The 100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Five: 60-51

By Matt McGrain on March 22, 2013
The 100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Five: 60-51
Hopkins is the man who has done the most to keep Time at bay in the ring. (Naoki Fukuda)

The more the game changes, the more it stays the same: knock the other guy out. Bring home the bacon. Hit and don’t get hit…

Worlds collide in part five. We have old-timers who turned pro at the dawn of the last century, two bantamweight greats from the sixties jockeying for position right on one another’s turf, a grotesquely underrated 1930’s middleweight and two modern greats consistently named “throwbacks” in praise of their more impressive qualities.

A timely reminder, perhaps, that the more the game changes, the more it stays the same: knock the other guy out. Bring home the bacon. Hit and don’t get hit.

Do what must be done. “This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.”

#60 Freddie Steele (125-5-11)

Undisputedly the most underrated middleweight ever to have drawn breath, Steele’s paltry five losses from more than one-hundred and forty contests came as bookends to a prime during which he was undefeated for four calendar years and fifty-five contests. Even before hitting his stride he twice flattened future middleweight strap-holder Ceferino Garcia sending out the warning that, whilst he might be king of a shallower pond than the one that pooled in New York, nobody was really going to be safe once he left Washington and California behind him.

This proved to be the case as after defeating Joe Glick, Frankie Petrolle, Gorilla Jones, Fred Apostoli, Vince Dundee, Gus Lesnevich and lifting the middleweight title against Babe Risko, Steele added the best New York had to offer. Frank Battaglia and Ken Overlin both succumbed early and then in 1938, with his record standing at 122-2-11, Apostoli exacted a terrible revenge on the champion, breaking his breastbone in a non-title fight. It ushered in the end of Steele’s astounding prime and he stuttered through his curtain call going 3-2.

Although he has been accorded recognition in the previous decade, Steele was something of a forgotten man for much of the last seventy years; no more. One of the best runs in all of middleweight history makes him a lock for any ATG middleweight list and a pound-for-pound list such as this one. Game, and in his best years granite-chinned, he had two-handed hitting power and was a superb boxer. He feasted on the best in the world when they dared broach his Washington territory and he dented New York when he finally got there. His failure to rematch Apostolini for the title is a black mark but is heavily outweighed by a brilliant march to the title.

#59 Freddie Welsh (74-5-7; Newspaper Decisions: 48-24-9)

Freddie Welsh was crazy. Whilst his compatriot Jim Driscoll was born into poverty and turned to boxing as a means to elevate himself, Welsh came from a family of wealth and when he went to America to ride the rails and fight as a professional he was still just a boy, bound by some savage impulse most of us cannot understand. Fortunately, Welsh’s instincts were borne out. Whatever “it” is, Welsh had it, in his blood. He was born to fight.

On paper his best run came before the title. In 1907 he turned the corner, boxing an ND over six rounds with the more established Jim Driscoll before adding an additional 17-0-1. In 1908, he took his step up but dropped a ten-round decision to emerging demi-god Packey McFarland. At this point the press was still less than impressed with Welsh who the New York Sun named a “second-rater,” criticizing McFarland for failing to put him away. He would change minds by going 6-0-2 for the rest of the year, boxing a draw with McFarland and picking up a win over the reigning featherweight champion Abe Attell.

When he headed home in 1909 it was as one of the best lightweights anywhere in the world, and picking up the European and British titles against the excellent Johnny Summers seemed almost a routine matter. He got another stab at McFarland, the man he never could best, boxing another draw but in the fifty-six fights that had followed his loss to his nemesis, Welsh slipped up just once, against Matt Wells. Future champion Willie Mitchel, Pal Moore, Matty Baldwin, future welterweight champion Jim Duffy and Jim Driscoll all fell to him in this time. After he lifted the title in 1914, Welsh took something of a low-road, preferring non-title fights and no-decision fights to legitimate title affairs, but perhaps he had earned it. Regardless, he continued to hoover up top-draw scalps including Jimmy Anderson, Charley White, Frank Fleming, Ad Wolgast, and best of all, Benny Leonard in a non-title fight in 1916.

Welsh “not only boxed with wonderful cunning but he sent in several blows that [shot] Leonard’s head back,” reported The New York Tribune. “Round after round the confident smile of Leonard dwindled whilst the surly grin of Welsh widened.”

It was his finest moment.

Leonard would eventually get the best of him, and McFarland, too, shaded their series, but these are two of the most wonderful lightweights in history. The surviving film of Welsh reveals a boxer equal to the legend in print, difficult to hit, quality of jab, capable of direct punching and as tough as they come.

Certain inconsistencies married to a sometimes unfortunate laziness in no decision affairs leave him coming up short of the absolute greatest, but make no mistake, Welsh’s appearance heralds the gateway to the absolute quill of boxing’s best.

#58 Ted Kid Lewis (192-32-13; 40-13-12 Newspaper Decisions)

Even on this list there aren’t many fighters with 100 wins. Fighters with 200 wins belong to an exclusive club indeed, and as we are allowing newspaper decisions for the purpose of this list, the great Ted Kid Lewis is a fully paid up member. He was also a deep contradiction; an ultra-aggressive swarmer who fought often who also had extreme longevity. His last meaningful win was over London tough Joe Rolfe, fought in October of 1927, his pro debut was fought in 1909. With the kind of style that should have seen him burnt out in ten years and a schedule that should have seen him burnt out in six, Lewis remained at least nationally relevant for the best part of two decades.

A career welterweight, the final curtain on Lewis’s career was an extraordinary romp through the best Europe had to offer. Banished from the world title scene in 1919 by middleweight champion Mike O’Dowd, Lewis returned to the UK and won the British and European welterweight title, the British, Commonwealth and European middleweight title and the British light-heavyweight title. Lewis was brought up short by no less a figure than Georges Carpentier, who knocked him out in the first round after Lewis, showing a lack of ring-smarts that bellied his incredible ring-experience, turned to remonstrate with the referee during action.

Regardless, his astonishing mop up of domestic and European talent was an astounding feat given the amount of ring-wear he was carrying and some of the opposition that he faced, men like Johnny Basham (60-10-7) and a fifteen-pound heavier Roland Todd (54-3-2).

This is the tip of the iceberg for Lewis. Often at a serious disadvantage in weight, he managed to pick up wins over Mike O’Dowd whilst giving up ten pounds, Willie Ritchie whilst giving up four pounds, Soldier Bartfield whilst giving up five and even against the man who defined his savage career, he was often the lighter man.

Lewis met the wonderful Jack Britton an incredible twenty times between 1915 and 1921, many of them engagements to settle the designation of the world welterweight title. It is typical of a career lathered with tribulation that Britton is the perhaps the one great welterweight Lewis would have least enjoyed sharing an era with. Lewis was basically the British Mickey Walker, a ring jackal who would fight anyone breathing if the price was right, a savage attack dog who placed the opponent under relentless pressure, trying to break, outwork, or stop them. Britton was the Pernell Whitaker of his era, almost impossible to hit, thriving off opposition activity through parrying and counterpunching, equipped with a chin of hot-dipped steel. Lewis would never be able to stop him, attempting to outwork him placed him in the mouth of a stylistic lion and as a fighter, Britton was utterly unbreakable. 

Almost inevitably, Lewis lost their series, but he did pull of the significant feat of beating Britton—three times by decision (on one occasion when he was outweighed by ten pounds) and at one point got the better of four consecutive newspaper verdicts in no-decision bouts, his peak year of 1917.

What he leaves in terms of legacy is a two-time stint as welterweight champion of the world, this in spite of his sharing an era with one of the greatest welterweights of all, a man who was also his natural stylistic kryptonite. He has many losses, but all this really proves is that he couldn’t maintain the same scheduling as one Harry Greb without suffering defeat, for his itinerary was at times directly comparable. Certainly brilliant pound-for-pound achievement coupled with perhaps the greatest longevity of any swarmer more than eclipses any shortcomings and sees him ranked comfortably in the fifties.

#57 Mike Gibbons (65-3-4, Newspaper Decisions 47-9-4)

Mike Gibbons turned pro in 1907 and hung ‘em up in 1922 universally lauded for his version of pure-boxing which stressed brilliance of footwork and elusiveness of body, both aspects that he completely mastered in the ring, earning him the nickname “The St. Paul Phantom.” Unquestionably one of his era’s many true greats, it is perplexing that Mike, despite every advantage—he was white, brilliant, and straddled two divisions in welter and middleweight—never won a world title. He boxed many champions, and attempted, like many others, to claim the title when Stanley Ketchel passed (his claim did not stick), but it was an honor that evaded him. The claims and counter-claims that muddy the picture after the removal of any dominant champion confuse the issue, but his only real chance seems to have come in 1919 in a fight he lost to Mike O’Dowd for the middleweight title. Even more frustratingly, he would get the better of O’Dowd in ’21 but only after the title had passed from him and to Johnny Wilson who Gibbons never met. Still, at his best he turned in a run any champion would be proud of.

Between 1913 and his loss to the immortal Harry Greb in the summer of 1916, Mike dropped just two newspaper decisions in over forty fights. In that time he beat such top men as title claimant Young Ahearn, became the first man to stop Wildcat Fearns (unbeaten in thirteen), Al McCoy (who would stop reigning middleweight champ George Chip in one round just a few weeks later), the much bigger and unbeaten John Howard, Bob Moha (who counts Battling Levinsky and Mike Sullivan amongst his victims), world title claimant Eddie McGorty and, best of all, Harry Greb over the short distance of six rounds and two ten-round victories over Jack Dillon. It is true that many of these men are no longer household names, but they represent some of the very best of a confused era. Wins over Greb and Dillon, unquestionably great fighters in their own right, helps us to understand what he was capable of regardless of the ravages inflicted upon his legacy by the passage of time, but let it also be known that Gibbons was considered by many to be the very best at what he did during his career.

The shine is rubbed from that gem a little by his inability to defeat Packey McFarland who basically came out of retirement to battle Gibbons in a marquee event. The fight seems to have been a case of weighing Mike’s harder punches against Paceky’s higher connect rate, but more ringsiders went for the latter than for the former. This made Gibbons a loser to a smaller and an inactive man who boxed with a style similar to his own, and probably put claims that he was amongst the best defensive fighters of all time to bed once and for all. Taken in tandem with his inability to distinguish himself from Mike O’Dowd (with whom he went 1-2 in a series) this finds Gibbons further down the list than many would like to see him. Whilst victories in series against Jack Dillon and the superb Jeff Smith in addition to a deep wider resume marks him out as top sixty material, there are fighters who distinguished themselves even further to follow.

#56 Young Corbett III (122-12-22)

Corbett was born in Italy, moving with his family to the US when he was just a boy, settling in Fresno, California sometime around 1910; when he went pro, like so many ethnic minorities turning to the hardest sport during the First World War, he took a fighting name, “Ralph Giordano” a shortened version of his given name, Raffaele Capabianca Giorgadno. Later, he would become Young Corbett III and embark upon one of the most brilliant careers in ring history.

He cut his teeth boxing as a bantam and featherweight in the Californian rings of the late ’10 and early ‘20s and although he sports early losses, his level of consistency is surprising for a teenager—Corbett turned professional aged just fourteen and boxed his way into adulthood. His run to greatness began in earnest with his four-fight series with Jack Thompson, a future welterweight champion of the world, whom he first beat on a razor thin six-round decision in 1926. The two would box a draw in 1927 before Corbett picked him off again, in ’28 and ’30 by which time he had hit his astonishing prime.

Corbett was a cagey fighter, one that had spent the first eight years of his career learning, learning that crystalized into a ten-year run at some of the best fighters in the world, and in history, through the late twenties and early thirties. He had become a fighter with an exceptional judgement of his own positioning and distance, almost impossible to pressure effectively due to the exquisite timing with which he brought across a smashing left hand straight out of the southpaw stance. On the inside, he was bulldog strong with a great line in defensive smothering and a good line in thumping offense. This combination brought him the welterweight championship of the world as he defeated the excellent Jackie Fields on points for the second time in 1933. Although his win ledger was by this point already thick and dusty and included the name of future middleweight champion Ceferino Garcia, three-time world title challenger Joe Glick, as well as the aforementioned Thompson and a host of regional toughs and champs, it was not yet the stuff of legends, so when Jimmy McLarnin bagged himself what may well be the most impressive one-round knockout in history, stopping Corbett in 2:37 three months after he lifted the welterweight title, he had a lot of work to do to make the top sixty fighters in all of boxing. Slinking immediately from the welterweight division and into middleweight, rarely weighing more than a modern light-middleweight, Corbett set to work. After dispatching Babe Morino and contender type Young Terry, Corbett took to the ring with no less a figure than Mickey Walker, who was moving down from light-heavyweight where he had just outpointed the great Maxie Rosenbloom. Walker claimed the best condition of his career for what some sources name a middleweight title bout.

Describing a fighter “at the peak of his career,” The Oxnard Daily Courier has Corbett winning “nearly every round” over Walker. The UP scorecard had the fight 8-0-2 despite Corbett’s brief visit to the canvas in the ninth. After two defeats of contender Bep Van Klavern (the first fight was close enough to warrant a rematch which Corbett dominated), Corbett lost to former champion Lou Brouillard after which he appeared to retire—and then he came again. Frankie Britt was beaten first before future light-heavyweight champions Gus Lesnevich (stopped in five) and Billy Conn, whom he floored and outpointed in 1937, nearly twenty years after his professional debut. The outstanding Fred Apostoli followed. Both men avenged themselves upon Corbett but neither was able to distinguish themselves from him, an astonishing achievement given his natural size.

#55 Evander Holyfield (40-10-2)

…he’s retired, right?

If so, the sun has set on one of the great heavyweight careers, although the professional sun rose on a cruiserweight. That was in 1984. Although he had left it behind by 1988 it is still difficult to find a boxing person who seriously believes the division has born a rival to Holyfield for excellence. 

He was just 11-0 when he stepped up in class to take on the more seasoned, not to mention extremely dangerous Dwight Muhammad Qawi in June of ’86 for the cruiserweight title. Qawi, the sawn-off shotgun champion did his best to out-psyche the green Holyfield in the build-up. He could not have known at that stage that you might as well try to psych out a pillar of salt. Fewer more self-assured men have ever taken to the ring. 

The resulting fight was as compelling as anything we have seen in the ring, and it made Holyfield a champion. He did his very best Ezzard Charles impression that night, showing astonishing maturity in controlling the action at a variety of ranges with a variety of styles. Holyfield was not just better; he was also, astoundingly, the harder block of granite. He would underline this in the fourth defense of his title, becoming the first man to stop Qawi (George Foreman would be the only other man to turn the trick and it would take him nearly twice as long). He added one more defense against strap-holder Carlos De Leon, and then it was off to heavyweight, where he beat Riddick Bowe, destroyed another, even more fearsome sawn-off shotgun in Mike Tyson, not once but twice, beat James Douglas, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, and extended Lennox Lewis in their close second fight in 1999. Post 2000 he was something of a caricature of that early brilliance, going 1-1-1 with John Ruiz, beating Hasim Rahman and turning in a spirited effort against the giant Nikolay Valuev.

For all the glory, there were concerning losses. He was unable to best Bowe, who took their series 2-1 and in the end 2-0 would have been a fairer reflection of his fights with Lewis, the gift draw in the first fight remains one of the century’s more controversial results. Most of all there is his slip up against Michael Moorer in ’94 and his twin defeats by light-heavyweight naturals James Toney and Chris Byrd. But Holyfield always bounced back. It was a testimony to an iron will that, for all his technical and physical gifts, may have been his greatest asset.

#54 Ruben Olivares (89-13-3)

Ruben Olivares is a two-time bantamweight champion of the world and also twice hoisted straps at featherweight. More, he may be the single greatest fighter ever to take to the ring at 118 lbs. That this can be suggested with a measure of confidence is due to the fact that he emerged atop as deep a field of bantamweights as has ever been assembled.

After knocking out his first twenty-four opponents, many of them with perhaps the best left hook in the history of boxing, Olivares added a draw and another twenty-six stoppages before taking on the superb Lionel Rose for the bantamweight title, immolating him in just five torrid rounds. He next dispatched the superb Alan Rudkin in two rounds, the first and last time he would be halted by punches (though he was stopped on a cut very early in his career). Next to be beaten was the superb Chucho Castillo, a dominant champion in any other era, here completely outboxed and outpunched over fifteen. Kazuyoshi Kanazawa might have looked a softer defense if he had not, like Olivares himself, dispatched Jesus Pimentel, perhaps the deadliest puncher in bantamweight history. As a set of defenses go, few at any weight can match them purely in quality.

He did not have it all his own way, however. Olivares has an overall record of just 8-5 in title fights. In part, this was due to the depth of quality of his bantamweight competition, as he would lose his title and then reclaim it form Castillo. When he finally lost it once and for all to Rafael Herrera in 1972 after “sacrificing much” to gain the bantamweight limit, he made one of the most difficult moves in all of boxing, from 118 up to 126 where he added two straps, on either side of his drubbing by Alexis Arguello, beating quality fighters like Bobby Chacon, Art Hafey and Zensuke Utagawa but going 2-3 in featherweight title fights.

#53 Fighting Harada (55-7)

Fighting Harada was a flyweight champion of the world for three months at the end of 1962 going 1-1 with the excellent Pone Kingpetch, but when his inevitable step up to bantamweight occurred it was foreshadowed by two losses at the weight, to Edmundo Esparaza, who, if not quite old news, was on his way to losing to every high-class bantamweight he would ever meet, and Joe Medel, a ranked contender who knocked him out after losing most of the rounds. He recovered by cracking some heads at the weight, including an impressive stoppage of Katsutoshi Aoki in three—the same number of rounds it had taken the luminous Eder Jofre.

Jofre was at that time nothing less than a Brazilian hero and at 47-0-3 an undefeated giant of a fighter whose name will echo in the boxing Hall of Fame for all time. He was a true beast, a boxer-puncher of the highest order and not the type of fighter a Joe Medel victim should mess with under any circumstances—suffice to say that Jofre was a favorite when the two met for Jofre’s bantamweight title in Japan, May 1965.

Harada’s style can be surmised in many ways by his approach at the opening bell. He hurled himself across the ring like a missile, landing punches on Jofre’s concrete guard before trying to get inside or into range as the Brazilian measured his laser-guided jab, a punch he finds inordinately difficult to get going. Harada was not the unthinking fury of lore; he had his own superb jab, as different to Jofre’s elegant striking punch as it is possible to imagine, more like a swarm of angry bees. Whilst Harada shows his capability in this fight for boxing for the opening, you know, watching him, that he is dreaming of that left hook to the body.

He beat Jofre cleanly and by distance, although it is possible to find people who disagree, including judge Jay Edson, who rendered this a split decision, but whomever you side with on that debate, Harada put it to bed by beating Jofre again in a rematch one year later. He also defended against #3 contender Joe Medel, avenging that earlier defeat, and two men from the top five, Bernardo Carabello and Alan Rudkin. Because Medel had eliminated Jesus Pimintel in 1965, this made an almost clear sweep of the top five contenders for his reign, a neat trick given that he only fought four defenses! When Lionel Rose boxed him to a decision in 1968, it seemed possibly to be no more than a blip and when he beat Dwight Hawkins to earn a ranking up at featherweight the wheels were set in motion to match him with the champion at 126 lbs., Johnny Famechon. When a knockout resulted in the rematch of the controversial points win for the champion in the first fight, Harada called it a day.

Harada was not one of boxing’s perennial contenders, taking great scalps even as he waited for the champion to call and his two reigns were short, no defenses at flyweight and four at bantam. But there is something deeply compelling about those defences—and this, taken together with the greatness of the man he ripped the title from, the immortal Eder Jofre, is enough for me to see him tucked in just ahead of Ruben Olivares. Olivares managed more total defenses and his ability to bounce back must also be recognized as superior, but Harada’s overall arch impresses more, if barely. Those who disagree are certainly entitled and those that don’t, I’m sure, like me, do not rest easy in that opinion.

#52 Carlos Ortiz (61-7-1)

Such is the quality of fighter that has dominated the lightweight division through the years, Carlos Ortiz arguably does not crack the top five. In almost any other division his brilliance, dominance and resume would likely bring him such a berth but not at lightweight; still, his greatness is undeniable and a spot just outside the top fifty is justified.

After losing a non-title bout to Kenny Lane in 1958, Ortiz lifted the vacant 140 lbs. title by stopping the same fighter six months later, an apparent clash of heads opening a cut over Lane’s eye. He defended against puncher Battling Torres before being chased from the division by the superb Duilio Loi, who beat him 2-1 in a three fight series. Ortiz dropped down to lightweight which would prove a better fit. He beat the brilliant Joe Brown to lift that title in 1962 and then posted four defenses, including against super-featherweight champion Flash Elorde and the always excellent Kenny Lane, finally proving his superiority over him in a fifteen-round meet in 1964. In ’65 he lost his title to Ismael Laguna in the closest of decisions out in Panama, only to regain its seven months later in Puerto Rico. Another step up to light-welterweight saw him outbox the great Nicolino Locche in Argentina, only to be robbed by corrupt judging which rendered the fight a draw. Five more defenses followed, including two against former featherweight champion Sugar Ramos, both of which ended in stoppages.

Strong and armed with a brilliant offense, Ortiz was hittable but durable and did a great line in traps and reads. He lost his first fight to Kenny Lane and although fortune was on his side in their second fight, in the third he had solved that particular problem and Lane was made to eat straight right hands all evening. Only that majority decision loss to Laguna prevents him from making double figures for defenses and in tandem with the disputed split decision loss Carlos Teo Cruz that cost him the title in 1968, is all that keeps him from the top fifty.

#51 Bernard Hopkins (53-6-2)

“The Clock has worked in my favor.”

If you have time, watch this. It is footage of Bernard Hopkins’ unique 1997 stoppage of Glen Johnson. The first thing you will hear the commentator say is “Hopkins, relentless in attack.” For readers of a certain age, hearing this may come as something of a surprise. Sure, Hopkins burst into the mainstream with that brilliant knockout defeat over a favored Felix Trinidad in 2001 when he was still riding the coattails of this style, but it was his 2004 knockout of Oscar De La Hoya that really made him famous. By this time, Hopkins was training to master lions rather than to fight like one.

The defeat of Johnson represents the perfection of Bernard’s first stylings, namely those of an aggressively stalking box-puncher. On his toes on the outside, Hopkins flashes in fast hard punches and when he falls in, it is not to neutralize or stall but to flesh out his offense with infighting ability all but unequaled for his era. See him, on the bell for the ninth, make room for his own shots without giving up space for Johnson to retaliate. Hopkins is a hurting, points-gathering machine that is using physical and technical advantages to defeat his opponent. Look closely however, and you will see the genesis of the thinking style that would take him into the next decade and then the one after making him one of the few professionals to box in four. His control of range and his uncanny ability to read the machinations that control the ebb and flow of offense and defense are already at work. At 2:40 of the next he stands at range, hands up, flat-footed, he has dominated the round so far with stiff jabs and that is what Johnson expects, so Hopkins surprises him with a lead left hook to the body. Then he goes on walkabout, dancing on his toes, lashing out with a wide variety of punches against an unbeaten opponent that would one day be the champion at 175 lbs. Listen to the great Gil Clancy wax lyrical:

“Hopkins is just enjoying himself in there now. Doing anything he wants to do…just about anything you’ve seen a fighter do, Hopkins is doing in this fight…look at that feint…he feinted a right hand. His balance is so good Jim. That’s why he can do these things.”

Doesn’t that sound to you a little more like something a commentator would say about Roy Jones? Hopkins had an offense in those days that in no way compromised his defense because he was able to move back into the defensive envelope as fast as any fighter I have ever seen. If he felt something he didn’t like in the opponents offense, he would make a move, in or out, that would stymie that offense and this was the essence of his defining win over Felix Trinidad, crystalized in the one-handed parry and knockout punch he lands in the twelfth round to become the first man to stop Trinidad, too.

In an irony not infrequently seen in boxing, Hopkins in 2001 and 2004 won fights that brought him the fame he craved just as his body was beginning to let him down. Unlike, say, Ivan Calderon, he birthed a solution, a solution that had its genesis in the fights that immediately followed his one-sided loss to Roy Jones back in 1993, that bore fruit even as he moved into his forties. By this point, he had amassed twenty defenses of his IBF strap and unified the titles, unquestionably a lock for both the Hall of Fame and your average top ten middleweight list. 

After dual losses—the second, very questionable—to the athletic but limited Jermain Taylor, Hopkins used his incredible skills at reverse engineering based on existing qualities that did not dominate his style to buy him victories over middleweight champion and pound-for-pounder Kelly Pavlik, 3-1 favorite and light-heavyweight supremo Antonio Tarver, thoroughly intimidated pound-for-pounder Winky Wright, the seventeen years younger Jean Pascal and very nearly pound-for-pounder Joe Calzaghe. The Calzaghe fight, in my opinion, represented the beginnings of a new genesis in Hopkins, one that relied upon absolute control of footwork, yes, partly his own in terms of economy, but more than that, the opponent’s. That saw its final resolution against Tavoris Cloud earlier this month. What is terrifying is that this latest incarnation may allow Hopkins to remain relevant into his fifties—and that would be amongst the most astonishing achievements in boxing history.

Of course, we have Archie Moore, rightly and inarguably lurking somewhere above Hopkins on this list but I think it must now be agreed that Hopkins is the man who has done the most to keep Time at bay in the boxing ring. When he says “the clock has worked in my favor,” what Hopkins means is that he has had the opportunity to gather information about the nature of himself and of boxing whilst iron discipline keeps total disintegration of his physical assets at bay; the result is as astonishing a career as has been seen in the modern era. Whilst losses to Dawson and Taylor, the best athletes he has faced in a boxing ring, is concerning, it is also true that Hopkins has continued to bounce back. He might continue to bounce back well into this decade.

100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part One: 100-91
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Two: 90-81
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Three: 80-71
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Four: 70-61
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Five: 60-51
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Six: 50-41
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Seven: 40-31
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Eight: 30-21
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Nine: 20-11
100 Greatest Fighters of All Time Part Ten: 10-1

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Freddie Steele TKO 3 Vince Dundee



Freddie Welsh vs Johnny Summers



rare boxing footage Ted Kid Lewis



Boxing - gibbons brothers ( sparring)



Young Corbett III W10 Jackie Fields



Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield I



Bobby Chacon - Ruben Olivares I



Fighting Harada UD15 Jose Medel II



Carlos Ortiz vs Kenny Lane II



Bernard Hopkins- 2 Days after Tavoris Cloud fight



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  1. Matt Mosley 01:22am, 03/26/2013

    And i agree that only so much can be read into sparring.
    It’s not the same as a real fight, where it’s do or die.

  2. Matt Mosley 01:20am, 03/26/2013

    Eric - I think a fight between Dempsey and Greb could be compared to how Jack Johnson and Stanley Ketchel turned out.
    I’m not saying Greb and Ketchel, and certainly not Johnson and Dempsey, were the same type of fighters, but both Jack’s would be/were in with tough, relentless and aggressive middleweights.
    Ketchel was doing ok in his fight with Johnson, even winning it if memory serves me. That was until he hurt Johnson and Johnson lowered the boom.
    All of them ATG fighters, and Greb could never be counted out, but a good (or great) big one will usually beat a good little (or smaller) one, imo.

  3. Matt McGrain 01:01am, 03/26/2013

    The obsession over the Dempsey-Greb sparring sessions is naturally birthed by the fact that the two never met in a real fight.  They were two of the greatest fighters of their generation, Greb was a top contender to Dempsey’s crown and many were desperate to see the fight but it never came off - try to imagine what a sparring session between Mayweather and Pacquiao would mean. Sure, it doesn’t tell us who would win a real fight but it would be some evidence for us to go on, and if we couldn’t see it on film the rumours surrounding it would be *deep*.  Same thing here.

  4. Eric 05:32pm, 03/25/2013

    I’ve read of Marciano being knocked down in sparring while preparing for Don Cockell. It was said Marciano had a hard time getting motivated for an opponent like the Englishman. I’ve read that early on in training camp a great deal of times Joe Frazier would get abused by sparring partners until he started rounding into better shape. Of course, many of us have seen that Ali wasn’t a great “gym fighter.” We’ve seen Tyson knocked down in sparring sessions. I’m sure being human there isn’t a fighter alive that hasn’t ever taken his lumps in a sparring session or had “off days.” I’ve read Eighties middleweight contender Curtis Parker got the better of Thomas Hearns in a sparring session while Hearns was in Philly training. The article went on to say Parker was near unbeatable in the gym and he would have wars with light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Dwight Qawi in sparring sessions. Now would anyone be willing to bet that Parker would whip either Hearns or Qawi in a REAL bout back when these men were fighting? Greb was the greatest middleweight of all time and probably would even rank highly in the light heavy division, but Dempsey would be too much for him in a real fight.

  5. Eric Jorgensen 04:38pm, 03/25/2013

    I’ve never understood the importance some folks want to place on the Dempsey-Greb sparring sessions.  My understanding of what took place comes from the newspaper articles quoted at this link:  http://www.harrygreb.com/dempsey_greb.html

    These indicate that Dempsey and Greb sparred 3 days in a row while Dempsey was preparing for Billy Miske.  The first day, they sparred 3 rounds after Dempsey had sparred 2 w/ Big Bill Tate and, presumably, had trained all morning.  Greb did great, apparantly having the upper hand for 3 rounds, presumably w/ headgear and 16 oz. gloves.  Day 2, Greb also did great, though there is no indication that he had the upper hand that time.  Day 3 was relaxed. 

    All in all, nIce work by Greb, particularly on Day 1, but so what?  Ever been hit on headgear with the big gloves?  There’s a reason why fighters use that equipment when they spar—they make it an awful lot harder to get hurt.  Also, to imagine there isn’t a huge difference between a training session and a real fight is, in my view, very unrealistic.

  6. Clarence George 09:30am, 03/25/2013

    Harrumph.

  7. Matt McGrain 09:25am, 03/25/2013

    No, i’m neither bitter nor a Dempsey-phobe.  I consider him overrated (clearly…) and he didn’t make my list but I see him great at heavyweight and enjoy more than one of his fights.

  8. Clarence George 09:20am, 03/25/2013

    Well, as long as there’s no bitterness, that’s the main thing…Mr. Sourpuss.

  9. Matt McGrain 09:01am, 03/25/2013

    It’s just a much cleaner version of the version already on youtube i’m afraid.  Nice, but not as interesting as something new, the footage of Dempsey being thrashed by Greb in sparring for example…

  10. Clarence George 08:46am, 03/25/2013

    The Fight Film Collector, who calls Boxing.com a “brilliant site,” was kind enough to send me this terrific footage, which is of outstanding quality, of Jack Dempsey sparring with Big Bill Tate in 1919.  Thought you’d all enjoy it, including infamous Dempseyphobe Matt McGrain.  J’accuse!  Or something.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvBXligl6YI

  11. Clarence George 03:06am, 03/25/2013

    “Bobcat”?  Very exciting lightweight.  I, too, would have Langford higher, but I don’t know if Matt will see things our way—i.e., correctly.

  12. GlennR 02:49am, 03/25/2013

    Great call with Burley….. i’d actually forgotten him.
    Id have Langford higher and ill be honest, i know nothing about Montgomery

  13. Clarence George 02:38am, 03/25/2013

    Tough one, Glenn, but I accept the challenge.  I don’t think any of these, which I’ve placed in descending order, have been included yet (hard to keep track!):

    Sam Langford
    Charley Burley
    Bob Montgomery

    A combination of my own thinking and a doubtless futile attempt at a Vulcan mind meld with Matt, aka Mr. Spock.

  14. GlennR 01:52am, 03/25/2013

    Good on you Clarence, fire up i say!

    So come on, give us 3 in the next ten

  15. Clarence George 01:41am, 03/25/2013

    All I know, Glenn, is that I’m sure to take issue with at least one inclusion or placement, or perhaps exclusion.  Ha!  I’m looking forward to it.

  16. GlennR 08:51pm, 03/24/2013

    So any predictions for 50-41 gents?
    I think 3 of them will be
    - Tyson
    - Jeff Fenech (My Oz dark horse)
    - Whitaker

    Any takers?

  17. Matt Mosley 01:01pm, 03/24/2013

    Of course, Don. You make some interesting points.
    BTW, Walcott and Tunney are two of my favorite old time fighters.
    I had never really thought about how their styles would do against Ali.
    Like i said, interesting stuff.

  18. Don from Prov 12:31pm, 03/24/2013

    Matt—You are very likely right about Charles and I should modify my original statement.  Yet, I do think it’s likely that Walcott would have presented more problems for Ali and Tunney even more.  I may be way off (that’s something not alien to me) but I feel that a fast and VERY smart boxer like Tunney could find ways neutralize Ali’s jab and, to some degree, his mobility.  Then again, I’ve always felt that Ali matches up well with Louis while—and please understand that when I’ve brought his name up several times after my initial question to Mr. McGrain I was simply ball busting a little in a friendly manner—I really do think that a very mobile, quick, well schooled, and aggressive left hook monster like Dempsey could also have produced a long night for Ali.  We all have ideas on these things, yes?

  19. Matt Mosley 09:15am, 03/24/2013

    Don - To be honest i have only seen 2 or 3 Ezzard Charles fights (Walcott, Marciano) and i realize that he was at his best as a light heavy and really punching above his weight at heavyweight.
    As Ted has said in the past, Charles has possibly the best level of opposition of any fighter ever.
    I just found him a bit boring to watch (what i have seen of him at heavyweight - haven’t seen him at 175), which is a bit unusual for me as a i often like to watch the technicians at work.
    Conversely i always found Ali fascinating to watch and when i picture those two fighting in my mind, i see only one winner.
    I admit i am being a bit ignorant to Charles’ greatness though and probably underrating him.

  20. Matt McGrain 09:08am, 03/24/2013

    I could see that, I have Charles ahead personally but only by 1 spot.

  21. Clarence George 09:02am, 03/24/2013

    Yes, Matt, at heavyweight.  I wasn’t thinking of pound-for-pound in this instance.

  22. Don from Prov 09:00am, 03/24/2013

    Matt—You learnt it, I makes it up.  Anyway, posting over the Internet is very “flat” and it’s difficult to discern when someone is being serious, factual, busting balls in a playful manner, etc.  Much like in rating all-time fighters, one has to go what one sees/reads: I can’t help but take it as an accusation when a poster infers that I didn’t bother to read his entire post, and when that post is pretty short, then the accusation is much more pointed—that’s how I read it.  Plus—okay a little smiley face :)—saying that Ali would only beat Charles by 8-4 (not that I even want to argue the point) is not really backing off: Well, in fairness, it is a big step from “not lay a glove on.”  There are, by the way, arguments to be made about how shot Ali, one year past stopping Lyle, two past stopping Foreman, was when he fought Young.  I may not be a whole-hearted fan of that argument, but it is there.

  23. Matt Mosley 08:23am, 03/24/2013

    Don - It’s not getting “attitudinal” (hey i learnt a new word:) reminding you what i did in fact post:

  24. Don from Prov 08:16am, 03/24/2013

    Mr. Yuma—Ken Norton gave both Ali and Holmes living hell.  What does that prove?  Probably different things to different posters, but you’d have trouble convincing me that it doesn’t have something to do with how fighters who could neutralize, to a reasonable degree, the jabs of Holmes and Ali would have the groundwork to fare well against either of those great (IMO), and very different, champions.  Add in taking away space—accomplished through whatever the means one had—and the chances of beating either increases.
    Again—IMO.

  25. Don from Prov 08:10am, 03/24/2013

    Matt—That’s a good point about where Ali was in his career when he fought Jimmy Young: Dempsey was done when he fought Tunney—it happens.  As far as Walcott and Charles go, I was not critiquing—or even thinking about your post—but simply stating what I thought, though I DID “bother” to read your entire post (and 8-4 is still a pretty big gap) so there is not need to become attitudinal.  Anyway, I have seen Ali/Jones and think Jones gave him problems—just an opinion but as fair as any other being posted here.  Again, it’s not that hard to find flaws in the careers of most fighters.  I’ve always had a “sense” that a great, smaller boxer would be hell for Ali.  I can’t prove it.

  26. johnny yuma 08:09am, 03/24/2013

    What about Larry Holmes? Look at his record before Spinks(which I scored for Larry).People say he didnt beat anyone,but that can be said at for any champ,even great Joe Louis (bum of the month) He fought beat Evangelista,but so did Ali.

  27. Eric 07:57am, 03/24/2013

    I think Ali actually lost all three of his fights with Norton, I give Norton even the second fight IMO. I think Jimmy Young beat Norton and Ali. Young couldn’t catch a break it seems. Ali was just 33 when he lost to Young, granted he wasn’t in his prime and he had already gone through some wars with the murderous punching Frazier & Foreman, but 33 isn’t exactly ancient. Jersey Joe lost to some people like Abe Simon, who he shouldn’t have lost to, but that happens. Walcott really split a pair of fights with Louis and was boxing Marciano’s ears off in their championship fight before “the punch.” Marciano ranks his first fight with Jersey Joe as his toughest fight. Walcott, because of some spotty losses is underrated. Always would’ve wanted to see a Archie Moore vs Jersey Joe Walcott fight, and wonder why the two never crossed paths.

  28. Matt Mosley 07:40am, 03/24/2013

    Don - Muhammad had been through 3 fights with Frazier (two of them brutal), one with Foreman and two with Norton, on top of all the others, by the time he met Young. He was near the end of the road and only a few years away from retirement.
    He should have retired after the Thrilla anyway, and his brain was taking unnecessary punishment after that fight.
    The real Ali was long gone by the time of the Young fight.

  29. Matt Mosley 07:36am, 03/24/2013

    Matt - I watched it on ESPN only the other week, and i agree.
    Not exactly the best Ali performance, and it was Jones’s, but Ali clearly won the fight .

  30. Matt McGrain 07:29am, 03/24/2013

    Here’s the thing about Jones-Ali—it’s available.  It’s on YT.  People have said that this is a close even a controversial fight…I think simply watching it dispels that notion.  It is pretty clear for Ali.  Anyone that hasn’t should check it out.

  31. Matt Mosley 07:27am, 03/24/2013

    Don from Prov - I never mentioned anything about Walcott.
    Joe is one of my favorite fighters, and anyway, i took it back about Charles in the very next sentence if you had bothered to read the whole post. I said i favored Ali 8-4 in rds.
    Jimmy Young was a slippery counter puncher who would have given anyone a tough fight, plus Ali was way past his peak years (mid to late 60’s) by that time. When he fought Doug Jones he was still on the way up and learning.
    Every fighter has off nights.
    I’m talking about when both were at their very best.

  32. Matt McGrain 07:24am, 03/24/2013

    Mosley speaks the truth…but I don’t mind the different opinions it sparks debate.  It does make me sad when people take it personally, but so far we’ve had very little of that.

  33. Matt McGrain 07:22am, 03/24/2013

    Well johnny, Welsh is higher than he appears on both the Bert Sugar and the Boxing News lists.  I couldn’t see him all that much higher than he is here.  I do believe Ted could stand a higher ranking, though I wouldn’t have him above 54.  Then again you could argue Steele over both.

  34. Matt Mosley 07:21am, 03/24/2013

    I can’t believe how offended some get that Matt hasn’t ranked the fighters EXACTLY how they would.
    It’s HIS list.
    What’s he supposed to do, check with you first to see if you approve?
    While i may not agree with every single pick, i think this has been a very good order of greatness so far.
    It must be a very hard job when there have been so many great fighters over more than 100 years.
    Impossible to please everyone.

  35. Don from Prov 07:21am, 03/24/2013

    Matt Mosley: Ali had plenty of trouble with smaller fighters such as Doug Jones and Jimmy Young: I think Tunney would have been hell for Ali—

    Walcott and Charles would not = a walk in the park, IMO.

  36. johnny yuma 07:06am, 03/24/2013

    How can you rate Kid Lewis,Welsh so so low? Teddy had over200 fights,fought as a heavy Europe. I know both Brits. I go by my RING Record book(I admit maybe too much),Welsh is way up there,I know top ten.

  37. Matt McGrain 06:17am, 03/24/2013

    At hw?

  38. Clarence George 06:12am, 03/24/2013

    Putting myself into the mix:  I’d rank Walcott higher than Foreman, though not Tyson.  I’d also rank him higher than Charles, albeit not by much.

  39. Matt McGrain 06:08am, 03/24/2013

    Jersey Joe?!  Strangely, you’re not the first person to say that to me…but I don’t see it, at all i’m afraid…greater than Foreman and Tyson!?

  40. Eric 06:04am, 03/24/2013

    I would’ve put both Joe Walcotts somewhere between 100-50, as well as both Jack Dempseys. teehee.

  41. Clarence George 05:58am, 03/24/2013

    Toughness as mental or emotional shrug?  More than that, I think.

  42. Matt McGrain 05:33am, 03/24/2013

    It apparently is a fact that some men experience fear in a completely different way to the rest of us.  I suspect that Langford was such a man.

  43. Clarence George 04:35am, 03/24/2013

    But fighting pretty much blind.  My God, what guts!

  44. Matt McGrain 04:26am, 03/24/2013

    In literal terms, yeah…mentally, unknown.  Jim’s game was durability.  What Fitz did to him the second time was insane.  Langford quit on his stool numerous times, generally with good reason,  but it edges Jeffries in front for me.  Langford might still make my five and would certainly make the ten.

  45. Clarence George 04:21am, 03/24/2013

    Tougher than Langford, Matt?  Don’t see that myself, but definitely among the toughest.

  46. Matt McGrain 04:01am, 03/24/2013

    Jeffries would be #14 on my HW list but got nowhere near this list.  Interestingly Clarence he’d have been my choice for #1 in your “toughest heavyweights” article.

  47. Clarence George 02:16am, 03/24/2013

    Agree with the comment preceding this one, at least as far as Jeffries is concerned.  He’s been neglected to the point of being forgotten, and that’s just bizarre.  Hell, he’s not brought to my own mind often enough.  I’m not even sure where I’d have him on my list of top heavies, but somewhere between 15 and 20…maybe higher.  A bit vague, I know.  But, like most, I focus on the top five or 10.

  48. tuxtucis 12:44am, 03/24/2013

    Even if i think that Ali’s matches with Liston were fixed (I think so), even if he really lost all his matches after the Thrilla in Manila (as I think), Alì has the better resume of any heavyweight, no way…At this point i would disagree with the exclusion from this list of Jim Jeffries…He had few matches, but very high level of competition (twice Corbett, twice Fitzsimmons, twice Tom Sharkey, Peter Jackson)...Even when he was a former-boxer he lasted 15 rounds of pounding before falling to one of greatest heavies in his prime (Jack Johnson)...His resume is not distant frome the one of Marciano…

  49. Clarence George 06:03pm, 03/23/2013

    Eric:  I tend to disagree with you regarding Ali, but your argument is interesting and thought provoking.  My own take on Ali (whom I never much liked) is that he was outstanding when challenged, such as by Frazier, but that the bulk of his bouts, as well as his performances in them, are pretty forgettable.  He’s overrated because he’s been deified, a process that continues to this day.  That said, I do indeed consider him one of the great heavyweights and pound-for-pounders of all time.

  50. Matt Miller 06:02pm, 03/23/2013

    Thoroughly enjoying this series, especially learning about some of the oldsters on the list who I was barely familiar with or not familiar with at all. Great stuff, and I am looking forward to more.

  51. Matt Mosley 03:04pm, 03/23/2013

    Holyfield-Qawi 1 is probably in my top 10 favourite fights ever.

  52. Eric 02:26pm, 03/23/2013

    Ali is as overrated as the Klits are underrated. Ali’s fights with an old Sonny Liston are highly suspect. In his pre-exile career when Ali was in his prime his biggest wins were over Liston (many believe both fights were fixed, especially the second), a much smaller Floyd Patterson who was fighting with a back injury, and a washed up Cleveland Williams who still had a bullet lodged in him.  Henry Cooper, while a good fighter wasn’t a great fighter by any stretch, floored Cassius Clay aka Muhammad Ali. Many felt Clay aka Ali lost to light heavyweight Doug Jones, and his last fight before being banned was against another aging contender named Zora Folley. Frazier? All the heart in the world but basically a predictable one-armed fighter who never won against someone who could match or exceed his punching power. Norton? Who did Norton ever beat besides Ali? Norton, in my opinion lost to Jimmy Young and Scott Ledoux. UGH. Foreman? Never gave Foreman a rematch. No way Ali belongs in the top 10.

  53. Matt Mosley 01:34pm, 03/23/2013

    Also Eric, there is absolutely no comparison between the Klits level of opposition and Ali’s (maybe Louis’s, but i still think Joe’s opponents were better also).
    Ali fought in, and came out on top in, the greatest generation of heavyweights of all time.
    The Klits have fought in the worst generation of heavies of all time.
    Like i said, no comparison.
    Even in a head to head, i think Ali dances rings around both. He had the reach and jab to clearly outbox them.
    I see a UD over Vitali and possibly a late stoppage over Wlad.

  54. johnny yuma 12:58pm, 03/23/2013

    I remember just a time ago modern fans singing the praises of Roy Jones being the best pound 4 lb. fighter of all time. a lot of modernist (use that term) couldnt or wouldnt stop singing praise after praise after beating the great Ruiz! Mickey Walker, Greb no sweat 4 Roy.Personally I like Roy Jones the man &what; hes gone thru. Wonder no one can answer Modernist love Hop, Ali, Mayweather but go out of their way to tear down the the Klits,& their record means nothing! Its gotten to the point that their maligned for being good sports &gentlemen;!Go figure.

  55. Matt Mosley 12:42pm, 03/23/2013

    Eric - While a great fighter himself, no way would Ezzard Charles have beaten Ali, even taking into consideration the size difference.
    Charles would have struggled to lay a glove on a prime Ali, IMO.
    Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but i see Ali winning 8rds to 4.
    Charles’ style was not the type that Ali had problems with, also IMO.
    Ali had the speed of a middleweight so he could handle the smaller guys even though he was 210-220lbs.
    Ali should be either 1 or 2 on this list, imo.

  56. Matt McGrain 12:07pm, 03/23/2013

    Haha, no hints on the top ten Eric! Not long now though.

  57. Matt McGrain 12:06pm, 03/23/2013

    Well “Walt”, i’m afraid i didn’t post this list with this ordering because I thought I was wrong.  I posted this list with this ordering because i think i’m right.  I’m sorry if my refusing to immediately capitulate to you damages my credibility for you, but I didn’t post B-hop at #51 to immediately turn around and say “yes, of course he should be top 25!” If i believed that I would have put him at 25.  The way these things work is I post my list, people talk about it, i explain myself.  I wonder, do you have a list? (-;

  58. Eric 12:00pm, 03/23/2013

    Wondering where ole “Stone Hands” Roberto Duran will rank on this list.? Will heavyweights like Ali or Louis make the top 10 over tried and true fighters like Duran, Walker, Greb, Ray Robinson, Armstrong, Willie Pep, Langford & Bob Fitzsimmons (both not really full-fledged heavies in poundage but both hit like heavies.)  Personally pound for pound I wouldn’t rank Ali or Louis over the fighters I listed. Pound for pound were smallish heavyweights like Charles and Tunney actually better fighters than Ali or Louis? The Klits are often criticized for being boring and yet the only two fighters that have matched their record of dominance for so long are Ali and Louis. Should we say that the only reason Ali would beat a prime Ezzard Charles is because of his advantage in size, and therefore Charles is the better fighter.

  59. Walt 11:52am, 03/23/2013

    IT’S HARD TO DISCUSS THIS WITH SOMEONE WHO IS NEVER WRONG.

  60. Matt McGrain 11:12am, 03/23/2013

    Mike Silver would agree with you Johnny.  I’m not so sure…

  61. johnny yuma 11:03am, 03/23/2013

    My point is where’s the Joey Archers, Dick Tiger, Emile, Luis Rodriquez, Giambra, I believe all these guys would take B-Hop!

  62. Eric 10:27am, 03/23/2013

    @Eric Jorgensen,

    I agree with your assessment on Marciano beating Holyfield and I, too, would favor Dempsey over Marciano.  I have no problem with Holyfield being ranked in the top 100 and think he deserves to ranked there, albeit maybe further down the list. No way should Holyfield be higher than Dempsey, Marciano, Foreman, or Frazier, however. As far as Holyfied’s weight advantage over Marciano, personally I would think Marciano is actually the “naturally” bigger man. Holyfield never was a “natural” heavyweight and probably could’ve fought cruiserweight without sacrificing much at the scales his entire career. Sure, Marciano was rather short at 5’10”-5’11” for a heavyweight, had the reach of a welterweight, but he wasn’t as small as people like to make him out to be. No one trained harder and it was that fanatical training regime and Marciano’s own desire to fight at 184-187lbs that make it seem like Marciano was a blown up light heavyweight. Guaranteed if Marciano trained like most fighters his weight would have been in the 195lb range, and I seriously doubt sans a weight training program, an in shape Holyfield would’ve been much heavier. If Marciano can survive Dempsey’s furious onslaught at the beginning, Marciano could take out Dempsey. That fight is a very tough call. Holyfield, however, never faced anyone with the relentless, suffocating style of a Marciano. Being that styles make fights I would favor Tyson in his prime to beat fellow swarmers Marciano, Dempsey, and Frazier, however.

  63. nicolas 10:24am, 03/23/2013

    that footage of Steele-Dundee is just incredible. First, of course this fight today would have been stopped in the second. What can you say about that corner of Dundee, what lazy bums I would have to call them when Steele is the one to take a badly beaten fighter to his corner, and none of these guys get into the ring to go to their fallen fighter. I wondered who the young Asian Gentleman was who I think went to cut Steele’s gloves off.

  64. ray fritz 09:26am, 03/23/2013

    Wow great footage!! I am 64 watched boxing from Ingo/Floyd 2. Harada was truly great boxer, beating Jofre puts him there, great to watch. Can’t see calling Ezz Charles over the hill when fought Rocky, no way, c’mon watch those fights. Hop way overrated, I don’t like clutch&hold; fighters. Sure record middle defense but who did he beat? No way comparing to great Archie Moore who would murder him. Harold Johnson would tear him up also!!!!

  65. Matt Mosley 05:20am, 03/23/2013

    Great clip.
    Good interview, but i think what Bernard maybe wanted to get across but didn’t quite when asked why he keeps doing this, is that he cares about his legacy.
    He wanted to be one of the truly great ones.
    And now he is.

  66. Matt Mosley 05:10am, 03/23/2013

    Now it’s getting interesting!  :)
    I think you have Hopkins about right. I would maybe have him a little bit higher, but not much.
    Thanks for the clip from Fox News. I hadn’t seen that.

  67. Matt McGrain 04:27am, 03/23/2013

    As an aside, 51 is not “pretty low” it’s extremely high…it’s above Harada, Olivares and Ortiz, three stuck on atgs fighters.

  68. Matt McGrain 04:24am, 03/23/2013

    Walt - i am not “all over the place” on this, I am absolutely consistent.  I’ve already said this but for your benefit, here it is again - Hopkins is ABOVE other men who do not have great competition based upon dominance.  Manuel Ortiz - nineteen defences, competition not *great*, ranks at #67.  Abe Attell, 20 defences, not *great* competition, ranks at #66…Wilfredo Gomez, hugely dominant, BELOW Hopkins at #63.  Hopkins, based upon his dominance and longevity, is above them at #51.  If you are paying attention, it is consistent as can be.

  69. GlennR 10:59pm, 03/22/2013

    Walt, i guess the one thing against Hopkins (who is my fav boxer) is how he has gone about winning, particularly later in his career.

    I guess in the eyes of many, he lacks the “wow” factor of some one like RJJ (who is yet to come, but will be there).
    As good as he is, BH isnt top 25 IMO either

  70. Walt 10:42pm, 03/22/2013

    On the one hand you say dominance is important and then on the other, you rate Hopkins pretty low. Hopkins’s longevity and dominance should put him way up in the rankings. Gomez was destroyed by Sanchez. No one has ever destroyed Hopkins. You are all over the place on this. I think if you gave a poster some due, it would increase your credibility. Hopkins should be in the first 25 based on both his longevity and his dominance. In fact, he has been more dominant than Hagler whom I suspect you will have in your top 10. Your move.

  71. GlennR 05:33pm, 03/22/2013

    Thanks Matt, Steele does look a beast and as middlewight my favourite class ill definetly research him ....

    Eric and Clarence, Holyfield beats both of them

  72. Clarence George 05:16pm, 03/22/2013

    Good points, Eric, and I of course agree that Marciano would beat Holyfield.  Dempsey would too.  I give a slight edge, however, to Marciano over Dempsey.

  73. Matt McGrain 03:03pm, 03/22/2013

    Steele was a beast; he had everything.  He’s an example of a fighter who lacked stardust - no movie, didn’t box his career in New York with all the benefits that brings, but he has a great ledger and skill to burn.  An example of a fighter greater than many who are more famous - and more likely to appear on such a list.

  74. GlennR 02:53pm, 03/22/2013

    You know much about Freddie Steele?
    I hadnt really heard much about him, what a record and really enjoyed that clip of him

  75. Clarence George 02:39pm, 03/22/2013

    My favorite of this group, Glenn, is Lewis or Harada.

  76. GlennR 02:31pm, 03/22/2013

    See told you Holyfield would get in Clarence!

    My thinking is the same as Matts here, just a better body of work in a very tough period for a HW plus, id add, just watch him on video of which there is plenty….. wonderful boxer with a will of stone.

    I was going to call Hopkins in this group but forgot to, good breakdown of his style and achievements and a great clip to highlight his skills. He was a monster back then….. just a cleverer older type of monster now.

    Oh, my favourite in this group is Hopkins by the way, he’s taken his art of boxing to an amazing level

  77. Eric Jorgensen 01:20pm, 03/22/2013

    One can criticize the overall talent level of Marciano’s opposition, depending on how much one believes some of those guys had left in the tank at the time Marciano fought them, but it is hard to dispute that Marciano beat the best fighters available in Louis, Walcott, LaStarza, Cockell (who beat Kid Matthews, derailing his rematch v. Rocky), and Moore (who waxed both Valdes and Baker).  Holyfield did not do that; he was 1-2 against Bowe (and luck to get the 1), 0-2 against Lewis (really), and 1-1 against Moorer. 

    Personally, I like Marciano straight up against Holy, even conceding the weight—and I like the Manassa Mauler against either one of them.

  78. Clarence George 12:33pm, 03/22/2013

    Not only tsk-tsked, Matthew Alphonsus McGrain, but…tut-tutted!

  79. Matt McGrain 11:47am, 03/22/2013

    Well here’s the point Clarence; we can speculate all day long about what x may have done to y.  It’s what we know that counts (for the most part) and what we know is that Holyfield beat generally better heavyweights, beat generally bigger men, fought many, many more world title fights, won many, many more world title fights, had a longer period of dominance as a fighter, was relevant for longer.  There are thirteen years between Holy’s first and last world title wins, over two weights.  Rocky managed three years.  Of course - it IS possible to construct criteria that have Rocky above Evander.  He was great after all.  But I would strenuously disagree with the notion that he somehow doesn’t belong, or that having him above Rocky is something to be tsk-tsk’d at, for all the reasons listed.

  80. Clarence George 11:35am, 03/22/2013

    Holyfield certainly has more longevity…so does Roy Jones Jr.

    Bowe beat Marciano?  No.  But Marciano-Tyson would be a helluva fight, which is not to say Tyson would win…he wouldn’t.

  81. tuxtucis 10:12am, 03/22/2013

    Very interesting and various ten…Hopkins and Holyfield are the kind of fighters (as will be Archie Moore) whose legacy relies in career’s lenght than in prime’s strength..

  82. Matt McGrain 09:24am, 03/22/2013

    A literal approach may work where a historical one has failed.  Holyfield beat: Qawi, DeLeon, Douglas, Bowe, Tyson and Moorer.  Marciano beat: Moore, Old Charles, (probably) Prime Walcott, Layne, Old Louis, LaStarza.  Holyfield is better in real terms.  Mercer, Old Holmes and Old Foreman form Holyfield’s next clutch; Marciano is looking to Cockell and Harry Matthews, a washed up Lee Savold.  Holyfield has more longevity, more title fight victories, more years as a legitimate pound for pounder, and looks just as good on film. I think that Marciano’s 0 can be seen to close a certain amount of that gap, but overhaul him?  No, not for me.  Only by fetishising his unbeaten status is it possible to rank him above Holyfield for me.  Tyson and Bowe would crush Rocky’s competition and might beat Marciano himself.

  83. Clarence George 09:07am, 03/22/2013

    Oh, yeah—the venerable, history-drenched cruiserweight division.

  84. Matt McGrain 09:03am, 03/22/2013

    Walt - Hopkins was indeed dominant.  Was he more dominant than Manuel Ortiz?  Arguable, close.  More dominant than W.Gomez?  Difficult…both these men are ranked below him.  It’s longevity that gets Hopkins this high, not dominance.

  85. Matt McGrain 08:59am, 03/22/2013

    Yes indeed!  The undisputed #1 cruiserweight all time, as many defences at curiserweight as Rocky managed at heavyweight, MORE at heavyweight than Rocky Marciano managed and beat better opposition than Rocky above 200lbs.  A lock, i’d say!

  86. Walt 08:59am, 03/22/2013

    Bhops and Harada are way off the mark. They should be higher, especially Hopkins because of his dominance.

  87. Clarence George 08:55am, 03/22/2013

    There’s always one inclusion or placement that overshadows the others.  In this installment, it’s the presence of Evander Holyfield, one of the patron saints of heavyweight mediocrity.  Holyfield made the cut, but not Jack Dempsey?  And he’s ranked higher than Rocky Marciano?  Tsk-tsk.

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