The 11 Greatest Boxers of All Time

Muhammed Ali

Naturally, a list like this is sure to create a lot of controversies. Everyone has their own opinion of who tops the list of boxing betting odds when it was their time on top. It seems there are two ways boxing enthusiasts approach this. The one is similar to buying a new iPhone, and the other is like choosing which Netflix series to start bingeing.

When buying a new iPhone, the exact specifications are quite important. This is like creating your top 11 list using the BoxRec system. For those of you that aren’t familiar – the BoxRec System is a way of awarding points to each victory that a boxer obtains. Thus, adding more weight to more impressive victories.

For example, beating the No 1 or No 2 positioned fighter has the most value and thus the most points. Beating No 3 is 1/2 the number of points, and beating number 4 is only 1/3 of the points that would be awarded if you beat No 1 or 2. 1/4 goes for beating number 5, etc.

The second way to determine who is the reigning champion of all time is like choosing a good Netflix series to watch. It’s all about personal preference and experience.

In this article, we will be taking the Netflix approach; if you want the objective list of who is technically the best, you can find the list here.

That being said, let’s explore the top 11 boxers of all time:

Contents

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In Number 11: Floyd “Money” Mayweather (50-0)

Floyd Mayweather is a one-of-a-kind boxer. The amount of interest and build-up before the fight is unreal when Floyd Mayweather is set to fight. When Mr. Mayweather steps into the ring it’s sure to be a sold-out event.

This comes as no shock; Mr. Mayweather has never lost a fight in the ring. During his career, he has won 15 Major titles in the super featherweight, lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight, and light middleweight divisions.

In Number 10: “Sugar” Ray Leonard (36-3-1)

The 1980 boxer of the decade, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, made quite a name for himself, being awarded boxer of the year for 1976, 1979, and 1981. We saw him truly cement his name in boxing history after bouncing back from his eye surgery and still wanting to avenge his name despite peoples’ concern about his detached retina.

In Number 9: Evander Holyfield (44-10-2)

Evander Holyfield’s career was timeless. This was confirmed, during his fight against Mike Tyson, which he won both the WBA title which was the upset of the year. Evander Holyfield is also the first fighter in history to be the undisputed champion in two different weight divisions. Cruiserweight in 1980 and heavyweight the following decade.

Evander Holyfield
Amanda Westcott, Triller Fight Club

In Number 8: Jack Dempsey (68-6-11)

With the alias “The Manassa Mauler,” This aggressive legend was the reigning heavyweight champion from 1919 to 1926. A member of the National boxing hall of fame, this icon cannot go unnoticed, with 53 out of his 68 wins being via knock-out.

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In Number 7: Jack Johnson (70-11-11)

Not to be confused with the singer-songwriter. Jack Johnson beat the odds despite the political tension during his career from 1897 to 1928, becoming the first African American to hold the heavyweight championship.

In Number 6: Bernard Hopkins (55-8-2)

A champion many men feared, Hopkins reigned in both the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. He successfully defended his titles on 19 occasions against 17 opponents, smashing records at the time. Winning fighter of the year in 2001, “The Executioner,” later renamed “The Alien,” is known for his longevity, winning championships until he retired in 2016, at the advanced age of 51.

In Number 5: Henry Armstrong (152-21-8)

After knocking out 27 consecutive opponents, Henry Armstrong performed feats previously unheard of in the boxing world. Successfully defending his welterweight title against 18 different opponents gained him a world record. Henry won fighter of the year in 1937, with a record-breaking score of 152-21-8 and 101 knock-outs. According to Ring Magazine, Henry Armstrong is considered the 2nd Best fighter in the past 80 years

In Number 4: Ezzard Charles (98-25-1)

Considered the greatest fighter of all time in many circles, Ezzard Charles held his heavyweight title for 25 months, defending it against 8 opponents. The Cincinnati Cobra, as he was known by many, is considered the second greatest boxer pound for pound behind Floyd Mayweather, according to BoxRec.

In Number 3: Joe Louis (66-3)

Joe Louis, otherwise known as the “Brown Bomber,” was the dominating force in the ring for 140 Consecutive months, from 1937 till his temporary retirement in 1949. During this time, he remained on top after 25 consecutive title defenses.  He was also regarded as the first African American to achieve the status of a national hero within the United States. This was mainly because of his historical rematch against the German fighter Max Schmeling in 1938, which inspired a massive anti-Nazi movement leading up to World War 2.

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In Number 2: Muhammed Ali (56-5)

Ali won gold at the young age of 18 in the 1960 Olympics, lightweight division; turned professional later that year, and claimed his first heavyweight title by 22. There isn’t much about Muhammed Ali that hasn’t already been said. Known for his trash-talking and “free-styling,” in other words, rhyme schemes and spoken poetry anticipating modern hip-hop, Muhammed Ali would even predict the rounds in which he would knock out his opponents.

In Number 1: Sugar Ray Johnson (173-19-6)

Not to be confused with Sugar Ray Leonard. Sugar Ray Johnson went on the 3rd longest win streak in boxing history between 1943 to 1951, with 91 consecutive wins. He held the world welter championship between 1946 and 1951. Johnson is the first boxer in history to claim divisional championship 5 times. He is considered to be the greatest boxer of all time by Ring Magazine and other legends such as Muhammed Ali, Joe Louis, and Sugar Ray Leonard.

Final thoughts

Do you agree with this list? Understandably, a list like this is sure to stir up some debate. However, there is value to giving credit to the greats who helped to shape the sport as we know it today. Who would be the reigning champion on your list?