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Daily Featured Ranking Question for 2022-06-06

The 10 Greatest Heavyweight Boxers of All Time by Mark D. Hauser

(To give your answer and view the results to this ranking question, go to: Boxing: Men: All Time: Individuals).


Other boxers I considered were: Jack Dempsey, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, James J. Jeffries, Riddick Bowe, Jersey Joe Walcott, and Harry Wills. Bob Fitzsimmons and Sam Langford, both of whom started out as middleweights, and Ezzard Charles (as well as Tunney), who started out as a light-heavyweight, were all great fighters, but only very good to excellent heavyweights.

This is one of very favorite ranking questions on the site, partly because I have always (or, at least since I was 8 years old) been a big Muhammad Ali fan. And partly because of the different eras and contrasting styles of the boxers. Most of these match-ups would have undoubtedly resulted in exciting bouts. Sadly, these match-ups will never occur in my lifetime (although a couple on my list did fight each other).

However, a time machine is always possible in the distant future and it would provide a perfect venue for settling this question. You take the top 20 (or 25) heavyweights of all-time and put them in a round robin tournament while they are in their prime. Each of the fighters fight each other 3 times and the boxer with the best record is crowned the Greatest Heavyweight of All-time. Given the power of the heavyweights, anything can happen in a heavyweight fight; hence, having each boxer fight 3 times each seems like the fairest way. (We could keep sending them back (or forward) in the time machine so that they would not be worn out).

It is highly doubtful that Ali, Louis, or any other boxer, would go 57-0 (54-3 would be more realistic), however, I could see Ali having a winning record against all 19 heavyweights and having the best record. I would be mildly surprised if Louis did not come in exactly 2nd place. Foreman, who in my opinion, was the hardest hitter in boxing history (check out the Frazier and Ken Norton fights if you do not believe me), would have some trouble with scientific, defensive boxers (i.e., Ali, Johnson, Holmes, and Tunney) who could take a punch. However, I would be surprised if he did not have the most knockouts in this dream tournament.

Marciano and Tunney might have some trouble because of their lack of size. Holmes would have a chance to get the respect he never got; Tyson would have a chance to prove he was not a flash in the pan.

Several of the match-ups would be unbelievable with Ali-Louis topping the list. I suspect Ali would win the 1st and 3rd fights and Louis the 2nd fight. I think Louis would have more a problem with Ali's combination of blazing foot and hand speed than Ali would have with Louis's fast hands and his two- handed power. Unfortunately, for now, one can only dream of these fights.

The next most intriguing match-up (to me at least) would be a 21 year-old Tyson going against a 25 year-old Foreman. WOW! Never in the history of boxing would there more punching power in the ring at same time. I also find it is interesting because both fighters had the potential to be the greatest heavyweight of all-time, but neither did for various reasons.

Dempsey, who did make my top 10, I consider not only the most overrated heavyweight of all-time, but also the most overrated boxer of all-time (especially before 1963). Throughout most of Dempsey´┐Żs lifetime he was generally considered the greatest heavyweight champion of all time (why he was rated higher than Louis by people who saw them both fight is mind boggling).

In the 1950 AP Poll he was voted the greatest fighter (any weight class) ever! In a 1962 Ring magazine poll of 40 boxing experts Dempsey was named the greatest heavyweight of all time. (I wonder if all or only 99 % of these so-called boxing experts in these two polls were older white guys.) However, in December 1999, Ring Magazine ranked Dempsey only 10th among the heavyweights (Ali was first, Louis was second), dropping behind Louis, Marciano, and Johnson despite the fact that none of them has fought since 1962. Hmm.

Perhaps Dempsey is finally getting punished for not giving any of the great black heavyweights of his time, particularly Wills (16th in Ring's latest poll), a shot at his title. Dempsey only weighed 188 pounds in his prime and would have trouble against the larger heavyweights above, however, on the basis of his knockout power, I might place him 11th (although I am not convinced he would have beaten Wills if they had fought).


  • Gene Tunney but no Jack Dempsey? Even after Dempsey obviously should have won the long count match?
    Posted by Ttobis

Past Featured Ranking Questions

The All Time Top 10 NBA Passers by Mark D. Hauser
The All Time Top 25 Athletes by Mark D. Hauser
My Favorite Ranking Question and Why by Mark D. Hauser
The All Time Top 10 NHL Players (non-goalies) by Mark D. Hauser
The 10 Greatest Boxers of All Time by Mark D. Hauser
The 10 Greatest Heavyweight Boxers of All Time by Mark D. Hauser
The Top 25 NBA Players of All Time by Mark D. Hauser

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