Boxing fans and writers are always debating about who the best fighters of all-time are and what would happen if the best of the best ever met up. It is a conversation that led to the invention of the mythological “pound for pound” ranking.
The great thing about the sport of boxing is that it has remained relatively the same since its creation thus making it fair to compare the best stars of yesterday with the top stars of today.
If only we had a time machine then we could answer once and for all who was truly the greatest. Since we don’t, we’ll just have to settle for ten fights I think would be immensely entertaining.
So here are ten Dream Fights for boxing fans.
Here are five fights that barely missed the cut.
- Willie Pep vs. Pernell Whitaker
It would be a battle between two of the most fleet-footed and greatest defensive boxers of all-time. At his best, Whitaker was nearly impossible to hit and Pep was so good, he was said to have once won a round without throwing a single punch.
A fight between the two would be a tactical and technical affair. The man who could establish his offense first would more than likely win the fight.
- Thomas Hearns vs. James Toney
A fight between the two greatest middleweights Detroit ever produced. Hearns was possibly the most devastating non-Heavyweight puncher ever. He won titles from welterweight all the way up to middleweight.
James Toney was undefeated at middleweight and is as tough as they come.
If the “Motor City Cobra” and “Lights Out” ever met up, the fists would fly and someone would go to sleep.
- Roberto Duran vs. Henry Armstrong
Henry Armstrong was so good, he held three titles in three different weight classes at the same time. Pound for Pound he may be the greatest fighter of all-time. Armstrong won 22 fights in 1937, 21 by knockout. Armstrong won titles between 126 and 147 pounds and had 189 career victories.
Roberto Duran is regarded by many as the greatest lightweight of all-time. He was a four division champion and a punishing body puncher.
An Armstrong and Duran battle would feature two of the greatest multi division champions in history.
- George Foreman vs. Sonny Liston
In his early years, George Foreman was an intimidating force with brutal punching power. He was regarded as the most anti-social fighter around. The young Foreman was doing his best to imitate former sparring partner, Charles “Sonny” Liston.
Sonny Liston was as scary as they come. He didn't just beat opponents, he bullied them. Liston was the first man to ever knockout Floyd Patterson and he did it twice. He had an extremely long reach and a good jab that kept opponents off balance before he mauled them with power punches.
In their primes this might be a match better suited for a steel cage or a prison yard. Both men are ranked in the top 20 of Ring Magazine’s greatest 100 punchers off all-time. A fight between the two would be action packed, violent and short.
- Wladimir Klitschko vs. Larry Holmes
I can already see the fight’s headline “Underrated.” Larry Holmes is one of the best heavyweight fighters period. He won his first forty-eight fights and defended his title twenty straight times, second only to Joe Louis who had twenty-five straight defenses. Yet he is usually looked over by the fans of the sport and historians.
Wladimir Klitschko currently holds three of the major Heavyweight titles and is one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world. He has won 55 of his 58 fights including his last thirteen fights, eight by stoppage.
Klitschko is 6 ft 6 in and is three inches taller than Holmes but they both have an 81 inch reach. Klitschko is a bit better defender but both fighters have exceptional jabs. Holmes has the tougher chin and that could ultimately decide the fight.
This fight would be the ultimate pay per view blockbuster plain and simple. Oscar De La Hoya is a cash cow who has made more money than any other fighter ever. Sugar Ray Leonard was the first prize fighter to earn an excess of $100 million.
De La Hoya was a six division champion and was for a few years the no. 1 pound for pound fighter in the sport.
Sugar Ray Leonard was the greatest boxer of his generation and won world titles in five divisions. A matchup between the two could take place anywhere from 147-154lbs.
While they are two of the most popular boxers ever, I don’t see this being much of a contest. Sugar Ray would be too fast for Oscar and he had a better chin. De La Hoya is known for fading late in big fights and that could lead to a late TKO. However, I believe his heart would carry him through and he’d lose a unanimous decision.
Manny Pacquiao is currently the no. 1 pound for pound fighter on the planet. He was named “Fighter of the Decade” in the 2000s and has won titles in seven different weight classes.
There are few better than Julio César Chávez, he won 87 fights before he ever tasted defeat. He was a relentless body puncher with great knockout power. Chávez would finish his career with 107 wins and 86 of those came by knockout.
Chávez would be Mexico’s last chance to stop the storm that is Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao has been the kryptonite for Mexican fighters. He holds stoppages over Erik Morales (twice), Marco Antonio Barrera and Oscar De La Hoya. Pacquiao also won a close decision over Juan Manuel Marquez.
The fight would be fought at a blistering pace with both men landing big bombs and possibly even tasting the canvas. Chávez would try and attack the body to slow Pacquiao down but Pac Man’s speed and southpaw stance would confuse the proud Mexican warrior. Pacquiao would win by late stoppage in a bloody war.
Bernard Hopkins and Marvin Hagler are two of the greatest middleweights to ever put on gloves.
Hopkins is a twenty two year veteran who holds the middleweight record with 20 straight title defenses. Hopkins briefly moved up to light heavyweight and won a title but he’s fought nearly all his bouts at 160 lbs.
Marvin Hagler was the undisputed middleweight champion from 1980-87. Hagler was involved in the greatest three round fight ever, in which he knocked out Thomas Hearns. Of Hagler’s sixty two career wins, fifty two came by knockout.
Hopkins is the taller fighter by about four inches and would use this reach to keep Hagler from getting close and hurting him. The fight would be an ugly affair with Hopkins dodging and ducking and throwing the occasional low blow. Hagler would eventually be able to overpower B- Hop and land enough shots to win a close decision.
Speed versus speed would be a simple but fitting name for this fight. Sugar Ray Leonard used his speed and combination punching to outpoint and mystify virtually every fighter he ever faced.
Floyd Mayweather is a defensive marvel who limits even the greatest punchers abilities to mount a sustained attack. Mayweather has underrated punching power and has one of the best straight rights in the business.
Their fight would be extremely tactical and Mayweather would look to use his high boxing IQ and shoulder tuck defense to keep Leonard from landing anything damaging. Leonard is equally as fast as Mayweather and a bit stronger. He would more than likely try to steal rounds with late flurries and glancing punches.
In the end, Mayweather would be successful in stymieing much of Leonard’s offense. However judges would more than likely give the edge to the busier Leonard.
Hold on to your heads… if you can. Had Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson ever fought someone would probably have had their dome launched off their shoulders and into the third row. Between the two they have seventy one career knockouts in ninety five fights. That is a knockout rate of just under seventy five percent! Basic translation, only one in every four guys they fought, went the distance.
They both have tremendous resumes. Tyson was the youngest ever heavyweight champion at age twenty and Joe Frazier was the first man to blemish Muhammad Ali’s record.
Frazier and Tyson are the same height but Frazier has a two inch reach advantage. Frazier liked to bob and used his “Philly shell” defense to protect himself from punches but defense was usually not on “Smokin’ Joe’s” mind. Frazier was looking to land one big left hook to end the fight.
Mike Tyson had a similar strategy, he liked to go in and make quick work of his opponents with vicious hooks to the body and head. “Iron” Mike’s best punch however was probably his crushing uppercut.
Picking a winner in this fight is tough. The fight would probably come down to two factors; who could land first and who could take the most punishment. Frazier and Tyson would go back and forth but my money would be on Frazier.
Marvin Hagler is probably the greatest middleweight in the last twenty five years. He was the most avoided fighter in his era.
Sugar Ray Robinson is regarded by many as the greatest fighter of all-time. He was a slick boxer with devastating knockout power. “Robinson could deliver a knockout blow going backwards,” said boxing Historian, Bert Sugar. A champion at welterweight, middleweight and even light heavyweight, he finished his career with 173 wins and 108 knockouts.
In my opinion, Hagler vs. Robinson would answer the question of who is the greatest middleweight of all-time. It would be a toe-to-toe war with neither man refusing to take a step back. Robinson’s speed would be the difference and he would earn a decision over Hagler.
Rocky Marciano was as tough as nails. After an eight year career, he retired with a record of 49-0 with 43 wins by knockout. Marciano became the first heavyweight champion to retire undefeated.
Roy Jones Jr. was “Fighter of the Decade” in the 1990s and at one time held a record seven light heavyweight championship belts concurrently. Roy Jones became the first middleweight fighter in over 100 years to win a Heavyweight title when he beat WBA champion John Ruiz.
On paper, Marciano looks to have the advantage but he is actually the smaller fighter by an inch and gives up seven inches in reach. During his reign as champion, Marciano weighed between 178-185 pounds. Jones was at his best at Light Heavyweight, where he weighed 175 pounds.
The fight could yield mixed results. If Marciano could catch Jones he would drop him like a bad habit and win the fight. However catching Jones in his prime was nearly impossible. Jones would use his superior speed and god-given gifts to pluck away at Marciano and cut him badly. As long as Jones was able to keep Marciano at arm’s length, he would cruise to an easy decision. I’d bet on the latter to happen. At his best, there are only a handful of fighters who could beat Jones and Marciano isn’t one of them.
These are the greatest two Heavyweight champions of all-time in my book. Muhammad Ali was one of the most physically gifted fighters ever. He had blazing speed, tremendous footwork and deceiving power. Ali moved around the ring like a welterweight and often dared opponents to hit him by placing his hands at his sides. He finished his career with 56 wins and 37 knockouts.
His opponent was every bit as sensational. Joe Louis was known as the “Brown Bomber.” He held the Heavyweight title for eleven years and defended his title a record twenty five consecutive times. Louis won 65 fights with 51 wins coming by way of knockout.
Ali would have both an advantage in height (one inch) and reach (four inches). Ali would also carry the edge in speed but Louis was without a doubt the more dangerous puncher. The fight would be hotly contested with both men taking and landing some huge shots. Ali’s speed and chin would prove the difference and he would outbox Louis and win a decision.
They are arguably the two greatest non-Heavyweight fighters of all-time. They were both gifted with speed, grace, power and charisma. Not to mention they share the same nickname. So who really is sweeter, Ray Robinson or Ray Leonard?
The fight would take place at Welterweight where both men did their best work. Leonard would use his blinding speed to keep Robinson away. Robinson would counter by using his slick skills and a wide repertoire of punches to back Leonard up.
As far as how the battle of Sugars’ would unfold? “Someone once said there was a comparison between Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Ray Robinson, believe me, there's no comparison, Sugar Ray Robinson was the greatest,” said Ray Leonard.
It would be unquestionably the highest grossing fight in the history of boxing. It would feature the two most popular Heavyweights of the last fifty years. It would go down as the fight of the millennium.
Ali was charismatic and fun and Mike Tyson was violent, vulgar and full of hate. Could you imagine the press conference? It would be a sportswriter’s dream to have these two sitting at the same table with Don King in the middle.
It would be a classic contrast in styles. Ali’s speed and grace against Tyson’s unearthly power. Ali was poetry in motion in the ring and Tyson was like a wrecking ball looking to crush anything in his path.
The most hyped fight in history and it would be a dud, better yet a complete landslide. As good as Tyson was he wouldn’t stand a chance with Ali.
Ali would have a nine inch reach advantage and would be too fast and accurate with his punches. Tyson would not ever be able to get close enough to unleash any of his big bombs on the chin of Ali. Even if he did get through, he would pay dearly for it. The fight would unfold like Ali’s fights with Joe Frazier. Ali would stand on the outside and batter Tyson with straights until both of his eyes were closed.
At some point either the referee or the corner would call the fight or Ali would put Tyson on his back and he’d stay there.
The fight would reveal what we already know to be true. Mike Tyson was a very good fighter for a period of time but Muhammad Ali was the greatest Heavyweight ever.