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The 100 Greatest Pound for Pound Boxers Of All Time

Dave CarlsonCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2011

The 100 Greatest Pound for Pound Boxers Of All Time

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    "Pound for pound" rankings were developed by boxing writers during the era of Sugar Ray Robinson (pictured) to rank the world's greatest fighters irrespective of their weight division.

    The nature of these rankings is subjective and raises an interesting question: How do you compensate for differences in size, power and historical time periods when evaluating boxers?

    One common approach is to simply assume all boxers were the same size and evaluate them based on that criteria. However, I think that approach undervalues heavier fighters.

    For one, it doesn't adjust for the natural variations that come with larger body size—it's impossible to assume that a 5'6" boxer would be physically identical if he were a foot taller. Secondly, there are physical restraints: Even if a heavyweight's and flyweight's fists are moving at the same velocity, the longer arm length of the heavyweight makes the punch look slower and less "snappy."

    Alternatively, this list evaluates fighters based on two major factors:

    1. Their skill and accomplishments relative to others in their division(s).
    2. Their ability to win in multiple weight classes, if applicable.

    In developing this list, I examined films and clips of over 250 fights, historical boxing records, anecdotal accounts and other "greatest ever" lists, including those compiled by Ring magazine, ESPN and Bert Sugar. No list can settle the great debate, but this one is the result of hundreds of hours of research and evaluation and is a good starting point.

    Without further ado, the 100 Greatest Pound for Pound Boxers of All Time.

100. Shane Mosley

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Divisions: Lightweight (136) to Light Middleweight (154)

    Record (W-L-D): 46-6-1

    Years Active: 1993-Present

    Shown here in his second of two wins over Oscar De La Hoya, "Sugar" Shane Mosley is a six-time titlist across three weight divisions. Aside from the big wins over De La Hoya, he also holds wins over Fernando Vargas (twice), Luis Collazo and Antonio Margarito.

    A fixture on the top pound for pound lists for nearly a decade, Mosley struggled with rangy, slick fighters (he lost twice to Winky Wright and Vernon Forrest) and is also expected to lose in his fight against Manny Pacquiao in 2011.

99. Nicolino Locche

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    Locche on right

    Division: Light Welterweight (142)

    Record: 117-4-14

    Years Active: 1958-1976

    A notoriously weak-fisted Argentinean fighter (his 14 draws equal the number of KOs he had in his career).

    Locche (pictured, on right) held the WBA and lineal light welterweight titles from 1968 to 1972.

    He possessed lightning-quick reflexes, often fighting with his hands at his side, much like his modern countryman Sergio Martinez.

98. Miguel Canto

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    Division: Flyweight (112)

    Record: 61-9-4

    Years Active: 1969-1982

    Canto broke the mold of hard-hitting Mexican pressure fighters with his defensive, technical boxing skill and low knockout percentage (only 15 of his 61 wins were by KO).

    Canto had a 14-1-1 record in title fights, winning 13 of these by 15-round decision. 

    No fighter ever won more 15-round world title fights by decision, and now that title fights are 12 rounds, Canto's record will probably never be broken.

97. Lew Jenkins

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    Division: Lightweight (135)

    Record: 74-42-5

    Years Active: 1935-1950

    A Texan known as the "Sweetwater Swatter," Lew Jenkins had tremendous natural talent and punching power, but his personal shortcomings caused him many problems in his career.

    He began fighting at carnivals and in the Army and eventually became lightweight champion of the world. He defended his title against many top fighters but drank excessively, stayed up late and crashed several motorcycles and cars.

    A neck injury from a motorcycle crash greatly affected his career, and from then on he lost a lot more fights than he won. He was ranked No. 99 on Bert Sugar's list of the 100 greatest boxers and 62nd on Ring Magazine's "Greatest Punchers" list.

    He fought in WWII as well and won a Silver Star for his service.

96. Humberto Gonzalez

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    Holly Stein/Getty Images

    Division: Light Flyweight (108)

    Record: 43-3-0

    Years Active: 1984-1995

    Humberto "Chiquita" Gonzalez was one of the most exciting fighters ever in the lighter weight divisions. A 5'1" Mexican boxer, he defended his title 15 times.

    Gonzalez may be most famous to boxing fans for two of his matches that won Ring Magazine's Fight of the Year—against Michael Carbajal (whom he later defeated twice) in 1993 and Saman Sorjaturong in 1995. He fought admirably but lost both by seventh round knockout and retired after the Sorjaturong bout.

95. Max Schmeling

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    Division: Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 56-10-4

    Years Active: 1924-1948

    Schmeling is most famous among American fight fans as the vaunted "enemy" from Nazi Germany who was felled by Joe Louis during the heightened social struggles in World War II.

    Unfortunately, this is not an accurate depiction of Schmeling, who was later found out to have risked his own life to help save the lives of two Jewish children during Hitler's regime.

    There's a reason Louis' win over Schmeling was so momentous—Schmeling was perhaps the most feared heavyweight of his time. He was ranked 55th on Ring Magazine's greatest punchers list.

94. Michael Carbajal

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Division: Light Flyweight (108)

    Record: 49-4-0

    Years Active: 1989-1999

    Nicknamed "Little Hands of Stone" after his boxing hero, Roberto Duran, Michael Carbajal was a four-time world champion and the first big-time fighter under 112 pounds.

    A Mexican-American, he is probably most famous for two fights—a seventh round knockout win over Humberto "Chiquita" Gonzalez in 1993's Fight of the Year and a shocking win over undefeated Mexican prospect Jorge Arce in his final fight in 1999.

    Carbajal was recently inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

93. Bob Montgomery

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    Division: Lightweight (135)

    Record: 75-19-3

    Years Active: 1938-1950

    A lightweight from Philadelphia, Bob Montgomery was at or near the top of the division for many years during one of boxing's golden ages. 

    He went undefeated in his first 23 fights and had a solid record in a packed schedule against many top fighters. He was never able to beat Sammy Angott in their three bouts but defeated such legends as Maxie Shapiro, Lew Jenkins and Beau Jack.

92. Floyd Patterson

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    Divisions: Light Heavyweight (175), Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 55-8-1

    Years Active: 1952-1972

    "The Gentleman of Boxing," Floyd Patterson helped pave the way for many high-profile black heavyweights who followed him. 

    In an era with only one heavyweight title, Patterson won nine of his 10 title bouts, including two of three in his famous trilogy with swingin' Swede Ingemar Johansson. 

    In 1962, he lost the title to Sonny Liston and would never regain it, but he still went on to win most of his matches. He retired at age 37 in 1972 after a loss to Muhammad Ali.

91. Joe Calzaghe

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Division: Super Middleweight (168), Light Heavyweight (175)

    Record: 46-0

    Years Active: 1993-2008

    Nicknamed "The Italian Dragon" and hailing from Wales, Joe Calzaghe presents a significant conundrum for boxing historians.

    On one hand, he was an undefeated champion who made 22 title defenses and beat such legends as Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones Jr. and Chris Eubank.

    On the other hand, those guys were all aging and declining when he beat them, and he was a notoriously protected fighter, only fighting significant opposition in his last six fights. He only fought outside of Europe twice—in his final two bouts.

    Overall, though, he also beat solid contenders Mikkel Kessler, Sakio Bika and Jeff Lacy and clearly deserves a place among the all-time greats.

90. Erik Morales

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Divisions: Super Bantamweight (122) to Light Welterweight (140)

    Record: 51-6

    Years Active: 1993-Present

    It's hard to believe, after all he has accomplished, that Erik Morales is only 34 years old. Beginning in the late 1990s after the retirement of Julio Cesar Chavez, Morales and countryman Marco Antonio Barrera became the two flag-bearers of Mexican boxing.

    Morales was a three-division world champion who has also won minor titles in two other divisions and is a prototypical Mexican fighter—a gritty, hard-hitting, well-trained warrior.

    Though he was on the losing end of two famous trilogies—against Barrera and Manny Pacquiao—he is also the only one of his countrymen to ever beat Pacquiao. Sports Illustrated ranked him 49th on their list of the greatest fighters ever.

89. Azumah Nelson

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Divisions: Featherweight (126), Super Featherweight (130)

    Record: 39-6-2

    Years Active: 1979-1998

    "The Professor" won the WBC Featherweight title in 1984 by knocking out Wilfredo Gomez and defended it successfully for four years. He vacated the title by fighting for the WBC's Super Featherweight title, which he won and held for another six years.

    Perhaps the most impressive in a surprisingly long lineage of successful Ghanaian boxers, Nelson's 10-year reign as WBC champion, including multiple wins over Jeff Fenech and Gabe Ruelas, earns him a spot among the sport's all-time greats.

88. Marco Antonio Barrera

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Division: Super Bantamweight (122) to Lightweight (135)

    Record: 66-7-0

    Years Active: 1989-Present

    "The Babyfaced Assassin" is one of several active Mexican fighters who have earned "legendary" status (joining the previously listed Erik Morales as well as Juan Manuel Marquez, who barely missed the list).

    A beautifully skilled ring technician, he is a seven-time champion across four weight divisions. Notable victories include wins over Erik Morales, Johnny Tapia, Naseem Hamed, Agapito Sanchez and Rocky Juarez.

    Only losing to Junior Jones (twice) and Morales during his prime, Barrera has lost to top-tier fighters (Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez and Amir Khan) in recent years.

87. Felix Trinidad

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Divisions: Welterweight (147) to Middleweight (160)

    Record: 42-3-0

    Years Active: 1990-2005

    Puerto Rico has had many dominant fighters in the sport's history, but few had accomplishments greater than those of Trinidad. Beginning as a welterweight, he held the IBF title in that division for six years before moving up to light middleweight and then middleweight, winning a title in each division.

    In his career, "Tito" held big-time wins over countryman Hector "Macho" Camacho, Oscar De La Hoya, William Joppy and Ricardo Mayorga. His only losses were to Bernard Hopkins, Winky Wright and an ill-fated comeback attempt against Roy Jones, Jr. in 2008.

86. Jack "Nonpareil" Dempsey

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    Division: Middleweight (160)

    Record: 46-5-10

    Years Active: 1883-1895

    A 5'8" middleweight born in Ireland but fighting out of the U.S., "Nonpareil" Dempsey was perhaps the greatest boxer of the 19th century.

    Not to be confused with the more famous heavyweight who was named after him, "Nonpareil" earned his nickname for being virtually unbeatable. His first two losses only came because Dempsey failed to score a knockout in four-round fights based on that stipulation, so in modern boxing, he would have probably won two or three of his five losses.

    In a bygone era of boxing, Dempsey competed in two "fights to the finish"—losing by 32nd-round TKO and then coming back six months later to win a 28th-round KO. He died of tuberculosis at age 33 while still an active boxer.

85. Joe Brown

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    Division: Lightweight (135)

    Record: 116-47-13

    Years Active: 1941-1970

    "Old Bones" Brown was a skilled lightweight who amassed 116 wins throughout an extraordinary 29-year career that began at age 15 and ended when Brown was 44.

    He was more of a classic boxer than a knockout puncher, winning less than half of his victories by KO, but had good power and had an amazing six-year reign as undisputed lightweight champion, making 11 successful defenses before finally losing his title at age 36 in 1962.

84. Charles Kid McCoy

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    Division: Welterweight (147) to Light Heavyweight (175)

    Record: 86-7-10

    Years Active: 1891-1916

    The life and antics of Charles "Kid" McCoy (born Norman Selby in Moscow, Indiana) are the stuff of legend. He was universally considered an excellent technical boxer but also resorted to some unusual clowning that would be considered ridiculous today.

    He is believed to have invented the ruse of mentioning the opponent's untied shoelaces so that he could land a blow while the opponent was looking down.

    Before winning the welterweight title, he rubbed powder on his face and told Tommy Ryan he was sick, lulling the great champion into a false sense of complacency.

    His corner once threw handfuls of tacks into the ring against a barefoot opponent who weighed 90 pounds more and used this as a distraction to knock down the fighter.

    Outside of the ring, he married 10 times, became an actor near the turn of the century and, in a fit of alcoholism, murdered one of his wives. He committed suicide in 1940 and left behind a bizarre, colorful and ultimately tragic legacy.

    He is also believed to be the person responsible for the phrase "The Real McCoy."

83. Mike McCallum

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Divisions: Light Middleweight (154) to Light Heavyweight (175)

    Record: 49-5-1

    Years Active: 1981-1997

    Known as "The Body Snatcher" for his fierce body punching, McCallum won world titles in three divisions—light middleweight, middleweight and light heavyweight.

    The 1984 fight in which he won the light middleweight title in only his 22nd fight is significant for several reasons. It was the first time a Jamaican won a world championship, and it was also the first fight in which two female judges scored a world title fight.

    McCallum beat numerous past and future champions such as Donald Curry, Milton McCrory and Michael Watson. His losses came later in his career, including losses to James Toney and Roy Jones Jr. at the end of his career.

82. Michael Spinks

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    Promotional photo of Michael Spinks

    Divisions: Light Heavyweight (175), Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 31-1-0

    Years Active: 1977-1988

    With his 14-1 record in world title fights, it is somewhat unfortunate that Michael Spinks is most famous among casual fans for the first round KO loss to Mike Tyson that led to Spinks' retirement.

    Spinks was a slim, 6'2" puncher with a legendary right hand known as the "Spinks Jinx." He held world titles for several years in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. He skipped cruiserweight altogether—going from 174.5 lbs. to 199.75 lbs. in a three-month span before winning two consecutive title fights over legendary Larry Holmes.

    He is the most accomplished of the famous Spinks family. His brother is former heavyweight champ Leon Spinks - who once beat Ali, and won a world title in only his eighth fight (a record) - and he's the uncle of Cory Spinks, a present-day fighter and two-division champion in his own right.

81. Khaosai Galaxy

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    Division: Super Flyweight (115)

    Record: 49-1-0

    Years Active: 1980-1991

    The greatest of all the excellent Thai boxers in the smaller weight divisions, Khaosai Galaxy was a knockout puncher widely regarded as one of the greatest champions of all time.

    His only loss came early in his career. Once he became champion, he won 19 consecutive title fights during a seven-year span before retiring with 43 KOs in 49 wins.

    He was listed at No. 19 on Ring Magazine's "Greatest Punchers" list and was also an accomplished Muay-Thai kickboxer and musician.

80. George Dixon

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    Division: Bantamweight (118), Featherweight (126)

    Record: 64-29-51

    Years Active: 1886-1906

    Universally ranked as the greatest or second-greatest bantamweight of all time, George "Little Chocolate" Dixon holds many historical distinctions in boxing.

    Quick-handed with moves described as "cat-like," Dixon became the first black world champion in the history of boxing, as well as being the first Canadian boxer to hold a world title.

    Only a few fights after becoming recognized as the bantamweight world champion (there were no official title belts at the time), he moved up to featherweight and officially defended his featherweight title dozens of times.

    Some mystery surrounds Dixon's career, but it has been reported that he won 78 fights and lost 26. However, Boxrec lists his record as 64-29 with 51 draws.

79. Bob Fitzsimmons

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    Divisions: Middleweight (160), Light Heavyweight (175), Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 68-8-4

    Years Active: 1885-1914

    Nicknamed "The Freckled Wonder," "Cornishman" and most famously "Ruby," Bob Fitzsimmons was one of the finest pure punchers, landing a spot at No. 8 on Ring Magazine's "Greatest Punchers" list.

    He holds many distinctions, including being recognized as the first person to ever win world titles in three weight divisions and being the lightest heavyweight champion (he was 167 pounds when he officially won the world heavyweight title). He also defeated the legendary Jack "Nonpareil" Dempsey.

    Born in the UK, raised in New Zealand and retiring in the U.S., Fitzsimmons' weight-scaling accomplishments are on par with Manny Pacquiao's. When Fitzsimmons fought, there were only eight weight classes, unlike today's 17 official divisions.

78. Tony Zale

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    Division: Middleweight (160)

    Record: 67-18-2

    Years Active: 1934-1948

    An American middleweight from Gary, Indiana, Tony Zale was nicknamed "Man of Steel" for his tough chin and resilient attitude. A classic "tough guy" boxer, he was also known for his strong body punching.

    A two-time world middleweight champion, he is best remembered for twice beating Rocky Graziano in their famous trilogy.

    Zale was originally cast to play himself in Somebody Up There Likes Me, in which Paul Newman played Rocky Graziano. During one of their sparring scenes, Zale got rough with Newman and knocked him out and was subsequently replaced.

77. Ricardo Lopez

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Divisions: Minimumweight (105), Light Flyweight (108), Flyweight (112)

    Record: 51-0-1

    Years Active: 1985-2001

    A 5'5" Mexican boxer, Lopez was one of the most dominant boxers ever in the smallest weight divisions. One of the only champions to ever retire undefeated, he held the WBC minimumweight title for most of the 1990s.

    Originally a powerful KO puncher, he became slightly more tactical over the years but always won. Finito's career saw him hold five titles between 1990 and his retirement. Given the pound for pound nature of this list, a reasonable argument can be made for placing the Mexican higher on this list.

76. Carlos Ortiz

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    Divisions: Lightweight (135), Light Welterweight (140)

    Record: 61-7-1

    Years Active: 1955-1972

    A member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and one of the greatest Puerto Rican boxers ever, Ortiz held three titles, including two as a lightweight and one at light welterweight.

    His record of 61 wins and seven losses isn't extraordinary, but the quality of his opponents was. He had multiple wins over Battling Torres, Flash Elorde and Sugar Ramos, and he fought Nicolino Locche to a hard-fought draw.

    He retired in 1972 but remains popular with his countrymen and boxing fans in general.

75. Manuel Ortiz

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    Division: Bantamweight (118)

    Record: 98-29-3

    Years Active: 1938-1955

    A Mexican-American born in El Centro, California, Ortiz was one of the greatest fighters of the 1940s.

    After a stellar amateur career, he moved up the ranks and became the undisputed world bantamweight titleholder for eight years between 1942 and 1950, even while fighting against such luminaries as Willie Pep.

    Ortiz served in the U.S. Army and died in 1970 from cirrhosis of the liver. He had 23 total title fights.

74. Sonny Liston

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    Division: Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 50-4-0

    Years Active: 1953-1970

    One of the most feared and mysterious figures in boxing history, Sonny Liston was born in Arkansas, but his true birthdate was never known.

    He endured constant beatings as a child and grew up to become heavyweight champion of the world between 1962 and 1964 after knocking out Floyd Patterson (No. 92 on this list) in the first round in consecutive fights.

    His later career is more famous, but still shrouded in mystery. He was heavily favored over a young Cassius Clay, who "shook up the world" by beating Liston, and then was defeated by Clay on a "phantom punch" in the rematch in less than two minutes.

    The image of Ali standing over a knocked-out Liston is perhaps the most famous in all of sports.

    People suspected the fight might have been fixed because of Liston's underworld contacts, and he never regained his previous acclaim. He died in 1970, while still an active boxer, in mysterious circumstances.

73. Carlos Zarate

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    Divisions: Bantamweight (118) to Super Featherweight (130)

    Record: 66-4-0

    Years Active: 1970-79, 1986-88

    Neck-and-neck with Wilfredo Gomez for the title of greatest knockout puncher in the sub-lightweight divisions, Zarate was one of the greatest KO punchers of all time in any weight class. Ring ranked him No. 21 among the greatest punchers of all time.

    Born and raised in Mexico, Zarate fought in four divisions but only won a title in the bantamweight division, defending it 10 times.

    Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Zarate is the only boxer in history to have two streaks of 20 or more consecutive knockout wins. 63 of his 66 victories came by knockout.

72. Wilfred Benitez

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    Divisions: Light Welterweight (140) to Light Middleweight (154)

    Record: 53-8-1

    Years Active: 1973-1990

    Probably the most beloved and respected Puerto Rican boxing champion of all time. He was aggressive on offense but had tremendous defensive abilities.

    In 1976, at age 17, he became the youngest world champion in history. He went on to win titles in two more divisions, becoming the youngest three-division champion ever at just 22.

    Benitez defeated some of the top fighters of his day, including Roberto Duran. His most famous fight was a loss to Sugar Ray Leonard for the WBC welterweight title.

    Unfortunately, the story for Benitez hasn't ended as well as it began. Just 51, he suffers from an incurable, degenerative neurological condition and has forgotten most of his career.

71. Wilfredo Gomez

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    Division: Super Bantamweight (122), Featherweight (126)

    Record: 44-3-1

    Years Active: 1974-1989

    Another Puerto Rican legend, Wilfredo Gomez was a two-division world champion. He is considered, along with Carlos Zarate of Mexico, as one of the two greatest knockout punchers in the sub-lightweight divisions.

    Both fighters had an identical KO win percentage (Gomez won 42 of 44 by KO, Zarate 63 of 66), and Zarate held more titles.

    So why is Gomez ranked higher?

    Well, for one, he had the longest consecutive KO streak (32) of any champion, and he also knocked out Zarate in the fifth round of their only head-to-head matchup.

70. Barbados Joe Walcott

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    Division: Welterweight (147)

    Record: 96-25-25

    Years Active: 1890-1911

    Not to be confused with the more famous "Jersey" Joe Walcott, who named himself after this fighter, "Barbados" Joe Walcott may not be the greatest pound-for-pound fighter ever but could be the greatest inch-for-inch fighter. He stood just 5'1.5" tall but was a rugged, popular fighter.

    His high loss numbers are the result of his accidentally shooting himself in the hand during a New Year's celebration, which caused him to lose more fights than he won for the remainder of his career.

    His most significant fight was a draw with Sam Langford, one of the most feared fighters in the history of the sport. After his career, Walcott squandered a fortune and ended up working a series of odd jobs until his death in 1935.

69. Bob Foster

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    Division: Light Heavyweight (175)

    Record: 56-8-1

    Years Active: 1961-1978

    Bob Foster was a fast and powerful light heavyweight whom many consider the greatest light heavyweight ever. He agreed, once quipping, "I was cocky, but damn, I was good."

    He was a three-time light heavyweight champion but isn't ranked higher on this list because of his lack of success in other weight divisions—most of his losses came during his frequent forays into the heavyweight division.

    To be fair, most of his losses at heavyweight came in title fights against such boxers as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Zora Folley and Ernie Terrell.

    On the other hand, he had a big-time win against Dick Tiger, and he handled all of the light heavyweight competition he faced. That's why Ring Magazine and Bert Sugar rank him among the all-time top 80, and he was No. 17 on Ring's "Greatest Punchers" list.

68. James J. Corbett

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    Division: Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 11-4-3

    Years Active: 1886-1903

    The legendary "Gentleman Jim" Corbett had the fewest wins of any boxer on this list because he had such a low activity rate. However, seven of his bouts were against all-time boxing greats, and he was also one of the first heavyweight champions to fight African-American fighters.

    His win over the great John L. Sullivan earned him the undisputed heavyweight championship, and he defended it only twice over the next five years before losing a tough-fought battle to Bob Fitzsimmons (79th) on a debilitating body shot.

    He lost three of his next four fights against all-time greats but defeated Charles "Kid" McCoy (84th) by fifth-round KO.

    "Gentleman Jim" fought in a different era of boxing and had matches that went 61, 27, 23 and 21 rounds with five-ounce gloves, so his skill and contributions to the sport are far more substantial than his record suggests.

67. Fighting Harada

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    Division: Flyweight (112) to Featherweight (126)

    Record: 55-7-0

    Years Active: 1960-1970

    An all-time great Japanese fighter, Masahiko "Fighting" Harada was a three-time champion in the flyweight and bantamweight divisions, including two titles he held for three straight years.

    Generally, he fought Japanese fighters who are relatively unknown in the U.S., but he also held two major victories over Eder Jofre, who appears later on this list.

    Harada now serves as the president of the Japanese boxing commission. Wilfredo Gomez (71st) said Harada was his idol as a child.

66. Pancho Villa

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    Division: Flyweight (112)

    Record: 92-9-4

    Years Active: 1919-1925

    Francisco Guilledo—better known as "Pancho Villa"—was a Filipino boxer who won 92 fights in just six years before his sudden death following a tooth extraction at age 23. His career remains one of the great unanswered questions in boxing history.

    What we do know about him is that he won consistently against quality opposition, including the great Jimmy Wilde (later on this list). His only other fight against an all-time great was his final bout with Jimmy McLarnin, which he lost due to complications from a dental infection that later ended up costing him his life.

    Nonetheless, Villa was the first Pinoy (Filipino) boxing champion and is regarded as a great cultural hero taken too soon.

65. Lennox Lewis

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    John Gichigi/Getty Images

    Division: Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 41-2-1

    Years Active: 1989-2003

    A tall, powerful heavyweight with uncommon boxing skill for someone his size, Lewis was sometimes lost amid the great hype of his contemporaries Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, but he carved out an exceptional legacy among the sport's greatest heavyweights ever.

    He never lost a fight that he didn't avenge later, and his list of felled opponents reads like a who's who of heavyweights over the last 20 years. He defeated Ray Mercer, Oliver McCall, Tommy Morrison, Andrew Golota, Evander Holyfield, David Tua, Mike Tyson and Vitali Klitschko.

64. Abe Attell

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    Division: Featherweight (126)

    Record: 125-18-21

    Years Active: 1900-1917

    Known as "The Little Hebrew," Abe Attell gained tremendous acclaim around the turn of the century for his record six-year reign as World Featherweight champion.

    He held the featherweight title from 1906 to 1912, defending it successfully 18 times, a record which stood for over 70 years. During this span, Attell beat legends Battling Nelson and Johnny Kilbane (who narrowly missed this list).

    He also holds another distinction, as he and brother Monte Attell were the first brothers to hold boxing titles simultaneously.

    Bat Masterson said Attell was the best pound-for-pound fighter he'd ever seen other than Wyatt Earp. This may have been a tongue-in-cheek reference to Attell's friendship with gangster Arnold Rothstein and his suspected involvement in the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

63. Johnny Dundee

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    Divisions: Featherweight (126) to Lightweight (135)

    Record: 194-68-42

    Years Active: 1910-1932

    A 5'4" lightweight who was renowned for his footwork and excellent chin, Johnny Dundee is one of the winningest boxers of all time. When "newspaper decisions" are included, he also lost almost 70 fights, but he was only knocked out twice.

    Dundee fought some of the greatest fighters of all time—including nine fights against the great Benny Leonard, who appears near the top of this list. Dundee went 2-6-1 against Leonard.

    Both Bert Sugar and Nat Fleischer were big fans of Dundee's, with Sugar ranking him 32nd all-time and Fleischer including him in his top five featherweights of all time rankings.

62. Panama Al Brown

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    Division: Bantamweight (118)

    Record: 135-20-12

    Years Active: 1922-1942

    "Panama" Al Brown was a bantamweight who became the first Hispanic world champion. He fought for 20 years but recorded most of his losses later in his career. 

    Born in Panama, he later moved to France, where he struck up a love affair with Jean Cocteau, making him one of the few known homosexual boxers.

    No video is available of his bouts, but written descriptions say that he was a very quick technical fighter, and he won more of his fights by decision than knockout. He held multiple decisive wins over Kid Fortune and Battling Nelson.

    After boxing, Brown tried his hand at cabaret theater, and he died of tuberculosis at age 48 in New York City.

61. Mike Tyson

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Division: Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 50-6-0

    Years Active: 1985-2005

    "The Baddest Man on the Planet." A rags-to-riches (and back to rags) story.

    Tyson was rescued from the juvenile prison system and became one of the most feared heavyweights ever.

    The early numbers speak for themselves: 25 KOs in 27 straight victories and a title. Eleven consecutive title defenses by KO or wide unanimous decision. Huge early KOs of Michael Spinks (82nd), Frank Bruno, Larry Holmes, Pinklon Thomas and Trevor Berbick.

    But then the legend of Tyson began to unravel. The famous upset loss to Buster Douglas, the prison sentence, the losses to Holyfield and Lewis and the famous "ear" incident. Tyson himself said his career ended in 1990, in his mind.

    So what we have is an astoundingly talented and exciting fighter who was never able to harness his personal demons and thus possesses a fractured, if accomplished, legacy. Tyson could have been one of the best ever, but poor choices and circumstances led him to simply being a great, but not all-time great, fighter.

60. Beau Jack

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    Division: Lightweight (135)

    Record: 88-24-5

    Years Active: 1938-1955

    Hard-hitting and relentless, Beau Jack was one of the most popular fighters of the wartime era. He headlined fights at Madison Square Garden 21 times, a record that still stands today.

    He was a two-time world champion and Ring Magazine's 1944 Fighter of the Year. 

    Never completely invincible, but always formidable, he held major wins over Lew Jenkins (97th) and Henry Armstrong, who appears near the top of this list.

    He fought often and routinely defeated the greatest fighters of his day. Most of his losses came in the later part of his career.

59. Aaron Pryor

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    Fair use image from en.wikipedia.org

    Division: Light Welterweight (140)

    Record: 39-1-0

    Years Active: 1976-1990

    "The Hawk" reigned as the world Light Welterweight champion for the first half of the 1980s and was the victor in a legendary two-bout series with Alexis Arguello. Their first matchup, which Pryor won by 14th round TKO, was named the 1980s Fight of the Decade by Ring Magazine.

    Only 5'6", which was small even for his era and weight division, Pryor had some of the finest boxing skills ever and could have easily gone undefeated in his career if it weren't for a lone loss to journeyman Bobby Joe Young in Pryor's second comeback.

    Despite struggling with drug problems soon after his first retirement, Pryor has reformed himself and is now an ordained Baptist minister and a motivational speaker for teams like the New York Jets.

58. Tiger Flowers

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    Division: Middleweight (160)

    Record: 136-15-8

    Years Active: 1918-1927

    Nicknamed "The Georgia Deacon," Tiger Flowers was a devout practitioner of Christianity and the sweet science. The first African-American middleweight champion ever, he is best remembered for winning the title from Harry Greb in 1926 and then beating Greb again six months later.

    Unfortunately, he and Greb were linked by more than just those bouts—both would die of complications from a similar eye surgery within a year of each other. 

    However, Flowers, who passed away at age 32 in November 1927, fought at a tremendously active pace—he had 19 bouts, including two draws with legendary Maxie Rosenbloom, during those first 11 months of 1927.

    Sometimes called "The Left-Handed Harry Greb," Flowers was one of the all-time greats and unfortunately passed away too soon.

57. Tommy Loughran

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    Division: Light Heavyweight (175)

    Record: 124-32-13

    Years Active: 1919-1937

    Handsome, skilled and a good man, Tommy Loughran was not only Ring Magazine's Fighter of the Year in 1929 and 1931 but was also one of the finest light heavyweight champions of all time. 

    He was one of the first boxers to make use of good footwork, strong defensive techniques and skilled counterpunching. He was ahead of his time in this regard.

    He held major wins at both light heavyweight and heavyweight over men such as Jack Sharkey, Max Baer, Jim Braddock (the "Cinderella Man"), Mickey Walker, George Carpentier and Harry Greb, several of whom are well-ranked on this list.

    Some questioned his jaw, and he certainly had fragile hands, but Tommy Loughran was one of the best, and it wouldn't be unjustifiable to place him much higher on this list.

56. Charley Burley

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    Divisions: Welterweight (147), Middleweight (160)

    Record: 83-12-2

    Years Active: 1936-1950

    Perhaps the most avoided fighter in boxing's history, Charley Burley was frequently described as "too good for his own good" and was dodged by so many fighters that he never once had a world title bout in either of his two divisions.

    Famous fighters believed to have ducked Burley include all-time greats Billy Conn, Marcel Cerdan, Jake LaMotta and Sugar Ray Robinson.

    When he did fight, though, he won. He defeated Archie Moore and Fritzie Zivic and dropped a series of close 10-round decisions to Ezzard Charles.

    Legendary trainer Eddie Futch said Burley was "the finest all-around fighter I ever saw," and a former sparring companion made a favorable comparison between Burley and Roy Jones, Jr. He holds a spot in all major boxing halls of fame.

55. Carmen Basilio

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    Divisions: Welterweight (147), Middleweight (160)

    Record: 56-16-7

    Years Active: 1948-1961

    A straightforward fighter with a peculiar nickname, "The Upstate Onion Farmer" carved out a spot in history by taking on anyone and everyone during his legendary 13-year career.

    Most famous for his middleweight title win over a certain pound for pound legend named Sugar Ray Robinson, Basilio also boasts wins over Lew Jenkins, Johnny Saxton, Ike Williams and Billy Graham. He also had a close decision loss to Kid Gavilan.

    For his efforts, the 5'6" fighter was awarded with world titles in two weight classes, Ring Magazine's 1957 Fighter of the Year award, the Hickok belt for being an outstanding sportsman and a spot in every major boxing hall of fame.

54. Kid Gavilan

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    Division: Welterweight (147)

    Record: 108-30-5

    Years Active: 1943-1958

    A kid in nickname and age only, the Cuban fighter was actually 5'11", very tall for a welterweight.

    The welterweight champion had a smooth, sweet, pressure-based style reminiscent of a more skilled version of Paul "The Punisher" Williams.

    He held wins over Ike Williams and Carmen Basilio (55th on this list) and lost narrowly to Sugar Ray Robinson. Soon after his retirement, he was inducted into the original boxing Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in recognition of his great contributions to the sport.

53. Oscar De La Hoya

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Divisions: Super Featherweight (130) to Middleweight (160)

    Record: 39-6

    Years Active: 1992-2008

    The most financially successful boxer in history was also one of the best. De La Hoya's six divisional world titles make him the only person who has even come close to matching Manny Pacquiao's record of winning world titles in eight weight divisions.

    We remember him as much for his losses (Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley twice, Bernard Hopkins, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr.) as his wins (Julio Cesar Chavez twice, Pernell Whitaker, Arturo Gatti, Fernando Vargas and Felix Sturm are among them).

    However, this underscores one of the most underappreciated aspects of Oscar De La Hoya: He always took on the top guys in his weight divisions, which is one of the big reasons he was so popular.

    Mexican-American, handsome, well-spoken and clean-cut, he exemplified what it meant to be "The Golden Boy." He may not have been the greatest fighter in history, but he was probably the greatest marketer in the history of the sport, and we were lucky to watch him fight all these years.

52. Dick Tiger

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    Divisions: Middleweight (160) to Light Heavyweight (175)

    Record: 60-19-3

    Years Active: 1952-1970

    A four-time middleweight champion, Dick Tiger is one of the more underappreciated boxers from the 1960s.

    A Nigerian native who emigrated to England and then the United States, Tiger was one of the most prolific fighters ever at Madison Square Garden. Aside from the four times he won the middleweight or light heavyweight title, Tiger is most famous for his two wins over Gene Fullmer and his unanimous decision victory over Rubin "The Hurricane" Carter.

    During the down years of boxing in the early 1960's, Tiger won Ring Magazine's "Fighter of the Year" twice—in 1962 and 1965.

51. Pascual Perez

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    Division: Flyweight (112)

    Record: 84-7-1

    Years Active: 1952-1964

    A former Olympic gold medalist, Pascual Perez became the first Argentinian world champion, holding the world flyweight title for six years between 1954 and 1960.

    A feared knockout puncher, he held a streak of 18 straight knockout victories just before his championship reign began.

    Much like Sergio Martinez, Perez was never very famous in Argentina and often had to fight internationally. This, combined with his small weight division, probably hampered his international renown, but he was ranked 36 on Ring Magazine's "80 Greatest Fighters of the Past 80 Years" in 2002, and boxing historian Bert Sugar ranked Perez as the 34th greatest fighter of all time.

50. Salvador Sanchez

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    Divisions: Bantamweight (118), Featherweight (126)

    Record: 44-1-1

    Years Active: 1975-1982

    Salvador Sanchez is another of the great "What Ifs" in boxing history. Many writers believe he would have been the greatest featherweight ever, but he passed away in a fatal car crash at the young age of 23.

    Nonetheless, his accomplishments before reaching 23 are enough to land him a spot on the list. He defended his featherweight title 10 consecutive times and defeated Wilfredo Gomez (71st) and Azumah Nelson (89th) during this span.

    In 1981, the year before his death, he also won (along with Sugar Ray Leonard) a share of Ring Magazine's Fighter of the Year award, at the young age of 22. There is no knowing what Sanchez would have accomplished in his career, but we know one thing—it would have been even greater than what he had already accomplished.

49. Ike Williams

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    Divisions: Lightweight (135)

    Record: 128-24-4

    Years Active: 1940-1955

    Ring Magazine's 1948 Fighter of the Year, Ike Williams held the NBA Lightweight title between 1945 and 1951.

    He did lose some significant fights and admitted to having thrown one, but he held major wins over some of the finest fighters of all time, including Kid Gavilan (54th), Beau Jack (60th) twice, Sammy Angott and Bob Montgomery.

    Unfortunately, some promotional problems affected him during his career. Williams was blackballed by the boxing promoters association for trying to promote himself, and then he signed with a promoter who robbed him of his purses.

    Nonetheless, this boxer with a strong right hand was ranked on Ring Magazine's 100 Greatest Punchers list and is remembered fondly by fans and historians alike.

48. Billy Conn

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    Division: Light Heavyweight (175)

    Record: 64-12-1

    Years Active: 1934-1948

    "The Pittsburgh Kid" Billy Conn was a three-time light heavyweight champion who won Ring Magazine's 1940 Fighter of the Year award. He possessed impressive boxing ability and outclassed every top light heavyweight of his time, including Fritzie Zivic, Fred Apostoli, Solly Krieger and Young Corbett III.

    After becoming champion, he defended it against many top fighters, including Mario Bettina, Gus Lesnevich and Al McCoy.

    He soon came extremely close to being the lightest man ever to win the heavyweight championship when he clearly outpointed Joe Louis for 12 rounds before foolishly going for a 13th-round knockout and getting knocked out himself. Conn, who was at his peak, lamented that decision for the rest of his life. He fought Louis two more times, but his skills were noticeably declining.

    But Conn kept up his fighting form and appeared in movies later. In 1990, at age 73, he knocked out a robber in a Pittsburgh convenience store, leading to the robber's arrest. ESPN ranks Conn 31st best of all time, and Bert Sugar had him at 35th.

47. Larry Holmes

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    Division: Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 69-6-0

    Years Active: 1973-2002

    "The Easton Assassin" Larry Holmes was an underappreciated American heavyweight who went undefeated in his first 48 bouts against some of the finest boxing talents of his time. In a remarkable career that spanned 29 years, he took on most of the great heavyweights of the last 40 years.

    Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton, Earnie Shavers, Carl "The Truth" Williams—these are just some of the notable names who Holmes beat in his first 48 fights. Later on, he would lose extremely close decisions to Michael Spinks, Evander Holyfield, Oliver McCall and Brian Nielsen.

    On many of these occasions, he was within one to four points on all scorecards. He was only knocked out once—by Mike Tyson in 1988.

    Ring's 1980 Fighter of the Year, he held some version of the heavyweight championship from the late '70s through the mid 1980s but still doesn't get the respect his impressive career deserves.

46. Bernard Hopkins

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    Divisions: Middleweight (160) to Light Heavyweight (175)

    Record: 51-5-2

    Years Active: 1988-Present

    Sure, "The Executioner" has his detractors, but it's hard not to have mad respect for a guy who has managed to stay at the top of the sport for so long.

    He held the middleweight title for 10 years, defending it a record 20 times, and is the only fighter to retain all four major governing body belts and the Ring title in the same fight—he did it twice.

    His accomplishments even since his 41st birthday—wins over Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, Roy Jones Jr. and a draw with Ring's light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal—would be a pretty darn good career for most boxers, but it's just icing on the cake after B-Hop's extraordinary career.

    It wouldn't be hard to argue that he should be ranked in the top 25 on this list. His recent bout with Jean Pascal proved he still has some fight left in him. To quote Justin Tate, "Rumble, old man, rumble."

45. Alexis Arguello

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    Divisions: Featherweight (126) to Welterweight (147)

    Record: 82-8-0

    Years Active: 1968-1986

    A straight-up, hard-hitting Nicaraguan, over 75 percent of his wins came by KO. A boxer and politician nicknamed "El Flaco Explosivo" ("The Explosive Thin Man"), he had a very impressive reign at the top of the sport and fell just short of becoming the first person ever to hold world titles in four weight classes.

    His most famous fight was undoubtedly a 14th-round TKO loss in an epic battle with a younger Aaron Pryor (59th), which is enshrouded in controversy due to a potentially spiked water bottle used by known cheater Panama Lewis, who was Pryor's trainer.

    However, it was his wins that were more impressive. Among them were victories over Bobby Chacon, Alfredo Escalera, Jim Watt and Ray Mancini.

    After retirement, Arguello became a successful politician in Nicaragua, but the story didn't end happily—allegedly disillusioned with his party, he committed suicide in 2009.

44. Thomas Hearns

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    Divisions: Welterweight (147) to Cruiserweight (200)

    Record: 61-5-1

    Years Active: 1977-2000

    Hearns is ranked 44th on this list, but his influence on the sport was far greater. He was an alarmingly tall (6'1"), broad-shouldered welterweight with extremely long arms and fast hand speed and didn't fight like a tall guy.

    He is the namesake for the "Hitman stance" (right arm at chin level, but with the left arm dangling low) and is the source of two of the three best reused boxing nicknames.

    Powerful, quick, awkward and aggressive, he was a treat to watch. One of the greatest weight climbers in history, he won major titles in five divisions, six if you count the NABF middleweight title.

    Unfortunately for Hearns, his three most famous fights happen to be the only three losses he suffered in his prime—to Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and Iran Barkley. Two of those won fight of the year, and one was perhaps the biggest upset of the '80s.

    However, his wins were impressive too—over Roberto Duran, Wilfred Benitez and a draw with Leonard—and in all, he fought 21 past, present or future champions. That, combined with his two Ring Fighter of the Year awards, lands him in the discussion of the all-time greats.

43. Ted (Kid) Lewis

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    Divisions: Flyweight (112) to Light Heavyweight (175)

    Record: 193-28-13 (Sources vary)

    Years Active: 1909-1929

    Beginning as a youth in England fighting for mere pittances, he began as an evasive, jab-based fighter but reportedly became more of a swarming, combination fighter once he came to the United States. At just 5'8", he was considered small for most of the larger weight divisions but managed to win a large percentage of his fights, even as he moved up to light heavyweight.

    Precious little video of "Kid" Lewis exists, but this video clearly shows his defensive prowess and crisp, clean punching.

    His only world title was in the welterweight division, but he won European and British titles in several divisions and could be considered one of the first multi-division champions in boxing history.

    Bert Sugar ranked him No. 33 of all time, ahead of many famous names such as Sugar Ray Leonard.

42. Kid Chocolate

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    Divisions: Featherweight (126) to Lightweight (135)

    Record: 135-10-6

    Years Active: 1927-1938

    One of the most popular and flashy fighters in the early 1930s, "Kid Chocolate" was a Cuban who emigrated to the United States in the late 1920s and became the first Cuban world champion when he knocked out Benny Bass for the world junior lightweight title.

    Though records are scarce and spurious, he reportedly began his career with 21 consecutive knockouts and went undefeated in his first 56 fights. He finally lost against future world champ Jackie (Kid) Berg but won the title from Bass a year later.

    Chocolate wouldn't continue his dominance, and it was revealed that the frequent partier was suffering from syphilis. Nonetheless, he still went on to win almost 90 percent of his remaining matches and earned a spot at No. 40 on Bert Sugar's authoritative work on the 100 Greatest Boxers ever and 47th on Ring Magazine's list of the top 80 of the last 80 years.

41. Pernell Whitaker

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    Divisions: Lightweight (135) to Welterweight (147)

    Record: 40-4-1

    Years Active: 1984-1997

    A clearly faded Whitaker lost his last three bouts, and his only other loss was a narrow split decision in Pernell's 16th fight, to 100-win Mexican world titlist Jose Luis Ramirez.

    Between losses, Whitaker embarked on an astounding 26-fight unbeaten streak, winning seven world titles in three weight divisions and winning 20 title fights against such foes as Ramirez, Azumah Nelson, Jorge Paez and twice against James "Buddy" McGirt.

    He also ended Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez's 87-fight winning streak, winning one scorecard and tying on two en route to a majority decision draw.

    Renowned for his quick, solid counterpunching and excellent defensive abilities, "Sweet Pea" earned many honors in his career. He was a 1984 Olympic Gold medalist, 1989's Ring Fighter of the Year and a first-ballot hall of famer in 2006.

40. Roy Jones Jr.

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    Divisions: Junior Middleweight (154) to Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 54-7-0

    Years Active: 1989-Present

    A classic case of a great fighter who held on too long. Ring''s Fighter of the Decade for the 1990s, Roy Jones Jr. set numerous records and was the undisputed pound for pound king around the turn of the century.

    He began his career with essentially 50 straight wins (he had a controversial disqualification for a suspected late punch against Montell Griffin that did nothing to affect his perceived supremacy) and set a record by holding seven belts at the same time.

    After beating John Ruiz, he became the first person in over 100 years to have won both the middleweight and heavyweight championship. But a few fights later, it all began to unravel, and he has gone 5-6 since his last major win against Antonio Tarver.

    So what to make of Roy Jones? He was clearly one of the most physically gifted boxers ever. He developed a hands-down, unconventional style that could only work for someone with his hand speed and strong chin. Once that speed started to fade, Jones' shortcomings were exposed.

    Nonetheless, he has had a tremendous, record-setting career and has given us some of the finest moments in boxing, like this knockdown of Glen Kelly.

39. Joe Frazier

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    Division: Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 32-4-1

    Years Active: 1965-1976

    Great champions always need a primary rival, and for Muhammad Ali, that rival was Smokin' Joe Frazier.

    A former Olympic heavyweight gold medalist, Frazier was the perfect foil to Ali's style. If Ali floated like a butterfly, Frazier plodded like an ox. If Ali was a flashy Cadillac, Frazier was a locomotive, with a somewhat counterintuitive rhythm but who kept moving forward with his head down with an "I think I can" style.

    Frazier never had Ali's good fortune. Son of a South Carolina sharecropper, he had a far less privileged upbringing than Clay. While Clay returned home to a hero's welcome after his 1960 gold medal, Frazier was hardly noticed four years later. Frazier had to go pro quickly, and the only people interested in him were a group of white businessmen.

    This would hurt Frazier for the rest of his career. Ali became the powerful voice of black separatism, and the more culturally "black" Frazier was somehow tagged as the establishment candidate. When they finally fought in "The Fight of the Century" (which Frazier won), Ali had become the voice of "the people." Then Ali hurled racist insults at Frazier before the "Thrilla in Manila," which surprisingly didn't enable Frazier to grab the mantle of the powerful winds of change in our country.

    Frazier, who boasted wins over Ali, Bob Foster, Jimmy Ellis and George Chuvalo and only lost to two people (Ali and George Foreman), was an excellent boxer with a powerful left hook and a granite chin. However, the fickle finger of history prevented him from being accepted as the American legend that he is.

38. Evander Holyfield

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    Division: Cruiserweight (200), Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 43-10-2

    Years Active: 1984-Present

    Yet another underappreciated American champion, Holyfield is the only person ever to win a major world heavyweight title four times (almost winning it five times against Nikolay Valuev) and also was a three-time cruiserweight champion.

    Among the great champions beaten by Holyfield: Mike Tyson (twice), George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Riddick Bowe and Michael Moorer.

    One of only a handful of people to win three Ring Fighter of the Year awards, Holyfield was also an Olympic bronze medalist and has shown extraordinary longevity—continuing to fight at a high level even as he approaches age 50.

37. Carlos Monzon

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    Division: Middleweight (160)

    Record: 87-3-9

    Years Active: 1963-1977

    Before there was Sergio Martinez, there was Carlos Monzon. Probably the greatest middleweight of all time, the handsome Argentine had a seven-year reign as world middleweight champion during which he made 14 consecutive defenses.

    As a young, unpolished boxer, he lost his ninth, 14th and 20th pro bouts in his native Argentina but then embarked on an 81-bout unbeaten streak—among the longest ever—to finish his career. He did it against quality opponents: He twice beat all-time greats Jose Napoles, Emile Griffith and Nino Benvenuti, and he also had a win against Bennie Briscoe.

    However, the co-winner of 1972's Ring Fighter of the Year award began to have problems in his personal life. He was shot in the leg by his wife in 1973, and soon thereafter, domestic violence reports became common for Monzon. He was convicted of murdering his second wife, Alicia Munoz, in 1989 and imprisoned. He then died in a car crash on a weekend furlough in 1999, leaving behind a fractured legacy.

36. Jake LaMotta

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    Division: Middleweight (160)

    Record: 83-19-4

    Years Active: 1941-1954

    Immortalized in the 1980 movie Raging Bull, in which he was portrayed by Robert De Niro, Jake LaMotta was an accomplished Italian-American middleweight regarded by many as one of the toughest boxers in history.

    Forced to fight by relatives at an early age, he turned pro at 19 and moved up the ranks quickly. Though he would drop five of his six bouts against Sugar Ray Robinson in one of the most famous rivalries in sports history, he was the first person to ever beat Sugar Ray Robinson.

    Through some bizarre Mafia dealings, he landed a title bout against Marcel Cerdan and capitalized on the opportunity. Before they could have the rematch, however, Cerdan and his team passed away in an airplane crash before the bout could take place.

    Blessed with an exceptionally good chin, he learned to roll with punches and adopted a close, high-pressure fighting style, which ultimately served "The Raging Bull" very well during his career.

35. Terry McGovern

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    Divisions: Bantamweight (118), Featherweight (126)

    Record: 65-6-7

    Years Active: 1897-1908

    Ranked by Nat Fleischer as the best featherweight of all time, and by Charley Rose as the greatest bantamweight, Terry McGovern was an exceptionally heavy puncher for his era, winning 44 of his bouts by KO.

    Because of inconsistent records and practices during his day, it's hard to develop a complete picture of McGovern's dominance, but both ESPN and Bert Sugar ranked him as the 30th greatest fighter of all time. He held notable wins over Joe Gans and George "Little Chocolate" Dixon. 

    Unfortunately, the fates would not be kind to McGovern, who suffered from mental illness for most of his life. Following his career, he was perpetually institutionalized and passed away in 1918 from medical causes unrelated to his boxing career.

34. Ruben Olivares

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    Divisions: Bantamweight (118), Featherweight (126)

    Record: 88-13-3

    Years Active: 1965-1988

    An immensely popular and successful Mexican boxer, during his career, he held the WBC and WBA versions of both the bantamweight and featherweight world championships during his career. Ranked the 12th greatest puncher of all time by Ring Magazine, an astounding 87.5 percent of his wins came by knockout. 

    He began his career with 22 straight KO wins. Soon thereafter, and still undefeated (26-0-1), he embarked on a 29-fight streak that saw him win every fight by KO or opponent's disqualification and landed two bantamweight titles in the process.

    Then his golden years began, and he fought against top-flight opposition for the remainder of his career until his retirement at age 41. He would win fights against Jesus "Chucho" Castillo, Bobby Chacon and Jose Luis Ramirez.

    As the years wore on, he continued to win against quality guys but started to lose with more frequency. He retired in 1988, beloved by his countrymen, and was considered Mexico's undisputed greatest fighter of all time before Julio Cesar Chavez arrived on the scene.

33. Sandy Saddler

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    Divisions: Featherweight (126), Junior Lightweight (130)

    Record: 144-16-2

    Years Active: 1944-1956

    Lanky and strong, Saddler was one of the hardest hitters ever—ranked fifth on Ring Magazine's Greatest Punchers list.

    He was the only person the great Willie Pep couldn't outbox. Saddler won three out of four fights against Pep, including Pep's first knockout loss in his 137th career fight.

    He twice held the featherweight championship and also won the junior lightweight crown. Aside from Pep, he defeated Joe Brown and Flash Elorde, among many others.

    Forced into early retirement due to injuries from a car accident at age 30, Saddler later became a trainer and even helped train George Foreman.

32. Jimmy McLarnin

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    Divisions: Featherweight (126) to Welterweight (147)

    Record: 54-11-3

    Years Active: 1923-1936

    Known by many nicknames, including "The Baby Faced Assassin," Jimmy McLarnin was an Irish-Canadian boxer who had impressive punching power with both hands.

    At first glance, his record isn't out-of-this-world extraordinary. However, he fought many of the sport's greatest fighters and also suffered a few losses due to hand injuries. The fights he did win, though, are very impressive.

    McLarnin defeated Ruby Goldstein, Young Corbett III, Tony Canzoneri, Lou Ambers and Barney Ross—all top-flight boxers and some among the all-time greats.

    McLarnin was wise with his money and his career and after retirement became a successful businessman, actor and speaker.

31. Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

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    Divisions: Lightweight (135) to Light Middleweight (154)

    Record: 41-0-0

    Years Active: 1996-Present

    The most controversial figure in boxing today, Mayweather will probably be one of the most controversial selections on this list too. It raises a significant question in compiling all-time greats lists: How do you rank an undefeated fighter in the all-time rankings?

    In Mayweather's case, it's not difficult to see that he belongs near the top. For years, he has been a dominant force in his division, beating such champions as Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo, Zab Judah, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez.

    Say what you will about the advantages Mayweather held during those matches, but the fact is that he beat some of boxing's best in fights that they agreed to. A smooth, speedy, technically brilliant boxer with exceptional defensive and counterpunching skills, Mayweather is a force to be reckoned with.

    However, his reputation these days is mostly as someone ducking a major fight with Manny Pacquiao, and if he isn't careful, that could be his legacy. Nonetheless, Mayweather has had an exceptional career, and hopefully this isn't the last we've seen of the chronically inactive fighter.

30. Eder Jofre

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    Divisions: Bantamweight (118) to Featherweight (126)

    Record: 72-2-4

    Years Active: 1957-1976

    Known as "The Golden Rooster," Eder Jofre was a superb Brazilian bantamweight and featherweight who won 72 fights and lost to only one opponent—Fighting Harada, on two occasions.

    Considering his tremendous accomplishments—a three-time bantamweight titlist (including a five-year reign) who also won the featherweight title—his career was really quite under the radar. While he ranked No. 85 on Ring's "Greatest Punchers" list and No. 19 on their 2002 greatest fighters of the past 80 years list, he is an unknown name to all but the most hardcore boxing fans.

    However, for those who do know Eder Jofre, all respect him. He possessed power in both hands and a durable chin and was nearly infallible during an extraordinary 20-year career.

29. Emile Griffith

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    Divisions: Welterweight (147) to Middleweight (160)

    Record: 85-24-2

    Years Active: 1958-1977

    Universally regarded as one of the finest welterweights of all time, Griffith was a three-time titlist in the division and became the first fighter from the U.S. Virgin Islands to win a world title.

    In addition to his accomplishments at welterweight, he was also a two-time middleweight champion and is sometimes recognized as also holding an early version of the junior middleweight title.

    Best known for his wins over Dick Tiger, Nino Benvenuti and Luis Manuel Rodriguez, Griffith was not a particularly powerful puncher but had his way with opponents through his masterful strategy. It was enough to make him a headliner at Madison Square Garden on several occasions and to win him the 1964 Fighter of the Year award and a spot in boxing's hall of fame.

28. Jose Napoles

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    Divisions: Lightweight (135) to Middleweight (160)

    Record: 81-7-0

    Years Active: 1958-1975

    Jose "Mantequilla" Napoles is a Cuban-Mexican former welterweight champion who held four titles in that division over a six year span. Napoles is a Mexican hero who held major victories over Billy Backus, Curtis Cokes and Emile Griffith.

    A solid all-around fighter with good knockout power and a tremendous heart, Napoles had an unusual beginning to his career. He won his first 18 fights against mostly unknown competition in his native Cuba, but Fidel Castro banned boxing in 1961. Napoles fled Cuba and found asylum in Mexico, where he made his comeback in 1962 and had the finest performances of his career.

    He was elected to the boxing hall of fame and immortalized as an all-time great champion in former world champion Curtis Cokes' Complete Book of Boxing.

27. Manny Pacquiao

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    Divisions: Light Flyweight (108) to Light Middleweight (154)

    Record: 52-3-2

    Years Active: 1995-Present

    Pac-Man is the most popular boxer in the world today and is suspected to have recently (and undeservedly) won a fourth Ring magazine Fighter of the Year award. Though Sergio Martinez clearly deserved the award this year, Pacquiao deserved it in 2006, 2008 and 2009 and is probably the greatest fighter since 1990 and among the greatest of all time.

    He has climbed weights better than anyone else in history, and looked good doing it. Much like Mayweather, there are questions about his advantages in some of his wins: He often fights at catchweights and has faced numerous criticisms (including mine) of his choice of opponents.

    But the bottom line is that you can't overstate Pacquiao's boxing skill, especially under Freddie Roach, and his accomplishments speak for themselves (given the Filipino star's reluctance to trash talk, that's probably a good thing). He is the biggest thing in boxing right now, and for good reason—he consistently defeats top-flight opposition and invariably makes them look old and tired.

    His fight against Sugar Shane Mosley won't gain him any new admirers, but as long as he keeps winning, his legacy will continue to grow. A major showdown with Mayweather, a top middleweight like Sergio Martinez or Juan Manuel Marquez seems like the only way for Pacquiao to really enhance his credibility. A win against Mayweather or Martinez could move him into the top 15 on this list.

26. Marcel Cerdan

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    Divisions: Welterweight (147), Middleweight (160)

    Record: 111-4-0

    Years Active: 1934-1949

    Unquestionably the greatest French boxer of all time, Cerdan possessed one of the most brilliant, and tragic, careers in the sport's long and storied history.

    French by birth, but born and raised in French Algeria, it took Cerdan many years to develop a large enough reputation to fight for a world title. Undefeated in his first 45 matches, it wasn't until Cerdan was 108-3-0 (and 33 years old) that he finally got, and won, his first world title bout against the legendary Tony Zale.

    After three defenses of his title, he lost his title to Jake LaMotta in a fight where he was winning through three rounds but suffered a major shoulder injury early in the fight.

    Around this time, Cerdan also started an affair with French chanteuse Edith Piaf.

    Before Cerdan could step into the ring with LaMotta for a rematch, he was part of a tragic plane crash that not only killed the high-society Frenchman Cerdan, but also the other 47 on board.

25. Marvin Hagler

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    Division: Middleweight (160)

    Record: 62-3-2

    Years Active: 1973-1987

    Marvelous Marvin Hagler, who spent his entire career at middleweight, has accomplishments in that division that probably earn him the mantle of "greatest middleweight ever." His most famous fight is undoubtedly his third-round TKO victory over Thomas Hearns in the greatest slugfest in boxing history.

    That is closely followed by his controversial and career-ending loss to Sugar Ray Leonard in a fight that many thought Hagler should have won.

    Though never quite given the respect he deserved, Hagler was a two-time Ring fighter of the year (in 1983 and 1985) and had a nearly unprecedented seven-year reign as undisputed middleweight champion of the world.

    At 5'9.5", he was somewhat short for a middleweight but made up for that in boxing skill and gritty gamesmanship. He left us with many of the greatest middleweight fights in the history of boxing.

24. George Foreman

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    Division: Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 76-5-0

    Years Active: 1969-1997

    One of the hardest punchers ever, George Foreman was ranked the ninth greatest puncher of all time by Ring Magazine. Foreman recorded 68 knockouts in his 76 career wins, among them two wins against Joe Frazier and a 10th-round KO against Michael Moorer at age 45 to make him the oldest champion ever.

    Also an Olympic gold medalist, Foreman's legacy is unfortunately hampered by his loss to Muhammad Ali in the "Rumble in the Jungle," in which Ali introduced his now-famous "Rope-a-Dope" strategy to take all of the undefeated (40-0) Foreman's best punches and then knock him out with a legendary eighth-round flurry.

    Foreman has found success out of the ring, becoming an ordained Christian minister. In 1994, Foreman and Hulk Hogan were presented with the opportunity to sponsor a grill, and Hogan didn't answer in time, so Foreman became the name behind the now-famous George Foreman Grill, and Hogan was left with a blender called the "Hulk Hogan Thunder Mixer."

23. Ezzard Charles

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    Divisions: Light Heavyweight (175) to Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 93-25-1

    Years Active: 1940-1959

    When evaluating the career of the "Cincinnati Cobra," it really needs to be done in two parts. The first part involves a fighter who went 70-6 to start his career, winning over former champions in three weight divisions, including Archie Moore, Joe Louis and Jersey Joe Walcott.

    But slightly before that stretch ended, Charles faced a young opponent named Sam Baroudi, who later died due to injuries sustained in his loss to Charles. Charles was deeply affected by this, and in later matches, including a 23-19 stretch to end his career, he backed off when he had his opponents threatened.

    Declining in skill and will, Ezzard had to keep fighting for financial reasons, and in perhaps his most famous bout, he broke the nose of undefeated Rocky Marciano. However, Charles and Marciano were good friends, and many observers think Charles feared doing to Marciano what he had done to Baroudi, and Marciano ended up winning an eighth-round KO victory.

    Nonetheless, Charles is remembered as one of the greatest fighters ever in the higher weight divisions and was memorialized on a postage stamp and with a spot in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

22. Barney Ross

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    Divisions: Lightweight (135) to Welterweight (147)

    Record: 72-4-3

    Years Active: 1929-1938

    Not only a great boxing champion who became one of the first ever three-division champions, Barney Ross was also a great advocate for Jewish-Americans during the period that saw the rise of Adolf Hitler's regime in Europe.

    He was also part of some of the largest early bouts in boxing history, with his wins over Jimmy McLarnin and Tony Canzoneri both drawing crowds of about 50,000. 

    He won titles in the lightweight, light welterweight and welterweight divisions. He was also a two-time Ring Fighter of the Year and was a decorated Marine in World War II.

    Ross later would struggle with addiction to morphine but would recover and give lectures to children about the dangers of drugs. Ross went on to have a successful life as a promotional consultant and was once again in the public eye as a friend of Jack Ruby during the investigation of the Kennedy assassination.

21. Tony Canzoneri

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    Divisions: Featherweight (126) to Welterweight (147)

    Record: 141-24-10

    Years Active: 1925-1939

    An Italian-American who shared the 1934 Ring Fighter of the Year award with Barney Ross, Canzoneri also joins Ross as one of the earliest three-division champions. All in all, he would hold six titles, including joining Ross and Henry Armstrong as the only three boxers to ever hold two undisputed world titles simultaneously.

    Battling Shaw (twice), Kid Chocolate (twice), Jimmy McLarnin and Jack "Kid" Berg are some of the names on the list of fighters Canzoneri vanquished during his 14-year career.

    Canzoneri never had a huge winning streak but always was a formidable fighter who obviously had a great deal of success throughout his career. He was ranked 21st by ESPN and 12th by Bert Sugar in his authoritative work on the 100 greatest boxers of all time.

20. Stanley Ketchel

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    Divisions: Welterweight (147) to Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 51-4-4

    Years Active: 1903-1910

    Stanislaus Kiecal, "The Michigan Assassin" or (most famously) Stanley Ketchel, people had many ways to describe this Polish-American boxing phenom. Though he fought fewer than eight years before his tragic murder, Ketchel won the welterweight and middleweight world titles.

    Despite being 5'9" and only 160 lbs., Ketchel also fought admirably against Jack Johnson for the world heavyweight title and was slated for a rematch before his murder. Ring historians ranked Ketchel sixth all-time on their "Greatest Punchers" list, and he was ranked the 19th greatest boxer of all time by both ESPN and Bert Sugar on their respective lists.

    We can only wonder what else Ketchel could have done. His accomplishments by age 24 already rank him among the all-time greats.

19. Jimmy Wilde

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    Division: Flyweight (112)

    Record: 138-5-2

    Years Active: 1910-1920

    Almost universally recognized as the greatest flyweight ever, Jimmy "The Mighty Atom" Wilde had an astounding carer that saw him win 138 bouts and lose just four in a 10-year span.

    Born in Pentwyn Deintyr in Wales, Wilde's skill eventually allowed him to fight his way out of the UK, and finally, in his 121st bout, with a record of 117-1-2, he won the world flyweight title. He would go 21-3 between that point and his retirement in 1920, but none of those losses were in sanctioned title fights, so he retired as champion.

    Three years later, he returned out of a sense of obligation to defend his title against rapidly rising Filipino flyweight Pancho Villa (66th on this list) and after losing to Villa announced his final retirement in 1923.

    During his retirement, he invested in several unsuccessful businesses, and he passed away in 1969. Ring Magazine ranked him the third greatest puncher of all time, and he was part of the inaugural class of the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

18. Archie Moore

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    Divisions: Middleweight (160) to Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 185-23-11

    Years Active: 1935-1963

    Ring Magazine's fourth greatest puncher of all time, Archie Moore had a record reign as world light heavyweight champion, holding the title for 10 consecutive years between 1952 and 1962. He could have held the title for longer had he not abandoned the title to move up to heavyweight for his final five fights.

    Despite his many successes at light heavyweight, perhaps his two most famous bouts were at heavyweight. In his second last fight, he faced Cassius Clay, who predicted he would "drop Moore in four" and proceeded to do so.

    However, in 1956, Moore was Rocky Marciano's final opponent and gave the undefeated Italian-American one of the fights of his life. Moore became only the second person ever to knock down Marciano and was close on all scorecards before Marciano KO'd him in the ninth.

    However, Moore should be best remembered for his extraordinary accomplishments at light heavyweight, beating Yvon Durelle, Joey Maxim and Bobo Olson. Moore was one of the inaugural inductees to the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the San Diego Sports Hall of Champions.

17. Mickey Walker

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    Divisions: Welterweight (147) to Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 109-22-5 (Sources vary)

    Years Active: 1919-1935

    If Manny Pacquiao is the greatest weight climber under 150 pounds, Mickey Walker gives Roy Jones, Jr. a run for his money as probably the greatest weight climber above 150. Walker was the only welterweight champion in history to become a credible contender at heavyweight, and many believed he could have become heavyweight champion.

    Ring Magazine's 1927 Fighter of the Year had a lengthy reign as welterweight champion before moving up to middleweight and winning a title in that division. He defended his middleweight title twice before moving up to light heavyweight. Some feel he was unjustly robbed of a light heavyweight title reign.

    However, Walker quickly moved up to heavyweight and stunned observers by beating several top contenders, including Bearcat Wright, who stood a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier than the still-light Walker. He lost a disputed draw to Jack Sharkey, who next became heavyweight champion after beating Max Schmeling.

    Many people thought Walker could beat Sharkey in a title fight, but before that could happen, Schmeling won back his title, and in Walker's only heavyweight title fight, Schmeling's overwhelming size and strength advantages overwhelmed Walker.

    Walker returned to light heavyweight but again lost a title bout, but he punctuated his career with a win over Maxie Rosenbloom before retiring. He became an accomplished golfer and artist and was an inaugural inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

16. Julio Cesar Chavez

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    Divisions: Super Featherweight (130), Lightweight (135), Super Lightweight (140)

    Record: 107-6-2

    Years Active: 1980-2005

    The greatest Mexican fighter of all time, Julio Cesar Chavez had some of the most magical moments and impressive streaks in boxing history. Chavez—virtually unknown for most of his early career—was a six-time titlist in three divisions and beat some of the finest opposition of his day.

    Chavez began his career with 87 straight wins before his draw with Pernell Whitaker, and it wasn't until his 90th career fight that he finally tasted defeat against fringe contender Frankie Randall.

    Wins over Meldrick Taylor, Hector "Macho" Camacho and Ivan Robinson, two wins against Randall and the draw with Whitaker helped establish Chavez as the legend that he is today. Aside from his six titles, Chavez was also 1990's Ring Fighter of the Year and elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame as part of this year's 2011 class.

    The quintessential Mexican fighter, Chavez never possessed great speed but was a hard puncher and had an amazing chin, indomitable heart and an overwhelming will to win. His 107 wins are almost unheard-of in the modern-day boxing environment.

    Chavez is now a successful businessman and has two undefeated sons—Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Omar Chavez.

15. Sugar Ray Leonard

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    Divisions: Welterweight (147) to Light Heavyweight (175)

    Record: 36-3-1

    Years Active: 1977-1989

    Ring Magazine's Fighter of the 1980s despite fighting only 12 fights that decade, Sugar Ray Leonard's accomplishments and contributions to boxing are hard to describe in a few short paragraphs, so I'll just briefly list them here.

    He only had 40 fights, two of which were ill-fated comeback attempts, and if he had just stayed retired in 1989, he would have been 36-1-1 with one of the greatest résumés in boxing history. 

    - 1976 Olympic gold medal
    - 12 world titles in five divisions
    - First fighter to win world titles in five weight classes
    - Two-time Ring fighter of the year (1979 and 1981)
    - The Ring champion in three divisions (tied with Manny Pacquiao for most ever)
    - 1980s Boxer of the Decade
    - Beat four fighters on this list: Wilfred Benitez (72nd), Thomas Hearns (44th), Marvin Hagler (25th) and Roberto Duran (?)
    - Only loss during his prime was to Duran. He avenged this loss twice, including the famous "No Mas" fight.

14. Rocky Marciano

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    Division: Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 49-0-0

    Years Active: 1947-1955

    There is a large subset of boxing fans (albeit mostly Italian-Americans) who will tell you Rocky Marciano is the greatest boxing champion ever. Most boxing experts wouldn't say that about "The Rock from Brockton," but he certainly deserves a spot among the greatest ever.

    A three-time Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year, Marciano held the world heavyweight title for four years before retiring and knocked out 88 percent of his opponents. He is the only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated and the greatest undefeated fighter in boxing history.

    His wins over Archie Moore, Ezzard Charles (twice) and Jersey Joe Walcott (twice) established his credibility as a champion, although some questioned how much these opponents had left when he faced them.

    Nonetheless, the partial inspiration for Sylvester Stallone's Rocky had an extraordinary run and knew when to call it quits. Blessed with an iron chin, unconventional style and amazing heart and power, he wasn't the greatest ever but certainly has a well-admired place in history.

13. Gene Tunney

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    Divisions: Light Heavyweight (175), Heavyweight (200+)

    Record: 81-1-2

    Years Active: 1915-1928

    Intelligent, handsome, dedicated, determined, self-made and an ex-Marine, Gene Tunney has long been viewed as one of the greatest boxers ever.

    He won two divisions' world titles in a time when there were only eight weight classes and lost only one time in his career. His one loss was to a fighter he beat four times: Harry Greb, who will also be appearing on this list.

    Always moving, with an extraordinary left jab, Tunney approached boxing as more of a chess match than a pit fight. He used this style to perfection against Jack Dempsey, Tommy Gibbons and Georges Carpentier. However, in some of his earlier bouts, such as those against Greb, he used an effective arsenal of combinations and body punching to nullify Greb's attack.

    Tunney was in many ways a precursor to the low-hands, fast-feet style used by many talented boxers today. He was recognized by the U.S. government for his military service and boxing prowess with a postage stamp in 1926.

    Though Rocky Marciano is regarded as the only undefeated heavyweight champion, Tunney was also undefeated at heavyweight. His only loss was as a light heavyweight, and he successfully defended his heavyweight title for two years before his retirement.

    Tunney was Ring Magazine's 1926 and 1928 Fighter of the Year.

12. Joe Gans

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    Divisions: Featherweight (126), Lightweight (135)

    Record: 140-10-16

    Years Active: 1893-1909

    A Baltimore-born fighter described by Nat Fleischer as the greatest lightweight ever, Joe Gans (a newspaper typo that caught on—his real name was Joe Gant) was the first ever African-American boxing champion, and an impressive one at that.

    He held the world lightweight title for seven straight years, from 1902 to 1908. The "Old Timer" held notable wins over Frank Erne and Oscar "Battling" Nelson.

    While often overlooked because of his skin color, perhaps a good assessment of his impact would be the number of boxers named after him in subsequent years. "Italian" Joe Gans, "Panama" Joe Gans and "Allentown" Joe Gans were just some of the high-level fighters who shared his name.

    Gans passed away in 1910 from tuberculosis. He was ranked 11th all-time by ESPN and 15th by Bert Sugar.

11. Harry Greb

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    Divisions: Welterweight (147) to Heavyweight (175+)

    Record: 104-8-3 (260-20-17 including known newspaper decisions)

    Years Active: 1913-1926

    Amassing one of the most impressive records in history in just a 14-year career, Harry "The Pittsburgh Windmill" Greb was a stocky, powerful fighter who performed well against everyone—even fighters who outweighed him by 30 or 40 pounds.

    Unfortunately, since he fought in an era with minimal video coverage and few officially sanctioned boxing rules, it is impossible to statistically measure Greb's prowess. However, by all accounts he was an extraordinary fighter.

    Widely ranked as one of the two or three greatest middleweights ever, he held that division's championship between 1923 and his retirement, earning the first Ring Fighter of the Year award in 1922 and following it up with a repeat in 1924. He also held the United States Light Heavyweight title and is frequently mentioned as a top 20 heavyweight despite never weighing more than 170 pounds.

    He was the only person ever to beat Gene Tunney and also won against Battling Levinsky, Jack Dillon, Tommy Loughran and Mickey Walker.

    Though he died in 1926 from an improperly administered anesthetic, if newspaper decisions are counted, Greb had more wins than any boxer in history, including Willie Pep.

10. Sam Langford

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    Division: Lightweight (135) to Heavyweight (175+)

    Record: 178-32-39 (206-48-55 including newspaper decisions)

    Years Active: 1902-1926

    Originally from Canada, but billed as being from Boston, Sam Langford was perhaps the most unfortunate recipient of the racism that characterized American athletics in the early 1900s. Despite being one of the most dominant fighters of all time, he never had the opportunity to fight for a title—ostensibly for other reasons, but clearly due to racism. 

    This racism also earned him the most notorious nickname in boxing history, "The Boston Tar Baby." However, for those who knew, Langford was one of the greatest ever. Despite being only 5'6" and a maximum of 185 pounds, Langford was chosen by Nat Fleischer as one of the greatest heavyweights ever.

    Bert Sugar ranked him 16th greatest ever, ESPN had him at No. 10 and Ring Magazine had him No. 2 on its greatest punchers list. Langford beat Joe Gans, Battling Jim Johnson, Joe Jeanette and Philadelphia Jack O'Brien and drew Barbados Joe Walcott. He was famously ducked by Jack Johnson.

    Forced to retire in 1926 due to bad eyesight, Langford languished in poverty and blindness until a 1944 article about his plight prompted people to raise enough money to pay for successful eye surgery.

    Heavyweight champ Jack Dempsey (who appears soon on this list) said it best when he said, "The hell I feared no man. There was one man I wouldn't fight because I knew he would flatten me. I was afraid of Sam Langford."

9. Jack Johnson

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    Division: Heavyweight (175+)

    Record: 55-12-7 (68-12-10 including newspaper decisions)

    Years Active: 1887-1932

    Though George Dixon was the first black world champion, and Joe Gans was the first African-American champion, Jack Johnson was the first to win boxing's biggest prize—the undisputed world heavyweight champion.

    For this reason, Jack Johnson was perhaps the most significant African-American athlete of his day. He was a defensive, cautious but powerful fighter. For this, he was called "cowardly" and "devious" by the press, but regarded by Gentleman Jim Corbett as "the cleverest man in boxing."

    Despite his résumé earning him a title shot by the early 1900s, champion James J. Jeffries refused to face black fighters, and it wasn't until 1908, after two years of taunting the new world champion—Canadian Tommy Burns—that he got to fight for the heavyweight title. Johnson won via 10th-round TKO and then defended his title several times, including wins over Frank Moran and Stanley Ketchel.

    In 1910, Jeffries came out of retirement to win the title back "for the white race," but Johnson defeated him in "The Fight of the Century" (pictured), one of the most important fights ever. This inspired the search for a "Great White Hope," and Johnson finally lost his title in 1915 to Jess Willard via 26th-round KO.

    Johnson, an early "celebrity athlete," spent several years in prison on spurious charges, but during that span he developed a famous invention he later patented. He was an amazing groundbreaker and an American legend and is remembered as such today.

8. Jack Dempsey

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    Division: Heavyweight (175+)

    Record: 61-6-9 (65-6-11 including newspaper decisions)

    Years Active: 1914-1927

    "The Manassa Mauler" Jack Dempsey was an aggressive, hard-hitting American boxer who held the world heavyweight title for an astounding seven years between 1919 and 1926. Other than Joe Louis' 11-year title reign, Dempsey's reign as heavyweight titleholder is the longest ever.

    Dempsey was 1923's Ring Fighter of the Year and also appeared on the cover of Time that year. He won the title by beating Jess Willard (who had defeated Jack Johnson) and lost it in 1926 to Gene Tunney. In a rematch with Tunney later known as "The Long Count Fight," Dempsey knocked down Tunney for 14 seconds, but the ref took a long time to start his count, and Tunney would come back and win the fight on a much more expedient KO count.

    With wins over Willard, Tommy Gibbons, Georges Carpentier, Luis Firpo and Jack Sharkey, Dempsey beat every marquee heavyweight of his time except Tunney.

    Despite this, Dempsey was more aggressive and far more popular than Tunney and arguably deserved to win their second match. These facts, combined with his longer title reign and career, tend to land Dempsey higher than Tunney on most all-time lists, including ESPN's, Ring's, Bert Sugar's and this one.

7. Roberto Duran

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    Divisions: Lightweight (135) to Light Heavyweight (175)

    Record: 103-16-0

    Years Active: 1968-2001

    A six-time champion across four weight classes—lightweight, welterweight, light middleweight and middleweight—Roberto "Hands of Stone" Duran is one of the most feared fighters in history, but who unfortunately will be remembered as much for his famous losses as any of his wins.

    However, there's only one reason those losses were so famous—because for many years, nobody could beat Duran.

    An obscure fighter from Panama, he won his first 31 fights (30 by KO) and a world title before he experienced his first loss. He then went on one of boxing's greatest winning streaks, winning his next 41 fights (31 by KO), culminating with a unanimous decision welterweight title win over Sugar Ray Leonard. It was the first and only loss Leonard experienced in his prime.

    His next match with Leonard would be his most famous, when he quit in the eighth round, saying, "I don't want to fight with this clown." However, it would be remembered as the "no mas" fight.

    After that, Duran would win titles at light middleweight and middleweight but was a bit more ordinary and lost some bigger bouts to famous opposition. However, his longevity was also legendary. He is the only boxer in history to win fights in five different decades.

6. Benny Leonard

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    Division: Lightweight (135) to Middleweight (160)

    Record: 91-5-1 (185-19-10 including newspaper decisions)

    Years Active: 1911-1932

    Nicknamed "The Ghetto Wizard" because of his Jewish heritage, humble upbringing and boxing prowess, Benny Leonard was one of the first great pound for pound boxers.

    Speedy and clever, Leonard was frequently described as a "master." He wasn't a power puncher—Leonard wasn't even ranked on Ring's greatest punchers list—but had incredible footwork, a stiff left jab and classic combo punching ability. A great showman, he seldom lost a round in his victories and in some ways was the precursor to the great Willie Pep.

    At the request of his mother, Leonard retired in 1925 as a two-time champ who never lost in a championship bout (aside from a late-hit disqualification).

    However, he lost most of his money in the 1929 stock market crash and returned to boxing in 1931. Though described as pudgy and slow, he ended up winning 16 of his 17 fights before retiring after a loss to Jimmy McLarnin.

    After an esteemed career as a ref, Leonard died in the ring of a heart attack. Most remaining footage of Leonard is of his match with Lew Tendler. Always ranked top 10 in all-time pound for pound lists, Leonard is universally considered one of the top two lightweights ever.

5. Muhammad Ali

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    Division: Heavyweight (175+)

    Record: 56-5-0

    Years Active: 1960-1981

    What is there to say about Ali that hasn't already been said? The self-proclaimed "Greatest," Ali made a pretty strong case for himself earning that nickname.

    Nine-time heavyweight champion, five-time Ring Fighter of the Year and a hotbed of cultural controversy during the tumultuous 1960s, Muhammad Ali is the most famous and loved boxer in the world.

    Known for his flamboyant personality, fancy footwork, impressive height and quick hands, Ali also possessed a tremendous chin and a flair for the dramatic. Aside from his legendary trilogy against Joe Frazier—during which Ali lost the first match but clearly won the next two—he is also famous for two bouts he wasn't supposed to win.

    In 1964, Cassius Clay (as he was then known) stepped into the ring a 7-1 underdog against feared Sonny Liston. Despite a blinding powder causing Clay to lose his vision for over a round, Ali emerged the clear victor when Liston quit in the corner.

    A decade later, an older Ali fought nearly insurmountable George Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle" and employed his turtle-like "Rope-a-Dope" strategy to perfection. Foreman had punched himself out by the eighth round, opening the door for a magical Ali flurry that felled the young champion.

4. Joe Louis

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    Division: Heavyweight (175+)

    Record: 66-3-0

    Years Active: 1934-1951

    Joe "The Brown Bomber" Louis held the world heavyweight title for an unprecedented 12 years between 1937 and 1949. His 25 straight title defenses is also a record. He was ranked No. 1 on Ring's "Greatest Punchers" list.

    However, even more significant than his impact in the ring was his social impact. The good, hardworking Louis was also the first African-American to legitimately become a cultural hero to mainstream America.

    During the late '30s and early '40s, during the Nazi era, Louis became a shining example of America's social, cultural and athletic superiority. His 1938 rematch win over Max Schmeling was possibly the most culturally significant moment in boxing history.

3. Willie Pep

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    Division: Featherweight (126)

    Record: 229-11-1

    Years Active: 1940-1966

    Pep was probably the greatest pure boxer the sport has ever seen. Blessed with incredible speed and finesse, he holds two extraordinary distinctions in boxing.

    First, he has the most official wins of any boxer in history, winning 229. Second, he is famous for winning a round without throwing a single punch.

    Fond of the high life, Pep nonetheless managed to stay in shape and put forth possibly boxing's most impressive record. He won his first 61 fights and mastered all of his opponents with the exception of Sandy Saddler.

    Never a strong knockout puncher, he had only 65 KOs in his career. Because of this, he fought an astounding 1,956 professional rounds. Ring Magazine's 1945 Fighter of the Year, Pep was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural 1990 class.

2. Henry Armstrong

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    Divisions: Featherweight (126) to Welterweight (147)

    Record: 149-21-10

    Years Active: 1931-1945

    Henry Armstrong is the only boxer ever to hold world titles in three weight divisions simultaneously and did so when there were only eight weight divisions in the sport. One of the most popular and versatile early fighters, he managed to maintain effective knockout power even as he moved up in weight.

    Armstrong also defended the welterweight title 18 times (more than any other fighter) and came very close to winning the middleweight title—earning a draw in a title fight most thought Armstrong should have won.

    1937's Ring Fighter of the Year had victories over most major fighters of his era, including Barney Ross, Benny Bass, Lou Ambers, Chalky Wright and Fritzie Zivic. He also held a 27-fight knockout win streak that ranks among the longest ever.

    After his retirement, Armstrong became a Baptist minister. He was ranked by Ring Magazine and Bert Sugar as the second greatest fighter of all time, and ESPN ranked him third. He was a first-ballot inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

1. Sugar Ray Robinson

101 of 101

    Divisions: Lightweight (135) to Middleweight (160)

    Record: 173-19-6

    Years Active: 1940-1960

    Perhaps the easiest pick on the entire list. It's hard to imagine a "greatest pound for pound boxers" list that doesn't have Sugar Ray Robinson in the top spot. He is the reason pound-for-pound rankings were created in the first place—Robinson's success led boxing writers to find a way to rank fighters across weight divisions.

    A two-time Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year (1942 and 1951), Robinson was a two-division champion, including a five-time world middleweight titlist.

    Handsome, charismatic, talented and showy (he drove a pink Cadillac and was the inventor of the modern sports "entourage"), Robinson was perhaps the first African-American athlete to develop a following outside of sports.

    Robinson was the total package. He had good speed, good technique and originality. He could punch equally well with both hands and was often said to invent new punches on the spot—throwing effectively from all angles.

    He beat all the top fighters of his era—Jake LaMotta, Carmen Basilio, Gene Fullmer, Bobo Olson, Henry Armstrong, Rocky Graziano and Kid Gavilan. He was so good that even Muhammad Ali called him "the king, the master, my idol."

    ESPN, Ring and Bert Sugar all ranked him as the greatest boxer of all time, and so do I.

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