One of the most widely debated topics in sports is who is the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. Various factors come into the debate, including the competition some of the boxers faced, the changing of the size of the boxers, and the changing of the rules of boxing themselves.
Jack Dempsey (66-6, 51KO's)
Jack Dempsey was the world heavyweight champion from 1919 to 1926. Starting from the age of 16 Dempsey would walk into bars and claim to be able to beat anyone in the place in a fight. He would put money on the fight and always win. He generated huge interest in his pro fights, getting over 100,000 people to come to his fights.
Sonny Liston (50-4, 39KO's)
One of the most powerful punchers in heavyweight history, Liston became heavyweight champion in 1962.He will probably be best known for losing to Muhammad Ali in 1965.
Gene Tunny (82-1, 48KO's)
Tunny was the heavyweight champ from 1926-1928, which included two victories over Jack Dempsey. He was named the first ever "Fighter of the Year" by Ring Magazine. Many have said that Muhammad Ali's style can be attributed to Tunny.
Joe Frazier (32-4, 27KO's)
Frazier became champion in 1968 by winning a fight after Muhammad Ali was stripped of his title for not going into the military. Frazier held the title until 1973 when he lost to George Foreman. Frazier was a true warrior in the ring and never held back.
Larry Holmes (69-6, 44KO)
Holmes became the heavyweight champion in 1978. He won the first 48 fights of his career which is second best all time, had the second longest title reign from 1978-1985, and the second most title defenses with 20. Holmes was also the man that retired Muhammad Ali.
George Foreman (76-5, 68KO)
Foreman, the oldest man to win the heavyweight championship, winning it at the age of 45 was one of the hardest punchers in the history of boxing. He held the heavyweight title twice and was an Olympic champ.
Rocky Marciano (49-0, 43KO's)
Rocky Marciano is the only heavyweight boxer to go undefeated in their career. He was the heavyweight champion from 1952-1956. Marciano does not get number 1 on the list because he was known to have ducked some of the best fighters in his day, and fought Joe Lewis long after his prime.
Mike Tyson (50-6, 44KO)
No fighter was more ruthless, or more physically dominating in their prime then Iron Mike Tyson. Had the ability to knock anyone out with one punch. If he didn't lose his damn mind after Cus D'Amato died, he could have been the greatest champion ever.
Muhammad Ali (56-5, 37KO's)
Ali said that "I float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." Ali was known for having the quickest hands and feet of any fighter in his time. His verbal abuse before and during the fight was almost as bad as the punches he threw. Ali fought against the hardest competition of any other fighter and had victories over guys like Joe Frazier, George Foreman, and Sonny Liston.
Joe Louis (69-3, 55KO's)
Joe Louis is widely considered as the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time. Louis held the heavyweight title for 11 years, the longest of any champion. He competed in 25 championship fights from 1937 to 1949. He holds the record for recording 23 KO's in 27 title defenses. Louis's career was interrupted by World War 2 however he continued to fight after serving in the army. Louis famously defeated James Braddock aka the "Cinderella Man."
Notable Omissions to this list include Lennox Lewis, Jack Johnson, James Corbett, and Floyd Patterson.