Pound for Pound
The casual fan who knows nothing about boxing at all will probably say the best boxer of all time is Muhammad Ali. However, they are delusional and do not understand the true beauty of the “sweet science”. There are at least fifty candidates we could consider as the best fighter, pound-for-pound, of all time. Even among those, there are only a few boxers that could have any legitimate chance at taking the top spot. Of course, things are debatable — but I compiled this list of the top-ten list of boxers after analyzing countless fighters:
10. Carlos Monzon — 87-3-9 (59 KO) — He lost his first three career fights… but from then afterwards this great Argentinean never lost again. He held the middleweight title for seven years. Monzon was one of the scariest men to fight in the ring because of his history with the law — including his 1989 conviction of murdering his common-law wife which saw him spend the last six years of his life in prison.
9. Willie “Will-o’-the-Wisp” Pep — 230-11-1 (65 KO) — This American’s career spanned for 26 years and a total of 242 fights. If this does not astonish you, then you can never be a true boxing fan. He had a little bit of everything in his repertoire. He could do most anything dominate most everybody in the ring.
8. Salvador Sanchez — 44-1-1 (32 KO) — This Mexican boxer’s career was cut short due to an untimely death. However, by the time he was 20 years old, he was already the best featherweight of all time. His defeats of Danny Lopez, Wilfredo Gomez and Azumah Nelson cemented his place as one of the best fighters of all time. If his career was not cut this short (he died at age 23), he would have arguably been the best Mexican boxer of all time.
7. Mike Tyson — 50-5-2 (44 KO) — Was there anybody that was more feared in the ring than this man in his prime in the ring? I doubt it. He suffered a three-year setback because of his stint in jail. However, this man would make boxers lose their will to fight him because of how overpowering he was. No man could knock out another man like him; I highly doubt anybody will.
6. Archie Moore — 181-24-9 (145 KO) — This heavyweight boxer is about as pure as any heavyweight will get. He is the only boxer that fought against both Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali. How, you may ask? His career managed to span for four decades. Also, no other professional boxer has managed to knock more people out in his career then Mr. Moore.
5. Julio Cesar Chavez — 107-6-2 (87 KO) — Chavez is the best Mexican boxer of all time. Why? He won 89 straight fights in the span of fourteen years. He won six world titles in three separate divisions. He also is arguably the best body puncher to ever step in the ring.
4. “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler — 62-3-2 (52 KO) — He is arguably the best middleweight of all time. Hagler won against the likes of Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns. But his career suffered greatly from one of his most controversial matches against Sugar Ray Leonard — after that loss he could never truly recover mentally.
3. Muhammad Ali — 56-5 (37 KO) — He is personally my least favorite of the boxers on this list. however, with his record it is hard not to put him in here. Among his career wins? Spinks, Foreman, Frazier, Norton, Bonavena, Patterson, Liston, and Moore. Despite his three-year layoff, his fighting skills in the ring consistently got him the win. With a quick jab and agile feet for a heavyweight, Ali truly did “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
2. Joe Louis — 68-3 (54 KO) — This knockout machine had one of the best careers in fighting history. During its course he defeated the great Jewish fight Max Baer, Italian beast Primo Carnera, the German Max Schmeling, and “The Cinderella Man” James J. Braddock. However, financial ruin forced him to come to the ring a few times too many… so two of his loses could be considered irrelevant because he only came back for the money. Other than these late returns, everything else in his career was outstanding.
1. Sugar Ray Robinson — 175-19-6 (109 KO) — Robinson is the definition of the “sweet science”. He was consistent in the ring, his durability and will to win unmatched. He could dismantle any boxer in the ring in more ways then any other man could. Ali himself called Robinson “The King, the Master, My Idol”.
He was so versatile that boxing historian Bert Sugar said, “Robinson could deliver a knockout blow going backward.” Another great sports writer, Barney Nagler, said of the beauty of Sugar Ray Robinson’s boxing ability, “He boxed as though he were playing the violin.”
In 200 career fights Robinson never took a ten count and only suffered one TKO in his career. He was also the first African-American to become a big star outside the ring and paved the way for other boxers and athletes like Muhammad Ali.
What made him famous was his rivalry with the “Raging Bull”, Jake LaMotta. He was the first man to beat him, and they fought five other times. The most memorable of their bouts came on February 14, 1951. The fight became known as boxing’s version of the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”. LaMotta almost knocked out Sugar Ray in the twelfth round; however Robinson rallied in the thirteenth for a TKO win over LaMotta.
Sugar Ray Robinson arguably had the best rivalry and career in boxing history. He won the welterweight title and the middleweight title an unprecedented five times. His way in the ring can only be described by his own quote: “Rhythm is everything in boxing. Every move you make starts with your heart, and that’s in rhythm or you’re in trouble.”
By Fernando Redondo with additional reporting and edits by Zach Bigalke
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