10 Incredible Achievements in Boxing That Will Never Be Repeated
Boxing is a sport unlike any other.
From fluttering footwork to spine-chilling knockouts and heroic Cinderella stories to disastrous conclusions—boxing seems to be either life’s ultimate contradiction or cruelest of jokes.
But, nonetheless—they fight.
Night in and night out, the most resilient of men duck their head through the ropes and into their respective corner.
They hold their fists up—their hands trained for war, and their fingers, for battle.
Every single one of them, hoping to be one day become someone that matters—looking no where else but within themselves for a purpose to keep fighting.
But how tragic a sport where no matter how hard you try, there’s just certain things that you won’t ever accomplish. No matter the sweat you break, or the blood you shed—you will never achieve them.
These are 10 of those feats that they won’t ever reach; but that won’t stop them from trying.
And that’s why we watch.
Jimmy Wilde's 96 Consecutive Wins
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t consider Jimmy Wilde to be the greatest flyweight ever.
He was a delicate, youthful-looking fighter who would’ve been small even for today’s 105-pound weight class. But what made him so great was the cataclysmic knockout power his carried in his tiny fists.
Rarely weighing over 100 pounds, Wilde, also known as the “Mighty Atom,” is pound-for-pound the most devastating puncher of all-time.
He’s also one of history’s most consistent fighters.
From 1911 through 1914, Wilde reeled off 96 consecutive victories, according to Herb Goldman’s Boxing: A Worldwide Record of Bouts and Boxers.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to trace down the level of competition Wilde was facing during this stretch. But by 1916, he had done enough to be considered the premiere flyweight in the world.
Not bad for a man Bert Sugar described as weighing "no more than 105 pounds, dripping wet.”
Reggie Strickland and the Number 276
Reggie Strickland (top)
Out of left-field, here's an "achievement" that no fighter wishes to repeat.
Reggie Strickland fought from 1987-2005 in every division from lightweight all the way up to heavyweight and is the quintessential "tomato can." He was the most active fighter of his time, engaging in almost 363 recorded fights.
And he lost 276 of those fights—the most losses ever recorded.
Jerry Strickland (Reggie's brother) was also a professional. He lost 122 times. There's a family that really knows how to take one for the team.
For what it's worth Reggie was only knocked out 25 times in his long career.
So there's that.
Consecutive Bouts Without a Loss: Young Griffo (174)
Born Albert Griffiths, “Young Griffo” was the defensive genius of his day. He was a light hitter, but unhittable as well.
He was nicknamed the “Australian Will O’ The Wisp,” a moniker that would inspire Willie Pep’s nickname half a century later.
Griffo opened his career fighting in his native Australia, where he would put together one of history’s most incredible streaks.
From 1887-1894, Griffo didn’t always “win”—as he fought hundreds of no decision bouts where a draw is declared if no one is knocked out—but he wasn’t officially defeated, either, for the first 174 bouts of his career. This includes draws, wins, no-contests, everything but a loss.
His offensive output may not have been the greatest, but this streak is a testament to his defensive capabilities.
Jack Britton: 342 Fights Without Being KO'd
Let the love for the defensive masters continue.
Jack Britton is undoubtedly a top-5 welterweight of all-time and, in all likelihood, the hardest fighter in history to knockout.
Britton made his professional debut in November of 1904 and in his third professional bout, he was knocked out in one round. Britton was just 15 years old.
And it would never happen again.
Fighting the who’s who of his era, Britton, nicknamed the “Boxing Marvel” (for good reason), would fight 342 more times in his career.
This included winning the world welterweight title and stepping into the ring with Leo Houck, Packey McFarland, Soldier Bartfield, Willie “KO” Brennan, Benny Leonard, Mike O’Dowd, Jock Malone, Lou Bogash, Ray Bronson, Dave Shade, Mickey Walker and engaging with Ted Kid Lewis in one of boxing’s greatest rivalries, in which they fought 20 times.
And he never suffered another defeat via way of stoppage.
Britton is one of history’s most defensively skilled fighters—and probably its most underrated.
100 or More Career Knockouts
Sugar Ray Robinson recorded 108 KOs in his career.
Wladimir Klitschko is the very best heavyweight in the world and a professional of over 16 years. By today’s standards, Klitschko has shown to be very active—especially for a heavyweight—having fought 63 times since 1996.
Over the course of his career, Klitschko has earned an imposing 51 knockouts to his name.
But never in his, or anyone else today, for that matter’s, wildest dreams could ever hope to collect over 100 knockouts in their career.
Throughout history, a select group of fighters, with a perfect blend of busy fight schedules and powerful fists, have laid claim to such a feat.
Amongst them are Henry Armstrong, Sandy Saddler, Sugar Ray Robinson, Tiger Jack Fox, Archie Moore, Billy Bird, Sam Langford, Alabama Kid and Young Stribling.
To have your arm lifted in victory 100 times is impressive enough—but 100 stoppages?
Oldest Professional Boxer in History: Jem Mace
Jem Mace, nicknamed “The Gypsy,” fought in the second half of the 19th century and was a boxing pioneer.
He is one of the first fighters to make use of comprehensive combination punching and won British titles from welterweight all the way up to heavyweight. He also established the Australian school of boxing, which helped develop the talents of fighters such as Bob Fitzsimmons and Peter Jackson.
Mace is another old-time pugilist whose record is hard to track down. But he does hold the honor being the oldest man to ever engage in a professional bout.
On September 3, 1897 Mace fought Mike Donovan to a draw at the Olympic Club in Birmingham, West Midlands, UK.
He was 66 years old.
Let us pray this achievement is never repeated.
Joe Louis' 12 Year Reign
Go to 3:09 for the knockout that started the greatest championship reign, ever.
Joe Louis may not be the greatest boxer ever, he might not even be the greatest heavyweight ever—but Louis is single handily the greatest champion ever.
Louis won the world heavyweight title in June of 1937 when he crushed “The Cinderella Man” James J. Braddock with one of the most intelligently violent combinations ever thrown.
Outside of getting knocked down in Round 1, the fight was all Louis. In the eighth, and soon-to-be final, round Braddock began to hold out his lead-left very lazily.
Noticing this, Louis threw a thunderous left-hook directly at Braddock’s lead arm—swatting it away where it couldn’t do the defending champion any help—and sent a follow-up right-hand to the unprotected face of Braddock, sending him to canvas for good.
Louis was now the heavyweight champion of the world (only the second man of color to do so) and proceeded to defend his crown a staggering 25 times.
In all, Louis’ reign as champion lasted an unparalleled 12 years, defeating Hall of Famers Max Schmeling, John Henry Lewis, Billy Conn (two times) and Jersey Joe Walcott (two times) in the process.
Terry McGovern Knocks out Three Champions in 9 Months
Terry McGovern was a murderous puncher. He seemed to be addicted to violence and he propelled his habit for knocking legends unconscious onto the boxing world around the turn of the 20th century.
In just nine months, McGovern didn’t just beat, but utterly destroyed three different champions in three different weight classes.
This short ballad of destruction began with a one round drumming of the bantamweight champion Pedlar Palmer in September of 1899.
Less than four months later, McGovern knocked out George Dixon for the featherweight title.
The next champion up for slaughter was Frank Erne who had just knocked out Joe Gans for the lightweight title, three months prior. Erne was a formidable fighter and it's an outright travesty he's not in the Hall of Fame. But he still couldn’t last more than three rounds with McGovern.
McGovern had just torn through three separate weight classes and smashed each champion to bits—and did so in less than a calendar year.
Would you care for some modern-day perspective?
Imagine, if you will: just nine months after defeating Anselmo Moreno, Abner Mares knocked out Mikey Garcia (at featherweight) and then jumped up to lightweight to stop Miguel Vazquez or Ricky Burns in less than three rounds.
That didn't sound too likely now, did it?
Henry Armstrong and His Threefold Crown
Henry Armstrong is arguably the greatest boxer of all time. He holds such high esteem thanks in large to his unbelievable weight climbing exploits.
Armstrong fought during a time of the original eight weight classes and one universally recognized champion per division.
He won the world featherweight title in 1937 when he knocked out Petey Sarron in fewer than six rounds. After this resounding victory, Armstrong immediately turned his attention to the lightweight and welterweight divisions.
After defeating the likes of Tony Chavez, Lew Feldman, Chalky Wright, Billy Beauhuld and Baby Arizmendi, Armstrong earned himself a title shot against welterweight champion Barney Ross.
The two champions met on May 31, 1938.
For 15 rounds, Armstrong battered Ross all over the ring, easily winning a wide unanimous decision victory. Even more impressive, was Armstrong still weighed in under the lightweight limit (133 ½ pounds) when he dismantled the welterweight champion.
Armstrong was now the owner of the featherweight and welterweight titles.
Next up, he went after the Lou Ambers, the lightweight champion.
By all accounts, Armstrong and Ambers put on a thrilling performance and one of the greatest fights in history with Armstrong walking away the victor by split-decision.
And with that, Henry Armstrong becomes the only boxer in history to ever hold three universally recognized titles—simultaneously—a feat never to be matched.
Harry Greb's Undefeated Year of 1919 (45-0)
Floyd Mayweather Jr. made his professional debut on October 11, 1996, winning by second-round knockout. 16 years later, Mayweather is the best fighter in the world and holds a win-loss record that his most loyal of fans are never shy of proclaiming as the very best ever.
In Mayweather’s 16-year career, he has amassed an impressive record of 44-0-0; a record that Harry Greb took just one year to exceed.
To call Greb’s life in 1919 “fast paced” would be gross understatement. He was nicknamed “The Pittsburgh Windmill” for his rapid, in-your-face swarming style of attack. And that’s just how he lived his life as well.
Greb returned home from service in the Navy in January of 1919. As soon as his feet touched dry land, he announced he was to marry his girlfriend of three years, Miss Mildred Kathleen Reilly; they said their vowels on Jan. 20. Greb celebrated his first year of marriage by fighting a mind-boggling 45 times.
And he won every one of those fights.
And these weren’t tomato cans Greb was fighting, mind you. These were the world’s very best middleweights, light heavyweights and even heavyweights.
(Keep in mind Greb weighed in over 168 pounds just once during this year, and only did so because he weighed in with his clothes on at 178 pounds.)
Greb opened his fistic campaign of 1919 with a 12-round points win over standout middleweight Leo Houck on Jan. 14. The Boston Daily Globe reported, “Greb won easily.”
He picked up four more victories in the month of January—including a victory over Soldier Bartfield.
From February through May, Greb defeated Len Rowlands, Chuck Wiggins (two times), Leo Houck (two more times), Tommy Robson, heavyweights Clay Turner and Willie Meehan, Hall of Fame heavyweight Billy Miske and two more Hall of Famers in Bill Brennan and Battling Levinsky (each, two times).
Even the greatest of Hall of Fame fighters couldn’t put a halt to this cyclone as Greb won four more times in June, the most notable of which being his 10-round decision victory over the all-time great, Mike Gibbons.
Through the first six months of 1919, Greb was 27-0-0—and showed no signs of slowing down.
July came and went. And so did four more triumphs. The victims: George “KO” Brown, Bill Brennan (for the third time and also over 15 rounds), Joe Chip and Battling Levinsky (also for the third time).
August and September were relatively slow months for Greb as he only had five fights between the two. (Who else in history could this be considered a “slow” 2-month stretch for?) But, nonetheless, that was five more victories under Greb’s belt. These included fourth wins over Bill Brennan and Battling Levinsky, Silent Martin and another Hall of Famer in Jeff Smith.
Greb was on an incredible pace and was looking to at least break 50 fights for the year. But according to Bill Plaxton in his wonderful Greb biography, The Fearless Harry Greb: Biography of a Tragic Hero of Boxing, in the end of September, after his victory over Silent Martin, “Greb had to cancel three fights due to illness.” He was suffering from boils that severely weakened him.
It wasn’t until Oct. 13 that Greb was healthy enough to step back into the ring. But in, what would turn out to be his only fight in October, Greb broke his left hand against Sailor Ed Petroskey.
Greb wouldn’t fight again until Nov. 11.
Altogether, in the final two months of the year Greb would fight "just" eight times. This included wins over notable heavyweight Clay Turner (two more times) and future light heavyweight champion Mike McTigue.
Which brings Greb’s total record for the year of 1919 to a remarkable 45-0-0. Considering, that Greb was slowed down towards the end of the year and fans are lucky to see world-class fighters, today, fight twice in the same year—makes this accomplishment all the more incredible.
So incredible, that it will never be repeated.