All “greatest of all time” lists — whether they’re about Disney movies or TV series finales — cause a certain amount of controversy. The world would be a boring place if everyone had the same opinion, right? But a recent list of the greatest boxers of all time by record-keeping boxing website BoxRec got a lot of people seriously wound up.
A BoxRec representative explained their point-based system, which rewards each boxer’s annual division performance.
“A boxer can get up to 200 points per year for defeating No. 1 or No. 2 in the division,” Martin Reichert told Bad Left Hook. “Another criteria additionally rewards the boxer’s annual P4P performance. A boxer can get up to another 200 points per year for defeating No. 1 or No. 2 over all divisions.”
Furthermore, Reichert said, “Top wins per year are avenged by losses against lower-rated opponents in the referenced year, the year before and the year after. Top wins are rewarded much higher than medium-scale wins. The points per year are reduced to 1/2 for defeating No. 3, to 1/3 for defeating No. 4, 1/4 for defeating No. 5 etc. So defeating No. 11 earns only a 1/10 of defeating No. 1 or No. 2.”
It sounds like as good a way as any to determine the greatest boxers of all time. Here are the results — what do you think?
50. Michael Spinks (737.4 points; 31-1-0)
Considered to be one of the best light heavyweights of all time, Michael Spinks (known as “Jinx”) held world championships in both the light heavyweight class (he was the undisputed champ from 1983 to 1985) and the lineal heavyweight class (from 1985 to 1988). The only defeat of Jinx’s professional career came in his final fight, when he was knocked out by Mike Tyson in less than two minutes.
“Ninety-one seconds after it had started, the biggest heavyweight fight of all time was all over,” wrote Bleacher Report.
Spinks was only 31 when he retired, telling reporters at a press conference, “It’s tough. I’ve never retired from anything, other than from selling papers when I was a kid. I guess I’ve come a long way. I’ve accomplished what I wanted to accomplish in boxing. There’s not much more I can do now.”
49. Terence Crawford (740.5 points; 36-0-0)
Terence Crawford held multiple world championships in three weight classes: lightweight, light welterweight and welterweight. In 2017, he became the first male boxer to simultaneously hold all four major world titles in boxing (World Boxing Association, World Boxing Council, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization) since Jermain Taylor in 2005. As of February 2020, Crawford is ranked at the second-best active boxer, pound for pound, by BoxRec and ESPN, and the world’s best active welterweight by BoxRec.
48. Joey Maxim (751.8 points; 83-29-4)
He was born Giuseppe Antonio Berardinelli, but he took the ring name Joey Maxim from the Maxim gun, the world’s first self-acting machine gun, due to his ability to throw a high number of left jabs.
Maxim (below, left) became world champion in 1950 after he defeated British boxer Freddie Mills (below, right) in London. Their bout is particularly memorable due to the fact that underdog Maxim knocked Mills out in the 10th round, embedding three of Mills’ teeth in his left glove in the process. It would be Mills’ last fight.
47. Max Schmeling (762.4 points; 56-10-4)
German boxer Maximillian Adolph Otto Siegfried Schmeling was heavyweight champion of the world between 1930 and 1932. To date, he remains the only boxer to win the title on a foul.
After Schmeling’s death in 2005, at the age of 99, The Guardian wrote that he would “primarily be remembered as the boxer who lost the most politically charged sporting bout in history.” It’s a reference to his one-round defeat as a so-called member of Hitler’s “master race” by the American Joe Louis, aka the “Brown Bomber,” at New York’s Yankee Stadium in June 1938 (the photo below shows them weighing in). Two years earlier, in 1936, Schmeling had knocked Louis out in the twelfth round of a non-title fight.
Despite being lauded by Nazis, Schmeling didn’t support Hitler. At one point, he sheltered two Jewish boys in his Berlin apartment during Kristalnacht, the brutal Nazi attack on Germany’s Jews.
46. Kostya Tszyu ( 774.6 points; 31-2-0)
Soviet-born Australian boxer Kostya Tszyu (aka “Thunder from Down Under”) is often cited as one of the most powerful light welterweights in the division’s history. The Ring calls him “the greatest fighter from Russia.” According to Tszyu himself, the key to his success was control and willpower. “If you want nothing, do what you want. If you want everything, develop discipline,” he said.
U.K. boxer Ricky Hatton, was amongst Tsyzu’s many fans. “Kostya Tszyu was someone that I looked up to because he was a class act from start to finish […] The guy was just a complete punching machine,” he told The Ring. “He had flattened top opponents like Zab Judah and Sharmba Mitchell with ease, so he was the man to beat.”
45. Nicolino Locche (777.6 points; 117-4-14)
Argentinian Nicolino Locche is often hailed as one of the finest defensive boxers of all time. One of the standout moments of his career was winning the world junior welterweight title in Tokyo in December 1968, defeating the reigning champ, Paul Fujii of Hawaii, in a technical knock-out. When Locche was asked by a reporter how he felt after the fight, he lit a cigarette and replied: “What fight?”
A lifelong heavy smoker, Locche suffered from ill health, undergoing a triple heart bypass in 1994. In 2005, he died of heart failure.
44. Emile Griffith (786.1 points; 85-24-2)
Hailing from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Emile Alphonse Griffith (below, right) was a world champion in the welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight classes. His 1962 title match with Benny Paret (below, left) was one of his best-known bouts, for various reasons. At the pre-match weig- in, Paret taunted Griffith (who was openly bisexual) by touching his buttocks and making a homophobic remark. It didn’t work: Griffith won the bout by knockout and Paret never recovered consciousness, dying in the hospital 10 days later.
Griffith died in 2013 after spending two years in an extended care facility in New York.
43. Sam Langford (786.1 points; 211-43-52)
Samuel Edgar Langford, known as the “Boston Tar Baby,” “Boston Terror” and “Boston Bonecrusher,” was a Canadian boxing legend in the early 20th century. He was called the “greatest fighter almost nobody knows” and, at his peak, “one of the very best fighters in the world” by ESPN.
By the end of his career, Langford was almost completely blind and would fight on the inside so he could feel his opponent and figure out where his arms were. Attempts by doctors to restore his sight failed, and by the mid-1930s he was totally blind.
42. Eder Jofre (786.4 points; 72-2-4)
Brazilian Eder Jofre (below, right), recognized as one of the best South American fighters of all time, won the bantamweight title in 1960, the featherweight crown in 1973, and was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992. During his career he fought everyone he wanted to, apart from one great.
“In my career I never had an easy fight,” he told The Ring. “My record was built fighting class boxers and always well-ranked, former world champions, continental champions, among others,” he said. He then playfully quipped, “In my time I was pleased to fight the best. If you could travel back in time and change (weight) category, who knows? Maybe against Muhammad Ali. Dreaming is always good.”
41. Shane Mosley (797.0 points; 49-10-1)
“Sugar” Shane Mosley held multiple world championships in three weight classes over his 23-year career: lightweight, welterweight and light middleweight. Described by ESPN as “an electrifying fighter in his prime,” Mosley’s biggest victory was against Oscar De La Hoya in 2000, when he took the welterweight title.
In 2017, Mosley announced his retirement from boxing, telling ESPN that he was “definitely always going to be around boxing. I’ll still go to the gym and show people stuff, help them out. I still love boxing. It’s still my life but just not as a fighter anymore.”
Mosley is pictured below on the left during a match against Manny Pacquiao in 2011.
40. Joe Frazier (797.4 points; 32-4-1)
Joseph William Frazier, who was called “Smokin’ Joe,” was a formidable force in boxing in the late 1960s and was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world from 1970 to 1973. Famously, Frazier was beaten by Muhammad Ali in 1975, in his final world title challenge and arguably the greatest fight in heavyweight history — the “Thrilla in Manila.” Ali won when Frazier retired before the 15th round; he retired from the sport the following year.
39. Willie Pep (799.2 points; 229-11-1)
Guglielmo Papaleo, better known as Willie Pep (below, left), held the world featherweight championship twice between 1942 and 1950. During his 26-year career, he boxed 1,956 rounds over 241 bouts – an impressive figure even for a boxer of his time.
After Pep died in 2006, The New York Times wrote he was “known primarily for his supreme craftsmanship in the ring,” and quoted broadcaster Don Dunphy (aka the Voice of Boxing) who said of Pepe, “He was so clever, he could come up to an opponent from behind.”
38. Gene Fullmer (822.3 points; 55-6-3)
Lawrence Gene Fullmer started his professional boxing career in 1951 and became the world middleweight champion in January 1957 when he defeated Sugar Ray Robinson by unanimous decision. Four months later they had a rematch, and this time Robinson delivered a knockout blow in the fifth round that was described as the “perfect left hook” – and was the first time Fullmer had been knocked out in his career.
But the story doesn’t end there. The National Boxing Association withdrew its recognition of Robinson as middleweight champion in 1959, and Fullmer knocked out fellow former middleweight champ Carmen Basilio to take the crown.
Below, Fullmer connects a right to opponent Dick Tiger during a match in 1963.
37. Wladimir Klitschko (837.1 points; 64-5-0)
Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Wladimirovitsch Klitschko held the world heavyweight championship twice during his 20-year career and is considered to be one of the best heavyweight championships in history. Despite being 6 feet, 6 inches tall, Klitschko was known for his footwork and mobility.
36. Felix Trinidad (838.8 points; 42-3-0)
Considered one of the best Puerto Rican boxers of all time, Félix Juan Trinidad García, commonly known as “Tito” Trinidad, competed from 1990 to 2008. He held multiple world championships in three weight classes: welterweight, light middleweight and middleweight.
Trinidad defeated Oscar De La Hoya in 1999, Fernando Vargas in 2000 and William Joppy 2001. Later in 2001 he experienced his first Trinidad’s professional loss against Bernard Hopkins; he subsequently retired from boxing for the first time. He returned briefly in 2004 to defeat Ricardo Mayorgam but retired again after losing to Winky Wright in 2005. When a second comeback secured another loss (to Roy Jones Jr.), he entered a period of inactivity.
35. Vicente Saldivar (839.3 points; 37-3-0)
Frequently ranked among the greater featherweight division boxers — and one of the most skilled left-handed fighters — of all time, Mexican Vicente Saldivar had phenomenal stamina. He had an unusually slow heart rate and pulse, which he claimed was the secret behind the incredible pace he was able to maintain in the ring.
Saldivar, who retired in 1971, still holds the record for most wins in unified featherweight title bouts and the longest unified featherweight championship reign in history.
34. Andre Ward (850.8 points; 32-0-0)
Another boxer who retired with an undefeated record is Andre Ward, who held multiple world records in both super middleweight and light heavyweight. In January 2020, Ward was named Fighter of the Decade by Sports Illustrated.
“Ward fought significant, meaningful fights early in the decade, and won them all. He fought one of the biggest punchers in boxing, a top-10 pound-for-pound talent and beat him, twice. He showed skill in outclassing opponents and surprising power against the better ones,” wrote Chris Mannix in SI.
Ward, left, fights Sergey Kovalev during a light heavyweight championship boxing match in 2017.
33. Joe Calzaghe ( 859.3 points; 46-0-0)
Affectionately known as “The Pride of Wales” or “The Italian Dragon” to reflect his dual heritage, Joe Calzaghe retired in February 2009 with an undefeated record and as a reigning world champion. He currently holds the BoxRec title of best super-middleweight of all time.
In 2007, with a decade as a world champion under his belt, Calzaghe won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, making him the first Welsh winner of this award since David Broome in 1960.
32. Saul Alvarez (866.8 points; 53-1-2)
Mexican boxer Santos Saúl Álvarez Barragán, better known as “Canelo” Álvarez, is a four-division world champion. As of February 2020, Alvarez is ranked as the world’s best active boxer, pound for pound, by BoxRec. By 2012, Alvarez (below, left) was already a world titleholder (junior middleweight), but he still faced a test in the shape of veteran Shane Mosley (below, right). Their bout, in which Alvarez defeated Mosley by unanimous decision, became the last time the Mexican would fight on anyone’s undercard.
31. Azumah Nelson ( 868.7 points; 38-6-2)
Ghanaian Azumah Nelson is considered the greatest African boxer of all time. He first made a name for himself on the world boxing stage when he challenged WBC featherweight champion Salvador Sánchez in July 1982 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Sanchez knocked Nelson out in the 15th round, but the African champ’s career kept getting bigger. He won all four of his fights in 1983 and started 1984 by beating Hector Cortez by decision in Las Vegas.
He’s pictured in center, below, in white.
30. Erik Morales ( 876.9 points; 52-9-0)
Érik Isaac Morales Elvira (“El Terrible”) is the first Mexico-born boxer in history to win world titles in four different weight classes: super bantamweight, featherweight, super featherweight and super lightweight. Morales retired in 2012 and in 2015 was named Jessie Vargas’ new trainer. Of his decision, Vargas told USA Today, “I watched practically of all Erik’s big fights — the wars with Marco Antonio Barrera, the fights against Manny Pacquiao. Erik always fought hard and with all his heart. That’s who I want in my corner.”
Morales is pictured on the left, below, during a weigh-in with Pacquiao.
29. Carlos Ortiz (880.8 points; 61-7-1)
Puerto Rican boxer Carlos Ortiz is considered to be one of the great lightweight boxers of the 20th century. He won three world titles during his long career: two at lightweight and one at light welterweight.
Ortiz described boxing as a “blessing” to him. He told the World Boxing Association, “Boxing is dangerous, but it’s not dangerous if you do it the right way. I’ve always done it the right way. I always was sure I was in top shape. I was always sure that I would do exactly what I was supposed to do in the ring, and not do what I was not supposed to do outside the ring. I love boxing. It means everything to me. Today is because of boxing. God put me in this game, to practice it, to be a man and learn how to live.”
Ortiz is pictured below, left, visiting friend Roberto Clemente in 1966.
28. Thomas Hearns (892.7 points; 61-5-1)
Thomas Hearns, aka the “Motor City Cobra” and “The Hitman,” became the first boxer in history to win world titles in five weight divisions: welterweight, light middleweight, middleweight, light heavyweight and super middleweight. After he knocked out Roberto Duran in 1984, he was named Fighter of the Year by The Ring magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America (he previously took the title in 1980). Straight after his win, Hearns set his sight on another formidable opponent. “I challenge Marvin Hagler,” he said, according to The Fight City. “I can see him in my mind now, shaking like a leaf on a tree.”
27. Tommy Gibbons (900.9 points; 96-5-4)
Thomas Joseph Gibbons (below, left) started boxing professionally in 1911, at age 20. The biggest fight of his career was against heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey during the 1923 World Championships Fight in Shelby, Montana. Gibbons became the first boxer to go the entire 15 rounds with Dempsey, although he lost the decision. Gibbons defeated greats like Willie Meehan, Chuck Wiggins, Jack Bloomfield and Kid Norfolk. He was stopped only once during his boxing career, by Gene Tunney, and his retirement soon followed.
26. James Toney (911.3 points; 77-10-3)
American James “Lights Out” Toney held multiple world championships during his professional career (1988-2017) and wowed audiences with thrilling performances at middleweight, super-middleweight, cruiserweight and even heavyweight levels. He also knew how to make an impressive comeback, emerging from the late 1990s scrapheap to become Fighter Of The Year in 2003.
“[Toney was] the also best defensive fighter of the late 20th century and slipped punches better than any of his contemporaries,” wrote Donald McRae in The Guardian.
25. Jose Napoles (934.5 points; 81-7-0)
Nicknamed Mantequilla (“Butter”) due to his smooth boxing style, the late Jose Napoles was a two-times world welterweight champion who dealt 54 knockouts during his professional career. For 40 years, he shared the record of the most wins in unified championship bouts in boxing history with Muhammad Ali, until it was overtaken by Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. Napoles died in August 2019, the last surviving member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s inaugural class of 1990.
24. Gene Tunney (935.8 points; 79-1-4)
James Joseph “Gene” Tunney, known as “The Fighting Marine,” held the world heavyweight title from 1926 to 1928, and the American light heavyweight title twice between 1922 and 1923. Tunney was “a clever strategist with excellent footwork, superb defense and tremendous courage,” said The Fight City.
He was inducted into the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1955 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
23. Young Corbett III (938.7 points; 123-12-20)
Italian-born American boxer Ralph Giordano, better known as Young Corbett III, was the world welterweight champion in 1933 and the NYSAC middleweight champion in 1938. Considered to be one of the greatest southpaws of all time, he was known for his determination and speed.
Describing him as “an old school Ricky Hatton,” Bleacher Report wrote, “He didn’t have elite power, but he was a difficult fighter to face because he would throw punches and then maul his opponent before he could retaliate.”
22. Jack Johnson (941.7 points; 71-11-11)
Jack (born John Arthur) Johnson, a.k.a. the Galveston Giant, became the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion after his victory over the reigning world champion, Canadian Tommy Burns, at the Sydney Stadium in Australia in 1908. Two years later, Johnson fought James J. Jeffries in what was billed the fight of the century.
As well as being a world champion boxer, Johnson was a controversial, flamboyant figure, whose triumphs over his white opponents led to race riots. His life was chronicled in “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson,” a 2005 documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns.
21. Roy Jones Jr. (972.8 points; 66-9-0)
As of August 2019, Roy Jones Jr. holds the record for the most wins in unified light heavyweight title bouts in boxing history, at 12. He is a three-time winner of the Best Boxer ESPY Award (1996, 2000 and 2003) and has earned many other accolades as well. He is the only boxer in history to start his career as a junior middleweight and go on to win a heavyweight title, and the Boxing Writers Association of America named him the Fighter of the Decade for the 1990s.
20. Larry Holmes (972.6 points; 69-6-0)
During a professional career spanning nearly three decades, Larry Holmes (“The Easton Assassin”) reigned as world heavyweight champion for a record-breaking seven and a half years and was Muhammad Ali’s former sparring partner. Writing for ESPN, Don Steinberg called Holmes’ left jab “one of the great weapons in sports history” and Bill Caplan included him in his list of all-time heavyweights. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008.
19. Rocky Marciano (1,008 points; 49-0-0)
Rocco “Rocky” Marciano became the World Heavyweight Champion in 1952 after defeating Jersey Joe Walcott and is the only title holder to have retired undefeated as champion. A regular on greatest of all time lists, he has a knockout-to-win percentage of 87.76 percent — one of the highest in heavyweight boxing history.
“Marciano was a crude stylist whose ferocious right‑hand punches were thrown from the solid platform provided by his powerful legs,” wrote Richard Williams for The Guardian. “Genial and gregarious out of the ring, with his gloves on he turned into a merciless brawler whose appetite for destruction drew star‑studded audiences including Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, J Edgar Hoover and General Douglas MacArthur.”
18. Harry Greb (1,014 points; 262-17-18)
Edward Henry “Harry” Greb, known as “The Pittsburgh Windmill,” was the American light heavyweight champion from 1922 to 1923 and world middleweight champion from 1923 to 1926. He fought a staggering 298 times in his 13-year career, and was the only boxer to defeat world heavyweight champion Gene Tunney in what Real Sport described as “one of the bloodiest fights in history.”
“In the ring, Greb was the perfect example of the unreconstructed ring-warrior,” wrote Real Sport’s Garry White. “He didn’t much care where and with what he hit his opponents and was infamous for his dirty tactics. He would happily attack with his elbows, forearms and laces.”
17. Pernell Whitaker (1,026 points; 40-4-1)
Four-weight world champion Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker won gold for the U.S. at the 1984 Olympics, after which he turned professional. Five years later, he first became a world champion as a lightweight.
After learning of Whitaker’s death in July 2019, his former opponent Gary Jacobs, who challenged Whitaker for the WBC welterweight title in Atlantic City in August 1995, said about Whitaker, “If you want to learn boxing, watch his fights. His ringcraft was just incredible. He was so clever. He was almost impossible to hit cleanly. His skills were truly remarkable. People talk about great fighters, particularly at lightweight with men like Roberto Durán and Floyd Mayweather, but I think that he was the best of the lot.”
16. Juan Manuel Marquez (1,033 points; 56-7-1)
Juan Manuel Márquez Méndez competed from 1993 to 2014, becoming the third Mexican boxer (after Érik Morales and Jorge Arce) to become a world champion in four weight classes. A speedy, technical boxer, Marquez held nine world championships, including the WBA (Super), IBF and WBO featherweight titles between 2003 and 2007 and the WBO junior welterweight title from 2012 to 2013. In early 2019, Marquez announced his return to the ring — as a boxing promoter.
15. Floyd Patterson (1,124 points; 55-8-1)
In 1956, at the age of 21, Floyd Patterson became the youngest boxer in history to win the World Heavyweight Champion title. Four years later, he was also the first heavyweight to regain the title after losing it, when he knocked out Ingemar Johansson of Sweden.
Paying tribute to Patterson after his death in 2006, fellow boxer Ricky Hatton said, “Floyd was a gentleman and really polite and that is exactly what being a champion is all about. I should imagine a lot of boxing hearts have been broken today.”
14. Ray Leonard (1,131 points; 36-3-1)
Ray Charles Leonard, best known as “Sugar” Ray Leonard, was one of the so-called “Fabulous Four” who fought each other throughout the 1980s — Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns made up the rest of the quartet. Leonard is widely considered to be one of the greatest boxers of all time. During his 20-year professional career, he won world titles in five weight divisions, the lineal championship in three weight divisions and the undisputed welterweight title. He was also the first boxer to earn more than $100 million in purses, and was named Boxer of the Decade in the 1980s.
13. Marvelous Marvin Hagler (1,160 points; 62-3-2)
The undisputed middleweight champion of the world from 1980 to 1987, “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler was named The Ring Fighter of the Year and the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) Fighter of the Year in 1983 and 1985.
“Hagler was a breathtaking hurting machine at his best, a very good, aggressive boxer with tremendous punching power and one of the best chins of all time,” Anson Wainwright wrote in The Ring. Hagler was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993.
12. Roberto Duran (1,172 points; 103-16-0)
After Jack Johnson, Roberto Duran is the second boxer to have achieved a professional career spanning five decades. His mighty defense and menacing punches earned him the nickname “Manos de Piedra” (“Hands of Stone”). The Associated Press voted him as the best lightweight of the 20th century, and boxing historian Bert Sugar ranked him the 17th greatest boxer of all time.
11. Evander Holyfield (1,197 points; 44-10-2)
The BWAA Fighter of the Year in 1996 and 1997, Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield remains the only boxer in history to win the undisputed championship in two weight classes (cruiserweight and heavyweight).
When he defeated Mike Tyson in 1996 to reclaim the WBA title, Holyfield became the first boxer since Muhammad Ali to win a world heavyweight title three times (he later won a fourth). Tyson later named Holyfield as the best opponent he’d ever faced, describing him with these words: “Great champion: chin, heart, determination, work ethic, demeanor.”
10. Julio Cesar Chavez (1,198 points; 107-6-2)
A multiple world champion in three weight divisions (super featherweight, lightweight and light welterweight), Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez competed professionally from 1980 to 2005. He holds the record for the most successful defenses of world titles (27) and enjoyed an unbroken run of 87 wins before his first professional loss to Frankie Randall in 1994. His 1993 win over Greg Haugen at the Estadio Azteca set a new record for the largest attendance for a boxing match at the time; they fought before a 132,274-strong crowd.
9. Oscar De La Hoya (1,259 points; 39-6-0)
Oscar De La Hoya started boxing at the tender age of 5 and went on to become one of the most popular boxers in the world. He won 10 world titles in six divisions and earned more money in his boxing career than any fighter before him.
After he retired in 2009, De La Hoya focused on his business, Golden Boy Promotions, which has since promoted some of the greatest fighters of all time, including Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. In 2018, De La Hoya was instrumental in helping Canelo Alvarez sign the largest sports deal in history: a 5 year, $365-million contract sports streaming service DAZN.
8. Archie Moore (1,282 points; 186-23-10)
Archie Moore, a.k.a. “Mongoose,” is the longest-reigning world light heavyweight champion of all time. He also holds the record for the most knockouts by any boxer (145). The secret to his success? “Aways exercise the mind and never keep track of time,” was the advice he gave.
7. Bernard Hopkins (1,470 points; 55-8-2)
During his 28-year career (1988 to 2016), Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins held multiple world championships at middleweight and light heavyweight. In 2004, when he defeated Oscar De La Hoya for the WBO title, Hopkins became the first male boxer to simultaneously hold world titles by all four major boxing sanctioning bodies. When he won the light heavyweight title in 2011 at the age of 46, he became the oldest boxer in history to win a world championship, breaking the record set by George Foreman in 1994 at age 45.
6. Joe Louis (1,475 points; 66-3-0)
Joe “Brown Bomber” Louis, one of the first black athletes to achieve national hero status in the U.S. for his victory over Max Schmeling of Germany in 1938, was heavyweight champion from 1937 to 1949. During that time he defended his title 25 times to become the longest-reigning world heavyweight champion of boxing of all time. He volunteered to enlist as a private in the army in 1942 and reached the rank of sergeant before his release in 1945. In 1993, he became the first boxer to be honored by the U.S. Postal Service, when a Joe Louis 29-cent commemorative stamp was issued.
5. Muhammad Ali (1,485 points; 56-5-0)
Hailed by many as the greatest boxer of all time — he even called himself “The Greatest” — Muhammad Ali can’t be overtaken when it comes to cultural and political influence. His record was affected by a four-year career break caused by his refusal to fight in the Vietnam War, but his comeback was impressive. He twice reclaimed his heavyweight championship and continued to be an ambassador for peace. In 2005, he received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, at a White House ceremony.
4. Sugar Ray Robinson (1,512 points; 174-19-6)
Sugar Ray Robinson, hailed by Muhammad Ali as “the king, the master, my idol,” was the inspiration for the “pound for pound” ranking, used to describe a boxer whose skill in the ring puts him above every other fighter in the world, in any weight division. He was the welterweight champion for five consecutive years (1946 to 1951) and a five-time middleweight champion between 1951 and 1960). Another boxing legend, Sugar Ray Leonard, was quoted as saying, “Someone once said there’s a comparison between Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Ray Robinson. Believe me, there’s no comparison. Sugar Ray Robinson was the greatest.”
3. Carlos Monzon (1,586 points; 87-3-9)
Before Argentine playboy Carlos Monzon was sentenced to 11 years in prison for killing his girlfriend Alicia Muniz in 1988, he held the undisputed middleweight championship for seven years. “He remains both a violent, flawed idol and one of the greatest middleweights in history,” wrote Steve Bunce for The Independent. In 1995, after a home visit, Monzon died in a car crash.
2. Manny Pacquiao (1,637 points; 62-7-2)
The only active boxer on the list and the only eight-division world champion in the history of boxing, Manny Pacquiao has delivered some of the sport’s most memorable performances in the ring. He annihilated Oscar De La Hoya in 2008, wiped out Ricky Hatton (in less than six minutes) in 2009 and overwhelmed Miguel Cotto a few months later. However, Pacquiao lost to Mayweather in the “Fight of the Century” in 2015. Today, Pacquiao also serves as a senator in the Philippines.
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. (2,257 points; 50-0-0)
Always keen to come out of retirement to celebrate his 50-0-0 in the ring, Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. was quick to share the BoxRec “Greatest of All Time” list on his Instagram page. “Numbers don’t lie and BoxRec told the truth. It is what it is,” his caption read. With a total of 2,256 points, Mayweather is over 800 points ahead of second-place Pacquiao on the list. According to Forbes, Mayweather was the highest-earning athlete in the world in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018.