Leading Off

Best boxers of the last 50 years

Almost lost in the hubbub about a possible “no-rules” match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Ronda Rousey was Mayweather proclaiming himself the best boxer of all time.

Are you done chuckling?

It’s not a huge surprise given his penchant for self-promotion – he refers to himself as “TBE,” as in “The Best Ever” – but the best of all time? Not a chance.

He’s arguably the best of the past 10 years or so, but how can anyone take him seriously when he has Muhammad Ali at No. 5, behind Roberto Duran, Pernell Whitaker and Julio Cesar Chavez? He hasn’t taken that many hits in his 48 bouts, so how can he be so delusional? Where are Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Willie Pep and Jack Dempsey, just to name a few?

Looking at his list, Mayweather goes back to only the mid-1960s. So that’s the criteria we’ll use for our list.

1. Ali: “The Greatest” was the dominant heavyweight in a golden era for big men. He beat Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Sonny Liston, Ken Norton, Floyd Patterson, et al.

2. Sugar Ray Leonard: Much like Ali in the heavyweights, Leonard dominated the middleweight classes. He won titles in five divisions and beat Duran, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler and Wilfred Benitez, among others.

3. Frazier: “Smokin’ Joe” beat Ali in “The Fight of the Century” in 1971 and was as dominant as any fighter over his three years as heavyweight champ. Two later losses to Ali stung him for years.

4. Mike Tyson: Before his life and career unraveled, Tyson was arguably the most powerful puncher ever. He won his first 37 fights, 33 by knockout. But after being upset by Buster Douglas in 1990, “Iron Mike” was never the same.

5. Hagler: One of the greatest middleweights had memorable bouts against Hearns, Leonard and Duran.

The next five: Duran, Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Chavez, Larry Holmes.


  • WHAT TO WATCH: Baseball, Giants vs. Washington, 1:05 p.m., CSNBA: By the end of this game, we should know more about where the Giants are headed this season.
  • TWITTER CHATTER: “Floyd mayweather has got to be on something if he thinks he can rank himself number one of all time and rank Muhammad ali number five...smh.” – @brandonalahmed
  • ON THIS DATE: On Aug. 16, 1998, Jeff Gordon became the seventh driver in modern NASCAR history to win four consecutive races, coming from far behind to take the Pepsi 400.