Tracy G. Callis
Historian
International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO)
ibro71@aol.com


The Greatest Fighters of All-Time

Boxing fans have varied opinions as to which fighters were the greatest of all-time. Younger fans prefer the modern fighters. Older fans prefer the old timers. Other fans have mixed and more diversified views.

Those who favor the modern fighters argue that the men have gotten bigger, faster, and stronger over the years. They also point out that techniques have improved with the passing of time.

Those who favor the fighters of the earlier years contend that the men grew up in tougher times and were "hungrier," more rugged, better disciplined, and better conditioned.


I have written two articles which address these aspects and they are in The Cyberboxingzone (CBZ) Journal archives. The first article is entitled "Athletes - Bigger, Faster, Stronger. Are they Better? What About Boxers?" and is contained in the June 1998 issue of The CBZ Journal. The second article is entitled "Ranking the All-Time Boxing Greats" and is contained in the July 1998 issue of The CBZ Journal.

I do not believe that all fighters and athletes necessarily get better with the passing years. Athletes do get bigger, faster, and stronger over time. Techniques improve too. But, that does not mean they are better. Different periods of history impart certain attitudes and practices due to the "temper of the times" and the conditions under which the people live. Athletic skills are affected by mental conditioning and discipline as well as physical attributes and techniques. Consequently, performance peaks and ebbs in different periods of history and fighters are better in some periods than they are in others.

It is my definite belief that different periods of history produce more good fighters than other periods but the very best fighters of all-time from any era could fight with each other on a competitive and "near-equal" basis.

In these rankings, I have included a man in several weight classes if I believe him to be among the greatest at that weight. For what it's worth, here is one man's opinion.

Heavyweights:

1.     Jim Jeffries
2.     Jack Johnson
3.     Jack Dempsey
4.     Joe Louis
5.     Muhammad Ali
6.     Gene Tunney
7.     Jim Corbett
8.     Sonny Liston
9.     Rocky Marciano
10.  Larry Holmes

Cruiserweights:

1.  Jack Johnson
2.   
Jack Dempsey
3.   
Joe Louis
4.   
Gene Tunney
5.   
Jim Corbett
6.   
Rocky Marciano
7.    John L. Sullivan
8.    Peter Jackson
9.  Bob Fitzsimmons
10. Tom Sharkey

Light Heavyweights:

1.   Gene Tunney
2.    
Bob Fitzsimmons
3.     Ezzard Charles
4.     Sam Langford
5.     Philadelphia Jack O’Brien
6.     Harry Greb
7.     Kid McCoy
8.     Michael Spinks
9.     Archie Moore
10.  Bob Foster

Middleweights:

1.     
Bob Fitzsimmons
2.     Stanley Ketchel
3.     Philadelphia Jack O’Brien
4.     Harry Greb
5.     Sugar Ray Robinson
6.     Nonpareil Jack Dempsey
7.     Kid McCoy
8.     Tommy Ryan
9.     Roy Jones Jr.
10.  Mickey Walker

Welterweights:

1.     Sugar Ray Robinson
2.     Nonpareil Jack Dempsey
3.     Kid McCoy
4.     Tommy Ryan
5.     Joe Walcott
6.     
Henry Armstrong
7.     Sugar Ray Leonard
8.     Mickey Walker
9.     Tommy Hearns
10.  Mike Gibbons

Lightweights:

1.     Benny Leonard
2.     Joe Gans
3.     Roberto Duran
4.     
Henry Armstrong
5.     Aaron Pryor
6.     Jack McAuliffe
7.     Packey McFarland
8.     Barney Ross
9.     Tony Canzoneri
10.  (tie) George "Kid" Lavigne, Pernell Whitaker  

Featherweights:

1.     
Henry Armstrong
2.     Jem Driscoll
3.     Terry McGovern
4.     Alexis Arguello
5.     Willie Pep
6.     Abe Attell
7.     
George Dixon
8.     Sandy Saddler
9.     Johnny Dundee
10.  Kid Chocolate

Bantamweights:

1.     
Terry McGovern
2.     Eder Jofre
3.     Jimmy Barry
4.     George Dixon
5.     Pete Herman
6.     Carlos Zarate
7.     Ruben Olivares
8.     Panama Al Brown
9.     Kid Williams
10.
   Johnny Coulon

Flyweights:

1.  Jimmy Barry
2.  Jimmy Wilde
3.  Pascual Perez
4.  Pancho Villa
5.  Fidel LaBarba
6.  Frankie Genaro
7.  Benny Lynch
8.  Ricardo Lopez 
9.  Midget Wolgast
10.
 Peter Kane

Pound-For-Pound (Click for Criteria):

1.
     
Bob Fitzsimmons
2.
     
Sugar Ray Robinson
3.
     
Nonpareil Jack Dempsey
4.
     
Sam Langford
5.
      Charlie Mitchell
6.
      Henry Armstrong
7.
     
Stanley Ketchel
8.
     
Jack Dempsey
9.
     
Philadelphia Jack O’Brien
10.
 
Harry Greb

 


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