his punches, his footwork is all over the place, he sticks his chin in the air and he is off balance most of the time, his record is great but I don't rate him highly when it comes to Hd 2 Hd .
Point out to me in the footage available of him where he is off balance or where his footwork is all over the place and not perfectly positioned. I'll wait.
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