Boxing is one of humanity’s most interesting sports simply because we have found a way to monetize our natural desire for violence. It has produced plenty of great personalities who have etched their name into history, bound to be celebrated forever for their talent, fame, and their impacts on the world beyond the ring; we’re talking about the most famous boxers who are the greatest fighters of all time.
Boxing, like its scripted cousin – Entertainment Wrestling, is a billion dollar industry that expresses the rawness of human aggression. The technical side of it might appeal to those who are too refined for the violence, they might choose to see the speed, the combinations, the strength and reflexes that go into making a great boxer than the rawness of it in the raging aggression. That’s not to say boxing is a bad sport; it is actually considered one of the highest paying sports in the world, it has been a means for many challenged men and women to let out their frustrations and anger in a controlled environment without committing a crime in the process.
Boxing is recorded in punches, knockdowns and knockouts and some men and women have gotten so good at racking up these stats that they are considered in various circles the best to ever step into the ring. In this list, we’ll give you the list of famous boxers who are the greatest fighters of all time.
1. Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali is an icon whose career defined boxing, he is largely considered the greatest boxer that ever lived. He brought a style and flair to the sport, not just in the ring but outside of it that he elevated boxing into one of the world’s most popular sport. He started his career as an amateur, winning over 100 fights including a famed Olympic gold medal in 1960. His career lasted from 1960 to 1981 during which was one of the most dramatic periods in boxing. From a reputation of belittling his opponents such that most of them lost before they got in the ring, to his own braggadocios style that made him declare himself ‘The Greatest’ even before he was one, Muhammad Ali was an enigma. His career transcended boxing to activism and he is seen by many as an icon of freedom. One of his most notable fights was against Joe Fraizer in 1975. The fight by the two iconic boxers is regarded as one of the best fights in boxing history. He is easily one the most famous boxers of all time.
2. Sugar Ray Robinson
The biggest fanfare is usually given to heavyweight fighters but other weight categories has seen some terrific fighters. One of them is the legend Sugar Ray Robinson who fought in the Welterweight and Middleweight categories. He has a career that lasted from 1940 to 1965, with a record of 173-19-6-2, and a remarkable 109 knockouts. He was the world Welterweight champion for five years and a Middleweight champion for four years. His speed, endurance and power were always too much for his opponents with his only most potent challenger, being Tommy Bell in a 1946 fight for the Welterweight title. One of his remarkable statistics is a record of 123 victories in a row. Simply amazing.
3. Joe Louis
One of the marks of greatness is when your career in your chosen profession has significance beyond your professional world. Joe Louis’ fights, especially during World War II, held political and international significance. Known as the Brown Bomber, the Alabama born boxer already showed signs of greatness from his amateur days, going on a record fifty wins to four losses. He continued the impressive record when he went professional, finishing his amazing career with 68 wins and 3 losses. In those wins, he had 54 knockouts. As a boxer, your greatness is also determined by the quality of your opponents and Joe Louis had some of the best opponents some of which included Rocky Marciano, Jim Braddock and Max Baer.
4. Henry Armstrong – Famous Boxers
To compete and reach the summit of one boxing division is hard enough, to compete in three and reach their summit, holding the world titles for all three is simply phenomenal – and that is exactly what Henry Armstrong did.
Compared to other greats, he had a short career that lasted just 13 years between 1932 and 1945 but in that short period, he conquered the featherweight, lightweight, and Welterweight categories. Popularly described as Hurricane Hank, he was a rapid body puncher that defeated 15 out of 17 world champions he met in his career. His record stood at 151 wins, 21 draws and 9 losses. He had 101 knockouts, earning 27 of them consecutively.
5. Roberto Duran
Roberto Duran today spots a charming friendly face but back when he was a boxer, he was considered one of the meanest people to ever enter the ring. A long career that began in 1968 and ended in 2001 gave him titles in the lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight and Junior Middleweight categories. Like Muhammad Ali, he was a trash-talking boxer who intimidated his opponents with his utterances. He won 103 fights, 70 of them being knockouts and he lost just 16 fights. His victories included iconic ones over Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler.
6. Willie Pep – Famous Boxers
In the featherweight division, Willie Pep is universally considered the best fighter of all time. The Connecticut born featherweight fighter started his Professional career in 1940, winning his first 63 fights. He ended up with 229 wins, 11 draws and a single loss. Willie is a mystified legend of the Featherweight division who is believed to have won a fight without throwing a single punch. His footwork and evasive skills have been described as the best the boxing sports have ever seen. There is little doubt that Willie Pep is one of the most famous boxers to have existed.
7. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Still an active boxer, Floyd makes this list as one of the boxers to elevate boxing into the consciousness of the modern audience. His flamboyant lifestyle and his tendency to make the news raised the profile of the sport among a generation that was starting to lose interest. In the ring, he’s also one of the greatest fighters it has seen, winning titles in the Junior lightweight, Junior Welterweight, Welterweight, and Junior Middleweight. He has a record of 48 wins and 0 losses and he is on track to becoming one of the greatest fighters in history after establishing himself as one of the smartest boxers to ever enter the ring. Born to a family of boxers, Mayweather’s greatness has fetched him a fitting title as the biggest boxing star in his generation and a financial reward as the highest paid athlete in the world. His most notable fight against Philippino fighter, Manny Pacquiao was billed as the Fight of the Century, which he won after 12 rounds in a unanimous decision.
8. Sugar Ray Leonard – Famous Boxers
A lot of professional boxers start to make their mark in the Olympic scene. It was the same for Sugar Ray Leonard who won a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics. His career lasted from 1977 to 1997 during which he earned a record of 36 wins, 3 draws and 1 single loss; winning titles in the Welterweight, Junior Middleweight, Super Middleweight, Middleweight, and Light Heavyweight divisions. His transition from Olympic boxing to Professional boxing is considered one of the most seamless transitions for a boxer ever. His career included impressive wins over Marvin Hagler, Wilfred Benitez, Thomas Hearns, and Roberto Duran. He is also the first boxing athlete to earn over $100 million from fights.
9. Joe Frazier
Joe Frazier is another fighter whose career began at the Olympics. He won a gold medal at the 1964 Olympics before he made the transition to professional boxing. Nicknamed Smokin Joe, the iconic boxer did many notable things in his career, one of which was being the first boxer to defeat Muhammad Ali during his professional career. His career lasted from 1965 to 1976. His record stood at 37 fights, winning 32 of them with 27 knockouts and 4 losses – most of which were to Muhammad Ali, and a draw. He was a heavyweight champion from 1970 to 1973. Other than Ali, some of his notable opponents include George Foreman, Jimmy Ellis, Doug Jones, and Jerry Quarry. With a record like his, it’s not hard to see why he’s one of the most famous boxers to have ever played the sport.
10. Mike Tyson
Definitely one of the most famous boxers of all time, Mike Tyson was a Heavyweight Champion who was famed for both his exploits in the ring and out of it. He was a professional boxer for 20 years, from 1985 to 2005. As a Heavyweight contender, his record stood at 50 wins, 6 losses and 2 draws. 44 of his wins were knockouts. The lisped fighter, during his prime, was the most feared boxer in the sport with one of the most deadly powerful punch the sport had witnessed. His career is also defined by his fights against one of his rivals, Evander Holyfield; he is known for biting both of Holyfield’s ears in a rematch.
Other than Holyfield, his other rivals include James Douglas and Frank Bruno. His track record of quick knockouts made him one of most popular boxers in the world such that tickets for his fights caused fights of their own. He held the record of the youngest heavyweight champion in history.