Monday, May 29, 2023  |


Who is the greatest fighter alive? No. 2 revealed

Fighters Network
PHILADELPHIA,PA - SEPTEMBER 15,1977: Roberto Duran (L) lands an uppercut against Edwin Viruet during the fight at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Roberto Duran won the WBA World lightweight title by a UD 15. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)

Duran (left) at his lightweight best against Edwin Viruet in a 1977 rematch. 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, for No. 4 click here and for No. 3 click here

Ring Magazine Cover - Roberto DuranNo. 2 ROBERTO DURAN

Birthplace: El Chorrillo, Panama

Active: 1968-01

Record: 103-16 (70 KOs)

Major titles: RING (1972-79), WBA lightweight (1972-79), WBC lightweight (1978-79), RING welterweight (1980), WBC welterweight (1980), WBA junior middleweight (1983-84), WBC middleweight (1989-90).

Key victories: Ken Buchanan (first title) TKO 13, 1972; Esteban De Jesus (avenges first loss), KO 11, 1974; Sugar Ray Leonard (his greatest victory) UD 15, 1980; Davey Moore (wins junior middleweight title) TKO 8, 1983; Iran Barkley (wins middleweight title) SD 12, 1989.

Summary: The superlatives never end. Roberto Duran had much more than “Hands of Stone,” his alias. He had sublime skills and the mindset of an assassin. His ferocity was focused in the ring but his passion often bubbled over outside it. Yes, he had the power to hurt his opponents. He had 70 knockouts, a number that exceeds the total bouts of most boxers. And, of course, he had the resume. Duran could’ve punched his ticket to the International Boxing Hall of Fame by virtue of his lightweight run alone, after which his record stood at 63-1. However, after jumping to welterweight, he recorded a historic victory over then unbeaten superstar Sugar Ray Leonard to clinch his status as a legend. Duran would claim more successes and suffer disappointments, including losses to Leonard (in the “No Mas” rematch), Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns. And he would fight far too long, retiring at 50 in 2001. Memories of his career remain largely unsullied, though. Simply put, Roberto Duran had it all – ability, accomplishments and the ability to touch so many fans with his fire.