Boxing’s Greatest Fighters vs Boxing’s Hardest Punchers

Boxing’s greatest fighters vs boxing’s hardest punchers

Published On Wednesday, June 24, 2020By Boxing News Now
Related Tags: Barry Lindenman

A look into the classic Boxer vs Puncher matchup

By Barry Lindenman

It’s not often that you speak about boxing and auto racing in the same sentence. Unfortunately, there are some boxing “fans” out there who simply watch the sport for the knockouts. These might be the same “fans” who watch auto racing simply for the crashes.

Winning an auto race such as the Indianapolis 500 is a lot more complicated than which race car has the biggest, most powerful engine.  Similarly, winning in boxing is not as simple as which fighter is stronger and possesses the more powerful punch.  In both auto racing and boxing, winning depends on many more factors than simply power. It takes things like skill, technique, timing and strategy.  If boxing were as simple as “the hardest puncher wins,” then the following results in history would have happened:

Sonny Liston would have easily knocked out a young Cassius Clay in 1964

George Foreman would have probably ended the career of Muhammad Ali in 1974

Mike Tyson would have destroyed James “Buster” Douglas in 1990

Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev would have knocked out Andre Ward in 2017

But none of those things happened because boxing is much more than who hits the hardest.

It’s interesting that when people are asked to list the greatest fighters of all time, these are some of the names that are typically mentioned (in no particular order) depending on who you ask:

Sugar Ray Robinson

Muhammad Ali

Henry Armstrong

Joe Louis

Willie Pep

Roberto Duran

Benny Leonard

Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Jack Johnson

Julio Cesar Chavez

Jack Dempsey

What’s also interesting is that when people are asked to name the hardest punchers of all time, these are some of the names that are typically mentioned (in no particular order) depending on who you ask:

Earnie Shavers

George Foreman

Mike Tyson

Rocky Marciano

Bob Foster

Sonny Liston

Julian Jackson

Joe Louis

Thomas Hearns

Roberto Duran

Deontay Wilder

What’s interesting as you can see is that, except for a couple of exceptions, they are two completely different lists.  The greatest fighters of all time are not generally regarded as the hardest punchers and the hardest punchers of all time are not regarded as the greatest fighters. They are basically two different lists.

Below is a list of some of the greatest fighters of all time.  We know that because they are all enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY:

Notice the low percentage of their wins that came by way of knockout for these Hall of Fame boxers.  Even the great Jake LaMotta (“The Raging Bull”) only had 36% of his wins via knockout.  Of Willie Pep’s 230 wins as a pro, only 28% came as a result of a knockout. The point I’m trying to make is that some of the greatest fighters in the history of boxing were not big punchers and REAL fans of boxing need to appreciate the difference between a great boxer and a hard puncher.

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