Some of the best fighters have graced the ring over the years including Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather, but the debate is always intense when naming the greatest to ever set foot in the squared circle. Boxing is a sport which takes great skill, courage and determination with the sport bouncing back from a slow patch to land a series of big names in the modern era.
In many cases, fighters are not just remembered for their attributes in the ring, with the likes of Ali, Manny Pacquiao and more gripping the world and attracting huge global fanbases. We were even fortunate to see some of the greatest come up against each other, with fans also even picking their winner in fantasy fights from different generations.
Many often reflect on the golden generation, but since some astonishing athletes have graced the spotlight and challenged the heroes of the past. In a truly one-of-a-kind method, we have asked AI technology (Chat GPT) to help us settle the debate, and it has sure thrown up some interesting discoveries.
The Filipino sensation deserves his spot in the top ten, having won an incredible weight world titles in eight different divisions. He formed some iconic rivalries along the way including against none other than Floyd Mayweather, and became an icon in his home country which saw him even run for presidency.
Pacquiao is still out of the ring for now but has been fighting in exhibitions and is even eyeing a stunning final comeback fight with links to Conor Benn. Irrespective of his final stages in the ring, ‘Pac Man’ has left an incredible legacy in the sport which has also helped put the Phillipines on the map in the sporting world. Some fans will be disappointed he hasn’t been ranked higher, but he may have been had he won some of his crucial fights including against undefeated Mayweather.
Johnson is a pivotal name in the early stages of the sport, who was an icon in his own right having became the first black American heavyweight champion. The ‘Galveston Giant’ finds himself on the list for taking the sport to new levels, with his “fight of the century” against Jeffries meaning more to wider society than even the sport.
His win sparked race riots, which was a battle he regularly came up against in his life, and along with the likes of Muhammad Ali he helped work towards a series of more equal rights in the sport. He certainly had ability in the ring too and transcended the sport with his gracious skills, which again seems to be a key theme when all things are considered by the AI software.
Frazier is considered one of the heavyweight greats and remains a name on the tip of fans tongues even in the modern era. Known primarily for his booming left hook which dropped some of the division’s best talent, and saw him rise to become an undisputed champion for three years at the pinnacle of his career.
However, to fans of the sport, his fundamental achievement saw him become the first man to silence and beat Muhammad Ali with their rivalry capturing the world. The pair then met in a rematch known as ‘Thrila in Manila’ which became one of the most watched events and sent the sport further into a mainstream light. He also fought some other greats including George Foreman, with his late name continuing to resonate with fighters in the new generation.
Duran, ‘Man De Piedra’ is quite often named as a fan favourite, in addition to holding popularity with other fighters due to his technical brilliance and sensational defence. The Panama-based star won titles in four weight classes including being undisputed champion at lightweight, with his shots certainly knocking out a few contenders along the way.
Incredibly showing the durability of older generations of fighters, he fought an incredible 119 times as a professional with a hugely successful KO ratio. His barely-believable career also made history having spanned over four successive decades, putting himself in the record books alongside previous mentioned Johnson. His dominance reigned particularly true at lightweight, with many suggesting he is the most dominant to have ever graced the division.
A fighter that Tyson Fury has regularly mentioned in tributes during his undefeated career so far, Marciano was known for the heavyweight who first retired undefeated in a first for the sport. His record as a professional saw him rack up 49 professional wins just one shy of Floyd Mayweather, and he certainly wasn’t shy of landing the big shots and ending the show either.
He is considered arguably the greatest heavyweight of all-time due to his dominant streak, which was boosted by his granite chin and formidable one-punch power. The late American died at an extremely young age of 45 but left a tremendous legacy which is regularly addressed in the hopes of new fighters gracing the blue-riband division today.
A very valid entry into the rankings from the past era, Armstrong had an incredible 191 fights with 101 KO’s, but this wasn’t even his most recognised achievement. The American star held three belts in three weight classes simultaneously without losing them, a feat which has never since been matched and is unlikely to be broken due to the current politics in boxing including mandatory defences.
Armstrong is not a mainstream name to the casual fan, but is recognised by historians as having incredible attributes in the sport and formed part of the inagural induction to the Boxing Hall of Fame after his death. Despite suffering over 20 losses, the talented boxer managed to string together an incredible 19-fight win streak to defend his title.
‘Money’ Mayweather is a name that resonates with all audiences particularly in the modern era for his 50-fight dominant streak. Not many words are needed for the American star who showed brilliance in all aspects of the game including once-in-a-lifetime defensive skills and technical completion.
He shared the ring with some of the greats including Pacquiao, Canelo Alvarez and Oscar De La Hoya and also became the biggest-selling pay-per-view star in the sport. He opened the gateway to huge revenue for fellow fighters, and continues to compete in exhibition fights to this day. There is rarely anyone in boxing who isn’t familiar with ‘Money’ who continues to be a model for fighters in lower weight classes, who are targeting huge profiles outside the traditional pull-power of the heavyweight division.
Another familiar face in the rankings, heavyweight Louis went on the most incredible streak which mirrored that of UFC middleweight Anderson Silva in his division. He held the title for a barely even fathomable 12 years by defending it 25 times which was simply sensational, scoring some highlight-reel knockouts along the way.
Louis fought during a turbulent period of time, even enlisting in the US army during his stint in the ring defending his national flag during World War Two while performing grand gestures including donations to charity. It is slightly frustrating to have not seen Louis compete several years later during a golden era of the sport, to see how he would have fared against Muhammad Ali with the pair regularly poking fun about their status.
2Sugar Ray Robinson
A name that always crops up near the top in these lists, Chat GPT has recognised a fan favourite who many considered as the pound-for-pound greatest. Having turned professional at the age of 19, he then went on a mammoth 91-unbeaten streak which is longevity that has never been matched, particularly given lower activity rates as boxing went on.
Robinson made further history having won the middleweight crown on five separate occasions, and it is an incredible feat that the phrase pound-for-pound was effectively coined on your behalf. Despite competing outside the glorified heavyweight division, the American managed to make history and is even recognised by AI software, just pipped to the post by the biggest name in the sport’s history.
An introduction is barely needed for Ali, who transcended both sport and society with his words of wisdom and slick and charismatic boxing style. Coining some signature moves such as the Ali shuffle and the rope-a-dope, the heavyweight legend fought some of the best, and was the most watched and entertaining fighter to have graced the earth.
Many have come and gone, but Ali fought both inside and outside the ring against a society filled with racial issues and war. He made positive change for both fighters and humans, and became a cult hero across the world before his death. It is barely conceivable that any new generation of fighter will come anywhere close to his achievements, and attract a peak interest of events such as the ‘Rumble In The Jungle’.
Pretty much every fighter to have ever laced up a pair of gloves dreams of leaving the legacy to many like Ali does, and it is hard to imagine his equivalent in modern generations given his impact. He fought both winning and losing against the best, but he never cowered away from a challenge which is becoming a dying trait.