Top 30 Best Boxers of All Time

best boxers of all time

In every era of boxing, there have been champions and fighters that have dominated the ring. These boxers trained religiously to perfect their techniques, physique, and boxing style.

Many of these legendary boxing champions are remembered to this day. Among all the professional boxers in the world, the following 30 can be considered the best boxers of all time.  

1. Muhammad Ali

Date of birth: January 17, 1942

Country: United States

Weight class: Heavyweight

Highest Belts: World WBA, WBC heavyweight champion

Years Active: 1960-1981

Most Notable win: Rumble in the Jungle, Thrilla in the Manilla

Career Record: 56-5-0, 37 KOs

When we talk about the greatest boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali is at the very top. He won the Olympic gold medal for light heavyweight boxing in 1960 and began his career as a professional boxer shortly afterward. Ali would go on to quickly become the world heavyweight champion in 1964, beating the then-undefeated champion Sonny Liston.

Muhammad Ali was an anomaly in the boxing world. Despite being a heavyweight boxer, Ali had a punching speed and reflexes similar to welterweight boxers. During his career, he fought and defeated famous boxers like Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Joe Louis, Ernie Shavers, and George Foreman.  

Ali’s style of fighting involved keeping his hands low and leaning straight back to avoid incoming punches. Both of these things were considered to be rookie mistakes for a heavyweight boxer. However, Ali’s speed turned these mistakes into a formidable boxing style.

Throughout his career, Ali invented new boxing tactics and demonstrated a fight intellect level far above most boxers. He created the rope-a-dope tactic to beat George Foreman in his famous Rumble in the Jungle fight and his ‘Ali-shuffle’ caught many of his opponents by surprise.

Near the end of his career, Ali suffered from Parkinson’s and his physical well-being declined drastically during his last few fights. Ali retired after he was physically unable to continue fighting. He’s the only boxer ever to become the lineal champion thrice. Muhammad Ali was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 and passed away in 2016.

“The Rumble in the Jungle” Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman 30.10.1974

2. Sugar Ray Robinson

Date of birth: May 3, 1921

Country: United States.

Weight class: Welterweight and middleweight

Highest Belts: World middleweight champion

Years Active: 1940-1952, 1955-1965

Most Notable win: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Career Record: 175-19-6, 106 KOs

Among the best pound-for-pound boxers of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson sits at the very top. The nickname ‘Sugar’ came from a newspaper reporter who described him to be sweet as sugar. Ever since Sugar Ray Robinson’s debut in professional boxing in 1940, he maintained a winning streak for 40 consecutive bouts. He won his first Fighter of the Year award in 1942 and the second award in 1951. 

His first loss came at the hands of Jake LaMotta in 1943. However, after his first loss, Robinson remained undefeated for the next eight years. During this time, Robinson fought and won against many middleweight and welterweight Hall of Famers of his era. He became the world welterweight champion in 1946 but later vacated the belt and moved to fight in the middleweight category.

Robinson became the middleweight champion five times throughout his career. He became the world middleweight champion in 1951 after one-sidedly dominating Jake LaMotta. The fight was popularly called The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Robinson initially retired from boxing in 1952 with a career record of 131-3-1. However, he returned to boxing in 1955 and continued to fight until 1965 with a final career record of 175-19-6. Robinson is still considered to be one of the most skilled boxers to have ever lived. He quickly adapted to the opponent and displayed no real shortcomings.

Muhammad Ali initially wanted Sugar Ray Robinson to be his trainer and in an interview, said that Robinson was the greatest pound-for-pound boxer. Sugar Ray Robinson died in 1989 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame posthumously in 1990.

Sugar Ray’s Perfect Boxing Explained

3. Joe Louis

Date of birth: May 13, 1914

Country: United States

Weight class: Heavyweight

Highest Belts: World heavyweight title

Years Active: 1934- 1951

Most Notable win: Title defense vs Max Schmeling

Career Record: 68-3-0, 54 KOs

Joe Louis, The Brown Bomber, holds the world record for the most title defenses in the history of heavyweight boxing. He defended his world heavyweight title 25 times in a row over an era that spanned 13 years and 3 months in one weight class.

Beginning his pro boxing career at the age of 20, Joe Louis won his first 27 fights back to back, 23 of these fights were by knockout. His first defeat came at the hands of the former heavyweight champion Max Schmeling in 1936. After his defeat, he made a comeback with seven straight wins that earned him a shot at the world heavyweight title.

In 1937, Joe Louis became the world heavyweight champion after knocking out James J. Braddock in round eight. After earning the world title, Joe Louis continued to defend his title for the next 13 years. Joe Louis’s second fight against Max Schmeling (being German) in 1938 especially attracted much attention because of World War II.

Louis was a terrific genius when it came to boxing, he had a perfect punching form, and his primary fighting style revolved around counters. During the bout, he would identify his opponent’s tendencies or habits and punish them through deadly counters. Among all boxers, Joe Louis can be considered the smartest boxer of all time.

Joe Louis Died in 1981 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame posthumously in 1990.

The Genius Who Slayed Heavyweight Giants Explained

4. Mike Tyson

Date of birth: June 30, 1966

Country: United States

Weight class: Heavyweight

Highest Belts: WBA, WBC, IBF champion

Years Active: 1985-2005

Most Notable win: 1986 WBC Heavyweight championship fight vs Trevor Berbick

Career Record: 50-6, 44 KOs

Mike Tyson is among the most popular boxers today. He was known for his power, aggression, and the trademark ‘peek-a-boo’ boxing style inherited from his adoptive father and mentor Cus D’amato. He made his debut as a pro boxer at the age of 18 in 1985.

Following his debut, Mike Tyson went on a rampage with 19 back-to-back knockout victories. He won 2 more fights against James Tillis and Mitch on a unanimous decision before continuing his knockout spree for another 6 fights. In 1986, he made history by becoming the youngest world heavyweight champion after winning the title bout against Trevor Berbick by technical knockout.   

After winning the WBC world title, Mike Tyson went on to challenge and defeat the WBA and IBF world heavyweight champions James Smith and Tony Tucker in 1987. He became the undisputed world heavyweight champion and successfully defended his title 6 times.

Mike Tyson was feared as an opponent because of his power, he stopped Michael Spinks in 91 seconds while knocking out Marvis Fraizer in the first round. During his professional career, Mike Tyson won against famous boxers like Larry Holmes, Tony Tucker, Trevor Berbick, and Razor Ruddock. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011.

Mike Tyson Vs. Trevor Berbick HD

5. Floyd Mayweather

Date of birth: February 24, 1977

Country: United States

Weight class: Welterweight, Lightweight, Super Featherweight

Highest Belts: WBC, WBA, IBF champion.

Years Active: 1996-2017

Most Notable win: Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao

Career Record: 50-0, 27 KOs

Floyd Mayweather is one of the most famous boxers today. His father Floyd Mayweather Sr. and his uncle, Roger Mayweather, trained Floyd Mayweather from the start to become an outstanding boxer and he is considered one of the best boxers in the world.

During his amateur years, Floyd Mayweather won the bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics while also winning three National Golden Gloves Championships. After making his debut as a pro boxer, Floyd Mayweather changed his weight class several times during his career.

He fought in welterweight, super featherweight, lightweight, and light middleweight divisions. In each weight division, Mayweather won a world title and has one of the longest successful title defense streaks in history with 26 successful title defenses.

Floyd Mayweather’s fighting style is very technical with a heavy emphasis on defensive boxing. With his airtight defense, it was difficult to land punches on him. Multiple boxing and sports websites including The Ring, ESPN, and BoxRec ranked Floyd Mayweather as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world twice within a decade.

Floyd Mayweather retired from boxing in 2017. However, he has continued to hold exhibition matches with celebrities such as the Youtuber, Logan Paul. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2021.  

Floyd Mayweather Jr ¦ All Title Fights Highlights

6. Evander Holyfield

Date of birth: October 19, 1962

Country: United States

Weight class: Cruiserweight, Heavyweight

Highest Belts: WBA, WBC, IBF undisputed champion

Years Active: 1984-2011

Most Notable win: Evander Holyfield vs Mike Tyson

Career Record: 44-10-2, 29 KOs

Evander Holyfield represented the United States in the 1984 Olympics and won the bronze medal in the light heavyweight division. Evander entered professional boxing in 1985 as a cruiserweight boxer. At the age of 22, in 1986, he defeated Dwight Muhammad Qawi for the WBA world title.

Holyfield went on to unite all cruiserweight titles by defeating Ricky Parkey and Carlon de Leon to win the WBC and IBF belts, in turn becoming the undisputed world cruiserweight champion. Starting from 1988, Holyfield moved up to the heavyweight division and dominated the competition.

He challenged James ‘Buster’ Douglas and won the unification match winning the WBA, WBC, and IBF heavyweight titles, becoming the undisputed world heavyweight champion. Holyfield defended his title 3 times before losing the title to Micheal Moorer in 1994.

However, Holyfield rebounded and in 1996, reclaimed the WBA title after defeating Mike Tyson in what is now considered the biggest upset in boxing history. Holyfield later lost and reclaimed his titles multiple times, becoming the only boxer in the world to reclaim a title four times.

He is also the only boxer to have held a title in three different decades as well as the only one to be the undisputed champion in both heavyweight and cruiserweight categories. Holyfield announced retirement in 2011 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2017.  

7. Roberto Duran

Date of birth: June 16, 1951

Country: Panama

Weight class: Lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight

Highest Belts: WBA, WBC champion

Years Active: 1968-2001

Most Notable win: The Brawl in Montreal

Career Record: 103-16, 70 KOs

Roberto ‘Hands of Stone’ Duran competed and won the world title in four different weight divisions. He debuted as a pro boxer at the age of only 16 years old in 1968. He competed in five different decades and had an illustrious career record of 103-16.

Duran was known for his technical fight style which was a mix of brawling and pressure fighting. He had an outstanding defense and he won his first world title in 1972 with an undefeated record. Duran had 12 successful title defenses before he moved up to the welterweight division.

As a welterweight boxer, Duran defeated Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980 by unanimous decision in a historic fight known today as ‘The Brawl in Montreal’. Duran later went on to capture the WBA light middleweight title from Davey Moore in 1983 and the WBA middleweight title from Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

In 1989, Duran also claimed the WBC middleweight title after defeating Iran Barkley. Duran retired from boxing following a car accident in 2001 but he’s still involved in boxing as a popular promoter today. Roberto Duran was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2007.

8. Sugar Ray Leonard

Date of birth: May 17, 1956

Country: United States

Weight class: Welterweight, middleweight

Highest Belts: WBA, WBC champion

Years Active: 1977-1997.

Most Notable win: The Showdown.

Career Record: 36-3-1, 25 KOs

Sugar Ray Leonard was one of the most popular boxers following Muhammad Ali’s retirement. As an amateur boxer, he won the gold medal in the 1976 Olympics and made his pro boxing debut the following year.

In 1979, Leonard won the WBC welterweight title against Wilfred Benitez. He had one successful defense before he lost to Roberto Duran in 1980 during The Brawl in Montreal. However, Leonard quickly recovered from his loss during the rematch with Duran in the same year. The fight became popular when Roberto Duran exclaimed ‘No mas’ (no more) and gave up the fight in round eight.

Sugar Ray Leonard continued to fight in the light middleweight division but in 1981, he dropped down to welterweight to fight against Thomas Hearns in a historic fight known as The Showdown. Leonard won the fight by knocking Hearns out in round 14 while being behind on all three scorecards.

Leonard remained a champion for the entire decade and was named the Boxer of the Decade in 1980 while also being named the Fighter of the Year in 1981 by The Ring for his fight against Thomas Hearns. Sugar Ray Leonard retired in 1997 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame the same year.

9. Henry Armstrong

Date of birth: December 12, 1912

Country: United States

Weight class: Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight

Highest Belts: World champion in three divisions

Years Active: 1931-1945

Most Notable win: Henry Armstrong vs Ceferino Garcia (draw)

Career Record: 152-21-9, 101 KOs

No boxer in history has simultaneously held a world title in three different weight divisions except for Henry Armstrong. Henry made his first pro boxing debut under the name of Melody Jackson but returned to amateur boxing after only two fights in 1931.

After failing to qualify for the Olympics squad in 1932, he turned to pro boxing and his second debut met with two back-to-back losses. Despite his unremarkable debut, Henry Armstrong persevered and improved quickly for the next few years.

By 1936, his record had improved significantly to 52-10-6. Henry had a dominating year in 1937, he won all 27 fights, 26 of them by KO, and won the world featherweight title from Petey Sarron. He continued his winning streak in 1938, winning the world lightweight and welterweight titles in the same year.

Armstrong continued to defend his titles 16 times throughout his career and relinquished his featherweight title in 1939 before challenging Ceferino Garcia for his middleweight title. Though the fight ended in a draw, it was one of Armstrong’s best performances and many people believed he deserved the 10-round decision.

Henry Armstrong became one of the best in-fighters in boxing history after his unimpressive debut. He was ranked second in The Ring’s list of best boxers in the last 80 years. Henry Armstrong passed away in 1988 and was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

10. Lennox Lewis

Date of birth: September 2, 1966

Country: Canada, the United Kingdom

Weight class: Heavyweight

Highest Belts: WBA, WBC, IBF champion

Years Active: 1989-2003

Most Notable win: Lennox Lewis vs Evander Holyfield

Career Record: 41-2-1, 32 KOs

Lennox Lewis, a Canadian-British dual citizen, is the last undisputed heavyweight champion in recent history. As an amateur boxer, Lewis won the 1988 Olympic super heavyweight gold medal and debuted as a pro boxer in 1989. He had a highly successful career and won the WBC heavyweight title in 1992 against Razor Ruddock by technical knockout.

Lewis defended his title 3 times before losing to Oliver McCall. However, he reclaimed his title in a rematch with McCall after Mike Tyson relinquished his WBC heavyweight title. Lewis went on to challenge the WBA and IBF champion, Evander Holyfield, in 1999.

The first fight was controversially considered a draw while Lewis dominated the second fight and won by unanimous decision, becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion. Lewis considered Holyfield to be his toughest opponent which pushed him to the limits.

Lewis, under the tutelage of Emmanuel Steward, developed a well-rounded arsenal of punches and stances. Lewis was extremely effective against taller opponents and dominated the fight by boxing from a range.

Lewis went on to defend his title against the best boxers of the time such as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Vladimir Klitschko. He retired in 2003 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2009.

11. Rocky Marciano

Date of birth: September 1, 1923

Country: United States

Weight class: Heavyweight

Highest Belts: World Champion title

Years Active: 1947-1955

Most Notable win: World heavyweight champion fight vs Jersey Joe Walcott

Career Record: 49-0-0, 43 KOs

Rocky Marciano is among the few heavyweight Hall of Famers that retired from boxing with an undefeated record. Rocky began his pro boxing career in 1947 and from the beginning, his strengths were apparent. Rocky was slower than most heavyweight boxers but he was a very resilient and very strong puncher.

He won the world heavyweight champion title in 1952 after a close and intense match against Jersey Joe Walcott. Rocky fought and won against some of the best boxers of all time including the heavyweight champion Jersey Joe Walcott and other Hall of Famers like Ezzard Charles, and Joe Louis. His final fight against boxing Hall of Famer Archie Moore was a testament to his resilience and ability to get back up.

Rocky retired undefeated after his fight with Archie Moore because of back pain issues. He is the only champion to retire with an undefeated professional record. His record is counted among the best boxing records of all time. Tragically, Rocky Marciano died in a plane crash in 1969 and was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

12. Ezzard Charles

Date of birth: July 7, 1921

Country: United States

Weight class: Heavyweight

Highest Belts: World Champion

Years Active: 1940-1959

Most Notable win: Ezzard Charles vs Jersey Joe Walcott.

Career Record: 89-25-1, 51 KOs

Ezzard Charles never weighed more than 200lbs throughout his professional career. He began his career as a middleweight boxer but moved up to heavyweight for a better shot at the world title. Charles is among the three boxers that defeated Joe Louis in a fight. He won in a historic fight against Jersey Joe Walcott in 1950 to win the world heavyweight title.

Charles was a devastating counter-puncher, he’s among the few heavyweight boxers that could use an opponent’s own power against them in a fight consistently. He served in the military during World War II and upon return, he defeated his fellow Hall of Famer, Archie Moore.

Despite having never fought in the light heavyweight division, many critics including The Ring consider Charles as one of the best light heavyweight boxers of all time. Ezzard Charles passed away in 1968 and was inducted posthumously into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

13. George Foreman

Date of birth: January 10, 1949

Country: United States

Weight class: Heavyweight

Highest Belts: World Champion

Years Active: 1969-1997

Most Notable win: George Foreman vs Michael Moore

Career Record: 76-5-0, 68 KOs

George Foreman is one of the most devastating punchers in the history of boxing, of his 76 career wins, nearly 90% were won by knockouts. He began his professional career in 1969 and won the heavyweight title in 1973 after knocking out Joe Frazier within the first two rounds.

George Foreman’s first defeat came at the hands of the legendary Muhammad Ali. After the fight, Foreman continued to fight for a few years before retiring in 1977. However, George Foreman reentered the boxing ring a decade later and made one of the best comebacks in boxing history.

In 1994, at the age of 45, Foreman challenged Michael Moore for the heavyweight title. After 10 rounds, George Foreman displayed his lethality and knocked out Michael Moore becoming the oldest boxer to ever hold a world heavyweight title, redeeming himself for his loss against Muhammad Ali.

George Foreman retired once and for all in 1997 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003.

14. Jack Dempsey

Date of birth: June 24, 1895

Country: United States

Weight class: Heavyweight

Highest Belts: World Champion

Years Active: 1914-1927

Most Notable win: Dempsey vs Luis Firpo

Career Record: 61-6-8

Jack Dempsey, nicknamed The Manassa Mauler, is considered to be one of the best boxers in history. Dempsey’s aggressiveness and punching power led him to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world in 1919 against Jess Willard.

Dempsey invented the famous Dempsey roll that was used by boxers after him. He defended his title for 8 years straight, including his defense against Argentina’s Luis Angel Firpo. In a fight that attracted nearly 80,000 in attendance, Dempsey knocked Luis out within 57 seconds of round two.

Jack Dempsey retired in 1927 but remained popular until he died in 1983. He was ranked 10th on The Ring’s list of best heavyweight boxers, he was also ranked 10th in The Ring’s Top 100 Greatest Punchers. Jack Dempsey was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame posthumously in 1990.  

15. Gene Tunney

Date of birth: May 25, 1897

Country: United States

Weight class: Heavyweight

Highest Belts: World Champion

Years Active: 1915- 1928

Most Notable win: The Long Count Fight

Career Record: 61-1-1, 45 KOs

Gene Tunney was an incredible boxer with a great mind, he began his career as a professional boxer by winning against Bobby Dawson by TKO. He joined the US marines and boxed during his time in the military during World War I, he won the American Expeditionary Force light heavyweight championship during this time.

After the war, Tunney won the American light heavyweight title against Battling Levinsky. He faced his first and only loss in a title defense against fellow Hall of Famer Harry Greb. Tunney later avenged that loss by beating Levinsky during the rematch.

After the fight, Tunney turned to the heavyweight division and defeated Jack Dempsey after studying Dempsey’s moves with the help of Dempsey’s old rivals. His rematch with Dempsey, now called The Long Count Fight is his most famous and controversial win.

After his second fight, Tunney fought one more bout before retiring in 1928. He passed away in 1978 and was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. 

16. Joe Frazier

Date of birth: January 12, 1944

Country: United States

Weight class: Heavyweight

Highest Belts: World Champion

Years Active: 1965-1981

Most Notable win: Fight of the Century

Career Record: 32-4-1

Joe Frazier, nicknamed Smokin Joe, was one of Muhammad Ali’s greatest rivals and the first person to defeat Muhammad Ali. He won the boxing gold medal in the 1964 Olympics and turned pro the next year.

Joe became the WBA heavyweight champion during the years Muhammad Ali was banned from boxing. He defended his title 6 times including his famous defense against Muhammad Ali in 1971 which would later be known as the Fight of the Century.

Joe Frazier was known for his power and stability and his 3 rival bouts with Muhammad Ali are amongst the best boxing fights in history. He retired in 1981 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.   

17. Manny Pacquiao

Date of birth: December 17, 1978

Country: Philipines

Weight class: Flyweight – Light middleweight

Highest Belts: WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF world titles

Years Active: 1995-2021

Most Notable win: The Dream Match

Career Record: 62-8-2, 39 KOs

Manny Pacquiao, alias Pac-Man, is one of the best boxers right now. He’s the only boxer to win a world title in eight separate weight divisions as well as the only boxer to hold a world title in four different decades from the 1990s to the 2020s.

His fight against Oscar De La Hoya, called The Dream Match, was one of the most popular non-heavyweight fights in the history of boxing. Throughout his career, the Pac-Man fought some of the most famous boxers today including Floyd Mayweather.

He retired from Boxing in 2021 and is eligible to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2024, three years after his last professional bout.

18. Jack Johnson

Date of birth: March 31, 1878

Country: United States

Weight class: Heavyweight.

Highest Belts: World Champion

Years Active: 1897-1928

Most Notable win: Jack Johnson vs Tommy Burns

Career Record: 77-13-14, 48 KOs

Jack Johnson was the first black American to win the world heavyweight championship. At the time of his victory, he was challenged by many top boxers aiming to be ‘The Great White Hope’ because of the racially divided United States at the time.

Johnson successfully defended his title till 1915 when he lost it to Jess Willard. Johnson continued to fight sporadically until 1928, retiring at the old age of 50. Jack Johnson was a great boxer of his time and he set the precedence following which many other black boxers would dominate the boxing scene.

In 1946, Jack Johnson died in a car crash accident. He was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

19. Benny Leonard

Date of birth: April 7, 1896

Country: United States

Weight class: Lightweight

Highest Belts: World Champion

Years Active: 1911-1932

Most Notable win: Benny Leonard vs Lew Tendler

Career Record: 85-5-1, 121 ND, 69 KOs

Benny Leonard can be said to be one of the best lightweight boxers of all time. He fought over 200 professional bouts during his career and only lost five times. His title bout against Lew Tendler was the most significant of his career.

Benny Leonard was known for his extremely quick jabs and surprisingly strong punches. During his career, he fought other Hall of Famers such as Johnny Kilbane on equal grounds and was well respected in the boxing community even after his retirement in 1932.

He died of a heart attack while refereeing a boxing match in 1947, he was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

20. Sonny Liston

Date of birth: May 8, 1932

Country: United States

Weight class: Heavyweight

Highest Belts: World Champion

Years Active: 1953-1970

Most Notable win: Sonny Liston vs Floyd Patterson

Career Record: 50-4, 39 KOs

Sonny Liston had one of the strongest punches in the history of heavyweight boxing. He debuted as a pro boxer in 1953 and quickly became one of the best heavyweight boxers of the era. His punching power allowed him to dominate his entire competition.

In 1962, he became the world heavyweight champion after knocking out the reigning champion Floyd Patterson in the first round. Liston would knock Patterson out in the first round during their rematch 10 months later.

Sonny Liston defeated some of the most fearsome boxers of all time including Joe Fraizer, Ken Norton, and Ernie Shavers. His reputation plummeted after his loss to Muhammad Ali but that does not negate his strength as a boxer. Sonny Liston continued to fight until his death in 1970 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991.  

21. Bernard Hopkins

Date of birth: January 15, 1965

Country: United States

Weight class: Middleweight

Highest Belts: WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF undisputed champion

Years Active: 1988-2016.

Most Notable win: Bernard Hopkins vs Oscar De La Hoya.

Career Record: 55-8-2, 32KOs

Bernard Hopkins was the first boxer to ever unite world titles from the current four boxing-sanctioning bodies, becoming the first undisputed champion to hold all four titles. Bernard was known for his aggressive combos and strong defense. He was ranked the 7th best pound-for-pound boxer by BoxRec.

He also beat George Foreman’s record when he won the IBF light heavyweight title from Tavoris Cloud in 2013 becoming the oldest boxer to ever hold a world title at the age of 48. He demonstrated an ageless level of fitness when he won the WBA (super) title from Beibut Shumenov in 2014 to become the oldest boxer to unite titles at the age of 49.

Bernard Hopkins is respected today for his mastery of boxing fundamentals, he retired from boxing officially in 2016 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2020.

22. Jake LaMotta

Date of birth:  July 10, 1922

Country: United States

Weight class: Middleweight

Highest Belts: World Champion

Years Active: 1941-1954

Most Notable win: LaMotta vs Cerdan

Career Record: 83-19-4

Jake LaMotta, popularly known as the Raging Bull, was one of the sturdiest boxers ever. Jake LaMotta was Sugar Ray Robinson’s rival and the first person to beat Robinson. He became the world middleweight champion in 1949 after a dominating win against Marcel Cerdan.

Other than Sugar Ray Robinson, LaMotta’s victims included top boxers like Fritzie Zivic, George Kochan, Bert Lytell, Tony Janiro, Holman Williams, and more. LaMotta was an extremely aggressive fighter who loved to put pressure on the opponent with brutal in-fights.

Jake LaMotta retired from boxing in 1954 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. He passed away in 2017 at the ripe old age of 95.   

23. Stanley Ketchel

Date of birth: September 14, 1886

Country: United States

Weight class: Middleweight

Highest Belts: World Champion

Years Active: 1903-1910

Most Notable win: Stanley Ketchel vs Joe Thomas

Career Record: 52-4-4-4, 49 KOs

Stanley Ketchel, known for his nickname The Michigan Assassin, is considered to be one of the greatest middleweight champions of all time. Unlike most other boxers, Ketchel had no formal boxing training. He relied purely on his instinct and perceptiveness to learn the craft. He entered professional boxing at the age of 16 in 1903 and fearlessly challenged anyone willing to fight him.

In a short span of 7 years, Ketchel fought 64 times and mostly dominated his opponents. He beat the world middleweight champion, Joe Thomas, in 1907 in a series of three bouts, winning two of them while drawing the first.

Ketchel was known to be a middleweight capable of fighting and beating boxers much above his weight class. Stanley Ketchel was a close friend to the boxing legend Jack Johnson and had planned to fight a rematch against him in 1910. However, he was murdered while recuperating at a friend’s house.

Stanley Ketchel was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

24. Archie Moore

Date of birth: December 13, 1913

Country: United States

Weight class: Light Heavyweight

Highest Belts: World Champion

Years Active: 1935-1963

Most Notable win: Archie Moore vs Yvon Durelle

Career Record: 184-24-10, 130 KOs

Archie Moore holds the record for the longest reign as the world light heavyweight champion. With more than 200 fights across his career, Moore fought against some of the biggest names in boxing history including Rocky Marciano, Floyd Patterson, and Yvon Durelle.

He became the world light heavyweight champion in 1952 after defeating Joey Maxim who had recently beaten Sugar Ray Robinson. Moore defended his title for ten consecutive years, a world record even today. He was a very technical fighter with a very strong focus on defense, he was nicknamed The Mongoose and later The Old Mongoose for his age and resilience.

Archie Moore was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 and he passed away in 1998.

25. Tony Canzoneri

Date of birth: November 6, 1908

Country: United States

Weight class: Bantamweight- Light welterweight

Highest Belts: World champion

Years Active: 1925-1939

Most Notable win: Tony Canzoneri vs Jack Kid Berg

Career Record: 137-24-10, 44KOs

Tony Canzoneri is one of the three boxers (Barney Ross and Henry Armstrong being the other two) to ever hold a world title in more than two weight divisions at once. Canzoneri’s mounted achievements over achievements after turning pro.

He was a two-time champion before he turned 23 and in 1932, he was considered to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He fought 18 world champions, including six Hall of Famers during his career and was knocked out only once in his life against Bummy Davis at the end of his career in 1939.

Tony Canzoneri passed away in 1959 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.  

26. Harry Greb

Date of birth: June 6, 1894

Country: United States

Weight class: Welterweight-Heavyweight

Highest Belts: World champion

Years Active: 1913- 1926.

Most Notable win: Harry Greb vs Mickey Walker

Career Record: 105-9-3, 183 NDs, 48 KOs

Excellent stamina and the ability to throw a punch from every direction possible, that was Harry Greb. He was one of the top pound-for-pound boxers of all time and his title defense against the boxing legend Mickey Walker was the highlight of his career.

Greb handed Gene Tunney the only loss of his entire career. Grebs fought in multiple weight divisions throughout his career. He became the light heavyweight champion in 1922, winning against Gene Tunney by decision. He later went on to win the middleweight title in 1923 over Johnny Wilson, following up with six successful title defenses.

Greb out-boxed many fighters above his weight class while being physically impaired with a blind eye due to an injury during a boxing fight. He underwent surgery for his eye but died of heart failure from shock in 1926. He was inducted posthumously into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

27. Marwin Hagler

Date of birth: May 23, 1954

Country: United States

Weight class: Middleweight

Highest Belts: WBA, WBC, IBF champion

Years Active: 1973-1987.

Most Notable win: Marwin Hagler vs Thomas Hearns.

Career Record: 62-3-2, 52KOs

Marvelous Marwin Hagler was one of the most fearsome middleweight boxers of all time, he holds the record for the highest knockout percentage as an undisputed middleweight champion. Initially, Hagler had a hard time finding high-profile opponents willing to fight him.

However, he finally got his shot at the world title in 1979 against Vito Antuofermo and the fight resulted in a controversial draw. He later fought Alan Minter for the title again, stopping him in the third round to become the world middleweight champion.

Hagler continued his spree, beating Roberto Duran for the WBA title in 1983 and Thomas Hearns in 1985 in a fight that is today called The War, The Ring named it the Fight of the Year. Hagler was the undisputed middleweight champion from 1980 to 1987 and retired after losing to Sugar Ray Leonard because Leonard refused to give Hagler a rematch.

Marwin Hagler was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of fame in 1993. He passed away of natural causes in 2021.

28. Julio Cesar Chavez

Date of birth: July 12, 1962

Country: Mexico

Weight class: Super featherweight – Lightweight

Highest Belts: WBA, WBC, IBF Champion

Years Active: 1980-2005

Most Notable win: Chavez vs Haugen

Career Record: 107-6-2, 88 KOs

Ranked as the best pound-for-pound boxer from 1990-1993 by The Ring, Julio Cesar Chavez won the title across three weight divisions. He took the WBC super featherweight title in 1984 from Mario Martinez, WBA lightweight title from Edwin Rosario in 1987, WBC lightweight title from Jose Luis Ramirez in 1988, WBC junior welterweight title from Roger Mayweather in 1989.

Chavez successfully defended his title numerous times throughout his career. His first loss came in 1994 against Frankie Randall which he later avenged in a rematch. Chavez’s aggressive style that focused on body shots made him very popular in Mexico.

Julio Cesar Chavez retired from boxing in 2005 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011.

29. Thomas Hearns

Date of birth: October 18th, 1958

Country: United States

Weight class: Welterweight-Cruiserweight

Highest Belts: WBA, WBC, WBO champion

Years Active: 1977-2006

Most Notable win: Thomas Hearns vs Roberto Duran

Career Record: 62-5-1, 48KOs

Thomas Hearns was the first boxer to win a world title across five weight divisions. He started at welterweight and slowly climbed his way to the cruiserweight class. He won the world title in the WBA welterweight, WBC light middleweight, WBC light heavyweight, WBC middleweight, and WBO super middleweight divisions.

In his historic fight with Roberto Duran, he scored a second-round knockout win that earned him The Ring’s Fighter of the Year award in 1984. He retired from pro boxing in 2006 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2012.

30. Larry Holmes

Date of birth: November 3, 1949

Country: United States

Weight class: Heavyweight

Highest Belts: WBC, IBF champion

Years Active: 1973-2002

Most Notable win: Larry Holmes vs Ken Norton

Career Record: 69-6-0, 44 KOs

Larry Holmes is known for many things, from his fight against Muhammad Ali to his retirement and eventual return to boxing to face a rage-driven Mike Tyson. Holmes was a terrific fighter and a sparring fighter to Muhammad Ali. He was one of the first few boxers to relinquish his WBC title for an IBF title, helping legitimize the IBF as a sanctioning body.

Larry fought against some of the best boxers of his era, including Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton, Michael Spinks, Trevor Berbick, Ernie Shavers, and Gerry Cooney. Despite his career being overshadowed by his loss to Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes was doubtlessly one of the best heavyweight boxers of his time despite his underrated portrayal.

He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008 and he is still active in many boxing circles as a non-fighter today.

best boxers in the world

FAQs

Who is the best boxer in the world?

When everything is considered, Muhammad Ali is the best boxer of all time for both his technique and his domination. However, Sugar Ray Robinson is undisputedly the best pound-for-pound boxer of all time.  

Who is the most famous heavyweight boxer right now?

Tyson Fury is the most famous heavyweight boxer right now, with a professional record of 32-0-1 at the time of writing.

Who is the No.1 lightweight boxer of all time?

Roberto Duran is the best lightweight boxer with a career that spanned 5 decades and a professional record of 103-16. However, Benny Leonard is a close second and can also be considered No. 1 according to the pound-for-pound ranking.

What does the best pound-for-pound boxer mean?

It’s not fair to say Larry Holmes was a better boxer than Floyd Mayweather. But in a fight between them, Holmes would have won because of his sheer size and physicality. Therefore, pound-for-pound is when you rank a boxer’s ability assuming they were all the same size.

Pound-for-pound is an adjusted scoring system that takes into account a boxer’s recent performance, victories over high-quality opponents, and the way these victories were obtained. It is a system used to rank fighters of different weight classes fairly.

Has any boxer ever lost a fight?

Throughout history, there have been many undefeated boxers such as Floyd Mayweather and Rocky Marciano. However, many legendary boxers such as Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson have lost a fight on more than one occasion.

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Sebastian Ostrowski
Sebastian Ostrowski
Hi, I’m a martial arts nerd and practiced a variety of martial arts like MMA, Boxing, BJJ, and Taekwondo in the past 6 years. 2 years ago I got into the art of eight limbs. Even though I love Muay Thai best, I don't shy away from fighting on the ground. I'm constantly changing countries as a digital nomad, but when I get to Thailand I'm hoping to get in a real fight!