9. Emile Griffith
(85-24-2, 23 KO)
Emile Griffith had his most notable wins at Middleweight, though his resume at Welterweight is just as good, if not better. In 1960 Griffith, a full-sized welterweight, went through a string of top contenders before getting a shot at the crown in 1961 against Benny “The Kid” Paret.
Griffith won the fight by KO in the 13th round securing the title. Unfortunately, this fight set up a trilogy that would end in tragedy. In the second fight, Paret was the victor, beating Griffith by the narrowest of margins with a split decision to take back the welterweight belt.
By the third bout, it was apparent that Paret was not pretending to be friends with Griffith and the talk by Paret leading up to the fight sparked some bad blood. During the fight, Griffith got up off the canvas to plow Paret with several unanswered right hands that resulted in Paret’s death. This affected Griffith deeply and he almost gave up fighting as a result.
Griffith decided to continue and defended the title twice, winning the EBU Jr. Middleweight title in between defenses. He defended the EBU title once more before losing the welterweight title to Hall of Famer, Luis Rodriguez. Griffith reclaimed the title in an immediate rematch. Griffith went on to defend the welterweight title four more times before vacating and chasing Dick Tiger’s Middleweight belt.
During his stretch of winning the Welterweight title three times from 1961 through 1966, Griffith faced all top 10 contenders available, including Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, and amassed a record of 11-2, with six victories by knockout. He made one more unsuccessful attempt at the welterweight crown against Jose Napoles in 1969 before settling at middleweight for the remainder of his career.