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Boxing's Best Heavyweights of All Time

Updated on August 3, 2017

Legendary Heavyweights

Joe Louis is the longest reining heavyweight champion in history and he defended the title a record 25 times.
Joe Louis is the longest reining heavyweight champion in history and he defended the title a record 25 times. | Source
Rocky Marciano retired undefeated with a record of 49-0 with 43 knockouts. Among his best wins were knockous of Ezzard Charles, Joe Louis, Archie Moore and Jersey Joe Walcott.
Rocky Marciano retired undefeated with a record of 49-0 with 43 knockouts. Among his best wins were knockous of Ezzard Charles, Joe Louis, Archie Moore and Jersey Joe Walcott. | Source
Jack Dempsey was a ruthless puncher and the former heavyweight champion of the world.  He drew the first ever million dollar gate in boxing.
Jack Dempsey was a ruthless puncher and the former heavyweight champion of the world. He drew the first ever million dollar gate in boxing. | Source
Evander Holyfield is the only four time heavyweight champion in boxing History.  He took on all comers and never ducked a challenger.
Evander Holyfield is the only four time heavyweight champion in boxing History. He took on all comers and never ducked a challenger. | Source
George Foreman is the oldest heavyweight boxing champion in history. He won the title at 45 years old.
George Foreman is the oldest heavyweight boxing champion in history. He won the title at 45 years old. | Source

Top 10 Heavyweight Fighters Ever

1. Muhammad Ali: Ali was a three time Heavyweight Champion of the World who ruled the 60s and 70s era of boxing. Ali beat other legends like George Foreman, Sonny Liston, Ken Norton and Joe Frazier and he also fought every other quality Heavyweight fighters of his era. He won the title from Sonny Liston, George Foreman and Leon Spinks. He had amazing speed, reflexes, footwork and a splendid jab not to mention an iron chin and tremendous will.

2. Joe Louis: Louis holds the record for most title defenses with twenty-five and he ruled the division for eleven years. He beat Ezzard Charles, Jersey Joe Walcott, Max Schmeling and Billy Conn among others. He had a great jab and deadly power in both fists. Louis threw very short hooks and was very accurate with his three and four punch combinations. Slow of foot but he had one punch K.O. power. He retired with a record of 66-3.

3. Rocky Marciano: The Rock retired undefeated with a 49-0 record with forty three of those wins coming by way of knockout. He beat Joe Louis, Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore and Jersey Joe Walcott during his reign at the top. Rocky was crude, and he was short but, he was relentless. He would chop on your arms, body and chest until you gave out and then he would go for the knockout. His right cross was a bomb and could end a match at any moment. The Rock was short and lacked some skills but he was relentless and always pulled put the victory.

4. Evander Holyfield: The Real Deal is the only four time Heavyweight Champion of the World. He won the titles from Buster Douglas, Riddick Bowe, Mike Tyson and John Ruiz. Holyfield was a natural Cruiserweight who moved up to Heavyweight and over achieved. Holyfield fought Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis, Tyson, Michael Moorer, Larry Holmes and George Foreman. He had amazing heart and stamina and his footwork, jab and left hook were beautiful.

5. Jack Dempsey: Dempsey ruled the ring from 1914-1927 and finished his career with a record of 61-6-8 with fifty knockouts to his credit. Dempsey defended his belt five times but, he fought countless non title bouts in between defenses. He swarmed his opponents with lots of big punches to the head and body and although he was a little crude he was accurate and punched really hard.

6. Jack Johnson: He held the world title seven years, and he was the first African-American Heavyweight Champion ever. He defended the title nine time successfully and fought many exhibitions. He beat among others, Jim Flinn, Tommy Burns, Jess Willard, The Great Stanley Ketchel and Joe Jeanette. Johnson had great footwork and counter punching skills which he displayed every time he fought in his prime.

7. George Foreman: He is a two time Heavyweight Champion of the world and is the oldest Heavyweight Champion in boxing history. He won an Olympic Gold Medal for America and he beat many great fighters including: Ken Norton and Joe Frazer (twice). Known for his deadly power Foreman also had one of the best jabs in heavyweight history. He chin was great and he was only knocked out once in over 80 matches.

8. Mike Tyson: Iron Mike is the youngest champion in boxing history and is a two-time Heavyweight Champion also. His head movement and his power were amazing. He was a fearsome fighter who destroyed Micheal Spinks and Larry Holmes by knockout. He usually intimidated and scared opponents before the opening bell. Also, Tyson had a concrete jaw and it took a lot to hurt him in the squared circle.

9. Joe Frazier: Frazier won the Gold Medal in the 1964 Olympics and the Heavyweight Title by beating Muhammad Ali. He beat top contenders like Jerry Quarry, Jimmy Ellis, Oscar Bonavena. He also fought Muhammad Ali three times and big George Foreman twice in his fierce boxing career. Frazier possessed a deadly left hook perhaps the best in boxing history.

10. Larry Holmes: The Easton Assassin ruled the Heavyweight Division for seven and half years making 20 successful title defenses. He is infamous for being the boxer to "Retire Muhammad Ali". He is also famous for having one of the best jab's in boxing history. Larry Holmes always found a way to win which made him a living legend.

Smokin' Joe Frazier

Smokin Joe Frazier beat the undefeated Muhammad Ali for the world title.  Frazier also won a gold medal on the 1964 Olympics.
Smokin Joe Frazier beat the undefeated Muhammad Ali for the world title. Frazier also won a gold medal on the 1964 Olympics. | Source

Who was the best?

Who was the best heavyweight boxer ever?

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Evander Holyfield Highlights

Joe Louis's Punch

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Rocky Marciano Knockouts

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Birth place of Muhammad Ali

Rocky Marciano's Best Wins

Rocky has had many great wins in his fantastic 49-0 career. Below are his top wins in his distinguished boxing career.

1. Rocky Marciano K.O. 13 Jersey Joe Walcott: Behind on points Rocky won the heavyweight crown with a crushing right.

2. Rocky Marciano K.O. 8 Ezzard Charles: In the rematch Marciano, bleeding badly from a split nose wins by knockout in 8.

3. Rocky Marciano K.O. 1 Jeresy Joe Walcott: Marciano lays out the usually durable ex champion with one solid shot to the jaw.

4. Rocky Marciano K.O 8 Joe Louis: Louis was at the end of his career but he was never before destroyed in this manner. After pounding away for 7 rounds, Marciano lands a right that puts Louis through the ropes in the 8th heat.

5. Rocky Marciano K.O. 4 Archie Moore: In "The Rocks" final bout he is floored in the first round but, storms back to halt the legendary Archie Moore with a brutal assault in the fourth stanza.

The Brockton Blockbuster was a relentless pressure fighter with power in both fists.

© 2012 Buster Johnson

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      Jose J. Adames 3 years ago

      Thank you, Leslie, for the kind comments, but I was really not that far off: Sugar Ray Robinson's actual fight record was : 173 wins--19 losses--6 draws. Actually, I kind of combined his losses and draws together. Still, you are correct. Sorry for the slip-up. But let's not miss the point: Sugar Ray fought almost 200 professional fights; he fought consistently even though he took two or three short-lived retirements to pursue his second career and love as an entertainer and tap dancer. He was, of course, somewhat inconsistent when he moved up from welterweight to middleweight where the fighters were bigger, stronger and the division was very deep with talent. Yes, he won the middleweight championship five times but he would lose to top-notch middleweight contenders the first time (Jake LaMotta, Randy Turpin, and Gene Fullmer, among others) around but rebound in their second fight and the so-called "rubber matches" to score a win. Also, the middleweight Ray Robinson was an older, slower fighter than the younger, faster welterweight who fought the "Cuban Hawk" Kid Gavilan and beat him. Don't forget that a 37 year-old Ray Robinson--in his second fight with Gene Fullmer--was able to back-pedal and deliver a left hook that knocked out Gene Fullmer, a fighter with a granite chin. It is considered one of the greatest knockouts of all-time in par with Rocky's knockout of Jersey Joe Walcott and Muhammad Ali's knockout of Sonny Liston in their rematch. Without sounding redundant and not to take anything away from the "Boston Blockbuster," having a perfect 49-0 record does not necessarily mean a perfect fighter. Its the level of talent that a division has at the time and Rocky's division at his reign unfortunately was not very deep with great fighters (excluding those great champions past their prime). Sugar Ray's fight record, while containing 19 losses, did not prevent him from being considered "the greatest fighter pound-for-pound of all-time" according to Ring magazine.

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      Leslie 3 years ago

      Great comments thanks even though you got the great Sugar Ray's record wrong.

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      Jose J. Adames 3 years ago

      Rocky Marciano fought in an era where there was not a lot of great talent. Sure, he fought fighters like Joe Louis, Ezzard Charles and Jersey Joe Walcott, but these past champions were past their prime. He fought Ezzard Charles, a former light heavyweight twice and look what happened: the first fight lasted a full 15 rounds with Rocky getting the nod. The second fight ended with Rocky knocking Charles out after the fight doctor told his corner that he would stop the fight if the split nose was opened again. remember, Ezzard Charles was only a pumped -up light heavyweight who almost took Rocky's crown the second time around due to a split nose. Archie Moore, another former light-heavyweight dropped the Rock. He fought guys like Lex Layne, Roland La Starza and Don Cockell but these were good fighters but never became great fighters! I am not taking anything away from the Rock, but having a 49-0 record doesn't necessarily make you a great champion. Remember, Sugar Ray Robinson had a 176-24 record; considered one of the greatest middleweights of all-time, but he was somewhat inconsistent. But his division was very deep: Jake La Motta, Randy Turpin and Gene Fullmer, to name a few. Robinson, as a middleweight would drop decisions to other fighters the first time around but comeback in rematches and rubber matches and score a win. Yes, his record was 176-24 but his loss record was not too bad considering that he lost fights after fighting past his prime and coming back from two or three short-lived retirements.

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      Buster Johnson 3 years ago from Alabama

      You are an idiot this list is based on accomplishments and longevity. If you think Holmes has accomplished more than Holyfield than you need to review boxrec.com.

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      balls 3 years ago

      Disgraceful list, probably the worst. I loved holyfield and marciano, no way there 3 and 4 though. Foreman and holmes should both be in the top 5. JAck dempsey and johnson were to long ago to compare. Ali, louis, foreman, holme, tyson, frazier, holy.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad I found this; I could read about Ali every single day. Good job!

    • greeneryday profile image

      greeneryday 5 years ago from Some tropical country

      Great list of ten best heavyweight boxers of all time. I think still like Ali the most, he is smart fighter, and able to beat his opponents both mentally and physically... thank you for sharing this hub...