ESBC's line-up is already primed to be the greatest in boxing videogame history, but there are still plenty of names that fans would love to see added
Boxing fans have had one hell of a long wait to get their hands on a new boxing game, but with ESBC priming itself for a release later this year, fans finally have something to look forward to.
One of the biggest surprises from the project has been their hugely impressive roster - with legends such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Roy Jones Jr., Joe Frazier, Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Julio Cesar Chavez, Sugar Ray Leonard, and many more joining contemporary talent like Vasyl Lomachenko, Terence Crawford, Oleksandr Usyk, Josh Taylor, and Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez, ESBC has already got the most impressive roster in virtual boxing history and the team at Steel City Interactive promise more big names will be announced over the coming months.
Just this week we saw ESBC's cover athlete unveiled with Canelo Alvarez's reveal, adding the current biggest name in boxing to the game's fantastic list of playable boxers.
You can check out a full preview of the game, why ESBC is so highly anticipated, and the full roster of announced fighters here.
With the promise of more boxers being added to the growing line-up in the game, boxing fans have been coming up with their own wish lists of names they'd like to play as in ESBC.
There are certainly some obvious ones being brought up, like Mike Tyson and George Foreman, but in a sport with as rich a history as boxing, ESBC has hundreds of strong candidates to choose from.
As such, I've put together a wish list of sorts for fighters I'd like to see added at some point to ESBC - whether they're added to the base roster available at launch, in future updates, or as paid DLC.
This list comprises fighters from all sorts of eras and weight classes, from fan favourites in the sport to all time greats to stylistic oddities even hardcore fans may not have heard of. With ESBC also including a few kickboxers like Cedric Doumbe and Badr Hari, along with an MMA legend in Cris Cyborg, there are plenty of potential crossover inclusions, but for today this list is limited strictly to actual boxers.
Note: the boxers on this list are sorted alphabetically and not in order of importance/preference.
Henry Armstrong (151-22-10, 101 KOs)
Featherweight - Middleweight, 1931 - 1945
"Homicide Hank" is still regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time and was the first fighter to ever hold world titles in three different weight classes (featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight) simultaneously.
Standing at just 5'5, Armstrong earned his brilliant nicknames "Hurricane Henry" and "Homicide Hank" thanks to his aggressive fighting style and remarkable power for a fighter in the lower weight classes. He was exceptionally durable as well, partaking in 183 fights yet being finished just twice in his entire career, with one of those losses coming in his very first pro fight.
After racking up a record of 74-12-7 and multiple regional titles with victories over the likes of Benny Bass and Chalky Wright, Armstrong would capture his first world title at featherweight in 1937 with a sixth round knockout of Petey Sarron; within a year he picked up decisions over Barney Ross (another three-weight champ) and Lou Ambers to capture the world welterweight and lightweight titles respectively.
Armstrong then vacated his featherweight crown in order to focus primarily on defending his welterweight belt, which he did an astonishing 18 times over the next two years; he also attempted to become the first man to earn titles in four weight classes with a move up to middleweight, but his title fight with Ceferino Garcia (who he had previously bested at welterweight) ended in a draw despite most pundits arguing Armstrong deserved the decision.
His title reign ended in 1940 with a close loss to Fritzie Zivic, who in a rematch became the second and last man to ever knock out Armstrong. Henry continued fighting for the next five years, picking up wins over former champions such as Lew Jenkins and Sammy Angott during that time. While he didn't fight for a world title again, he did avenge his losses to Fritzie Zivic with a 15-round decision victory in 1942 and unlike most fighters, he retired just once in 1945 and led a rather quiet and healthy life until his death at 75 years old.
Emmanuel Augustus (38-34-6, 20 KOs)
Light welterweight, 1994 - 2011
Now you may be thinking, how does a journeyman with a record barely over 0.500 make it on this list? If you are just going off of records and accomplishments in your list of fighters that deserve to be added to the game, then you'd be correct.
What he does have however, is an incredibly unique style that made him a tough test for the many prospects and elite fighters he faced throughout his career.
Nicknamed "The Drunken Master", Augustus sported an absolutely bizarre fighting style focused entirely on confusing and frustrating his opponents. His fights consisted of him dancing around and eschewing all semblance of "proper" boxing form that befittingly can be best described as the movement of a heavily intoxicated individual rather than that of a professional fighter, yet somehow he managed to beat some quality fighters and give top prospects all they could handle throughout his career.
Such an insane fighting style (that displayed a lot more skill than many would credit him with; in fact Floyd Mayweather has repeatedly stated Augustus was one of the toughest opponents he ever faced) would absolutely make a great addition to any fighting game and has earned Augustus a spot on this list.
Max Baer (68-13, 51 KOs)
Heavyweight, 1929 - 1941
The one-time heavyweight champion of the world was known as a ferocious puncher and quite literally a "killer" in the ring; a brutal bout in 1930 with Frankie Campbell that ended in a fifth round knockout for Baer resulted in Campbell's death and a (later dropped) manslaughter charge being brought against Baer. A brain specialist at the time made headlines by stating that "Campbell's brain was knocked completely loose from his skull" as a result of the beating he took at the hands of Baer.
Despite the public viewing him as a cold blooded killer in the ring (which promoters were more than happy to run with), Baer nearly quit boxing following Campbell's death and lost four of his next six bouts after the incident, giving purses from many of his subsequent bouts to Campbell's family.
After getting his career back on track and putting together a winning streak, Baer (who was half-Jewish) took on Hitler's favourite boxer and recent world champion Max Schmeling in a highly politicized bout in 1933. With the Nazis having recently taken power in Germany and their openly anti-semetic views already known around the world, Baer garnered plenty of support from the American public even though he was a heavy underdog against the former (and most believed was the current given his controversial decision loss) heavyweight champion.
In a stunning upset, Baer battered Schmeling from pillar to post and finished the German in the tenth round while sporting the Star of David on his trunks, instantly turning Baer into a star and a hero amongst the Jewish community.
Baer went on to absolutely demolish massive Italian Primo Carnera to capture heavyweight gold, knocking the champion down seven times in the eleven rounds Carnera lasted.
Unfortunately for Baer, his title reign would be short lived as he lost his first title defense to a resurgent James Braddock in their sensational "fight of the year" in 1935. His next fight, against a young Joe Louis, would end his time at the top of the division after he suffered a fourth round knockout to the all-time great.
Regardless, Baer continued to have a successful career against lesser competition after his championship run before retiring in 1941. The former champ turned to acting as well as a brief stint as a referee in his retirement, before his untimely death at just 50 years old from a heart attack.
Wilfred Benitez (53-8-1, 31 KOs)
Light welterweight - Light middleweight, 1973 - 1990
The youngest champion in boxing history, Wilfred Benitez won his first world title at just 17 years old and defended it multiple times, racking up an incredible 38-0-1 record with his pro career beginning when he was just 15 before suffering his first career defeat at the hands of Sugar Ray Leonard at 21 years of age.
Having already been an established champion with multiple titles at such a young age and sporting wins over the likes of Antonio Cervantes, Bruce Curry and Carlos Palomino, Benitez moved up to super middleweight after his fight with Leonard and immediately made a splash, capturing the WBC title at his new home and defending it twice against Carlos Santos and the great Roberto Duran.
Benitez dropped the title in 1982 in an extremely close decision to Tommy Hearns in a back and forth war that would unfortunately mark the end of Benitez's time at the elite level.
Unsurprisingly, after being thrust into the deep end at such a young age and having, Benitez peaked early and sharply declined following his memorable scrap with Hearns. After going an incredible 44-2-1 with his losses coming by decision to Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns, Benitez lost two of his next four which included a knockout loss at the hands of Davey Moore. He would go just 9-6 post-Hearns fighting against increasinly lesser competition before eventually retiring in 1990 at just 32 years old, the man who stepped into the ring over the past seven years a shadow of his former self.
Tragically, Benitez suffered from a degenerative brain condition caused by the trauma he subjected his body to in the ring and even competed for several years after symptoms of his condition became apparent. Far from the first boxer to experience such issues, Benitez is yet another warning to younger generations of boxers about the importance of recognizing brain trauma.
James Braddock (52-27-7, 27 KOs)
Middleweight - Heavyweight, 1926 - 1938
Now known as the "Cindarella Man", the story of James J. Braddock stands out as one of the most inspiring comeback and underdog stories from a sport absolutely filled with them.
Beginning his pugilistic career in 1926, Braddock made a name for himself as a counter puncher with a big right hand and a granite chin. The hard-nosed "Pride of New Jersey" worked his way up to a title shot in 1929, which he lost in a hard fought decision to Tommy Loughran. Braddock badly broke his prized right hand in his attempt at winning the title, an injury that would plague his career for years.
As the Great Depression began to cripple North America, Braddock was forced to continue fighting without letting his hand properly heal in order to feed his family, absolutely tanking his reputation as an elite boxer in the process.
As the losses mounted and he struggled to survive both in and out of the ring, Braddock tried to find work at the docks as a longshoreman while he continued fighting. Braddock was eventually forced to briefly step away from boxing entirely in 1933 after again severely breaking his right hand and in a blow to his pride, to accept government welfare to ensure his starving family survived.
After begging for a fight for months in 1934, Braddock was given a highly touted prospect by the name of Corn Griffin who was expected to use Braddock as a mere stepping stone - in a shocking upset however, Braddock knocked out Griffin in the third round. As a result of his work as a longshoreman where he was forced to compensate for his frequently injured right hand, he had also developed a strong left hook to round out his previously one-note offense.
The resurgent Braddock then beat John Henry Lewis, the future light heavyweight champion, on points, and proceeded to defeat another highly touted contender in Art Lasky. As a result of his career turnaround, Braddock paid back the welfare he had received in full and continued to donate extensively to charity for the rest of his life.
Still seen as simply an overachieving journeyman, Braddock was granted a title shot opposite Max Baer, a thunderous puncher that was coming off of an absolute trouncing of the giant Primo Carnera; Baer was a 10-to-1 betting favourite, yet Braddock took Baer's best shots early and kept on coming, taking it to Baer in 1935's fight of the year and earning himself the heavyweight championship of the world in the process.
A happy Braddock wouldn't return to the ring for another two years, opting not to give German Max Schmeling a deserved shot at the title given the political ramifications at the time, but in 1937 he finally returned and lost his title by knockout (the first and only knockout loss in his career) at the hands of the great Joe Louis; he did reportedly receive $250,000 however (equivalent to over $4.5 million today) and ended his career in 1938 after another lucrative payday (and a win to boot) over Tommy Farr.
Joe Calzaghe (46-0, 32 KOs)
Super middleweight - Light heavyweight, 1993 - 2008
Widely regarded as the greatest super middleweight of all time, Joe Calzaghe is one of the rare breed of boxers to retire as an undefeated world champion and he did so after having held and defended the WBO world title a record (for the weight class) twenty times over the course of ten years.
Calzaghe was the first boxer to unify three of the four major titles at super middleweight and at the end of his long reign in his natural weight class, he then moved up and captured the Ring light heavyweight title with a victory over Bernard Hopkins and defended it once against Roy Jones Jr. to become the longest continual champion in boxing history at the time (since his title reigns in the two weight classes overlapped).
A slick technician that not only had the skill and ability to reign for so long as a champion, but also was savvy enough to retire before those abilities began to fade (a very rare trait in combat sports), the "Pride of Wales" has a superb resume that certainly speaks for itself. He holds wins over the likes of Chris Eubank, Robin Reed, Byron Mitchell, Jeff Lacy, Mikkel Kessler, Bernard Hopkins, and Roy Jones Jr.
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (27-12-1, 19 KOs)
Middleweight, 1961 - 1966
A promising prospect that found himself ranked in the top ten at middleweight in the 1960's, Rubin Carter earned his "Hurricane" nickname courtesy of his highly aggressive style and punching power. He held wins over middleweight contenders like Florentino Fernandez and George Benton, along with future three-weight champion Emile Griffith and future heavyweight champ Jimmy Ellis.
Carter had turned his troubled youth around after finding and dedicating himself to the sport of boxing. What should have been just another example of a man turning his life around and lifting himself out of a life of crime and poverty with the power of boxing turned to disaster when Carter was wrongfully accused and convicted of murder.
In 1966, Carter, alongside his friend John Artis, were arrested and accused of committing a triple homicide in Paterson, New Jersey. Despite a rash of inconsistencies in the prosecutor's case and wildly varying accounts by witnesses, Carter and Artis were convicted in 1967 and each were sentenced to life in prison.
An autobiography for Carter was released while he was in prison in 1974 which not only detailed his prior struggles with the law as a young man that boxing served to help correct, but the egregious miscarriage of justice he was being faced with, inspiring Bob Dylan's hit song Hurricane and igniting public support for the imprisoned fighter.
After a retrial in 1976 upheld their convictions, the two men were finally released in 1985, with a federal judge granting a writ of habeus corpus thanks to the prosecution being "predicated upon an appeal to racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure".
As the years went on, more proof of the blatant corruption and incompetence that led to the wrongful convictions have been brought to light. Though it was far too late for Carter to resume his boxing career after being released from prison, his story continues to serve as a warning for just how badly the justice system can get things wrong.
Though he may not sport the resume to justify a roster spot, Rubin Carter had a story that deserves to be told and also had a highly exciting style inside the ring; why not share his story with a new generation of boxing fans?
Ezzard Charles (95-25-1, 52 KOs)
Middleweight - Heavyweight, 1940 - 1959
The "Cincinatti Cobra" was a slick defensive mastermind with a stinging jab and a sniping right hand that is still regarded as one of the most skilled boxers the sport has ever seen.
Starting his pro career as a middleweight, Charles racked up an impressive resume with wins over future Hall of Famers such as Teddy Yarosz and Charley Burley. After serving in World War II, Ezzard returned to boxing as a light heavyweight and dominated the field as well as many contenders at heavyweight such as Archie Moore and Elmer Ray, yet was never granted a title shot at his home of light heavyweight.
As a result, Charles moved to heavyweight permanently and picked up the vacant NBA (National Boxing Association, not basketball) title with a win over Jersey Joe Walcott, who he would later go 2-2 with over their quadrilogy. He unified multiple titles in the division by defeating the great Joe Louis and defended them multiple times against the likes of Nick Barone, the afforementioned Jersey Joe Walcott and Joey Maxim (who he fought and beat on five occasions).
Despite being an undersized heavyweight, Charles would remain in the upper echelon of the division for several years, losing his title against Jersey Joe in their third fight before working his way back up and arguably beating Walcott in their fourth fight despite losing it on the judges' scorecards - the highly controversial decision robbed him of holding the distinction of being the first ever two-time heavyweight champion.
He would work his way back to another title shot against fellow legend Rocky Marciano, whom he fought twice in 1954: he became the first man to make it fifteen full rounds against Marciano in their first classic bout, which he lost on the cards. Given how great (and close) their first pairing was, an immediate rematch ensued - Charles broke Marciano's nose in half and almost forced the referee to stop the fight, but Marciano fought on and scored an epic comeback KO in the eighth round.
Charles would continue competing for five years after his pair of fights with Marciano due to financial difficulties, but he was a shell of his younger self, winning just 10 of his final 23 fights before finally retiring in 1959. Less than a decade later Ezzard was diagnosed with ALS, a disease which soon tragically left him completely disabled before his death at just 53 years old.
Oscar De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KOs)
Super featherweight - Middleweight, 1992 - 2008
Though he may not be a very popular name currently thanks to his time as a promoter, there is no overstating the popularity and the skill of Oscar De La Hoya during his time as a fighter. His lightning fast hands, aggressive style and impressive skill not only led him to plenty of championships, but also made him one of the highest-drawing boxers in the history of the sport.
The "Golden Boy" put himself on the map by securing a gold medal for Team USA at the Olympics when he was just 17 years old; he proceeded to capture eleven world titles across six different weight classes as a professional, including lineal titles in three separate weight classes and the title of "pay-per-view king" as he had generated the most PPV revenue of any fighter at the time (he was later surpassed by Manny Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather).
Upon entering the professional ranks in 1992 (the same year he captured his gold medal), De La Hoya quickly rose up the rankings, winning his first 31 bouts and capturing world titles in the junior lightweight, lightweight, light welterweight, and welterweight divisions, scoring victories over the likes of John Molina, Julio Cesar Chavez, Hector Camacho, and Pernell Whittaker (albeit in a highly controversial decision).
He wouldn't taste defeat until the end of 1999, where he lost his WBC welterweight crown in a close decision to Felix Trinidad. He attempted to reclaim that now-vacant title less than a year later, losing in another extremely close decision to Shane Mosley. De La Hoya won his next four outings up at light middleweight, capturing multiple world titles there and picking up wins over Arturo Gatti and Fernando Vargas in the process, before losing another decision to Shane Mosley and dropping his light middleweight titles.
Oscar would then alternate wins and losses for the rest of his career: he picked up the WBO middleweight crown with a win over Felix Sturm, but was knocked out for the first time in his career in a unification bout with Bernard Hopkins; he moved backed down and earned the WBC light middleweight belt with a finish of Ricardo Mayorga, but lost it in a close fight with Floyd Mayweather; he beat Steve Forbes, only to be mauled by Manny Pacquaio and retire in 2008.
He has since stayed in the limelight (for better or worse) as the founder and frontman of Golden Boy Promotions, which was one of the biggest promoters in the sport not long ago. He is also currently planning a comeback despite being 48 years old.
Buster Douglas (38-6-1 1 NC, 25 KOs)
Heavyweight, 1981 - 1999
James "Buster" Douglas may be the boxing equivalent of a one-hit wonder, but when that one hit was a knockout over Mike Tyson in one of the biggest upsets in sports history, it deserves a mention.
A big heavyweight with solid all-round skills, Douglas was largely seen as an under-achiever, a boxer that had potential but was never the most dedicated or focused fighter. Beginning his pro career in 1981, Douglas cobbled together a solid record of 23-3-1 against journeymen and fringe contenders before earning a shot at the IBF heavyweight title in 1987, which he lost to Tony Tucker in the tenth round.
Having been trained by his father up until that point, a series of disagreements following his loss to Tucker led to Buster acquiring a new trainer, tearing apart the Douglas family in the process.
The move proved invaluable to his career however as he won his next six fights and showed notable improvement in his game, picking up wins over former champions Trevor Berbick and Oliver McCall in the process.
While Douglas was showing off his improved game, Mike Tyson had absolutely demolished his opposition on the path to becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion and during his subsequent reign as the division's king. Late in 1989, Tyson was slated to face Canadian contender Donovan "Razor" Ruddock in another title defense but illness forced him out of the bout. Rather than rescheduling the fight, Tyson set his sights on a lucrative match-up with former heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Evander Holyfield - but before that fight would take place, Tyson wanted to get back to form and defend his titles with a "tune-up" fight.
The opponent Tyson's camp and manager Don King chose as an easy outing? One James Buster Douglas.
Already getting himself into the best shape of his life for his golden opportunity, Douglas would get an extra dose of motivation when his mother tragically passed away less than a month before the fight.
Regardless of Buster's form or level of motivation, the fight was expected to be an easy win for Tyson, so much so that most sports books refused to even take action on the bout and the one casino in Las Vegas that did, The Mirage, had Douglas as a whopping 42-to-1 underdog.
In fact, Tyson and his camp were so confident heading into his tenth title defense that they didn't even bother to bring an endswell or an ice pack to their corner. This confidence would quickly turn into desperation as Douglas took the fight to Tyson from the opening bell, utilizing his massive reach advantage to great effect and handily outboxing the champion round after round.
Rather than utilizing his trademark "peek-a-boo" style, Tyson was uncharacteristically flat footed and focused almost entirely on landing telegraphed, single haymakers, clearly expecting an easy knockout. Instead, he got boxed up, his corner in shock as they frantically attempted to stop his eye from swelling shut in between rounds by filling a latex glove with water and holding it to his eye.
Douglas was putting on the best performance of his life while the seemingly unbeatable champion looked like he was trapped in his own nightmare. In the eighth round, Tyson finally managed to land one of his vicious uppercuts and felled Douglas, but Buster managed to beat the referee's count and survived the round (controversy arose after the bout given the official timekeeper had counted to eleven, but the referee's count is the only count that matters and Douglas had clearly waited until the ref's count was at nine to rise).
Tyson came out firing in the ninth to try and desperately end the fight, but in a wild exchange Buster landed several clean shots to Tyson's jaw that sent the champion reeling - somehow, Tyson managed to stay on his feet and survive a brutal round even after Douglas teed off on his wounded prey.
Tyson was clearly still hurt however, and in the tenth, Buster landed a vicious uppercut followed by a combination that sent the champ down for the first time in his career. Fumbling around for his mouthpiece, a completely dazed Tyson was unable to beat the ref's count and the world watched in disbelief as the invincible Iron Mike lost his crown.
Rather than granting a rematch to Tyson and having to deal with Don King once more, Douglas instead opted to face Evander Holyfield in his first defense, but the motivation apparent in his title-winning performance was gone. An overweight and out of shape Buster was dominated and knocked out in just three rounds by Holyfield; Douglas, reportedly having received over $24 million for the fight, retired.
Unfortunately, an inactive Douglas ballooned up to nearly 400 pounds in the years following his retirement and he nearly died in a diabetic coma, prompting him to dedicate himself to a return to boxing. He stepped back into the ring in 1996, winning six straight against lower level competition before getting knocked out in one round by Lou Savarese for the vacant IBF title.
He scored two more wins over club fighters before retiring for good in 1999. He may have had a very limited time at the top, but there's something to be said for being able to seize the opportunity of a lifetime when plenty of others would have succumbed to the moment. He'd also be agreat addition to the ESBC roster, whether for fans that want to re-enact one of the most incredible upsets in sports history, or for Tyson fans that would have liked to see him get a chance to avenge his humiliating defeat.
Roberto Duran (103-16, 70 KOs)
Super featherweight - Super middleweight, 1968 - 2001
"Hands of Stone" is one of the greatest boxers to ever step into the ring and his ability to compete at the highest level throughout a career spanning over 30 years is still mind boggling.
Duran is regarded as the greatest lightweight of all time and for good measure - he posted an 63-1 record in the division from 1968-78 with his lone loss being avenged twice by knockout. The first decade of his pro career saw the Panamanian legend pick up wins over the likes of Esteban de Jesus, Carlos Palomino, and Saoul Mamby, capture The Ring, WBA, and lineal lightweight titles and defend them twelve times, as well as earn himself the WBC lightweight title.
After his incredibly successful run at lightweight, Duran opted to move up to welterweight and quickly found himself in a title fight with the undefeated Olympic gold medalist Sugar Ray Leonard. Despite being the underdog, Duran's aggressive trash talking and public animosity toward the champion got under Leonard's skin, and in the ring, Duran heaped on the pressure and forced the typical outfighter into a back-and-forth dog fight later coined the "Brawl in Montreal".
Duran became the first man to defeat Sugar Ray Leonard that night; unfortunately, following his success Duran became undisciplined in his training and lost in embarassing fashion in their rematch just months later in the infamous "No Mas" fight, where Duran, frustrated by Leonard's movement and taunts in the ring after gaining a lead on the scorecards, quit in the eighth round. The moment would forever be a black mark on his otherwise brilliant career, and initially Duran retired after the debacle, but less than a year later he was back in the ring, this time up at super welterweight.
Duran made up for his infamous loss with his move up in weight; though he lost a decision in his first title shot to the young phenom Wilfred Benitez in his first attempt at a title in his new home, in his second attempt he knocked out Davey Moore to become the WBA super middleweight champ.
Duran went on to lose in a unification bout with the great Marvin Hagler in a classic fifteen round scrap, before Tommy Hearns became the first man to knock the iron-jawed Duran out. The loss sent Duran into a brief retirement, but once again he was back in the ring less than a year later - and up another weight class.
Duran earned a crack at the WBC middleweight title and picked up a world title in a fourth weight class with a gritty win over Iran Barkley in 1989. That same year, he faced Leonard for a third time for Leonard's super middleweight crown in what was a far less controversial fight than the last, although still an odd one - though Leonard handily won on the scorecards as Duran looked rather lethargic for the entire twelve rounds, Sugar Ray's face was busted up while Duran looked largely unblemished.
He didn't fight for over a year before returning to lose a surprise TKO to the rather unknown Pat Lawlor, but after another long layoff he returned late in 1992 to put together another run at super middleweight. Despite slowing down with his advanced age, Duran earned himself a shot at the IBC crown and lost a very close decision to the much younger Vinny Pazienza, with Pazienza winning more clearly in a still competitive rematch. He dropped back down to middleweight to challenge Hector Camacho for the IBC middleweight strap, but lost in a highly controversial decision most fans believe he should have won.
He would fight for one more world title, this time the WBA middleweight belt, at 47 years of age, but he was battered by the much faster William Joppy and again flirted with retirement, only to return for one last run where he went 2-2, avenging his loss to Pat Lawlorto pick up the lesser NBA super middleweight title before losing in a rematch with Hector Camacho and finally hanging up the gloves for good in 2001 at the age of 50.
Despite his reputation as being a hard-nosed brawler, Duran was a highly technical pressure fighter (that did like to brawl) with good defense, an iron chin, and heavy hands. His ability to stay competitive against far younger foes even in his late forties is nearly unheard of in boxing; in 119 pro bouts he was stopped just four times (including the No Mas fight), and just one of those finishes came in his forties which spanned 25 fights.
Chris Eubank (45-5-2, 23 KOs)
Middleweight - Cruiserweight, 1985 - 1998
With British boxing icon Nigel Benn already on the ESBC roster, it's only fair that his fiercest rival joins him in the virtual ring.
The eccentric Eubank captured the WBO middleweight and super middleweight titles and defended them throughout the early- to mid-90's. He was known for having a granite chin capable of withstanding ridiculous punishment from heavy hitters like the afforementioned Nigel Benn; in fact an undefeated Eubank took the middleweight title from Benn in an absolutely brutal affair in 1990, knocking the champion out on his feet in the ninth round.
Eubank continued his undefeated run through the early nineties and moved up to capture and defend the super middleweight crown, with a massive rematch with Nigel Benn taking place in Manchester in 1993. In another brutal affair that was reportedly seen by half a billion people worldwide, the two British stars fought to a draw in a thrilling back and forth battle of wills that is still talked about today.
Eubank would go on to defend his super middleweight title six more times before losing it to Steve Collins in 1995, with his total WBO title defenses standing at seventeen (three of which were of his middleweight belt).
He lost a very close split decision in a rematch with Steve Collins, and later lost a very tough back-and-forth fight with Joe Calzaghe for the same (since vacated) title. He then surprisingly went up all the way to cruiserweight to challenge for the WBO title there, losing a close decision to Carl Thompson which warranted an immediate rematch; unfortunately, despite being ahead on the scorecards, Eubanks suffered a doctor's stoppage as hie left eye swelled shut in what would be his last fight, marking the only time he was ever stopped in his 52 fight career.
His son, Chris Eubank Jr. (30-2, 22 KOs), has followed in his footsteps and with both Nigel Benn and his son Connor in the game, why not add another father-son duo into the mix?
George Foreman (76-5, 68 KOs)
Heavyweight, 1969 -1997
If you didn't know, George Foreman isn't just the creator of the iconic George Foreman grill; he's also one of the heaviest hitters boxing has ever seen, a two-time heavyweight champion, the oldest man to ever capture a world heavyweight title, and an Olympic gold medalist.
After capturing gold at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Foreman ran through the professional ranks, slaughtering every man in his path before he felled Joe Frazier in just two rounds to capture the heavyweight crown in 1973. He defended his title twice, coming via a first round knockout of Jose Roman and a second round starching of Ken Norton, bringing his record to a sterling 40-0 and cementing his status as the most feared man on the planet.
A massive showdown with Muhammad Ali in Zaire followed in what was (and arguably still is) the biggest fight in heavyweight boxing history. Despite being just 32, Ali was already considered past his prime and was a massive underdog at the time; the historic fight largely went as expected after Ali surprised many with an agressive start, with Foreman taking over and viciously pounding away at Ali's body against the ropes and was well on his way to what seemed like a lopsided victory. Of course, Ali famously avoided taking many shots to the head and employed his brilliant "rope-a-dope" strategy to force Foreman to punch himself out, which he did, and then shocked the world by knocking out an exhausted Foreman in the eighth round.
Following the humiliating defeat, Foreman tried desperately to get a rematch but he was clearly in a dark place - in an attempt to lure Ali back into the ring, Foreman boxed five men in one night in a bizarre event that made Foreman look entirely underwhelming as he oddly taunted his overmatched opposition and clearly let Ali get into his head from ringside; multiple fights after their boxing matches occured, including a scuffle between Foreman's corner and the corner of one of his opponents that night, and Foreman's bullying tactics against far lesser boxers turned viewers against the big man.
Foreman eventually returned to the ring proper and put together another run at the title which included a slobberknocker "fight of the year" victory over Ron Lyle and a second knockout win over Joe Frazier; his boxing career however came to a grinding halt in 1977 when he failed to take opponent Jimmy Young seriously and ended up getting exhausted and losing a decision in Puerto Rico.
Foreman would find Christianity that night and retired from the sport, not returning for an entire decade. It wouldn't be until 1987 that Foreman would step back into the ring to essentially start an entirely new career as a completely different fighter both inside and outside of the ring. Losing his previous "scary" public persona and instead being his happy humourous self, Foreman returned to boxing as a less chiseled and imposing figure in the sport and adopted a very different style to suit his age. Taking a chapter from his old coach's playbook, Foreman adopted the rare cross-arm or "mummy" guard famously used by Archie Moore, and adopted a much more passive approach to applying pressure on his opponents.
Though he wasn't taken seriously for quite some time during his comeback, Foreman slowly but surely racked up the wins and climbed the rankings, eventually earning a title fight with Evander Holyfield in 1991, which he lost by decision; Foreman would rebound and later earned a shot at a vacant title opposite Tommy Morrison, which he again lost by decision. Luckily for Foreman, the third time is often the charm and in 1994, at 45 years of age, Foreman shocked the world by knocking out Michael Moorer in the tenth round of their bout (in a fight Moorer was winning on the cards up to that point, yet Foreman had predicted before the fight that he'd score a late knockout via the exact right hand counter he ended up landing).
Foreman defended his WBA and IBF titles and picked up more straps in his next three fights before losing a majority decision to Shannon Briggs and retiring for good in 1997 at nearly 49 years old.
Though he certainly had his ups and downs during his career, George Foreman is one of the biggest names in the history of the sport and one of the greatest heavyweights to ever lace up a pair of gloves.
Bob Foster (56-8-1, 46 KOs)
Light heavyweight - Heavyweight, 1961 - 1978
One of the greatest light heavyweight boxers of all time, Robert Foster captured light heavyweight gold in 1968 and reigned over the division for six years, defending the title a whopping fourteen times.
During his championship run he also ventured up in weight on two occasions to challenge heavyweight greats Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali for their titles, but as a very small heavyweight, he was knocked out by both.
In his last title defense, Foster fought to a draw with Jorge Ahumada and announced his retirement from the sport, though he returned just a year later to fight lesser competition until his proper retirement in 1978.
Foster was known as a powerful puncher and slick light heavyweight that is also believed to be the first champion to win in a world title fight in the opening round after being knocked down in the same round, when he defeated Frank DePaula in 1969. His resume includes wins over Dick Tiger, Vicente Rondon, Chris Finnegan, and Pierre Fourie.
Gene Fullmer (55-6-3, 24 KOs)
Middleweight, 1951 - 1963
A very physically strong and durable fighter with an awkward style, Gene Fullmer was a two-time middleweight champion of the world known for his toughness and ring savvy.
His first title victory came via a major upset in a clear cut decision win over the great Sugar Ray Robinson in 1957; the rematch started off much the same until Robinson landed what many have called the "perfect left hook" in the fifth and knocked Fullmer out cold for the first and only time in his career.
"Cyclone" Gene would work his way back up to capture the vacant NBA middleweight title in 1959, defending it multiple times against Spider Webb, Carmen Basilio, and Joey Giardello before facing Robinson a third time in 1960. Fullmer barely hung on to his throne after the 15 round fight was controversially declared a draw, with most observers scoring it for Robinson by a wide margin.
Fullmer would put an end to the controversy just three months later by winning a much more convincing decision over Robinson, winning his series with Sugar Ray by a score of 2-1-1. He defended his title twice more with wins over Florentino Fernandez and Benny Paret before finally being dethroned by Dick Tiger in 1962 in a close decision; after an extremely close rematch was scored a draw, the two fought for the third time in a row which Tiger won via corner stoppage after the seventh round.
Fullmer retired following the loss and lived a quiet life in Utah with his family - he also had two younger brothers who both boxed, with Don Fullmer even challenging for the world middleweight title himself two years after Gene's retirement.
Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs)
Heavyweight, 2008 - current
The current lineal heavyweight champion and just the third heavyweight to capture The Ring title twice (joining greats Floyd Patterson and Muhammad Ali), Tyson Fury is one of the most popular and charismatic boxers in the world today.
A massive figure at 6'9, Fury is surprisingly athletic and technical for his frame and boasts an awkward style that frustrates many of his opponents. Fury made his way up the ranks in the UK and picked up multiple European titles before earning a crack at undisputed champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. Fury shocked the world by outboxing the longtime champ en route to a decision victory, after which he famously serenaded his wife in front of the crowd.
With a rematch clause in effect, fans were hotly anticipating a secon fight between the two but unfortunately a rematch was never to be as Fury suffered from depression and substance abuse issues that kept him out of action for nearly three years and saw him stripped of his titles.
In 2018 Fury mounted a comeback however, opening up publically about his struggles and getting himself back into shape against lesser competition before getting a crack at WBC champion Deontay Wilder.
Fury outboxed the heavy hitter for the majority of the rounds, but was dropped in two of them, including a massive knockdown in the final stanza that had virtually everyone in the arena and at home convinced the fight was over - Fury was somehow able to not only rise from the dead, but to win the rest of the round as the crowd watched in disbelief.
Despite virtually everyone scoring the bout in Fury's favour, the fight was deemed a draw in an extremely controversial decision; a rematch wouldn't occur for over a year as the two fighters kept busy against lesser competition, but in 2020 Fury demolished Wilder in the rematch, finishing him in the seventh round in a shockingly lopsided beatdown.
Fury was kept out of action due to COVID-19 ever since, but is expected to return in August for a third fight with Wilder and if successful, a massive fight with Anthony Joshua later this year.
Khaosai Galaxy (47-1, 42 KOs)
Super flyweight, 1980 - 1991
One of the hardest punchers to ever grace the lower weight divisions, Khaosai Galaxy began his combat sports career as is the norm in Thailand - as a Muay Thai kickboxer. As a southpaw with an absolutely deadly left hand, his then-trainer convinced him to switch over to boxing, which he did in 1980 while still competing in kickboxing.
Khaosai quickly rose up the pro ranks in Thailand, earning a shot at the Thai bantamweight title which he lost on points - it would prove to be the only loss in his 48-fight career.
In 1982, Khaosai won the Thai bantamweight title in his second attempt, then proceeded to demolish all comers from around the globe, posting a 24-1 record with 21 knockouts. In 1984, he challenged for the vacant WBA super flyweight title and won it via a sixth round knockout.
His ridiculously powerful left hand saw him racking up brutal knockout after brutal knockout as he defended his crown nineteen times over the next seven years, with only three opponents surviving to see the final bell.
He retired at the end of 1991 after a dominant decision win over Armando Castro and leveraged his fame to star in a variety of movies and TV shows in Thailand.
Though he isn't widely known in the west (he spent his entire career in Asia and few top fighters were willing to challenge Galaxy during his reign), Khaosai was an exciting knockout artist with a massive fanbase in Asia and an incredibly impressive highlight reel of knockouts. In 1988, his twin brother Kaokor captured the WBA bantamweight title, making them the first twins in boxing to ever both be world champions.
Gennady Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs)
Middleweight, 2006 - current
Known as a destructive pressure fighter with massive power in his awkwardly-angled punches and a downright insane chin, Gennady "Triple G" Golovkin is a fan favourite that melts his competition through his voluminous power punching and constant forward movement.
Golovkin built up his reputation by dominating the European scene before racking up multiple world titles, the vast majority of which he won via brutal knockouts, eventually forcing a showdown with Canelo Alvarez in 2017 to unify their titles. After seemingly outboxing Alvarez for a majority of the rounds, the fight was controversially declared a draw, with many fans claiming it was fixed thanks to some highly questionable scorecards.
Though the boxing community clamoured for a rematch, Alvarez's camp repeatedly stalled negotiations before finally signing a bout agreement for May in 2018; before the bout however, Canelo tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol and was suspended for six months as a result. Golovkin kept active with an easy second round knockout over a replacement fighter, before finally getting his rematch a full year after their first bout.
Though the fight looked quite different from the first, Golovkin showed off his technical ability and once again had most fans scoring the fight in his favour, only for the majority decision to go to his rival. Thanks to the controversial scorecards in both bouts, as well as how excellent the fights were, fans have been loudly voicing their desire to see a third fight between the two, but a trilogy bout has yet to materialize as Canelo has opted to move up and capture super middleweight and even a light heavyweight title while Golovkin has picked up a few of his vacated titles back at middleweight.
While Golovkin's power and aggression is often talked about, his chin is rated as amongst the greatest the sport has ever seen: during his decorated amateur career in which he earned an Olympic silver medal, Golovkin fought 350 times and was never knocked down once; as a professional, through 43 fights he has similarly never hit the canvas or even been visibly rocked, even taking massive blows from Canelo Alvarez without missing a beat.
Harry Greb (261-17-19 1 NC, 48 KOs)
Welterweight - Heavyweight, 1913 - 1926
Making the walk to the ring 298 times is an astonishing feat in and of itself, but Harry Greb not only did so in the span of his 13 year career, but he won 261 of those bouts, was knocked out just once (and it came in just his seventh fight; he suffered one additional TKO as the result of a broken arm), and despite starting out at 140 pounds he regularly beat light heavyweights and even heavyweights in the ring. He also set the record for most recorded boxing matches in a calendar year with 37 in 1917, winning 34 of those bouts, then beat his own record by competing 45 times in 1919.
Greb reigned as the middleweight champion from 1923 to 1926 and also held the American light heavyweight title despite being vastly outweighed by most of his opponents. The "Pittsburgh Windmill" was known for his overwhelming flurries of punches, his excellent footwork, his durability, and his knack for dirty tactics, a pretty common theme back in his day.
It may be no surprise that a man that could fight nearly 300 times was tough, but hearing what Greb was able to fight through is downright insane. Greb was thumbed in the eye by Kid Norfolk in 1921 and is believed to have suffered a retinal tear as a result; not only did he continue on and win the fight, but that injury would continue to get worse and led to him losing his vision entirely in that eye. He would also go on to impair his vision in his good eye, yet continued fighting and kept those issues hidden from everyone save his wife and closest friends, passing his pre-fight medicals by memorizing the order of the letters on the eye exam chart.
The fact that he was able to not only continue fighting while blind in one eye, but was able to continue competing at the same level and not suffer a single stoppage loss is mind-boggling.
Greb faced 16 Hall of Famers during his career before retiring in 1926, going 33-9-6 in those bouts which included wins over heavyweight greats Gene Tunney, Tommy Loughran, and Tommy Gibbons.
Tragically, just months into his retirement Greb checked into a clinic to repair damage to his nose and respiratory tract from his boxing career and multiple car accidents, but complications from the operation led to heart failure and he passed away at just 32 years old.
Marvin Hagler (62-3-2, 52 KOs)
Middleweight, 1973 - 1987
The late "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler was one of the greatest middleweights of all time and one of the "Four Kings" of the 1980's.
Known for his ferocious punching power, slick movement, indomitable spirit, and incredible chin, Hagler had a tough time finding willing opponents early on in his career, particularly given his abilities as a southpaw and his desire to always fight the best of the best. Hagler ran roughshod through the division before finally capturing the undisputed middleweight crown in 1980 with a record of 50-2-2 with both of his decision losses avenged.
He defended his throne twelve times over the next six years, defeating all but one (Roberto Duran) of his victims by knockout, including Mustafa Hamsho, John Mugabi, and the great Thomas Hearns in the third round of an all-out firefight now known as "The War".
Hagler would lose his title in a highly controversial decision to Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987 following a classic fight - fans and pundits alike were torn by the decision, with scorecards varying wildly amongst viewers for the incredibly close battle. Hagler rightfully requested a rematch but Leonard retired (the third of five "retirements" during his career) and after failing to entice Leonard back into the ring, Hagler had enough and announced his own retirement in 1988 - only for Leonard to announce a comeback a month later.
Leonard finally offered Hagler his rematch in 1990, but by then Hagler had moved on from the sport and settled down with his family in Italy where he enjoyed a successful acting career overseas.
In addition to his skill and power, Hagler is still beloved by fans to this day thanks to the otherworldly intensity and drive he exhibited during his career. His chin is also regarded as one of the most durable in boxing's history, having been knocked down just one time in his 67-fight career (and that knockdown's validity is still heavily disputed).
"Prince" Naseem Hamed (36-1, 31 KOs)
Bantamweight - Featherweight, 1992 - 2002
Prince Naseem was a wildly popular featherweight champion in the 90's thanks to his brash personality, his incredibly entertaining and unique style, his legitimate one-punch power and his famous ring walks.
Hamed gave the fans a show each time out before he even stepped foot in the ring, setting up elaborate walkouts that included everything from him riding out on a flying carpet to a re-enactment of Michael Jackson's Thriller. He then showed off his athleticism by performing a somersault over the top rope to enter the ring each time, and proceeded to dazzle the fans and bewilder his opponents as he danced around them, regularly showboating and playing to the crowd before making his victims miss and cracking them with powerful southpaw counters.
"Naz" earned and defended a super bantamweight title multiple times before moving up and collecting an assortment of featherweight world championships, including the lineal title, but unfortunately the immense talent and potential he had was quickly spoiled thanks not to his extravagance inside the ring, but outside of it.
Naseem was soundly defeated in 2001 by the great Marcos Antonio Barrera, with many pointing to a bad training camp which began with Naseem extremely overweight and Naseem's increasing lack of focus on his boxing career as his downfall, though others believe he was simply exposed by a better boxer (Barrera was is a legend himself after all). He fought just once more, a year later at the age of 28, winning in an uninspiring performance while looking completely disinterested and lethargic.
He didn't announce his retirement officially and flirted with a return over the next few years, ultimately fans never got to see Prince Naseem fight ever again.
Though he certainly achieved a lot during his time in the ring and is still regarded as one of the most exciting boxers to have ever laced them up, many fans and boxing historians can't help but wonder just how far Naseem could have gone if he had continued and if his dedication to training had matched his talent.
Thomas Hearns (61-5-1, 48 KOs)
Welterweight - Cruiserweight, 1977 - 2006
Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns was the first boxer in history to win world titles in five weight classes, from welterweight all the way up to light heavyweight, and even won a lesser title all the way up at cruiserweight.
Like the other "kings", the "Motor City Cobra" is perhaps best known for his fights against his fellow Four Kings members in the 80's; Hearns lost his welterweight crown to Sugar Ray Leonard in his 33rd fight (his first defeat), knocked out Roberto Duran in just two rounds in a light middleweight title defense, was knocked out by Marvin Hagler in an insane and historic brawl affectionately dubbed "The War" with its three rounds of action often called the best rounds in boxing history, then fought to a highly controversial draw against Sugar Ray Leonard in a rematch most scored for Hearns (he also dropped Leonard twice).
As an amateur, Hearns was a light-hitting technician, but under the tutelage of Emmanuel Steward, the slender Hearns with his abnormally long arms and broad shoulders was turned into one of the hardest hitters in the sport and he retained that vaunted power even fighting all the way up at cruiserweight.
Hearns began his pro career with 32 straight wins at welterweight with all but two coming by form of knockout, picking up the WBA welterweight title and defending it three times along the way. It was then that he suffered his first career loss against Sugar Ray Leonard, prompting a move up to light middleweight. There, Hearns won the WBC and The Ring titles with a victory over Wilfred Benitez, defending them three times (which include his famous knockout of Roberto Duran) before challenging Marvin Hagler for his middleweight titles in an epic war.
From there, he would earn the WBC middleweight title, the WBC and WBA light heavyweight titles, the inaugural WBO super middleweight title, and multiple lesser titles, losing just one of his next twelve outings, against Iran Barkley at middleweight, along with his controversial draw in a rematch with Leonard. A close split decision loss to Barkley in a rematch at light heavyweight saw Hearns move up to cruiserweight, where he won his next nine fights and captured the IBO crown and multiple lesser titles before losing to Uriah Grant in 2000.
Hearns wouldn't return for over five years, coming back for two more finishes before retiring for good in 2006 and serving as a reserve police officer in his home of Detroit.
Evander Holyfield (44-10-2 1 NC, 29 KOs)
Light heavyweight - Heavyweight, 1984 - 2011
After a successful amateur career culminated in a bronze medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in LA, "The Real Deal" entered the professional ranks at light heavyweight and slowly began bulking up for an eventual move to heavyweight.
Before he ply his trade at heavyweight though, he would first ascend the cruiserweight rankings and win the WBA, IBF and WBC titles there and bring his record up to a pristine 18-0 before he transitioned to the deep end of the heavyweight pool.
Though he was initially seen as too small for the modern heavyweights, Evander quickly gained and defended a regional title multiple times in his new weight class with victories over former world champions Pinklon Thomas and Michael Dokes, setting up a highly anticipated showdown with worldwide superstar Mike Tyson in 1990.
The fight was not meant to be however, as Tyson took a "gimme" fight in Japan against one Buster Douglas, only to lose in the biggest upset in combat sports history. Holyfield would make no such mistake and easily demolished Douglas to capture the heavyweight crown, then proceeded to defend it with wins over George Foreman, Bert Cooper, and Larry Holmes. Tyson proceeded to earn his way back into the title picture, only to have his career derailed by a rape allegation and later conviction.
Not long after Tyson started his stint in prison, Holyfield lost his heavyweight titles in a hard fought decision to the undefeated Riddick Bowe, but won won them back in a rematch a year later that would make worldwide headlines not for Holyfield's impressive performance, but because a parachutist flew down and nearly into the ring in the middle of the seventh round.
Holyfield would drop his titles once again in 1994 in an extremely close bout with Michael Moorer; after beating Ray Mercer, he was then finished for the first time in his career (he would only be finished on one other occasion in his career at the age of forty) in a trilogy fight with Bowe, leading many to write off the 33 year old former champ.
Evander was far from done however, and in 1996 he would finally get to square off with Mike Tyson, a man who was on a career resurgence following his three year stint in jail. In the still massive showdown for the WBA heavyweight championship belt, Holyfield defied the odds by not only beating his younger opponent and capturing another heavyweight world title, but he managed to stop Tyson in the eleventh round. The fight wasn't without controversy however, as repeated headbutts by Holyfield (something that became a staple of his fights) that went unnoticed by the referee had many, including Tyson's camp, crying foul.
A rematch ensued in 1997 on one of the most infamous nights in boxing history; the fight started out very similarly to their first, but Tyson quickly grew frustrated by Holyfield's head-first tactics and opted to bite Holyfield's ear in retaliation. Shockingly the fight continued, only for Tyson to do it again; after the ref noticed a chunk of Holyfield's ear was missing, the fight was waived off and Tyson was disqualified, causing pandemonium in the ring and chaos in the streets of Las Vegas.
Holyfield would leave the controversy and his rivalry with Tyson in the rearview as he next avenged his loss to Michael Moorer and recaptured the IBF title, defending it alongside his WBA belt against Vaughn Bean before fighting to a draw against Lennox Lewis. Lewis would win in a rematch, but Holyfield would pick up the vacant WBA title with a win over John Ruiz, becoming the first heavyweight to win a version of the heavyweight world title four times.
A rematch went to Ruiz before their trilogy bout ended in a draw, but the now 39 year old was beginning to show his age. Though he remained very competitive with top competition, Holyfield wouldn't capture another major heavyweight belt in three attempts and went 7-5 with one NC until he retired at the age of 48 in 2011.
Bernard Hopkins (55-8-2 2 NC, 32 KOs)
Middleweight - Light heavyweight, 1988 - 2016
Speaking of boxers whose success continued well into their forties, Bernard Hopkins not only managed to compete in four different decades, but captured and defended titles in three of them and smashed George Foreman's record for oldest fighter to ever capture a world title (he also raised the bar to the ridiculous age of 49).
After losing in his pro debut at 23 years old, Hopkins worked his way up the ladder in the early nineties, winning a regional championship before taking a prime Roy Jones Jr. the distance in 1993 in his first crack at a world title.
Hopkins would later capture the vacant IBF middleweight title in 1995 and defended it a remarkable 19 times, unifying it with the other three major world titles to become the undisputed middleweight champion in the process, with wins over the likes of Felix Trinidad, William Joppy and Oscar De La Hoya.
The 40 year old Hopkins would finally lose his crown to Jermain Taylor in a pair of decision losses before moving up to light heavyweight and capturing the IBO and The Ring world titles there by defeating Antonio Tarver. He defended them once against Winky Wright before losing to fellow great Joe Calzaghe in an extremely close split decision.
"The Alien" was far from done though; on the contrary, Hopkins strung together wins (including a victory over Roy Jones Jr. to avenge his prior loss 17 years earlier) to earn another title shot and captured the WBC and The Ring light heavyweight titles at 46 years of age, narrowly passing Foreman as the oldest man to capture a world title in boxing history.
After losing his crown to Chad Dawson in a close decision, Bernard would extend his own record by capturing the IBF title at 48 years of age, defending it twice and adding the WBA and IBA titles to his trophy case at 49 years old before losing to Sergey Kovalev and setting up a "farewell fight" in 2016. Unfortunately, his swan song was a tough fight to watch as the 51 year old finally seemed to age in the ring and Joe Smith Jr. knocked Hopkins right out of the ring in the eighth round.
With a career at the top spanning nearly 30 years, Hopkins is one of the greatest boxers of the modern era and used his sublime defense, slick counterpunching, and strong clinch work to beat elite boxers and carry him to a plethora of titles even late into his forties.
Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17 KOs)
Light flyweight - Bantamweight, 2012 - current
Known for his destructive punching power despite competing in such small weight classes, Inoue is called "The Monster" for a damn good reason.
Capturing his first world title in just his sixth pro fight, Inoue has become a world champion in three separate weight classes and is currently the IBF, WBA, and The Ring bantamweight champion.
The 28 year old has gone to a decision just three times in twenty outings and holds victories over the likes of Omar Narvaez, Juan Carlos Payano, Emmanuel Rodriguez, and Nonito Donaire.
As Japan's biggest star and currently one of the top ranked pound-for-pound boxers in the world, Inoue would certainly be a great addition to the ESBC roster.
Julian Jackson (55-6, 49 KOs)
Light middleweight - Middleweight, 1981 - 1998
Julian "The Hawk" Jackson is pound-for-pound one of the hardest hitting punchers in boxing history. Known for being an exciting and devastating knockout artist, his highlight reel is one brutal, sensational knockout after another and stands amongst those of the biggest hitters in the sport.
Jackson made a name for himself in the light middleweight division in the early to mid-80's, winning his first 29 fights and finishing all but two of his opponents before tasting defeat for the first time against Mike McCallum for the WBA world title.
Jackson wouldn't stay down for long however, picking up two more wins before capturing the WBA crown with a knockout over Baek In-Chul in 1987. He defended his belt three times with blistering knockouts over Buster Drayton, Francisco de Jesus, and Terry Norris, then moved up to middleweight where he quickly picked up the WBC title and proceeded to defend it four times, with only Thomas Tate able to survive twelve rounds in the ring with the Hawk.
He ran his record up to 46-1 before running into Gerald McClellan and losing his title in an absolute firefight. Jackson worked his way up to a rematch, but the 34 year old was finished in the opening round round this time. Jackson did find his way back to the WBC title however, defeating Agostino Cardamone for the vacant belt before dropping it to Quincy Taylor in his next outing.
He picked up four more wins against lesser competition before losing in back-to-back outings by knockout in 1998 and retiring; since then, he has worked as a coach and trainer and has three sons that are all actively competing in the professional ranks.
The Hawk fully embodied the "kill or be killed" philosophy and came out firing at his opponents, scorching their torsos with vicious body shots before heading upstairs to shut their lights off. While he ended up scoring the knockout far more often then not, his hyper aggressive style also led to him being finished in all six of his losses. Regardless, Jackson refused to ever back down from a firefight and if that doesn't make for a highly entertaining fighter worthy of being in a videogame, I don't know what does.
Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs)
Heavyweight, 2013 - current
The current unified heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua is one of the biggest sports stars in the UK today.
The 6'6 Olympic gold medalist with an 82" reach and a physically imposing figure quickly made a name for himself in the heavyweight ranks by dominating the British scene in the middle of the last decade, racking up knockout victories and regional titles in kind.
His first world title was earned in 2016 with a second round KO of Charles Martin for the IBF crown; he then earned the WBA and IBO titles with a stunning eleventh round knockout of Wladimir Klitschko in an epic back and forth battle that many have called the best heavyweight fight in the past decade.
Joshua went on to unify the belts by capturing the WBO title with a win over Joseph Parker and finished Alexander Povetkin before a shocking upset loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019. Six months later, Joshua avenged his lone career loss to regain his titles and has defended them once more against Kubrat Pulev.
He is likely to face Oleksandr Usyk in his next title defense after a showdown with fellow Brit Tyson Fury for the lineal heavyweight title recently fell through.
Sam Langford (178-29-38 7 NC, 126 KOs)
Lightweight - Heavyweight, 1902 - 1925
Born in Canada in 1886, Sam Langford fled his abusive father as a child and made his way to Boston, where he found work as a janitor in a boxing gym and soon after began training himself.
Despite standing just over 5'6, Langford began at lightweight but carried his frightening power all the way up to heavyweight, facing the best fighters of his era repeatedly: the "Boston Terror" defeated world lightweight champion Joe Gans via decision in 1903, though in a non-title fight; he faced Jack Blackburn (Joe Louis' trainer) six times, going 1-0-4 with 1 NC; he fought fellow top heavyweight Joe Jeanette a whopping fourteen times, going 8-2-4 in the process; he also faced welterweight Young Peter Jackson six times (4-1-1), heavyweight Battling Jim Johnson twelve times (9-0-3), and heavyweight Sam McVea fifteen times (6-2-7).
Langford secured a reputation amongst fans and other fighters as being one of the greatest and most feared boxers on the planet, but because of the "color bar" during his era, Langford was prevented from ever capturing a world title, though he won various regional and world "color" titles during his career.
His lone official world title bout, against Barbados Joe Walcott in 1904, was ruled a draw, though documents written following the event claimed Langford should have clearly won on points.
Though Jack Johnson captured the world heavyweight title in 1908, Johnson ironically continued the "color bar" by refusing to fight any other black fighters, refusing to grant Langford a rematch after Johnson had picked up a close decision win over him in 1906 before he had a title.
Langford is widely considered the greatest boxer to never win a world title (though in 2020, the WBC recognized Langford as an honorary world champion) and in addition to defeating lightweight champion Joe Gans in a non-title affair, Langford also beat former middleweight champion Stanley Ketchel, former light heavyweight champion Jack O'Brien, and future middleweight champion Tiger Flowers.
Unfortunately, in addition to being robbed of opportunities for a world title, Langford suffered extensive eye injuries over the course of his career and fought much of his later bouts partially blind, before he lost his eyesight completely in a fight in 1926 and retired as a result.
ESPN once dubbed Langford "The Greatest Fighter Nobody Knows" - by including him in ESBC, Steel City Interactive has the power to change that.
Benny Leonard (185-22-9 3 NC, 70 KOs)
Lightweight - Welterweight, 1911 - 1932
"Benny the Great" held the world lightweight championship of the world for eight years and is still widely regarded as one of the greatest lightweights the sport has ever seen.
Leonard utilized his speed, superior reflexes and crisp technique to lap the field in his day, beating the best of his era time and time again before retiring from the sport in 1925 at the age of 28. He held wins over the likes of Lew Tendler, Johnny Kilbane, Rocky Kansas, and Pinky Mitchell; he also challenged welterweight champ Jack Britton for his world title in 1922 and was winning the fight before he was disqualified for hitting Britton when he was down in a fight many suspected was a fix.
Following his time in the ring, Leonard transitioned into a career as a speaker and performer as well as an actor, starring in multiple films and even a musical. He also invested in real estate and had a booming business in Harlem, but unfortunately he lost most of his fortune following the 1929 stock market crash.
Forced to come out of retirement, a 35 year old Leonard returned to the ring and continued to beat his competition (albeit much lesser foes than in his prior run and in much less impressive fashion), racking up 20 more wins alongside a draw before losing to future champion Jimmy McLarnin in 1932 in what would be his final fight.
Leonard later worked as a boxing instructor for the City College of New York, enlisted in the military and trained soldiers for three years during WWII, then worked as a boxing referee before tragically suffering a heart attack while reffing a bout in 1947 and passing away at the age of 51.
Lennox Lewis (41-2-1, 32 KOs)
Heavyweight, 1989 - 2003
An Olympic gold medalist in 1988 representing Canada, British-born Lennox Lewis went on to become a three time heavyweight champion known for his stellar jab, a powerful right cross, his technical proficiency, and his raw size at 6'5 with an 84" reach.
Lewis had amassed a 22-0 record and a second round knockout over Donovan "Razor" Rudduck by 1992, earning himself a WBC title shot opposite then-champion Riddick Bowe. Surprisingly, having been finished by Lewis in the second round of the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Bowe refused to grant Lewis his title shot and instead relinquished the belt, with Lewis being promoted to WBC champion as a result.
With some viewing Lewis as a paper champion given he didn't win the title in the ring, Lewis silenced his critics by defending his title three times and beating two former champions in Tony Tucker and Frank Bruno.
In his fourth defense, Lewis was shockingly knocked out by heavy underdog Oliver McCall. Lewis quickly bounced back and worked his way up to a rematch, finishing Tommy Morrison for the IBC championship and beating Ray Mercer before emphatically avenging his loss to McCall to regain his WBC belt.
After an attempt at a unification bout with Evander Holyfield ended in an extremely controversial draw (Lewis outlanded Holyfield nearly 3-to-1 in the fight), Lewis defeated Holyfield in a rematch to secure the IBF, WBA, and WBO world titles, defending them three times before suffering another shocking knockout loss at the hands of 20-to-1 underdog Hasim Rahman in South Africa.
Lewis immediately avenged his second (and final) career loss before dominating and knocking out Mike Tyson in a massive fight in 2002. Lewis then defeated Vitali Klitschko via a cut stoppage in a back-and-forth war before retiring in 2003. The now 55 year old has recently flirted with the idea of coming out of retirement to face Mike Tyson or finally get his hands on Riddick Bowe.
Sonny Liston (50-4, 39 KOs)
Heavyweight, 1953 - 1970
A massive puncher with an imposing figure, Sonny Liston was once regarded as the perfect heavyweight and nigh unbeatable thanks to his freakish 84" reach, a remarkably powerful jab, and vaunted toughness.
Beginning his professional career in 1953 (his birth date remains unknown to this day, with theories ranging from him being born in 1932 to all the way back in 1919), Liston quickly worked his way up the ladder, losing just one fight in 1954 via split decision which he avenged twice. He secured knockout victories over top contenders like Cleveland Williams (twice), Nino Valdes, and Zora Folley to secure his status as the number one contender for the world title.
Unfortunately his rough upbringing, criminal record (he had found boxing while serving time for committing multiple muggings and robberies) and ties with organized crime followed him throughout his life. Liston had various run-ins with the law even during his boxing career, including an assault of a police officer that kept him out of action in 1957.
His criminal reputation led to repeated delays of him being granted a title shot, with journalists, past and current champions, and even President John F. Kennedy publically stating that a man like Liston should not get an opportunity to fight for the title, pressuring Floyd Patterson into denying Liston a shot.
After hiring a new manager and firing back at his critics, Liston would eventually receive his title shot in 1962, utilizing his 25-pound size advantage to smash through the heavyweight champion in just over two minutes, marking the first time in the history of boxing's heavyweight world title that a champion had lost his crown in the very first round. He repeated this feat just 10 months later by stopping Patterson a second time, taking just four more seconds to fell the heavyweight great.
In his second defense, Liston fought a young Cassius Clay, who came into their fight as a massive underdog yet was dancing around the champion with ease. Liston turned the tide after a few rounds and battled back before pandemonium ensued when Ali complained of being unable to see and was seen repeatedly wiping his eyes even as Liston chased him down, with Ali and his corner accusing Liston of applying some sort of substance to his gloves.
Ali somehow managed to survive as Liston went for the kill and once his vision cleared he took it to the champion, battering him until Liston refused to get up for the seventh round, an injured shoulder leaving him unable to lift his arm by the end of the brutal affair.
After Ali underwent an emergency hernia surgery which delayed their rematch, the two engaged in one of the most controversial fights in boxing history. With promoters barely managing to even put the fight on thanks to rumours of organized crime playing a part in the fight, Ali hit Liston with a beautiful pull counter that has since been dubbed "The Phantom Punch" given that most of the crowd missed it (and even video footage didn't look like it was a big shot). Ali then stood over Liston in one of the most iconic images in sports history, demanding Liston get back up.
Thanks to the struggle of getting Ali to a neutral corner and the chaos that ensued, referee Jersey Joe Walcott failed to count out Liston, who had by then gotten up and resumed boxing with Ali, before Walcott called off the bout by knockout due to the timekeeper having counted Liston out (despite it being the ref's and only the ref's count that can stop the fight, and Ali didn't go to a neutral corner, which means the count never should have officially begun).
The event was shrouded in controversy thanks to the botched call and had the boxing world claiming Liston took a dive, but in the years since, it's become quite clear - Ali landed a clean and powerful right hand that easily could have knocked down any fighter, and Liston did get up from the blow and clearly tried to continue - the blame lies entirely on the referee (who was admittedly in the middle of a chaotic scene).
Regardless, the hit to Liston's credibility had him away from the ring for over a year before he took several fights overseas, returning to the US in 1968 to once again rack up wins and brutal knockouts. A fight with third-ranked Leotis Martin in 1969 saw Liston dominating for much of the fight, even detaching Martin's retina and ending his career in the process, but in the ninth round Martin caught Liston and knocked him out cold to end any more title aspirations for "The Big Bear".
He fought just once more in 1970, smashing Chuck Wepner - Liston broke Wepner's cheekbone and nose and opening up multiple cuts that required 72 stitches in the brutal beating.
Just six months after his last fight, Liston was found dead under extremely suspicious circumstances, having apparently suffered a heroin overdose despite his lifelong and well-documented extreme fear of needles. Liston was certainly a tragic and troubled figure that could never outgrow his ties to the underworld, but in the ring he was one of the most powerful and intimidating figures the sport has ever s