Boxing is a sport that has been around for centuries, and over the years, some of the greatest heavyweight boxers have made their mark in the history books. From Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson, these legendary fighters have set records, knocked out opponents with ease and displayed incredible toughness and chin. Other greats include Joe Louis, Evander Holyfield, Rocky Marciano, Larry Holmes and Gene Tunney, Jack Johnson, Joe Frazier, Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko and George Foreman. And let’s not forget about Jack Dempsey, Tyson Fury, Lennox Lewis, or even Earnie Shavers who was regarded as the most powerful heavyweight of any era.
Boxers are renowned for their strength, speed, power, and agility, but there is much more to a boxer’s greatness than these physical attributes. It takes a combination of mental and psychological training, endurance, coaching, strictness, dedication and sparring to become a great boxer. A boxer must have the toughness to take punches, but also the ability to think strategically in the ring.
Unfortunately, we have to narrow our search to the Modern Era of the 1980’s forward, leaving out Muhammad Ali and George Foreman due to their primes being pre-80’s. So what combination of attributes, abilities and fortitude does it take to be considered one of the Greatest Heavyweight Boxers of All Time? Let’s have a look at 5 Modern Era Greats and go from there:
NUMBER 5: TYSON FURY
Tyson Fury is one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time, he has an undefeated 33-0-1 record with 24 knockouts and has held the WBA, WBO, IBF and Commonwealth titles. Nicknamed “The Gypsy King”, Fury was born in Manchester to Irish traveller parents and grew up in Wilmslow, Cheshire. Fury took up boxing at a young age and went on to become a two-time ABA heavyweight champion before turning professional in 2008.
He is best known for his trilogy of fights against Deontay Wilder which ended in a draw and two wins for Fury. Tyson Fury has become one of the most popular boxers in history due to his entertaining style and larger than life personality. He is known for his ability to talk trash while also being able to back it up inside the ring with his powerful punches and slick footwork.
NUMBER 4: EVANDER HOLYFIELD
Evander Holyfield is one of the greatest boxers of all time and has achieved tremendous success in his career, with an impressive record of 44 wins, 10 losses, 2 draws, and 29 knockouts. His background includes a gold medal win at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and a he is the only fighter to win the linear Heavyweight Championship 4 times. He has scored wins over other notable opponents such as Lennox Lewis, Michael Moorer, Dwight Qawi, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Riddick Bowe, and John Ruiz.
Holyfield is named “The Warrior” for good reason, he has had several “Wars” with great heavyweights including “trilogies” with Bowe and Ruiz, in addition to two fights each with Lewis and Moorer. He fought Mike Tyson twice as well, the second fight ended in the most bizarre manner when Tyson bit the top of Evander’s ear off and was disqualified. At the end of these 12 fights, Holyfield would take 5 wins, 5 losses and 2 draws.
NUMBER 3: LENNOX LEWIS
Lennox Lewis, was born in London, England and grew up in Kitchener, Ontario, he represented Canada at the 1988 Olympics, where he won a gold medal. During his professional career, Lewis had an impressive record of 41 wins (32 knockouts), 2 losses and 1 draw. He was known for his upright stance, left jab, straight right punch and strong defence, he was known as “The Pugilist Specialist”.
Lewis avenged his only two losses by beating Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman respectively. He also defeated Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, “Razor” Ruddock, Andrew Golota and Riddick Bowe during his career. Lewis was able to use his 6′ 5″ height and enormous 84” reach to gain advantage over most of his opponents, allowing him to use a jab-and-weave style to keep them at bay while serving powerful punches from range.
NUMBER 2: LARRY HOLMES
If you’re asking why Larry Holmes is on the list when his career started in the 70’s, it’s because he was the undefeated, Lineal Heavyweight Champion of the World from 1980 to 1985. Holmes, known as “The Easton Assassin,” had a professional career that spanned from 1973 to 2002 and amassed an impressive record of 69 wins, 6 losses with 44 knockouts. He was renowned for his powerful jab and knockout power, and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008.
Holmes had some memorable fights against Muhammad Ali, Earnie Shavers, Gerry Cooney, Tim Witherspoon, Trevor Berbick, Leon Spinks and more. He also made some remarkable comebacks in his later years when he fought Mike Tyson, “Merciless” Ray Mercer, Evander Holyfield and even Eric “Butterbean” Esch. Larry Holmes has gone down in history as one of the most successful boxers ever and will always be remembered as one of the greats.
NUMBER 1: MIKE TYSON
Mike Tyson is one of the most iconic figures in boxing history, rising to fame in the late 1980s by becoming the youngest ever Heavyweight Champion at just 20 years old. His ferocity, aggressiveness and intimidating style earned him the nickname “Iron Mike” and he would soon become known as “The Baddest Man on the Planet”. His success would not have been possible without his mentors – Cus D’Amato, Kevin Rooney and Teddy Atlas – who taught him how to move quickly and effectively inside the ring.
Tyson’s career was not without controversy, however, in 1992, he was convicted of rape and served hard time in prison, breaking his continued devastation by 3 years. Despite this setback, Tyson continued to be a force in boxing, compiling a record of 50-6-2 with 44 knockouts before retiring in 2005. Throughout his career he faced some of boxing’s greatest fighters including Larry Holmes, Buster Douglas, Evander Holyfield, “Razor” Ruddock, Frank Bruno and Lennox Lewis.
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Written by: Jack Cameron @TheBrysh