Who is the best boxer of all time?
By Liam Santiago: This subject always fascinates me. You could ask fifty boxing fans who the best ever boxer is and each one would give you a different answer. Obviously, I am not going to try and say who is the greatest of all time. I will say who I think holds the top spot and put an argument up for each fighter I believe come into this category. Is there anyone fighting today that might be considered to take this title now or in the future?
Trying to decide who is driving me mad! I am constantly changing my mind between so many fighters, Ali, Turpin, Duran even Jerry Hackney, the list goes on.
The most obvious name that comes to mind for most people is Muhammed Ali, who was even known as the greatest. Ali could teach a few modern day fighters about match making ; he stopped Sonny Liston after only 20 fights. He was amazing. Words can’t describe the talent, skill and speed that man had. Since he retired, in 1981, we have not had a heavyweight that comes close to matching his ability, and we probably never will. The six foot three Louisville man looked more like a lightweight than a heavyweight dancing around the ring throwing lightning paced jabs, even predicting the round he would stop his opponent. In Ali’s 20th fight he stopped champion Sonny Liston in the seventh round and in their rematch, the next fight, knocked him out in the first round. He went on to have three all out wars with fellow legend Joe Frazier and beat George Foreman using the ‘rope a dope’ tactic, in which Ali basically stayed on the ropes letting Foreman unload on him and use every bit of energy he had ; then Ali knocked him out in the eighth round. At that time George Foreman was 40-0-0 .
Muhammed Ali had every single requirement needed to make the perfect fighter. He had a granite chin, lightning speed, power, amazing footwork and he had a great boxing brain. Not only did the warrior from Louisville have the talent, he was also the biggest ticket seller of his time.
You can’t write an article on the greatest ever fighter and not mention Rocky Marciano. Here we have another heavyweight, standing at only five foot 10, finishing his career 49 fights undefeated with 43 knock-outs. In 2002, The Ring Magazine numbered Marciano at #12 on the list of 80 best fighters of the last 80 years. Does that seem generous or harsh? To go undefeated for such a long time and retire undefeated is not easy. Considering Marciano did not take up boxing until he was past 20 years of age that’s not a bad achievement.
Marciano has impressive names on his record such as Joe Louis, Jersey Joe Walcott and Archie Moore. In 1952, 1954 and 1955 he was named ring fighter of the year which is an amazing achievement that only the very best can manage. Many boxing critics compare Rocky Marciano with Joe Calzaghe. Not in terms of talent or skill, they compare the undefeated records. Calzaghe retired undefeated after 46 bouts, also with impressive names on his record such as, Mikkell Kessler, Chris Eubank and Bernard Hopkins. Calzaghe will only get the respect he deserves in years to come, like Marciano did. Currently, Joe is being bombarded with criticism on who he fought throughout his career. Marciano also had his critics in his day. They said he was too small for a heavyweight with no finesse or reach. The question is does Calzaghe deserve to be mentioned in this category? I believe he does. He beat Chris Eubank in only his 22nd fight and defended his titles for the next 24 fights. Joe’s talent is unquestionable and even now, at the age of 37, I doubt there is anyone out there who could beat him.
Don’t worry. I’m not forgetting the Panamanian legend Roberto Duran. I will use one word to describe this man. Warrior. And I don’t use that word lightly. Duran was every boxer’s worst nightmare, constantly piling pressure on you, throwing everything and the kitchen sink at you. Yet, he also had a boxing brain. He could box as well. He wasn’t just this crazy lad that keeps coming at you, if he needed to he could change his style.
Duran had an incredible 119 fights, only 16 of which were defeats and 70 wins coming by way ok knock-out. In his early career Duran only found out many of his bouts were taking place on the morning of the fight, acting as something of a journeyman yet always winning and usually by knock-out. If his opponents promoters were looking for an easy win over Duran then that’s some dreadful match making. In his 29th bout he knocked-out Scotland’s Ken Buchanan in a classic fight, in which Ken Buchanan famously took a knee to the groin from Duran. The Panamanian legend went on to defeat Esteban De Jesus, Sugar Ray Leonard and Juan Carlos Giminez. Like many fighters in those days, Duran went on to have to many fights late in his career which has tarnished his record.
One of my personal all time favoutites has to be Randolph Turpin, the Leamington licker. The english mans greatest achievement was probably giving Sugar Ray Robinson a boxing lesson and beating him on points in 1951. The pair rematched only 2 months later in a bout which Robinson won but, watching the fight it seems a miracle he did, The Leamington man seemed to dominate Robinson but that’s boxing for you. According to Randy’s brother Jack, Randy was told by American businessmen before the fight that if he signed a contract they could gaurentee him victory over Robinson. Turpin rejected the offer.
Sugar Ray Robinson is many boxing fans all time favourite. Robinson had an incredible 192 bouts, only 19 of them defeats with 108 wins coming by way of knockout. There is a lot of fighters I could go on to name in this article that were top class fighters, yet Sugar Ray beat them. Muhammed Ali himself once claimed Sugar is the best fighter ever. His speed, power and footwork made him untouchable. However, his first defeat came at the hands of legendry warrior, Jake LaMotta.
Jake LaMotta was a great all round fighter. He probably had one of the best chins in boxing history. Even the defeats he did suffer at the end of his career he finished standing up. However, he didn’t just produce his legacy by having a good chin, he had a bit of everything ; power, movement and most of all, heart. He would never give up. The word quit just did not exist to LaMotta. LaMotta would be a worst nightmare for many modern day fighters.
I can’t finish and not mention Mike Tyson. ‘The baddest man on the plannet’. If there is a fighter that could intimidate the most mentally strong man on the planet, it would be Tyson. Fighters feared Tyson. In the amateurs they would lose in tournaments so they didn’t have to fight him. However, Lennox Lewis was by no means afraid of him and went on to knock him out in the 9th round with a devasting straight right. Lewis was one of the most intelligent, calculated fighters out there but that doesn’t make him the greatest. He was great, but not in the class of the greatest.
Julio Cesar Chavez’s talents still amaze me today. Julio was a Mexican legend, who went 13 years before losing to Frankie Randall. Apart from this defeat, the only othere losses to his name is Kostya Tszyu, Oscar De La Hoya, Grover Wiley and Willy Wise out of 115 fights. Chavez always showed the heart and desire that is common to so many Mexican boxers. To make Chavez quit you would have to take both legs away from him. There is no shame in accepting defeat to fellow Mexican Oscar De La Hoya. I’m a huge fan of Oscar and like many of his fans was disappointed to see him drain himself to make the weight to fight Manny Pacquiao in his final fight. De La Hoya should should have stayed at middleweight or held his head high and retired. He has some great names on his record such as Felix Trinidad, Arturo Gatti and Chavez.
The Brown Bomber, Joe Louis, is also a man who is up there with the greatest. Although he came back well past his prime and lost embarrassing bouts, his talents are unquestionable. Louis was famously blasted through the ropes in an 8th round knock-out by Rocky Marciano in his final bout.
Everyone has a different opinion on this subject, I can only give you mine. They are as follows :
1. Roberto Duran
2. Muhammed Ali
3. Sugar Ray Robinson
4. Rocky Marciano
5. Julio Cesar Chavez
6. Joe Calzaghe
7. Mike Tyson
8. Oscar De La Hoya
9. Joe Louis