Top Ten Heavyweight Champions

By George Thomas Clark on April 2, 2013
Top Ten Heavyweight Champions
Muhammad Ali made people believe in him and inspired them to believe in themselves.

Let us set aside the present and recall the days of more gifted and charismatic champions. Here are the ten best heavyweights of all time…

For a century heavyweight boxing champions were the kings of sports, the baddest men on earth and celebrities of the first rank. In the last twenty years, however, after the in and out of ring demise of Mike Tyson and emergence of mixed martial arts as an alternative form of combat, the heavyweight crown has been placed on a dresser in the rear bedroom and its holders have become as obscure as utility outfielders. Let us set aside the present and recall the days of more gifted and charismatic champions. Here are the ten best of all time. 

10. Jack Johnson – The Galveston Giant had more trouble battling white supremacists than boxers in the ring. He dominated a series of opponents for more than a decade while titleholders, promoters, and politicians connived to deny him a championship fight. In 1908, when Johnson was thirty years old, the establishment couldn’t say no anymore, and he journeyed to Australia to batter tiny Tommy Burns and claim the crown.

Johnson was a great boxer and good power puncher and beat everyone until, as an overweight drinker and world traveler at age thirty-seven, he tired under Cuban sun and was nailed on the jaw by young giant Jess Willard. 

Johnson in his prime was the only nineteenth-century-born heavyweight who would be competitive with the champions discussed below. 

9. Sonny Liston – His name still evokes images of a menacing ex-convict who used long and powerful arms to chop down more than three dozen opponents, in particular the popular but much smaller Floyd Patterson while winning the title by first round knockout. He dispatched Patterson the same way in a rematch. After that he in 1964 prepared to fight young and rambunctious Cassius Clay, who in part appeared to be as afraid of him as other opponents but also called him ugly and a bear and said he was going to whip him. Clay at age twenty-two was and remains the quickest heavyweight ever, and his lateral movement and jabs and overhand rights befuddled and bruised Liston who retired after the sixth round with a strained shoulder and shattered psyche. In their rematch the champion, rechristened Muhammad Ali, threw a right that may have landed but certainly not with enough force to destroy sturdy Liston, who refused to get up. The two debacles against Ali should not diminish Liston’s historical standing. Every man has his nemesis, and most have several. Sonny Liston outslugged most people but had less success with personal demons, and died of a heroin overdose in 1970. 

8. Ken Norton – The former marine with a classic physique forever placed his name in the fistic pantheon by hammering Muhammad Ali in three fights. During the first bout, in March 1973, Norton broke Ali’s jaw and won a split decision that one myopic judge gave to Ali. I attended their next fight, in September that year at the Forum in Los Angeles, and watched Ali, unable to move as he had before banishment, often get tagged. Unlike in their first fight, though, Ali also inflicted damage and won a disputed split decision. About that, Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray wrote, and I paraphrase only a bit if at all: “If Ali won that fight then Japan won World War II.”

In his next fight Norton was destroyed by George Foreman in the second round but then stopped seven straight opponents before meeting Ali again, in 1975. Norton was more aggressive as Ali masochistically leaned against the ropes, but also slow danced and scored enough to make it close at the bell when Norton screamed, “I beat you. I beat you.” The judges unanimously disagreed and Norton wept in the ring. The fairest way to assess their three fights is to say Norton at minimum fought Ali to a draw and probably had an edge.

7. Mike Tyson – In the mid-1980s a five-foot-ten teenager began his career throwing combinations with the speed of a lightweight and the power of a sledgehammer, stopping his first nineteen opponents and delighting TV sports news watchers in a pre-internet era. At age twenty he flattened Trevor Berbick to become the youngest heavyweight champion. During his prime few could have survived Mike Tyson, but like all fighters he proved to have vulnerabilities. When Tyson was twenty-three, before a nearly-silent crowd of boxing neophytes in Tokyo, James “Buster” Douglas popped him with long left jabs and strong straight rights, dominated the fight if not two of the three scorecards, survived a Tyson uppercut to arise at the count of nine in round eight, and in the tenth delivered a pulverizing uppercut and several more punches that left the champion on the canvas as he groped for a mouthpiece he shoved partially into his mouth while being counted out.

At age twenty-five Mike Tyson was convicted of rape and served three years in prison. After his release he beat several overmatched foes before Evander Holyfield defeated him by technical knockout and won their rematch as a frustrated Tyson twice bit Holyfield’s ears. The glory years never returned but no fan will forget his sensational rise.

6. Joe Frazier – As with Ken Norton and Sonny Liston, this fighter’s name will always be joined to that of Muhammad Ali, who before their first fight, in 1971, repeatedly badgered Frazier and called him ugly. Ali should have remembered, after three and a half years in exile, that he no longer “floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.” He’d become a heavier, often flat-footed fighter who tragically concluded, starting with this fight, that the best way to tire out a supremely-conditioned opponent was to let him use Ali’s head and torso as a heavy bag. Frazier obliged, ripping countless left hooks—one of the finest in boxing history—into Ali’s body and right side of his face. Ali had begun the fight decisively, battering Frazier’s head with combinations, but Smokin’ Joe got stronger, or weakened less, and staggered Ali a couple of times and ensured victory by flooring him with another explosive left hook in the fifteenth round. Joe Frazier won a unanimous decision but it was a Pyrrhic victory, as it would have been for Ali. Both men had to be hospitalized, Frazier even longer than Ali, and it’s certain their brains suffered permanent damage. 

Two years later Frazier was bombarded by George Foreman and in 1974 lost a nontitle decision to Ali as the latter moved more adroitly than in their first fight, and both men escaped major beatings. In their third meeting, the “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975, they bludgeoned each other for fourteen riveting rounds that culminated with Ali knocking Frazier’s bloody mouthpiece onto the canvas and continuing with power punches that rendered Joe unable to come out for the final round. The real outcome of the fight: Ali, once the world’s most dynamic talker and entertainer, has been silent nearly thirty years, and Frazier garbled words in his final years. He died of liver cancer at age sixty-seven. 

5. Joe Louis – Like Muhammad Ali a generation later, Louis was even more important as an inspiration than a fighter. During an era when blacks were segregated and had no vote and couldn’t live or work where they wanted, the Brown Bomber showed they could overcome. If they worked hard enough, they could be like Joe Louis. They could knock the man on his ass. That’s what Joe Louis did better than anyone until George Foreman. During an unprecedented twelve years as heavyweight champion, he put people on the canvas with short, pulverizing combinations, and listeners huddled around their radios knew what awaited his opponents.

The most celebrated fight for Joe Louis was his second against Max Schmeling. In 1936 the former heavyweight champion, a German, though not a Nazi, had clipped Louis on the chin with his best punch, an overhand right, dropping him in the fourth round. Louis later said he didn’t remember anything the rest of the fight, which lasted until he was knocked out in the twelfth round Two years later, an angry and focused and more mature Louis unleashed one of the most horrific one-round beatings in ring annals, registering a tangible victory over Der Max and a symbolic one over fascism.

4. George Foreman – At age nineteen, during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Foreman established that he wielded a left jab like most boxers’ power punch and a right hand that immediately weakened strong men. He launched his professional career with a series of victories, most by knockout, and in January 1973 went to Jamaica to challenge the heavyweight champion, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, the undefeated conqueror of Muhammad and a man believed to be unstoppable. Foreman lambasted Frazier, knocking him down six times during two rounds of what remains the most devastating display of knockout power. 

The new champion soon stopped Ken Norton in the second round and, based on his demolition of Frazier and Norton, the only two fighters who’d beaten Ali, he seemed certain to knock out the challenger. The fight was staged in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Congo) and billed “The Rumble in the Jungle.” Ali again used his “rope-a-dope” tactics, his back on the ropes and his arms a shield from elbows in his stomach to gloves over his face. Though incomparably powerful, Foreman was exposed as a slow puncher and Ali repeatedly dodged the champion’s gloves, pushed him around, and nailed him with sharp punches. Suddenly, in round eight, Ali sprang from the ropes and hit a tiring Foreman on the jaw with the best overhand right of his career, and the mammoth champion folded at the waist, hit the canvas, and was unable to rise before the ten-count. From my seat in Sacramento’s aged Memorial Auditorium, I stood in homage. 

In his next fight Foreman and ex-convict Ron Lyle repeatedly staggered and knocked each other down in a compelling fight. Foreman stopped Lyle in the fifth round, but the years of lopsided wins had ended. In 1977 slick boxer Jimmy Young outmaneuvered Foreman, floored him in the final round, and earned a unanimous decision. Foreman, only twenty-eight years old, surprised fans by retiring. Many assumed this farewell, like most in boxing, would be brief. It wasn’t.

Ten years later Foreman announced his comeback, which seemed preposterous. He was not only old for a boxer and long inactive but carried forty pounds of flab. Many spectators and sportswriters sneered at the sometimes clumsy former champion. Foreman ignored them and again started knocking people out and after winning twenty-four straight fights, all but one by stoppage, he at age forty-one challenged Evander Holyfield for the heavyweight title. Holyfield moved and punched too quickly for the ponderous challenger, and after Foreman’s loss by unanimous decision most observers assumed he would permanently retire. He instead won three fights before losing a decision to Tommy Morrison, a good but not stellar fighter. The setback serendipitously led, more than a year later, to a title fight with undefeated Michael Moorer. For ten rounds the forty-five-year old Foreman was pounded by the quick and strong Moorer. Watching on pay-per-view in my Bakersfield living room, I simply wanted the fight, and the old man’s career, to be over. Then, rapidly, as if summoning thunder from his younger self, Foreman landed a straight right that hurt Moorer, and a couple of seconds later unloaded an even harder right that knocked Moorer out and made George Foreman by far the oldest heavyweight champion in history.

3. Lennox Lewis – Lewis will never be forgiven for two things: he dominated most of his opponents and failed to inspire while so doing. Even his sometime trainer Emanuel Steward publicly rebuked him for, in effect, settling for safety while winning decisions instead of risking himself to score bloody knockouts. Lewis nevertheless stopped his opponents seventy-two percent of the time, one of the best rates among heavyweight champions. In a career lasting fourteen years he lost only twice and later reversed both with knockout victories. He beat many notable fighters, including Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, and Vitali Klitschko, behaved as a gentleman, and will likely lead a longer and healthier life than most former boxers.

2. Larry Holmes – Holmes was the physical equal of Muhammad Ali but tormented that he lacked the loquacious one’s charm and charisma. He shouldn’t have worried. He controlled fights with the finest left jab in boxing history and frequently ended them with terrific right hands. Like Lennox Lewis, he rarely had the opportunity to fight great boxers in their prime, so his dominance was frequently either ignored or misunderstood. Holmes won the title in an epic 1978 match against Ken Norton. He pummeled Norton early before the latter gained the advantage, and the outcome was determined in the fifteenth round when the men planted themselves and flailed each other until the bell. It was a split decision, and the last close fight Holmes would have for seven years. In 1985 he was fairly outpointed by Michael Spinks, who became the first standing light heavyweight champion to capture the heavyweight crown. Holmes surely won the rematch, though the split decision was awarded to Spinks. Holmes retired for two years before joining the assembly line of Mike Tyson knockout victims. That loss is no more relevant to his career standing than old Ali’s loss to Holmes or aging Tyson’s final two losses to guys you haven’t heard of.

1. Muhammad Ali – Ali began his career as quick and elusive Cassius Clay who was as entertaining before and after fights as when pummeling less gifted opponents. After his three and a half year exile Ali fought much differently, flat-footed and trying to exhaust opponents by letting them hit him. The greatest defensive stylist became the best at eating bombs without falling. He won many stirring fights and faced more quality opponents than anyone in boxing history. He fought five people on this list of special champions a total of ten times and also twice defeated two-time champion Floyd Patterson as well as numerous other distinguished fighters such as Oscar Bonavena, childhood sparring partner Jimmy Ellis, Jerry Quarry, Earnie Shavers, and Leon Spinks, in a rematch after squandering his title in the first fight, his back again needlessly on the ropes.

After his succession of wars in the 1970s, Ali lost his ability to speak, and those from subsequent generations, unless they’ve studied video clips online, have no concept how magnetic he was. He made people believe in him and inspired them to believe in themselves. And, quite rare for a sports luminary of that era, he campaigned for civil rights and human rights and urged people to question political leaders who lied and waged unnecessary wars. He still represents bravery for combating Parkinson’s disease and other maladies that have beset him. He will forever remain “The Greatest.”

This is an excerpt from Uppercuts: Tales from the Ring, by George Thomas Clark. Uppercuts is available as an eBook at, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, Google Books, and Apple iTunes. The price is only $0.99. Additional information is available on the author’s website at

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

1908-12-26 Jack Johnson vs Tommy Burns (ROUNDS 1,5,8,11,14)

Sonny Liston vs Floyd Patterson

Muhammad Ali vs Ken Norton I - March 31, 1973 - Entire fight - Rounds 1 - 12 & Interviews

Mike Tyson vs Trevor Berbick (1986) full fight Hight Quality

1971 03 08. Muhammad Ali - Joe Frazier I

Joe Louis vs Max Schmeling, II (Full Film, HD)

George Foreman vs Joe Frazier I

Lennox Lewis v Vitali Klitschko.avi

Larry Holmes vs Ken Norton (High Quality)

Muhammad Ali vs Oscar Bonavena

Discuss this in our forums

Related Articles


This is a place to express and/or debate your boxing views. It is not a place to offend anyone. If we feel comments are offensive, the post will be deleted and continuing offenders will be blocked from the site. Please keep it clean and civil! We want to have fun. We want some salty language and good-natured exchanges. But let's keep our punches above the belt...
  1. tuxtucis 02:59am, 05/29/2015

    @Kelly Smith: Sullivan was a great in bareknuckles boxing..I think it’s correct to not find him in a rating of gloved era champions.

  2. Kelly Smith, Sr. 04:32pm, 05/28/2015

    One thing that I notice.  Most of the same names, with a few exceptions, seem to always come up, and most are from the past 50 years, when we are able to view film/video.  The one name that just doesn’t come up near the top of the various lists, again, with a few exceptions, is John L. Sullivan.  I am assuming it is primarily due to the fact that nobody alive has seen him live, on film or video.  He is respected, but to take into account, that he is arguably, the best of all of the bare-knuckle fighters, and that he fought, many more fights than is listed… probably hundreds… taking his train cross-country… taking on all challengers in every town… winning every one… always by knock-out.  Then, we have the fight, where he stood toe-to-toe, with Kilrain, for 75 rounds, in the Mississippi summer, @ 104 degrees and 99% humidity… winning by knockout… after coming out of a five-year retirement, losing 60 pounds and sobering up to do it. He was also the first to fight under the new rules and was the main one to lead in the transition to the boxing gloves, giving us the game we have today. How many of today’s fighters could fight once or twice per month, using only their bare-knuckles? Hell we have fights postponed due to one or the other having a sprained pinky!  If you were to take someone like Sullivan and give them the diet-training of today, they would decidedly surprise most of the coddled boxers of today… same thing for the other, earlier fighters like Dempsey, Tunney… under today’s advantages, they would clean the clocks of today’s champions.

  3. Nick 03:57am, 02/24/2015

    Here is my top 10 list:
    1. Joe Louis
    2. Larry Holmes
    3. Jack Johnson
    4. Muhammad Ali
    5. Jack Dempsey
    6. Joe Frazier
    7. Jim Jeffries
    8. Rocky Marciano
    9. Sonny Liston
    10. Lennox Lewis

  4. Potato Joe 01:13am, 02/15/2015

    My top 10 list:
    1. Joe Louis
    2. Rocky Marciano
    3. George Foreman
    4. Joe Frazier
    5. Larry Holmes
    6. Muhammad Ali
    7. Jack Johnson
    8. Lennox Lewis
    9. Sonny Liston
    10. Jack Dempsey

  5. Bob Oleary 01:18pm, 09/19/2014

    No problem Vince, not looking for a fight either. I’m just a big Marciano fan and just wanted to put his correct (perfect) record out there! LOL

  6. vince nix 12:34pm, 09/19/2014

    You are correct Bob. My mistake. I don’t want a fight. : ) Thanks for just sayin. I was just a wee bit warmed up by the article and lost my mind temporarily. Credit where due and all that you know.

  7. Bob OLeary 12:08pm, 09/19/2014

    Vince Nix, Marciano’s correct record was 49-0 with 43 ko’s. Just Sayin

  8. billy barty 11:21am, 09/17/2014

    Oh, there he goes! There he goes! Every time some white guy starts talking about boxing…

    Rocky had the worst technique of all the heavyweight champions. So how did he manage to win the championship? Joe Walcott was the man to beat, and he was no slouch. He came closer to putting Marciano down than anyone, and made Marciano look silly for 12 rounds. That’s a long time to weather Marciano’s power.

    Then in the 13th, Walcott went for that “sneak right hand,” and Marciano had been waiting for it for a good 5 rounds. His right hand landed first, and it remains the hardest punch ever landed in a fight by anyone. The crowd roared, but when Walcott went down, he didn’t try to get up. He just slumped with his left arm over the bottom rope, and the referee could have counted to 10,000. The arena went deathly silent. Those in the first several rows heard the thump and feared that Marciano had snapped Walcott’s neck with one swing.

    His cornermen spent 3 minutes waking him up with smelling salts. He claimed not to remember it. Marciano’s secret for winning consisted of a number of factors, all of which came naturally to him. He loved to train, as opposed to a lot of boxers these days, and ran 5 miles every day, 365 days a year, up and down the steep hills around Brockton, Mass. He’d sprint up, sprint down backward, forward, with 30-pound weights on his shoes.

    “If you train like I do, your legs’ll carry you 40 rounds,” he once said. About his power, he explained, “I don’t aim for his face. I aim for the back of his head.” He trained his punches on a special, 300-pound heavy bag, because the normal 80-pound bags no longer held up to his power. After a while, he was able to bend the 300 pounder in half with either fist.

    About a month before a fight, he’d run 10 miles a day, then 12 to 15 in the last two weeks before the fight. When he got in the ring, he had power beyond belief, an inexhaustible reserve of energy, and a steel chin that didn’t mind going through Hell to get close to his opponent. All of this more than made up for his relatively small stature, only 5’10.5”, 189 lbs at most, with a reach of only 67 inches. Walcott’s was 74 inches.

    He was a swinging machine, who didn’t seem to know the use of fear. “I was too busy getting hit.” He didn’t seem to notice the pain of the punches. “No, I was too busy getting hit.” Archie Moore, his last opponent, said, “It was like fighting an airplane propeller. He had no footwork to stay out of my reach, but then I was the one who wanted to stay out of his. I tried to make him punch himself out, but he never ran out of gas.”

    In the 6th round of their fight, Marciano threw haymakers and uppercuts for 45 seconds, nonstop, at the dodging Old Mongoose, most missing or glancing off the top of his head and shoulders, but Marciano just kept swinging until Moore dodged into one too many. When asked later which punch hurt the most, he said, “Man, they all hurt! It was like getting hit with a blackjack or a bag of rocks.”

    Marciano put Carmine Vingo in a coma with one punch to the temple. When Vingo recovered, he retired. Marciano pounded on Roland LaStarza’s forearms and shoulders nonstop for 3 rounds, until LaStarza’s arms hurt so badly that he couldn’t lift them to his face. Then Marciano knocked him through the ropes. LaStarza’s forearms were both broken, and their bruises were beaten into thick jelly that had to be surgically removed.

    Let the debate rage.

  9. vince nix 11:08am, 09/17/2014

    I find it a bit dishonest of you here not to mention the
    That man was Rocky Marciano.
    At 42-0 with 38 knockouts including 1 kill.
    He was miserable about hitting a man so hard he killed him but it is a brutal sport is it not?
    Anybody else done that?
    Any other heavyweight UNDEFEATED?
    You can rewrite history to suit you and your racist agenda but facts are a stubborn thing.

  10. Mike 11:52am, 08/31/2014

    1. Muhammad Ali
    2. Joe Louis
    3. Sonny Liston
    4. Larry Holmes
    5. Jack Johnson
    6. George Foreman
    7. Mike Tyson
    8. Lennox Lewis
    9. Jack Dempsey
    10. Rocky Marciano

  11. Big City 10:29pm, 08/23/2014

    Ken Norton defeated Muhammad Ali once and arguably all three times they fought. Ali is widely considered the best heavyweight ever. Norton also arguably beat Larry Holmes who is considered by many to be one of the top five heavyweights. Norton is one of the best to ever lace up the gloves.

  12. lee stott 01:40am, 04/17/2014

    certainly having louis at 5 is a real fuck up or ya really feel he belongs there ,,joe louis is no lower than 5 at any weight p4p of all time,,the hardest hitting boxer this earth has ever seen plus the greatest boxer of the forties with 25 defences against hall of famers in baer ,conn,braddock,schmeling,walcott more, ,,,max baer said it perfectly,,fear is,, knowing that joe louis is stood in the other corner n he wants to go home early,,n the fighters that did well the first time round wiv louis were nowhere near the same fighter the 2nd time round after they got ko,d by him

  13. lee stott 01:30am, 04/17/2014

    wtf no marciano on this list has sum 1 realised that bein 49 n 0 does,nt nesseserally mean u r a top 10 ov all time,,nearly every list he,s top 5 n he never wud ov lasted wiv louis liston holmes lewis tyson foreman n holyfield ,,personally i hav him as the 10th greatest heavyweight but he just to say squeks into it ,,but really tho pal what is joe louis doin at 5 ,,i cud ov handled maybye 3 say after ali n holmes but 5 wtf mate n having frazier at 6 n norton at 8 is a bit iffy ,,fraziers a top 10 ever but norton had 2 great nites in his career n ya talkin about the win over ali n the split loss to holmes in 1 ov the greatest bouts at this weight ,,he got ko,d to easily by foreman n others to be a top 10 n frazier wud ov defo not lasted against a prime liston n tyson,,n not having holyfield on here is your worst mistake ,,evander in my book is easily top 5 ..he ko,d tyson beat both holmes n foreman n cud ov got the win against lewis in there rematch even after his best if it was other judges ,,there 2nd fight shud ov been the draw,,n he,s no were to be seen,,,personally,,this is my top 10 ,,,,,,,1,ali,2,louis,3,holmes,4,holyfield,5,lewis,6,foreman,7,tyson,8,liston,9,frazier,n 10 ,marciano,,with3 mentions going to vitali klitschko,jack dempsey n tunney

  14. JOHN NICODEMUS 02:51am, 01/27/2014

    It is utterly ridiculous not to have Rocky Marciano in the list.
    No, utter ignorance and stupidity.  In fact, as per his record
    49-0, he should be considered the best.  Statistics-wise,
    even others are there who have better win-loss percentage
    win-loss numbers than Ali.  I always wondered what was that
    magic about Ali that he is rated the best.  In my view, Ali is not at all the best.

  15. Sage 04:01pm, 10/20/2013

    The fact that Joe Louis is #5 shows that you should never write on boxing…ever.

  16. Bob 11:53am, 10/09/2013

    I don’t get it! All you Tyson fans, He shouldn’t even be mentioned on this list! Sure he had a great power punch but he had a glass jaw! That was proven when he got into the ring with someone who just had decent power!

  17. Nikola 11:10am, 10/09/2013

    Homer J. Simpson will always have a special place in my heart, not just as an all time great heavyweight, if not the best, but also as a sweet man who can make you laugh unlike these ruthless killing machines that you call boxers whose job is to literary murder their opponents (like Primo Carnera at whose hands Ernie Schaff died). 

  18. BoxerXX7 06:14am, 09/28/2013

    No Sugar Ray Robinson? what a retarded list. Ali, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson top 3 no doubt!

  19. Bob OLeary 08:37pm, 09/18/2013

    No offence but you should find another subject to discuss! It’s quite obvious you know nothing about Boxing, so please stop your killing me!

  20. William Kuriyama 10:06pm, 09/14/2013

    Tyson Still remains the best in my heart. They cannot all survive forever. But Tyson still in my memory since I have never seen Ali in real life, I was born in 80, Tyson is a legend. Best I have ever seen..

  21. George Thomas Clark 12:48pm, 07/25/2013

    Bata - Poor old Ali will be saddened that your top 10 list contains two great heavies - Foreman and Frazier - who Ali stopped.  How do you explain that?

  22. Bata 12:15pm, 07/25/2013

    My top ten heavyweights ever list(no order)
    Rocky Marciano
    Joe Louis
    Gene Tunney
    Joe Frazier
    George Foreman
    James J. Jeffries
    Jack Dempsey
    Jack Johnson
    Larry Holmes
    Peter Jackson

  23. Michael Hegan 06:56pm, 07/20/2013

    I kinda liked that footage with Lewis and Klitschko

    anyway….what does Top Ten Heavyweight .....mean anyway ???

    It is as good a ‘headline’ to trot out a abunch of HOF Fighters as say….an STD TEST on anyone who said they were at woodstock

  24. Paul lindley 08:39am, 04/29/2013

    First of all Mike Tyson was 5 ft 11 and a half. And how could you rank Liston so low and Larry Holmes was beaten against Tyson because he stood dead still in front of him with his hands up inviting Tyson in and that’s why he got knocked out

  25. Martin 07:07pm, 04/15/2013

    I don’t understand how people put Ali #1, then Foreman and Frazier like 10th. Some have Frazier in top three with Ali but leave out Foreman. Frazier beat Ali, and Ali beat Frazier, but the other one was basically tied. Anyways they were very close. Foreman destroyed Frazier three times. Ali could only beat Foreman with rope a dope. Foreman would have beaten Ali if they fought more times.1. Foreman,2. Marciano,3. Ali,4. Louis,5. Frazier 6. Klitschko, 7. Holmes 8. Tyson 9. Holyfield 10. Lewis

  26. beaujackj 03:06pm, 04/15/2013

    Today, in some forums Dempsey is portrayed as a small heavyweight who fearfully ducked the top black contender’S [plural] of his championship reign, though the only VIABLE black contender then was the 35 year old Harry Wills who CERTAINLY deserved his title shot…Joe Jeannette, Sam Mcvea, Sam Langford were close to their 40s, retired or way past their peak by this time. We KNOW that Tex Rickard refused to match a black heavyweight contender for fear of a recurrence of the aftermath of the Johnson/Jeffries fight in Reno,when riots occurred and many people were killed after Johnson stopped Jeffries. The New York boxing Commission refused to sanction a mixed race heavyweight bout but a Michigan promoter signed up Dempsey and Harry Wills for a title bout but couldn’t come up with the remaining dough because sponsors were wary of the possibility of race riots and the fight was canceled…
    As a sidenote,  many years ago as a youngster I was standing a few feet away from a tall grey haired Harry Wills as Stillman’s gym watching the boxers train. If I knew then what I know now I would have asked the tall Harry wills about those days…
    So Dempsey never fought Harry Wills,who was truly the only black threat in the mid twenties as Jeannette,  mcVey and Sam Langford were long in the tooth by then…My favourite heavyweight Joe Louis, had the oportunity
    to give a money shot to deserving black contenders as Lee Q Murray, Lem Franklin, Jimmy Bivens, Elmer Ray, Turkey Thompson, all who were better than many of Louis’s opponents…His braintrust CERTAINLY COULD have given these worthies a money shot, but as we know he { Louis], never did that. But Dempsey is always targeted up to today by some…Not fair I say.

  27. Clarence George 10:36am, 04/15/2013

    You know who was the savviest?  Jimmy Braddock.  He agreed to give Louis a crack at his title in exchange for a percentage of the Bomber’s future earnings.  What our Jewish brethren (and just about everyone who lives in New York) would call chutzpah.

  28. Eric Jorgensen 10:22am, 04/15/2013

    People often lose the broader context when looking at relative ‘activity’ among heavyweight champions.  Dempsey had a smart manager who made him a fortune by selecting and vigorously helping to promote the most lucrative fights and putting together those the big money fights was, with Dempsey as with others, the main focus.  Dempsey and Kearns had leverage, which they used to demand what were essentially premium appearance fees.  Then Kearns and Dempsey had that vicious, spite-laced parting of the ways and Dempsey refused to fight again until their contract expired, during the middle of which time his brother blew his brains out.  It took him 3 years to sort all that out, but what did he do when he came back?  He fought the best, most dangerous fighter in the world, Gene Tunney (a guy who had exactly the wrong style for the Mauler), right out of the gate, no tune-up.  He’d been knocking Godfrey (who neither Wills nor, later on, Schmeling would get anywhere near) around in sparring sessions and exhibitions for years and it’s absurd to think that, after Wills’s lackluster performances against Madden and Firpo, Dempsey looked at him as anything other than meat.  After losing to Tunney, Dempsey knocked out the 2nd-best fighter in the world, Jack Sharkey (who beat both Wills and Godfrey, Wills easily) and then knocked out the champ, only to have that win taken away from him. 

    Of course, Louis fought much more frequently as champ, but he had to—Jacobs had him under contract, was able to both arrange and insist on the steady stream of defenses required to make money for both Jacobs and Louis in the weaker economy of the late 30s and early 40s.  When the war started, things changed and Jacobs could no longer require Louis to fight—and Louis had other obligations too.  So, he never fought Elmer Ray or Lee Q. Murray and he didn’t fight Jimmy Bivins until Bivins was more washed up than Louis was.  Did Louis duck them?  No way, the timing just didn’t work out.

    Each guy did the best he could for himself under the circumstances.

  29. beaujack 05:50am, 04/13/2013

    nicolas, we CAN NEVER know who would have beaten any heavyweight H2H. Different rules, different competition…But there are a few fighters who transcend eras because of their unique qualities they possessed. Such as a Ray Robinson who I saw in his WW prime with my dad, and a Joe Louis who for 12 years ruled over boxing with the greatest display of lethal combination punching in heavyweight history…We have examples of Joe Louis on film at his best numerous times…But Jack Dempsey was considered in his time as lethal as Joe Louis was but we have only film of him at his best against a Willard, Firpo, Brennan, Gibbons, Carpentier…
    All whom he beat, but what made him a household word coming up and koing a Fulton, Morris, Gunboat Smith, Battling Levinsky, Miske etc, we have no film of….Today’s boxing fans see Dempsey as the 32-year-old rusty fighter who met Tunney, after a THREE year layoff, WITHOUT ONE TUNE Up fight. A recipe for disaster…But in my eyes and others, this Jack Dempsey was not the taut, sleek killer of his prime, any more than Ray Robinson was the immortal Robinson of the Tiger Jones thrashing
    after his 3 year layoff in 1955…Yes Dempsey chucked boxing to go to Hollywood and screw silent screen stars from 1923-26…After his difficult youth as a hobo riding the rails who can blame him for living the good life? At the same time Dempsey fired his manager Jack Kearns; and was in litigation with Kearns in court. Dempsey claimed Kearns stole his money and if Dempsey fought Jack Kearns would still get his large cut of any fight until the case was settled…so with all this on his mind Dempsey quit fighting from 1923-26…
    Was it good for boxing ? No, but it was what it was…So, though Dempsey in my eyes didn’t fight nearly enough, for sure, at his best the Dempsey who annihilated Fulton, Gunboat Smith, Willard,and Firpo belongs with the very top 10 heavyweights HEAD TO HEAD IMO…

  30. nicolas 02:18am, 04/13/2013

    It discussing this issue of Jack Dempsey, and his place in the list of greats in heavyweight history, perhaps it is better to list heavyweights greatness either by generation or decade. Would a Dempsey today be able fight under rules of boxing today? how would Muhammad Ali have done in the early 1900’s, possibly in fighting a 45 round scheduled fights? Tracy Callis of Cyberboxingzone had Jim Jeffries listed as number one all time great. I disagreed, but he gave me some of his reasoning behind that, for example my criticism of the difficulties he had with Corbett in the first fight he said was due to very large ring sizes. Each generation of fighters have had different circumstances that define that generations fights, and perhaps how they fought. Perhaps Ted Sares is more correct to say that we really can only judge the fighters we have seen during our lifetime to have a more accurate assessment of a fighters greatness.

  31. nicolas 01:46am, 04/13/2013

    I had once read, but cannot find any information since on this, that Bill Tate when sparing with Dempsey for his fight with Willard, actually got the better of him. The help that he gave Dempsey persuaded Jack to give an extra bonus to Tate, saying “he earned it”. Dempsey as I understand it paid his sparring partners well, but I also realize that as a sparring partner to a fighter of Dempsey’s magnitude, you are not going to try to hurt the man who is paying you good money if you want to keep your job. As for Godfrey losing to Sharkey, Godfrey is reported to have thrown many fights, in order to keep on getting fights that would pay him well. Did he throw the fight to Sharkey, who is to know. As for Sharkey being knocked out by Dempsey, Sharkey was from my understanding winning the fight, when he turned to complain to the referee about Dempsey’s fouling, a big mistake as he would learn. Dempsey certainly though past his best, still could hit.

  32. tuxtucis 02:41pm, 04/12/2013

    Godfrey was in The Ring top 10 in 1924…ok but Dempsey never fought from 1923 to 1926, neither black foes neither white foes…and that’s probably was his bigger fault…

  33. beaujack 02:07pm, 04/12/2013

    nicolas, i thought we were discussing the merits of Jack Dempsey on this subject, and not the obvious fact that before the reign of Joe louis, black fighters were discriminated against…Your whole thesis is that black fighters in the whole take to boxing better than their white counterparts. Maybe so, but today the best heavyweights are coming from Russia,we must agree. My contention studying the history of boxing for many decades is that today Jack Dempsey is so vastly underrated on a MAN to MAN basis…I have no axe to grind but I believe the great amount of boxing fighters, writers, trainers who saw Dempsey pre Tunney,knew a hell of a lot more than his detractors today 90 years later…And for your information Dempsey employed George Godfrey as a sparring partner during the Dempsey reign, dropping Godfrey a number of times in their sessions….And Godfrey lost to a prime Jack Sharkey who was kod by a rusty 32 year old Jack Dempsey…So don’t sell the Manassa Mauler short as an all-time heavyweight…His likes we will never see again…



  34. nicolas 12:49pm, 04/12/2013

    Well you say only Harry Wills, though in 24 George Godfrey, who I feel had things been fair and on the up and up would have been heavyweight champ in the early 30’s, if not even late 20’s. was ranked in the top ten by Ring Magazine. Your comment is also interesting though, because the same thing could be asked about how many good white fighters were there. I really feel that if you look at the heavyweights who were coming up in the late 1910’s, it really was not such a great period. Also of course, not Dempsey’s fault, there were not the great opportunities offered to black fighters. Jake LaMotta in his biography Raging Bull commented that many of the top ten white fighters of his period would have been run out of the ring by many of the black six round fighters of the time.

  35. tuxtucis 02:54am, 04/12/2013

    How many good black fighters were active in Jack Dempsey’s prime? Only Harry Wills…Langford was over the hill and so McVea and Jeannette…

  36. nicolas 02:30am, 04/12/2013

    The problem with myself, and I think many others in regards to Dempsey is his not fighting many black fighters. It can be argued that there were more white fighters to go around back then, but for me in a way, it reminds me of a white racist group back then which said, why do we need to hear black people sing, there are many talented white singers. Please note, I am not accusing anyone who supports Dempsey as being at the top of a list being racist.  From Joe Louis to Lennox Lewis, you only had Marciano and Johansson as heavyweight champs, a total of around 5 years in a 66 year span. This does affect how we feel about a fighter like Dempsey. Yes there are many from the past who lauded him as you mentioned, and that has at least allowed me to suggest that Dempsey is one of the top 10 greats below 200, and I would even have to have him in a top 100 pound for pound, but not as great as some might feel. As far as a Louis against Klitschko brothers and those brothers against Dempsey. I don’t think they would be easy fights for any of those combatants.

  37. beaujack 02:21pm, 04/10/2013

    Nicolas, I too have Joe Louis at 200 pounds , as the most dominating heavyweight ever…We agree about that…So why do you have the 198-200 pound Brown Bomber #1 over today’s behemoth’s whilst saying that a prime Jack Dempsey, who though a few pounds lighter than Louis, was as big or bigger from the waist up than Joe Louis, as too small for today’s Klitschko’s ? Why the disparity ? Dempsey was at his best a bigger, and earlier edition of a Robert Duran, snarl and all…He feasted on bigger men absolutely,and was an animal pure and simply. Look what he did to a 265 pound Jess Willard who was NEVER floored before. Though not a great heavyweight, was never dropped before Dempsey’s sole left-hook in the first round, that Dempsey had to aim UPWARDS to hit the 6ft6” Willard.
    Try punching UPWARD to hit your target with maximum force…
    In contrast the great Joe Louis hit lumbering Abe Simon with hooks, crosses ,uppercuts for THIRTEEN rounds before the referee stopped the fray in the 13th round with Simon still on his feet. Can you picture Simon lasting more than a few rounds against the murderous punching Dempsey ? I can’t…Dempsey today if a Jack Kearns wished could have easily come into the ring at 215 pounds of taut muscles.Jack had a large frame with long arms, and to suggest that a prime Dempsey under Jack Kearns who annihilated strong men as Carl Morris, Fred Fulton, Jess Willard, Luis Angel Firpo etc, could not hurt today’s big men also defies logic in my opinion…Fighters of the past were used to spotting men tons of weight, ala Bob Fitz, Sam Langford, Jack Dillon, Mickey Walker , [spotted Bearcat Wright 65 pounds and WON] etc. So do you think that today’s big heavyweights were tougher or sturdier than the big fellas of yesterday ? Especially when we have no film of those big boys who fought with smaller gloves and sans mouthpieces,and were trained to go 20 rounds or so ? Nicolas have you seen the film of Dempsey’s last one-two punches that flattened Firpo in the 2nd round > So fast and vicious that you can barely see the blows. Watch the 7th round of the “long count’ when the old rusty Dempsey caught up to Tunney with 7 vicious and ACCURATE punches that even in slow motion seems fast…And finally watch the 2nr round of the Firpo bout when Dempsey and the powerful Firpo are in a clinch. Dempsey somehow frees his left hand, and with no leverage room between them,  reigns a series of hooks, uppercuts with such speed and viciousness while locked in a virtual clinch, that lifts the 220 pound Firpo off his feet…I have never seen anything like this before or since. Check it out and see if Dempsey was too “small” to hurt the lumbering robotic Klitschkos…And too bad we have no film extent of the Dempsey lightning knockout of the 6ft 5” Fred Fulton.  Left Fulton cold as a Mackerel in less than a minute…

  38. nicolas 12:56pm, 04/10/2013

    Well Beaujack, remember I have Louis as my number one heavyweight of all time, compare to Nat Fleischer having him as his number six. I actually have Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries ahead of Dempsey in that order. I firmly believe had it not been for the racial politics in the early 1900’s, that had Jeffries been able to defend his title against Johnson, he would have been successful, though perhaps controversially. I also find it absurd that Nat Fleischer would have Bob Fitzsimmons ahead of Dempsey, and Fitzsimmons and James Corbett ahead of Louis. I noticed that when Fleischer ranked his heavyweight greats, he somewhat divided up this group in four different eras of 20 or so years starting from 1892. I do something similar but it is in 30 year increments, but the difference is that Fleischer had five of his all time greats before 1912, whereas I think the passage of time fighters do get better, and only have one fighter who fought before 1922, Jack Johnson in my top 10, with Jeffries being in my top 20, and Dempsey being in my top 30. If Dempsey were fighting today even at his weight, I think he however could beat Povetkin, Haye, but just would not be able to get by the Klitschkos. At the same time I don’t think the Fultons or the Morrises would be all that great in this day and age. Certainly in my view, race does play a factor in my assessment of Dempsey. The fact that he did not want to fight Langford in 1916, a 39 yr old Jeanette when under the guidance of Kearns, and latter that he may have but did not fight Wills. His statement also in an article when he won the title that he would not defend his title against black fighters does not help, and even at that time Doc Kearns realized I think that it was not a smart thing what Dempsey said. As far as Arcel and the rest, I think that being part of that generation may have affected them like it did Fleischer in his ratings. I t could be said that my feeling are almost the same as how I look at things.  Finally, that I have Dempsey in my top 30, and would in fact have him in my top 100 pound for pound of all time, I think speaks
    well of how great he was, I just don’t think he is as great as some might feel.

  39. Eric Jorgensen 10:59am, 04/10/2013

    For the record, beaujack, I think you are right on the money.

    Broadly speaking, of course weight matters—at least to the extent that it translates into strength.  That’s why we have weight divisions in the first place.  So important is it, in fact, that very few cruiserweights in the history of boxing would have been good enough to give weight away and defeat the heavyweights of later eras. 

    In my opinion, five of those cruiserweights were named Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Joe Louis, and Rocky Marciano.

  40. beaujack 03:58pm, 04/09/2013

    nicolas, we have divergent opinions of Jack Dempsey that can hardly be reconciled…You on one hand believe that Jack Dempsey was just another 190-95 pound heavyweight who though he murdered much larger men than he,would be too small for the larger men of the last 30 years, and opinions of many top fighters and trainers who saw pre Tunney Dempsey, and raved about him, were naive, ala Ray Arcel, Jack Sharkey, Max Schmeling etc and were just old fuddy duddys, whose opinions are meaningless…I on the other hand believe fervently that Jack Dempsey was no ordinary heavyweight of the past, who at 190-95 was strong for his weight and had unique qualities that would put him in good stead against any heavyweight in history,notwithstanding his being under 200 pounds…In Dempsey’s time fighters were trained to fight at their sleekest weight and you seldom saw tubby heavyweights gasping for breath after a few rounds…Dempsey from the chest up was comparable to today’s 215 pounders due to his slender waist and legs. He had unusual deltoids for his weight and was very strong as shown in his habit of lifting a flattened opponent up from the floor by putting his gloved arms under
    their armpits and hauling them off the floor and on their feet… What a Dempsey or Joe Louis lacked in weight they more than made up in speed of hands combined with unusual power…So we shall agree to disagree as to the question were Dempsey and Louis at their best who demolished powerful though not great heavyweights of their tougher times, large enough to cope with today’s larger bulked up men ? I say a resounding yes along with a Ray Arcel and other experts who saw them all and had no axe to grind….

  41. nicolas 12:15pm, 04/09/2013

    As far as size thing goes,. I always feel there have been two fights in boxing that made the difference when it comes to size. The first was Sonny Liston over Floyd Patterson. Patterson weighted less than 190 most of the time, the same as Marciano and Dempsey. But Lison was over 210. That I almost feel spelled the end of the under 190, and in some ways 200 pound heavyweight champs. Unless we count Jimmy Ellis, after that the only legit champs below were the Spinks brothers. First time when cruiser weights came up it was under 190, now under 200. The next fight would be the Riddick Bowe Evander Holyfield fight. For the first one Hollyfield weighed 208. Bowe was over 230. In the second fight that Holyfield did win he went over 210, and for the most part of his prime career as heavyweight was approaching 220. Size does matter, and that is why I have Lewis at number two of the heavyweights, but behind Ali, and I have Joe Louis at number two. This does not however mean that in the scheme of things that I would consider Lewis better pound for pound than Louis, or even many of the other heavyweights that are on this list, very similar to mine, but size does matter. A Lennox Lewis against a Joe Louis would be like a middleweight against a junior welterweight, or even lightweight. Yes Louis beat a lot of big men, but I think that Lennox is in a far higher category than Abe Simon or Buddy Baer, capable fighters as they were. As for the Klitschko’s. Perhaps had they come on the scene some 8 years later as did Lewis and Bowe, and had the same success, we might be calling them some of the greats. I have them in my top twenty, but feel that the problem is that there are not these great heavyweights from the US as in the past. The last really being Bowe, who I have equal to them. Also, compared to the past, the heavyweight division looks more like a senior citizens group, with fighters not seeming to fight for the title until they are past 30.

  42. Zack David Berlin 10:17pm, 04/08/2013

    I don’t like this list. I can’t see how Norton is a top ten all timer. Marciano and Dempsey aren’t on it, which doesn’t make sense. If the argument against them is their size vs. modern heavies, then how do Frazier, Johnson, etc. make it? The logic is faulty here. If you’re making the distinction of greatest “champions” of all time, then it’s Ali, Louis, Johnson, Marciano, Dempsey. They all had a historical relevance that transcends the sport: Ali, Louis, Johnson all important civil rights figures, Dempsey a depression-era hero, marciano the 49-0. But if we’re talking head to head, I go with the big guys. No one beats Lennox Lewis on that list, except maybe one of the Klitschkos. But that’s my top 3. Anyone else is too small no matter how great they all were. The way the K bros get dissed is really stupid. Dummies like to say how the modern era is weak. But it’s only weak in the sense that nobody can compete with them. If Ali dominated his era like the Klitschkos did, no matter how great he was, the dummies would have said it was a weak era and that former greats would have mopped the floor with him…

  43. George Thomas Clark 09:16pm, 04/08/2013

    People often comment about Louis only weighing 200 pounds but we have to remember that with the training and diet of today Joe Louis could weight whatever he wanted, and that would probably be about 215.

  44. beaujack 07:51pm, 04/08/2013

    Nicolas, I’m aware that Nat Fleischer died in the 1970s.I am also aware that Nat Fleischer chose Jack Johnson as the finest HW ever with Jim Jeffries second. Were they the best of all-time, we will never know. But Ray Arcel who died in 1994 always insisted that Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis were the best heavyweights he saw since the early 1920s….Dempsey today is not in favor 90 years after his prime, but top fighters who knew their stuff such as Sam Langford, Gene Tunney, Jack Sharkey, Max Schmeling etc rated him the best they have seen. Sharkey, Schmeling, were still around during Ali’s reign and after and their opinions are valuable in this discussion. But Dempsey IMO would have been tough for any heavyweight ever because of his speed, power and
    kill or be killed attitude….I am talking H2H against anyone though he didn’t fight often enough and his not fighting Harry Wills, though they did sign for a bout which was cancelled…Dempsey feasted on big men during his prime, so size wouldn’t be an issue…Jess Willard though not a great fighter was NEVER floored before Toledo and Dempsey murdered him as well as Fred Fulton, Luis Angel Firpo, Carl Morris etc.All big strong boys…
    As far as Joe Louis being rated #5, I cannot see 4 men ever beating the Joe Louis of the Max Baer fight…His power, leverage, combination punching,has never been seen before or SINCE. As far as strength, Louis was very powerful for a 200 pound heavyweight and murdered giants as Carnera, Abe Simon, Buddy Baer who though not great heavyweights were as strong as anyone today. No one Ali, Liston, Lewis, Klitschko ever faced the fast and deadly combinations of Joe Louis…Today size is overrated. What nature gives today’s dreadnoughts in size and strength, it takes away in speed ,mobility and dexterity…Louis #1 IMO…

  45. nicolas 06:37pm, 04/08/2013

    BEAUJACK: Don’t forget that Nat Fleischer died in the 1970’s. He even did not have Ali in his top ten, preferring men like James Corbett and Bob Fitzismmons to Ali, nor Joe Frazier or Sonny Liston. In fact, of his top ten list he only had Rocky Marciano, at 10, of all fighters who started their careers after 1940. Five of the fighters he had in his top ten fought before 1908. At one time, even in basketball, George Mikan was thought that he would be clumsy in basketball at center, and he was 6 ft 8 in. I have Louis at number 3. But for Dempsey, I would only have him in the top 30 of heavyweights. I do however put him at number 6 for fighters below 200 pounds however. This is in respect that he did defeat some very big men. But what of course for me hurts his standing is that he very rarely fought black fighters. One of the ones he did fight, he claimed to have taken the biggest beating from John Lester Johnson in 1916, some three years before he became champion. He refused to fight Sam Langford at the time, and later a 39 year old Joe Jeanette, who they tried to trick him into fighting. Had he fought Harry Wills, who was unbeaten basically from 1918 till 25, with only some foul losses on his resume, and of course beaten Wills, I think history would look more kindly on Dempsey than it does now.

  46. beaujack 06:32am, 04/08/2013

    Not to have Jack Dempsey on the list is absurd…To put the greatest combination puncher ever, Joe Louis, in 5th place is silly. Today size is everything to many boxing aficionados, but a Dempsey, a Louis, a Langford thrived on the much bigger men such as Carl Morris, Fred Fulton, Jess Willard, Luis Firpo,all who Dempsey annihilated rather easily.
    Joe Louis flattened such mastodons as Primo Carnera, Abe Simon, Buddy Baer, all though not great were men of large frame…What nature gives in size and strength it takes away in speed, flexibility and dexterity…Nat Fleischer, who saw boxing from Jeffries on always claimed that a man about 195 pounds and up, was big enough to beat anyone if he had the unique skills ala,  Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis, and I concur…

  47. George Thomas Clark 09:42am, 04/06/2013

    The Sports Illustrated list would naturally be required reading for Irish Frankie.

  48. George Thomas Clark 09:35am, 04/06/2013

    Have you seen the Sports Illustrated Top Ten - It lists eight of the ten from my list, including the top guy - Muhammad Ali…

    Kudos to SI…

  49. nicolas 11:27am, 04/05/2013

    Interestingly, at least for me, the fighters in the top five here are the top five fighters I have, though only Ali is in the spot I would have him in. The top ten is almost like my own, but while I have Norton in my top twenty, he is not in my top ten. I would replace Norton with Holyfield.

  50. Eric Jorgensen 09:39am, 04/04/2013

    What changed between the 1st Norton-Garcia fight and the 2nd was not Norton but Garcia.  At 190 lbs., Garcia was a fast, strong, and talented boxer-puncher who beat the daylights out of Norton because he was a better fighter than Norton was.  After injury, drugs, inactivity, and the addition of 20 pounds of fat, Garcia no longer belonged in the same ring as Norton.

  51. tuxtucis 11:17pm, 04/03/2013

    About Jack Johnson I repeat, his reign was not impressive, but he aad a lot of victories against great boxers (Jeannette, McVea), BEFORE his title…

  52. tuxtucis 11:16pm, 04/03/2013

    Sorry, but Ken Norton ahead of Sonny Liston is a blasphemy…

  53. Darrell 09:23pm, 04/03/2013


    I suspect, head to head, you would be correct….and in a decade’s time Wlad would probably be in most peoples ATG heavyweight top 10 lists.  Vitali, whom I prefer as a fighter, hasn’t had enough fights in his prime (which he sat out) to warrant being top 10.

    All IMHO of course :)

  54. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:42pm, 04/03/2013

    the thresher-Thanx… you’re the one who’s got the beat here and by the way so does Eric….Gordon Marino nailed it….some will never be satisfied until we have a Heavyweight version of Mayweather as the world champion!

  55. the thresher 07:57pm, 04/03/2013

    “I think they are extremely talented six-ft-six, six-ft-seven guys but this is the new generation. I myself never thought that much of a boxer over six-five because I know that was like a boundary and when you get to six-five that was like the end of your coordination for boxing, which was like Lewis and Bowe. The Klitschkos are the exception in that fact. That they are the new generation of big heavyweights who have coordination.”
        —Emanuel Steward

    The Klitschkos, who enjoy Jordan like fame in much of northern Europe, fill stadiums and arenas every time they fight in Germany. In the US, however, the fact that they crush all of their opponents and every boxing stereotype just elicits a yawn. It is hard to figure. After all, we have always had a fascination with the big guys. It is as though we hold their intelligence, education, and measured aggression against them
        —Gordon Marino

  56. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:51pm, 04/03/2013

    Truth be told, Manny Steward who literally became a millionaire working with Wladimir, never really gave this amazing athlete the full credit he deserved…..maybe because his top ten list would closely match Mr. Clark’s…who knows?  So how in the hell can you expect it from people who clearly have had blinders on for the past ten years when it comes to the K Bros and what they have accomplished.

  57. the thresher 06:54pm, 04/03/2013

    Clarence has the beat

  58. Eric 05:22pm, 04/03/2013

    Well if Old Joe Louis “could jab Rocky with his eyes closed” then why did the “Brown Bomber” take a beating and get knocked through the ropes in the 8th round? Sure Louis was old but at 37 he wasn’t exactly ancient either. Funny how a former sparring partner of Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano said that Marciano hit harder than Louis. If anything Marciano is more underrated than overrated. Granted, I think too much is made of the 49-0 mark, and Marciano isn’t the greatest heavy of all-time as some would like to believe, but he is definitely top 10.  Most overrated heavyweight champ is Jack Johnson, and then Muhammad Ali.

  59. Clarence George 05:17pm, 04/03/2013

    Rocky Marciano not a hard puncher?  Tell that to Jersey Joe Walcott, Carmine Vingo, Roland LaStarza, Rex Layne…  Joe Louis said he was so strong that you hurt yourself just by bumping into him.  As for Cleveland Williams…Marciano would have destroyed him in his sleep.

    Regarding Ken Norton…I agree with Eric Jorgensen and the others who’ve noted his unalloyed fear when face-to-face with power punchers.  He was scared shitless of Foreman.

  60. the thresher 04:57pm, 04/03/2013

    Paul, please. With respect, Cleveland got sent to Feline Dreamland by one of my all time favorites—Bob Satterfield. It happened before the people were comfortably in their seats. LaMotta then KOs Bob, though he did say he was never hit harder. Rocky would tear Jake a new butt. Put this all together and what you get is a first round bucthering of The Big Cat by the Rock.

    Aside from this, I want to stay out of this except to note that putting any decent list together with narrative involves a ton of hard work. .

  61. Paul Gallender 04:40pm, 04/03/2013

    Marciano was a club fighter for his first 30 or so fights. He trained very, very hard. But he was too little, had no reach and no jab, and Joe Louis once said he could jab Rocky with his eyes closed because he always knew where he would be; right in front of him. He wasn’t the hard puncher that people have made him out to be. When he fought Ezzard Charles the first time, Charles stood right in front of him for 15 rounds and was never in danger of going down. Does anybody really think that Rocky could have seen the second round against Cleveland Williams?

  62. Eric 04:14pm, 04/03/2013

    Norton was a decent fighter and maybe you could call him a good fighter, but he wasn’t a great fighter by any stretch. Personally, I think Norton whipped Ali in all three fights, even the second match, and definitely in the third fight. However, Norton was demolished by Foreman while Norton was still in his prime. By the time Shavers and Cooney were matched against Norton,  he was past it by a bit and definitely over the hill when Cooney almost decapitated him. Besides Ali, Norton’s biggest victories were against Jimmy Young and Jerry Quarry. Many thought Norton lost his bout to Jimmy Young, and for once at least a bad or controversial decision went in Norton’s favor. I give that fight to Young. Quarry was overweight, undertrained, and shot by the time Norton sliced him up and still a flabby Quarry had his moments. It certainly wouldn’t be hard to imagine a prime Quarry beating Norton. Norton would go on to fight Larry Holmes and IMO lose another fight to that judges scorecards that he deservedly won. Ken was one of the better heavyweights but as has been noted he just froze up when he felt another fighter could hurt him with his punches. Kind of odd when you consider this guy used to be a sparring partner for Joe Frazier.

  63. bikermike 04:03pm, 04/03/2013

    I don’t disagree with the list.  I wouldn’t have placed Lewis so high….nor Louis so low….but I agree with all of them.
    Some queries about Marciano and Dempsey…
    First…both Dempsey and Marciano will always be in the halls of CHAMPION HWTs

    an asterisk may be attached to Dempsey…because he defended his Title so few times when he was Champion….and so long a wait between Title Defenses…...some say he became too civilized…instead of the hungry ...snarling tiger his opponents faced up to and including his capture of the Title….(rumours still abound about the bricks alleged to be in Dempsey’s gloves against Willard)

    The beef about Marciano is simply quality of opposition…NOT MARCIANO’s doing….but not too many of ‘THE ROCK’s’ opponents were top quality…Ezzard Charles was well into his illness…’‘Ol Mongoose was a Lt Heavy…
    No….the author can defend this list…..
    I enjoyed the article…looking for another from George Thomas Clark

  64. bikermike 03:51pm, 04/03/2013

    I think Norton belongs there.  Ken Norton beat Ali…once officially…and many thought Norton won at least two….if not all of the three fights he had with Ali.
    By the time Norton fought Holmes….it was old lion vs young lion….and the decision was razor thin….Holmes beating Norton in the gutsiest 15 rd HW Title fight of ...modern history.

    No….Norton should be there.
    I would have put Lewis down a few pegs…and Marciano ....just never fought the caliber of competition others did(not his fault)...Dempsey…now…look Jack Dempsey fought ...what ???  three times in seven years , when he was Champion (exaggerate slightly for effect..but not much)...

    Marciano and Dempsey…..great fighters ...well yes..but an asterisk beside both.

  65. Paul Gallender 03:27pm, 04/03/2013

    OK, the Klit brothers might qualify for a spot in the top ten. But what white fighter at his best could beat the following fighters at or near their best: Ali, Liston, Foreman, Tyson, Louis, Lewis, Holyfield, Holmes, Frazier? I just don’t see it. Who is the best white heavyweight? Marciano, with his 67 inch reach and no jab? Max Baer, who didn’t know how to box? Dempsey, who admitted he wouldn’t have wanted to fight Sam Langford? I’m white, but I don’t feel any need to elevate white heavyweights to a status they don’t deserve. Does it say anything bad about the white race that white heavyweights haven’t been as talented or formidable as blacks? Not in my mind. It’s just the way it is.

  66. George Thomas Clark 03:13pm, 04/03/2013

    Norton reversed his loss to Jose Luis Garcia, knocking him out on national TV in 1975.  I remember the post-fight interview.  Norton said, “I wanted to punish the man for beating me.”

  67. Matt McGrain 02:34pm, 04/03/2013

    Agree.  I’d bet the farm on Dempsey knocking out Norton.

  68. Eric Jorgensen 02:31pm, 04/03/2013

    In my opinion, Norton’s problem was not just that he didn’t take a great punch on the chin but, as Eddie Futch himself once remarked, that he froze/choked against big hitters.  His losses to Foreman, Shavers, and Cooney weren’t just ‘bad,’ they were pathetic because he showed zero spirit in any of them.  He was over the hill against Cooney but I seriously doubt the outcome would have been different had Norton been 25 at the time.  In fact, prime-to-prime, I think Norton would lose 10 of 10 to all 3 of those guys.  IMO, he doesn’t even beat guys like Cleveland Williams or Ron Lyle, let alone Jack Dempsey, or Rocky Marciano (or Jim Jeffries, for that matter).  As for the notion that Dempsey and Marciano were too small, remember what 188-pound Jose Luis Garcia did to him.

  69. Matt McGrain 01:25pm, 04/03/2013

    Race has nothing to do with the question and you could place white heavyweights on a top 10 list without fear of being “wrong.”  An extremely bizarre statement, Paul.

  70. Eric 12:03pm, 04/03/2013

    @Paul Gallender, Fair enough. Name the 50 fighters who would have beaten Dempsey and Marciano then. And why is this list “accurate in the sense that there are only black heavyweights on it?” IMO and in the opinion of many others the Klitschko brothers are discriminated against because of their skin color more than anything else. They’ve totally dominated the heavyweight picture for almost a decade now and still get little respect. To be totally “accurate” most of these “black heavyweights listed would be only “small cruiserweights” next to ither Klit brother and I really couldn’t see most of them lasting the distance much less winning the fight.

  71. Paul Gallender 09:40am, 04/03/2013

    The list is accurate in the sense that there are only black heavyweights on it. Dempsey and Marciano? Small cruiserweights, at best. There are probably 50 fighters who would have beaten both of them, and not all of them were champions or even heavyweights. Of course, Norton’s inclusion on the list is an absurdity - and ahead of Liston! I can’t see Norton surviving the first round against Liston no matter how many times they fought. Ken was very easy to hurt and not much of a puncher. And he never won the heavyweight championship - it was given to him retroactively, by virtue of his (highly questionable) win against Jimmy Young.

  72. Marat Lyalin 09:00am, 04/03/2013

    To my mind one of authors of the site place first Jack Dempsey - as really aggressive boxer Naturally aggressive =)/ Another author lost Jack Dempsey / What think about this funny situation Eccles ???

  73. Matt McGrain 07:32am, 04/03/2013

    Top 50 is a serious amount of work…h2h prime-for-prime you can do pretty much whatever you like IMO.  So i’ve no problem with the list itself.  What I would say to you though friend is that if you’re doing a list about fighters that were best but then do write-ups on what makes them great it creates a great deal of confusion - and you’re not really defending your choices anyway.  I really liked your bit on Moore though.

  74. George Thomas Clark 07:17am, 04/03/2013

    This is a prime v. prime list, as some have described it: in other words, who would’ve won.  Regarding Irish’s comments about the pulverizing Klitschko brothers, I’ve many times reviewed their knockouts online - as well as Wladimir’s getting knocked out - and consider them some of the greatest champions of all time.  Holyfield isn’t on the list either and perhaps should be.  Inevitably, great fighters are left off any limited list of 10.  List the ten greatest in baseball, football, basketball, tennis, golf, or any other sport, and lots of terrific people are left out.  Top 50 lists, popular in basketball, are probably the way to go.

  75. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:47am, 04/03/2013

    As your average and very biased boxing fan this clearly biased list is right down my alley! On the positive side, it appears at least to me, that we’re comparing apples and apples here…which reminds me…Big George would have bounced the mythical monster Sonny Liston like a basketball just as he did Joe Frazier!

  76. Matt McGrain 03:59am, 04/03/2013

    George, can I ask you if this is a “greatest” or “best” list?

  77. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 11:03pm, 04/02/2013

    Lennox retired ten years ago….since then the K Bros have closed in on 100 kayos between them….and they still can’t join Clark’s very exclusive club….maybe they can get someone to sponsor them at Hillcrest.

  78. tuxtucis 10:44pm, 04/02/2013

    It makes me laugh someone says Morrison would have kayoed Liston cause he outpointed Foreman…Foreman was 45 at time! Prime Liston kills Morrison in 1 round…Morrison sure is not in top 20, probably even not in top 100…

  79. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:38pm, 04/02/2013

    Which reminds me….late in his career or not…Norton couldn’t make it out of the first round with Cooney and Shavers…but oh yea… he almost made it out of the second round with big George….what am I saying here…when he was in with someone who could really crack he definetly wasn’t top ten material!

  80. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:15pm, 04/02/2013

    No one said Tommy Morrison should be on the list….but again…IMO this is a head to head/prime vs. prime list…so…heck yea…the Tommy Gun who almost decapitated Razor Ruddock could kayo Liston!

  81. GlennR 08:33pm, 04/02/2013

    And Jimmy Thunder!

  82. FrankinDallas 07:56pm, 04/02/2013

    Where is Bonecrusher Smith? For shame!

  83. Clarence George 05:44pm, 04/02/2013

    Norton knocks out Dempsey and Marciano…in Narnia.

  84. Eric 05:40pm, 04/02/2013

    Ali was considered a “large” heavyweight during his time. Only a few of his opponents had a height and reach advantage over Ali.  In his pre-exile career, Ali fought some 6’6” Hawaiian named Duke Sabedong early in his career, later he would fight 6’3” Cleveland Williams, and then 6’5” Ernie Terrell. Later in his “second career” a lot of the men Ali fought weren’t much taller than 6’ and some would weigh less than 200lbs. Listing Patterson at 6’ is generous and he would weigh as light as 187lbs in his final fight with Ali. Quarry was only 6’ tall and weighed less than 200lbs, Oscar Bonavena listing at 6’ is also maybe slightly exaggerated, while Ali’s most famous opponent Joe Frazier was listed at 5’11 1/2”. Ali would fight men almost as large or larger than him like Foreman, Norton, Mathis, Lyle, Holmes, and Joe Bugner, but most of his opponents were conceding height, weight, and reach to Ali. Ali, like the Klit brothers made his size work for him and that is a talent just like speed and/or punching power. Ali at 6’3” was actually considered on the tall side for a heavyweight during the Sixties and Seventies, but nowadays 6’3” is actually on the short side for a heavyweight. Jack Johnson was about 6’1” and weighed about 195-200 or so pounds in his prime but he was known as the “Galveston Giant.” Size is part of the equation especially when you’re dealing with heavyweights.

  85. the thresher 03:53pm, 04/02/2013

    We call the Kilts “freaks” because of their size? But what about Lewis? Bowe? They ushered in the new norm. Best get used to it, becuase it is unlikley we will ever see a “short” heavyweight champion again.

    It’s the new norm, gents, and it’s here to stay. An outstanding fighter like Denis Boystov is too short as is Eddie Chambers.

  86. THE THRESHER 03:47pm, 04/02/2013

    For those who think Liston would have destroyed Morrison, the same was said about Foreman, but lo and behold look what happened.

    That said, Tommy does not belong in the top 20, but those who critize Holmes baffle me. He had a great record marred by at least two terrible decisions (Neiolsen and Spinks), was a superb and resilientfighter with an all-time great jab, had punishing power, and followed a legend which is never an easy thing to do. Holmes also was a massive guy with a pin head, If you ever stood next to him, you would know what I mean. In that regard and given his style and skill level, he would give the Klits hell, especaially Wlad. And a lot of this inviolves style.

    GTC has opened up a real hornest nest with this thread.

  87. George Thomas Clark 03:40pm, 04/02/2013

    This isn’t a “belated April Fool’s joke” - I’m amazed by the lack of respect for Kenny Norton.  Other than an early-career loss and two late knockouts to sluggers Shavers and Cooney, Norton lost only two questionable decisions to Ali, a war to Larry Holmes, and a knockout to overpowering George Foreman.  Of the heavyweights not on my list, only Vitali K would be favored against him.  Norton would KO Wladimir (a la Corrie Sanders)..  Marciano and Dempsey were extraordinary in their era, but Norton knocks out either of them.

  88. GlennR 02:24pm, 04/02/2013

    Yes, cant argue with his opening comments but you cant blame the K Brothers for that.
    And you certainly cant take anything away from them just because they are big. In fact, id argue that they have overcome their size to become great movers with excellent balance, something that cant be said of men of similar size.
    Am i a fan of theirs? Well , yes, but not so much their style but the obvious dedication and discipline they have both put into their art of boxing…. its a bit like Hopkins IMO.

    But ultimately, the list is the best 10…. who wins a fight… not who we like, you just cant dismiss those guys given that criteria

  89. Douglas Nareau 02:18pm, 04/02/2013

    Nice article but I think you have Foreman, Norton and Liston too high on the list, if they should be there at all.  Where is Marciano?  Where is Dempsey?  The Klitschkos?  Heck, I would even have Floyd Patterson above Norton.  All of the fighters you list are fine to great fighters but I guess that is why lists provoke controversy.  And, sadly, last but not least, no mention of Sacramento’s greatest heavyweight and former world champion???

  90. Clarence George 02:12pm, 04/02/2013

    Glenn:  Some boxing-fan friends do indeed think it’s a prank.  But, seriously, I’m sure it’s a sincere if somewhat eccentric list.  By the way, Clark gets an A+ for his opening paragraph.

    Even if the K. brothers could beat, say, Louis or Ali, it would only be because of their freak-show size and strength.  But there’s more to boxing, even at the heavyweight level, than that.  Neither Wladimir nor Vitali are in Louis or Ali’s league, who were true giants…giants of the ring.

  91. GlennR 01:57pm, 04/02/2013

    Hey Clarence, i was actually thinking it may have been an April 1 prank….. lets wait and see.

    Look, i agree with you on the placement on Holmes, but im not that worried about order as you could throw a blanket over this lot in terms of ability (apart from Norton)

    But come on C….. give the K boys some credit.
    On this list who do you seriously think would beat say a prime Vitali?

  92. George Thomas Clark 01:53pm, 04/02/2013

    Here’s an email from a friend of 50 years - wrestler and college football player -  who agrees with many who’ve commented today.  He’d like to see Marciano and Dempsey, but as I noted in a post I forgot to sign in on, those great fighters would be cruiserweights today.  The Klitschko brothers are indeed large and talented and would beat some of the fighters on my list.  When there are only 10 slots, many deserving fighters must be left off anyone’s list.

    “Nice article but I think you have Foreman, Norton and lIston too high on the list, if they should be there at all.  Where is Marciano?  Where is Dempsey?  The Klitschkos?  Heck, I would even have Floyd Patterson above Norton.  All of the fighters you list are fine to great fighters but I guess that is why lists provoke controversy.  And, sadly last but not least, no metion of Sacramento’s greatest heavyweight and former world champion??? ”—(He’s referring to Max Baer.)

  93. Clarence George 01:47pm, 04/02/2013

    Glenn, me auld warrior!  All right, I’ve given up trying to cure you of your misplaced affection and respect for the Klitschkos (if G.T.C. had included one or the other, I’d have blown a gasket).  But it’s not just who’s been included or excluded, but the placement.  Holmes the second greatest heavyweight of all time?  Really?

    Anyway, I suspect that all this is a belated April Fools’ prank.  We’re talking about the 10 best heavies of all time, and the name Tommy Morrison has actually been bandied about.  Quick!  The smelling salts!

  94. GlennR 01:30pm, 04/02/2013

    I can live with most on the list, but not Norton.

    A K brother would knock him from here to tomorrow, and one of them should be on the list

  95. tuxtucis 01:25pm, 04/02/2013

    @Eric Jorgensen: I’m happy to read finally your perfect comment after reading that: Ken Norton is a top ten heavyweight and Larry Holmes the number 2; Liston would have been destroyed by glass chinned Tommy Morrison…

  96. Eric Jorgensen 01:01pm, 04/02/2013

    I think including Ken Norton is indefensible.  Aside from that, however, I think Mr. Clark is in the ballpark. 

    In my view, there are at least 18 guys for whom a reasonably well-informed ‘historian’ (who has boxed a few rounds himself) could make a strong argument belong in the Top 10 all-time.  In chronological order, they are:  Jim Jeffries, Jack Johnson, Sam Langford,  Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis, Vitali Klitschko, and Wladimir Klitschko.  9 of the 10 champions on Mr. Clark’s list come from this group, so, again, I think he’s in the ballpark.

  97. George Thomas Clark 01:00pm, 04/02/2013

    Marciano and Dempsey were tremendous fighters but they’d be cruiserweights today.  Tommy Morrison knocking out Liston? Possible, but doubtful.  If Morrison belongs on the list, then so does Ray Mercer who knocked out Tommy.

  98. the thresher 12:34pm, 04/02/2013

    Not if you watch The Walking Dead.

  99. Eric 12:12pm, 04/02/2013

    Ken Norton?  While Norton was a decent fighter he doesn’t belong on any top 20 all-time list much less top 10 list.  Jack Johnson, well at least you put him at number 10 which is where he should be on most lists and maybe even lower, however, most of the time the overrated Johnson is in the top 5. Larry Holmes, while not as overrated as Jack Johnson, often gets a generous ranking by many in these type of lists, however, Holmes reigned during one of the weakest eras in heavyweight history. He had a life and death struggle with Norton to capture the title, many even give Norton the nod in that fight. The biggest names that he defended his title against were shopworn one dimensional Earnie Shavers, another one trick pony in slugger Gerry Cooney, and Michael Spinks, who he lost to twice.

  100. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:12am, 04/02/2013

    I’ve seen some really odd boxing promo photos,,,,even on this site….I think I even saw one where the fighters were staring into each others eyes while sharing a milkshake…each with his own straw like it was “date night”. The photo above defies description!

  101. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:53am, 04/02/2013

    Which reminds me….here’s the real problem with this list….Tommy Morrison was a Heavyweight Champion and I see guys on this list that he could clock “prime against prime”....and guess what…I say Sonny Liston is one of them!

  102. pugknows 09:48am, 04/02/2013

    not a good list

  103. Irish Frankie Craw ford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:41am, 04/02/2013

    Obviously a “head to head prime against prime” list and that’s fine as far as it goes. In that case Marciano should be on this list because he clocks both Jack Johnson and yes…. even a prime Joe Louis! Which reminds me…if Quarry met Norton even five years earlier….Kenny wouldn’t be on this list either!

  104. dollarbond 08:08am, 04/02/2013

    If you can’t be civil, why even bother to post. Why not call this a less than compelling list rather than an awful one?

  105. the thresher 06:53am, 04/02/2013

    Irish, back in h In 2006, I had Louis first, Ali second, and then Holmes, Foreman,  Marciano, Frazier, Lewis, Holyfield, Charles, Walcott, I only tracked to 1945. And Charles could well have been slotted as a light heavyweight.

    Now, I’d have to give the Klits some major consideration. As you point out, they are just too big. and they are very dominant, especially Wlad.  I do see Lewis, Foreman and possibly Holmes (based on his style) holding their own if not better with them. But after that, I cannot imagine a Frazier being able to penetrate their size. However, I understand and respect the arguments of those who think the Klits are too robotic, but I also consider myself somewhat of a student on the Eastern Euro style of fighting and that is where I am coming from.

    I have my own top ten P4P that will be featured in a Boxing Magazine in the late summer and then I will hopefully post it here long after Matt has finished his. I suspect we will have many of the same people on it though mine will only go back to 1945.

  106. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:36am, 04/02/2013

    George Thomas Clark-Looks very much like a head to head listing to me….that’s okay with me…but in that case it’s fatally flawed because there’s only two on the list that represent a real and present danger to the K Bros and that’s Lennox and Foreman…period. Wladimir and Vitali are too damn big and too damn good for the rest including the Demigod at the top your list.

  107. the thresher 06:31am, 04/02/2013

    Hemingway has spoken. I stand chastised.

  108. Clarence George 06:19am, 04/02/2013

    There’s an element of subjectivity to such lists, to be sure.  For example, should Louis be in first or second place?  (The correct answer is “first.”)  But subjectivity needn’t result in the inherently indefensible—e.g., the inclusion of Norton.

    I largely agree with you, Jason, about Ali (though I found him more embarrassing than entertaining):  A great fighter, but an absolute jackass. 

    By the way, it shouldn’t be necessary to point out that taking a fellow writer to task hardly constitutes a personal affront.

  109. Matt McGrain 06:01am, 04/02/2013

    Also relating to the Ali bio (and sorry to be that guy), Ali has Parkinson’s SYNDROME, not Parkinson’s disease.  The difference is important to note for a variety of reasons.

  110. Jason 05:57am, 04/02/2013

    The list is what it is. Like the Thresher said, there is no correct list. I don’t find it that bad.

    But I have a quibble with the tired bio of Ali. He wasn’t a civil rights leader. He was a duped buffoon. I love him as a boxer, and he was very entertaining but he wasn’t a moral giant among us. He was hateful, spiteful, and actually spoke at a KKK rally. He befriended and sang the praises of every dictator he met. He was way in over his head on political and social things. He was simple-minded, easily led astray, man who happened to have the gift for gab. They are literally a dime a dozen.

    The fighter—now he was a great one.

  111. PMB 05:46am, 04/02/2013

    No personal offense to the writer, but a truly awful list, as some commenters have already noted. The absence of Dempsey and Marciano is remarkable, and Lennox Lewis at 3 is breathtaking, but what makes the list utterly invalid is the inclusion of Ken Norton—who not only doesn’t belong on this list on his fighting merits, but also was never a true heavyweight champion to begin with. He was awarded his belt in another of the sanctioning bodies’ periodic atrocities, and he lost it in his first “defense.” Gimme a break.

  112. the thresher 05:44am, 04/02/2013

    That photo reminds me of The Walking Dead.

    As for the list, I have never seen a list of great boxers that is the “correct” list. There is no such thing. Attempts can be made to close the gap by quantification, but in the end, the entirely subjective nature of any list comparing fighters across different eras is bound to be the subject of heated debate. However, that is never as excuse to morph from heated debate to one writer insulting another—- in my view.

  113. Mike Casey 05:34am, 04/02/2013

    I’ll stand clear on this one and leave it to you lot.

  114. Clarence George 05:33am, 04/02/2013

    Kudos to Matt on his Clarence Darrow impersonation, but…come on.  Greatest-Best, Tomato-Tomahto.  “Hey, I like that suit.  Cool gray, isn’t it?”  “What are you, color blind?  It’s obviously cadet gray.”

  115. Matt McGrain 05:19am, 04/02/2013

    I’ll stick up for the guy a little and say that it’s his “best” heavyweight champions, not the greatest.  In my opinion, if you’re going to make some of these big claims you need to work a little harder in their defence, but head-to-head throws up some weird results and often excludes the smaller guys and the old-timers.

  116. Clarence George 05:07am, 04/02/2013

    I, too, have never come across a worse ranking.  No Rocky Marciano or Jack Dempsey?  George Foreman ahead of Joe Louis, who’s only fifth?  Larry Holmes second only to Muhammad Ali?  And what the hell is Ken Norton doing on a list of top 10 all-time heavies?  It’s almost as though the names and rankings were picked at random out of a hat.

  117. AKT 05:04am, 04/02/2013

    @tuxtucis - Let’s see your list.

  118. tuxtucis 04:40am, 04/02/2013

    Simply the worst ranking I’ve ever seen.

Leave a comment