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Ten Ten Greatest Heavyweights In Boxing History
The problem with doing a top ten heavyweights of all time list is that arguably twenty or more boxers have done enough over the last hundred years to warrant a place in the top ten, but you can't include them all. The other big problem is that people will inevitably make comments like "Larry Holmes was defeated by Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, so why is he ranked higher than both of them?" The answer is that you can't judge fighters by what they do in the ring after their own era has passed them by. Holmes beat Muhammed Ali, but few people would suggest that means Holmes should be ranked above Ali.
Some of the names missing that I would have included below if it was a top twenty list instead are: Lennox Lewis, Ken Nortan, Riddick Bowe, Sonny Liston, Ezzard Charles, Floyed Patterson, Michael Spinks and Vitali Klitschko.
1) Joe Louis
Ring Name: "The Brown Bomber"
Best Moment: Avenging his defeat to Germany's Max Schmeling in their 1938 rematch at Yankee Stadium before a crowd of 70,043 fans.
The first black superstar to be accepted by both black and white Americans, the "Brown Bomber" has the record for both the longest world heavyweight title reign (11 years, 8 months, 8 days) and the most successful title defences (25).
2) Muhammed Ali
Ring Name: "The Greatest"
Best Moment: Winning the World Heavyweight title back after knocking out George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire, on October 30, 1974.
Muhammad Ali dominated not one but two decades of boxing, the Sixties and Seventies. He still remains the only heavyweight in history to win the lineal world title three times.
3) Joe Frazier
Ring Name: "Smokin' Joe"
Best Moment: Finally winning the Lineal title by becoming the first man in history to beat Muhammad Ali after their first clash at Madison Square Garden in 1971.
Not only did Frazier beat Ali in the first of their three clashes but had the Philadelphia fighter's corner not stopped the fight, it is conceivable that Frazier would have finished off an exhausted Ali in their third and final bout known to fight fans as the "Rumble in the Jungle."
4) Jack Johnson
Ring Name: "Galveston Giant"
Best Moment: Defeating previous champion James J. Jeffries on July 4, 1910 at Reno, Nevada.
In 1908 Johnson made history by becoming the first black boxer to win the world heavyweight title by winning against Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney Australia.
5) Rocky Marciano
Ring Name: "The Rock"
Best Moment: Defeating an old Joe Louis in 1951 to start a new era in the heavyweight division.
Marciano is the only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated, and his win/loss record of 49-0 has yet to be beaten at any weight.
6) Jack Dempsey
Ring name: "The Manassa Mauler"
Best Moment: Knocking down the much bigger Jess Willard seven times in the first round of their 1919 bout to win the world heavyweight title in Toledo, Ohio
Jack Dempsey was the most popular boxer of his generation, ascending from humble beginnings to participating in boxing's first five $1,000,000 gates.
7) George Foreman
Ring Name "Big George"
Best Moment: Winning the world title back at the age of 45, twenty-years after losing it to Mohammed Ali.
In his prime George Foreman was thought to be "invincible" after easily beating Joe Frazier for the title and successfully defending it against the man who broke Muhammad Ali's jaw, Ken Nortan.
8) Larry Holmes
Ring Name "The Easton Assassin"
Best Moment: Winning a close points decision against Ken Nortan for the WBC title in the first heavyweight championship fight in Las Vegas.
Holmes may well be the most underrated heavyweight champion in history, buffered between the Ali and Tyson eras, he is third longest reining champion in history with the second most successful defences.
9) Evander Holyfield
Ring Name "The Real Deal"
Best Moment: Defeating Mike Tyson when the two finally met in the ring in 1996.
The only man to win both the undisputed cruiserweight and heavyweight titles, and the only four-time world heavyweight champion (not counting WBF title) in history. Evander Holyfield is the "Real Deal".
10) Mike Tyson
Ring Name "Iron Mike"
Best Moment: Knocking out Lineal heavyweight champion Michael Spinks in 91 seconds to unify the heavyweight title.
The youngest man ever to be crowned champion, at just twenty years old, Mike Tyson cleared out the heavyweight division in the Eighties, defeating everyone from Larry Holmes to Michael Spinks by KO. It is a measure of how good he was in his prime that after being in prison for three years he was still able to win not one but two world title belts, the WBC against Britain's Frank Bruno and WBA against Bruce Seldon.