The guy had a snapping left jab. A killer left hook. Good power in his right. And he dominated a weak light heavyweight division for the better part of 6 years. And who can forget how his machine gun jab ripped Muhammad Ali’s face open.
But other than the spectacular knockout of a much smaller and older Dick Tiger, who did Foster beat that would warrant the high placement that boxing experts give him? Were his wins against Vincente Rondon and Chris Finegan and Roger Rouse and Tommy Hicks and Mike Quarry enough to make him the greatest light heavyweight since Archie Moore? Was it the two close fights with Pierre Fourie that put Foster in the upper echelons of light heavyweight glory? Or was it his spirited draw with Jorge Ahumada?
Foster lost to the best people he ever fought: Doug Jones, Zora Folly, Ernie Terrell, Frazier, and Ali. True, these were heavyweights, but other than an aging and shopworn Dick Tiger, Foster didn’t beat anyone at light heavyweight who could hold a candle to the guys he lost to, even on a pound for pound consideration.
I must conclude that we have overrated Bob Foster to some degree. He has to be considered in an all time listing of great light heavyweights because of his longevity, and also because no one took the crown from him in the ring. But whenever he tried to fight higher levels of competition, he was soundly thrashed. In lieu of this, I would have to rate Michael Spinks, Ezzard Charles, Jimmy Bivins, Archie Moore, Tommy Loughran and possibly Roy Jones Jr above Foster in the all time rankings.
And an argument could be made that some of the light heavyweights from the late 70’s (Galindez, Saad Muhammad) could be ranked higher because the people they dispatched in their title reigns were much better fighters than the guys Foster beat.
Bob Foster was a very talented light heavyweight champion. And head to head, he may have had the skills and the confidence to beat many of the people that I rate above him in the all time light heavyweight rankings. I wish he would have defended the light heavyweight crown against a young John Conteh, or Richie Kates or Len Hutchins or Victor Galindez. Wins against those fighters would have cemented his legacy as a top 5 all time light heavyweight.
But as it is, this is my list of the greatest light heavyweight boxers of all time:
1. Ezzard Charles
2. Archie Moore
3. Michael Spinks
4. Roy Jones Jr
5. Jimmy Bivins
6. Tommy Loughran
7. Saad Muhammad
8. Bob Foster
9. Billy Conn
10. Gene Tunney