Ranking the Most Unbreakable Records in Boxing
A lot of boxing records are like baseball records. The sports have changed so much, certain milestones are now untouchable. Just as nobody will ever eclipse Cy Young's 511 career wins as a pitcher, nobody is ever going to come close to Len Wickwar's total of 468 professional bouts.
Breaking other records might be feasible, but still seems unlikely. It's possible somebody could pass Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak or Manny Pacquiao's world titles in eight divisions. But I'm not holding my breath.
These are 10 boxing records that will be either impossible, or at least very difficult, to surpass.
10. Youngest World Champion: Wilfred Benitez
In March 1976, Wilfred Benitez became the youngest world champion in history when he captured the WBC light welterweight title from Antonio Cervantes at just 17 years of age. He was still six months away from turning 18. He had high school classmates sitting in the front row.
I can imagine this record being broken, but it would almost certainly involve a case of a flyweight or lower from a country in the Asia-Pacific region or Latin America. Even then, it's very unlikely.
In Benitez's case, he won his belt in a historically competitive weight against an all-time great in the division. Cervantes held the belt for most of the decade.
Benitez later moved up to capture the welterweight title, which he lost to Ray Leonard. In May 1981 he beat Maurice Hope for the light middleweight title, becoming the youngest three-division champion in history.
9. Longest KO Streak to Include a World Championship: Wilfredo Gomez
There have been longer KO streaks than Wilfredo Gomez's, but none of those fighters were world champions, compiling the body of their work at the top levels of the sport. After drawing in his professional debut, Gomez knocked out his next 32 opponents. For four years of that stretch he was the reigning WBC super bantamweight champion.
After taking his record to 32-0-1 with 32 KOs, Gomez jumped up to featherweight to challenge Mexican legend Salvador Sanchez. In one of the great Puerto Rican-Mexican matchups of all time, Gomez took the first loss of his career by TKO.
After that loss, Gomez won eight more in a row by stoppage. He then moved up to featherweight and won the first unanimous decision of his career over Juan Laporte to capture the belt.
Before retiring, he would take a third world title at super featherweight. In my own estimation, Gomez is the greatest Puerto Rican star of all time.
Deontay Wilder is currently in striking distance of this record, with 32 straight KOs. But he's yet to fight a true contender, let alone win a championship, while Gomez recorded the last 13 KOs of his streak in world title fights.
8. Longest Two KO Streaks: Carlos Zarate
Only a rare handful of boxing stars have recorded knockout streaks of over 20 fights. Bantamweight wrecking machine Carlos Zarate is the only man to have two such streaks.
Zarate won his first 23 fights by stoppage. After recording a decision victory, he knocked out his next 28 opponents. During his second streak, he collected the WBC bantamweight title and also knocked out Alfonso Zamora, who was himself in the middle of a 20-plus KO streak.
Zarate's streak ended in appropriate fashion, against fellow knockout artist Wilfredo Gomez, when Zarate went up to super bantamweight to challenge for the belt. Between the two of them, Gomez and Zarate entered the fight with a combined record of 73-0-1 with 72 KOs.
Gomez prevailed, stopping Zarate in five.
7. Oldest World Champion: Bernard Hopkins
Bernard Hopkins is the reigning WBA and IBF light heavyweight champion. He's also three months away from turning 50.
Hopkins is not only the oldest champion in boxing history, he's the oldest professional athlete of any kind to compete at such a high level. Most elite professional boxers are done in their mid-to-late 30s.
Hopkins' longevity is a testament to his disciplined training and conditioning over the years, and to his cagey style, which has limited the damage he has taken. But he's also started claiming that he's an "alien" lately, and perhaps there's something to that.
I'm ready to start considering science-fiction explanations for Hopkins at this point.
Hopkins faces the ferocious WBO champion Sergey Kovalev in November. That's a dangerous fight for anybody, let alone a 49-year-old man. But if ever it were possible for a man that age to compete against a monster like Kovalev, Hopkins would be the one.
6. Most World Titles in Different Weight Classes: Manny Pacquiao
Manny Pacquiao's biggest fans tend to make too much out of his world titles in eight divisions. They point to it as proof that he's the greatest pound-for-pound star of all time.
That's a huge overstatement. In today's alphabet soup era, world titles are far easier to come by than they were in previous eras. And Pacquiao's light middleweight belt was won at a catchweight of 150 pounds, four below the true light middleweight limit.
Still, it's a remarkable achievement just the same, and one that is unlikely to be matched or surpassed. To put it into context, Pacquiao won his first world title at 112 pounds. That means he went up 38 pounds, over a third of his body weight, to win his heaviest title.
5. Most Times as Undisputed Heavyweight Champion: Muhammad Ali
Evander Holyfield has held pieces of the world heavyweight title five times, and that itself will be a difficult record to beat. Holyfield had to be very good for a long time, in a very tough division, to achieve that record.
But the even more unbreakable record is Muhammad Ali's three reigns as the undisputed heavyweight champion. It's tough enough to become an undisputed champion in today's era of alphabet soup shenanigans.
To reign three times as the undisputed champion is extremely unlikely.
To do it, Muhammad Ali beat Sonny Liston in in 1964. A decade later, he shocked the world by beating George Foreman to become just the second man (after Floyd Patterson) to regain the heavyweight crown.
After losing the belt to Leon Spinks in an epic upset in 1978, Ali reclaimed the title in an immediate rematch.
4. Longest Unbeaten Streak: Jimmy Wilde
Nicknamed "The Might Atom," Welshman Jimmy Wilde is considered one of the greatest flyweights ever and one of the top boxers the United Kingdom has ever produced. Between his professional debut in 1910 and his first loss in 1915, Wilde compiled an unbeaten streak of 103 fights.
Of course, many of these fights were fought in obscurity and none were fought outside of the U.K. Without question the most impressive unbeaten streak in boxing history belongs to the pound-for-pound king, Sugar Ray Robinson.
After taking his first loss to Jake LaMotta in 1943, Robinson didn't lose against until 1951. During that time he collected the welterweight and then middleweight titles while going unbeaten in 91 straight fights.
3. Most Bouts and Wins in a Career: Len Wickwar
This record is one that is actually difficult to determine with precise accuracy. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, boxing was very much an outlaw sport. It was banned outright in some areas and had to be presented as "an exhibition" in others.
So determining the complete records for figures like George Dixon or Joe Gans is not completely possible.
But the researchers working with Boxrec have been tireless in combing through newspaper archives, and they represent the most accurate data base possible. And their own records find that lightweight Len Wickwar had the most verified professional fights of any boxer, as well as the most wins.
Between 1928 and 1947, Wickwar compiled a record of 339-86-42, for a total of 467 fights. This is one of those records that will never be touched.
2. Most Knockouts in a Career: Archie Moore
This is another record that is well beyond the scope of what will ever be possible for contemporary prize fighters. In a career that spanned three decades, "The Old Mongoose" Archie Moore was a top-rated fighter from middleweight to heavyweight and won 183 professional fights, 131 by stoppage.
Moore was a crafty veteran who carried his power with him as he went up in weight. He is arguably the greatest light heavyweight to ever live and held the title there for the last decade of his career, while campaigning at the top of the heavyweight division in his spare time.
Moore is also the only fighter to have faced both Muhammad Ali and Rocky Marciano.
1. Most Titles Held Concurrently in Different Weight Classes: Henry Armstrong
If you don't regard Sugar Ray Robinson as the greatest pound-for-pound fighter to ever live, there is only one truly valid alternative: Henry Armstrong. Hurricane Hank did what no other fighter had ever done or will ever do again.
For a brief period of time in 1938, Armstrong reigned as the undisputed world champion at featherweight, lightweight and middleweight, all at the same time. In an era when there was only one world champ per division, Armstrong was the unquestioned king from 126 to 147 pounds.
To put that into context, in today's era of alphabet soup titles and half weight classes, there are up to 20 "world champions" at any time, covering the same weight span.
Incredibly, in 1940 Armstrong battled to a disputed draw with middleweight champion Cerefino Garcia. A win would have made him a world champion in four divisions during an era when there were only eight.