Whether or not you agreed with the man himself when he made his bold claim of being The Greatest, and whether or not you agree with those fans and experts who say heavyweight legend Muhammad Ali deserves to go down in history as the best fighter of all time, it has to be agreed how the world lost a very special boxer, athlete and human being on June 3rd when the three-time king passed away.
People the world over have done thier utmost to pay appropriate tribute to the fighter who was simply incomparable, and they are attempting the mighty task of understanding just how monstrous a void the departure of the most well known and recognisable man in sport’s history has left us all with. There will never be another Ali, says the oft-quoted phrase, but in a world of clichés, this happens to be true.
When it comes to ranking the three finest boxers in history, pound-for-pound, the most constant and generally agreed list reads: Sugar Ray Robinson, Ali, Henry Armstrong. Some historians may place the immortal Joe Louis in there in place of Armstrong. Either way, all four of these fantastic fighters have now gone, leaving fans wondering – just who is the finest living fighter on the planet?
Roberto Duran’s name springs to mind and is an obvious choice. Judged by many as the best lightweight who ever lived, Duran came close to eclipsing even Ali’s incredible achievements. Sugar Ray Leonard, often called the closest thing to the peak Ali – blinding fast, wonderfully skilled and absolutely loaded with charisma – must also be looked at here ; as must the man he so controversially outpointed in Marvelous Marvin Hagler – certainly the pick for greatest living middleweight king.
Who else, maybe George Foreman? Larry Holmes? Julio Cesar Chavez? The finest living boxer is certainly not Floyd Mayweather, his own TBA boasts having little credibility with the majority of fans. Floyd could be looked at as the greatest defensive boxer of all time, maybe, but he never ever came close to displaying the astonishing blend of skill, guts and brains Ali displayed on so many occasions.
Duran has to get my vote but it’s all subjective of course. Who is the greatest living boxer, fighter, practitioner of The Sweet Science? Ali’ s passing has taken away a boxing icon many thousands of fighters would love to be mentioned alongside in terms of talent. But it really is a big gap, from Ali to his nearest equal. And that’s saying something when great boxers like Leonard and Duran came after Ali.