Joshua, Fury, Tyson, Ali: The best boxing heavyweights of all time

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When talking about the greatest heavyweight fighters to grace the sport of boxing, it’s safe to say that those discussions also correspond to who the greatest boxers of all time are.

The sheer power and tenacity that the likes of Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Muhammad Ali possessed throughout their career would send chills down the spines of those watching their fights. Even more recent names such as Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury have every right to call themselves a notable name in the world of heavyweight boxing.

According to the International Boxing Federation, the World Boxing Association and the World Boxing Organisation, fighters are placed in the heavyweight class if they weigh over 200 pounds. In 2020, the World Boxing Council changed their heavyweight classification weight to 224 pounds following the creation of the bridgerweight division.

The top three heavyweight fighters in today’s rankings, as per The Ring and BoxRec, are Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder. These three have been in the limelight of the sport for the last few years, but there were many more that came before them who have cemented their place in heavyweight boxing folklore.

The best 50 boxers in the heavyweight class have been named on Ranker, which is an online media platform that allows passionate fans to vote on polls created by the site.

With all that being said, here is Ranker’s best heavyweight boxers of all time.

50-31

50. Primo Carnera (Italy)

49. Jimmy Ellis (USA)

48. Frank Bruno (UK)

47. Ron Lyle (USA)

46. Andy Ruiz Jr (USA-Mexico)

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45. Teófilo Stevenson (Cuba)

44. Michael Spinks (USA)

43. Ray Mercer (USA)

42. Tommy Morrison (USA)

41. David Tua (Samoa-New Zealand)

40. Jack Sharkey (USA)

39. Roy Jones Jr. (USA)

38. George Chuvalo (Canada)

37. Ingemar Johansson (Sweden)

36. Jess Willard (USA)

35. Henry Cooper (UK)

34. Sam Langford (Canada)

33. Jerry Quarry (USA)

32. Earnie Shavers (USA)

31. Deontay Wilder (USA)

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50-31 Summary

What a roster already. Of these 20 fighters, 12 of them are from the United States (including dual-citizen Andy Ruiz Jr). The UK and Canada are the next most represented nations with two each among the boxers ranked 50-31. A noteworthy name on here is Sam Langford, who was deemed the best fighter to never win a title. ESPN also called him “The Greatest Fighter Nobody Knows”.

Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz Jr are the only two on the list so far that are still active fighters, while the boxing world also recently saw Roy Jones Jr come out of retirement to fight Mike Tyson in an exhibition bout in November 2020.

Each boxer above achieved a certain degree of greatness during their careers, but ultimately not as much as the next set of fighters.

30-11

30. Larry Holmes (USA)

29. Riddick Bowe (USA)

28. Anthony Joshua (UK)

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27. Jack Johnson (USA)

26. Vitali Klitschko (Ukraine)

25. Sonny Liston (USA)

24. Ken Norton (USA)

23. Floyd Patterson (USA)

22. Bob Fitzsimmons (UK)

21. Evander Holyfield (USA)

20. James J. Corbett (USA)

19. James J. Braddock (USA)

18. Max Schmeling (Germany)

17. Wladimir Klitschko (Ukraine)

16. Tyson Fury (UK)

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15. James J. Jeffries (USA)

14. Jersey Joe Walcott (USA)

13. Max Baer (USA)

12. Archie Moore (USA)

11. Ezzard Charles (USA)

30-11 Summary

Americans dominate once again with 14 present in the fighters ranked between 30th and 11th place. The top two current heavyweight fighters, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, are both ranked in this interval and as many know by now, will be going toe-to-toe for the first time later this year.

Fun fact: Vitali Klitschko, ranked 26th, is the current Mayor of Kiev.

Many eternal greats from the early-to-mid 20th century feature, including Max Schmeling, who was the world heavyweight champion between 1930 and 1932, and Jersey Joe Walcott, who became the oldest heavyweight champion in history at the age of 38 back in 1952. Walcott’s record was then broken in 1995 by a fighter who ranks in the top 10.

10-1

10. Lennox Lewis (UK-Canada)

9. Gene Tunney (USA)

8. George Foreman (USA)

1 of 15
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Who is this heavyweight boxer?

7. Joe Louis (USA)

6. Joe Frazier (USA)

5. John L. Sullivan (USA)

4. Mike Tyson (USA)

3. Jack Dempsey (USA)

2. Rocky Marciano (USA)

1. Muhammad Ali (USA)

10-1 Summary

Just imagine if these 10 fighters all fought in the same era.

The all-American top nine goes to show the dominance of the States with regards to producing legends of the game. Mike Tyson is the most recent fighter out of the top 10, and despite retiring in 2005, he got back into the ring last November against Jones Jr.

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Some great achievements from this group include George Foreman’s record as the oldest heavyweight champion in history at the age of 46, and Joe Frazier becoming the first fighter to beat Muhammad Ali in 1971.

But, it is Ali who inarguably takes top spot in the ranking. 56 wins out of 61 fights showcases how dominant he was in the sport, as well as the fact that he is the only three-time lineal champion of the heavyweight division after beating Sonny Liston in 1964, George Foreman in 1974 and Leon Spinks in 1978.

There’s a reason why Ali is nicknamed The Greatest, and it’s going to be a long while before anybody even attempts to reach the heights he did.

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