1. Carl Thompson
After a successful early career in the kickboxing combat art of Muay Thai, Thompson's late transition into the sport of boxing was more of a physical than a personal quest. 'My legs had gone. I literally couldn't walk,' the Manchester warrior would remark on the damage caused to his body after years of fielding constant leg kicks.
After enrolling in Phil Martin's iconic Manchester gym, Thompson began a remarkable rise through the Cruiserweight division which would eventually see him capture a British, European and even a WBO world title. Thompson's bruising, all action style was relentless in the ring and there simply wasn't an inch of give in him. Often he took the heart out of fighters, none more so than when he inflicted David Haye's first defeat on him. He also recorded two wins over Chris Eubank and was involved in numerous other wars. A true warrior in every sense of the word, he retired in 2005.
2. Wayne Alexander
By his own admission, Alexander's career never quite reached the lofty heights his obvious talents deserved. What he lacked in focused dedication however, he made up for with ferocious punching power.
This was evident when he produced a knock out as brutal as you'll ever see in a British ring. It came in 2004 at the York Hall in Bethnal Green, where his opponent Takaloo walked into a car crash of a left hook that remains one of the most iconic punches thrown in a British ring in recent times. It was no fluke either. Alexander had dynamite in his hands right from the time he was an amateur. By the time he reached the professional ranks he already had a reputation as a puncher and garnered an impressive record and series of victories. He would go on to secure the British, European and WBU international light middleweight titles. Alas, due to a decent roster of fighters at the business end of the division and a slight problem with his own motivation - the world title would always elude him. Alexander though remains one of the best punchers ever to step into a British ring. A fighter with absolute hammers for fists.
3. Paul Hodkinson
Timing can be everything in boxing and there's always a feeling that if Paul Hodkinson's career had arrived a decade later than it did, he would have had the potential to become a superstar.
As it was, the Liverpudlian featherweight became a firm television favourite during the late eighties as his bombastic style was tailor made for winning ratings. It was a style however that was prime made for a counter puncher who could take a shot from the opposite corner. Enter Marcos Villisana, a granite tough Mexican who buzzed round the ring like an angry wasp and liked nothing better than trading shots with an eager Hodkinson. Their match up in 1990 for the vacant world title was a minor classic. Ahead after the first seven rounds, Hodkinson began to mark up terribly after being counter punched and the fight was eventually halted in his opponents favour because the Liverpool fighter couldn't see out of either eye.
Hodkinson would eventually avenge his defeat to Villisana by beating him in 1991 by anamonius decision to win a world title. He would hold on to it till 1993, but by then his many wars were beginning to take their toll on him. He never quite became the world star he had the potential to become but certainly he belonged in the upper echelons of world boxing, even if his name hardly seems to get a mention these days beyond boxing forums.
4: George Feeney
Never before or since has the guts and glory aspect of the fight game been epitomised so much as Hartlepool lightweight George Feeney. For a period in the early to mid eighties the granite jawed North East fighter was involved in some brutal contests, none more so than his epic fight for the British title with Ray Cattouse, which is still arguably the greatest domestic fight that ever took place on these shores.
Feeney's style may not have been for the purists, but what he lacked in technique he more than made up for with heart. Having won a Lonsdale belt at Lightweight he even managed to last 15 rounds with the great Ray 'boom boom' Mancini in the States and go the distance with another world class fighter in Howard Davis jnr. Feeney literally had to travel thousands of miles throughout his career to keep himself financially afloat and his whole career permanently teetered on the edge, where one defeat in an important fight was the difference between having money in the bank or not. It's a battle which thousands of professional fighters have to go through every week. He deserves a place on this list for that archetypal journey alone.
5: Dennis Andries
A brute of a fighter, Andries successfully traded his wares around the less glamorous boxing arenas with a doggedness that would eventually change his career forever.
It would take a fight with the legendary Tommy Hearns to catapult him eventually into the limelight but it wasn't his performance in the ring that night as much as his sheer bloody mindedness which pricked the interest of Hearn's corner man and boxing legend Emanuel Steward.
Steward agreed to train Andries in the Legendary Kronk gym and the English boxer quickly became something of a cult hero within the premises. Andries toughness was respected by Detroit's fight intelligentsia and slowly but surely they honed him into being a better fighter than he could ever have hoped for. Pretty soon he was operating at the business end of the light heavyweight division and even managed to become a three time world title holder. It was a remarkable second act for a fighter who was seen as unfashionable and something of a journeyman in his own country but ended up revitalising himself the minute he set foot in another. A true rags to riches story.
6: Colin Jones
There's a pretty big argument that Colin Jones might well have been the greatest British fighter never to win a world title. The Swansea welterweight had the brute power to worry even those at the top levels of the division. Jones' stalking, cat and mouse style meant he often gave up the first half of fights to better stylists only to KO them in the latter stages of fights. His two 9th round stoppages of Kirkland Laing were testimony to this.
There were a couple of world title attempts but neither Milton Mcrory or Don Curry were able to blow him away. Instead he came perilously close to beating Mcrory in America, with their first fight in particular being called a dubious draw when huge late pressure from Jones' seemed to suggest otherwise. It wasn't to be however, but even in retirement Jones hasn't faded from memory and has lost none of his fearsome reputation as a raw and deadly puncher despite having not lifted a world title. Still seen as a ring legend in his native Wales, he remains of the hardest pound for pound punchers ever to step into a British ring. A fighter who could chop down and finish an opponent with either hand and a deadly snipers accuracy.
7: Ken Buchanan
'If you bumped into Ken Buchanan as a ghost, you wouldn't know what century he was from.' So legendary sports writer Red Smith would once remark about Scottish boxing genius Ken Buchanan, drawing attention to the fact that with his granite looks and old school attitude he looked like he'd blown in from an age old era.
In many ways however, Buchanan was much more than that. A beautifully balanced and cutting edge lightweight - his record both home away was highly impressive. Buchanan would fight anywhere, in any climate and more often than not came up trumps. His record speaks for itself. The undisputed world lightweight world champion by 1971, Buchanan had been forced to South America to both win and defend his titles. That speaks volumes for the man. He even managed to feature in a controversial contest with arguably the greatest lightweight that ever walked on the earth, Roberto Duran. That fight was stopped in the thirteenth round when Buchanan complained that the Panamanian had knee'd him in the unmentionables. Given the size of Buchanan's knackers during his boxing career however, it's amazing Duran didn't get carried out the ring that night with a foot injury.
8: John Conteh
In many ways John Conteh had it all. With his film star looks and perfect fighting style, he oozed class in the light heavyweight division for a period in the late seventies without really breaking sweat.
Conteh had a natural talent. A former Commonwealth gold medalist his promise was such that by the mid seventies he was touted as a heavyweight prospect and a possible opponent for Muhammad Ali. It was Ali himself however who persuaded Conteh to fight at the less glamorous weight and it would pay dividends. Conteh would prove himself a worthy world champion at light heavy but his extra curricular activities outside the ring would eventually start to take effect and eventually ruin his career. Conteh would later talk at length about his battle with alcoholism and those physical and mental battles that forced a premature retirement from the ring altogether in 1980. It would prove hugely frustrating for both Conteh and British boxing. The Liverpool fighter's talent only ever seemed half realised during his near 40 fight reign. Little more than a drop in the ocean in the careers of most champion boxers.
9: Colin McMillan
In terms of being a prime stylist, Colin McMillan was one of the most elegant fighters that ever graced a British ring.
The eloquent, talented featherweight could well have gone on to be a global superstar if he hadn't sustained a serious shoulder injury in the ring. Up until that point, he had the ability to take the breath away with some of his performances. He often made his opponents look like they were fighting underwater, and quickly established himself as a contender and then world champion in the featherweight division.
Although that same shoulder injury forced his retirement, Mcmillian would still remain heavily involved in the fight game after his career finished, both as a manager and consultant for those seeking his undoubted expertise between the ropes. He even managed to secure a cameo appearance in Eastenders at one point. It's a crying shame however that his career was cut prematurely short when it was. There's no doubt that McMillan had both the skills and marketability to become a featherweight legend way beyond the confines of his own country. The fact that he didn't is something of a travesty.
10: Tony Sibson
If ever a fighter perfectly summed up the working class duality of boxing, from what goes on inside and outside the ropes, it was Tony Sibson.
Much like Ricky Hatton was a few years later, Sibson was an extension of his rabid fans. The Leicester middleweight's style was a huge hit with UK boxing fans, particularly in lieu of his KO record which marked him up as a 'banger' of some extent.
Unfortunately, Sibson also happened to find himself in an era where the middleweight division had more stars than a supernova, particularly in the seminal Marvin Hagler who had rampaged through the 160 division with a streetwise glee throughout the mid eighties. That still didn't stop Sibson taking Hagler on. It was no disgrace either that the Leicester fighter would lose to a TKO in round six or that he would fail in another two attempts at a world title. Despite his aggression and heavy punching, Sibson was to find out that a superior fighter will always find a way to beat a slugger. Even with that knowledge in hand however, he still makes this list as a brilliant and exciting fighter of his times.