The Bible of Boxing, Ring Magazine recently took it upon itself to try and rank the ten greatest living fighters. With the recent, sad passing of the incomparable Muhammad Ali, the editors, with contributions from various experts, set to work compiling their top-10. A mammoth task, one sure to court debate, even controversy (something the editors of Ring fully expected and are prepared for!) picking these ten special fighters resulted in the following list:
1: Sugar Ray Leonard
2: Roberto Duran
3: Pernell Whitaker
4: Evander Holyfield
5: Marvin Hagler
6: Julio Cesar Chavez
7: Floyd Mayweather Junior
8: Jake LaMotta
9: Manny Pacquiao
10: Larry Holmes
A good, solid list, as to be expected from the knowledgeable editors of such a fine publication, but not one that will make every boxing fan happy (how could any such list do that!). The appearance of Floyd Mayweather might prove a hot topic amongst fight fans. Does Mayweather really deserve to be ranked above Holmes and other greats such as George Foreman and Thomas Hearns, these two being absent from the illustrious top-10? Should Big George perhaps be in there instead of “The Easton Assassin?”
Holyfield, unquestionably a great, great fighter – one who no doubt gains points due to his cruiserweight accomplishments – might be a little high at number-4, and Lennox Lewis fans will no doubt point this out. Should Lewis be in amongst the 10? Maybe a top-20 would have been a better (if far more time consuming) idea; that way everyone’s favourite would make an appearance.
But looking at this top-10, there are no glaring, intolerable omissions, even if some boxing aficionados may argue how the likes of Mike Tyson, Ricardo Lopez and maybe Roy Jones Junior should be in there. There isn’t room for everyone, of course. But the purpose of the list was to inspire conversation and debate and Ring’s top-10 will certainly do that, if it hasn’t done so already.
Leonard, the finest living fighter according to The Bible, certainly accomplished a whole lot during his career, or careers. Wins over Wilfredo Benitez, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler simply cannot be overlooked and Sugar did it with enormous flair and style. Coming after Ali had began a slow fade, it is perhaps fitting that Leonard, who back then was called the closest thing to the great Ali in terms of boxing skill and class and sheer personal magnetism, now takes the mantle from Ali as the finest living fighter.