One of the most controversial lists to tackle is a top ten list. Let alone the best heavyweight boxers of all time. Everyone has their own opinions, compare stats differently, review fights differently, and see opponents objectively. This list will look at some of the greatest achievements made and what makes a fighter stand out on this list. Questions will always linger as to did a career extend too long and what about today’s heavyweights and can any of them matchup to the old school greats when its all said and done. Let’s break this down into three parts. Who just missed the cut, the second five, and the top five. We can also look at who currently could find their way into the top ten when their career is all said and done. One of the biggest differences from old school fighters to present day is the number of fights throughout their career. The activity is just insane to see when you look at some of the records for the all-time greats.
The greats who just missed the top ten could be someone who made another person’s list but just missed the cut here. A great such as Jack Johnson (54-11-7, 34 KOs) known for what he brought to the sport of boxing almost puts him in the top ten alone. He broke barriers, mastered the sport of boxing, and did many things heavyweights couldn’t in his era. He strived in blocking huge shots and was great at counter punching. One main question was his chin as he was knocked out six times. A few more who just missed the list include Riddick Bowe (43-1,33 KOs), Sonny Liston (50-4, 39 KOs), and Jim Jefferies (19-1-2, 16 KOs). Bowe most known for his win over Holyfield but his lack of dedication and training kept him from being in the top ten. Liston had a great jab, a good technician, and a decent chin. However, he was one of the only heavyweights to surrender his title on the stool. Jeffries was a world class athlete with a great chin and solid power. He ended 16 of fights 19 fights by KO and his only loss was to none other than Jack Johnson. Other notable mentions go to Floyd Patterson (55-8-1, 40 KOs) who was the youngest heavyweight champion until Mike Tyson, Gene Tunney (65-1-1. 48 KOs) known for his footwork, jab, and strong chin, Max Schmeling (56-10-4, 39 KOs) and Ezzard Charles (95-25-1, 52 KOs). There are many other strong fighters that make a compelling story but just missed the list.
Here we finally get to see our second five of heavyweight greats. These men not only changed the sport but possess great skills such as footwork, power, jab, counterpunching, and durability. Number ten on our list is the one and only Mike Tyson (50-6, 44 KOs). The youngest heavyweight champion who was a champion for multiple years and had some of the greatest combination of power and speed. Using the peek a boo style to dominate his opponents. His downfall was when he fell behind in a fight and couldn’t take his opponent out in the first six rounds. At number nine we have Jack Dempsey (54-6-8, 44 KOs) one of the great historical heavyweights and was champion when it was one of the most coveted titles in the world. Dempsey had that killer instinct and is one of the greatest finishers on our list. His downfall was inactivity and competition at the height of his career. Eighth is held by Rocky Marciano (49-0, 43 KOs) and the only undefeated fighter on the list. He had great power and one of the best hearts on the list. He could not only give a punch but take one too. Although he lacked footwork, hand speed, and defense he made up for it with the will to win. In at number seven is Joe Frazier (32-4-1, 27 KOs) who fought famously in the “Thrilla in Manila”. His only losses came to two other fighters that we will see later in this list. Frazier had great defense and had a great left hook. Frazier fought in one of the best heavyweight eras of all time and was able to gain the heavyweight title from perhaps the greatest heavyweight of all time. Rounding out the second five and coming in at number six is Lennox Lewis (41-2-1, 32 KOs) who had great size, power, reach, and footwork. He was able to avenge both his losses as a pro and showed great prowess in the ring. His inconsistencies in the ring and the time he chose to fight Holyfield has some with a bitter taste in their mouth. A great start to the list and some amazing fighters, but now we are going to review the top five heavyweights of all time.
Starting out this magnificent list at number five is George Foreman (76-5, 68 KOs) who some view as the most underrated on this list. Foreman had power, size, and agility in the ring. He fought both soft and great opponents, including the rumble in the jungle. He was able to become heavyweight champion and then do it again more than a decade later. Next up is Evander Holyfield (44-10-2, 29 KOs) who beat the likes of Bowe, Douglas, and Tyson. Holyfield was a good all-around fighter who could move well. Holyfield doesn’t have the biggest power on this list, but he could finish an opponent when needed. We now move into the top three and start of with Larry Holmes (69-6, 44 KOs) who had 20 successful title defenses. Holmes had one of the greatest jabs and smartest heavyweights on this list. He may not have been a true power puncher but was a true ring technician. Coming in second place is the great Joe Louis (66-3, 52 KOs) who won his title in 1937 and was able to hold it for 11 years. He defended the title 25 times and retired as champ in 1949. Louis had it all in terms of power, hand speed, and pure heart, but lacked a little in footwork. Louis touched an entire generation as he fought through some of the most troubling times in America. He was edged out by only one man and that man was the greatest. Muhammad Ali (56-5, 37 KOs) who fought more great heavyweights than anyone else on this list. Ali had amazing including some of the best footwork seen by a heavyweight. Along with that his hand speed, heart, and durability were unmatched. Ali was able to beat Liston, Foreman, Shavers, Frazier, Quarry, Chuvalo, and Patterson. He truly was unmatched and is the greatest of all time.
This is truly a great set of fighters with unparalleled talents who not only overcame controversies in the ring but showed how to be great night in and night out. Lists are everchanging and this list is no different. The question is who currently could one day end up on this heavyweight list. Would you put a Tyson Fury or an Anthony Joshua in the top ten? Or what about Deontay Wilder when its all said and done? The styles, boxing itself, heavyweights, training, and even the time between fights has truly changed. I think it would be very difficult to compare this list to one made 50 years down the line. But that’s the great thing about lists, everyone has their own say.
Let us know in the comments below who should be on the list, who shouldn’t be, and your own personal top ten list!
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