For me the sport of boxing is best personified by its traditionally most famous and glamorous division, the heavyweights. Granted in recent years we may not have been blessed with the calibre of heavy hitters in comparison to years gone by, but I think at the moment in 2014 we are starting to see a bit of a resurgence with the big boys.
Formulating this list was not easy for me at all and is certainly open to interpretation. When digging into things I felt it was important to base my opinions on three key criteria: (1) Career Achievements In The Ring (2) Impact During Prime and (3) Fight Record. I welcome any suggestions or feedback but for me, here’s how I’d rank the best heavyweights of all time:
“The Brown Bomber” (66-3-0, KO 52) – For me, the best of all the big men. Stylistically he had everything in his repertoire consummate with creating the perfect fighting machine in my opinion. He had one punch knock out power and was famed for his devastating right hand. He also had all the toughness in the world, which often is needed in the championship rounds of elite level prizefighting. He achieved arguably more than most heavyweights having defended the world title incredibly 25 times in a row fighting off hardened contenders, a record which still stands today.
“The Greatest” (56-5-0, KO 37) – Perhaps many will disagree with me not putting this remarkable man at the top of the list but for me I think Louis just pips him to the post purely based on in the ring achievements. Outside the ring no one will ever equal what Ali not did for the sport and the great causes he championed outside of it. Inside the ropes he was probably the fastest and one of the bravest heavyweights that ever lived, a genius at work.
“The Eastern Assassin” (69-6-0, KO 44) – An incredible record and fought the who’s who of his time. The jab is often referred to as the most important punch in boxing and for me this man had the best jab of all (in any weight division). He used it both as a weapon and as a set up tool for heavier shots, to which guided him through his magnificent career.
“Iron Mike” (50-6-0, 2NC, KO 44) – A polarizing figure who still to this day draws huge divided interest from the general public. In his prime I don’t think there were many men who would have lived with his explosive, hard to hit, peekaboo style. Arguably one of the hardest hitting men to ever walk the face of the Earth.
(41-2-1, KO 32) – Although Lennox beat the man I have just ahead of him, I just think Tyson in his prime would have stopped Lewis inside the distance and by the time they met in their careers Tyson was a shell of his former self. Lewis though, what a fighter. A real boxer puncher who could dig in when needed. His only two defeats he avenged and will always be known as one of the very best fighters from the UK.
“The Brockton Blockbuster”(49-0, KO 43) – The only man on the list to have never lost a professional bout, an astonishing record when you look at it. You could say perhaps that he didn’t fight the level of opposition that some of the other men on the list fought but then again he did stop the likes of Archie Moore, Don Cockrell and Jersey Joe Walcott. A legend of the fight game.
“Galveston Giant” (55-11-8, KO 35). (Newspaper decisions: won 15, drew 3) – An old school warrior. Jack Johnson became the first black World Champion. He was a pioneer for his time, travelling the world and fighting the some killers in the sport. He contended with many outside the ring issues along the way but inside the ring he always came to fight and had a long successful career.
“Manassa Mauler” (55-6-9, KO 45). (Newspaper decisions: won 4 lost 2) – A ferocious man in his prime. Up there pound for pound as one of the biggest hitters in history. Despite giving away size advantage on numerous occasions (been a very small heavyweight – more like a middleweight in today’s terms) he consistently put on electric performances time and time again, endearing him to fight fans with his vicious style.
“Big George” (76-5-0, KO 68) -A power house if ever there was one. George Foreman had both a glittering amateur and professional career winning Olympic Gold and becoming two time Heavyweight champion defeating famed warriors like Joe Frazier, Ken Norton and Gerry Cooney. He is still to this day the oldest man to capture the Heavyweight title, when in done so in 1994 defeating Michael Moorer via 10th round KO.
“Smoking Joe” (32-4-1, KO 27) – Probably the best left hook in the sport’s history. A true warrior and gentleman outside the ring. During his prime he dazzled the world with his famous cross arm defense, bobbing and weaving, relentless pressure and hooks he threw so hard he was almost in mid air when they landed. A guy who fought the best and has to be included in this top 10.