Heavyweight Greatests - Final Rankings 1956-1977

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1.  Muhammad Ali 6’3”, 215-  Louisville, KY
 {Heavyweight Champion 1964-70, 1974-78, 1978}

Ali, like all great fighters, had several different stages of his career. From 1964 to 67 he was in his prime and never challenged as a fighter. Upon his return to the ring in 1970 his skills had eroded somewhat but he showed his true greatness against Frazier, Foreman and Norton. He began taking many more punches and he began to slow down. In the last stages of his career he was just getting by on guts and determination.
Best Fight of his Career- 1966 Cleveland Williams 3-KO win
Rating Analysis- The next ten highest rated heavyweights on my list all fought Ali and lost so there can be little question as to his ranking as number one. Ali’s speed and size and quickness made him one of the best fighting machines in the history of the ring but his determination and ability to take a punch were unmatched in ring history. He defeated Liston twice, Foreman once, Frazier two out of three fights in very close decisions, Norton two out of three fighters in very close decisions, Terrell in a 15-D and the list goes on and on. He dominated the division and his place in heavyweight boxing history is unchallenged.(194.8)

                                           Prime- Key Fights  {Ring Magazine Ranking}
                                Wins                                                                                       Losses
1964 Sonny Liston HC                         7-TKO                  1971 Joe Frazier HC                            15-D
1967 Ernie Terrell #1                           15-D                     1973 Ken Norton #9                             12-D
1974 Joe Frazier #2                             12-D                     1978 Leon Spinks *                              15-D
1974 George Foreman HC                  8-KO                     1980 Larry Holmes HC *                     10-KO
1976 Ken Norton #1                             15-D                      1981 Trevor Berbick #7 *                   10-D
*Past Prime

2. Sonny Liston 6’2”,218-   St. Louis         {Heavyweight Champion 1962-1964}

Liston is rated higher than Foreman and Frazier on the list for the following reasons. First, Liston had the perfect style to handle Frazier just like Foreman did so I feel he should be ranked higher. As for the head to head matchup between Liston and Foreman I think Liston was a much better boxer and conditioned fighter. As for strength both were overpowering but I think Liston superior conditioning would have been the difference. Liston prior to 1964 was one of the most dominate heavyweights in boxing history. He not only beat the top heavy’s of the period but destroyed their will to fight.
Best Fight of his Career- 1959 Cleveland Williams 3-KO win
Rating Analysis-Liston dominated the heavyweight division during his prime and won 42 fights in a row from 1954 to 1969 when he lost to Leotis Martin, if you don’t count his two loses to Mr. Ali. His jab was one of the top five the division has ever seen, and his left hook would take your head off. Liston had great power and stamina with the ability to box against the best. During his prime he was unchallenged. George Foreman will always get more public acclaim than Liston but Sonny punches were so much straighter and his endurance was better because he paced himself much better. Did he throw his fights against Ali? That is a question we will never know. No question he threw the 2nd fight against Ali in Lewiston, Maine but the first fight looked pretty legit. (148.8)

                              Prime –Key Fights  {Ring Magazine Ranking}
                Wins                                                                                       Losses
1959 Cleveland Williams                3-TKO                    1964 Muhammad Ali #1                   7-KO
1960 Zory Folley #1                          3-KO                      1965 Muhammad Ali HC                  1-KO
1960 Eddie Machen #4                    12-D                       1969 Leotis Martin #10  *               9-KO
1962 Floyd Patterson HC                1-KO                                     
1963 Floyd Patterson #1                 1-KO                    
*Past Prime

3. George Foreman 6’3”, 225-Houston   
 {Heavyweight Champion 1973-74, 1994-97}

There is no question that Foreman’s entire career was more impressive than Liston’s but Foreman in his prime had some weaknesses that could be exploited. His lack of stamina and at times his ponderous slugging style were his biggest downfalls. No question about his ability to take a punch or overpowering strength. In his prime he only lost twice to two very smooth boxers, Ali and Jimmy Young. Two of the top fighters during this period were Joe Frazier and Kenny Norton and both failed in their effort against Big George. Ron Lyle was the only heavyweight to match up against Foreman’s power.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1973 Joe Frazier 2-KO win
Rating Analysis- A lot of Foreman’s rating is based on his dominance over Frazier and Norton, two heavy’s that were pretty much untouchable in their primes until Foreman knocked them out. (153.6)

                                                Prime- Key Fights  {Ring Magazine Ranking}
                                Wins                                                                       Losses
1973 Joe Frazier HC                 2-KO                      1974 Muhammad Ali #1                       8-KO
1974 Ken Norton #3                 2-KO                      1977 Jimmy Young #3                          12-D
1976 Ron Lyle #8                      5-KO                      1991 Evander Holyfield HC*                 12-D
1976 Joe Frazier #3                 5-KO                      1993 Tommy Morrison #8*                  12-D
1994 Michael Moorer HC        10-KO                     1997 Shannon Briggs *                       12-D
*Past Prime                                                           

 

4. Joe Frazier 5’11”, 205-           {Heavyweight Champion 1970-73}

Smokin Joe only lost to two fighters during his entire career and they were two greats, Ali and Foreman. All three of his fights against Ali were very close and he did not match up very well against the bigger Foreman. He defeated Quarry twice and an over the hill Eddie Machen, along with Jimmy Ellis and Bonavena. His prime was very short but before he took all those punches there was nobody tougher than Smokin Joe.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1971 Muhammad Ali 15-D win
Rating Analysis- You can’t rate him any lower because he beat all the top contenders he faced. Many would place him higher than Liston because of how much better he fought against Ali but that had a lot more to do with styles than anything else. (153.3)

                                    Prime- Key Fights  {Ring Magazine Ranking}
                                Wins                                                                       Losses
1968 Oscar Bonavena #3       15-D                       1973 George Foreman #2                     2-KO
1969 Jerry Quarry #4               7-KO                      1974 Muhammad Ali #1                        12-D
1970 Jimmy Ellis #2                  5-KO                      1971 Muhammad Ali #1                        15-D       
1975 Muhammad Ali HC           14-KO                    1976 George Foreman #2                    5-TKO
1974 Jerry Quarry #3                5-KO                     

                                                           

5. Kenny Norton 6’3”, 215-        {#1 Contender 1975, 1977, 1978}

Ken Norton burst onto the heavyweight scene with his 1973 upset victory over Ali in a 12 round decision. He became only the second fighter to ever defeat Ali. From 1973 when he beat Ali till 1978 when he lost a split decision to Larry Holmes he was one of the top heavyweights in the world in one of the greatest periods in the division’s history. After his fight with Holmes he lost to Earnie Shavers in the first round and as well as Gerry Cooney. One of the best conditioned fighters in ring history he used his athletic talents and speed and quickness to outwork most of the fighters he faced.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1973 Muhammad Ali 12-D win
Rating Analysis- The first real hard decision is justifying the placement of Norton this high. In his prime he only lost to Ali twice, George Foreman and Larry Holmes. I don’t know about you but that is pretty awesome company. And the Ali fight could have went either way because they were both close decisions. Also he could have easily gained the decision over another all-time great Larry Holmes in their 1978 fight. Two other top heavyweights that Norton defeated were Jerry Quarry in 1975 and Jimmy Young in 1977. I feel very conferrable putting Norton at Number five. (123.9)

                        Prime- Key Fights  {Ring Magazine Ranking}
                                Wins                                                                       Losses
1973 Muhammad Ali #1        12-D                         1970 Jose Luis Garcia                          8-KO
1975 Jerry Quarry #7             5-TKO                     1973 Muhammad Ali #3                        12-D
1976 Larry Middleton             10-TKO                   1974 George Foreman HC                    2-KO
1977 Duane Bobick #4           1-KO                       1976 Muhammad Ali HC                        15-D
1977 Jimmy Young #2            15-D                        1978 Larry Holmes #2                           15-D

6. Ernie Terrell 6’6”, 218-              {#1 Contender 1966, 1967}

Terrell was a lanky heavyweight who had a long jab and left hook who mainly fought a defensive holding type style. He was not the most popular fighter but he did hold down victories over Amos Lincoln, Cleveland Williams, Zory Folley, Bob Foster, Eddie Machen, George Chuvalo and Doug Jones. His most famous fight was his 1967 battle against Ali in the Astrodome where he lost a 15 round decision. His losses were against Cleveland Williams in 1962, Ali, Thad Spencer and Manuel Ramos all in 1967 during his decline. He was undefeated from 1963 to 1966.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1963 Cleveland Williams 10-D split Decision win
Rating Analysis-Very hard to figure where Terrell belongs during this era because Machen really had a much longer and period of success, and Johansson knocked out Machen and Patterson in their primes. Folley also had a very impressive record. Terrell was selected over these other fighters because of his wins over Cleveland Williams, Eddie Machen and Zory Folley; He never faced Johansson or Patterson so you can only speculate on what might have happened. Johansson had such a limited career with his wins over Patterson and Machen being his only real strong victories. Placing Terrell ahead of Quarry is a tough decision but Terrell’s jab would have been too much for the Californian. I also think Patterson would have lost on points to Terrell because of the superior reach and jab. Terrell fought Ali much tougher than Patterson and faced many fighters that Floyd avoided while he was champion. Although Patterson was at the top of the division for a much longer period of time, I still lean towards Terrell as the better fighter. Comparing Terrell and Patterson’s fights against George Chuvalo and Eddie Machen in 1964 and 1965 you can get a pretty close indication of who would have had the edge had the two ever faced one another. According to the judges Terrell beat Chuvalo by an average of 6.3 points over 15 rounds and Machen by 4.6 over 15. Patterson on the other had averaged 2.3 round advantage over Chuvalo and Nat Fleischer had the fight 56 to 51 against Machen. Both of those fights were 12 round fights. Terrell was a little bit more dominate against Chuvalo while the two fighters were about even in their wins over Machen. Many felt like Terrell would give Ali a much tougher fight than he did but Ernie fought not to lose that night instead of his usual aggressive system. Terrell was a very active fighter and he would get the nod over Jimmy Young once again because of his jab.  Against Lyle and Shavers, Terrell would have had superior foot speed, reach and quickness. Lyle and Shavers were far more dominate in the area of power punches. Some of these fights are very hard to call but I like Terrell because of the reasons I have stated above. (120.4)

                                    Prime- Key Fights {Ring Magazine Ranking}
                Wins                                                                                       Losses
1963 Cleveland Williams #6          10-D                        1960 Wayne Bethea                              10-D
1963 Zory Folley #4                          10-D                        1962 Cleveland Williams #8                7-KO
1965 Eddie Machen #9                    15-D                        1967 Muhammad Ali HC                      15-D
1965 George Chuvalo #3                 15-D                        1967 Thad Spencer #7                        12-D
1966 Doug Jones #2                        15-D                         1967 Manuel Ramos #6  *                   10-D
 *Past Prime                            

7. Jimmy Young 6’2”, 210-                        {#1 Contender 1977}

The smooth defensive minded Jimmy Young was one of the top fighters during this period and fought the best the period had to offer. He fought a draw with Earnie Shavers, defeated Ron Lyle twice and George Foreman. He had controversial losses to both Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton. His style did not endear himself to the fans but he was a very crafty boxer.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1977 George Foreman 12-D win
Rating Analysis-The reason that Young is placed ahead of Patterson is because Jimmy beat the likes of Foreman and Lyle while almost defeating Ali and Norton. I don’t see Patterson really coming close to beating any of those fighters. Patterson was very small for a heavyweight and always had trouble with these bigger fighters. I placed Young ahead of Quarry because I think Young would outbox the Bellflower bomber. Fighting against Ernie Terrell would be a tall order for Jimmy Young and even though Young had a more impressive list of victims than Terrell I have to give Ernie the edge because of his superior jab. Fight would have been a tossup. (113.9)

                        Prime- Key Fights  {Ring Magazine Ranking}
                                Wins                                                                       Losses
1974 Jose Luis Garcia               10-D                        1973 Earnie Shavers                            3-TKO
1974 Earnie Shavers #6             10-Draw                1976 Muhammad Ali HC                      15-D
1975 Ron Lyle #4                         12-D                        1977 Ken Norton #1                              15-D
1976 Ron Lyle #8                         12-D                        1978 Ossie Ocasio *                             10-D
1977 George Foreman #1          12-D                        1980 Gerry Cooney #9 *                       4-KO
*PAST Prime

8. Jerry Quarry 6’1”, 196-                   {#1 Contender 1970}

Quarry was one of my all-time favorites who really had some bad luck both in and out of  the ring. Quarry became the #1 contender in 1970 after defeating the young undefeated Californian, Mac Foster in Madison Square Garden. He lost to Joe Frazier twice, Muhammad Ali twice, Jimmy Ellis and George Chuvalo. He also lost to Eddie Machen early in his career and in 1975 lost to Kenny Norton. He had quick hands, a great courter puncher, could take a punch as well as anybody who ever entered the ring and fought with good endurance. His biggest downfall was he cut very easily and would lose fights on cuts.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1973 Ron Lyle 12-D win
Rating Analysis- Quarry fought right in the middle of the hay day of the heavyweight division facing all the top fighters in the division. Everybody wanted to fight him because he was the best white heavyweight in the division and you could make a lot of money.  He drew big crowds. He was the first to defeat Mac Foster, Ron Lyle and he KO’d Earnie Shavers in one round, and also held wins over Floyd Patterson and Thad Spencer. You could make an argument for Eddie Machen, Zory Folley and Ernie Terrell but I will take Quarry. At his best he was one tough fighter. (121.3)

9. Floyd Patterson 6’0”, 196- {Heavyweight Champion 1956-59, 1960-62}

Patterson had a very long career dating all the way back to the start of this period in 1956. He was a good boxer with very quick hands and well handled and trained by Cus Damato. He avoided some of the best fighter in the division throughout his career and was destroyed by Liston on two different occasions. His classic series with Ingermar Johansson captivated the country for three years.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1960 Ingermar Johansson 5-KO win
Rating Analysis- Patterson’s longevity is hard to argue with because he was so good for so long. His critics would argue that he avoided many of the best heavyweights in the world from  1956 to 1962 when he finally lost the title. By the same token he defeated Archie Moore in 1956 just a year after he gave Marciano a tough fight and defeated Eddie Machen in 1964. His 1967 draw with Jerry Quarry may have been his biggest accomplishment because the young Californian proved to be a great heavyweight. Patterson faced Quarry twice and both fights could have gone either way. Quarry gets the edge over Patterson because the Bellflower Bomber fought a high caliber of competition and had a much better chin against top heavyweights. (146.3)     

10. Ron Lyle 6’3”, 220-            {#3 Contender 1973, 1975}

Hard to determine just how strong a fighter Ron Lyle was in his prime. He had a long reach, took a solid wallop, was one of the hardest hitters in the division and was a big strong heavyweight. Could he handle quick moving boxers like Jimmy Young or Ali, no, but not many other fighters could either.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1976 George Foreman 5-KO Loss
Rating Analysis- Lyle in his prime only lost to the following heavyweights: Jerry Quarry, Jimmy Young twice, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. All of those fighters are rated ahead of him on this list. Against Foreman he had big George on the canvas before finally losing by knockout. Lyle had some very impressive victories over Gregory Peralta, Larry Middleton twice, Oscar Bonavena, Jimmy Ellis, Earnie Shavers and Joe Bugner. I think Lyle would over power Terrell and Johansson. His ability to take a punch would be the difference. (100.8)

10. Earnie Shavers 6’0”, 216-                {#3 Contender 1979}

One of the most powerful punchers in heavyweight history; In his prime he only lost to Jerry Quarry, Ron Lyle, Muhammad Ali, and Larry Holmes twice. His victories were against Jimmy Young, Jimmy Ellis, Henry Clark, Howard Smith and a first round knockout over Kenny Norton who was well past his prime at the time. He also fought a draw against Jimmy Young.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1979 Kenny Norton 1-KO win
Rating Analysis-Shavers fought during a time when there were some great heavyweights and he was one of the best. How would he have fared against Ernie Terrell and Ingermar Johansson is hard to say? The only fighter that was as strong as Shavers that Terrell fought was Cleveland Williams and Ernie split with him. I don’t see Johansson matching Shavers power and punching ability. Eddie Machen and Zory Folley would have given Shavers much tougher fights because of their boxing ability. But were Folley and Machen better than  Jimmy Young who Shavers beat and fought a draw with? Shaver went 15 rounds with Ali and 12 rounds with Larry Holmes in their second fight. (99.7)

 

12. Ingermar Johansson 6’1”, 195-   {Heavyweight Champion 1959-1960}

Johansson burst onto the heavyweight seen out of nowhere it seemed but he had a strong career in Europe prior to winning the title. He defeated Henry Cooper in 1957 and was knocked out twice in title bouts to Floyd Patterson. He fought the typical European stand up style with a great deal of power.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1958 Eddie Machen 1-KO win
Rating Analysis- Many may think this is to high of a ranking for the Swede but it is based on the fact that he knocked out Eddie Machen in one round and also KO’ed Floyd Patterson. His career was very short compared to other fighters of the day and he only fought a total of 28 fights.(112.3)

13. Eddie Machen 6’0”, 185-            {#1 Contender 1957, 1958, 1963}

Machen was very active from 1956 to 1966 fighting any contender that would face him. His last three or four years are when he lost most of his fights. Victories were against the best the division had to offer during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Nino Valdez twice, Johnny Summerlin, Joey Maxim twice, Tommy Jackson, Bob Baker, Alex Miteff, Wayne Bethea, Doug Jones and Jerry Quarry in 1966. He fought two draws against Zory Folley and Cleveland Williams. He also was the only fighter to go the distance against Sonny Liston prior to his fights with Ali. Losses included Ingermar Johansson in 1958, Zory Folley, Sonny Liston, Harold Johnson, Floyd Patterson, Ernie Terrell and Karl Mildenberger late in his career along with Manuel Ramos.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1966 Jerry Quarry 10-D win
Rating Analysis- If Machen had not lost in a first round knockout to Johansson in 1958 he would have been placed much higher in the rankings. He was without question one of the top fighters of the period and fought so many different contenders that the body of his work is far superior to most fighters, but the loss to the Swede really hurts him. (122.3)

14. Zory Folley 6’0”, 185-               {#1 Contender 1958, 1960}

Folley was another great boxer during this period who faced all the top contenders who would meet him from the late 1950s and early 1960s. He fought a draw against Eddie Machen in 1958 when he was the number one contender, he defeated Alex Miteff and Eddie Machen in their rematch in 1960, Doug Jones, George Chuvalo, Oscar Bonavena, Henry Cooper and Bob Foster. He fought a draw with Karl Mildenberger in 1964 when he was the top heavyweight in Europe.
Losses were against Henry Cooper, Sonny Liston, Ernie Terrell and Ali in 1967. He lost several fights late in his career.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1960 Eddie Machen 10-D win
Rating Analysis- Folley was avoided by Patterson during his prime and was never given a chance to fight Johansson so he was pretty much locked out of the title pictures until late in his career when he was well past his prime and lost to Ali. In my rankings I put him with Machen because of the way there careers overlapped. Both died untimely deaths in 1972. (128.5)

15. Jimmy Ellis 6’1”, 195-                   {#2 Contender 1968, 1969, 1970}

Ellis was not very good as a middleweight but after he made the move to the heavyweight division he became one of the top contenders. From 1967 to 1972 Ellis only lost to Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. He defeated Johnny Persol, Leotis Martin, Oscar Bonavena, Jerry Quarry, Floyd Patterson(disputed decision) and George Chuvalo. Following 1972 Ellis was in a free fall losing to Earnie Shavers, Boone Kirkman, Ron Lyle, Joe Bugner and Joe Frazier again. He was handled by Angelo Dundee and was a great boxer puncher who really fought to his strengths.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1968 Jerry Quarry 15-D win
Rating Analysis- Ellis beat Quarry and won a questionable decision over Patterson who are both rated ahead of him. The reason Quarry and Patterson are both rated higher is because Quarry defeated Ron Lyle and Earnie Shavers, and had a win and a draw over Patterson. Patterson is rated much higher because he was well past his prime when he faced Ellis in 1969 and should have received the decision. Ellis was an outstanding boxer and would have been tough for any heavyweight to defeat. (112.7)

16. Oscar Bonavena 6’0”, 205-          {#2 Contender 1970, 1971}

The Argentina heavyweight fought all of the top contenders from 1967 to 1973. He defeated George Chuvalo, Karl Mildenberger, Zory Folley, Leotis Martin, Alvin Lewis and Larry Middleton. He fought a draw against fellow countrymen Gregorio Peralta and lost to Joe Frazier twice, Jimmy Ellis, Zory Folley, Muhammad Ali, Floyd Patterson and Ron Lyle. His biggest claim to fame was probably his 1966 fight against Joe Frazier in which he had “Smokin” Joe down twice in the second round and lost a split decision.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1967 Karl Mildenberger 12-D win
Rating Analysis- His victories over Mildenberger, Folley, Chuvalo and Martin secure his position at number sixteen. Bonavena went fifteen tough rounds with Ali and 25 rounds against Frazier in his two fights against “Smoken” Joe. (110.8)

17. Cleveland Williams 6’3”, 215-                  {#4 Contender 1963, 1964}

Williams was one of the most feared fighters in the division during the late 1950s and early 1960s. The champion Patterson would not even consider fighting the Big Cat from Houston.
He defeated Wayne Bethea, Alex Miteff, Ernie Terrell and fought a draw against Eddie Machen. He lost early in his career to Bob Satterfield and his others losses were to Sonny Liston twice and Terrell. After his two year layoff from being shot he was never the same. He did fight Ali for the title in 1966 but his best years were behind him. He lost several fights during this period.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1962 Ernie Terrell 7-KO win
Rating Analysis- In rating Williams you have to realize he only lost three times in his prime and one of those to Ernie Terrell in a split decision. Machen was an outstanding heavyweight and he fought a draw against him in 1962. I would have loved to see how he would have done against more competition but that is not going to happen. He can’t be placed any higher because Machen had a much more formable record and Machen was knocked out by Johansson. (91.8)

18. Henry Cooper 5’11”, 184-                      {#2 Contender 1961}

The best European fighter during the late 1950s and 1960s was probably Henry Cooper. His list of victims were very impressive and he fought just about every top heavyweight during the period. He split with Zory Folley, had victories over Brian London twice, Joe Erskine three times, Roy Harris, Alex Miteff, Wayne Bethea, Jack Bodell, Karl Mildenberger on a DQ and Jose Manuel Urtain of Spain. He lost to Johansson, Erskine, Roger Rischer, Amos Lincoln, Ali twice, Floyd Patterson and Joe Bugner in 1971. He lost most of his fights on cuts, he was a terrible bleeder. He came very close to defeating Ali in 1963 with a left hook. A cut glove saved Muhammad so he received extra time in the corner to recover.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1958 Zory Folley 10-D win
Rating Analysis- I don’t see any reason that Cooper would be ranked any higher. He split with Folley who is ranked ahead of him but that is the only strong case for him being ranked higher. (102.5)

19. Doug Jones 6’0”, 188-    {#2 Contender 1963, 1964}

Jones had a strong run in 1963 and 1964 after several years as a light heavyweight. His 1963 fight against Muhammad Ali in New York’s Madison Square Garden was his masterpiece. He fought to future champion close losing the decision. His wins were against future light heavyweight great Bob Foster, Zory Folley, Billy Daniels and Tom McNeeley. He lost against Eddie Machen, Harold Johnson, Folley, Ali, Billy Daniels, George Chuvalo Ernie Terrell, Thad Spencer and Joe Frazier.
Best Fight Of His Career-1963 Muhammad Ali 10-D Loss
Rating Analysis- He lost more than he won against top flight fighters in the division. Folley was his only real big win in his prime. The Ali fight stands out as his best fight. (98.9)

20. Leotis Martin 6’1”, 195-              {#1 Contender 1970}

Leotis Martin went out on top, unfortunately for Leotis it was because of an eye injury after the Sonny Liston fight. Martin was a crafty smart fighter who was the number one contender when he was forced to retire. He was one of the few fighters who was never given the opportunity to fight Ali because Ali was in exile in forced retirement. His victories were against Amos Johnson, Karl Mildenberger, Thad Spencer, Alvin Lewis twice and of course his big upset win over Sonny Liston. Although Liston was at the tail end of his career he was still an opponent nobody wanted to face. His losses were against Jimmy Ellis, Henry Clark and Oscar Bonavena. He split with Roger Russell.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1969 Sonny Liston 9-KO win
Rating Analysis- His place in the top 25 is all based on his victories over Spencer, Mildenberger and Liston. Those were impressive victories.

21. Karl Mildenberger  6’1 ½ “, 195-    {#1 Contender 1967}

Mildenberger made a name for himself fighting against Ali in 1966 for the title and gave a very good showing before losing in the 12th round. Fighting in Europe he was unable to have a bevy of great opponents. But nonetheless he was able to defeat Wayne Bethea twice, Gerhard Zech twice, Eddie Machen and Amos Lincoln. He fought a draw against Zory Folley and Amos Johnson. His losses were against Ali, Oscar Bonavena, Leotis Martin and a Disqualification against Henry Cooper.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1996 Muhammad Ali 12-KO Loss
Rating Analysis- His draw with Folley and his very competitive fight against Ali were his real claims to fame. He was one of the best European fighters during this period. (97.3)

22. George Chuvalo 6’0”, 205-       {#3 Contender 1965, 1966}

George Chuvalo will go down in boxing history as one of the most durable fighters of all time. He was never knocked off his feet. His ability to endure punishment made him one of the top heavyweights of the period. He fought Ali for the title in 1966 and went 15 rounds with the champion. Chuvalo defeated Bob Cleroux, Alex Miteff, Mike DeJohn, Doug Jones, Manuel Ramos, Jerry Quarry and Cleveland Williams well past his prime. His losses were many: Bob Cleroux (twice), Zory Folley, Floyd Patterson, Ernie Terrell, Eduardo Corletti, Muhammad Ali twice, Jimmy Ellis, Joe Frazier, Buster Mathis and George Foreman.
Best Fight of His Career- 1966 Muhammad Ali 15-D Loss
Rating Analysis-Rating Chuvalo is not that difficult because he fought so many different fighters during his day. He was one of the most active boxers of the era. Chuvalo’s biggest accomplishments were over Doug Jones and Jerry Quarry. The Quarry fight was very questionable because Jerry went down and took a knee but did not get off his knee in time to beat the count. Quarry was well in control of the fight before the knockdown. You could easily place him higher or lower because he did lose to fighters that are not on the list. (94.3)

 23. Joe Bugner 6’4”, 230-               {#3 Contender 1975}

Bugner was a typical European stand-up fighter who was one of the best in Great Britain during the 1970s. He defeated Chuck Wepner, Eduardo Corletti, Henry Cooper, Mac Foster, Jose Luis Garcia, Jimmy Ellis and David Bey and Greg Page on his comeback trail in the 1980s. His losses were to Jack Bodell, Larry Middleton, Muhammad Ali twice, Joe Frazier, Ron Lyle and Earnie Shavers. He took very chances in the ring and had little punching power.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1973 Joe Frazier 12-D Loss
Rating Analysis- Of all of Bugner’s top victories none stand out as great, but his two fights against Frazier and Ali showed he was one of the best fighters in the world. It would be hard to rate him any higher than this because of his few wins over top opponents. (98.8)

Thad SPencer 24.  Thad Spencer 5’11”, 190-         {#2 Contender 1967, 1968}

Spencer shot to the top of the heavyweight division on his heavyweight elimination victory over the top contender Ernie Terrell in the 1967 Astrodome fight. He also defeated Roger Rischer, Jack Bodell, Brian London, Doug Jones and Amos Lincoln. He lost to Amos Lincoln twice, Billy McMurray, Jerry Quarry, Leotis Martin, Billy Walker, Mac Foster and a host of others when he was well past his prime just fighting for pay days.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1967 Ernie Terrell 12-D win
Rating Analysis- Victories over Doug Jones and Ernie Terrell put him in the top 25. How much did Terrell have left in 1967 of course was unknown but he had just given Ali a pretty good fight earlier that year. (91.9)

 25. Gregorio Peralta 6'0", 194- Argentina           {#7 Contender 1972}


Peralta was a fine boxer from Argentina who moved up into the heavyweight division and was ranked as high as #7 at one point. He fought a draw against Oscar Bonavena and Ron Lyle while defeating Jose Manuel Urtain. He lost twice to George Foreman, Lyle, Bonavena and Willie Pastrano. He was one of the first fighters to last the distance against Foreman.
Best Fight of His Career- 1970 George Foreman 10-D Loss
Rating Analysis- He is rated higher than some fighter because he fought the best heavyweights in the world and did pretty well against them. Most of his career was spent at Light Heavyweight.

  26. Mac Foster 6’2”, 224                                  {#1 Contender 1970}

Foster came out of Fresno, California in the late 1960s and early 1970s and won 24 straight fights before losing in Madison Square Garden against Jerry Quarry. Most of the fighters he beat were well past their prime. He knocked out Thad Spencer, Cleveland Williams twice, and Zory Folley. He lost to Muhammad Ali, Joe Bugner, Henry Clark and Stan Ward.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1970 Jerry Quarry 7-KO Loss
Rating Analysis- Foster never really beat any contenders while they were ranked. He did give some good showings during several of his fights. He is very hard to rank because of his limited success. He was a very hard puncher on his way up.

  27. Buster Mathis 6’3”, 232                             {#10 Contender 1968}

Mathis won the Olympic trials in 1964 defeating Joe Frazier but was injured and was unable to represent the USA in the Olympics. His replacement was Joe Frazier who went on to win the Gold Medal. Mathis fought Frazier for the New York State heavyweight title in March of 1968, losing by an 11th round knockout. He defeated Amos Lincoln and George Chuvalo. He ended his career losing to Muhammad Ali, Jerry Quarry and Ron Lyle. His weight was his biggest problem for him. He would go well over 300 pounds between fights.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1969 George Chuvalo 12-D win
Rating Analysis-Extremely hard to rate Mathis because he had such a short career, but he did hold a victory over the tough Canadian, George Chuvalo.


Wayne Bethea 28. Wayne Bethea 6’0”, 205,  New York City          {#6 Contender 1958}


Bethea was a strong fighter during the late 1950s who had some nice wins. His total destruction against Liston really was a setback that his career never recovered from.
Wins: Harold Carter, Ezzard Charles(1956), Jimmy Slade, Joe Bygraves, Bert Whitehurst, Ernie Terrell:
Losses: Harold Carter(2), Zory Folley(2), Harold Johnson, Nino Valdes, Sonny Liston, Alex Miteff, Eddie Machen, Cleveland Williams, Karl Mildenberger(2), Henry Cooper.


  29. Howard Smith 6'3", 204                             {#6 Contender 1976}


Smith was only in the ring for six years and ran up a nice record of 17-2. After losing to Earnie Shavers he only fought once more.
Wins-Mike Weaver 3-KO, Mike Weaver 5-D, Larry Middleton 5-KO, Johnny Boudreaux 10-D, Henry Clark 10-D:
Losses- Earnie Shavers 2-KO


30. Brian London 6’0”, 209, England                 {#6 Contender 1959}


London had the distinction of fighting twice for the heavyweight title. He faced Floyd Patterson and Muhammad Ali. He gave a very good showing against Patterson but was on his decline in the ring against Ali and only lasted three rounds. He fought in the shadow of Henry Cooper in England.   
Wins: Joe Erskine, Willie Pastrano(1958), Pete Rademacher, Billy Hunter, Tom McNeeley,
Roger Rischer, Amos Johnson, Zory Folley(1967):
Losses: Henry Cooper(3), Willie Pastrano, Floyd Patterson, Nino Valdes, Dick Richardson,
Eddie Machen, Santo Amonti, Ingermar Johansson, Johnny Prescott, Thad Spencer, Muhammad Ali, Jerry Quarry(2), Jack Bodell(1968), Joe Bugner:
Draw: Henry Clark(1969)


Duane Bobick  31. Duane Bobick 6'3", 211,   Minnesota                     {#4 Contender 1976}


After winning the Olympic Silver medal in 1972 Bobick was consider one of the top heavyweight contenders. He was following in the footsteps of Ali in 1960, Frazier in 1964 and Foreman in 1968. His 1st round knockout losses to Ken Norton showed just how limited he was in the ring against a powerful heavyweight. He was the big white hope of the 1970s replacing Jerry Quarry. Unfortunately for Bobick he was nowhere near the fighter that the Californian had been.
Wins- Mike Weaver 7-KO, Larry Middleton 10-D, Scott LeDoux 10-D, Bunny Johnson 8-TKO, Chuck Wepner 6-TKO and Scott LeDoux 8-TKO.
Losses-Ken Norton 1-KO, Kallie Knoetze 3-KO, John Tate 1-KO, George Chaplin 6-KO


Amos Lincoln 32. Amos Lincoln 6’2”, 204  Portland, Oregon              {#4 Contender 1964}


Amos Lincoln fought mostly on the west coast and burst into the heavyweight spotlight in the mid 1960s with two wins over contender, Thad Spencer. He the later part of the decade he just became a trial horse for young up and coming heavyweights.
Wins: Howard King, Marty Marshall, Thad Spencer(1964), George Johnson, Thad Spencer(1965), Billy Daniels, Elmer Rush(2):
Losses: Ernie Terrell(1962), Santo Amonti, Johnny Persol, Karl Mildenberger, Thad Spencer(1967), Buster Mathis(1968), Sonny Liston(1968), Tony Doyle(1969), Boone Kirkman(1970), Terry Daniels(1970)


Henry Clark 33. Henry Clark  6’3” , 215,  San Francisco                   {#9 Contender 1968}


Henry Clark biggest fight was his nationally televised fight against Sonny Liston when Liston was on his comeback trail. The public was very interested in Liston and the fight drew a lot of media coverage. Clark lost the fight but gave a very good showing of himself.
Wins: Manuel Ramos(1964), George Johnson, Eddie Machen(1967), Roger Rischer, Leotis
Martin(1968), Jeff Meritt, Mac Foster(1974):
Losses: Zory Folley, Sonny Liston, Al Jones, Jeff Merritt, Jack O’Halloran, Ken Norton,
Earnie Shavers(2), Howard Smith, Bernardo Mercado


Roy Harris 34. Roy Harris 6’0”, 198  Cut and Shoot, Texas               {#4 Contender 1958}


Roy Harris burst onto the national stage with his heavyweight title fight against Floyd Patterson. He made the cover of Sports Illustrated and was 23-0 coming into the fight in which he was stopped in the 12th round. He had little success after the Patterson fight.
Wins: Bob Baker(1957), Willie Pastrano(1957), Willi Besmanoff, Charlie Powell,
Alejandro Lavorante:
Losses: Floyd Patterson, Sonny Liston, Bob Clerox(2), Henry Cooper(1960)

Pastrano 35.  Willie Pastrano 6’0”, 185-                 {#3 Contender 1957,1958}

Pastrano is probably a surprise here because he was mainly a light heavyweight but he is the choice over Manuel Ramos, Duane Bobick and Mac Foster. His career was much stronger than these other fighters who made a living on over the hill fighters. Pastrano defeated some fair heavyweights: Rex Layne, Pat McMurty, John Holman, Brian London and Tom McNeeley. Top Light heavyweights were Wayne Thornton and  Harold Johnson who was well past his prime and Gregorio Peralta. He lost to Roy Harris, Brian London, Joe Erskine, Alonzo Johnson, Calderwood, Jesse Bowdry, Wayne Thornton, Gregorio Peralta and Jose Torres. He fought draws against Archie Moore and Wayne Thornton.
Best Fight Of His Career- 1957 John Holman 10-D win
Rating Analysis- No one fight puts Pastrano in the top 25 but he was very successful for a long period of time and did have success in the heavyweight division. Was he better than Bob Foster, probably not but as a heavyweight he had a much better record. (93.3)

36. Mike DeJohn 6’2 ½”, 210, Syracuse, NY      {#6 Contender 1960}

DeJohn was a very competitive fighter in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Although there are not any big names on his resume he was a strong contender.      
Wins: Alex Miteff, Bob Baker(1958), Willi Besmanoff, Billy Hunter, Bert Whitehurst, Bob Clerox
Losses: Jimmy Bivins(1955), Nino Valdes(2), Sonny Liston, Willi Besmanoff, Eddie Machen, Zory Folley, Billy Daniels, George Chuvalo(1963)


Kirkman  37. Boone Kirkman 6'1", 195,  Seattle, Wash.              {#10 Contender 1970}

Kirkman was a bright young fighter in 1970 until he met George Foreman. His career went straight south following his loss to the former Olympic Gold Medalist.
Wins-Eddie Machen 3-KO(1967), Doug Jones 6-TKO(1967), Amos Lincoln 2-KO, Jimmy Ellis 10-D, Jose Roman 10-D, Ron Stander 7-TKO
Losses- Doug Jones 7-TKO, George Foreman 2-TKO, Ken Norton 7-KO, Ron Lyle 8-TKO


38. Robert Cleroux 6’1”, 204, Canada                {#6 Contender 1961}


Cleroux had a nice career in Canada and along with George Chuvalo was considered a fine heavyweight throughout his career. His fights with Chuvalo captured the countries attention.        
Wins: Willi Besmanoff, Roy Harris, George Chuvalo(2), Harold Carter, Alex Miteff, Tom
McNeeley, Cleveland Williams(1968)
Losses: George Chuvalo, Zory Folley(1962), Mike DeJohn, Zory Folley(1963)


Miteff 39. Alex Miteff 6’1”, 211, Argentina                 {#6 Contender 1958}

Miteff was another tough fighter out of Argentina who was a stronger contender in the late 1950s and early 1960s. As with most fighters he stuck around too long and suffered several losses but in his prime he was very tough. 
Wins: Willi Besmanoff, John Holman, Nino Valdes(1958), Harold Carter, Wayne Bethea, Alonzo Johnson(2)
Losses: Mike DeJohn, Willi Besmanoff, Zory Folley, Billy Hunter(2), Eddie Machen,             George Chuvalo, Cleveland Williams, Bob Cleroux, Henry Cooper,
Muhammad Ali, Jerry Quarry


Urtain  40. Jose Ibar Urtain 5’11”, 194, Spain            {#7 Contender 1970}

Urtain took the European continent by storm in the early 1970s with a long series of consecutive knockout wins. He made the cover of Ring Magazine but the bubble busted with his loss to veteran Henry Cooper.
Wins: Jurgin Blin, Jack Bodell, Jose Roman, Richard Dunn
Losses: Henry Cooper, Gregorio Peralta, Jose Roman, Juergin Blin, Jean Pierre Coopman


Bodell 41. Jack Bodell 6’1”, 203 England

A tough hardnosed Brit  who was one of the top British fighters. He had no real major wins but was very competitive.
Wins: Billy Daniels, Brian London, Jose Roman, Manuel Ramos, Joe Bugner
Losses: Joe Erskine, Hubert Hilton, Thad Spencer, Henry Cooper(2), Jerry Quarry,
Jose Manuel Urtain


Lavarante  42. Alejandro Lavarante 6’3 ½”, 206 Argentina{#4 Contender 1961, 1962}

Another strong heavyweight out of Argentina. Alejandro big win was over Zory Folley in 1961. Following he did very little to challenge the best fighters of the day.
Wins: Zory Folley(1961), Willi Besmanoff, Alonzo Johnson
Losses: Roy Harris, Archie Moore, Muhammad Ali


Garcia 43. Jose Luis Garcia 6’4”, 188, Venezuela            {#8 Contender 1971}

Garcia biggest claim to fame throughout his career was his win over Ken Norton early in Norton’s great career. Outside of that he had very few names on his resume.
Wins: Ken Norton, Thad Spencer(1970), Al Jones
Losses: Ernie Terrell, Ron Lyle, Jimmy Young, Joe Bugner, Ken Norton


Rischer  44. Roger Rischer 195,  Oakland, Ca.                      {#7 Contender 1965}

Another in the long line of trial horses who took a lot of punishment in the ring. He had very limited success.
Wins: Henry Cooper(1964), Eduardo Corletti
Losses: Howard King(3), Zory Folley, Archie Moore(1957), Eddie Machen(1962),
Cleveland Williams, Thad Spencer(1965), Brian London, Henry Clark, Sonny Liston, Mac Foster:
Draw: Howard King, Amos Lincoln


Ramos  45. Manuel Ramos 6’4”, 208, Mexico                         {#6 Contender 1967}

Big Ramos was the best heavyweight out of Mexico during the period. After wins over Machen and Terrell he entered Madison Square Garden for his 1968 NYC Heavyweight championship fight against Joe Frazier. One of the great fighting machines of all time took him apart in just two rounds. After his loss he destroyed by almost all the top fighters in the division.
Wins: Eddie Machen(1966), Ernie Terrell(1967), Tony Doyle
Losses: Joe Frazier, George Chuvalo, Chuck Wepner, Joe Bugner, Oscar Bonavena,
Jose Roman, Juergen Blin, Jack Bodell, Terry Daniels, Ron Stander, Ron Lyle, Duane Bobick


  46. Eduardo Corletti 202, Argentina             {#7 Contender 1968}

Corletti was another fighter from Argentina who gained a lot of attention following his very over George Chuvalo. Following his top ten ranking he had a long series of defeats.
Wins: George Chuvalo(1966), Luis Pires
Losses: Alvin Lewis, Roger Rischer, Miguel Angel Paez(3), Joe Bugner, Santiago
Alberto Lovell, Jerry Quarry


Ward  47. Stan Ward 6’2”, 231,  Sacramento, Calif.               {#8 Contender 1977}

This big strong heavyweight looked like he would be one of the best in the heavyweight division for years but he only had limited success.
Wins: Mac Foster(1976), Jeff Merritt(1976), Mike Weaver
Losses: Ron Lyle(1977), Randy Stephens, Mike Weaver(2), Greg Page, Gerrie Coetzee
Draw: Johnny Boudreaux, Pat Duncan

Roman 48. Jose Roman 5’10”, 200, Spain                       {#7 Contender 1973}

Roman faced big George Foreman for the title and was bounced in the first round. That was the highlight of his career. Other than that he had little to brag about.       
Wins: Chuck Wepner, Manuel Ramos, Jose Manuel Urtain, Terry Daniels(2)
Losses: Jack Bodell, George Foreman, Mike Quarry, Dino Dennis, Jimmy Young, Boone Kirkman
Draws: Jose Manuel Urtain


49. Larry Middleton 6’5”, 203  Baltimore, Md.          {#7 Contender 1972}

Middleton had a good win over top ten heavyweight Joe Bugner that put him in the rankings. He had very little success after the win over Bugner accept for his draw against a highlythought of Jimmy Ellis.
Wins: Joe Bugner, Tony Doyle(1972), Jack O’Halloran
Losses: Jerry Quarry, Ron Lyle(2), Oscar Bonavena, Howard Smith, Duane Bobick,
Scott LeDoux, Ken Norton
Draw: Jimmy Ellis(1974)


Hunter 50. Billy Hunter 6’3”, 193 Detroit, Mich.          {#6 Contender 1960}

Hunter had very little success after breaking into the top ten in 1960.
Wins: Bob Baker(1959), Alex Miteff(2)
Losses: Sonny Liston, Alonzo Johnson, Eddie Machen, Mike DeJohn, Brian London:
Roy Harris, George Logan? Decision, Archie Moore(1962), Muhammad Ali
 

           

 

           

 

 





 

Liston Ali

jeffries book

Jim Carney Looks
at Boxing Greats

Fred Fulton

Joe Frazier

Ernie Terrell

Senya13 and the Annals of Boxing History

Boxing Illustrated April of 1964
Harry Wills article and The Year in Review

 

 

 

   
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