Top 5 pound-for-pound boxers of all time

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October 24th, 2019

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to argue the greatest fighters of all time, and while every era has had its standout group, only a select few are true all-time greats. Whether it was an impeccable skill set, a long career defined by big wins or being the torchbearer of the sport, these fighters will forever be considered among the best ever. These are the top five pound-for-pound fighters of the modern era.

5. Roberto Duran

The unmatched ferocity of Roberto Duran was beautiful in its brutality. The Panamanian legend won titles in four weight classes during a time when the idea was practically unfathomable. Duran’s savagery was only matched by his intelligence, as he held his own against men much bigger than him and could never be counted out in any fight. With a career that lasted more than three decades, along with several historic nights attached to his name, boxing will never have another Roberto Duran.

4. Sugar Ray Leonard

Sugar Ray Leonard has been the gold standard of pound-for-pound greatness for the last 40 years, because he was equal parts flash and substance. Leonard was the premier star of the 1980s, a time when big rewards necessitated big risks, and became a five-division champion during the decade. Leonard’s wins over Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler and Wilfred Benitez, as well as his other accomplishments, came in fewer than 40 fights.

3. Floyd Mayweather

One of the most divisive fighters of recent memory, Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s boasts of being the best ever are not without merit. Mayweather won titles in five weight classes, became the biggest earner in boxing history and did it all while remaining undefeated. Constantly criticized for his defensive-minded style, yet virtually unchallenged during his career, Mayweather was a technical maestro who could compete at a high level at any point in boxing history.

2. Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao redefined the meaning of pound-for-pound, as the fighting Senator from the Philippines held a recognized title in eight divisions, a feat that may never happen again in our lifetime. Pacquiao’s résumé is packed with legends, and he is still adding to his legacy. His defeat of Keith Thurman in July suggests the 40-year-old Pacquiao is not nearing the end of his incredible career.

1. Pernell Whittaker

It can be argued that Pernell Whittaker never suffered a legitimate loss in his prime. “Sweet Pea” made watching defense entertaining, as his uncanny ability to slip punches and glide across the ring was like watching beautiful art. Not known for his punching power, Whittaker was the embodiment of mind over muscle. He was too crafty and slick for opponents, which often made them look underqualified for the task at hand. It is no surprise he won titles from lightweight all the way to junior middleweight.

Honorable Mentions: Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones Jr., Roman Gonzales, Oscar De La Hoya, Julio Cesar Chavez

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