My Top 10 List of Greatest Heavyweights in Boxing History
For year I've watched and studied boxing. Based on the fights I've watched and the material I've studied this Top 10 was created. I consider myself a knowledgeable fight fan, and somewhat a boxing historian. I believe the fighters on this list are the 10 best heavyweights of all time. They could have competed with any fighter from any era.
10. Jack Johnson (55-11-8)
Jack Johnson was the first black heavyweight champion. Johnson's career started before there was much organization in the sport. His record does not indicate the power of this champion fighter. Johnson fought when fights went 45, 20, and 15 rounds. Johnson had no problem going the extremely long distances, and would have been a problem for any fighter in boxing history. He's firmly in my top 10, because he won when the odds were stacked against him.
Sonny Liston was a tough and feared champion. He was deserving of a shot at a title long before he got one. Cus D'Amato didn't want his champion Floyd Patterson to fight Liston, but the talk got loud and Patterson went against his trainers wishes. Liston destroyed Patterson for his title, and then he'd lose it to a young brash heavyweight...Muhammad Ali. Liston only lost 4 fights in his career and two were to Ali.
Jack Dempsey took on some of the best fighters in an era that followed Jack Johnson. Fights still went 20+ rounds. Dempsey had a crowd pleasing style of fighting. His attack was nonstop and relentless. He didn't fare too well with Gene Tunney at the end of his career as he dropped two in a row before retiring from boxing.
Larry Holmes had one of the best jabs in boxing history. Holmes won his first 48 fights in a row. He took the heavyweight title from Ken Norton in 1978. Holmes held the title until 1983, and that is the 3rd longest reign of the title. In 1980 he defeated an old and slow Muhammad Ali, and that was the true changing of the guard.
6. Joe Frazier (32-4-1)
Smoking Joe Frazier was one of the greatest heavyweights in an era when the division was loaded. He only lost Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. He'd lose two fights to each of them, but he did manage 1 of 3 fights against Ali. Joe Frazier had one of the best left hooks that boxing has ever seen, and his constant movement made him hard to hit flush. He knocked out 27 of 32. His final fight was a draw with Floyd Cummings.
5. George Foreman (76-5)
The tale of two careers. Big George Foreman did enough in the first part of his career to be considered for the HOF, but then he made a comeback after sitting out almost a decade. George Foreman would go on to become the oldest heavyweight champ ever. In the first part of his career he was considered unstoppable, and nobody at the time thought he could be beat. Foreman took on the best opposition in both halves of his career. I think Big George would have matched up with any fighter in boxing history.
4. Rocky Marciano (49-0)
The Rock!!! It's plain and it's simple. Rocky was an undersized heavyweight champion who never lost a fight. He fought bigger guys and he fought faster guys, but he could take the hits and he could give them too. Rocky was extremely powerful. If he'd fought in the cruiser or light heavyweight divisions he wouldn't have even been properly tested. At 190 lbs I'd take Marciano over anyone in boxing history.
3. Lennox Lewis (41-2-1)
There are very few heavyweights that size up with Lennox Lewis. He had an 84 inch reach as his advantage. His jab was a lethal weapon. His jabs had knockout power behind them. He knocked out 32 of 41. Lennox had two losses and one draw, but he would rematch and beat both fighters that beat him, and he defeated Evander Holyfield to avenge the draw. Lewis would measure up to any fighter in boxing history, and I'm not sure any of them could beat him. His size and skill made him almost unbeatable.
2. Joe Louis (66-3)