“If you screw things up in tennis, it’s 15-love. If you screw up in boxing, it’s your ass.”
Although as a boxer Randall “Tex” Cobb was a great actor, with the above analogy he brought clarity to the severity of the sport, more specifically to the “being-on-your-ass” part.
A knockout in boxing is what both fighters enter the ring hoping to achieve and the moment thousands of spectators anticipate witnessing. A knockout can have a momentous redemptive quality (see Juan Manuel Marquez) and a visual resonance (see the iconic photo of Muhammad Ali hovering above Sonny Liston).
The fact that a man’s fight and night can end so instantaneously makes it that much more impressive that certain fighters never leave the ring, throughout an entire career, as a result of being knocked out.
The men on this list fought in over 1800 combined fights, including, in some cases, those that ended in a “newspaper decision,” that is, a fight which ended with no official decision, no knockout and both fighters still standing, prompting a decision rendered by the newspaper for the purpose of closure.
For the purposes of clarity, this list is comprised of the fighters from ten to one who fought the entirety of their career without being defeated via knockout—it does not mean they were not knocked down. The fighters in this top ten fought in an era in which a calendar year with only ten fights would be considered a light load, making the list that much more impressive when given the number of fights per fighter.
As such, here are the fighters who were toughest to KO in the history of the sport.