Ranking the 10 Best Brawlers in Boxing History

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Ranking the 10 Best Brawlers in Boxing History
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

This was a fun list to research and think about, but narrowing down my criteria for inclusion was a challenge. Any pure brawler is going to have a ceiling as a professional boxer, no matter how durable his chin or powerful his punch.

But it's also hard to be a great boxing champion without the ability to dig in and brawl when necessary.

Sugar Ray Leonard had to brawl his way to victory in his first fight with Thomas Hearns. Muhammad Ali never would have won two of three fights against Joe Frazier if he hadn't had the brawling ability to fight his way out of trouble when Smoking Joe crashed inside on him and started throwing heat in the pocket.

Few, if any, of the fighters on this list could be classified as pure brawlers. Everybody listed here is an all-time great, and a good number of them show up on various all-time, pound-for-pound top-10 lists.

A fighter can't achieve that status without well-rounded skills. Still, the ability of these fighters to outbrawl opponents was the extra element of their game that made them elite.   

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