Although they may not all be household names, the Keystone State has produced some exceptional boxers throughout history. In this article, we’ll run through one from each of boxing’s past, present, and future.
Past: Harry Greb (Active 1915 to 1926)
Harry Greb was the American Light Heavyweight champion for two years beginning in 1922. He was then the World Middleweight champion between 1923 to 1926. In his 13-year career, he fought 298 times, winning 261 fights, losing 16, and drawing 19, with a single no-result.
Possibly Greb’s greatest achievement was the 15-round, 1922 beating he delivered to the undefeated American Light Heavyweight champion, Gene Tunney. This was Tunney’s only loss in an illustrious career, giving Greb the title.
Having had constant eye problems throughout his career, Greb retired, having his right eye was removed and with a glass prosthesis fitted in its place. After complications during an operation on his nose and respiratory tract only a month later, Harry Greb passed away from heart failure at the tender age of 32.
His family laid Greb to rest in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Highly rated and ranked by experts, he had an insatiable appetite for the boxing ring. In 1919 alone, he fought an incredible 45 fights, winning them all. Harry Greb is a true Pennysylvania boxing legend and one of the state’s all-time greats.
Present: Bernard Hopkins (Active 1988 to 2016, Promoting Since)
Bernard Hopkins, boxing out of Philadelphia, didn’t make an auspicious start to his pro boxing career. Boxing as a light heavyweight, he lost his first fight to Clinton Mitchell in 1988.
With a record of 67 wins, 8 losses, 2 draws, and 2 no-results, Hopkins was a two-weight World champion. He won titles in both the Middleweight and Light-Heavyweight divisions. He defeated some exceptional boxers in his career, including Greg Paige, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, and Roy Jones, Jr.
Bernard Hopkins took on Felix Trinidad in a unification Middleweight title fight at Madison Square Gardens in 2001. Hopkins outclassed his favored opponent in a 12th-round TKO victory. The win made “The Executioner” the first undisputed World Middleweight champion since Marvin Hagler 14 years before.
Hopkins placed a $100K bet on himself before the Trinidad fight. Today, with online sports betting legal, the sites available in Pennsylvania make it easy for boxing fans to place bets on fighters now. One difference is that Bernard Hopkins would not be able to back himself in a fight due to new rules.
By the age of 40, Bernard Hopkins had defended his Middleweight crown 19 times – a weight division record. After a drawn first WBC Light-Heavyweight title fight with champion, Joe Pascal, Hopkins, beat the same opponent. At 46 years, 4 months, and 6 days, he became the oldest man in boxing’s history to win a major World title.
After losing the title to Chad Dawson, Hopkins fought a few more times before retiring from the ring in 2016, aged 51. He’s remained in boxing ever since, now promoting fighters alongside his old foe, Oscar De La Hoya. Hopkins has represented the likes of Mexican World Middleweight champion, Canelo Alvarez.
BoxRec rates Bernard Hopkins as the seventh-best pound-for-pound boxer in history. To most experts, Hopkins carries the mantle as Pennysylvania’s best boxer of all time.
Future: Jaron Ennis (Active 2016 to Present)
As Bernard Hopkins was preparing to hang up his gloves, a young Philadephia fighter was tying his on for the first time professionally. Jaron “Boots” Ennis won his first pro fight with a first-round knockout of Cory Muldew in Utah in April 2016.
Since then, the now-26-year-old has fought a further 32 times. All bar one ended in wins, with the other declared a no-contest. The no-contest result was in Ennis’s first title fight, for the vacant IBO Welterweight title. He fought against Chris Van Heerden, with the South African suffering a cut to his head after an accidental clash of heads.
Ennis won his next title fight, winning the vacant IBF Interim Welterweight title clash against Karen Chukhadzhian in Washington, D.C.earlier this year. Then, only last month, Jaron Ennis completed his first title defense in his 32nd undefeated fight.
With odds of -700 coming into the ring, Ennis was the overwhelming favorite. His opponent was Roiman Villa (+720), and Ennis lived up to his status, knocking Villa out in the 10th round of the bout in Atlantic City.
The future certainly seems bright for the young Pennsylvanian boxer. Jaron Ennis now has his sites set on the undefeated three-weight World champion, Terence Crawford. The 35-year-old Crawford recently stopped Errol Spence Jr. to retain his WBO Welterweight title.
Crawford also won Spence’s WBA (Super), WBC, and IBF Welterweight belts, and the vacant The Ring Welterweight title with his victory. The result of a rematch between the two could define Ennis’s future. He could put his undefeated record on the line against the multi-world champion, Crawford, if the result goes his way.
Is it almost time for Jaron Ennis great to make his mark and join Pennysylvania legends like Harry Greb and Bernard Hopkins by doing so?
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