While our recent post has shown you some very good punching bags, we can assure you that the following people needed much more in their quest to make history. Boxers like Rocky Marciano and Joe Calzaghe carved their names and legacies by fighting often, fighting anywhere, and winning everything.
Why this is important
In a sport as unpredictable and as popular as boxing, only a handful of people have successfully managed to pursue a long and storied career without ever being defeated inside the ring.
If you’ve ever heard of the expression ‘a puncher’s chance’ then you’ll know that one well-landed punch is all it takes to potentially destroy a lifetime of dedication and hard work. Losing seems to be almost a certainty in boxing, especially since some fighters hold on for too long and their chins get weaker while their reflexes also get slower.
Furthermore, a boxer is always open to a controversial decision from the judges which will lose him a match that he and his team consider they should have won. Somehow, someway though, a very select few still managed to defy all odds and hang up their gloves with a spotless record and a good number of frustrated opponents.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. – 50-0-0
Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather Jr. has successfully managed to prove over the last two decades just why he is almost universally seen as the best fighter of his generation, bar none. With a family and a history deeply ingrained in the world of boxing, Mayweather managed to defeat the best the ring had to offer and knock out 27 of them on his road to a perfect, 50-win record.
Even though his last win came against the MMA-trained showman and champion Conor McGregor and some boxing purists felt this tarnished Floyd Mayweather’s legacy, the fact is that the history books will still remember him as the man who broke the record that stood for 65 years and was held by the legendary Rocky Marciano.
Since first stepping through the ropes in 1996, Mayweather has not only beaten but convincingly dismantled some of the best the ring ever had to offer, so much so that many analysts wonder if he has ever been really challenged or threatened during a fight.
He is a five-time world champion with a total of 12 world titles and lineal championships under his belt. Mayweather has not only managed to finish his career without ever losing but due to his masterful defense and great tactics, he was never even put down. Yes, he never fell down in the ring in 22 years’ worth of matches.
Rocky Marciano – 49-0-0
The ghost that Mayweather chased for pretty much his entire career, Rocky Marciano will still remain in the legends book as the one who first laid the foundation of modern boxing and set up the expectation that greatly-anticipated matches will be sold in a pay-per-view format to allow boxing to capitalize on its growing popularity.
Many boxing die-hards felt that Marciano’s record should have never been allowed to be eclipsed by a boxing match where a professional boxer like Floyd Mayweather Jr. faced a professional MMA fighter in the person of Conor McGregor. Therefore, many still consider his record to be the best of all time.
Rocky Marciano was a ground-breaker for the likes of Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson and his place in history is richly deserved. It is also true that many fighters in our modern era would mightily struggle to match his resume even simply by reaching the same number of matches since Marciano managed to squeeze 49 fights in nine years.
In those nine years, he knocked out pretty much everybody he came across and established himself as the foundation of all-thing boxing during that period. The hugely-popular film ‘Rocky’ was actually named in his honor as, similar to the movie’s main character, Marciano was a peoples’ champ, a brawler, and a swarmer.
What he lacked in fitness and athletic ability he more than made up for with sheer brute force, determination, and the ability to push his body over the limits of an average man.
Ricardo López – 51-0-1
El Finito’s legacy only suffered the most minuscule blip in the form of a draw so maybe this is part of the reason why his legacy is almost never spoken in the same breath as Marciano’s or even Mayweather’s.
Despite that, Ricardo López is still widely regarded as one of the best fighters to ever come out of Mexico while his induction into both the International Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the World Boxing Hall of Fame are more than well-deserved and expected.
The Mexican was a world and Lineal champion in two weight classes and is considered the best fighter ever when it comes to the lighter divisions of boxing.
His only boxing problem was the fact that he just could not decide between the strawweight and flyweight categories so he spent all his time conquering the best of both just to be sure.
Most boxing fans think of him as the greatest strawweight champion in history, despite the fact that he retired in 2002. López held the world title for nine years back in the 90s when, even though a draw with Rosendo Álvarez disrupted his spotless record, he came back to beat him in a rematch, just for good measure.
Whatever the arguments that are brought against him may be, he is still only the third boxer ever to retire undefeated as well as the first one to never be defeated as both an amateur and a professional, so that’s some record right there.
Joe Calzaghe – 46-0-0
The only athlete from the other side of the pond to make this list, Calzaghe managed to earn the title of ‘The Pride of Wales’ during his amazing 15-year career.
The undefeated former super-middleweight and light-heavyweight unified champion is still the longest-reigning super-middleweight champion in the history of the sport, his performance of holding the WBO crown for over 10 years still light-years away from being matched or surpassed.
‘The Pride of Wales’ is also ranked as the second greatest super-middleweight category boxer of all time, having managed to add names such as Bernard Hopking, Chris Eubank, and Roy Jones Jr. on his list of defeated opponents.
Edwin Valero – 27-0-0
The Venezuela native is sadly always going to be remembered by his tragic circumstances outside the ring but, inside it, the man nicknamed ‘El Terminator’ or ‘El Inca’ was a real warrior who managed to not only dominate his opponents but often simply go through them with a couple of well-timed combinations.
Valero is, to this day, the only boxer in the sport’s illustrious history to retire with a perfect 100% knockout ratio of 27 wins and 27 brutal KO’s. Furthermore, on February 25, 2006, he again made it to the history books by being the only boxer in the world to win his first 18 fights by first-round knockout.
While the record has since been broken by Tyrone Brunson, many boxing experts still view Valero’s performance as the peak due to the extremely poor level of opposition Brunson faced.
The Venezuelan’s story was probably one that should have never happened though after he got involved in a motorbike accident where he fractured his skull and was denied a boxing license in the United States. Even though he later returned, Valero’s path took an even darker turn when he was found guilty in the circumstances involving his wife’s passing away.
László Papp – 27-0-0
Even though Papp’s boxing career was quite short when compared to others, he really did make the most of it as long as he could! This was also influenced by the fact that he turned professional late in his career after spending his formative years winning Olympic gold not once, but three times.
One of the problems in Papp’s otherwise very good career was that he couldn’t fight overseas. Why couldn’t he, do you ask? Because Hungary’s government, the country that is his place of birth, refused to allow the athlete to compete outside its legal borders. Thank you for ruining a few matches for us!
Papp finished his restricted career with 27 wins, 15 of which came by knock out, and a strong sense of what could have been had he been allowed to compete against the very best in the business.