Thursday, April 18, 2024  |



Who is the greatest fighter alive? No. 4 revealed

Fighters Network
LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 9,1996: Mike Tyson (L) lays on the canvas after being knocked down by Evander Holyfield during the fight at the MGM Grand, on November 9,1996 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Evander Holyfield won by a TKO 11.  (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)

Holyfield (right) reached the pinnacle of his career when he upset Mike Tyson in the 11th-round of their first fight. Photo/ THE RING

The question was raised early this year as a group of knowledgeable boxing people – writers, publicists and others who have been around the sport for many years – had dinner the night before a big fight in Las Vegas:

Who is the greatest living fighter, pound for pound?

The first name out of almost everyone’s mouth was Muhammad Ali, arguably the greatest heavyweight of all time and one of the best without regard to weight. “The Greatest” was truly the greatest.

Since that meeting, sadly, we lost Ali. So the answer to the question that was asked that evening in Las Vegas isn’t quite as cut and dry.

Who is it? Who is the greatest living fighter?

THE RING editors, with input from knowledgeable contributors, came up with a Top 10 list of best living fighters. We know our choices will spark debate – they did so among ourselves – but we feel they’re a good place to start.

Note: THE RING will release one result per day until Tuesday Aug. 9, when the greatest living fighter will be announced. On that same day, the November issue will be released in its digital format, within which this feature will appear in full.

For Nos. 6 through 10 click here and for No. 5 click here

Ring Magazine Cover - Evander Holyfield4. EVANDER HOLYFIELD

Birthplace: Atmore, Ala.

Active: 1984-2011

Record: 44-10-2 (29 KOs)

Major titles: WBA cruiserweight (1986-88), IBF cruiserweight (1987-88), WBC cruiserweight (1988), IBF/WBA/ WBC heavyweight (1990-92), IBF/WBA heavyweight (1993-94), WBA heavyweight 1996-99, IBF heavyweight (1997-99), WBA heavyweight (2000-01).

Key victories: Dwight Muhammad Qawi (cruiserweight title) SD, 1986; James Tillis (heavyweight debut) TKO 5, 1988; Buster Douglas (unified title) KO 3, 1990; George Foreman (first title defense) UD, 1991; Larry Holmes (title defense) UD, 1992; Riddick Bowe (regained two titles) MD, 1993; Mike Tyson (regained title) TKO 11, 1996; Tyson (ear bite fight) DQ 3, 1997; Michael Moorer (regained title), TKO 8, 1997; John Ruiz (won title for final time) UD, 2000.

Summary: Imagine if Holyfield had been a natural heavyweight? Scary. As it was, the fierce onetime cruiserweight king became the only heavyweight to win a major title four times. And he generally competed at a size (and later age) disadvantage. Holyfield was the greatest cruiserweight ever but was just getting started. He blew out Buster Douglas to win the unified heavyweight title in 1990 and successfully defended three times. Then came his first fight against the talented and much bigger Riddick Bowe. Holyfield lost his title in the first of three meetings, regained it and lost it again. “The Real Deal” was hardly finished as his greatest foil still lay ahead. Holyfield was a 25-1 underdog when he faced a resurgent Mike Tyson but shocked the world by scoring an 11th-round knockout. The rematch was the unforgettable “Bite Fight.” After that came Lennox Lewis, another gifted and much bigger foe who went 1-0-1 in competitive fights against Holyfield, who was past his prime at 36 and 37. Holyfield would fight until he was almost 50 but his legacy was secure: Truly great.