The Top Five Greatest Chins in the Heavyweight Division – All time
By Tommaso Nappo: The list was compiled based on the criteria of ability to take a punch, and quality of opposition. It does not I repeat does not take into account the individual fighters skill level or accomplishments. Some of those that earned an honorable mention were current fighters – David Tua, Vitali Klitchko, Oliver McCall,. These guys can all take big time shots, but the quality of big time punchers faced is limited.
Others that just failed to crack the list were :
Rocky Marciano – “The Rock” was as granite chinned as they came. His style was simple come forward take 3 shots to land one. Although he did hit the deck on occasion his chin never let him down allowing him to retire undefeated as the Heavyweight Champion of the World. What prevented the Rock from being top five was level of competition.
“Smokin” Joe Frazier – George Foreman who had concerns about fighting Frazier said (in the documentary when we were kings) about Frazier “The more you hit him the better he liked it”. Joe’s quality of opposition was impressive, what prevented his inclusion was the fact he had been stopped twice. Decimated by Big George Foreman in Jamaica he was knocked down 7 times in two rounds. Then in The Rumble in The Jungle he was stopped (failed to come out for 15th round) against Muhammad Ali. Joe got into the ring again against Foreman faring a little better falling in five rounds.No one is dare questioning the man’s heart , courage and determination but it placed him just outside the top five.
Evander ” The Real Deal” Holyfield – He fought everybody in his era. His will to win was second to none, and his willingness to stand and fight with the bigger heavyweights made him a fan favorite. He fought Lennox Lewis twice while the decision verdicts were debatable , Holyfield’s ability to take Lewis’s best shots was not. Holyfield also took on the ” Baddest Man on The Planet” Mike Tyson , stopping him the first time and forcing Tyson to seek out a DQ in frustration in the second fight. He fought Mike Moorer twice losing a decision and ultimately avenging that by stopping him in a rematch.”The Real Deal” also had a trilogy with “Big Daddy” Riddeck Bowe. The first two fights they split decision victories. In the third fight Bowe stopped Holyfield ( who later claimed to have an illness) for those that watched the fight he was giving as good as he got and got hit with a short right hand he couldn’t recover from. That loss plus his beating at the hands of James Toney, was the reason Holyfield finished just outside the top five.
Here are the top five
5) “Big” George Foreman – Big George had in essence two careers young George fought Joe Frazier twice, Ken Norton, Ron Lyle, George Chuvalo, and Muhammad Ali. George’s defense was his offense , even though Frazier was a big puncher in the two fights he never really tested George’s chin. The TKO loss to Ali was a clear case of ROPE A DOPE Foreman punched himself out and the stoppage was due to exhaustion more then any real damage sustained. If we were to evaluate him based solely on Young George he definitely would not have made the list. Old George took on punchers such as Smokin Bert Cooper, Gerry Cooney, Tommy Morrison, Evander Holyfield, and Shannon Briggs. Big George’s defense consisted of folding his arms up in front of his face ala Archie Moore and walking forward. He took everything Holyfield and Michael Moore had to offer in title fights. Ultimately catching Michael Moore in the tenth round to do the unthinkable and win the heavyweight championship of the world for the second time. George was ridiculed for his comeback and selection of opponents yet nobody was laughing when he went to to toe with the top heavyweights some nearly 20 yrs his junior. When asked by a reporter if one of his fights was fixed he responded ” Sure it was fixed ….. I fixed it with my right hand”
4) “Merciless” Ray Mercer – This former Olympic gold medalist from the 1988 Seoul Games is another tough guy who fought everybody in his era (with the exception of Mike Tyson). Starting his amateur career while in the Army he turned pro in !989. Mercer fought big punchers such as Lennox Lewis, Smokin Bert Cooper, Tim Witherspoon, Evander Holyfield,and his five round war with Tommy Morrison was a perfect example of his toughness and granite chin. Morrison took the fight to Ray early on and if he had been fighting any other fighter that night “The Duke” would have walked away with a knockout victory. But Mercer withstood the firestorm and the launched one of his own brutally ending the fight with one of the most vicious knockouts in Heavyweight history. At 42 yrs of age Mercer was stopped on cuts by Wladimir Klitschko he took a beating but remained on his feet. At 44 yrs of age Mercer was Ko’d by Shannon Briggs who hit Mercer with three clean temple shots as he had fallen forward from a break that Mercer never saw (controversial). Mercer in interviews has stated that Morrison , and Bert Cooper hit the hardest. When asked about Wlad and Briggs he said they hit him in the temple but for pure pain it was Morrison followed by Cooper.
3) Randall “Tex” Cobb – This cowboy was one tough hombre. He started training at the Joe Frazier Gym on Philadelphia ans while no real amateur career, he learned and gained experience through those infamous Philly gym wars. Cobb fought Ernie Shavers who was widely considered one of if not hardest hitting heavyweight of all time, and took everything Ernie could dish out.Cobb is quoted as saying in a sports Illustrated story he told Shavers ” Let’s get together, go out get drunk, but this never again” When asked to compare Shavers power to Holmes ( in a Sports Illustrated piece)Tex said” Oh Larry don’t hit harder then Ernie, nobody hits harder then Shavers, if there was a fighter that hit harder then Shavers I’d shoot him” Tex took on Ken Norton, Mike Dokes twice, but he is best remember for his challenge of then heavyweight champion Larry Holmes. Enduring one of the most one sided beatings in title history Cobb remained on his feet and kept coming forward. (In the same Sorts Illustrated piece) Legendary trainer Eddie Futch who was working Holmes corner told Larry after the ninth round” Larry what are you doing ? Shavers hit this guy and couldn’t put him down, Norton hit this guy and couldn’t put him down. Mercado hit him with everything but the referee and couldn’t hurt him.Cut it out jab and pick your spots”. After the 12th round Holmes wearily told Futch ” Eddie I think this guy is going to be here all night”. The beating was so bad that Howard Cosell who had been calling the fight quit announcing fights after that. Tex proclaimed that having Howard retire “was my gift to boxing” and ” he would fight Holmes again if it would get Howard to retire from announcing football”. Cobb was a plodding straight forward brawler who did not posses a big punch but he did posses a world class chin . The great boxing referee Mills Lane in his biography tells of a fight he is refering involving Tex His razor wit inflicted more damage to opponents then any punch he ever landed. By the tail end of Cobbs career lack of proper training and rest(in March 1987 he fought 4 times in a span of 19 days) the wars, and suspected drug abuse all lead to him being knocked out by a Dee Collier in the first round. But during his career where he competed as a true professional he was never knocked out. When asked by a reporter if this was true he said he had been knocked out one time. When asked by whom he replied” it was Mexican bantam weight.” Looking at the shocked face of the reporter he asked you wanna know how come ” because six of my buddies were swinging him around by the ankles at the time”. Two things you could guarantee with a Tex Cobb fight is he would finish on his feet coming forward grinning, and he would give you everything he had.
2) “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali – His opponents list reads like a whose who of Professional boxing. Sonny Liston, Ken Norton three times, Floyd Paterson, Archie Moore, Cleveland Williams, Joe Bugner twice, George Chuvalo twice, Goerge Foreman, Leon Spinks twice, Ernie Shavers. Like Foreman and Mercer he is a former Olympic Gold medalist. He went on to shock the world defeating “The Big Ugly Bear” Sonny Liston, and continued creating his legend as the greatest Heavyweight of all time. He shocked the world again in the Rumble in The Jungle when he used the Rope A Dope against Big George in essence it consisted of laying on the ropes and absorbing Foreman’s big shots until he tired ultimately punching himself out. The reason Ali isn’t higher is that he was dropped by Henry Cooper as well as by Joe Frazier. He had been hurt in fights with Ken Norton suffering a broken jaw, and he endured a one sided beating from Larry Holmes when he attempted to become a four time champion. Ultimately his corner stopped the fight in the tenth round. Ali credits Ernie Shavers with hitting him the hardest ” When Ernie hit me my kin folk felt it all the way back in Africa”. Early on Ali’s defense was his foot speed and elusiveness, but as he aged and his legs went he started taking more shots which was a true testament to his toughness. But what else would you have expected from a man that “done wrestled an alligator,and tussled a whale. I’ve handcuffed lightning and thrown thunder in jail. Only last week I murdered a rock, I injured a stone, and hospitalized a brick. I am so mean I make medicine sick.”
1) George Chuvalo – The man had a career that spanned from 1956 – 1978. In 93 fights he was never knocked off his feet. He fought Ali twice, Frazier, Foreman, Jerry Quarry, Jimmy Ellis, Buster Mathis, and Ernie Terrell to name a few. The Canadian of Croatian decent was and is Canada’s most beloved fighter. Chuvalo credited his physical build ( along with training his neck and jaw muscles) with his almost inhuman ability to absorb punishment. “If I had a neck like a stack of dimes you can bet I couldn’t have taken a good shot”. In his two stoppage losses to Frazier and Foreman, in the Frazier fight it was back and forth with Frazier being a little quicker Frazer broke George’s orbital bone causing the referee to stop the fight but Chuvalo remained on his feet. In the Foreman fight while taking a beating from possibly the greatest heavyweight knockout artist ever, upon the ref stopping the fight George asked the ref “Are you nuts” Foreman later admited that he was on the verge of punching himself out. (Associated Contact Article)
The pain and suffering and adversity he faced in the ring would be nothing compared to what was in store for him post boxing. Three of his sons became drug addicted which led to problems with the law. They ended up taking their own lives at various times by various methods ( suicide and drug overdose). George’s wife and mother of the sons could not take the pain of losing the sons in that tragic manner and she committed suicide. George like his boxing career epitomized stood up to the blows not letting them bring him to his knees . He has one remaining son and daughter, and has remarried. He speaks at schools in Canada preaching the evils of drugs relaying his tragic tale in hopes it helps either those in need, or those contemplating choosing that path in life. Muhammad Ali called him the toughest man he ever fought ( Ringside Boxing Show Article). Some think that if George hadn’t fought in the era he did with the Ali’s , Frazers, Foremans he may have gone on to win a title . He was asked by a local Toronto newspaper reporter how he would have fared against Trevor Berbick( who held the Canadian Championship at the time, and went on to win one of the alphabet belts until Tyson relieved it from him) ” I could beat Berbick two weeks after I’m dead”.
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