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Monday, March 20, 2023

Jews in the IBRO's 2019 All Time Ratings

In 2019, the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO), which the head of The Jewish Boxing Blog has since joined, created a list of the 25 best pound-for-pound fighters in history and the best within eleven different weight classes. The last time the organization undertook such a project was 2006. About thirty of its members were asked to participate this last time. In this article, we'll take a look at the placement of Jewish boxers on the various lists. Before we begin, it's important to note without a touch of modesty, the voting members know more about boxing than the head of The JBB will ever hope to know. Any questioning of the IBRO's rankings should be viewed through that lens.

Two Jews made this list of the top 25. Benny Leonard came in at #9. That's about where he normally places on lists like these. Of course, we Jewish Boxing fans believe he should be higher because of his incomparable skills and the longevity of his championship reign, but the fighters listed above him all had amazing careers as well.

Barney Ross came in at #21, which is also about where he shows up on these types of lists. There's a good case to be made that he's underrated. A legitimate three-division world champion, he went 4-1 against the duo of Tony Canzoneri and Jimmy McLarnin and beat future middleweight champion Ceferino Garcia three times. Ross also beat many very good fighters, including Ray Miller, the only man to knockout McLarnin. The counterargument is that his fights against Canzoneri and McLarnin were all close and the junior welterweight championship was seen as more of a minor title at the time.

Abe Attell and Ted "Kid" Lewis  are two others that could have made the list. As with Leonard, Attell's skills and his lengthy spell as world featherweight champion are at the heart of his case. Lewis embodies what the term pound-for-pound should mean, fighting world class opponents from bantamweight all the way to heavyweight.

Light Heavyweight
No Jews made the heavyweight list. Maxie Rosenbloom made the light heavyweight top 20 at #13. Rosenbloom is sometimes underrated because his slapping style did not garner universal approval. Battling Levinsky had made the top 20 in 2006, but fell off in 2019.

No Jews made the middleweight or junior middleweight lists. Two Jews made the welterweight top 20. Barney Ross was ranked #10 and Ted "Kid" Lewis slid in at #16. While Ross and Lewis both won world titles at the weight, they were also very successful at other weights.

Junior Welterweight
Barney Ross at #5 and Jack "Kid" Berg at #9 made this top 10 list. Luminaries such as Tony Canzoneri, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, and Pernell Whitaker just missed the cut. Canzoneri beat Berg twice, both for the lightweight and junior welterweight world titles, so there is a case to made that Canzoneri should be higher than our beloved Berg.

Three Jews made the top 20 here. Benny Leonard came in at #2. Most of us reading this would argue that he should be #1. Leonard, Roberto Duran, and Joe Gans seem to be the consensus top three lightweights of all-time, although the order is up for debate. Barney Ross was #8, two behind Canzoneri, who Barney beat twice. Canzoneri was a world class lightweight before Ross even turned pro, so that would be the argument for Tony. Lew Tendler was voted at #19.

Junior Lightweight
Benny Bass held the junior lightweight world championship from 1929-1931, but did not make this top 10 list.

Abe Attell came in at #4 behind Willie Pep, Henry Armstrong, and Sandy Saddler.

While there have been half a dozen Jewish bantamweight world champions, none cracked the IBRO's top 20 at the weight.

No Jews made the top 20. Newsboy Brown was an honorable mention.

Seven different Jews made these lists: Leonard (p4p, light), Ross (p4p, welter, light), Rosenbloom (light hvy), Lewis (welter), Berg (jr welter), Tendler (light), and Attell (feather).

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