The Five Best Punchers in Boxing

wladimir klitschko26.09.06 - By Anthony Coleman: Besides the pound-for-pound discussions, the argument of ďbest puncher in boxingĒ is the most highly debated among boxing fans. And why is this? We rarely see people argue over who is the best defensive fighter in boxing or who has the best chin in boxing? It is because punchers are exciting, that is why. There is nothing more exciting to most boxing fans than the sight of the destroyer: a man who can strike the fear of God and Nature into any opponent because of the fact that they hold the hammer of Thor in their gloves. In the eyes of many, the puncher is the sports version of a superhero.

After thinking about the subject long and hard Iíve decided to share my selections for the best punchers in the sport today. I compiled this list based on a criterion of relevant attributes a puncher must have.

-Power. This is unquestionably the most important and distinctive mark of a great puncher: the ability to punch with force and command. Really, how can a puncher are considered great if he canít gain respect from the opposition with his fists?

-Combination Punching: This is the second most important quality of punching. While punching power is the most important quality of a puncher, it is also the most overrated because most fans only focus on this one aspect of the job. No matter how hard a puncher a fighter is, the fact is that he will not be able to KO most top level opponents with one punch. A fighter also must rely on combinations instead of wasting time trying to land one punch at a time. By landing clean combinations a fighter will land more punches and catch the opponent off guard. Loading up on one punch at a time is just a waste of precious time and energy.

-Accuracy/ precision

-Body Punching

-Inside and outside punching

-Counter Punching


-Quality of Opposition

Now that I have the criteria listed I think that it is time to get into my selections.

5. Daniel Ponce De Leon

Why he is this high: Itís a massive understatement, but the kid can throw rocks. De Leon possesses one punch KO power in either hand and heís unbelievably strong for a 122 pounder. De Leon also has underrated hand speed from the fights Iíve seen. He also is one of the best body punchers in the sport, which is kind of unusual seeing that he is a southpaw. To be honest Iím also probably a little caught up in the emotion over his frightening one punch KO over Sod Looknongyangtoy back in July. Unless something dramatic happens in the closing months, this will almost certainly be the ďKnockout of the YearĒ. OK, Iím really selling this KO a little short. In my opinion this is the best KO since Lennox Lewis nearly beheaded Hashim Rahman in their rematch back in 2001. If you go on Youtube, youíll see why this KO was so great. De Leon threw a perfect straight left cross down the middle that once the punch detonated on the Thai fighterís head, he was out instantly. There are maybe three or four boxers in the sport who can match De Leonís pure punching power.

Why he is not number one: Do I really need to explain why? I mean seriously, have you seen this man fight? Put it this way: figuratively speaking, the kid can throw rocks when he punches, unfortunately when De Leon is punching he also happens to look like a little handicapped kid throwing rocks. To be as nice as possible: De Leon is a little crude. Being honest: De Leon technique is awful. He throws wide winging shots, he doesnít use his jab effectively, he keeps his hands too low and, his keeps chin way up in the air like a piŮata. He also lunges in from too far out with his punches, and because he loads up with so many punches De Leon is often off balance after he throws. Did I also mention that his combination punching is laughable? Hell Iíd be damned if threw 3 crisp accurate punches in combination.

Anybody who has seen De Leonís KO victory over Emmanuel Lucero KNOWS what Iím talking about. In the final minute of the fourth round, De Leon standing on the outside with his hands held low, hurt Lucero with a left cross. At that moment, any southpaw fighter with competent technique and defensive awareness would have followed up with a right hook, a right uppercut, or (if the fighter is really hurt) another left cross. But not our boy Ponce. Instead Ponce kept his head straight up in the air and lunged in from far outside with one of the ugliest left uppercuts Iíve ever seen. Does anybody see a problem with that combination and how I described it? By loading up again with the same hand and lunging in from the outside De Leon left himself wide open for counter shots. It was really that bad.

Also, De Leon followed up that ďcombinationĒ with another combination featuring half ass left uppercuts and hooks to the body and an amateurish overhand right cross to Luceroís head. Finally after more crude shots, De Leon landed a left cross to the chest that knocked Lucero down. Lucero barely beat the count, but once he got back on his feet De Leon went in for the finish. De Leon landed once again and then started throwing caveman-like clubbing shots that missed by a mile until he finally landed another one of those aforementioned ugly left uppercuts that finally sent Lucero down for the final time.

So as you can see, while he may have tremendous power he isnít exactly Joe Louis when it comes to punching technique or accuracy. In fact even in his short KO victory over the Thai fighter he exposed his flaws. One of De Leonís favorite punches is a right hook to the bodyÖbut this right hook to the body defies logic. It is really a whip like punch that is thrown from the outside, rather than from the inside. It may be effective, but he is literally wide open for the left hook or left jab whenever he misses with that punch. OK it seems as if Iím picking on De Leon, but Iím not. Iím just pointing out the obvious. Maybe Iím also selling the man a little short. His unorthodox style might be one of the reasons why he is so successful because he might throw conventional fighters off with his unorthodox punching technique.

4) Edwin Valero

Why he is this high: His punching power is Foreman-esque. Doug Fischerís baby boy finally became a man with his title winning KO victory over Vicente Mosquera and continues his perfect KO streak. His tenth round KO of Mosquera proved that he can take a world class fighter into the deep side of the tide and drown him. Of course if we must talk about Valero we must talk about his insane streak of 18 consecutive first round knockouts. I donít care how bad the competition is, if you KO 18 consecutive fighters inside the first three minutes of a fight, you have unbelievable power. Hell all time great punchers like Ruben Olivares and Carlos Zarate couldnít accomplish this feat despite facing rusted tomato cans for the first 30 fights of their careers. Valero also possesses great hand speed and counter-punching ability. He literally catches his opponents off guard with his hand speed because Valero releases his punches with a ton of speed and power packed into his punches. I know this is a clichť, but most of Valeroís opponents are taken out punches that they never saw coming. Punchers of Valeroís blend of power and speed are truly once in a lifetime.

Why he is not number one: See Ponce De Leon because Valeroís form is every bit as suspect and, I hate to say this, at times actually worse than Ponceís. Valero has a tendency to leave his chin up straight in the air and his hands very low. Iím talking near his waist low. As much as I chastise De Leon for his lack of defense, at least I can say this: he doesnít keep his hands held as dangerously low as Valero does. Also his combination punching is just plain ugly. He gets away with these huge defensive flaws because of his extraordinary physical skill set, but because of his sloppy combination punching, low hands, and exposed chin Valero is open to every major counter punch and an elite level fighter will probably expose his amateurish technique. There has been a lot of talk about a potential fight between Valero and pound-for-pound entrant Manny Pacquiao. Iíll tell you this if Manny can withstand Valeroís early bombs, he will dismantle Valero. Also, Valeroís quality of competition isnít high enough for me to give him the invisible trophy of best puncher in boxing. However, because of his freakish punching power I still make him even money against any of the top 130-135 pounders in the world today because, like Julian Jackson a generation before, Valero could possibly KO anybody at anytime no matter how outgunned he might seem.

3) Diego Corrales

Why he is this high: The best Lightweight on the planet has probably KOíd the best collection of fighters in the sport today. He KOíd iron-chinned Jose Luis Castillo in miraculous fashion in their unforgettable first fight, forced Acelino Freitas to quit after suffering three knockdowns, and before he was stopped on cuts, he was very, very close to stopping Joel Casamayor in their first fight. We also must remember his KOís of Smoke Gainer and a then-still-solid Angel Manfredy. Corrales also has shown an ability to carry his power late into fights and his ability to throw combinations on the inside is vastly underrated. In his first fight with Castillo, Chico landed dozens of hard blistering combinations on the inside. While pundits rightfully criticize Corrales for his ineffectiveness from the outside, his work on the inside for a man of his size is superlative.

Why he is not number one: He lacks an outside game and for a man of his size I would like him to work on the outside with his jab and sharp-shoot with his cross and hooks. Iím not saying he should be Alexis Arguello, well err, well yeah I am actually saying that he should be Alexis Arguello. OK he doesnít have to be as accurate as Arguello, but you would like to see him mix an outside game with his tremendous inside arsenal. In that case heíll probably have a much longer career, but how things are shaping up, heíll probably be done as a top level performer by the time he is 32; if not sooner.

2) Wladimir Klitschko

Why he is this high: Look, say what you want about the manís chin, stamina problems and robotic nature; but the man truly mixes up great one-puncher KO power and deft precise combination punching. His jab is literally like a steel hammer landing on an opponentís skull. His ability to punish foes with his jab-cross combo, or befuddle his opponents by hooking off the cross is second to none in the sport (well except for my number one choice). Also surprisingly, he is an excellent puncher on the inside for a man of his mammoth size and height. He knows how to use his uppercut when an opponent tries to lean on him, and he generates a lot of power from a short left hook. Klitschko also has decent hand speed. His KO wins over fighters like Jameel McCline and Chris Byrd are especially noteworthy.

Why he is not number one: Because Dr. Robotnik doesnít body punch or counter punch. Heís really just a head hunter who is very adept at taking the lead and if somebody can crack through his offense he isnít comfortable in making people miss and pay for it in return. That is truly the only reason why he isnít number 1, and it doesnít change the fact that his offensive game is just tremendous.

And now ladies and gentlemen, the best puncher in boxing is (drum roll please?):

1) Rafael Marquez

Rafael Marquez is the best puncher in boxing today and one of the very best offensive fighters in the history of the sport. When it comes to the art of punching; Marquez is as close to perfection you will find in the sport today. Marquez has KO power in not just either hand, but in any punch in his arsenal! He can take a fighter out with a hook to the head or the body, a right cross and his jab is also lethal. It may be the best jab in boxing. In his rematch against Mabuza, Marquez stunned and nearly dropped him with a jab in the first round. But even though he has the bomb in any punch, his best weapon is unquestionably his right-uppercut. In my opinion itís the best punch in all of boxing and if he lands it flush on his opponentís chin then there is a better than good chance the referee will be uttering the ten count. Also, what makes Marquez so special is his blend of power and short accurate combination punching. Rafael rarely throws punches one at a time and when he throws, he rarely misses while throwing with picture perfect balance and technique. He also knows how to mix up his combos to avoid being predictable and possesses excellent hand-speed.

Also unlike the other punchers on this list (with the exception of Valero) Rafael excels at counter punching. Whenever an opponent misses Marquez usually makes them pay with short and extremely hard punches. And while Marquez can take an opponent out with one punch, he isnít ashamed to go to the body and weaken an opponent as the fight goes on. He can carry his punch late into a fight and isnít intimidated when his opponent stands up to him. In short, Rafael Marquez is an A+ puncher and unquestionably the best puncher in boxing. When Ring Magazine redoes their list for the greatest punchers in boxing history, I would be outraged if Marquez didnít rank in the top 30.

Well there you have it, the five best punchers in boxing according to me. Let the debating begin.

Honorable Mention:

Manny Pacqiauo

Jhonny Gonzales

Israel Vasquez

Kermit Cintron

Jeff Lacy

Article posted on 26.09.2006

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