Punching power is one of the most valuable attributes a boxer can have, and it often makes up for technical weaknesses. Boxers like Deontay Wilder have reached the highest levels in boxing due to their out-of-this-world punching power despite not being as technically proficient as you would expect a championship-level boxer to be.
The Ten Hardest Hitters In Boxing History
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at the most impressive knockout artists in boxing history:
1) Earnie Shavers
Even boxing legends like Ron Lyle and Muhammad Ali ranked Shavers as the hardest puncher they ever faced. Shavers hit so hard that 68 of his 75 professional boxing wins were via knockout, and 33 of those knockouts occurred in the first round. Simply lasting more than a few rounds with Shavers was considered a victory of sorts.
Unfortunately for Shavers, technical flaws in his fighting style prevented him from succeeding at the championship level. However, his punching power always gave him a chance during his fights, even when he was technically outmatched.
2) George Foreman
If their fight had gone differently, George Foreman could have gone down in history as the greatest heavyweight of all time instead of Muhammad Ali. Foreman won most rounds of the bout until he got tired due to Ali’s rope-a-dope strategy. Foreman went on to retire after his bout against Ali, but many boxing experts believed had he kept going on, he would have likely won a rematch against Ali.
However, that’s not how things went. Foreman is most known for his loss to Ali, but his incredible punching power put him in position to face Ali. That power was showcased when Foreman returned to boxing and knocked out Michael Moorer in 1994 at 44. It didn’t even look like Foreman hit Moorer with everything he had, but it was enough to turn his lights out.
3) Mike Tyson
Tyson was one of the hardest hitters boxing had ever seen when he dominated the 80s. At the time, he was an undefeated young boxer who seemingly knocked out everyone he faced. Fighters would be so scared to fight him you could see many of them check out mentally before their fights even started.
Tyson wasn’t as dominant during the second half of his career as he battled legal and personal problems, but that doesn’t take away from his accomplishments in his younger years. If Cus D’Amato had lived a little longer, Tyson would have probably gone down as the best boxer ever.
4) Sonny Liston
Liston is one of the most famous heavyweights in boxing history, and he even shared the ring twice with Ali. Liston was mostly known for his long reach and powerful punches, but that wasn’t enough to get him victories against Ali. Thirty-nine of Liston’s 50 wins as a professional boxer came via knockout.
5) Lennox Lewis
Lennox Lewis was one of the more reserved champions in boxing history, but that doesn’t take away from the fact he also happened to be one of the hardest punchers ever. Lewis combined his punching power with his long reach and boxing skills to create a puzzle most boxers couldn’t figure out.
He did have some low points in his career when he lost to mediocre opponents like Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman, but he came back to avenge both losses. Lewis won 32 of his 41 fights by knockout, including a KO victory against Mike Tyson.
6) David Tua
Tua is one of the best heavyweights who never won a title in boxing history despite having enough power to put anyone to sleep. His biggest flaw was his inability to cut off the ring against world-class boxers effectively. That allowed his opponents to circle away from him to avoid getting caught by him.
He holds first-round stoppages against the likes of Michael Moorer and Hasim Rahman. His knockout of Moorer is one of the fastest in boxing history, as he only needed 30 seconds to put him away.
7) Joe Louis
Many boxing experts still view Joe Louis as the best heavyweight champion in boxing history. In his prime, he held on to the belt for over 12 years, defending his belt 25 times. Fifty-two of Louis’s 66 wins were via knockout, and he often fought multiple times in a month. It was a completely different time in boxing history, but many of the greats that came after him probably wouldn’t fare well against him.
8) Wladimir Klitschko
Klitschko earned the nickname “Dr. Steelhammer” because of his punching power, and he was more than capable of putting anyone away in his prime. A student of Emanuel Steward, Klitschko often had a safe approach to boxing. His jab and cross were his two best weapons. He threw them so well, and with so much power that his knockouts often came out of nowhere as he wasn’t even looking for them. Klitschko was known for having a weak chin, so he was never one for getting into brawls inside the ring.
Wilder deserves a spot on this list, given how much he’s accomplished in the boxing ring despite having limited technical boxing skills. He would be the best heavyweight in the world in a parallel universe in which Tyson Fury didn’t exist. Forty-one of Wilder’s 42 wins as a professional boxer came by knockout. That is a 93% knockout rate, something you don’t often see at the championship level.
10) Ron Lyle
Lyle is another hard-hitting heavyweight that never won a championship despite being one of the best boxers of his era. Lyle was winning his 1975 fight with Muhammad Ali on all three judges’ scorecards before Ali was awarded a controversial TKO in the 11th round.
Lyle even went to war with George Foreman in what turned out to be one of the most exciting, competitive, and brutal fights in boxing history.
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