Boxing: The 10 Greatest Heavyweights of All Time

Jason AmareldCorrespondent IIJune 4, 2011

Boxing: The 10 Greatest Heavyweights of All Time

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    UNDATED:  JOE FRAZIER, GEORGE FOREMAN AND MUHAMMAD ALI. Mandatory Credit: Gray Mortimore/ALLSPORT
    Gray Mortimore/Getty Images

    It seems like forever ago when the worlds only care in sports was who was fighting for the Heavyweight Championship. Stadium's were packed all over the world to see Muhammad Ali fight Joe Frazier and George Foreman.

    What it meant to be the heavyweight champ of the world has drastically lost its prestige, but these 10 fighters changed the world of sports. It is a shame the boxing world will never be what it once was. I wish I could jump in a time machine and see all of these fighters in their prime. 

    With the fighting world progressing into the MMA era, these legends will only live in our memories, in a time where these heavyweights ruled the mass media.

    For those who cherish this almost forgotten sport, we will never forger the 10 greatest heavy weights in the history of the great sport of boxing.

10. Mike Tyson

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    1989:  Mike Tyson weighs in for a fight. Mandatory Credit: Holly Stein  /Allsport
    Holly Stein/Getty Images

    From prison to the silver screen, Iron Man Mike Tyson's prolific career has been surrounded by more controversy than any other fighter in the common era of professional boxing.

    If it wasn't for his out of the ring problems, Mike Tyson may have went down as one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport.

    Let's not forget all the success Mike had during his time in between the ropes. Tyson had a career record of 50-6-0-2, and his career spanned over 20 years from 1985-2005. He would have accumulated more fights if it wasn't for his prison sentence in the early 1990's. Mike Tyson won 44 of his 50 fights by way of knock out.

    Mike Tyson knocked out Trevor Berbick in the second round in 1986 to become the youngest heavyweight champion in the history of professional boxing. Mike Tyson dominated his way through heavyweight ranks with his tremendous punching power. His ability to overpower his opponent was like none we have ever seen in the sport.

    Mike Tyson was undefeated, posting a 37-0 record before he lost his first fight and his title to Buster Douglas in the 1990 fight in Japan.

    Unfortunately, his actions outside the ring will always overshadow his greatness in the ring. He will also be remembered for the malicious attack on the ear of Evander Holyfield. 

9. Evander Holyfield

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    12 Aug 2000: Evander Holyfield celebrates in the ring as he wears the Heavyweight belt after a WBA Heavyweight Championship fight against John Ruiz at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Holyfield defeated Ruiz by a decison in the 12th round.
    Holly Stein/Getty Images

    The timeless Evander Holyfield is one of the greatest champions and overall great men the sport of boxing has ever seen.

    Holyfield is thought to be one of the most determined fighters of all time. His "never say die" attitude made him a great fighter and even greater champion.

    Evander earned is first heavyweight title when he knocked out Buster Douglas in the third round in 1990.

    He will be always be remember for his battles with fellow heavyweight Riddick Bowe, who defeated him in 1992, but Evander was able to regain his title by defeating him in 1993.

    In 1996, Evander was able to regain the WBA Heavyweight title after he knocked out Mike Tyson in the 11th round in 1996.

    A series of fights with Tyson led to the infamous ear bite that shocked the boxing world. 

8. Larry Holmes

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    19 Jun 1992:  Larry Holmes talks to fans prior to his fight against Evander Holyfield in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Holyfield won the fight with an unanimous decision after 12 rounds. Mandatory Credit: Holly Stein  /Allsport
    Holly Stein/Getty Images

    Larry Holmes was one of the longest tenured fighters in the history of boxing with a career stemming almost 30 years from 1973-2002. Simply Incredible. Holmes mounted a 69-6 record with 44 wins by way of knock out.

    Holmes' first heavyweight title was won after a 15-round war by split decision over Ken Norton in 1978.

    In 1980, Muhammad Ali came out of retirement to challenge him, and Holmes responded by placing a beating on Ali that lead to his corner stopping the fight shortly after the tenth round came to an end.

    What makes Larry Holmes one of the greatest fighters of all time is that he defended his title an incredible 20 times. His record accumulated to 48-0 before losing a points decision to Michael Spinks.

    Holmes came in and out of retirement and continued to fight sparingly, but during his run as champion, he was one of the greatest the sport had ever seen.

7. Joe Frazier

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    The hard nosed, tough as nails fighter for the city of brotherly love endured one of the most prolific careers in the history of professional boxing. His career lasted from 1965-1981 and had a record of 32-4-1 with 27 of his fights ending by way of knock out.

    Joe fought through the greatest heavyweight boxing generation of all time. The fighters and personalities who fought then will be remembered as the golden years of the sport.

    The four loses he had came to only two opponents, and one was the greatest fighter of all time in Muhammad Ali, the other being George Foreman.

    Joe Frazier earned the title because of Muhammad Ali's suspension for refusing the draft. Frazier and Ali battled on March 8, 1971, in the "Fight of the Century." In this battle, Joe Frazier earned himself a unanimous points victory.

    In 1973, he lost the title to George Foreman and later lost again to him, which led him to retire for the first time in 1976.

    Joe again fought Ali in 1975 in a fight dubbed "Thrilla in Manila," which is regarded by the majority of boxing columnists and critics as the greatest heavyweight fight of all time. Joe lost after his corner threw in the towel late in the contest.

    Joe will go down as one of the greatest athletes in one of the greatest sport cities in the United States, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

6. George Foreman

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    MEXICO CITY -1968:  George Forman wins the gold in the Men's Boxing Heavyweight event during the XIX Olympic Games circa October of 1968 in Mexico City, Mexico.  (Photo by Getty Images)
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Before there was the George Foreman Grill, there was George Foreman the fighter. One of the greatest Heavyweights Champions of all time.

    His fighting career lasted from 1969-1997, 28 incredible years. His most illustrious factions came on Nov. 5, 1994, when he knocked out Michael Moorer and became the oldest heavyweight champion in the history of boxing at 45.

    George combined power, size and agility to become one of the most dominant fighters of all time. He won his first title after he defeated Joe Frazier in two rounds in January 1973 by knocking the legend down six times.

    One of George's most notable fight was against Muhammad Ali in the "Rumble in the Jungle" in Zaire in 1974.

    Over his career, he was 76-5 with 68 knockouts.

    P.S. I love your grills.

5. Jack Dempsey

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    From 1914-1927, William Harrison Dempsey was the king of the heavyweight circle. Over his career he was 61-6-8 (50 KOs) and six no-decisions. He held the World Heavyweight Title from 1919 to 1926.

    Jack The "Manassa Mauler" fought during a time where the Yankees were king and baseball ruled the sports world. Jack was able to swing some of this popularity into the boxing world, becoming one of boxing's first superstars.

    Jack was as tough as they come, turning every fight into an epic battle. He won his first heavyweight title when he broke Jess Wilard's jawbone.

    Jack was one of the first fighters to draw enormous crowds. He is the man who put boxing on the map in the roaring 20's and helped to push the sport for decades to come.

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4. Rocky Marciano

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    Born on September 1, 1923,  Rocky's career was perfect in all aspects of the word. He finished a perfect 49-0 with 43 wins coming by knock out. People loved Rocky more than almost any other fighter ever. The best part is, he was only 5' 10''.

    His career was short lived compared to most of the future fighters, only lasting from 1947-1956. He fought in a post-World War 2 world, where American were still putting down roots and searching for stability.

    The zenith of his career was when he won the heavyweight title when he knocked out Joe Walcott in Philadelphia in 1952. Rocky defended his title six times before he announced his retirement on April 27, 1956.

    Rocky holds the record for the longest undefeated streak by a heavyweight.

3. Jack Johnson

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    Jack "Galveston Giant" Johnson was born on March 31, 1878. He fought professionally from 1897-1928 with a record of 77-13-13 with 19 no-decisions; Johnson won 48 of those fights by knock out. 

    Jack Johnson defeated Tommy Burns to become the first African American heavyweight champion in 1908 and held on to the title until he was defeated by Jess Willard in 1915. For seven years he was the king of the ring.

    On July 4, 1910, in front of 20,000 people, Jack Johnson fought former heavyweight champion James Jefferies, who came out of retirement to take the fight. This fight was tagged the "fight of the century."

    Jack paved the way for all the great African American fighters to come, during his whole career he had to battle racial discrimination. He persevered and became one of the greatest fighter in the history of the sport.

2. Joe Louis

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    29 Nov 1947 :  Joe Louis in training for the fight against Jersey Joe Walcott. Credit :  Allsport. Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK/ALLSPORT
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Mr. Joe Louis Barrow fought through one of the most troubling times in our nation's history. World War 2 was in full swing in Europe and on its way to the states. Joe's career lasted from 1934-51,and over that time he had a record of 68-3 with 54 of the those fights coming by way of knockout.

    Nicknamed the Brown Bomber, he helped bring boxing back into the mainstream after the Jack Dempsey era had concluded.

    Before one of his biggest fights against Max Schmeling, Louis traveled to the White House where President Franklin D. Roosevelt was quoted as saying, "Joe, we need muscle like you to beat Germany." Joe Louis was also featured on recruiting posters all over the country to help build America's forces to defend Democracy against Adolf Hitler and the Nazi's.

    In 2005, Joe Louis was named the greatest heavyweight of all time by the International Boxing Research Organization.

    Joe Louis won his first world heavyweight title in 1937 and held that title for eleven years, eight months and seven days. Successfully defending hit title a record 25 times, he retired as the champion in the later part of 1949.

    Joe Louis was a legend and one of the greatest American Athletes of all time.

1. Muhammad Ali

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    1972:  Muhammad Ali during training for his fight with Al 'Blue' Lewis held in Dublin, Republic of Ireland in 1972. (Photo by Getty Images)
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr, he eventually adopted the name the majority of the world knows him by, Muhammad Ali, in 1964. Nicknamed "The Greatest" and "The Champ," Muhammad Ali is without a doubt the most recognizable name in the history of boxing, and maybe in all of the sporting world.

    Ali was a three-time Heavyweight Champion of the world. He also won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympic games. 

    Muhammad Ali surmounted a career professional record of 56-5 with 37 of those fights coming by way of knockout. His career lasted from 1960-1981.

    One of the biggest controversies of his career was when he refused to fight in the Vietnam War and was arrested and found guilty of draft evasion. He was eventually stripped of his heavyweight title because of the charges. He was also suspended from boxing for four years.

    In 1971, the ban was lifted. He then fought and lost to Joe Frazier in what was called the "Fight of the Century."

    In 1974, Ali stunned the world by defeating the up and coming star George Foreman to regain the world heavyweight title. 

    Ali's accolades are almost endless. He was the first heavyweight to win the world title on three separate occasions and fought during the most competitive era in the history of the sport.

    Hero, villain, outspoken, and determined for greatness, Ali epitomized what it meant to be the Heavyweight Champion of the World.

    "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."