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Posted on | March 31, 2007 | 13 Comments

The All Time Hardest Punchers Pound For Pound

By Matt Yanofsky

I recently compiled a list of the hardest punchers. That list took me a lot of time and thought, but I saw a bigger task ahead of me. It was time to make an all time list. I researched fighters from every weight class, truly defining pound for pound. Anyone can just put 15 heavyweights on the list. After each fighter on my top 15 I added why I believe they belong on the list. I have also added an honorable mention featuring 20 fighters who fell just short of the list.

  1. George Foreman: 76 Wins 68 Knockouts. There was a time when an undefeated George Foreman fought another undefeated boxer by the name of Joe Frazier. Frazier had defeated Muhammad Ali and was on top of the Heavyweight division. The Foreman vs Frazier fight did not last long. Foreman floored Frazier an incredible six times in only two rounds before the referee stopped the fight! Forman also made Jimmy Ellis, Ken Norton, and Dwight Muhammad Qawi look like fools by knocking them out. On top of that, he knocked out undefeated champion Michael Moorer with a powerful straight right, and at the time Foreman was 45! These accomplishments make it hard to put anyone else above him.
  2. Ernie Shavers: 74 wins 68 Knockouts. Shavers was truly a power punching monster. You can look at his record this way: only 6 of his 74 victories were by decision. Although he never captured a world title or was exceptionally skilled, Shavers was feared by many top heavyweights. Shavers was able to knock out Jimmy Ellis and Ken Norton. Shavers also dropped Larry Holmes and even got a mention from Muhammad Ali after being defeated by him. “Ernie hit me so hard, he shook my kinfolk back in Africa,” said Ali after his fifteen round war with Shavers.
  3. Rocky Marciano: 49 Wins 43 Knockouts. At 5’11 and 185 lbs, the Brockton Blockbuster needed something more than great heart to produce his undefeated career record of 49-0. Marciano was one of the most deadly punchers of all time. Marciano permanently injured Carmine Vingo after knocking him out in the sixth round. If that is not of a testament to his power, Marciano knocked out legends Joe Louis, Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, and Archie Moore. If that does not define a legendary puncher, I don’t know what does!
  4. Archie Moore: 185 Wins 131 Knockouts. The Old Mongoose was far from that! The man with the most boxing knockouts in history was one hell of a puncher! Unlike the fighters listed above him, Moore fought at multiple weights. Archie knocked out Jimmy Bivins, Harold Johnson, and The Cocoa Kid. Moore is better known for his quantity of knockouts which is unreal. Mark my word, Archie’s knockout record will never be broken!
  5. Julian Jackson: 55 Wins 49 Knockouts. Jackson is easily the hardest hitting fighter below Light Heavyweight of all time. Jackson, much like Shavers, was not exceptionally skilled but did capture championships in two weight classes. Jackson arguably had the most devastating one punch knockout in boxing history. Behind on the scorecards, Jackson nearly beheaded Herol Graham. Jackson also knocked out Hall of Famer Terry Norris in devastating fashion as well as former champ In Chul Baek. If you are not sold on Jackson’s power, his one punch knockout of Herol Graham can be seen here: Just listen to the announcer after Graham is knocked out!
  6. Sandy Saddler: 145 Wins 103 Knockouts. Fans more so remember Saddler for his legendary rivalry with the great Willie Pep. Saddler shockingly knocked out a 135-1 Willie Pep, dropping him thee times while taking the World Featherweight Title. After loosing to Pep in a rematch, Saddler was able to stop Pep again twice. In their fourth fight, Pep retired on his stool because he was bleeding so profusely from Saddler’s attack he was not able to continue. Saddler also battered European star Ray Famechon and ended another 99 fights before the final bell!
  7. Joe Louis: 69 Wins 55 Knockouts. The nickname says it all. The Brown Bomber was explosive with his fists. The longest reigning champion in boxing history kept his title for a reason. Louis knocked out stars Primo Carnera, Max Baer, and Jim Braddock. Louis took it to another level, knocking out Hall of Famers in Max Schmelling, Billy Conn, and Jersey Joe Walcott. After tasting his first defeat at the hands of Schmelling, Louis dropped Schmelling twice in under 2 ½ minutes, forcing the referee to stop the fight.
  8. Mike Tyson: 50 Wins 44 Knockouts. Iron Mike should have been known as iron fists. Tyson, known for his devastating uppercuts and a dominant left hook, stopped the first 19 opponents he faced with 11 coming in the first round! Tyson also knocked out two of the best boxers in the heavyweight division at the time: making easy work of Larry Holmes and Michael Spinks. Tyson stopped the undefeated Spinks in the first round and Spinks would never fight again. Mike Tyson also stopped heavyweight hopefuls like Trevor Berbick, Carl Williams, Tony Tubbs, and Frank Bruno, among others. Although Tyson will be remembered by most of society for his crazy antics, true boxing fans will never forget his legendary power.
  9. Sugar Ray Robinson: 176 Wins 103 Knockouts. The master of the sweet science was also the master of the knockout. He knocked out more all time greats than anyone in history! Robinson stopped legends like Fritzie Zivic, Jake Lamotta, Bobo Olsen, Randy Turpin, Rocky Graziano, Carmen Basilio, and Gene Fullmer. The legend himself was also a legend killer!
  10. Thomas Hearns: 61 Wins 41 Knockouts. Hearns is one of the few boxers in history to maintain his power even while switching weight divisions numerous times. While at Welterweight, The Hitman knocked out long time champion Pinipo Cuevas. While at Super Welterweight, Hearns delivered one of the great all time one punch knockouts, humiliating the legendary Roberto Duran. While at Light Heavyweight, Hearns stopped champion Dennis Andries, dropping him three times in the process. Very few in history can claim the true pound for pound power Hearns did!
  11. Sam Langford: 181 Wins 130 Knockouts. Langford was truly unbelievable! Langford fought in almost every weight division. Langford started out as a featherweight powerhouse. Before you knew it, Langford was a middleweight and knocked out the great Philadelphia Jack O’Brien. Langford would again move up and win the Mexican and Australian Heavyweight title: both by knockout! Boxing will never see another fighter like Langford.
  12. Wilfredo Gomez: 44 Wins 42 Knockouts. Here is where I truly used the pound for pound definition. Gomez—the former Super Bantamweight, Featherweight, and Super Featherweight—was one of the most feared punchers in history. Gomez, in only his seventeenth pro fight, stopped Dong Kyun Yum, a 58 fight veteran, in the round 12. Gomez defended his title a few more times before facing the invincible 52-0 Carlos Zarate. Gomez shocked the world by stopping Zarate in the fifth round to retain his title. After moving up, Gomez stopped former champion Lupe Pintor. Gomez is a great example of why the smaller weight classes may have some of the greatest punchers.
  13. Stanley Ketchel: 52 Wins 49 Knockouts. Ketchel was not known as the Michigan Assassin for nothing! This former Middleweight World Champion scored knockout victories over champions like Philadelphia Jack O’Brien, Billy Papke, and even floored Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson while giving away 35 lbs!
  14. Gerald McClellan: 31 Wins 29 Knockouts. Before his unfortunate career ending injury against Nigel Benn, The G Man gave some serious beatings to some other greats! During the Benn fight, McClellan had the lead on all three scorecards and was able to drop him twice, sending him through the ropes in the first round. Before his pro career even started, McClellan was able to knock the great Roy Jones through the ropes in an amateur bout! During his professional career, McClellan knocked out two of boxing’s greatest punchers. McClellan was able to twice knock out Julian Jackson and also dropped John Mugabi. Two of those knockouts came before the bell ending the first round even sounded!
  15. Ricardo Lopez: 51 Wins 38 Knockouts. Here is where I really expect to hear the criticism. Lopez never fought above 108 lbs and is a virtual unknown to the typical boxing fan. Those of you who have seen Lopez fight and nearly behead fighters would understand his place on this list. Lopez had power that would dominate in any division. Lopez, along with Rocky Marciano, was the only champion to retire undefeated with at least 49 victories. Lopez knocked out Ratanapol Sor Vorapin, who had one of the longest title reigns in boxing history. Lopez also stopped former champions like Alex Sanchez, Zolani Petelo, Hhideyuki Ohashi, and Saman Sorjaturong. Lopez not only goes down in history as one of the greatest pound for pound fighters but also one of the top punchers.

Honorable Mention: Henry Armstrong, Felix Trinidad, Rocky Graziano, Jack Johnson, Young Stribling, Jimmy Wilde, Joe Frazier, Ruben Olivares, Bob Foster, Khaosai Galaxy, David Tua, John Mugabi, Alexis Arguello, Carlos Zarate, Vitali Klitchko, Manny Pacquaio, Roberto Duran, Max Baer, Julio Cesar Chavez, Joe Gans, Aaron Pryor




  1. Tony Penecale
    March 31st, 2007 @ 5:03 pm

    Awesome List – I truly enjoyed reading it! I would also like to add to the Rocky Marciano section that during his 2nd fight with Roland LaStarza, he battered LaStarza’s arms so badly that surgery was required to remove the hardened clots.

  2. Joem
    May 31st, 2007 @ 2:07 pm

    Pacquiao was also able to carry his power over multiple divisions. He was a tremendous puncher from flyweight (112 lbs.) all the way to super featherweight (130 lbs.). However, it seems that his mind is on set on boxing these days as he is also running for congress in the Philippines.

  3. BombsAway
    June 22nd, 2007 @ 7:39 pm

    to include Manny Pacquiao in your honorable mention list, you should have learned first to SPELL his name right. its P-A-C-Q-U-I-A-O and not P-A-C-Q-U-A-I-O. how can you be credible if you cant even get the boxers’ name right? tsk tsk tsk

  4. jacobc.guijaro
    June 22nd, 2007 @ 10:19 pm

    i believe Gerry Conney is one of the top ten hardest puncher of all time i can still remember that thunderous body shot into ken norton’s body

  5. mekiko
    June 23rd, 2007 @ 2:53 am

    knocking out elites are the ones should be considered as where their punching power really is… knock 20 bums in 1st rd doesnt mean a thing.. just dont know why chavez is there, he knock his opponent by choping them.. well still all in all good list

  6. DiamondKnuckles
    June 24th, 2007 @ 7:45 am

    luckily mp lost by knockout on the elections :P

  7. Wally World
    October 27th, 2008 @ 7:12 pm


    Rediculous list man, Joe Louis #7??????? Even George Foreman and MIke Tyson said the only gighter they would not have wanted to fight was Joe Louis because of his power. They said he had the ability to put a man in a hospital bed for good. Look at what he did to Max during their second fight. Very disapointed.

  8. travers
    February 12th, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

    I can’t understand these comments…George Foreman had to knock Frazier down six times because his punches weren’t hard enough for a single punch KO,something which Muhammed Ali commented upon. The hardest puncher ever was certainly Rocky Marciano.

  9. BJ
    February 22nd, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

    When did Sugar Ray Robinson stop Carmen Basilio???????

  10. BJ
    February 22nd, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

    It’s all opinion, isn’t it? Nothing wrong with that, of course: our different views make the world a better place. Was there a harder puncher than Sam Langford, I wonder. Has anyone had a more devastating left hook than Henry Cooper? (Cus had to cheat to save Cassius.) Did anyone hit harder than Sonny Liston? Allow me to diverge and say that the best knock-out blows I ever saw were Walcott’s demolition of the great Ezzard, Marciano’s annihilation of Walcott in the 12th and Sugar Ray’s epic blow delivered to the mighty Mr Fulmer. Heroes, all of them. Who cares who had the hardest punch? Let’s be thankful for them all.
    Thank you for mentioning Jimmy Wilde: The Ghost With The Hammer In His Hands.
    Final thought ….. if Foreman was such a murderous puncher, how did Ali take all those blows to the body without showing any sign of fatigue or pain? Had Liston delivered those blows, Ali would have died. Very suspicious, that ……

  11. dubz
    November 18th, 2009 @ 10:47 am


  12. Chuck
    March 5th, 2010 @ 7:08 am

    Nice list, but where are Carlos Zarate? Roberto Duran? Alexis Arguello? Henry Cooper? I’m sure if I look further I can come up with more who deserve to be on this list

  13. JVH
    April 29th, 2010 @ 9:21 am

    Foreman had power and was a strong guy, but he wasn´t one of the best punchers and boxers and therefore his punches wasn´t that effective all the time, people take the Frazier fight as a great example of his BIG punching power, it took him what, six times? one of the knockdowns was even a clean wright uppercurt that didn´t even do the job. Some have explosive hands and muscles where Foreman whered his opponents down till they were tired and then knocked out at the end cause he was a heavy hitter, but not the most explosive and precise puncher! But a powerfull guy that´s for sure!!!

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