Naming the greatest boxers of all time comes down to more than just who won the most games or brought home the most titles. Being the greatest goes beyond statistics, because what makes up a good boxer also includes heart, style, reputation, and longevity. Naming the top boxers is likely to start fights in some places, but most people would agree that these guys are among the world’s best.
5 Willie Pep
Willie Pep had a stunning career, winning 229 fights with one draw. He delivered 65 knockouts and only lost 11 times during his time in the ring from 1940 to 1966. Pep was a world featherweight champion and is known for being the best in his class for his time, and maybe for any time. His only early losses came at the hands of Sandy Saddler beginning in 1948, but he pretty much owned every other boxer before and after that.
4 Henry Armstrong
Henry Armstrong achieved something very few boxers have done — he held titles in three in three separate weight classes at the same time. This is even more amazing since there were only eight classes during the time Armstrong fought. He earned the featherweight title first in 1974, then picked up the welterweight title in 1938, and, three months after that, secured the lightweight championship. His career lasted from 1931 to 1945, during which he was the world featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight champion. He won 150 fights with 101 KOs. He only lost 10 times. Armstrong was known for his lightning-fast moves and overwhelming his opponents.
3 Sugar Ray Robinson
Sugar Ray Robinson (born Walker Smith, Jr.) had an amazing career that lasted a quarter of a century. He fought from 1940 to 1965 and held titles in two weight classes. Robinson was the welterweight champ from 1946 to 1951, and then became the middleweight champ from 1951 to 1952 and from 1957 to 1960. He racked up an amazing 175 wins. His knockout record was 109, and he only lost 19 fights and had six draws. He is known for being one of the all-around most skilled and versatile boxers in history.
2 Muhammad Ali
It’s impossible to talk about boxing without thinking of one of its most famous and gifted boxers, Muhammad Ali. His career spanned from 1960 to 1981, during which he was the heavyweight champion from 1964 to 1967, and again from 1974 to 1979. His records included five wins and 37 KOs with only five losses. Ali was the first boxer ever to win the title of world heavyweight champion three times. He is known for revolutionizing the way fights in his weight class were fought, and for capturing the world’s attention repeatedly for a range of positive and negative attributes.
1 Joe Louis
Joe Louis had a long, successful boxing career that includes 68 wins and 54 KOs with only three fights lost. He fought from 1934 to 1951, but was the world heavyweight champ from 1937 to 1949, almost his entire career. He retired as the champion in 1949, which meant that he successfully defended his title 25 times. He held the title for almost 12 years, making him the longest running champion. His most memorable moment was when he beat German boxer Max Schmeling in a rematch fight in 1938, which made Louis a hero in the U.S.