Honourable mentions: Ricardo Lopez, Roberto Duran, Roy Jones Jr, Marvin Hagler, Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquioa, Benny Leonard, Joe Calzaghe, Gene Tunney, Jack Dempsey, Harry Greb, Jake Lomatta
Before I kick off this list, I would like to begin by saying this list is based on not only the fighters accomplishments but their impact on the sport of boxing. In terms of arguing that the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr would beat for example, dare I say it, Henry Armstrong. That’s not what this list is about. Their place and position on this list is determined on the era in which they boxed, and what they achieved with the resources and knowledge they had available to them. Also combining factors such as their influence on the sport and their career defining fights which all dictate whether and where they make it onto this list. Furthermore, I’m sure many fans would like to see Mike Tyson on this list, however I believe that we can only measure someone’s greatness on not just their ability but their consistency. Mike in my eyes could of beat any heavyweight in his prime, but his prime unfortunately did not last long enough to be in my top 10.
10)Floyd Mayweather Jr– When I take a look at other lists, I find Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather is often overlooked. But it’s hard to ignore his outstandingly clean record of 49 fights, and 49 wins. He was simply beautiful to watch; Floyd would outclass anyone, with his frustrated opponent not being able to land a single clean shot. Now the dust has settled and Floyd has retired, only now can people admire just how great- defensively and offensively- this man was. You may not like him outside the ring but you cannot deny his creative power inside the ring. The famous shoulder roll was practised to perfection, and it was so successful that millions of boxers acquired his style. For example Adrien Broner and Andre Berto… But none of them have quite mastered this method as well as Floyd. Because his skill set and boxing intelligence is just unmatchable. Mayweathers dominance in the sport and his jaw dropping defensive artistry is why he secures his position on my list.
9)Julio Cesar Chavez– One of Mexico’s most prized fighter, with a tremendous 115 fights to his record. It was like Chavez was from a different era, back in the day when fighters would have over 100 fights. But to have his record in modern boxing takes excruciating discipline, hard work, and a will to win. Only losing 6 bouts, mostly received near the end of his career does not damage his legacy what’s-so-ever, because during his dominant reign he managed to stack up 90 fights undefeated. Which is unheard of. A great boxer, who carried the pride of Mexico on his shoulders.
8)Sugar Ray Leonard– Sweet Sugar Ray. My word, what a boxer. His flashy skills and charm, great knowledge in the ring and out, makes Leonard arguably one of the best ringsters of all time. His ferocious speed and quick footwork meant he had the capability to out-box any opponent he faced. In my opinion he is the smartest boxer to ever live, which may have been one of the reasons why he was famously the first boxer to purse $100 million. Although he doesn’t have the stand out record to match, for example, Floyd Mayweather Jr, he fought in a golden era of welterweight boxing, and managed to come out on top.
7)Rocky Maricano– The hard hitting, unstoppable, Brockton brute gave meaning to the phrase ‘granite chin’. Rockys relentless style was hard not to like. He holds the perfect record of 49 wins, and against the likes of the great Jersey Joe Walcott. Muhammad Ali once stated that he would not be able to beat Marciano due to his persistent style and gigantic heart, and I believe that this goes to show how admired Rocky was as a fighter. Which is my he makes my top 10 list.
6)Willie Pep– His famous quote “He who hits and runs away, lives to fight another day.” Is the reason the Will-o the Wisp managed to win a staggering 229 times with only 11 losses. He was just one of them fighters, such as Sugar Ray Leonard, who was so smooth and made it look so easy. A ring General without a doubt. Similar to Socrates being regarded as the father of philosophy, Gregor Mendel being regarded as the father of genetics, I regard Willie Pep as the father of footwork. What a legend he is.
5)Jack Johnson– At the core of racial hatred in America, during a time of Jim-Crow laws, despite his colour, the legend that is Jack Johnson managed to tip the boxing word onto its head. Johnson was the first African American heavyweight boxing champion, and also was an icon of the early 20th century. The Galveston Giant would make his weary opponents suffer, as he managed to pick up the tempo in the later rounds. A master of being able to strike first, but come out of the tussle unharmed. Johnson was a true master of his craft, and because of the challenges he overcame, he goes down as one of the most influential boxers of all time. He paved the way for boxing greats such as Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Muhammad Ali.
4)Henry Armstrong– Sure, he could box you, but it was his work rate and endurance that would cripple his foe. You would be lying if you were to say when you look back on the historical videos of Henry fighting, you don’t envy those who were privileged enough to witness boxing at a time when it was not just a sport, but a culture. No sponsorships, endorsements, showboating. Just two men standing toe-to-toe fighting for their honour. Henry Armstrong managed to obtain 3 world championship belts at the same time, when there was only 8 universal divisions all together. While conquering 181 bouts.
3)Joe Louis– A new, enthusiastic fighter comes to your gym wanting to learn the sweet science of boxing. You tell him to go watch Joe Louis, and that’s exactly what all boxing rookies should do. The brown bomber had the best jab in the game, and was able to constantly follow up with devastating right straights. But it wasn’t just his style that was admirable, it was the fact that he was a shy, black, poor kid growing up with all the odds stacked against him. Making his accomplishments not far from heroic. Yet he was so badly treated by his home country. His famous rivalry with Max Schmeling brought boxing under the spotlight in a quite politically unstable time, however he was victorious in their second spectacle despite mounting pressures. A bout with such significance has only been replicated a couple of times since.
2)Sugar Ray Robinson– No words can do Sugar Ray justice. His undeniable knockout artistry rests upon his proficiency in timing, distance and rhythm. The term pound for pound was invented because of Sugar Ray. Even though his best years of boxing wasn’t filmed, what was recorded was beautiful to watch. Breathtaking. It’s close to impossible to argue against Sugar Ray Robison’s place on this list, and rightly so.
1)Muhammad Ali– Who else? Tell anyone on this planet the name of Muhammad Ali and instantly they will come back with words such as; Legend, God-like, Inspiration, The Greatest. Jack Johnson may have started the book on boxing, Joe Louis and Sugar Ray added to it, but Ali sure stamped his name in bold as the author. His lovable arrogance, charming persona, and passion for entertaining made for thrilling fights and even more thrilling press-conferences. Ali’s love for poetry left us with an overwhelming amount of both funny and inspirational quotes, which only give us a slight inkling into just how great this man was. He partook in arguably some of the best boxing matches to date, for example the Thrilla in Manila and the Rumble in the Jungle. His life story and accomplishments left generations upon generations inspired to stand for who they are, and commit 100% into everything they do. The Greatest.