Compiling any sort of list like this is always subjective, it’s a personal choice and plenty will disagree with my Top 5.
I did a similar list with British boxers, and that was relatively straightforward, it was really picking 10 names from maybe 13. However picking 5 from nearly 50 years of talent regardless of nationality is far more problematic.
I have gone for the top 5 rather than a top 10, simply because it’s much easier, yes I know it’s a cop-out. Doing the research highlights the tremendous talent we have had over the last 50 years, many we have probably forgotten about.
Again the list is my choices, many will have completely different names, and even though I will mention many boxers, there is no doubt I will not mention just as many who were probably equally as deserving.
The first few choices are relatively straightforward, Sugar Ray Leonard is for me the greatest boxer who ever lived. When you have fought the likes of Wilfred Benitez, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler and beat them all, your place on any list of the greatest ever is almost guaranteed.
There is little doubt Muhammad Ali was at the peak of his considerable skills in the sixties, and when he returned from his exile he was a much slower version of himself. However what he achieved on his return easily entitles him to a place on my list.
Ali regained the World Heavyweight title twice, the 1st time on that memorable night in Zaire against George Foreman. Ali had the memorable trilogy with Joe Frazier. Ali held the title he won from Foreman in 1974 until Leon Spinks outpointed him in 1978, he, of course, beat Spinks in the rematch.
Ali may or may not be the greatest ever, but with little doubt, he is the greatest ever Heavyweight.
However it’s where I put Ali on the list, originally I had him 2nd, but because it is based from 1970 onwards I am going to drop him down a little
Next on my list is Roberto Duran. A four weight World Champion, Duran is the only person to beat Sugar Ray Leonard when Leonard was at his peak. The Panamanian also pushed Marvin Hagler very close, in his 1st crack at the World Middleweight Title, remember Duran won his 1st World Title at Lightweight.
Duran had many lows but wins over the likes of Pipino Cuevas, Carlos Palomino, Davey Moore, Iran Barkley, Ken Buchanan, Esteban De Jesus and others, rightly earns his place on my list.
Those 3 boxers were fairly easy to come up with, the final 2 is where I struggled.
When you have to consider the likes of Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones, Julio Cesar Chavez, Thomas Hearns, Wilfredo Gomez, Carlos Zarate, Jose Napoles, Carlos Monzon, Bob Foster, Michael Spinks, Manny Pacquiao and I could go on and on, you will understand the problem.
Tyson might be one omission from my list which may surprise some. Tyson came along when Heavyweight boxing was on its knees, and boxing itself badly needed a Superstar, Tyson was that fighter.
Tyson was a frightening presence in the ring, underrated defensive skills, true one-shot power. But for me, Larry Holmes, and even Lennox Lewis were simply better, probably others too, Tyson just doesn’t warrant a place in my opinion.
Tyson like Holmes came along when they had no real dance partner, someone who the public saw as their equal, Holmes had Cooney some could argue, but both were clearly the best of their era’s but Tyson’s peak was cut short by his time inside and his other demons. Tyson was arguably on the slide after his win over Spinks even prior to his conviction.
Holmes’s defeats were at the end of his career, and even in the twilight of his career, he beat the likes of Ray Mercer, nearly beat Oliver McCall to regain the Heavyweight belt and also gave Holyfield a decent scrap.
Lennox Lewis beat everyone in his era, except Riddick Bowe who wouldn’t fight him. Lewis lost twice but beat both McCall and Rahman in returns.
Also if you include Tyson, how could you possibly leave out Evander Holyfield who beat him twice.
Including Floyd Mayweather may shock and surprise many. Despite the cynical way, he got his 49th win over an undeserving opponent in Andre Berto, and then got win number 50 by beating an MMA fighter, Mayweather is still a formidable fighter.
Mayweather is probably the greatest defensive boxer in the history of the sport. He might be too defensive for most, but nobody can deny his talents, he might call himself the best ever, he isn’t, but he is certainly up there.
The final choice or should I say choices are Marvin Hagler and Carlos Monzon, and I simply can’t split them.
Monzon made 14 successful defences of his World Middleweight Title, Hagler 12. Monzon never lost his title in the ring. Both were Champion for roughly 7 years, Hagler just short of 7 years and both undisputed champions as well.
Monzon lost 3 times early in his career all avenged, Hagler lost twice early in his career, again he avenged both. Hagler lost a controversial decision to Sugar Ray Leonard In 1987 and he never fought again.
Monzon and Hagler have such similar records, I couldn’t choose between them, so both make the cut.
So my 5 Greatest boxers since 1970 are:
Sugar Ray Leonard
Marvin Hagler/Carlos Monzon
If I had to be pushed to complete a Top 10, I would probably pick
Julio Cesar Chavez
I personally think Leonard, Ali, Mayweather and Duran are no-brainers, the other 2 picks could realistically be any 2 from about 10.
I definitely think SUGAR RAY LEONARD is a clear number one, Ali, Duran and Mayweather place in any order you want really, it’s just a personal viewpoint.