Muhammad Ali Is Number One, Who Are The Other Greatest Boxers Of All-Time?

sports | 11/1/18

Boxing is not a subjective sport by any means. If you’re a winner, the statistics will back that up without a doubt. Some fighters will talk a big game, but their talent or stat sheet won’t even be close to backing it up. Then you have your stars who are highly skilled and generations of future fighters, fans, and analysts respect for decades. Who are the best boxers of all-time? A consensus number one is none other than Muhammad Ali, but who else is the mix? Perhaps Andre Ward and Manny Pacquiao? Find out now.

Marvin Hagler – 62 Wins, 3 Losses

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We’ll kick things off with one of the best middleweights of all-time. Marvin Hagler was the world middleweight champion for six and a half years. That’s the second-longest reign in that division’s history. During that reign, he made title defenses against other fighters you’ll see later on this list.

What was so special about Hagler is that he had one of the best chins in the sport’s history. After his heart-breaking loss to Sugar Ray Leonard that was a disputed majority decision, Hagler retired and never came back.

Julio Cesar Chavez – 107 Wins, 6 Losses

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Julio Cesar Chavez was an impressive boxer. He went on a streak of 87 consecutive wins to start his career- a remarkable feat. The record was blemished after a controversial draw with Pernell Whitaker in 1993.

Four months after that draw, the legend from Mexico lost a split decision to Frankie Randall, and it seemed like Chavez was human after all. As you see by the record, he still was a bad man in the ring and became a Hall of Famer in 2011.

Bernard Hopkins – 55 Wins, 8 Losses

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Bernard Hopkins didn’t learn to box traditionally. He was taught at Graterford Prison while serving an 18-year sentence. Upon his release in 1988, Hopkins debuted and soon became one of history’s best pound-for-pound boxers.

Hopkins earned the nickname “The Alien” as he used great fundamentals to topple some of the best fighters in the world like Oscar De La Hoya and Winky Wright. Hopkins also had another remarkable accomplishment of defending his middleweight belt for a record 20 consecutive times.

Manny Pacquiao – 60 Wins, 7 Losses

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The Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao seemingly does it all. Not only is he one of the best fighters to step in the ring, but he also has a seat in Congress for his country. Many consider him the greatest Asian boxer ever. Pacquiao is an 11-time world champion and the only one to hold eight-division world championships in history.

He is a southpaw boxer with quick hand speed, punching power and amazing stamina combined with footwork. ESPN had Pacquiao ranked at number two for their 2016 list of best pound-for-pound fighters in the last 25 years.

Ezzard Charles – 95 Wins, 25 Losses

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Ezzard Charles was the true definition of a lionhearted boxer. The dynamic competitor took out a bevy of Hall of Famers during his career. One of his most notable victories came when he unanimously outscored Joe Louis to keep his heavyweight belt.

Due to financial reasons, Charles’ record was a little off thanks to taking on fights well past his prime. That happens to be the case for many prizefighters, unfortunately. Nevertheless, he is still an all-time great.

This next boxer was so good, he had to have his ear bitten to contend with…

Evander Holyfield – 44 Wins, 10 Losses

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Evander Holyfield has a list of accomplishments that go on and on. For starters, he’s the only person to be the undisputed cruiserweight and heavyweight champion. When he was just an amateur, Holyfield won a bronze medal for the U.S.

Holyfield had a relentless toughness and durability. You didn’t want to be caught by his counter left hook, or that would spell trouble for you. He was forced to retire due to medical advice but would return two years later and defeat Mike Tyson to reclaim the title in an upset.

Joe Frazier – 32 Wins, 4 Losses

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You know he’s a great boxer when only Muhammad Ali and George Foreman are the ones to hand you defeat. Joe Frazier had two losses from Foreman and Ali but would terrorize his other opponents, handing out 27 knockouts. Frazier was also a gold medalist at the 1964 Olympics.

Pugilists were very cautious of Frazier’s left hook because it could have very well left you unconscious. He earned the nickname “Smokin’ Joe” and landed in the World Boxing Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Larry Holmes – 69 Wins, 6 Losses

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Larry Holmes started his career on a hot streak by winning 48 fights, one win away from Rocky Marciano’s record. Holmes is said to have the greatest left jab in heavyweight history. How else do you think he was the champion for seven and a half years?

Holmes was notorious for rallying back after getting stunned, so fighters were never safe in a bout with him. Holmes worked his skills well and was the first to defeat Muhammad Ali, even though Ali wasn’t fully prepared for the fight.

George Foreman – 76 Wins, 5 Losses

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George Foreman had one of the most distinguished careers in boxing. During the period of time when Ali was exiled from the ring, Foreman destroyed Joe Frazier in two rounds to gain lineal heavyweight titles. After losing to Ali and then getting outscored by Jimmy Young, Foreman quit and practically vanished.

Around a decade later, Foreman returned with added weight and won 24 straight fights. He put the cherry on top of his return after defeating Michael Moore in 10 rounds to regain the heavyweight title.

Lennox Lewis – 41 Wins, 2 Losses

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Lennox Lewis has a dual British and Canadian citizenship and is an Olympic gold medalist representing Canada. Lewis is also a three-time world heavyweight champion. The 6’5″ boxer tormented his opponents with his severe right cross and dwarfed his opponents.

The two defeats he sustained came at the hands of Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman. The sad part about those losses is that they were both knockouts and with the title on the line. He did a rematch with both and reclaimed his titles.

This next fighter supposedly won a round without throwing a single punch…

Willie Pep – 229 Wins, 11 Losses

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When you bring up defensive fighters in the modern era, the name Floyd Mayweather comes to mind. In the past, Willie Pep owned that title and didn’t let up. He was such a defensive mastermind, he once won a round without throwing a single punch.

Pep was practically unhittable and had blinding quick hand speed. He got the nickname “Will o’ the Wisp” and might as well be remembered as the marquee featherweight of boxing. He finally became a Hall of Famer in 1990.

Andre Ward – 32 Wins, 0 Losses

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Andre Ward is one of the newest fighters that we have featured on this list. Ward has won eight world titles in super middleweight and light heavyweight classes. Ward also captured a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics.

When Ward moved up a weight class, he took on Sergey Kovalev and took home the light heavyweight title. He had an underrated left hook, but it’s what helped him sustain an undefeated record. When he retired in 2017, he shocked the boxing community as he went out as the number one pound-for-pound boxer according to The Ring magazine.

Archie Moore – 186 Wins, 23 Losses

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Here’s another fighter from back in the day who had an absolutely amazing win-to-loss ratio. Many consider Archie Moore the most celebrated light heavyweight of all-time. Moore was a defensive mastermind who had a chin made of steel.

His nickname was “The Old Mongoose,” and he recorded the most knockouts in boxing history, 131. After 219 professional fights, Moore decided to hang it up in 1963. He was placed in the Hall of Fame in 1990.

Pernell Whitaker – 40 Wins, 4 Losses

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Pernell Whitaker had quite the career. He was a four-weight world champion and won the Olympic gold medal in 1984. Whitaker was a southpaw and an elusive one at that. The defensive man had cat-like reflexes and a stinging right jab.

His most significant match against Julio Cesar Chavez for the super lightweight championship should have been a win, but instead ended in a controversial draw. Many felt it was a clear-cut victory, but then he lost his title in another close fight to Oscar De La Hoya.

This next boxer often won fights before the match even began…

Mike Tyson – 50 Wins, 6 Losses

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A big part of Mike Tyson’s game is that he’s very intimidating. Probably one of the most of all-time. Tyson had knockout power in both fists, which allowed him to become the youngest boxer to win a heavyweight title when he was just 20-years-old.

Nicknamed “Iron Mike,” he won his first nineteen pro fights by knockout. Twelve of those fights happened to end in the first round. He completed his career with a whopping 44 knockouts. Tyson’s career might have ended on a wrong note, but it doesn’t discredit how much of a beast he was and still is.

Fighting Harada – 55 Wins, 7 Losses

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Hands down the best Japanese boxer ever, Masahiko Harada had an aggressive style that helped him win the flyweight and bantamweight world titles. Harada is also the only man to beat the legendary Eder Jofre in one of their two meetings.

Harada is still the only boxer to have both the lineal flyweight and bantamweight titles at the same time. Clearly, he’s in a league of his own to have such an accomplishment.

Jack Dempsey – 54 Wins, 6 Losses

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Back during the Roaring Twenties, Jack Dempsey was nothing short of a cultural icon. The hard-hitting puncher would set attendance and financial records practically everytime he stepped into the ring. That’s what you call a big ticket.

Nicknamed “The Manassa Mauler,” he retired after judges unanimously chose Gene Tunney to be the winner in their 1927 fight. Dempsey was praised for his uncanny skills of bobbing and weaving. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1954.

Ricardo Lopez – 51 Wins, 0 Losses

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Another competitor with zero losses enters the list. Ricardo Lopez was a technically-sound fighter who pressured his opponents and had deceptive power for his weight class. He’s the best strawweight champion of all-time and has titles in two different weight classes.

We can safely say Lopez had only one blemish on him. It was the eight-round technical draw against Rosendo Alvarez. He would find his revenge later by a majority decision win. Lopez is the only boxer to retire with an undefeated record for both pro and amateur.

Up next, he might have been a Jr. but packed a heavy hit…

Roy Jones Jr. – 66 Wins, 9 Losses

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Roy Jones Jr. was one of the greatest fighters boxing has ever had the pleasure of witnessing. In his prime, he was a superstar who had little competition. The BWAA named him their 1990s “Fighter of the Decade.”

Jones’ greatest professional achievement had to be when he defeated John Ruiz unanimously to become the first middleweight to clinch a heavyweight title in more than 100 years. His record is a little misleading because he continued to fight until he was 49-years-old.

Roman Gonzalez – 46 Wins – 2 Losses

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Roman Gonzalez was known as “Chocolatito” and had a massive punch that helped him become the first boxer from Nicaragua to win world titles in four different weight divisions. He did so in the four lowest weight classes as well.

From 2015 to March 2017, The Ring considered him the best pound-for-pound boxer. There has only been one man to defeat him, and he has done so twice. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai did so by knock out in one match and by majority decision in another fight.

Harry Greb – 261 Wins, 17 Losses

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Harry Greb came up in an era plagued by racism, but he refused to turn down any challenge. His agility and durability were off the charts. Greb lacked power, so to compensate, he had to employ an aggressive style.

He would continuously trap his opponents in the ropes. Greb has a total of 298 documented matches, but he ended up retiring after his loss to Tiger Flowers in 1926. “The Pittsburgh Windmill” was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.

Wladimir Klitschko – 64 Wins, 5 Losses

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Wladimir Klitschko is a Ukrainian boxer with tons of size and is a very intelligent fighter. He holds the record for the longest combined world championship reign in boxing history: 4,383 days. Klitschko also has the second most title defenses only behind Joe Louis.

As if that wasn’t enough to solidify his dominance, Klitschko also earned a 1996 Olympic gold medal in the super heavyweight division. He ended up retiring after one of his greatest fights that ended in a loss.

Jack Johnson – 73 Wins, 13 Losses

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Jack Johnson is an American sporting pioneer and his impact cannot be diminished. He’s the first African American to secure a heavyweight title back in 1908 by defeating Tommy Burns in Australia. Nicknamed the “Galveston Giant,” he was a defensive wiz as well.

Not only did he have a great defense, but he had outstanding speed matched with great timing. President Trump granted a posthumous pardon to the boxer for when he violated the racially-motivated Mann Act in 1913.

James Toney – 77 Wins, 10 Losses

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James Toney was a no-nonsense type of fighter. He had a tough guy demeanor mixed with a defensive, slick, and vicious fighting style. Toney successfully won world titles in three different weight classes (super middleweight, cruiserweight, and middleweight.)

Toney handled many top fighters from the middleweight and heavyweight class like Mike McCallum, Iran Barkley, and Evander Holyfield. Of his 77 wins, 47 of them were knockouts. He was supposed to join Roy Jones Jr. as the only middleweight to win a heavyweight championship but he tested positive on a drug test and had his titled stripped.

Benny Leonard – 89 Wins, 6 Losses

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Benny Leonard is a boxing Jewish icon and one of the most unbeatable lightweights ever. Even though he had a small frame, Leonard had fists made of brick and retired with a 70 percent knockout rate. That’s what you call heavy handed!

“The Ghetto Wizard” was simply a boxing prodigy who always got the best of his opponents by outsmarting them. Leonard is a member of four different Hall of Fames as well: The Ring Magazine Hall of Fame, National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Roberto Duran – 103 Wins, 16 Losses

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Roberto Duran earned the nickname of “Manos de Piedra” which translate to Hands of Stone thanks to his tremendous punching power. Hailing from Panama, Duran was an incredible brawler with the perfect set of skills that helped him slip punches easily.

Hands of Stone was a four-weight world champion whose signature victory was against Sugar Ray Leonard for the welterweight title. Duran outmaneuvered Leonard and handed him his first professional loss after a 15-round unanimous decision.

Sam Langford – 180 Wins, 29 Losses

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Sam Langford is hailed as the “Greatest Fighter Nobody Knows.” At 5’7″ he was simply an exceptional presence inside the ring. Not only did he handle lightweights, but he took out heavyweights during his time. Being undersized wasn’t an issue for Langford.

In fact, BoxRec rates Langford or “Boston Bonecrusher” as the third greatest heavyweight in history. He gained all this success while enduring public discrimination. Not many on this list had to go through similar struggles while being great.

Gene Tunney – 65 Wins, 1 Loss

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If you were wondering what type of fighter Gene Tunney was, he was nothing short of a powerhouse. He gained titles in both heavy and light heavyweight classes. In 1928, The Ring selected him as their “Fighter of the Year” in 1928.

An interesting fact about him is that he was never beaten as a heavyweight fighter and retired as the division king in July 1928. His nickname was “The Fighting Marine,” and he was placed in the Hall of Fame in the stacked 1990 class.

Henry Armstrong – 151 Wins, 21 Losses

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What can we say about “Hammerin’ Hank” besides the fact that he was an incredible boxer? Henry Armstong was 5’5″ and still managed to knock out 101 of his opponents out of his 151 victories. Armstrong was the leader of featherweights, lightweights, and welterweights.

He was also another fighter to earn The Ring’s Fighter of the Year in 1937. Three years later, the BWAA awarded Hammerin’ Hank Fighter of the Year as well. Armstrong was not left behind in the 1990 Hall of Fame class.

This next fighter might be one of the most polarizing boxers we’ve seen yet…

Floyd Mayweather – 50 Wins, 0 Losses

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As far as defensive fighters go, Floyd Mayweather is one of the best. No matter who he has been in the ring with, Mayweather is always the quicker and smarter fighter. He’s as great a boxer as he is a polarizing figure. There’s a reason why he’s undefeated and a five-division titleholder.

With a nickname like Floyd “Money” Mayweather or “Pretty Boy Floyd,” one can understand why he’s either very much liked or disliked. He isn’t timid at all and speaks his mind on how much better he is than everyone. His statistics certainly back up his talk.

Rocky Marciano 49 Wins – 0 Losses

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There’s really no better ending to a boxing career than how Rocky Marciano went out. Marciano retired as the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world with 43 knockouts apart of his 49 wins. The International Boxing Research Organization ranked him as the fifth greatest heavyweight ever.

“The Brockton Blockbuster” had insane firepower in both of his fists. He still has the record for longest unbeaten streak by a heavyweight as well. If you wanted to pick the perfect fighter, it was Marciano.

Sugar Ray Leonard – 36 Wins, 3 Losses

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How’s this as a segway to your professional career? Sugar Ray Leonard won a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal before debuting as professional in 1977. Often overlooked due to his boyish appearance, he was not to be messed with.

When it was all said and done, Leonard won five world titles in five different weight classes. Leonard was also named the Boxer of the Decade for the ’80s and was the first fighter to earn more than $100 million in purses.

Joe Louis – 66 Wins, 3 Losses

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When we say Joe Louis was virtually unstoppable in the ring, we mean that. After he obtained the heavyweight title from James J. Braddock in 1937, he successfully went on to defend the title 26 times.

And what was more amazing about Louis is the fact that he became somewhat of a domestic hero as an African American. He beat down German fighter Max Schmeling in 124 seconds to become a historical figure in boxing. Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded him a Congressional Gold Medal in 1982.

Sugar Ray Robinson – 173 Wins, 19 Losses

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There was no other quite like Sugar Ray Robinson when he was in his prime. Robinson would outlast his foes and became an unrivaled boxer. Many applaud him as the clear-cut pound-for-pounder in boxing history.

He wasn’t just a good brawler, he was extraordinary. His versatility helped him outclass his opponents in the welterweight, lightweight, middleweight, and light-heavyweight divisions. If it weren’t for the next person on this list, Robinson could have easily been number one overall…

The greatest is up next…

Muhammad Ali – 56 Wins, 5 Losses

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Who else floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee? Who else called themselves the greatest before they knew they were? Muhammad Ali was and still is the first to secure the world heavyweight title three times. Before he even went pro, he won gold at the 1960 Olympics. Ali stunned the world when he defeated the “invincible” Sonny Liston in round seven.

Thanks to all the political drama Ali was apart of, like refusing to enter the draft for the military and changing his name, it only made Ali more of a legend. The man was gifted with a ton of natural ability and he used every last ounce of it. He only lost when he wasn’t at his peak towards the end of his career.