View Full Version : Top 20 Heavyweights of All Time - #11 Sam Langford

01-22-2010, 05:34 AM
Name: Sam Langford

Career Statistics:

Born: March 4, 1883
Died: Jan. 12, 1956
Bouts: 293
Won: 167
Lost: 38
Drew: 37
ND: 48
NC: 3
KOs: 117
IBHOF Induction: 1990

Source: http://www.ibhof.com/pages/about/inductees/oldtimer/langford.html


Sam Langford, known as the “Boston Terror” and "The Boston Tar Baby," is considerd to be the greatest fighter to never win a world boxing championship. The reason is simple. He was the most avoided fighter in the illustrious history of boxing. Despite often being outweighed by 20 to 50 pounds in many of his fights, he scored more knockouts than George Foreman and Mike Tyson combined. Fighting from lightweight to heavyweight Sam Langford took on all the best fighters of the first two decades of 20th century. He spent the last years of his fighting career virtually blind where the bulk of his losses occurred, although he still won a number of fights impressively by knockout.

Sam was powerfully built. His measurements were 5’6 ½’ with a 17” neck, 15” biceps, a 42 ½” inch chest and a 73” reach. He spent much of his prime career at middleweight, with his best weight about 165 pounds, by age 27 he was a small heavyweight weighing around 180 pounds. If he were fighting today he would have contended for titles from welterweight to light-heavyweight. He eventually weighed around 190 pounds and may have challenged heavyweights as he did in his own time.

Langford was a short, stocky, long armed and powerful puncher. He had huge shoulders and massive back muscles. He was known for his quick hands, debilitating left jab, crushing hook, powerful right cross, smashing uppercut and devastating body punches. He was equally adept at punching from long range or short punches at close range. When he had his opponent hurt he was a deadly finisher.

He was master at the art of feinting. His ability as a feinter is easily described in his knockout over the “white hope” Gunboat Smith. The Oct. 21, 1914 Boston Globe reported, “A couple of stiff jabs on Smith’s chin sent him to the ropes. Langford kept forcing Smith about the ring and when the gunner was near his own corner Langford feinted and Smith dropped his guard, Sam then shooting the right under Smith’s ear.”

Sam was also an outstanding defensive fighter; a master at blocking an opponents leads with an open glove with the rear hand in proper position, a master glove blocker and counter puncher as well as a fighter who would duck and counter putting his whole body into his blows. Sam had the perfect balance, timing and leverage of a great puncher. He also had an outstanding chin and was able to absorb the punishing blows of much larger men. A terror on offense and a master of defense Sam could do it all.

Al Laney wrote, "This is the man competent critics said was the greatest fighter in ring history, the man the champions feared and would not fight, the man who was so good he was never given a chance to show how good he really was."

Mike Silver stated, that Sam was "Quite possibly the greatest fighter who ever lived, Langford mastered every punch. His short hook on the inside and his right cross and uppercut were particularly deadly. His punishing jab was also one of the best. He was a strategist who knew how to maneuver, with the ability to explode out of an offensive or defensive position. He could instantly stop when retreating, revert to the offensive, and in the blink of an eye render an opponent unconscious with trip-hammer blows thrown in four and five punch combinations. Langford's every move embodied the technique of a studied master boxer. During his prime he was rarely outfought, out-thought, or out-punched."

William Detloff wrote, "Langford wasn't simply an all out slugger. He was smart and crafty and knew how to out-think guys in the ring. He could fight inside or outside and was impossibly strong. He was decades ahead of his time."

Ring founder Nat Fleischer reported, in Black Dynamite Vol 4, “Langford was as quick and slippery as an eel in action, highly intelligent and made up of surprising dodges from head to heels. Sam used his bulky shoulders and clever blocking arms to avoid blows and his potent punching power stayed with him until the end of his career.”

Gilbert Odd penned, “Langford with his massive pair of shoulders and long arms was a danger to anyone. Although only a middleweight he gave weight and a beating to many heavyweights.”

R. Stockton stated, "Langford had all the attributes of a great fighter, speed, punching power, an amazingly elusive defense, the ability to absorb punishment, and unlimited endurance."

W. Diamond wrote, “Sam Langford was a great fighter in an age of great fighters. In proportion to his height and weight there never was a greater fighting man."

Norman Clark who saw Sam fight on his tour of England wrote,All in the Game 1935, “On the whole, I think Langford was the most tremendous hitter in the Ring at this time; for, whereas Johnson would not, as a rule, let the heavy stuff fly until he had worn the man down, Sam always waded right in and immediately let go punches heavy enough to drop anyone. Of course, he had to work up his punch to an extent, however, and this he usually did on the giant Negro, Bob Armstrong, whom he had training with him. As he sparred with Armstrong, every now and again he would give him a dig "downstairs" that would have the big fellow gasping, and, to keep moving, he would then shadow-box for a short time before coming back to resume operations. There would be a few more exchanges, then whop! In would go another one to the body, and exclaim, "Oh"! He's got cramp again", Sam would do a little more shadow-boxing: and so, and so on.”

Clark also marveled at Sam’s quickness, “For working up speed Langford had Jimmy Walsh, the bantamweight champion of the world, with him. The pair used to box together lightly, but at a great pace, and I was surprised to find that even in this sort of work Sam was every bit as fast and clever as Walsh himself.”

Sam was rated as the # 7 heavyweight of all time in 1958 by Nat Fleischer.

Source: http://coxscorner.tripod.com/langford.html


Resume Evaluation:

Notable (Heavyweight Caliber) Wins:
Larry Temple (x3) *Middleweight, but proven at HW [First win prime, rest post-prime]
Joe Jeannette (x8) [Post prime in last bout]
Jim Barry (x7) [First 5 prime, rest post-prime]
Sandy Ferguson
John Wille (x2)
Tony Ross (x2)
Fireman Jim Flynn (x5) [First 2 prime, rest over the hill]
Morris Harris (x2)
Al Kubiak (x2)
John Klondike Haines (x2)
Mike Schreck [Past his prime]
Stanley Ketchel *Middleweight, but proven at HW
Battling Jim Johnson (x9)
Bill Lang
Bill Watkins (x3) [First 2 prime, last over the hill]
George 'Kid' Cotton (x2)
Colin Bell
Jeff Clark (x5) *Light Heavyweight [First 3 prime, rest post-prime]
Philadelphia Jack O'Brien *Light Heavyweight [Post-Prime]
Sam McVea (x6) [Post prime in last bout]
Porky Dan Flynn (x2)
John Lester Johnson
Tom McMahon
Harry Wills (x2)
Gunboat Smith
Jack Thompson (x4)
Bill Tate (x4)
Bob Devere (x2) [First prime, second over the hill]
Andre Anderson
Kid Norfolk *Light Heavyweight
Tiny Jim Herman
Frank Farmer *Light Heavyweight
George Godfrey (x2)
Lee Anderson (x2)
Bearcat Wright (x3)
Tut Jackson (x2)
Tiger Flowers *Middleweight, but later proven at HW [Pre-prime]
Notable (Heavyweight Caliber) Losses:
Larry Temple [Langford Pre-Prime]
Joe Jeannette (x3) [TKO 8] [NWS 10] [PTS 12] {First of two men to KO Langford in his prime}
Jack Johnson
Jim Barry
Sam McVea (x2)
Gunboat Smith
Harry Wills (x13) [PTS 10] [NWS 10] [PTS 20] [NWS 10] [NWS 8] [NWS 10] [NWS 12] [KO 6] [TKO 7] [NWS 8] [PTS 15] [PTS 15] [PTS 10] {Prime-ish 5, Post-Prime 4, Over the Hill 4}
Jeff Clark (x2) [Langford over the hill in 2nd bout]
Bill Tate (x4) [1st fight Langford past his prime, rest over the hill]
Fred Fulton (x2) [TKO 7] [PTS 4] {Langford past his prime in 1st, over the hill in 2nd}
Questionable Draws:
Joe Walcott 1904-09-05 [Langford's favor]
Joe Jeannette 1908-09-01 [Langford's favor]
Fireman Jim Flynn 1910-02-08 [Flynn's favor, but Langford likely carried him]
Battling Jim Johnson 1914-09-15 [Langford's favor]
Questionable No Decisions:
Sam McVea 1915-11-23 [McVea's favor]
Jeff Clark 1918-10-31 [Clark's favor]
Harry Wills 1919-09-30 [Wills' favor]

'A' level wins:
Joe Jeannette (x7), Sam McVea (x5), Harry Wills (x2)
'A-' level wins:
Joe Jeannette, Sam McVea, Sandy Ferguson, Jeff Clark (x3), Kid Norfolk
'B' level wins:
Jim Barry (x5), Tony Ross (x2), Fireman Jim Flynn (x2), Morris Harris (x2), Al Kubiak (x2), John Klondike Haines (x2), Mike Schreck, Stanley Ketchel, Battling Jim Johnson (x9), Bill Watkins (x2), George 'Kid' Cotton (x2), Colin Bell, Jeff Clark (x2), Philadelphia Jack O'Brien, Porky Dan Flynn (x2), John Lester Johnson, Tom McMahon, Gunboat Smith, Jack Thompson (x4), Bill Tate (x4), Tiny Jim Herman, Frank Farmer, George Godfrey (x2), Lee Anderson (x2), Bearcat Wright (x3)
'B-' level wins:
Larry Temple I, Jim Barry (x2), Bill Lang, John Wille (x2), Bob Devere, Andre Anderson, Tut Jackson (x2), Tiger Flowers

Point Total: 17 + 7.5 + 40 + 4.5 – 28 = 41

Back to List (http://sweetboxing.com/showthread.php?t=1488)

01-22-2010, 05:39 AM
Fireman Jim Flynn III

*The upset prior to this bout which they are referring to came on 2/8/1910 in a 10 round affair. If you go to boxrec however, it comes up as a draw according to the Chicago Tribune. Langford was said to have carried Flynn in that fight in order to set up a longer rubber match worth more money down the road. Langford got his wish, and KOed Flynn in 8.

Bill Lang

Sam McVea vs Sam Langford [NOT Jim Johnson]