Continued from Part One...
Manny Pacquaio (62-7-2, 39 KOs)
Light flyweight - Light middleweight, 1995 - current
One of the most decorated boxers in the history of the sport, the Phillipines' Manny Pacquaio is the only fighter to earn world titles in eight different weight classes as well as the only boxer to win major world titles in four of the original eight weight divisions. He is also the first boxer to capture the lineal championship in five different weight classes, the first four-time welterweight world champion, and the only boxer to hold world titles in four different decades.
One of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers the sport has ever seen and arguably the greatest southpaw to ever compete, Pacquaio is known for his highly aggressive style, his impressive speed and footwork, and of course his powerful left hand.
After a successful amateur career, Pacquiao began his professional climb to the top in the Phillipines at just 16 years old, putting together a 22-1 record in his home country before scoring a knockout in Japan in 1998 and then capturing his first world title, the WBC flyweight crown, later that same year.
Unfortunately, after just a single title defense Pacquaio missed weight for his second and was stripped of his flyweight crown before being stopped by Medgoen Singsurat via a body shot.
Pacquaio moved up to super bantamweight and captured the international edition of the WBC belt in his next outing, retaining it five times before earning the IBF world title. After several defenses, Pacquaio moved up once again, this time defeating Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera for The Ring featherweight strap before fighting to a draw against Juan Manuel Marquez, another Mexican legend who was dropped three times in the opening round.
Pacquaio then moved up to super featherweight and lost a close decision to Erik Morales, but proceeded to capture the international WBC super featherweight belt and emphatically avenged his loss to Morales in his first defense (he later finished Morales a second time as well). He would earn proper world titles in this weight class as well by beating Juan Manuel Marquez in an extremely close rematch; he quickly picked up another world title by moving up to lightweight and defeating David Diaz, only to then move up to welterweight for a dream match-up with Oscar De La Hoya, who he dominated en route to an eighth round stoppage.
His next fights saw Pacquaio earn world titles at light welterweight and welterweight with knockout victories over Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto respectively; he defended his welterweight crown three times with wins over Joshua Clottey, Shane Mosley, and a second victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in yet another extremely close back-and-forth war, and he also picked up an additional title at super welterweight with a victory over Antonio Marguerito.
In 2012, Pacquaio's winning streak came to an end following a horrific decision loss to Timothy Bradley; while virtually the whole world knew Pacquaio had won the fight, his next loss saw no such controversy as he faced Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time and was shockingly knocked out cold in the sixth round.
With many believing the then-34 year old Pacquaio's time at the top was done, Manny instead worked his way to a Bradley rematch and once again clearly defeated Bradley (this time the judges saw it as well) to regain his welterweight title; in 2015, after years of build-up and hype and failed negotiations, the long awaited showdown with Floyd Mayweather finally took place, breaking every pay-per-view record in history in the process.
The fight ended up being much less exciting than anticipated and Mayweather won a safe decision on the scorecards, with Pacquaio fighting through a torn labrum and generally not looking like his normally hyper-aggressive self. After flirting with retirement, Pacquaio returned to his title collecting and earned back his WBO welterweight title (which Floyd had vacated in retirement) before losing another extremely ridiculous decision in Australia to Jeff Horn, in what many called a clear hometown decision and evidence of boxing being rigged (Pacquaio landed more than double the punches Horn did over the course of the bout).
Undeterred, Pacquaio would win another world title at welterweight with a victory over Lucas Matthysse and defended it once before capturing the WBA super welterweight title with a victory over Keith Thurman at 40 years of age; the Phillipian star (and Senator in his home country) hasn't fought since the COVID-19 hysteria began but is scheduled to return against Errol Spence Jr. in August for the WBC and IBF welterweight titles.
Willie Pep (229-11-1, 65 KOs)
Featherweight, 1940 - 1966
Nicknamed the "Will o' the Wisp", Willie Pep is regarded as the greatest featherweight of all time and was renowned for his incredible speed and elusiveness that frustrated his opponents to no end.
Pep fought in a ridiculous amount of fights even for a fighter of his era, winning his first 62 outings (53 of those came before he earned the world featherweight title) before suffering his first defeat, a decision loss to lightweight champion Sammy Angott in a non-title bout. Just ten days later, Pep was back in the ring and scoring another win, piling on plenty more to run up his record to an unbelievable 134-1-1.
In 1948, Pep was finally dethroned by Sandy Saddler via fourth round knockout, but two wins and four months later Pep won on the scorecards in a rematch to regain his NBA, NYSAC, and The Ring featherweight titles. Pep would rack up more wins until he met Saddler for a third time in 1950, being unable to continue after the seventh round thanks to a separated shoulder (he was up on all the judges' scorecards at the time).
He would again put together a winning streak before meeting Saddler for the fourth time; this time, the referee let the bout devolve into one of the most disgraceful championship fights in boxing history, with their fight involving all sorts of dirty tactics including eye gouging, wrestling, tripping and more until Pep quit before the ninth thanks to blood running into his eye.
Although he wouldn't fight for a world title again and slowed down a bit in the ring as he aged, Pep continued fighting at a ridiculous rate until he retired in 1959, only to return six years later to pick up nine more wins before losing a decision in 1966 and finally retiring for good.
The featherweight great stayed on the boxing scene long after he hung up the gloves however, going on to become a referee and inspector.
Aaron Pryor (39-1, 35 KOs)
Light welterweight, 1976 - 1990
One of the best light welterweight boxers of all time, Aaron Pryor began his professional journey in 1976 after having a rather successful amateur career which included a victory over future champion Thomas Hearns.
By 1980 he had put together a 24-0 record with 22 KOs and picked up the WBA and The Ring light welterweight titles with a fourth round finish of Antonio Cervantes. He would defend his titles eight times (all by knockout), though fights against Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran fell through in negotiations and from management issues; a fight with Leonard was eventually signed in 1982, with Leonard agreeing to face Pryor after defending his title in May of that year, however a detached retina suffered during training forced Leonard out of his title defense and into one of his many retirements.
Pryor did however get to face three-weight champion Alexis Arguello, with their first fight in 1982 later being recognized as the "Fight of the Decade". Both men traded heavy leather in a battle of skill and wills, with Pryor winning in the fourteenth round via knockout - it was however not without controversy.
Although Pryor was up on the scorecards after thirteen rounds of action, he was fading badly and Arguello was pouring on the pressure. In the corner before the start of the fourteenth round, Pryor's trainer and now infamous cheater Panama Lewis was caught on camera saying "Give me the other bottle, the one I mixed"; after ingesting the "water" provided by Lewis, Pryor became revitalized and stopped Arguello emphatically in the next round.
Before a rematch in 1983, Pryor's trainer Panama Lewis was banned from boxing after loading Luis Resto's gloves in a fight with Billy Collins Jr. which left the young prospect nearly blind and ended his career. Two weeks before fighting Arguello for the second time, Pryor brought in Emanuel Steward as his trainer instead and erased all doubt as to who the better boxer was, dominating Arguello en route to a tenth round finish that left any controversy from their first fight in the rear-view mirror.
Pryor retired in the ring but came back less than a year later, immediately being recognized by the newly formed IBF as their light welterweight champion; he defended the belt twice before his struggles with drug abuse kept him out of action and eventually led to his title being stripped for inactivity in 1985. After over two years away from the ring, Pryor came back, insisting he was clean, but returned a shell of his former self, being knocked out by journeyman Bobby Joe Young.
Pryor fought three more times over the next three years against club fighters as he struggled with the drug addiction that led to an arrest and two years of mandatory treatment for drug abuse; he also became nearly blind in one eye following a botched surgery to remove a cataract and fix a detached retina.
Luckily, Pryor was later able to get clean shortly after and he remained sober until his death in 2016 following a battle with heart disease.
Donovan "Razor" Ruddock (40-6-1, 30 KOs)
Heavyweight, 1982 - 2015
One of the rare breed of fighters famous for throwing a specific punch, Jamaican-born Canadian Donovan "Razor" Ruddock is best known for his "Smash punch" (sometimes referred to as a shovel hook now), a left hook/uppercut he liked to throw while leaping forward toward his opponents.
A left-handed fighter that fought in an orthodox stance, Ruddock's offense almost entirely came from the left side of his body, and even during finishing sequences he rarely threw a right hand, making him a rather unique puncher indeed. His unique style was nonetheless effective in the ring, even leading to a victory over future Olympic gold medalist and heavyweight legend Lennox Lewis in an Ontario junior boxing match.
His professional career didn't start off as well as he would have liked however - making his debut in 1982, Ruddock put together nine wins and a draw on the Canadian circuit before losing to journeyman David Jaco, his corner throwing in the towel after eight rounds when Donovan complained of breathing issues.
It was then discovered that Ruddock suffered from a rare respiratory illness and doctors told the young prospect that his fighting days were over; to their surprise, after ten months of rehabilitation Ruddock made a full recovery and returned to the ring in style, winning his next 16 fights and finishing all but one of his opponents.
With a showdown against Mike Tyson scheduled late in 1989, Ruddock's big opportunity fell apart after Tyson fell ill and instead opted for a tune-up fight with Buster Douglas soon after - unfortunately for Tyson, that tune-up fight didn't go as planned.
In 1991, after four more knockout victories, Ruddock finally got his chance against Iron Mike in a proper number one contendership bout; Ruddock was dropped in the third but battled back and turned it into a fight, but referee Richard Steele controversially stepped in to call off the bout via TKO in the seventh, much to Ruddock (and the fans') dismay, even causing fights to erupt in the crowd.
Their rematch was a classic heavyweight battle which surprisingly lasted all twelve rounds, with both men busted up badly; though he won the fight, Tyson suffered a perforated eardrum while Ruddock's jaw was broken (possibly as early as in the fourth round).
Razor went on to capture the IBC heavyweight title against Phil Jackson before being stopped by Lennox Lewis in a rematch from their days as amateurs; after taking two years off, he later faced Tommy Morrison for the vacant IBC title and had dropped Morrison early, but Morrison survived and, like in his first fight with Tyson, Ruddock was stopped controversially by the referee in the sixth round.
Ruddock would disappear from action for nearly three years before returning to face journeymen for the rest of his career, ultimately recapturing the Canadian heavyweight title before retiring in 2001.
He would return 14 years later following a series of bad investments and money problems, winning two fights before losing in his attempt at winning the Canadian heavyweight title for the third time. He retired for good at the age of 50 in 2015.
Sandy Saddler (145-16-2, 104 KOs)
Featherweight - Super featherweight, 1944 - 1956
Sandy Saddler was a heavy-hitting featherweight known for his punching power and remarkable chin, having been finished just one time in a career spanning 162 fights (and that finish came in just his second pro bout).
Saddler put together an impressive 85-6-2 record before earning a title shot against the great Willie Pep in 1948, where Saddler shocked the world by knocking down the defensive master four times before finishing him in the fourth round.
Pep avenged his loss with a decision victory less than a year later, but Saddler scored his revenge in 1950 to regain the featherweight crown after having picked up the NBA super featherweight title as well.
In their infamous fourth bout, which has been dubbed the "dirtiest fight in championship history", Saddler retained his title in a gruesome affair after Pep retired from the bout due to a cut over his eye.
Though he lost multiple decisions in non-title bouts, Saddler never lost another title fight and knocked out multiple future champions such as Joe Brown, Paddy DeMarco, Gabriel "Flash" Elorde and Jimmy Carter (no, not that Jimmy Carter).
Unfortunately his career was cut short when he suffered an eye injury in a car accident in 1956 and was forced to retire at the age of 30. He however successfully transitioned into the world of training and even helped coach a young George Foreman.
Max Schmeling (56-10-4, 40 KOs)
Light heavyweight - Heavyweight, 1924 - 1948
A German boxer whose career was highly politicized given his nationality during the time in which he competed, Max Schmeling was irregardless an excellent boxer and easily one of the best European heavyweights to ever compete in the sport.
Cutting his teeth on the European circuit and winning multiple German and European titles at both heavy and light heavyweight, Schmeling would make his way to the United States in 1928 as one of the top prospects in the game. By 1930 he would earn a title shot against Jack Sharkey, where he became the first boxer to win a title by way of foul in heavyweight history thanks to a blatant and brutal shot to the groin in the fourth round by Sharkey.
As a result of the rather unfortunate way he won the title, Schmeling was labelled the "low blow champion", but a knockout victory over future hall of famer Young Stribling in his first defense largely quieted the critics. In 1932 he would face Sharkey once more, this time outboxing the former champion only to lose a highly controversial decision in Madison Square Garden (even the mayor of New York publically stated Schmeling won the fight).
Instead of getting a rematch, Schmeling faced Mickey Walker, who had also took Sharkey to the scorecards recently and left with a controversial draw that many had scored in his favour, leading most to label the fight as for the true heavyweight championship - Schmeling pummeled Walker en route to a corner stoppage in the eighth round.
Schmeling's career took a turn for the worse when the Nazi party took power in Germany in 1932, with Schmeling being labelled in the US as a stooge for the Nazis and part of their plans for global dominance (made worse by the fact the Nazis and Hitler himself openly supported Schmeling).
A highly political showdown with Max Baer (who was half-Jewish) ensued in 1933 and Baer stunned the boxing world by smashing Schmeling and finishing him in the tenth round. A subsequent loss to Steve Hamas had many believing Schmeling was already past his prime, and upon returning to competition in Europe, a draw with Spaniard Paulino Uzcudun solidified this belief.
Schmeling turned things around by avenging his loss to Hamas and beating Uzcudun in a rematch before returning to the States in 1936 to face a rising undefeated star in Joe Louis. Schmeling expertly dissected the young future legend en route to a twelfth round knockout and secured a top contendership position; unfortunately for Schmeling, having a Nazi-backed fighter compete for the world title had plenty of opposition in the US and champion James Braddock instead opted to face Joe Louis after Louis had recorded seven straight victories following the loss to Schmeling.
Max would pick up a win stateside before returning to Germany, hailed as a hero by Hitler as he fought overmatched competition to stay active and campaigned for his deserved title shot. With Joe Louis knocking the title out of Braddock's hands, Schmeling finally received his title shot in 1938 as Louis eagerly wanted to avenge his first and only loss, politics be damned.
The massive showdown captured the world's attention and the two boxers were casted as representatives of their respective country's ideals: Louis, having clawed his way out of poverty to become a world champion, was seen as the symbol of the land of opportunity that was America; Schmeling on the other hand, was seen as the posterboy for Germany's visions of Aryan supremacy.
The "Battle of the Century" would not last long however, as Louis absolutely demolished Schmeling, dropping the German multiple times in the opening round before the referee saved him from further abuse. Louis became a national hero while Schmeling, once heralded by the Nazis, was shunned in his return home. He would fight once more, winning the European and German heavyweight titles, before being drafted into the war where he served as a paratrooper until being injured in 1941.
Although Schmeling is still remembered as "Hitler's favourite boxer" by many, not only did he refuse to join the Nazi party, he also refused to fire his Jewish manager even as Hitler demanded it. It was also later revealed that he had personally saved the lives of two Jewish children during the Nazi purge of Jews in Berlin by hiding them in his apartment. After his military service he regularly visited POW camps in Germany and even tried to improve conditions for prisoners there.
After the war he attempted a comeback in 1947; he went 3-2 before retiring for good in 1948.
Schmeling later worked for Coca-Cola in Germany and went on to become an executive and purchased his own bottling plant. He even became friends with old rival Joe Louis and helped Louis financially during the legend's later years.
Earnie Shavers (74-14-1, 68 KOs)
Heavyweight, 1969 - 1995
Easily one of the hardest hitters in boxing history, Earnie Shavers may not have ever captured a world title, but he was one of the most feared men in a sport filled with killers for a reason.
Though he relied heavily on his famed punching power, Shavers could also genuinely box and could be much more technical than the average slugger when he had to be, particularly with his stiff and educated jab. When he did slug it out however, Shavers' power was absolutely legendary - he scored a whopping 68 knockouts out of his 74 wins, 23 of those coming in the very first round. He scored nasty knockouts over the high caliber boxers like Jimmy Young, Jimmy Ellis, and Ken Norton.
Unfortunately, Shavers' biggest weakness was his chin, as he wasn't known for being able to take a big shot and half of his fourteen career losses came via KO. He did however take Muhammad Ali a full fifteen rounds in his first title shot in 1977 in a fight that saw him badly hurt Ali early. His only other crack at a wold title came in 1979 opposite Larry Holmes, who he knocked down in the seventh round but the legend was able to survive and score a knockout of his own in the eleventh.
Like many fighters, Shavers too flirted with multiple retirements, having first "retired" in 1983 following a DQ loss for low blows on journeyman George Chaplin; he returned with a knockout in a one-off fight in 1987, before coming back again at 51 years old in 1995, picking up a rare decision win before being knocked out in his next outing and retiring for good.
Michael Spinks (31-1, 21 KOs)
Light heavyweight - Heavyweight, 1977 - 1988
As a member of the legendary US Olympic boxing team that dominated the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Michael "Jinx" Spinks captured gold for Team USA in the middleweight division while his brother Leon similarly won the top prize up at light heavyweight.
While Michael began building up his career in the typical fashion by slowly rising up the ranks, his brother Leon was thrust into the deep end as he faced a 36 year old Muhammad Ali in just his eighth pro fight barely over a year after making his pro debut.
Though Ali had slowed down by that time, he still hadn't lost in five years and was coming off an impressive victory over the powerful Earnie Shavers. Ali expected an easy fight against the young and relatively inexperienced challenger - instead, Spinks shocked the world by defeating Ali in a close split decision, becoming the first and only man to take world titles away from Ali as he had previously only lost as a challenger or in non-world title fights.
That would unfortunately be the peak of the older Spinks' career. Leon lost in another close decision to Ali in an immediate rematch, then was knocked out in the very first round by the unheralded Gerrie Coetzee. He would fight for the heavyweight title once more in 1981, getting knocked out early by Larry Holmes, before spending most of the rest of his career as a journeyman, finishing his career in 1995 with an overall record of just 26-17-3.
The younger Spinks sibling however took a much more measured approach to building his career, capturing the WBA light heavyweight title with a win over Eddie Muhammad in 1981 and defending it five times via knockout. He went on to unify his WBA belt with the WBC and The Ring titles with a win over Dwight Qawi, making another defense before adding the inaugural IBF light heavyweight crown to his trophy case following a win over Eddie Davis. He defended his throne twice more before moving up to heavyweight to challenge Larry Holmes for his IBF and The Ring titles, who had previously knocked out his brother and sent him down to cruiserweight.
Holmes was looking to tie Rocky Marciano's 49-0 record that night in 1985, but instead Spinks bested him in a controversial decision to hand the legend his first career loss. The upset victory made Michael the first world light heavyweight champion to ever go on to capture a world heavyweight title - it also made the Spinks siblings the first brothers to both achieve the status of world heavyweight champion.
An immediate rematch saw Spinks win another close decision over Holmes. He then successfully defended against Steffen Tangstad before taking a fight with Gerry Cooney rather than IBF's mandatory challenger Tony Tucker given it was a more lucrative offer; the IBF stripped Spinks of his title (though he retained The Ring heavyweight championship) and Spinks knocked out Cooney in the fifth round, bringing his record to a superb 31-0.
After Mike Tyson had unified the other belts (including Spinks' stripped IBF title) and run his own record to a sterling 34-0, the boxing world turned their sights on a unification bout between the two undefeated greats.
Unfortunately, the aura of a young Mike Tyson proved to be too great for Spinks to handle, as Michael appeared afraid even on his walk to the ring to face Tyson in 1988. Tyson became just the second man to ever knock down Spinks behind Dwight Qawi, but Spinks could not survive this onslaught and was dropped twice in the opening round en route to a brutal 91-second knockout loss.
Spinks would retire following the defeat just shy of his 32nd birthday. Though many still remember him for his last fight, Michael Spinks is one of the greatest light heavyweights in the history of the sport and was the first champion (followed later by Joe Calzaghe) to ever retire without a loss (in that division) since its inception in 1903, despite Spinks fighting in perhaps the weight classes' greatest era.
Tyrone Spong (14-0, 13 KOs)
Heavyweight, 2015 - current
In the beginning of this article you may remember having seen a disclaimer that despite ESBC already featuring some stars from kickboxing and MMA, only boxers would be featured in this list. So why is Surinamese kickboxing great Tyrone Spong here, you may wonder?
Well the answer is simple - he's already successfully transitioned into the world of boxing and boasts an unbeaten record in fourteen fights, with all but one of those wins coming via knockout.
Spong, now 35, began his combat sports career in kickboxing back in 2003 way down at welterweight. Thanks to his technical approach, his diverse arsenal, and most importantly, his slick boxing and heavy hands, Spong made a name for himself as a highly skilled elite kickboxer as he made his way up the rankings and filled into his frame.
Spong captured various kickboxing titles throughout his career, most recently capturing the Glory light heavyweight (211 pounds) slam heavyweight crown in 2013. He also ventured into MMA on two occasions (both successful) for a regional promotion, and made a name for himself as an elite striking coach in Florida while continuing to compete in kickboxing.
In 2014, a superfight with Gokhan Saki captured the attention of the kickboxing world - just as things were heating up in the first round however, Spong threw a low kick that was checked by Saki and gruesomely broke his lower leg in identical fashion to UFC legend Anderson Silva, who had famously broken his leg in the exact same way just five months earlier against Chris Weidman.
Less than a year later, Spong was back in the ring, but instead of being in a kickboxing match, the "King of the Ring" opted to try his hand at boxing, which was not only a potentially lucrative arena for the kickboxing legend but also eliminated any risk of repeating his horrific leg injury. At the end of his kickboxing career, Spong had compiled a remarkable 107-7-1 record with 73 knockouts.
Spong quickly lit up the opposition in his new sport beginning in 2015, competing in Germany, Russia, the US, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and even his home country of Suriname, running up his pro record to a perfect 14-0 with all but one of his opponents being knocked out. He has already captured and defended the WBC and WBO Latino versions of the heavyweight titles, and was set to take on cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk in his move up to heavyweight late in 2019 before an adverse drug test derailed the biggest boxing match of his career.
Spong tested positive for clomiphene, a fertility drug that is also used to boost testosterone in men, however it's a substance that takes between one and three months to leave someone's system - Spong provided samples on September 16, 22, 26 and October 2nd 2019 and tested negative on the first and fourth tests, but positive on the middle two. Given the length of time the substance takes to leave someone's system, the testing results appear questionable and Spong maintains that he never ingested the substance - regardless, his boxing career was halted and he hasn't fought since, though he's expected to return to action at some point in the near future.
With fellow kickboxing legend Badr Hari already being a member of the ESBC roster, it makes complete sense (particularly given that Spong has a legitimate career in boxing already) to add the King of the Ring to the game.
Dick Tiger (60-19-3, 27 KOs)
Middleweight - Light heavyweight, 1952 - 1970
Dick Tiger began his professional career in 1952 in his native Nigeria, developing a modest skill set before emigrating to Liverpool in 1955 to pursue his world championship aspirations.
Thanks to poor coaching and management, Tiger didn't get off to a great start in England, clearly showing promise but losing his first four bouts there on points. After finding a new team, Tiger began to develop into a proper contender and paired his gritty toughness with genuine classical boxing technique, losing just two out of his next twenty bouts as a result.
In 1959 after having won the Commonwealth middleweight title, Tiger made the trip stateside to continue his career, where he would soon defeat future middleweight champion Joey Giardello in a close decision, with Giardello winning similarly in a close battle in their rematch.
A later fight in Canada against Canadian Wilf Greaves ended in controversy as Tiger clearly dominated the fight, only for Greaves to "win" his Commonwealth title by a decision. An immediate rematch saw Tiger again dominate Greaves, this time knocking Greaves out to leave his fate outside of the hands of hometown judges.
Returning stateside, Tiger won six more fights in a row to earn a shot at the WBA middleweight title in 1962. Tiger won a close fight against Gene Fullmer on the judges' cards, but given the closeness of the bout and his long reign as champion Fullmer was given an immediate rematch, only for the two to then fight to a draw. In their third fight, which was also for The Ring and the inaugural WBC middleweight titles, Tiger ended their rivalry emphatically by dominating Fullmer in front of his home crowd in Nigeria, finishing him after the seventh round.
In his next outing he lost in a third match-up with Giardello in another close decision; following the loss, Tiger continued cementing his place at the top of the division with wins over the likes of Don Fullmer and Rubin Carter, before beating Giardello in their fourth and final fight by decision to recapture his belts.
In 1966, Tiger lost to welterweight champion Emile Griffith by decision, prompting a move up to light heavyweight where he immediately captured the WBA, WBC and The Ring titles with a decision win over Jose Torres, who he defeated in another decision for his first defense of the throne. He made one additional defense before being knocked out by Bob Foster in the fourth round, just his second ever knockout loss (the first was a corner stoppage in his eighth pro fight in Nigeria some 15 years prior).
Tiger faced Frank DePaula to earn a rematch in 1968's "Fight of the Year", with both men being knocked down twice within the first four rounds, but Tiger got the better of DePaula and seemingly secured a rematch with Foster given his performance against the next top contender. Continuing their poor treatment of Tiger (who regularly fought for small purses despite his accomplishments), US promoters gave Tiger's title shot to DePaula despite the fact that Tiger had just defeated him.
Tiger won two more fights in 1969 but still was never granted his shot at redemption. In 1970, Tiger lost in a close rematch to Emile Griffith and decided to retire from the sport.
The former three-time world champion became a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York before tragically being diagnosed with liver cancer just a year later; he died at the age of 42 back home in Nigeria in 1971.
James Toney (77-10-3 2 NC, 47 KOs)
Middleweight - Heavyweight, 1988 - 2017
James "Lights Out" Toney was an excellent defensive boxer that based much of his defense and counters off of the shoulder roll, a popular method of defense. With lightning fast hands and brilliant infighting, Toney was a well-rounded counter puncher who captured world titles in three weight classes and never suffered a stoppage loss despite competing well into his forties.
Toney began his ascension up the middleweight ranks in 1988 and by the end of 1990, he had amassed a 23-0-1 record along with the lesser IBC world title. Early in '91 Toney collected his first major world title (the IBF belt) with a finish of Michael Nunn, defending it six times before moving up to super middleweight and battering Iran Barkley en route to a corner stoppage that earned him the IBF crown in a second weight class.
Toney continued his unbeaten streak, defending his super middleweight title three times alongside various non-title bouts to run up his record to 44-0-2 before he ran into a young Roy Jones Jr., who had moved up from middleweight himself to challenge and defeat Toney.
Having struggled with making the super middleweight limit, Toney moved up to light heavyweight where he suffered the second defeat of his career, a majority decision to Montell Griffin. He won his next nine fights however, earning several regional titles and splitting his time between light heavyweight and cruiserweight before running into Griffin again and once again losing a decision.
He sandwiched a loss to journeyman Drake Thadzi with victories over Mike McCallum and Steve Little in 1997 before taking a break from the ring for the first time in his busy career. He returned in 1999 and won eleven straight to capture the IBF cruiserweight title with a win over Vassily Jirov, then moved up to heavyweight to demolish Evander Holyfield and hand the legend just the second (and last) stoppage loss of his career.
After winning a lesser title against Rydell Booker, Toney challenged John Ruiz for his WBA heavyweight crown and beat the champion for twelve rounds to earn a world title in his fourth weight class; unfortunately, Toney tested positive for stanozolol following the fight and the WBA stripped him of his title and turned his win into a no contest, though Toney insists the stanozolol was part of a treatment given to him by a doctor following a shoulder injury in his previous fight with Booker. He was suspended from competition from 90 days and banned from challenging for the WBA title for two years as a result.
Not long after Toney would challenge for the WBC heavyweight belt, but his fight with Hasim Rahman ended in a majority draw and it would be the last major world title he'd ever challenge for. Toney began to slow down not only due to age, but his expanding physique, continuing to fight sporadically for the next eleven years against lesser competition.
He went 8-6 with 1 NC over his next 15 bouts before retiring at the age of 48 in 2017; he also made headlines in 2010 by having a crossover fight with MMA legend Randy Couture in the UFC, where Toney was easily taken down and submitted in just over three minutes.
Sadly, despite having never been knocked out in his nearly 30-year professional career, Toney has had notably slurred speech for at least the last decade that has gotten progressively worse.
Felix Trinidad (42-3, 35 KOs)
Welterweight - Middleweight, 1990 - 2008
One of the greatest Puerto Rican boxers of all time, Felix "Tito" Trinidad was a world champion in three weight classes known for his knockout power and highly aggressive style.
After a successful amateur career, Trinidad began his professional march toward the title in 1990 at the age of seventeen, winning his first 19 bouts (16 by knockout) to earn a shot at the IBF welterweight title. Trinidad knocked out the champion Maurice Booker in just the second round, then defended his crown fifteen times, in addition to scoring a first round KO over Troy Waters at light middleweight in a non-title bout. Those defenses included wins over Hector Camacho, Luis Ramon Campas, and the great Pernell Whittaker, with Trinidad becoming the first man to ever convincingly defeat Whittaker in the ring (he had previously only lost two extremely controversial decisions in his career).
In his last defense at welterweight, Trinidad beat the afforementioned De La Hoya to add the WBC and lineal titles to his collection before he moved up to light middleweight in 2000 to challenge David Reid for the WBA title.
Trinidad steamed past Reid and defended his title with a quick KO before battering Fernando Vargas en route to a stoppage in the twelfth round that added the IBF world title to his collection.
Trinidad proceeded to knock out William Joppy to capture the WBA crown up at middleweight, improving his record to a stellar 40-0 before fighting Bernard Hopkins in a unification match for the rest of the middleweight belts. In a close fight Trinidad was knocked down in the final round, but before Trinidad could try to continue his father entered the ring, officially forcing a TKO stoppage in favour of Hopkins (Hopkins was ahead on the scorecards regardless).
After suffering the first defeat of his career, Trinidad fought once more in Puerto Rico before announcing his retirement in 2002 at just 29 years old. He would come back two years later however to beat Ricardo Mayorga, but lost a subsequent decision to Winky Wright before retiring a second time in 2005.
He came back once more in 2008 to face Roy Jones Jr. in a 170 pound catchweight bout, which Trinidad lost in an entertaining affair before retiring from the sport for good.
Kostya Tszyu (31-2 1 NC, 25 KOs)
Light welterweight, 1992 - 2005
Born in the Soviet Union, Kostya Tszyu found boxing at a young age and made a name for himself on the amateur circuit, which also allowed him to skip out on ordinary duties during his mandatory service in the Soviet Army given that he was considered an elite athlete.
Tszyu picked up a plethora of national and European amateur medals during the late eighties and early nineties; though he was defeated by split decision in the quarter-finals of the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, after winning gold at the European and the World Championships in 1991 he was expected to place highly in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona at light welterweight.
Instead, while he was at the World Championships in Sydney, Tszyu fell in love with Australia and was approached by local promoters who convinced him to skip the Olympics and turn pro instead.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union coming just a month later, Tszyu emigrated to Australia early in 1992 and made his pro debut just months later, leaving the amateurs behind with a record of 259-11 with no stoppage losses.
Unlike most boxers beginning their professional careers, Tszyu faced elite competition almost immediately; in just his fourth pro fight, he met and defeated former featherweight world champion Juan Laporte, knocked out future champ Sammy Fuentes in a single round in his sixth fight, defeated former lightweight champion Livingston Bramble in his tenth fight, beat former Olympic silver-medalist and future three time title challenger Hector Lopez in his eleventh, and stopped recent WBC title challenger Angel Hernandez in his twelfth outing.
Adding another knockout to push his unbeaten record to 13 wins, Tszyu earned the IBF light welterweight title by smashing Jake Rodriguez in six rounds in 1995. His first title defense came against former super featherweight and light welterweight world champion Roger Mayweather, who managed to last all twelve rounds against Kostya - his next three challengers did not.
His next fight came in the US against Leonardo Mas, whose jaw he broke in the opening round - the fight however was ruled a No Contest after Mas' corner insisted the shot that finished their fighter was thrown after the referee had called for a break. With both the commission and IBF officials at ringside being uncertain as to whether their claim was correct, the fight was given the dreaded NC treatment.
Four months later, Tszyu would lose his title in a shocking knockout loss against Vince Phillips. The "Thunder from Down Under" would get back to his winning ways in his next three fights, which included knockouts over former world champions Calvin Grove and Rafael Ruelas, before he captured the interim WBC light welterweight title with a knockout over Diosbelys Hurtado.
He captured the proper WBC championship by knocking out Miguel Angel Gonzalez, then proceeded to defend it twice with knockouts over Ahmed Santos and the great Julio Cesar Chavez before adding the WBA belt to his collection with a stoppage over Sharmba Mitchell.
Another defense of his titles set up a unification showdown against the IBF champion Zab Judah, with The Ring's vacant title also thrown into the mix. Tszyu famously handed the undefeated Judah his first loss with a second round knockout that had Judah stumbling around the ring like a baby giraffe.
Kostya masterfully outboxed Ben Tackie in his first unified defense, then stopped former champion Jesse James Leija before a shoulder injury kept him away from the ring for over a year and a half, costing him his WBA and WBC belts.
He returned late in 2004 in a rematch with Sharmba Mitchell, who he knocked out once again, this time in just three rounds. His final fight in 2005 saw him lose his remaining titles against undefeated British star Ricky Hatton; though he didn't officially retire and flirted with the idea of a comeback multiple times in the years following, Tszyu hasn't returned to the ring since his fight with Hatton when he was 35 and instead settled down with his family in Australia, and later returned to his native Russia to open a restaurant.
David Tua (52-5-2, 43 KOs)
Heavyweight, 1992 - 2013
Though he never won a world title, David Tua was one of the best heavyweight boxers of his era and was a massive fan-favourite thanks to his bob-and-weave pressuring style that was reminiscent of the great Mike Tyson. He was a massive puncher with a deadly left hook and an incredible chin to match, having never been stopped in his career despite facing most of the top fighters of his time.
"Tuaman", also known as the "Tuamanator", rose up the amateur ranks in his native New Zealand and went on to capture bronze medals in both the 1991 World Championships and the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992 at heavyweight.
Joining the pro ranks in 1992, Tua won his first 27 fights (24 by KO) and picked up the International edition of the WBC belt, though he also knocked out two former world champions during that time in Oleg Maskaev and John Ruiz (who he starched in just 19 seconds).
Tua first tasted defeat via decision against the extremely talented Ike Ibeabuchi in 1997, who would turn in an impressive 20-0 career and was a top ranked heavyweight contender until a series of run-ins with the law unceremoniously ended his career in 1999. While Tua lost the close battle on the cards, he still gained a ton of fans given the incredible back and forth barnburner he engaged in, with the two men setting a record for most punches thrown in a heavyweight fight with well over 1700.
Tuaman won his next ten outings and picked up multiple lesser titles with a knockout over former world champ Hasim Rahman, eventually earning a shot at the WBC, IBO and IBF champion Lennox Lewis in 2000. Unfortunately, this loss wasn't as exciting as his first as Tua was picked apart on the outside by Lewis in a much more tepid affair.
A loss soon after against former (and future) world champion Chris Byrd largely put an end to Tua's world title aspirations, but he was undefeated in his next 16 outings and picked up multiple lesser titles, during which he also scored a 30 second knockout over former champ Michael Moorer. In 2011 he would lose a decision to Monte Barrett, who he had previously fought to a draw against, though Barrett tested positive for a stimulant that night; controversially, Barrett's win was not overturned.
Tua returned to the ring once more in 2013 where he suffered a decision loss and announced his retirement from the sport at the age of 41. He is still considered one of the best heavyweights to never capture a world title, though his exciting style and penchant for delivering devastating knockouts more than make up for it in the minds of most fans.
Gene Tunney (82-1-4, 1 NC)
Light heavyweight - Heavyweight, 1915 -1928
Gene Tunney was a thoughtful and technical boxer during a time that sluggers such as Jack Dempsey and Harry Greb were all the rage. Opting to instead utilize a slick jab and counterpunches off the back of his excellent footwork, he was also a strong proponent of attacking the body and loved teeing off on his opponent's midsections.
Tunney began his boxing career by enlisting with the Marine Corps during World War I and joining the Marine boxing team in 1915, where he became the US Expeditionary Forces champion at light heavyweight. In 1922, Tunney defeated former world champion Battling Levinsky to win the American light heavyweight title, bringing his record up to a sterling 44-0-2.
Five fights later, Tunney lost the first (and only) fight of his career against the legendary Harry Greb by a decision - a year later, Tunney avenged his loss with a close decision victory of his own, and the two would fight three more times during their careers, with Tunney winning the series with a score of 3-1-1.
Through 1925 Tunney continued dominating his opposition at both light heavy and heavyweight - his victories over heavyweight contenders Georges Carpentier, Erminio Spallia, and Tommy Gibbons amongst others earned him a crack at the unified titles in 1926 opposite the afforementioned Jack Dempsey.
Tunney became the first man in eight years to defeat the legendary Dempsey, outboxing the slugger en route to a unanimous decision victory. Dempsey would knock out top contender Jack Sharkey to earn another shot at Tunney, with their second fight becoming one of the most famous in boxing history after being dubbed "The Long Count".
The fight, which Tunney again largely dominated, was highly controversial because in the seventh round, Dempsey sent "The Fighting Marine" to the canvas for the first (and only) time in Tunney's career. Dempsey's failure to move to a neutral corner however delayed the count by the referee (though whether that actually effected the outcome whatsoever is highly debatable), after which Tunney recovered and continued outboxing his foe en route to another wide decision victory.
The rule stating that the boxer has to move to a neutral corner following a knockdown was new and not yet widely adopted in boxing, but ironically it was Dempsey's camp who had requested the rule be put in place during negotiations. Tunney stated after the fight that he had picked up the ref's count at two but waited until nine for obvious tactical reasons, with Dempsey stating "I have no reason not to believe him. Gene's a great guy." in response; video footage later put to bed most of the arguments surrounding the match as well, but it has still been referred to as "The Long Count" fight ever since.
Regardless of the controversy, the fight was absolutely massive for its time and drew a gate of over $2.6 million (the first ever $2+ million gate in the entertainment industry) at Chicago's Soldier Field, equivalent to roughly $40 million in today's dollars.
Tunney fought once more in 1928, defending his heavyweight crown with an eleventh round knockout of Tom Heeney before retiring at the age of 31. He later also served in the US Naval Reserve during World War II and headed the Navy's physical fitness programme for the duration of the war.
Mike Tyson (50-6-2, 44 KOs)
Heavyweight, 1985 - 2005
The story of the youngest heavyweight champion and one of the most feared fighters in the history of boxing really begins with his original trainer, Cus D'Amato.
Cus was a boxing coach who had developed the rare "peek-a-boo" style of boxing into an art form, though the style was regularly criticized by other trainers and fighters that argued it was inefficient and offensively limited. With his keen eye for talent, Cus found plenty of elite fighters while working at the Gramercy Gym in New York, but his wards were often poached by other managers like in the case of Rocky Graziano.
Cus spent his days in the gym, waiting for the next champion to find his way to Gramercy Gym and enter through the doors - and then he discovered a young Floyd Patterson.
A fantastic athlete with blistering speed, Patterson took to D'Amato's peek-a-boo style with aplomb - constantly bobbing and weaving in the ring, arms tucked closely to the body with his gloves glued to his cheeks, a squared stanced providing power with both hands and setting up shifts into opposite stances in dominant angles for knockout blows, hooks and uppercuts regularly coming in multiples from the same hand to overwhelm and confuse his opponents.
Under D'Amato's tutelage, Patterson captured a gold medal in the 1952 Olympic games in Helsinki at middleweight - four years later, Patterson would become the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing's history (at the time) by knocking out Archie Moore shortly before his 22nd birthday. He defended his crown four times before dropping it in 1959, but would again make history by becoming the first heavyweight to win back his world title after losing it by avenging his loss and defending it twice more.
After a pair of quick knockout losses to the much larger Sonny Liston, Patterson left D'Amato's stable and though he had plenty of success over the next decade, he never recaptured his championship form.
While Floyd was a fantastic athlete and a legend in his own right, he did have flaws, particularly given he was fighting at heavyweight. Weighing under 190 pounds, he was never a large heavyweight and while he was defensively sound, when he did get hit his size compared to some of his opponents often meant he found himself on the canvas. Though known for his heart and ability to get up from knockdowns, it nonetheless was a major problem when he faced opposition like Sonny Liston or even Muhammad Ali.
The style that D'Amato had taught him also relied almost entirely on bending at the waist, leading to back issues that would plague the later stages of Floyd's career.
After Floyd left D'Amato's hands, D'Amato toiled away in relative obscurity - though he did later train world light heavyweight champion Jose Torres, D'Amato largely left the limelight that he had enjoyed as Patterson's coach. Instead, he opened the Catskill Boxing Club in Catskill, New York and bought a mansion nearby where he could house his best students while training them full time, and set about trying to find the next heavyweight champion of the world.
And then Mike Tyson entered the picture.
A troubled pre-teen that was sent to reform school by a judge, Tyson found boxing by chance. "Irish" Bobby Stewart, a former Golden Gloves champion, served as a counsellor at the school he was forced to attend. Upon hearing about the counsellor's pugilistic career, Tyson approached Stewart and asked if he could teach him how to box. After some hesitation given the boy's affinity for getting into trouble, Stewart started coaching Tyson and soon realized the kid had real potential - he then took him to the nearby Cus D'Amato and the rest is history.
Instantly recognizing the natural gifts the boy possessed, Cus took Tyson under his wing and inspired a sense of confidence in the troubled child that he had never even known possible, instilling in him the belief that he would become the heavyweight champion of the world. When Tyson's mother died when he was 16, D'Amato legally adopted his pupil and cared for him as if he was his own son.
Learning from the problems his previous heavyweight great had encountered, Cus adjusted Tyson's style accordingly, with Tyson being taught to bend at the knee rather than the waist to avoid the back problems Patterson had suffered.
If Patterson was Cus D'Amato's prototype for a heavyweight champion, Tyson was his new and improved version 2.0: Floyd likely held a slight advantage in pure hand speed, but Tyson more than made up for it with his unbelievable raw power, strength and pure ferocity, an animalistic intensity that instilled fear in even the hardiest fighters; though Patterson stood two inches taller than Tyson, Iron Mike had the same reach and a much stronger frame, weighing about 220 as a pro, a solid thirty pounds more than Patterson which made him much more suited for the heavyweight ranks.
D'Amato's improved heavyweight machine demolished the opposition he faced in the amateurs, earning the "Kid Dynamite" moniker thanks to his plethora of knockouts en route to gold medals at the 1981 and 1982 Junior Olympics - in 1984 however, Tyson lost two decisions to that year's Olympic gold medalist Henry Tillman (the two would later meet in the pros, where Tillman didn't last a round).
With a style much more suited to professional boxing, Tyson turned pro at 18 in 1985 and immediately began tearing through the division. He started with 11 straight knockouts before tragedy struck - his mentor Cus D'Amato passed away at the age of 77 after a battle with pneumonia.
Given that he had several other health issues prior, Cus knew his time was short and as a result did his best to teach Tyson everything he could before he passed, and insisted that Tyson would become the youngest heavyweight champion in history if he stayed the course.
Honouring his mentor in the most fitting of ways, Tyson didn't take any time to grieve and instead kept racking up knockouts, running up his streak to 19 straight finishes (12 came in the very first round) which included wins over fringe contenders David Jaco and Jesse Ferguson. He gained more ring time in 1986 with back-to-back decisions over James Tillis and Mitch Green (both of whom he dominated), before returning to his finishing ways that earned him a world title shot by the end of 1986 with a record of 27-0 with 25 knockouts.
Just a few months past the age of twenty, Mike Tyson absolutely demolished Trevor Burbick within two rounds to fulfill his mentor's prophecy and capture the WBC world heavyweight title, shattering Floyd Patterson's record by nearly two years. He then undertook the task of unifying the various belts - within a year he smashed James Smith, Pinklon Thomas, and Tony Tucker to add the WBA and IBF belts to his collection, and within another year he absolutely demolished Michael Spinks to pick up The Ring heavyweight crown and the lineal championship.
With his absolutely terrifying power, speed, combination punching, and the beautiful head movement and footwork that set everything up, Tyson was heralded as one of (if not the) most talented and destructive forces boxing had ever seen. The defeat of Spinks, who was a long reigning undefeated 31-0 champion and former Olympic gold medalist, particularly highlighted Tyson's ability to instill fear even in world champions. Spinks looked absolutely terrified from the moment he began his ring walk and got on his bike from the outset, but that didn't save him from being knocked dead in just 91 seconds and retiring from the sport following the brutal loss.
During his reign he also starched Tyrell Biggs, Tony Tubbs, Frank Bruno, Carl Williams, and the great Larry Holmes, who he famously punished severely over the course of four rounds to make the legend pay for his beatdown of Tyson's idol Muhammad Ali back in 1980.
Unfortunately, having had a traumatic childhood and gravitating toward negative influences his whole life, Tyson's dedication and discipline waned as time passed. Though Cus D'Amato protege Kevin Rooney did his best to reign in Tyson's vices, Tyson soon found himself surrounded by toxic influences like the notorious Don King and countless hangers-on.
Partying, drinking, drugs - Tyson's ability and natural physical gifts may have kept his destructive capabilities in the ring going for a time, but eventually Tyson simply couldn't get out of his own way and as many had predicted, the greatest opponent for Mike Tyson was always himself.
Despite the fact that it was trainer Kevin Rooney who was managing to keep Tyson (mostly) on the rails, Don King convinced Tyson to fire Rooney and hire his own team instead - any semblance of disclipline in Tyson's life was thus snuffed out by the notorious promoter.
With his resume at a brilliant 37-0, Tyson was expected to face Canadian contender Donovan "Razor" Ruddock late in 1989 but illness pulled Tyson from the fight. With a lucrative showdown against former cruiserweight king Evander Holyfield looming, rather than rebooking the Ruddock match Tyson's camp chose instead to seek out a "tune-up" fight early in 1990 against a lesser opponent before facing Holyfield. The "easy" opponent they picked? James "Buster" Douglas.
Facing a career underachiever, the Douglas fight was expected to be a layup for the indomitable Iron Mike. Bookies refused to even take bets on the bout, with the one casino in Vegas that did, The Mirage, listing Douglas as a 42-to-1 underdog. Tyson and his new corner didn't even bother to bring an endswell or ice to their corner, thinking the fight would be over as soon as it began. Tyson had barely even trained for it, focusing instead on women, parties, and lines of coke.
His bad habits finally caught up with him as Douglas put on the performance of his career, lighting an abnormally flat footed Tyson up from the outside as Mike telegraphed haymakers and hit plenty of air. It was clear he expected an easy victory and a one-punch KO, and as such Tyson's usual footwork, combination punching, head movement - all of it had disappeared. Without the tutelage of Rooney to keep him at least somewhat focused, the ferocious heavyweight killer was reduced to a shadow of his former self.
As his eye swelled shut and more rounds slipped away from him, Tyson grew more and more desperate, eventually dropping Buster in the eighth with an uppercut, but Douglas shook it off and survived.
Tyson, sensing his opportunity, went for broke in the ninth, but instead of finishing off what he thought was a wounded foe, he got tagged by a vicious combination that put him on queer street. He somehow managed to stay on his feet while Douglas pounded away and sought the finish, but in the tenth, a still visibly hurt Tyson was dropped by a massive combination and fell to the canvas for the first time in his career. Struggling to pick up his mouth piece as he tried to rise, Tyson was counted out and one of the biggest upsets in sports history was official.
The loss haunted Tyson and his camp tried everything they could to secure a rematch, but Douglas opted not to deal with Tyson's camp (namely Don King) again and instead chose to fight Evander Holyfield, being easily knocked out in three rounds and retiring as a result.
Unable to exact vengeance on Douglas, Tyson turned his rage to old amateur rival Henry Tillman, who he demolished in the very first round. He then smashed fringe contender Alex Stewart before finishing Razor Ruddock, though the ref stoppage in the seventh round was deemed controversial and a rematch took place just three months later. This time, Ruddock survived all twelve rounds in a back and forth war that Tyson got the better of, breaking Ruddock's jaw in the process though he suffered a perforated eardrum of his own.
Before he could seek to reclaim his titles however, a rape allegation and later conviction in a show trial would derail his career and kept him out of the ring for over four years.
Returning with a vengeance in 1995, Tyson knocked out Peter McNeely and Buster Mathis Jr. before stopping Frank Bruno and Bruce Seldon to earn back his WBC and WBA titles.
He then finally faced Evander Holyfield in their infamous two-fight series: Holyfield bested Tyson with an eleventh round TKO in their first clinch-heavy meeting, but the victory was marred in controversy given Holyfield's repeated headbutts that went unnoticed by the referee (they would become a recurring theme in Holyfield's fights); a rematch saw Holyfield applying the same tactics, enraging Tyson who responded by famously biting Holyfield's ear (twice), ripping off a chunk of Evander's ear and getting himself disqualified and suspended in the process.
Tyson was forced out of action for over a year, and while he did experience some success such as in his knockouts over contenders Francois Botha and Lou Savarese, Tyson's continued unprofessional lifestyle left him looking like a shell of his former self as time wore on.
He would challenge for the unified world titles once again in 2002 but was dominated by Lennox Lewis and in his last two fights, he was knocked out by fringe contenders Danny Williams and Kevin McBride in embarassing outings that he clearly only showed up for because of the pay day they provided.
He subsequently retired and would later clean up his act, scoring several movie roles (most famously in The Hangover) and even turned in a successful one-man show that toured the US; he recently returned to the ring at 53 years old to face Roy Jones Jr. in an exhibition match where he looked shockingly good for his age and expressed his desire to create a "legends only league" for older fighters, though a subsequent fight has yet to come to fruition.
"Jersey" Joe Walcott (51-18-2, 32 KOs)
Heavyweight, 1930 - 1953
Beginning his professional career at 16 years old in the middleweight division, Walcott developed a skillful counter-punching style as he grew into his eventual heavyweight frame, with a powerful left check hook and a sniping right cross in addition to his laser-focused jab. He was also known for his fancy footwork, something that was extremely rare for a heavyweight at the time.
After going a solid if unremarkable 26-8-2 over the first decade of his career, Walcott would leave the ring for over four years following a knockout loss to Abe Simon until making a comeback in 1944 at the age of 30. It was then that a bonafide contender would emerge.
Walcott won 15 of his next 16 fights to become a legitimate heavyweight contender before a pair of close decision losses to Elmer Ray (who he had knocked out nearly a decade prior) and former light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim in 1946. He avenged both of those losses with decision wins of his own (two in fact over Maxim) to earn himself a world title shot opposite Joe Louis at the end of 1947.
Walcott knocked down Louis twice and had most ringside viewers and sportswriters scoring the bout for him (including the referee, since back then the referee also scored the fight), but at the end of 15 rounds Louis was awarded the split decision victory. A rematch took place six months later and became the first closed-circuit telecast sports broadcast when it was shown in theatres; Walcott dropped Louis again in their second fight, but Louis came back to knock Walcott out in the eleventh.
Louis retired (for a while) following the pair of fights with Walcott, leaving Walcott the opportunity to fight for the vacated NBA title opposite Ezzard Charles. Charles beat Walcott by decision, with most then writing off Walcott's chances of ever winning the world title given his age, but Walcott won five of his next six outings and earned another crack at Charles.
Ezzard once again outpointed Walcott in a close fight, and after defending his titles against Joey Maxim, granted Walcott a rematch. This time, Jersey Joe finally achieved his dreams of becoming heavyweight champion of the world by knocking out Charles in the seventh round, becoming the oldest man to win the title at 37 years old (a record that would stand for over 40 years until George Foreman came along in 1994). He evened the score by then winning a decision against Ezzard in a rematch to defend his throne.
In 1952 Walcott would go to war with the undefeated Rocky Marciano, dropping Rocky for the first time in his career courtesy of a left hook in the opening round. He outboxed his challenger for twelve rounds and was up big on the scorecards, but in the thirteenth round, Marciano delivered one of the most incredible comebacks in boxing when he landed a devastating right hand that many pundits claimed was the hardest punch landed in the sport's history.
A rematch saw Marciano knock Walcott out in the opening round and Jersey Joe finally retired at the age of 39. He later scored small parts in movies and TV shows and also served as a referee before overseeing the infamous Ali-Liston rematch; he went on to become Sheriff of Camden County, New Jersey and then served as chairman of the New Jersey State Athletic Commission from 1975-1984.
Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs)
Super middleweight - Light heavyweight, 2004 - 2017
Andre Ward is one of the rare breed of fighters that retired from the sport as an undisputed champion without ever suffering a defeat in their professional career, and he managed to become a champion in two separate weight classes to boot.
A versatile fighter that likes to both counter and jab away at his opponents on the outside, and to fight on the inside and work his opponents over from within the pocket, Ward is a highly adaptable boxer which has helped him to remain undefeated throughout his career.
Ward first made his mark on the boxing world by capturing a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens at light heavyweight before transitioning to the professional ranks that same year at super middleweight. He quickly tore through his opposition to bring his record up to 20-0 with 16 finishes and earned multiple regional titles to secure his spot in the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament.
Ward faced off against the tournament favourite Mikkel Kessler in the first round of the tournament for Kessler's super middleweight WBA title. Kessler was 42-1 with his only loss coming to legend Joe Calzaghe; in a major upset, Ward dominated the fight en route to a technical decision after the eleventh round given that Kessler suffered multiple cuts from headbutts deemed to be accidental and was unable to continue.
He next faced Allan Green and scored another dominant victory with a shutout on the cards, then defended his title against Sakio Baka in a similarly lopsided display before beating Arthur Abraham in the semi-finals.
In the finals, Ward met Carl Froch and won in a closer decision, picking up The Ring and the WBC titles to conclude the highly successful Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament which turned him into a star.
He defended his titles twice in as many years with victories over Chad Dawson and Edwin Rodriguez, but injuries and a contractual dispute with his manager left Ward highly inactive and eventually cost him all but his WBA title due to inactivity, spending the entirety of 2014 on the shelf. He returned mid-2015 with a victory over lesser opponent Paul Smith before vacating his remaining WBA title in order to move up to light heavyweight.
Ward returned to a standard level of activity in 2016 by dominating Sullivan Barrera and Alexander Brand to earn a crack at the WBA, IBF, and WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev.
Ward was knocked down in the second round and the more powerful Kovalev seemed to get the better of Ward throughout the fight, leading most observers and pundits to score the fight in favour of Kovalev - after twelve rounds however, all three judges scored the fight 114-113 for Ward.
An immediate rematch ensued and again the fight was close, but a series of clear low blows to Kovalev's groin ended up embroiling the rematch in even more controversy - the referee stopped the bout in the eighth round despite Kovalev getting hit by another low blow in the "finishing" sequence. Ward was ahead by one round on two judges' scorecards while Kovalev was up by three on the other heading into the eighth round.
Ward subsequently retired from boxing at the age of 33. While his last two bouts were certainly controversial, there's no doubt that Ward was one of the best fighters of his era and a well-rounded technician even if he had a bit of a reputation for being a dirty fighter.
Pernell Whittaker (40-4-1 1 NC, 17 KOs)
Lightweight - Light middleweight, 1984 - 2001
Arguably the greatest defensive boxer of all time, the late Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whittaker was a world champion in four weight classes and boasts the longest unified lightweight title reign in the division's history.
Beginning his amateur career at just nine years old, Whittaker developed an uncanny ability to avoid punches in the ring which coincided with his strong countering ability, particularly with his southpaw straight and check right hook, though he wasn't known for being a knockout puncher himself. These skills led him to a gold medal at lightweight in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and he transitioned to the pro ranks later that same year.
Quickly piling on wins, Whittaker defeated former world champion Alfredo Layne in just his eleventh outing and followed it up by beating former two-weight champion Roger Mayweather in his twelfth. A few more wins saw him earn his first world title shot against Jose Luis Ramirez for the WBC lightweight title in 1988 - despite Whittaker largely dominating the action, Ramirez was awarded the decision in what is still mentioned today as one of the worst decisions in boxing's long history of bad decisions.
Less than a year later he would capture a world lightweight title by defeating Greg Haugen for the IBF belt; in his second title defense, Whittaker would avenge his "loss" by dominating Ramirez again and this time picking up the decision victory along with The Ring and the WBC lightweight titles.
He defended his belts twice against Freddie Pendleton and Azumah Nelson before knocking out Juan Nazario to add the WBA belt to his collection, and proceeded to defend the unified belts three more times, which included a victory over featherweight champion Jorge Paez.
In 1992 Sweet Pea began to ascend the weight classes, soon adding the IBF junior welterweight title to his collection by defeating Rafael Pineda before capturing the WBC welterweight crown against James McGirt in '93.
Later that year Whittaker faced off against #1 ranked pound-for-pound boxer on the planet Julio Cesar Chavez, an 87-0 world champion in three divisions already who was seeking a fourth weight class to conquer. After twelve rounds, Whittaker once again found himself robbed of a win after the judges declared the fight a draw despite Whittaker outclassing the Mexican legend in the ring.
Even Sports Illustrated ran an issue with Whittaker on the cover with the caption "ROBBED!" following the match, with just about everyone agreeing that Whittaker deserved the nod - though at least this time, he got to keep his hard earned title instead of being robbed of that too.
Pernell defended his title twice more before venturing up for a one-off fight at super welterweight where he outboxed Julio Cesar Vasquez to earn the WBA title there, joining Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran as the fourth fighter to earn a major world title in four different weight classes.
Pernell returned to his home of welterweight and defended his WBC title a further five times, with his last successful defense coming against the criminally overlooked Diosbelys Hurtado. The undefeated Hurtado shocked many by knocking down the defensive mastermind twice early, and Whittaker also had a point deducted for a back-of-the-head shot that had him down by a wide margin on the scorecards. In a rare display of power and aggression, Whittaker unloaded with his left hand in the eleventh and knocked Hurtado out in a vicious barrage that snatched back his throne from the jaws of defeat.
Though the comeback was certainly impressive, it was the first sign that the 33 year old may be slowing down; in his next fight, he would lose in yet another controversial decision (though not as bad as his "loss" against Ramirez or the draw with Chavez) against Oscar De La Hoya. Whittaker clearly showed off his impeccable defense in the fight, but his lack of significant offensive output made the fight extremely close. Still, many analysts and other boxers believed Whittaker deserved the victory even if it wasn't his best performance.
Whittaker originally won his next fight against Andrey Pestryayev, but the win was overturned to a No Contest after Sweet Pea tested positive for cocaine, marking a noted pattern of substance abuse further evidenced by run-ins with the law over cocaine possession. When he came back over a year later in 1999, Whittaker suffered the first convincing defeat of his career against IBF welterweight champion Felix Trinidad.
Whittaker wouldn't return to the ring for another two years until he faced journeyman Carlos Bojorquez and looked like a shell of his former self - he lost by TKO as the result of a broken clavicle in round four, but was already down on the cards by the time the injury occurred. Whittaker retired from boxing following the fight and in 2002 was convicted of cocaine possession, after which it was revealed he had recently survived an overdose from the drug as well.
Luckily Sweet Pea did turn things around and in 2005 became a boxing trainer in his home state of Virginia, where he lived the remainder of his life. Tragically, in July of 2019 he was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing an intersection in Virginia Beach. Whittaker was just 55 years old.
Jimmy Wilde (137-4-1 8 No Decisions, 99 KOs)
Flyweight, 1911 - 1923
Owner of the longest confirmed unbeaten streak in boxing history, "The Mighty Atom" is still regarded as the greatest flyweight the sport has ever seen and had shockingly powerful hands despite the fact that he stood just 5'2 and regularly fought against larger opponents.
Beginning his pugilistic career as a teenager, Wilde amazed crowds at fairground boxing booths by knocking down men much larger in size (often upwards of 200 pounds) and showcased remarkable toughness despite his tiny stature.
His first recorded pro fight came at the end of 1910 in a three round "no decision" bout when he was 18, but it is widely believed he had plenty more pro fights before then. He proceeded to be unbeaten across the next 103 fights (though eight of his bouts were No Decisions which didn't have an official winner if a knockout wasn't scored) and captured the European IBU flyweight title in his 90th bout.
He suffered his first defeat in 1915 by a TKO against Tancy Lee in the seventeenth round. The Welsh flyweight bounced back by winning his next 32 outings, reclaiming his IBU title and adding the British title as well before knocking out Lee in the twelfth round of their rematch. He also won the first ever world flyweight title in 1916 by finishing America's Young Zulu Kid in the eleventh round, a title which he would defend five times amongst many non-title fights.
Despite his tiny frame, he regularly took on bantamweights and featherweights and still managed to knock most of them out - the famous Ring Magazine named Wilde as the third greatest puncher of all time for good reason.
In 1919, Wilde came to the US for a national tour, losing his first bout in an upset newspaper decision to bantamweight Jackie Sharkey (not to be confused with heavyweight Jack Sharkey), but he went on to win his next ten bouts including three defenses of his world flyweight title.
After taking a few months off, Wilde returned to England in 1921 where he lost via knockout in the seventeeth round against former (and future) bantamweight Pete Herman, who outweighed Wilde by at least 14 pounds. Wilde retired then at the age of 28, but came back nearly 18 months later as he felt an obligation to defend the flyweight world title which he had never lost. Unfortunately, Wilde would be knocked out by the Filipino sensation Pancho Vila in the seventh round, sending Wilde into his final retirement.
The Mighty Atom would then turn to refereeing, but he didn't get to enjoy a very happy post-fight career. In 1936 most of his boxing trophies and medals were stolen in a burglary, and he was severely injured in a car crash in that same year.
With the winnings he had saved from his boxing career, he invested in several different business schemes including a Welsh cafe dubbed "The Mighty Atom Cafe" but none were successful and sadly he lived his later years in poverty.
Deontay Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs)
Heavyweight, 2008 - current
Sporting one of the most absurd knockout-to-win ratios ever in boxing, the 6'7 heavyweight with an 83" reach has freakish one-punch knockout power that rivals even the most fearsome punchers in the sport's long history such as Mike Tyson and George Foreman.
Wilder didn't start learning how to box until he was 20 years old, but quickly made an impact on the amateur circuit thanks to his athleticism and ridiculous punching power. Wilder capped off a successful amateur career won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, earning himself the moniker of "The Bronze Bomber".
Deontay began his pro career with an incredible 32 straight knockouts, not a single one of his opponents making it past the fourth round and earning him a WBC regional title in the process. In 2015 he won the proper WBC world title with a decision win over Bermane Stiverne, showing off a solid jab and proving to doubters that he could last over twelve rounds and genuinely box in the process.
He defended his WBC crown seven times over the next three years, all by knockout (including a first round finish of Stiverne in a rematch), before meeting British star Tyson Fury in a highly anticipated showdown in 2018.
The match was fought at a rather tepid pace with Fury largely outboxing the power puncher for most of the rounds, but in round nine Wilder turned the tides by scoring a knockdown - Fury however survived the ensuing onslaught Wilder brought and Wilder appeared to have gassed himself out by the tenth, with Fury winning both that and the eleventh round.
It seemed Fury was well on his way to a decision victory when in the last round, Wilder landed a crisp 1-2 that knocked Fury flat. Virtually everyone in the arena, from Wilder to the commentary table, was sure that the fight was over, but astoundingly Fury rose from the dead and beat the count, then proceeded to outbox Wilder for the rest of the round.
Most viewers thought Fury had done enough to win, but the judges controversially declared the fight a draw. Rather than putting on the immediate rematch fans demanded, both boxers fought twice to keep active before facing each other once again early in 2020.
Expecting another close affair, fans were shocked when Fury absolutely dominated Wilder, knocking him down twice and rocking him many more times before his corner threw in the towel in the seventh round to spare him from any further punishment. A variety of excuses followed Wilder's first career loss, including the claim that his bedazzled, light-up walkout gear was too heavy and tired his legs before the fight.
Although fans have hardly clamoured for a third fight given the one-sided nature of their rematch, the two did have a rematch clause in their bout agreement which was executed by Wilder, and the two are expected to face off again in August after Fury's management tried in vain to ignore their contract and fight Anthony Joshua instead.
Though he may not be the most technical boxer and his excuses following his first career loss haven't exactly endeared him to fans recently, Wilder is regardless one of the greatest one-punch knockout artists in boxing history and is always exciting to watch.
So there you have it, the comprehensive list of boxers that I believe should be added to the ESBC roster. Did I miss any of your favourites? Or perhaps you disagree with an inclusion? Feel free to comment below or yell at me on Twitter