Ranking the greatest female boxers of all time
Claressa Shields has been making waves since her pro debut, and the hard-punching Olympian already has many wondering if she is on the road to greatness. As female boxing begins to enjoy a spirited uprising in interest in the United States, here’s a look at five of the most ferocious female boxers to ever grace the ring.
5. Cecilia Braekhus
“The First Lady” became welterweight champion for the first time seven years ago and hasn’t lost since. Braekhus has gone on to be an active, undisputed champion, and while one would imagine she is nearing the end of her illustrious career, her recent deal with Eddie Hearn means she has a lot of fight left in her. Braekhus was also the first female featured on an HBO boxing card, during the storied network’s final show. Her 24 title defenses have already eclipsed the likes of Bernard Hopkins, Joe Calzaghe and Larry Holmes, and she will surely top Joe Louis’ 26 when all is said and done.
4. Regina HalmichA three-division champion in a career that spanned 56 fights, Halmich spent the entirety of her career with fans and analysts alike considering her one of the all-time greats. Her run of dominance through her 13-year career only featured one loss in her early career and a draw, but she was often several steps ahead of her competition in skill and technique. Though her competition was confined mostly in Europe, skill is a universal language, and Halmich had it in spades.
3. Ann WolfeWhile most of the women on this list got to where they are with skill and grace, none could match the sheer brutality of Ann Wolfe. Wolfe was as subtle as a lead pipe and hit twice as hard, which left her opponents a crumbled mess for the better part of her 25-fight career. “Brown Sugar” simultaneously held titles at junior middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight and is often considered one of the most ferocious females to ever lace up the gloves.
2. Christy Martin
A trail blazer in and out of the ring, Christy Martin was the first woman inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. Martin was an active competitor throughout her 23-year career and was one of the most recognizable fighters in the world. “The Coal Miner's Daughter” faced the best opposition available, including Mia St. John and Laila Ali, before she called it quits in 2012.
1. Laila Ali
It should be no surprise that the daughter of Muhammad Ali had a knack for fighting, with an incredible career after she turned pro at the age of 18. Ali proved she wasn’t a talent propped up by her last name with titles at super middleweight and light heavyweight, all topped off with a perfect 24-0 career record. While she caught flak for avoiding fights with her contemporaries, it isn’t enough to downplay a great career and the success born from it.