Who is the best boxer of all time?
Boxing fans love comparing boxers and making lists with the best fighters they have ever seen. But who is the greatest of all time?
In boxing, as in most sports, fans and analysts usually look back at the past at athletes of different generations to debate who is the better boxer.
After Oleksandr Usyk’s great display against Anthony Joshua last Saturday, probably many started including the Ukrainian star among the best fighters to have ever entered a ring.
Truth is, it’s almost impossible to know who has been the greatest one, as in every era there have been great boxers with different skills and different opponents.
Moreover, maybe due to the relevance of the weight class, the heavyweights tend to have an important share of attention when it comes to GOAT lists.
As previously mentioned, it’s almost impossible to say who has been the greatest boxer of all time when it comes to putting all boxing skills together, but one can think of fighters who have accomplished many things inside and outside the ring which make them all-time greats.
1. Muhammad Ali
Ali is widely considered the best among the best. Ali, who conquered the heavyweight crown three times and won the gold medal at the 1960 Olympics, finished his career with a 56-5 record (37 KOs).
Ali’s trilogy with Joe Frazier was one of the most relevant ones in boxing history, as well as his fight vs. George Foreman, known as ‘Rumble in the Jungle’.
Besides his accomplishments inside the ring, his charisma and legacy in fighting racism and discrimination made him a worldwide icon.
2. Sugar Ray Robinson
While the boxing spotlight is probably on Muhammad Ali as the face of boxing, some experts believe that the greatest boxer of all time was Sugar Ray Robinson.
His pedigree speaks for itself: he was 85-0 as an amateur with 69 of those victories coming by way of knockout, 40 in the first round.
He turned professional in 1940 at the age of 19 and by 1951 had a professional record of 128–1–2 with 84 knockouts. From 1943 to 1951 Robinson went on a 91-fight unbeaten streak, the third-longest in professional boxing history.
Robinson held the world welterweight title from 1946 to 1951 and won the world middleweight title in the latter year. He then became the first boxer in history to win a divisional world championship five times by defeating Carmen Basilio in 1958.
3. Joe Louis
‘The Brown Bomber’ also deserves to be on this list. As a heavyweight champ, he had 25 successful defenses, the most for the division. He had the longest single reign as champion of any boxer in history.
Louis, who ended his career with a record of 65-3 (51 KOs), is widely regarded as the first person of African-American descent to achieve the status of a nationwide hero within the United States.
He was also a focal point of anti-Nazi sentiment leading up to and during World War II because of his historic rematch with German boxer Max Schmeling. Louis avenged his previous loss to Schmeling by knocking him down three times before his trainer threw in the towel after just 2:04 into the first round.
4. Manny Pacquiao
When one thinks of a modern icon in boxing, it’s difficult not to think about Manny Pacquiao. The humble Filippino superstar is the only eight-division world champion in the history of boxing and has won twelve major world titles.
Pacquiao, who recently put an end to his career with a 62-8-2 record, was known for his incredible speed and relentless punching combinations. He faced everybody who called him out and gave boxing fights that went down on history, such as the four fights with Juan Manuel Márquez and the clashes with Erik Morales and Óscar de la Hoya.
Pacquiao, a holder of six Guinness book world records, has the most consecutive boxing world title fight victories at different weights (15).
5. Evander Holyfield
He was small for the heavyweight division, but he was confident enough to try. ‘The Real Deal’ reigned as the undisputed champion at cruiserweight in the late 1980s and at heavyweight in the early 1990s’.
Holyfield, who remains the only boxer in history to win the undisputed championship in two weight classes in the three-belt era, is also the only four-time world heavyweight champion.
The Atlanta native (44-10-2) ducked nobody, fighting all the possible opponents he could face in his era and his resume includes wins over Mike Tyson (twice), Riddick Bowe, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Buster Douglas, Ray Mercer...
Who has had the biggest ‘heart’ in boxing history? That’s a difficult question to answer but probably Holyfield would be in the top five. Despite suffering some painful losses, he never gave up and came back stronger thanks to his will and determination when most experts thought his career was over.