Thursday, June 13, 2024  |


Who is the greatest fighter alive? No. 3 revealed

Fighters Network
SAN ANTONIO - SEPTEMBER 10,1993: Pernell Whitaker (L) lands a right punch against Julio Cesar Chavez during the fight at the Alamodome, on September 10,1993 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)

Whitaker (left) was dazzling against Julio Cesar Chavez but had to settle for a highly controversial draw. 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, for No. 5 click here and for No. 4 click here

Ring Magazine Cover - Pernell WhitakerNo. 3 PERNELL WHITAKER

Birthplace: Norfolk, Va.

Active: 1984-2001

Record: 40-4-1 (17 KOs)

Major titles: RING lightweight (won it in 1989), IBF lightweight (1989-92), WBC lightweight (1989-92), WBA lightweight (1990-92), IBF junior welterweight (199293), WBC welterweight (1993-97), WBA junior middleweight (1995).

Key victories: Roger Mayweather (big early test) UD, 1987; Greg Haugen (first title) UD, 1989; Jose Luis Ramirez (added WBC belt in rematch) UD, 1989; Azumah Nelson (title defense) UD, 1990.

Summary: Whitaker was the Floyd Mayweather Jr. of his day … or should we say Mayweather was the Whitaker of his? “Sweet Pea,” a gold medalist in the 1984 Olympics, had the kind of ability – a baffling blend of athleticism, speed and skills – that made him virtually untouchable when he was at his best. He dominated the lightweight and welterweight divisions from 1989 to 1997, clearly establishing himself as one of the greatest boxers of all time. Whitaker didn’t lose a clear decision until, at a faded 35, he was outpointed by a prime Felix Trinidad in 1999. That was followed by his final fight, in which he broke his clavicle and had to quit against Carlos Bojorquez in 2001. His two other losses and his draw are all disputed, meaning he could’ve (should’ve?) finished with a record of 43-2. In 1988, he lost a split decision to Jose Luis Ramirez in a fight most believe he won and later avenged the setback. In 1993, his draw with Julio Cesar Chavez is considered one of the sport’s great robberies. And, in 1997, even a close decision loss to a young Oscar De La Hoya was disputed. This is the point: Whitaker was almost unbeatable.