Manny Pacquiao and the 50 Greatest Boxers Ever

Trae ThompsonSenior Analyst IDecember 12, 2010

Manny Pacquiao and the 50 Greatest Boxers Ever

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Manny Pacquiao certainly has cemented his status as one of the best boxers of this generation.

    But how about all-time?

    Pacquiao has won eight titles in eight different world classes, dominated the competition and hasn't shied away from facing the best. Those factors alone will give him a strong place in boxing history. Go back to the golden days, and that's what made the champs so beloved: They faced the very best.

    There are so many factors to consider when trying to rank the all-time greats, but some things are no-brainers. Career records are key, titles won, competition faced and defining fights should all be considered. Of course, fight fans will also be influenced just by personal taste.

    Debates like these have always been a part of boxing. Time for another one. Here is a breakdown of the 50 greatest boxers ever:

50. Bob Fitzsimmons

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    He fought for 27 years and became the first boxer to ever hold the middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight titles at the same time. In 1897, at age 34, Fitzsimmons won the heavyweight title from James Corbett and eventually finished his career with a record of 74-8-3, with 30 no-decisions and 67 knockouts.

49. Kid Chocolate

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    The Cuban-born fighter won his first 21 pro fights all by knockout. He lost to featherweight champion Jackie Berg in 1930, but won his first world title the following year with a technical knockout of Benny Bass for the junior lightweight title. Chocolate had a career record of 131-9-6 with 50 knockouts.

48. James J. Braddock

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    Braddock, who fell on hard times during the Great Depression, was a 10-to-1 underdog when he faced Max Baer for the heavyweight title in 1935. "The Cinderella Man" pulled off the upset and later lost to Joe Louis by eighth round knockout.

47. Jersey Joe Walcott

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    Walcott actually knocked down Joe Louis twice in their 1947 title fight before losing a 15-round decision. He's best known for his four fights with Ezzard Charles. Walcott (51-18, 2 draws, 32 KOs) won the second fight and became the heavyweight champ in his fifth attempt.

46. Joey Maxim

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    He lost all five fights with Ezzard Charles, but got perhaps his most satisfying victory in 1952 when he defeated then-middleweight king Sugar Ray Robinson, who was attempting to win a third title in a third different weight class. Robinson was beating Maxim, but the heat that night at Yankee Stadium drained him and he didn't answer the bell to begin the 14th round.

    Maxim had 82 wins, 29 losses, with four draws and 21 knockouts.

45. Ezzard Charles

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    He's best known for his fights with Jersey Joe Walcott and Rocky Marciano, who won a close decision in their first bout. In the rematch, Marciano won with an eighth-round stoppage, despite a busted up nose.

    Charles finished his career with 89 wins, 25 losses, including one draw and 51 knockouts.

44. Salvador Sanchez

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    Fight fans are left to always wonder "what if" with Sanchez. The ultra-talented Mexican featherweight champion died in a car crash in 1982 at age 23. Sanchez had huge wins over Danny Lopez and Wilfredo Gomez and scored his final victory with a victory over Azumah Nelson at Madison Square Garden in 1982.

    Sanchez was 44-1-1 with 32 knockouts.

43. Gene Tunney

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    Tunney had a career record of 61-1, with one draw and 45 knockouts. His only loss? To Harry Greb. In 1926, Tunney defeated then heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey and also captured a controversial decision in their rematch that many know today as "The Long Count" fight.

    In the seventh round, Dempsey had knocked Tunney down, but didn't go to the neutral corner immediately as stated in the rules. By the time referee Dave Barry got him to the neutral corner and began counting, Tunney had already been down close to five seconds.

42. Billy Conn

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    After losing six of his first 14 fights, Conn put together a 27-fight unbeaten streak. He won the light heavyweight title in 1939 and almost took out heavyweight champion Joe Louis in 1941. Louis pulled off a dramatic knockout victory of Conn in the 13th round.

    Conn had a career record of 64-12-1 with 15 knockouts.

41. Lennox Lewis

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    He may not have been as beloved as Evander Holyfield or feared like Mike Tyson, but the British heavyweight built a very respectable career with wins over both fighters. He also avenged a stunning loss to Hasim Rahman and finished with a brutal victory over Vitali Klitschko for a career record of 41-2-1 with 32 knockouts.

40. Evander Holyfield

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    A member of the famed 1984 U.S. Olympic boxing team that won nine gold medals, Holyfield will be remembered for his legendary trilogy with Riddick Bowe, his brutal victory over George Foreman and two fights with Mike Tyson, including the "Bite Fight."

39. Michael Carbajal

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    A silver medalist in the 1988 Olympics, he needed 15 pro fights before defeating Muangchai Kittikasem for the IBF junior flyweight title. He followed that with six title defenses then a victory over Humberto "Chiquita" Gonzalez in 1993, which was named Ring's "Fight of the Year." Carbajal was knocked down twice, but came back to stop Gonzalez in seven rounds.

38. Erik Morales

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    "El Terrible" is still fighting and has a record of 50-6 with 35 knockouts. He won the first fight in a vicious trilogy with rival Marco Antonio Barrera and also faced Manny Pacquiao three times. In 2005, Morales won a unanimous decision over Pacquiao but would go on to lose the next two fights.

37. Marco Antonio Barrera

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    Morales' hated rival, he has a career record of 66-7 with 43 knockouts. Barrera defeated Morales twice, and also will be remembered for his defeat of then champion Prince Naseem Hamed in 2001. 

36. Jake Lamotta

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    He'll always be remembered for his rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson, who won five of their six bouts. LaMotta actually beat him in 1943, handing Robinson his first loss in 41 pro fights.

    LaMotta had a career record of 83-19, with four draws and 30 knockouts.

35. Sonny Liston

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    Someone put it like this: Sonny Liston was the Mike Tyson of his era. Mean, intimidating and unbeatable. Of course, a young heavyweight from Louisville named Cassius Clay would change all that.

34. Gene Fullmer

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    He won 14 of his first 16 pro fights by knockout and became middleweight champ with a victory over Sugar Ray Robinson in 1957. Robinson won the rematch but Fullmer would bounce back with a 14th-round knockout of Carmen Basilio in 1959.

33. Dick Tiger

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    He ended Gene Fullmer's reign as middleweight champ in 1962 and their rematch was a draw the following year. Tiger knocked Fullmer into retirement after their third fight. Emile Griffith eventually beat Tiger, who moved up to light heavyweight and knocked off Jose Torres in 1966. In 1968, he suffered a fourth-round knockout to Bob Foster, marking the only stoppage in Tiger's career.

32. Ruben Olivares

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    By the time he knocked out Lionel Rose for the bantamweight title in 1969, the Mexican fighter had a record of 51-0-1 with 49 knockouts. Olivares jumped up to featherweight and captured the title in 1974, but he lost to Alexis Arguello in his first defense.

31. Emile Griffith

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    Griffith fought in 112 fights and had a record of 85-24-2, with one no-contest and 23 knockouts. He became welterweight champ in 1960 with a win over Benny Paret, who won their rematch. The third fight was marred by tragedy—Griffith crushed him against the ropes and Paret eventually was taken away on a stretcher. Ten days later, while in a coma, Parret died at age 25. 

30. Larry Holmes

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    A former sparring partner of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Holmes broke through when he won a 15-round decision over Ken Norton for the WBC heavyweight title in 1978. Holmes defended his title 17 times and was named Fighter of the Year in 1982.

    Holmes ended his career 69-6, with 44 knockouts.

29. Michael Spinks

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    A gold medalist in the 1976 Olympics, he was known for his lethal right. He compiled a 48-0 record as a light heavyweight before jumping up to face Larry Holmes. Spinks won a decision and eventually lost to Mike Tyson, who needed 91 seconds for a knockout. 

28. Archie Moore

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    He fought nine world champions, seven Hall-of-Famers and ended his career with an incredible 130 knockouts.

27. Sam Langford

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    He fought as a light, welterweight, middleweight and heavyweight from 1902 to 1926. He never won a world title, but finished with 167 wins in his career.

26. Oscar De La Hoya

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    The former Olympic gold medalist finished with a great career, but he also had tough losses to Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins.

25. Alexis Arguello

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    He became just the sixth man to win titles in three weight divisions and was known for his fights with Aaron Pryor. Arguello lost both times and finished his career with an 82-8 record, including 65 knockouts.

24. Joe Frazier

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    He was Muhammad Ali's arch-nemesis and won the "Fight of the Century" over Ali. The two would also hammer at each other in the Thrilla in Manilla. 

23. George Foreman

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    He defeated Joe Frazier and went into retirement after losing to Muhammad Ali in "The Rumble in the Jungle." Foreman returned decades later and pulled off one of boxing's biggest upsets when he defeated then heavyweight champion Michael Moorer.

22. Roy Jones Jr.

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    He'll be criticized for facing weak competition, but he'll go down as one of the pound-for-pound best of his generation and be remembered for incredible speed and victory over James Toney.

21. Mike Tyson

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    One of the greatest power punchers of all-time who obliterated anyone in front of him. He became the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history and was scheduled for a mega-fight with Evander Holyfield before going to jail for rape. 

    (*Disclaimer: Video includes explicit language)

20. Roberto Duran

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    Part of a legendary era that included Tommy Hearns, Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard, he finished with a record of 103-16, with 70 knockouts.

19. Aaron Pryor

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    "The Hawk" won the WBA junior welterweight title when he defeated Antonio Cervantes after being knocked down in the first round. He also captured two wins over Alexis Arguello but saw his career cut short due to drug use. Pryor had a record of 39-1, with 35 knockouts.

18. Felix Trinidad

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    The great Puerto Rican legend finished with a record of 42-3 with 35 knockouts, two losses coming late in his career.

17. Carlos Monzon

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    He knocked out Nino Benvenuti in 1970 for the middleweight title and made a division-record 14 titles defenses. Monzon was undefeated in his final 81 bouts. In 1995, he died in a car crash. He was 87-3, with nine draws, one no-contest and 59 knockouts.

16. Bernard Hopkins

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    When you talk about great middleweights, "The Executioner" has to be mentioned near the top.

15. Jack Johnson

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    He was denied a shot at the heavyweight title because he was black, but made history in 1908 when he beat Tommy Burns by technical knockout in the 14th round. Johnson had a career mark of 77-13 with 14 draws, 19 no-decisions and 48 knockouts.

14. Marvelous Marvin Hagler

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    A blue-collar fighter, Hagler was known as one of the toughest fighters of all-time. He beat Tommy Hearns in what's known as the "Most Violent Nine Minutes in Boxing" and lost a controversial decision to Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987.

13. Jack Dempsey

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    He was Babe Ruth long before Ruth was on the scene.  

12. Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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    No one denies his talent, but the cocky, brash champion needs to face Manny Pacquiao. 

11. Manny Pacquiao

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    He's won eight titles in eight different weight classes, beating the likes of Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya.

10. Julio Cesar Chavez

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    He's a Mexican icon and considered the greatest Mexican fighter of all-time with 107 wins, six losses, two draws and 88 knockouts.

    (*Disclaimer: Video includes explicit language.)

9. Pernell Whitaker

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    A gold medalist in the 1984 Olypmpics, "Sweet Pea" won titles in four different divisions and finished his career with a 40-4-1 record, including 17 knockouts.

8. Benny Leonard

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    He won the lightweight title in 1917 and retired in 1925 to become the longest reigning lightweight champion ever. He returned after a seven-year absence, won 18-of-19 and had a stretch where he didn't lose in 154 bouts.

7. Rocky Marciano

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    The heavyweight champion retired with a 49-0 record, a mark that is still considered one of the most revered in boxing.

6. Henry Armstrong

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    He held three titles simultaneously in the featherweight, welterweight and lightweight divisions. From 1932 to 1945, he compiled a record of 151-21-9 with 101 knockouts. In his career, he faced 17 world champions and beat 15 of them.

5. Sugar Ray Leonard

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    The former gold medalist succeeded against the best, defeating Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran and Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

4. Willie Pep

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    He began his career with 63 straight wins before losing to Sammy Angott. After that? He was 72-0-1 before losing to Sandy Saddler. The featherweight champion was 230-11-1 with 65 knockouts in a career that spanned from 1940-1966.

3. Joe Louis

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    The heavyweight champion was 68-3 and made history as he held the title for nearly 12 years with 25 defenses. Louis was admired throughout America and became a cultural icon.

2. Muhammad Ali

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    No one had ever seen a heavyweight who had all the speed, skill and strength that Ali possessed. His brashness and outspoken behavior may have also invented what we now know as "trash talking."

1. Sugar Ray Robinson

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    Is there really any discussion here?

    Robinson is the most complete fighter to ever grace the sport. He had a record of 175 wins, 19 losses, six draws, two no contests and 106 knockouts. Of his 19 defeats, 16 came near the end of his career in which he faced 18 world champions.