Who are the top 10 boxers of all time? This can be a highly debatable topic, especially now that we’ve seen countless fighters lace up and trade punches on top of the ring. Also, styles make fights. There are those boxers who performed well on boxers with specific styles.
The sweet science is a combination of power, grit, finesse, and heart displayed inside the squared circle. Over the past decades, we’ve witnessed the evolution of the fight sport paving way for sluggers to slick boxers who made their way into the ring. We’ve seen countless rounds and controversial decisions that have made an impression to every fight fan. Let’s start counting the top 10 boxers of all time.
10. Willie Pep
One of the finest featherweights and boxing innovators to ever enter the ring, Willie Pep made it in our list of top 10 boxers of all time because of his smooth boxing skills. Living in the early days of boxing during 40s to 60s, he finished his historic career with a total of 229 wins with 65 knockouts.
His style is reminiscent of boxers like Manny Pacquiao and Ivan Calderon who popularized the sport today. Willie Pep is known to be an innovator of the sport, given his magnificent footwork, timing and excellent hand speed. He retired after suffering from an accident. He passed away at age 84 in 2006.
9. Julio Cesar Chavez
Mexican boxers are known for their heart in the ring. And if there’s anyone who embodies this trait, that would be Mexico’s favorite son, Julio Cesar Chavez. JC Chavez made his career from 1980 to 2005, facing the likes of Oscar Dela Hoya, Meldrick Taylor and Hector Camacho. Chavez is not only known for his win streak, winning 87 straight fights in 13 years, but also for his exciting matches.
Chavez is known for his technical ability and slugger mentality that caught the attention of both casual and avid boxing fans alike. Chavez made a career out of his left hook and ability to trade and accept punches from very tough opponents.
After hanging the gloves, Julio Cesar Chavez has won six world titles in three different weight divisions from 1984 to 1994. It is also worth mentioning that he received the Ring Magazine Lightweight championship in 1988.
Today, Julio Cesar Chavez works on the corner of his son Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
8. Bernard Hopkins
If there is something that made Bernard Hopkins in our list of top 10 boxers of all time, it is his ability to compete against high level boxers despite his age. Born in 1965 at age 51, The Executioner has been able to face the biggest names from middleweight to light heavyweight division. He broke George Foreman’s record as the oldest boxer to win a world championship.
Bernard Hopkins was also the former number one pound for pound boxer by Ring Magazine. He managed to reign as world middleweight champion from 1994 to 2005. He was able to face the likes of James Toney, Roy Jones Jr and Jermane Taylor.
7. Joe Frazier
Joe Frazier has been known as the toughest rival of Muhammad Ali. He is an Olympic gold medalist and a world champion who lived in the glory days of the heavyweight division. Smokin Joe is a star pupil of Eddie Futch, a boxing trainer known as a tactician for his methodical approach in training fighters.
Frazier has been known for his body punches, unrelenting attacks and extreme durability. He was able to fight Oscar Bonavena, Buster Mathis and Doug Jones even defeating Muhammad Ali in one occasion.
But what defined Joe Frazier’s career is his historic Thrilla in Manila rubbermatch against Muhammad Ali. Thrilla in Manila took place in Araneta Coliseum in Manila, Philippines. Thrilla in Manila is considered by many as the greatest boxing match in history. It has even been used by anti-boxing advocates in their attempts to ban boxing as a sport. Smokin Joe eventually retired one match after Thrilla in Manila. He died in 2011 with liver cancer.
6. Roberto Duran
Nicknamed the Hands of Stone, Roberto Duran is the number six in our list of top 10 boxers of all time. He is considered by many as the best lightweight in history. He is one of the four horsemen who fought during the best era of welterweights in the 80s. During his career, he’s been able to fight in four different weight divisions from lightweight all the way up to middleweight.
He is the second boxer to have fought in five different decades. Unfortunately, Roberto Duran’s career was most infamous after saying no mas after becoming frustrated against Sugar Ray Leonard. It was only in 2000 when Duran finally decided to hang the gloves after his rematch against Hector Camacho.
5. Mike Tyson
Who wouldn’t remember Mike Tyson? Mike Tyson is considered by many as the hardest hitting heavyweight who ever lived. He fought the heavyweight division with a fearsome reputation. His quick bobbing and weaving reflexes combined with fast heavy hands made him the youngest heavyweight champion.
Mike Tyson easily caught the attention of boxing aficionados by winning his first 19 bouts via knockout. He was able to defeat Trevor Berbick in just two rounds in 1986 to become the youngest heavyweight champion. The year later, he was able to amass both WBA and IBF heavyweight crown making him the first heavyweight to successively unify the IBF, WBC and WBC heavyweight titles. However, Mike Tyson was defeated by the underdog Buster Douglass in 1988.
Mike Tyson would later return in 1996 after being convicted of rape. He was able to face Evander Holyfield in 1996 only to lose via TKO in the 11th round. During their rematch, Mike Tyson ended up disqualified after biting Evander Holyfield’s ear. At age 35 in 2002, he also fought Lennox Lewis losing via knockout. Tyson called it quits in 2006.
4. Sugar Ray Robinson
Another all-time great in our list of top 10 best boxers is Sugar Ray Robinson. Sugar Ray Robinson is considered the pound for pound number one by many boxing critics. He could also easily be the number one in our list of top 10 best boxers of all time. In fact, Sugar Ray Robinson was the very first boxer to be considered as the pound for pound champion.
Inducted in the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990, Sugar Ray Robinson had an 85-0 run as an amateur. As a professional, his record was nothing short of amazing. He had a 91 winning streak. He retired with a total of 200 fights in his record winning 173 fights, 108 of which were via knockout.
Sugar Ray Robinson viewed both Henry Armstrong and Joe Louis as his inspirations during his early years in boxing. What defined Sugar Ray Robinson’s career was his rivalry against Jake Lamotta. He had a six fights with the raging bull. He won five of six of those matches.
3. Manny Pacquiao
Manny Pacquiao is larger than life in the Philippines. He is a politician, an actor, and a singer in his home country. However, what made Manny Pacquiao one of the all-time boxing greats is his ability to fight and dominate in different weight classes.
Manny Pacquiao managed to win ten world titles in eight different weight divisions. Starting his career as a light flyweight, he’s able to win world titles in different weight divisions becoming the number one Ring Magazine pound for pound champion at one point.
Manny Pacquiao made a name in the US after defeating series of tough Mexican opponents such as Marco Antonio Barrera, Eric Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez and David Diaz. In December 2008, Manny Pacquiao jumped several weight classes above to face the Golden Boy Oscar Dela Hoya. After demolishing Oscar Dela Hoya in eight rounds, this propelled Manny Pacquiao into superstar status, making him one of the highly paid athletes of his time.
Manny Pacquiao lost to Floyd Mayweather in 2015 in one of the most highly anticipated matches of the year. The match had a total of 4.4 million pay-per-view buys making it as one of the biggest events in boxing.
2. Joe Louis
Considered by many as one of the best heavyweights of all time, Joe Louis was able to become the world heavyweight champion from 1937 to 1949. Joe Louis helped popularize the sport right after Jack Dempsey. He made a reputation as a clean and honest boxer, who at that time was a breath of fresh air when the sport was ruled by gambling interests.
Joe Louis is a cultural icon considered as the very first African American to win the hearts of America. He is also known for his Anti-Nazi sentiments especially during the Second World War.
Unfortunately, Joe Louis had to deal with tax woes forcing him to make a post retirement comeback. With a $500,000 debt, he had no other choice but to fight in the ring once again. In one of his post-retirement matches, he took a beating against Rocky Marciano.
1. Muhammad Ali
Making it on top of our top 10 boxers of all-time list is none other than Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali is considered by many as the greatest boxer of all time by many critics. He was able to defeat the likes of Joe Frazier and George Foreman during one of the best years of the heavyweight division.
He was also one of the most charismatic athletes who ever lived. He is not only a tremendous boxer during his prime, but also an entertainer.