Five boxing legends who retired at just the right time

Profile Picture: Danny Howard

Danny Howard

October 8th, 2021

One of the hardest things to do in boxing is to know when to step away.

Fighters often end their careers chasing one last shot at glory, only to drag their names and legacies through the mud, but these five fighters called it quits at the right time.

Joe Calzaghe

The Pride of Wales defended his super middleweight title 21 times before he came to the United States.

After he defeated both Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones in 2008, he retired as an undefeated light heavyweight champion.

There was no better time for Calzaghe to retire, especially as the talent pool at super middleweight and light heavyweight became dangerous. Calzaghe was unanimously voted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2014.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Love him or hate him, there is no denying Mayweather was the smartest fighter in and out of the ring.

After he won titles in five weight classes and became the richest fighter in history, the undefeated Mayweather left the game on his own terms.

He defeated rival Manny Pacquiao and Andre Berto with ease in 2015 but finally retired after the 2017 farce against Conor McGregor.

With nothing left to accomplish, Mayweather retired as an unbeaten king.

Marvin Hagler

Though Hagler retired out of disgust, after his controversial loss to Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987, nobody held it against him. Hagler already had retirement on the mind, and the Leonard fight pushed him over the edge.

It was the right decision, as Hagler was already showing the wears of a long career, even at 32. While it would have been great to see Hagler continue, his legacy wasn’t tarnished from his decision to call it quits.

Andre Ward

After he lost three years of his prime to free himself from his promoter, Ward made up for lost time with a move up to light heavyweight, where he became champion, after a pair of thrilling fights against Sergey Kovalev.

At the height of his power, Ward did the unthinkable and retired. He said he had achieved everything he wanted in his fighting career and his body could no longer stand the rigors of training.

Ward has remained active in boxing ,as a top-tier analyst, and was a first-ballot Hall of Fame entry in 2021.

Lennox Lewis

By 2003, Lewis had already defeated Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Tommy Morrison, Frank Bruno, and Oliver McCall. He already secured his legacy as one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time.

Lewis’ final fight was a grueling affair against Vitali Klitschko, and Lewis won by a cut-induced stoppage in the sixth round.

Lewis declined a rematch, retired, and put boxing behind him. He retired with a 41-2-1 record and was the best fighter in the last great era of the heavyweight division.