Decade Rankings: 1980-1989

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(1)  Mike Tyson 5’10”, 220- The Mike Tyson of the 1980s was one of the great fighting machines in the history of boxing. Don’t get him confused with the later version of the 90s or 2000s. In the 80s Tyson was young, hungry and talented. He destroyed everything in his path. Fighters who faced his wrath were Trevor Berbick, Bonecrusher Smith, Tony Tucker, Pinklon Thomas, Tyrell Biggs, Larry Holmes, Tony Tubbs, Michael Spinks, Frank Bruno Carl Williams. I question if any heavyweight ever dominated a decade so thoroughly. Many rank Holmes ahead of Tyson but if you look at their common opponents Tyson was clearly more dominate. Spinks defeated Holmes twice and lost in the 1st round to Tyson. Carl Williams lost a close decision to Holmes while Tyson easily knocked him out. Trevor Berbick lost a 15 round decision to Holmes while being devastated by Tyson in 2 rounds. Bonecrusher Smith went the distant with both legends and lost decisions. Holmes had several closes calls before his losses to Spinks while Tyson had no close calls during the decade. (36-0) *381

(2) Larry Holmes 6’3”, 212- No question Holmes is an all-time great. During the first half of the decade he dominated the division. Trevor Berbick, Gerry Cooney, Renaldo Snipes, Tim Witherspoon, Bonecrusher Smith and Carl Williams all were beaten by the Easton Assassin. His two close fights with Michael Spinks could easily have went the other way and he was 38 years old when he lost to Tyson. Holmes did win two controversial fights in his prime over Carl Williams and Tim Witherspoon.(16-3) *890

(3) Mike Weaver  6’1”, 218-Weaver opened the decade with a 15 KO over John Tate to win the WBA title. He followed that up with a 13-KO over Gerrie Coetzee. Weaver also knocked out Carl Williams in 2 rounds and fought a draw against Dokes. Dokes, Pinklon Thomas, Bonecrusher Smith and Razor Ruddock all had wins over Weaver during the 1980s. Weaver was definitely one of the elite fighters of the first half of the decade. (13-4-1) *576

(4) Evander Holyfield 6’2”,210- Holyfield did not make an impact until the tail end of the decade. Quick Tillis, Pinklon Thomas, Michael Dokes, Adilson Rodriguez and Alex Stewart all lost to the young Holyfield. Yes, Dokes and Thomas were at the tail end of their careers but had outstanding fights against Evander. Many boxing experts are critical of Holyfield being rated this high but the real question was just how much did Thomas and Dokes have left when they faced Holyfield. Dokes was only 31 years old and had won 11 fights in a row dating back to his loss to Coetzee. And his fight against Holyfield may have been his career best performance. Dokes also won 13 out of his next 14 fights showing just how competitive he still was. Thomas was still only 30 when he lost to Holyfield although his career was definitely on the decline. Witherspoon’s list of victims is not any more impressive and Michael Spinks only real claim to fame was his close decisions over a 36 year old Larry Holmes. (5-0) *279

(5) Pinklon Thomas  6’3”,216 -Pinky was an outstanding heavyweight with one of the best jabs in the division during the 1980s. His 1983 draw with Coetzee got everybody’s attention in the division and he followed that up with big wins over Tim Witherspoon and Mike Weaver. Following the Weaver fight he never had another major victory losing to Tyson, Holyfield and Trevor Berbick. (18-3-1) *535

(6) Tim Witherspoon  6’3”, 219- Witherspoon was a talented heavyweight who lost a split decision to Larry Holmes in 1983. Victories included Quick Tillis, Renaldo Snipes, Greg Page, Frank Bruno and Tony Tubbs. Two of his three defeats were to top heavies in Holmes and Pinklon Thomas. His 1st round knock out loss to Bonecrusher was his only real blemish. (29-3) *588

(7) Gerrie Coetzee  6’2 ½ ”, 222 – Coetzee was one of the top heavyweights in the division during the early 80s. Big wins included Michael Dokes, Quick Tillis and a draw with Pinklon Thomas. He came out on the wrong end of most of his biggest fights. Mike Weaver, Renaldo Snipes, Frank Bruno and Greg Page all were victorious against the South African. His lost to Snipes was a horrible decision. He fought the best the 80s had to offer but he did miss the big two in Holmes and Tyson. (8-4-1) *536

(8) Michael Spinks  6’2”, 210-Spinks gained fame as the light heavyweight champion and then shocked everybody by becoming the first light heavyweight to gain the heavyweight title. His two close victories over Holmes were his major achievements. His victory over Gerry Cooney was not viewed as a major accomplishment. His one loss was a one round knockout by Tyson.(4-1) *381

(9) Trevor Berbick  6’2”, 218-  John Tate, Greg Page, David Bey, Pinklon Thomas and an over the hill Muhammad Ali all fell to Berbick during the 1980s. His losses were to Larry Holmes, S.T. Gordon, Renaldo Snipes, Mike Tyson, Buster Douglas and Carl Williams. Berbick was one of the most active heavyweights during the decade. He is also the only fighter to face Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes and Muhammad Ali. (22-6) *408

(10) Greg Page  6’2”, 230- Page came away with victories over Alfredo Evanglelista, Jimmy Young, who was well pass his prime, Quick Tillis, Renaldo Snipes and Gerrie Coetzee. His losses were many; Trevor Berbick, Tim Witherspoon, David Bey, Tony Tubbs, Buster Douglas, Mark Willis and Joe Bugner. Page was very active and could really take a punch which proved to be his downfall. (23-8) *165

(11) Tony Tucker  6’5”, 235- Tucker had a long line of victories but never really fought anybody. His only victory over a notable contender was Buster Douglas. His lone loss was a tough 12 round defeat at the hands of Tyson. (37-1) *165

(12) Gerry Cooney  6’6”, 225- Cooney was one of the most over hyped fighters to ever enter the ring, but he was a big banger. He made his living on fighters that were over the hill. Jimmy Young, Ken Norton and Ron Lyle were his victims. His three losses were against Larry Holmes, George Foreman and Michael Spinks. Inactivity hurt him from being very highly thought of as a boxer. (6-3) *288

(13) Michael Dokes6’2”, 212-Dokes was not a very active heavyweight. During the 1980s the only real contender he defeated was Mike Weaver and that was a controversial knockout. Dokes seemed to avoid every top contender during the decade. He fought a draw against Weaver in their rematch and lost to Coetzee and Holyfield. Outside of these fights he was able to avoid all the top contenders. (25-2-2)  *533

(14) Frank Bruno 6’3”,218-The British sensation had some big wins over Gerrie Coetzee and Quick Tillis. His losses were to Tim Witherspoon and Mike Tyson.(32-3)*30

(15) Buster Douglas  6’4”,230- Douglas of course became famous for his destruction of Mike Tyson in 1990 but he did have three nice victories during the 80s. Trevor Berbick, Greg Page and Oliver McCall all lost to Douglas. His four defeats were to David Bey, Jesse Ferguson, Mike White and Tony Tucker. He had all kinds of weight problems during his career but when he was right he was tough to beat.(29-4-1) *107

(16) Bonecrusher Smith -6’4”, 228-One of the hardest hitters in the division during the decade he came up with some big knockouts. Frank Bruno, Mike Weaver, David Bey and Tim Witherspoon were all victims of Smith. He did not fair well when not delivering the KO punch. Losses included Larry Holmes, Tony Tubbs, Tim Witherspoon, Marvis Frazier, Adilson Rodriguez and Razor Ruddock. (22-8-1) *133

(17) Tony Tubbs 6’3”,238-Tubbs was always battling his weight problem. His big wins were against Bonecrusher Smith and Greg Page. His defeats were to Tim Witherspoon and Mike Tyson. (27-2)*163

(18) Carl Williams  6’4”, 215- His biggest victories were against two fighters that really got around a lot, Quick Tillis and Trevor Berbick. His losses were against three pretty good fighters, Mike Weaver, Mike Tyson and Larry Holmes. (22-3) *220

(19) Renaldo Snipes 6’2” 219-Snipes was a very unorthodox fighter who won a horrible decision over Gerrie Coetzee and defeated Trevor Berbick. He had many losses, Alfredo Evangelista, Larry Holmes, Greg Page, Tyrell Biggs, Tim Witherspoon and Orlin Norris. (26-7-1)*83

 (20) Leon Spinks 6’0”, 209- After winning the title from a rundown Ali in 1978 Spinks career went straight to the bottom. Victories were over Alfredo Evangelista, Kevin Isaac and Bernardo Mercado. His losses were many but some of the more prominent opponents were Larry Holmes, Carlos DeLeon, Dwight Qawi, Rocky Sekorski and Jose Ribalta.(11-10-2)*149

{average weight 220 of the top heavyweights of the 1980s}

  • Fighters Ring Rankings Totals for the Decade:
  • (Record is from the decade of the 1980s)

Top Heavies During the 1980s

1980  Larry Holmes            Coetzee                 Weaver                  John Tate              Cooney
1981  Larry Holmes            Weaver                  Cooney                  Leon Spinks          Dokes
1982  Larry Holmes            Weaver                  Dokes                    Cooney                  Greg Page
1983  Larry Holmes            Dokes                    Weaver                  Coetzee                  Page
1984  Larry Holmes            Coetzee                 Dokes                    Thomas                 Witherspoon
1985  Larry Holmes            Thomas                 Witherspoon         Greg Page            Coetzee
1986  M.Spinks                    L. Holmes             Thomas                 Witherspoon         Berbick
1987  M.Spinks                    Tyson                     Thomas                 Witherspoon         Smith
1988  Tyson                         Holyfield                 M.Spinks                Witherspoon         Tucker
1989  Tyson                         Holyfield                 C. Williams            F.Damiani             Ruddock


History of the Heavyweight Division 1980-89

1980-Champion,Larry Holmes     
#1 Michael Weaver   

#2 Gerry Cooney                                 

def. LeRoy Jones 8-KO
def. Muhammad Ali 10-KO
def. John Tate 15-KO
def. Gerrie Coetzee 13-KO
def. Jimmy Young 4-KO
def. Ron Lyle 1-KO

1981-Champion, Larry Holmes

#1 Michael Weaver                           
#2 Gerry Cooney                                 

def. Trevor Berbick 15-D
def. Leon Spinks 3-KO
def. Renaldo Snipes 11-KO
def. Quick Tillis 15-D
def. Ken Norton 1-KO

1982-Champion, Larry Holmes
#1 Michael Dokes                             
#2 Michael Weaver                           

def. Gerry Cooney 13-KO

def. Michael Weaver 1-KO (Questionable stoppage)
loss Michael Dokes 1-KO

1983-Champion, Larry Holmes
#1 Gerrie Coetzee
#2 Greg Page                                      
def. Tim Witherspoon 12-D Split

draw Pinklon Thomas
def. Michael Dokes 10-KO
def. Renaldo Snipes 12-D
1984-Champion, Larry Holmes
 #1 Pinklon Thomas                          
#2 Greg Page                                     

def. Bonecrusher Smith 12-KO 
def. Tim Witherspoon 12-D

loss Tim Witherspoon 12-D
loss David Bey 12-D
def. Gerrie Coetzee 8-KO

1985-Champion, Michael Spinks
 #1 Pinklon Thomas                           
#2 Larry Holmes                                 
def. Larry Holmes 15-D
def. Michael Weaver 8-KO
def. David Bey 10-KO
def. Carl Williams 15-D
loss Michael Spinks 15-D
1986-Champion, Michael Spinks
#1 Mike Tyson                                   
#2 Bonecrusher Smith                     

def. Larry Holmes 15-D Split 

def. Quick Tillis 10-D
def. Trevor Berbick 2-KO 
def. Michael Weaver 1-KO
def. David Bey 10-D
def. Tim Witherspoon 1-KO

1987-Champion, Michael Spinks
#1 Mike Tyson


#2 Evander Holyfield

def. Gerry Cooney 5-KO
def. Bonecrusher Smith 12-D
def. Pinklon Thomas 6-KO
def. Tony Tucker 15-D
def. Tyrell Biggs 7-KO

1988-Champion, Mike Tyson                   

#1 Evander Holyfield                         

#2 Carl Williams                                 

def. Larry Holmes 4-KO
def. Tony Tubbs 2-KO
def. Michael Spinks 1-KO
def. Quick Tillis 5-KO
def. Pinklon Thomas 7-KO
def. Trevor Berbick 12-D
1989-Champion, Mike Tyson 
#1 Evander Holyfield                         
#2 Michael Dokes                             

def. Mike Bruno 5-KO
def. Carl Williams 1-KO
def. Michael Dokes 10-KO
def. Alex Stewart 8-KO
loss Evander Holyfield 10-KO





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