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The Heavyweight Boxing Champions of the World

Person list created by KBLists Avatar

The following list includes a list of all of the heavyweight boxing champions of the gloved era. Rather than list every WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO titleholder, I only recognized the lineal title, meaning "the man who beat the man." You'll also find a brief description of each fighter's career in the notes.
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Nickname: Gentleman Jim
Hometown: San Francisco, CA, USA

Professional Record: 11-4-3 (5 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1892 - 1897
Successful Title Defenses: 1

The only man to beat longtime bare-knuckle kingpin John L. Sullivan, Corbett helped popularize the use of gloves in prize-fighting. Considered a master of "scientific" boxing, Corbett used a stiff jab and quick foot movement to keep larger men befuddled.

Career Highlights:
1889 - Joe Choynski (Win by KO 27)
1890 - Jake Kilrain (Win 6)
1890 - Dominick McCaffrey (Win by TKO 4)
1891 - Peter Jackson (No-contest 61)
1892 - John Sullivan (Win by KO 21) *wins title*
1894 - Charlie Mitchell (Win by KO 3)
1896 - Tom Sharkey (Draw 4)
1897 - Bob Fitzsimmons (Loss by KO 14) *loses title*
1900 - James Jeffries (Loss by KO 23)
1900 - Charles McCoy (Win by KO 5)
1903 - James Jeffries (Loss by KO 10)

Nickname: Ruby Robert
Hometown: Timaru, New Zealand

Professional Record: 63-8-4(59 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1897 - 1899
Successful Title Defenses: 0

The first man to win championships in three weight divisions (middleweight, heavyweight, and light heavyweight), Bob Fitzsimmons was a wily, tough, and hard-hitting boxer whose career spanned four decades. He is perhaps best known for the "solar plexus punch" which he landed to take the heavyweight laurels from Jim Corbett.

Career Highlights:
1891 - Nonpareil Jack Dempsey (Win by TKO 13)
1894 - Joe Choynski (Win by TKO 5)
1894 - Dan Creedon (Win by KO 2)
1896 - Peter Maher (Win by KO 1)
1896 - Tom Sharkey (Loss by DQ 8)
1897 - James Corbett (Win by KO 14) *wins title*
1899 - James Jeffries (Loss by KO 11) *loses title*
1900 - Tom Sharkey (Win by KO 2)
1903 - George Gardner (Win 20)
1904 - Jack O'Brien (Win by TKO 6)
1905 - Jack O'Brien (Loss by TKO 13)
1907 - Jack Johnson (Loss by KO 2)
Nickname: The Boilermaker / The Great White Hope
Hometown: San Francisco, CA, USA

Professional Record: 19-1-2 (16 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1899 - 1905
Successful Title Defenses: 7

Burly James Jeffries was considered the unbeatable fighter of his generation. Jeffries was a rugged fighter who possessed very little in the way of technical skills but instead wore his opponents down with his resilience and his own devastating blows. Were it not for an ill-advised comeback five years after retirement, he would have an undefeated record.

Career Highlights:
1897 - Joe Choynski (Draw 20)
1898 - Joe Choynski (Win by TKO 4)
1898 - Peter Jackson (Win by TKO 3)
1898 - Tom Sharkey (Win 20)
1899 - Bob Fitzsimmons (Win by KO 11) *wins title*
1899 - Tom Sharkey (Win 25)
1900 - James Corbett (Win by KO 23)
1901 - Gus Ruhlin (Win by TKO 5)
1902 - Bob Fitzsimmons (Win by KO 8)
1903 - James Corbett (Win by KO 10)
1910 - Jack Johnson (Loss by TKO 15)
Nickname: The Fightin' Kentuckian
Hometown: Fern Creek, KY, USA

Professional Record: 28-7-4 (20 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1905 - 1906
Successful Title Defenses: 0

Marvin Hart is universally considered one of the worst heavyweight champions the sport has seen and, as such, comparatively little biographical information exists on him. He won his right to fight for the championship by winning a gift decision over top contender Jack Johnson, a controversial black man. Hart subsequently won the vacant title by besting Jack Root, who would later win the light heavyweight belt.

Career Highlights:
1901 - Dan Creedon (Win by KO 6)
1902 - Jack Root (Loss 6)
1903 - George Gardner (Loss 12)
1904 - George Gardner (Draw 15)
1905 - Jack Johnson (Win 20)
1905 - Jack Root (Win by KO 12) *wins title*
1906 - Tommy Burns (Loss 20) *loses title*
1907 - Peter Maher (Win by KO 2)

Tommy Burns

Real Name: Noah Brusso
Nickname: The Little Giant
Hometown: Windsor, Canada

Professional Record: 46-4-8 (34 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1906 - 1908
Successful Title Defenses: 11

The smallest man to ever win the heavyweight championship at just 5 feet, 7 inches tall, Tommy Burns was also the only one born in Canada. A scrappy fighter with a sizable punch, he made 11 successful title defenses against mostly over-matched opponents before becoming the first heavyweight champ to break the color line (an unwritten rule against interracial championship fights) by accepting a challenge from African American fighter Jack Johnson.

Career Highlights:
1906 - Marvin Hart (Win 20) *wins title*
1906 - Jack O'Brien (Draw 20)
1907 - Jack O'Brien (Win 20)
1908 - Bill Lang (Win by KO 6)
1908 - Jack Johnson (Loss 14) *loses title*
Nickname: The Galveston Giant
Hometown: Galveston, TX, USA

Professional Record: 55-11-8 (35 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1908 - 1915
Successful Title Defenses: 8

The first black heavyweight champion was also one of the very best. Crafty, technically sound, athletic, and hard-hitting, Jack Johnson often had to carry opponents just to give the audiences their money's worth. The color of his skin, his romantic attraction to white women, and his ostentatious personal style made him the most hated man in America during his title reign, prompting the creation of a Great White Hope hysteria to find a man that could beat him.

Career Highlights:
1901 - Joe Choynski (Loss by KO 3)
1902 - George Gardner (Win 20)
1903 - Sam McVey (Win 20)
1903 - Sam McVey (Win 20)
1904 - Sam McVey (Win by KO 20)
1905 - Marvin Hart (Loss 20)
1905 - Joe Jeanette (Loss by DQ 2)
1906 - Joe Jeanette (Win 15)
1906 - Sam Langford (Win 15)
1907 - Bob Fitzsimmons (Win by KO 2)
1908 - Tommy Burns (W 14) *wins title*
1909 - Stanley Ketchel (Win by KO 12)
1910 - James Jeffries (Win by TKO 15)
1912 - Jim Flynn (Win by DQ 9)
1915 - Jess Willard (Loss by KO 26) *loses title*
Nickname: The Pottawatomie Giant)
Hometown: Pottawatomie, KS, USA

Professional Record: 22-5-1 (20 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1915 - 1919
Successful Title Defenses: 1

At over six and a half feet tall, Jess Willard was by far the tallest heavyweight champion yet to come along when he won the title from Jack Johnson in 1915. His victory of Johnson in Havana, Cuba made him a hero figure to millions of white people throughout the world, but Jess was mostly an unassuming, private person who had little regard for prizefighting, and public interest in him quickly faded.

Career Highlights:
1915 - Jack Johnson (Win by KO 26) *wins title*
1916 - Frank Moran (no-decision 10)
1919 - Jack Dempsey (Loss by TKO 3) *loses title*
Real Name: William Dempsey
Nickname: The Manassa Mauler
Hometown: Manassa, CO, USA

Professional Record: 54-6-9 (44 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1919 - 1926
Successful Title Defenses: 5

Jack Dempsey was one of the premier American cultural icons of his generation. A figure of controversy outside of the ring, inside of it he was a terror to his opponents and a thrill for his fans. His bob-and-weave, knockout-artist style revolutionized the sport and helped produce boxing's first million dollar gates.

Career Highlights:
1918 - Fred Fulton (Win by KO 1)
1918 - Battling Levinsky (Win by KO 3)
1919 - Jess Willard (Win by TKO 3) *wins title*
1920 - Billy Miske (Win by KO 3)
1921 - Georges Carpentier (Win by KO 4)
1923 - Tommy Gibbons (Win 15)
1923 - Luis Firpo (Win by KO 2)
1926 - Gene Tunney (Loss 10) *loses title*
1927 - Jack Sharkey (Win by KO 7)
1927 - Gene Tunney (Loss 10)
Real Name: James Tunney
Nickname: The Fighting Marine
Hometown: Greenwich, CT, USA

Professional Record: 65-1-1 (48 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1926 - 1928
Successful Title Defenses: 2

The first heavyweight to permanently retire as champion, Gene Tunney never lost a fight in the division. Prior to entering the heavyweight division, he had been one of the top fighters at light heavyweight. He was a fleet-footed fighter who used precision punching to wear down larger opponents. "The Fighting Marine" is perhaps best known for benefiting from an alleged "long count" in his rematch with Jack Dempsey, but he otherwise clearly dominated Dempsey in both of their meetings.

Career Highlights:
1922 - Battling Levinsky (Win 12)
1922 - Harry Greb (L 15)
1923 - Harry Greb (Win 15)
1923 - Harry Greb (Win 15)
1924 - Georges Carpentier (Win by TKO 15)
1925 - Tommy Gibbons (Win by KO 12)
1926 - Jack Dempsey (Win 10) *wins title*
1927 - Jack Dempsey (Win 10)
1928 - Tom Heeney (Win by TKO 11)
Nickname: The Black Uhlan of the Rhine
Hometown: Brandenburg, Germany

Professional Record: 56-10-4 (40 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1930 - 1932
Successful Title Defenses: 1

An intelligent counter-puncher with a solid right hand, Max Schmeling was not regarded as a legitimate champion by many, as he is the only man to win the heavyweight laurels by disqualification, a distinction he gained after Jack Sharkey struck a low blow in a match for the vacant title. He would later prove his talents as a fighter by becoming the first man to defeat the rampaging Joe Louis. In America, he was cast as the villain due to his associations with German dictator Adolf Hitler, though in truth Schmeling helped Jews escape the clutches of the Nazis. In later life, he became a wealthy executive for Coca-Cola.

Career Highlights:
1930 - Jack Sharkey (Win by DQ 4) *wins title*
1931 - Young Stribling (Win by TKO 15)
1932 - Jack Sharkey (Loss 15) *loses title*
1932 - Mickey Walker (Win by TKO 8)
1933 - Max Baer (Loss by TKO 10)
1936 - Joe Louis (Win by KO 12)
1938 - Joe Louis (L by KO 1)
1939 - Adolf Heuser (Win by KO 1)

Jack Sharkey

Real Name: Joseph Zukauskas
Nickname: The Boston Gob
Hometown: Boston, MA, USA

Professional Record: 37-13-3 (13 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1932 - 1933
Successful Title Defenses: 0

Having fought nearly every important heavyweight of his generation, Jack Sharkey is the only man to have faced both Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis in professional fights. His career was mired in controversy. In his fight with Jack Dempsey, he was well ahead when Dempsey fouled him; when Sharkey turned to the referee to complain, Dempsey knocked him out. He lost his first title fight to Max Schmeling when Schmeling claimed he had been fouled and refused to continue. Many (including his own wife) believed that he took a dive against gangster-controlled Primo Carnera. However, Sharkey's blue-collar popularity and his skills as a boxer allowed him to remain a heavyweight contender for years, including a brief term as champion.

Career Highlights:
1926 - George Godfrey (Win 10)
1926 - Harry Wills (Win by DQ 13)
1927 - Mike McTigue (Win by TKO 12)
1927 - Jack Dempsey (Loss by KO 7)
1928 - Jack Delaney (Win by KO 1)
1929 - Young Stribling (Win 10)
1929 - Tommy Loughran (Win by TKO 3)
1930 - Max Schmeling (Loss by DQ 4)
1931 - Mickey Walker (Draw 15)
1931 - Primo Carnera (Win 15)
1932 - Max Schmeling (Win 15) *wins title*
1933 - Primo Carnera (Loss by KO 6) *loses title*
1933 - Tommy Loughran (Loss 15)
1936 - Joe Louis (Loss by KO 3)
Nickname: The Ambling Alp
Hometown: Sequals, Italy

Professional Record: 88-14 (71 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1933 - 1934
Successful Title Defenses: 2

Italy's only heavyweight champion, Primo Carnera stood nearly six and a half feet tall and sometimes weighed more than 280 lbs. Treated as something of a sideshow attraction through much of his career, he was guided to the heavyweight title by unscrupulous managers, which included New York gangster Owney Madden. A simple and gentle man, Carnera was robbed of his winnings by his handlers and left the sport nearly destitute.

Career Highlights:
1929 - Young Stribling (Win by DQ 4)
1929 - Young Stribling (Loss by DQ 7)
1930 - George Godfrey (Win by DQ 5)
1931 - Jack Sharkey (Loss 15)
1933 - Ernie Schaaf (Win by KO 13)
1933 - Jack Sharkey (Win by KO 6) *wins title*
1934 - Tommy Loughran (Win 15)
1934 - Max Baer (Loss by TKO 11) *loses title*
1935 - Joe Louis (Loss by TKO 6)
Nickname: The Livermore Larruper
Hometown: Livermore, CA, USA

Professional Record: 66-13 (51 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1934 - 1935
Successful Title Defenses: 0

Hard-hitting Max Baer might have had an even more successful career had he had a more disciplined approach to training and boxing. Relying almost entirely upon his size, punching power, and clowning antics in the ring, Baer lacked the boxing skills and conditioning of a true great, but was nonetheless one of the most popular fighters of his day.

Career Highlights:
1930 - Frankie Campbell (Win by TKO 5)
1931 - Tommy Loughran (Loss 10)
1933 - Max Schmeling (Win by TKO 10)
1934 - Primo Carnera (Win by TKO 11) *wins title*
1935 - James Braddock (Loss 15) *loses title*
1935 - Joe Louis (Loss by KO 4)
Nickname: The Bergen Bulldog / The Cinderella Man
Hometown: North Bergen, NJ, USA

Professional Record: 46-24-4 (26 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1935 - 1937
Successful Title Defenses: 0

Early in his career, Jim Braddock was a fast rising light heavyweight prospect. However, the combination of being rushed to the top by management and frequent injuries resulted in a series of losses that derailed his career. Later, while mounting a comeback as a heavyweight, his rags-to-riches story and upset win over champion Max Baer made him a symbol of hope for many Americans suffering through the Great Depression, earning him fame as the "Cinderella Man."

Career Highlights:
1929 - Tommy Loughran (Loss 15)
1929 - Maxie Rosenbloom (Loss 10)
1932 - John Henry Lewis (Loss 10)
1934 - John Henry Lewis (Win 10)
1935 - Art Lasky (Win 10)
1935 - Max Baer (Win 15) *wins title*
1937 - Joe Louis (Loss by KO 8) *loses title*
Real Name: Joseph Barrow
Nickname: The Brown Bomber
Hometown: Detroit, MI, USA

Professional Record: 63-3 (52 KO wins)
Title Reign: 1937 - 1949
Successful Title Defenses: 25

The longest reigning champion in any weight class, and with more title defenses than any other champion ever, Joe Louis is one of the most accomplished boxers who ever lived. A boxer-puncher with dynamite in either hand, Louis is also considered one of the sport's most successful knockout artists. Only the second African American to win the heavyweight championship, he was a hero to millions, regardless of race, and became a symbol of American patriotism during World War II, securing his legacy as a pop culture icon of his era.

Career Highlights:
1935 - Primo Carnera (Win by TKO 6)
1935 - Max Baer (Win by KO 4)
1936 - Max Schmeling (Loss by KO 12)
1936 - Jack Sharkey (Win by KO 3)
1937 - James Braddock (Win by KO 8) *wins title*
1938 - Max Schmeling (Win by KO 1)
1939 - John Henry Lewis (Win by KO 1)
1941 - Buddy Baer (Win by DQ 7)
1941 - Billy Conn (Win by KO 13)
1946 - Billy Conn (Win by KO 8)
1947 - Joe Walcott (Win 15)
1948 - Joe Walcott (Win by KO 11)
1950 - Ezzard Charles (Loss 15)
1951 - Jimmy Bivins (Win 10)
1951 - Rocky Marciano (Loss by TKO 8)
Nickname: The Cincinnati Cobra
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH, USA

Professional Record: 95-25-1 (52 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1949 - 1951
Successful Title Defenses: 8

A multi-talented fighter whose popularity suffered because he came along in the wake of the iconic Joe Louis, Ezzard Charles is today regarded by many as the greatest light heavyweight of all time and a damn good heavyweight to boot. Not only did he best Louis over 15 rounds, he is also the only man to last 15 with the rugged Rocky Marciano. In his 19 year career, Ezzard engaged in more bouts against world champions and hall of famers than any other heavyweight champ. Along the way, he also racked up more career wins than any other heavyweight champ in history.

Career Highlights:
1941 - Ken Overlin (Loss 10)
1941 - Teddy Yarosz (Win 10)
1942 - Ken Overlin (Draw 10)
1942 - Charley Burley (Win 10)
1942 - Charley Burley (Win 10)
1942 - Joey Maxim (Win 10)
1942 - Joey Maxim (Win 10)
1943 - Jimmy Bivins (Loss 10)
1943 - Lloyd Marshall (Loss by TKO 8)
1946 - Archie Moore (Win 10)
1946 - Lloyd Marshall (Win by KO 6)
1946 - Jimmy Bivins (Win 10)
1947 - Jimmy Bivins (Win by KO 4)
1947 - Archie Moore (Win 10)
1947 - Lloyd Marshall (Win by KO 2)
1947 - Archie Moore (Win by KO 8)
1948 - Jimmy Bivins (Win 10)
1949 - Joey Maxim (Win 15)
1949 - Joe Walcott (Win 15) *wins title*
1949 - Gus Lesnevich (Win by TKO 7)
1950 - Joe Louis (Win 15)
1951 - Joe Walcott (Win 15)
1951 - Joey Maxim (Win 15)
1951 - Joe Walcott (Loss by KO 7) *loses title*
1951 - Rex Layne (Win by TKO 11)
1951 - Joey Maxim (Win 12)
1952 - Joe Walcott (Loss 15)
1952 - Jimmy Bivin (Win 10)
1953 - Harold Johnson (Loss 10)
1954 - Rocky Marciano (Loss 15)
1954 - Rocky Marciano (Loss by KO 8)

Joe Walcott

Born Name: Arnold Cream
Nickname: Jersey Joe
Hometown: Camden, NJ, USA

Professional Record: 51-18-2 (32 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1951 - 1952
Successful Title Defenses: 1

The first half of Jersey Joe Walcott's career was spent struggling to earn a living, working as a sparring partner for Joe Louis, and compiling an inconsistent record. After a brief retirement, Walcott suddenly returned better than ever. Eventually he won the right to face Louis for the title, losing a highly controversial decision that many felt should have gone his way. Though he didn't win the championship until his fifth try, Jersey Joe is still recognized as a tricky, skillful, hard-hitting heavyweight who took on the best of his era.

Career Highlights:
1946 - Jimmy Bivins (Win 10)
1946 - Joey Maxim (Loss 10)
1947 - Joey Maxim (Win 10)
1947 - Elmer Ray (Win 10)
1947 - Joey Maxim (Win 10)
1947 - Joe Louis (Loss 15)
1948 - Joe Louis (Loss by KO 11)
1949 - Ezzard Charles (Loss 15)
1950 - Harold Johnson (Win by KO 3)
1951 - Ezzard Charles (Loss 15)
1951 - Ezzard Charles (Win by KO 7) *wins title*
1952 - Ezzard Charles (Win 15)
1952 - Rocky Marciano (Loss by KO 13) *loses title*
1953 - Rocky Marciano (Loss by KO 1)
Real Name: Rocco Marchegiano
Nickname: The Brockton Blockbuster

Professional Record: 49-0 (43 KO wins)
Title Reign: 1952 - 1956
Successful Title Defenses: 6

The only heavyweight champion to permanently retire undefeated, Rocky Marciano was a hard-as-nails slugger who loved to give and receive punishment until his opponent either wilted or went to sleep. A likable every-man outside of the ring, he was a great ambassador for the sport until his untimely death in a plane crash in 1969.

Career Highlights:
1951 - Joe Louis (Win by TKO 8)
1952 - Joe Walcott (Win by KO 13) *wins title*
1953 - Joe Walcott (Win by KO 1)
1953 - Roland LaStarza (Win by TKO 11)
1954 - Ezzard Charles (Win 15)
1954 - Ezzard Charles (Win by KO 8)
1955 - Archie Moore (Win by KO 9)
Hometown: New York, NY, USA

Professional Record: 55-8-1 (40 KO wins)
Title Reign: 1956 - 1959 / 1960 - 1962
Successful Title Defenses: 6

Blessed with maybe the fastest hands of any heavyweight champ, Floyd Patterson was a skilled in-fighter, who could also box well. Fighting out of a high guard called the "peek-a-boo defense," he would bob his way inside and let loose with a flurry of punches that was usually capped off by a devastating hook. Using this style, he became the first man to regain the heavyweight championship, separating Ingemar Johansson from his senses with one the most brutal one-punch knockouts in heavyweight history.

Career Highlights:
1954 - Joey Maxim (Loss 8)
1956 - Archie Moore (Win by KO 5) *wins title*
1959 - Ingemar Johansson (Loss by TKO 3) *loses title*
1960 - Ingemar Johansson (Win by KO 5) *regains title*
1961 - Ingemar Johansson (Win by KO 6)
1962 - Charles Liston (Loss by KO 1) *loses title*
1963 - Charles Liston (Loss by KO 1)
1965 - George Chuvalo (Win 12)
1965 - Muhammad Ali (Loss by TKO 12)
1972 - Muhammad Ali (Loss by TKO 7)
Nickname: Ingo
Hometown: Gothenburg, Sweden

Professional Record: 26-2 (17 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1959 - 1960
Successful Title Defenses: 0

As the only Swede to win the heavyweight championship, Ingemar Johansson was a living legend in his native Sweden. A good-looking boxer-puncher with a big right hand the papers dubbed "The Hammer of Thor," he scored a tremendous upset in wresting the heavyweight championship from American Floyd Patterson. Their three fights produced one of the most thrilling rivalries of their era.

Career Highlights:
1958 - Eddie Machen (Win by KO 1)
1959 - Floyd Patterson (Win by TKO 3) *wins title*
1960 - Floyd Patterson (Loss by KO 5) *loses title*
1961 - Floyd Patterson (Loss by KO 6)
Real Name: Charles Liston
Hometown: Saint Louis, MO, USA

Professional Record: 50-4 (39 KO wins)
Title Reign: 1962 - 1964
Successful Title Defenses: 1

Sonny Liston is one of those fighters whose life in and out of the ring has been shrouded in controversey. He learned to box while in prison, doing time for armed robbery. Upon his release, financially backed by underworld figures, he began a steamrolling streak of knockouts which led to a fight with heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson. Though he destroyed Patterson in convincing fashion, he is perhaps best known for his somewhat bizarre pair of fights with Muhammad Ali. Liston's died under mysterious circumstances in 1970.

Career Highlights:
1960 - Cleveland Williams (Win by TKO 2)
1962 - Floyd Patterson (Win by KO 1) *wins title*
1963 - Floyd Patterson (Win by KO 1)
1964 - Muhammad Ali (Loss by TKO 6) *loses title*
1965 - Muhammad Ali (Loss by KO 1)
Born Name: Cassius Clay, Jr.
Nickname: The Louisville Slugger / The Greatest
Hometown: Louisville, KY, USA

Professional Record: 56-5 (37 KO wins)
Title Reign: 1964 - 1967 / 1974 - 1978 / 1978 - 1979
Successful Title Defenses: 19

Because of his success in the ring, his outrageous charisma, his good looks, and his inflamatory stances on many social, political, and religious issues, Muhammad Ali is undoubtedly one of the premier American cultural icons of his age. At the height of his fame, he was the most recognizable man on the planet. In his early days in the professional ring, he was a fleet-footed dancing master whose uncanny reflexes and unorthodox style befuddled his opponents. Following a layoff due to a draft evasion conviction, he returned a slower version of his old self, but displayed a courage and toughness that earned him the respect of many people who were once his biggest detractors. Muhammad Ali remains the only man to win the lineal heavyweight championship three times.

Career Highlights:
1962 - Archie Moore (Win by TKO 4)
1964 - Sonny Liston (Win by TKO 6) *wins title*
1965 - Sonny Liston (Win by KO 1)
1965 - Floyd Patterson (Win by TKO 12)
1966 - Cleveland Williams (TKO 3)
1971 - Joe Frazier (Loss 15)
1972 - Bob Foster (Win by KO 8)
1973 - Ken Norton (Loss 12)
1973 - Ken Norton (Win 12)
1974 - Joe Frazier (Win 12)
1974 - George Foreman (Win by KO 8) *regains title*
1975 - Joe Frazier (Win by TKO 14)
1976 - Ken Norton (Win 15)
1978 - Leon Spinks (Loss 15) *loses title*
1978 - Leon Spinks (Win 15) *regains title*
1980 - Larry Holmes (Loss by TKO 10)
Nickname: Smokin' Joe
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Professional Record: 34-4-1 (27 KO wins)
Title Reign: 1970 - 1973
Successful Title Defenses: 4

Primarily known for his historic three-fight rivalry with Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier was one of the best heavyweights to ever put on a pair of gloves in his own right. A rugged warrior with a withering body attack and maybe the best left hook in the history of boxing, Frazier gave the division a credible champion in the wake of Ali's forced retirement due to political reasons. When Ali returned, Frazier proved his worth by handing "The Greatest" his first loss.

Career Highlights:
1968 - Buster Mathis (Win by TKO 11)
1969 - Jerry Quarry (Win by TKO 7)
1970 - Jimmy Ellis (Win by TKO 4) *wins title*
1970 - Bob Foster (Win by KO 2)
1971 - Muhammad Ali (Win 15)
1973 - George Foreman (Loss by TKO 2) *loses title*
1974 - Muhammad Ali (Loss 12)
1975 - Muhammad Ali (Loss by TKO 14)
1976 - George Foreman (Loss by TKO 5)
Nickname: Big George
Hometown: Houston, TX, USA

Professional Record: 76-5 (68 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1973 - 1974 / 1994 - 1997
Successful Title Defenses: 5

For a brief time, Big George Foreman was considered the invincible fighter of his age. A clubbing power-puncher who left a pile of contenders in his wake, he went on to deal a shocking beating to Joe Frazier to win the championship. Though he eventually lost the title in the historic "Rumble in the Jungle" to Muhammad Ali, Foreman would stun the world by regaining the laurels some 20 years later at age 45, becoming the oldest heavyweight champ in history. A master at reinventing himself, George has gone from feared bully in the ring to a lovable commercial pitchman.

Career Highlights:
1973 - Joe Frazier (Win by TKO 2) *wins title*
1974 - Ken Norton (Win by TKO 2)
1974 - Muhammad Ali (Loss by KO 8) *loses title*
1976 - Ron Lyle (Win by KO 5)
1988 - Dwight Muhammad Qawi (Win by TKO 7)
1991 - Evander Holyfield (Loss 12)
1994 - Michael Moorer (Win by KO 10) *regains title*
1997 - Shannon Briggs (Loss 12) *loses title*
Nickname: Neon Leon
Hometown: Saint Louis, MO, USA

Professional Record: 26-17-3 (14 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1978
Successful Title Defenses: 0

Prior to turning Pro, Leon Spinks and his brother Michael were both members of the 1976 U.S. Olympic boxing team, a group some consider America's greatest ever. When he subsequently defeated the legendary Muhammad Ali in just his ninth pro fight, "Neon Leon" seemed destined for greatness himself. Unfortunately, poor self-discipline and drug use led to a precipitous downfall. Brother Michael would also go on to win the heavyweight championship.

Career Highlights:
1978 - Muhammad Ali (Win 15) *wins title*
1978 - Muhammad Ali (Loss 15) *loses title*
1981 - Larry Holmes (Loss by TKO 3)
1983 - Carlos De Leon (L by TKO 6)
1986 - Dwight Qawi (Loss by TKO 6)
Nickname: The Easton Assassin
Hometown: Easton, PA, USA

Professional Record: 69-6 (44 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1980 - 1985
Successful Title Defenses: 12

Rising to greatness in the wake of Muhammad Ali's decline, Larry Holmes lacked his predecessor's natural charisma but was nonetheless a terrific champion in his own right. With sharp reflexes, world class skills, and a precision jab, he dominated the division from 1978 to 1985. He is perhaps best known for his controversial match-ups with Ali and Gerry Cooney, but Holmes bested virtually every top name contender to come along in his era.

Career Highlights:
1978 - Ken Norton (Win 15)
1980 - Muhammad Ali (Win by TKO 10) *wins title*
1981 - Leon Spinks (Win by TKO 3)
1982 - Gerry Cooney (Win by TKO 13)
1985 - Michael Spinks (Loss 15) *loses title*
1986 - Michael Spinks (Loss 15)
1988 - Mike Tyson (Loss by TKO 4)
1992 - Ray Mercer (Win 12)
1992 - Evander Holyfield (Loss 12)
Nickname: Spinks Jinx
Hometown: Saint Louis, MO, USA

Professional Record: 31-1 (21 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1985 - 1988
Successful Title Defenses: 3

A skilled former Olympian with a solid right hand, Spinks first earned success as a professional by dominating the light heavyweight division during the early 1980s. In 1985 he became the first champion from that division to also take the laurels at heavyweight, scoring a noteworthy upset over undefeated Larry Holmes to do so. He retired after suffering an embarrassingly quick knockout loss at the hands of Mike Tyson in a highly-anticipated showdown between undefeated greats.

Career Highlights:
1980 - Yaqui Lopez (Win by TKO 7)
1981 - Marvin Johnson (Win by KO 4)
1981 - Eddie Muhammad (Win 15)
1983 - Dwight Qawi (Win 15)
1985 - Larry Holmes (Win 15) *wins title*
1986 - Larry Holmes (Win 15)
1988 - Mike Tyson (Loss by KO 1) *loses title*
Nickname: Kid Dynamite / Iron Mike
Hometown: New York, NY, USA

Professional Record: 50-6 (44 KO wins)
Title Right: 1988 - 1990
Successful Title Defenses: 2

Easily the most controversial figure in boxing over the last 30 years, Mike Tyson's rise from the streets to the heavyweight title, followed by a disastrous decline was the stuff of news headlines throughout his career. In his prime, he was a knockout machine that galvanized audiences with the ultra-violent ways in which he easily dispatched his opponents. As his focus and skills diminished over time, Tyson became a shadow of his former self in and out of the ring, but his name continued to make him the biggest draw in the sport for a generation.

Career Highlights:
1986 - Alonzo Ratliff (Win by TKO 2)
1986 - Trevor Berbick (Win by TKO 2)
1987 - Tony Tucker (Win 12)
1988 - Larry Holmes (Win by TKO 4)
1988 - Michael Spinks (Win by KO 1) *wins title*
1990 - James Douglas (Loss by KO 10) *loses title*
1996 - Frank Bruno (Win by TKO 3)
1996 - Evander Holyfield (Loss by TKO 11)
1997 - Evander Holyfield (Loss by DQ 3)
2002 - Lennox Lewis (Loss by KO 8)
Nickname: Buster
Hometown: Columbus, OH, USA

Professional Record: 38-6-1 (25 KO wins)
Title Reign: 1990
Successful Title Defenses: 0

Before 1990, Buster Douglas was a little-known, talented heavyweight who could never seem to get it right when it counted. Then, motivated by a death-bed promise to his mother, he scored a knockout of an undefeated Mike Tyson to score perhaps the biggest upset in the history of professional sports. Sadly, Douglas lacked the motivation to maintain the marvelous skills and conditioning that he displayed on that remarkable night and he quickly faded from title contention following a loss to Evander Holyfield later that year.

Career Highlights:
1987 - Tony Tucker (Loss by TKO 10)
1989 - Oliver McCall (Win 10)
1990 - Mike Tyson (Win by KO 10) *wins title*
1990 - Evander Holfyield (Loss by KO 3) *loses title*
Nickname: The Real Deal / Warrior
Hometown: Atlanta, GA, USA

Professional Record: 44-10-2 (29 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1990 - 1992 / 1993 - 1994
Successful Title Defenses: 3

Evander Holyfield was a remarkably well-rounded fighter who, at his best, had both the punch and speed to slug or box as needed. Having become the first unified cruiserweight champion, he was also the first champ from that division to win the heavyweight laurels. Going on to become the first two-time champ since Ali, he faced an all-star cast of the talented heavyweight division of the 1990s and did not retire until the age of 48.

Career Highlights:
1986 - Dwight Qawi (Win 15)
1987 - Dwight Qawi (Win by KO 4)
1988 - Carlos De Leon (Win by TKO 8)
1990 - James Douglas (Win by KO 3) *wins title*
1991 - George Foreman (Win 12)
1991 - Bert Cooper (Win by TKO 7)
1992 - Larry Holmes (Win 12)
1992 - Riddick Bowe (Loss 12) *loses title*
1993 - Riddick Bowe (Win 12) *regains title*
1994 - Michael Moorer (Loss 12) *loses title*
1995 - Riddick Bowe (Loss by TKO 8)
1996 - Mike Tyson (Win by TKO 11)
1997 - Mike Tyson (Win by DQ 3)
1997 - Michael Moorer (Win by TKO 8)
1999 - Lennox Lewis (Draw 12)
1999 - Lennox Lewis (Loss 12)
2000 - John Ruiz (Win 12)
2001 - John Ruiz (Loss 12)
2002 - Hasim Rahman (W 8)
2003 - James Toney (Loss by TKO 9)
Nickname: Big Daddy
Hometown: New York, NY, USA

Professional Record: 43-1 (33 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1992 - 1993
Successful Title Defenses: 2

An athletically gifted, big man, Riddick Bowe was a hard puncher who could also use his advantages in height and reach to outbox many opponents. His title-winning bought with Evander Holyfield was the most thrilling heavyweight contest of the 1990s and their rematch was notable for the notorious "fan man" incident.

Career Highlights:
1992 - Evander Holyfield (Win 12) *wins title*
1993 - Michael Dokes (Win by KO 1)
1993 - Evander Holyfield (Loss 12) *loses title*
1995 - Herbie Hide (Win by KO 6)
1995 - Evander Holyfield (Win by TKO 8)

Michael Moorer

Nickname: Double M
Monessen, PA, USA

Professional Record: 52-4-1 (40 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1994
Successful Title Defenses: 0

The division's first southpaw champion, Michael Moorer was smallish for a modern heavyweight, but displayed terrific skills and speed which allowed him to go undefeated in his first 35 fights and take the championship from Evander Holyfield. Though he would lose the championship to 45-year-old George Foreman, Moorer remained a respected contender for years to follow.

Career Highlights:
1988 - Ramzi Hassan (Win by TKO 5)
1992 - Bert Cooper (Win by TKO 5)
1994 - Evander Holyfield (Win 12) *wins title*
1994 - George Foreman (Loss by KO 10) *loses title*
1996 - Frans Botha (Win by TKO 12)
1997 - Vaughn Bean (Win by TKO 12)
1997 - Evander Holyfield (Loss by TKO 8)
Nickname: The Cannon
Hometown: New York, NY, USA

Professional Record: 59-6-1 (52 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 1997 - 1998
Successful Title Defenses: 0

A devastating puncher with an excellent jab, Shannon Briggs has been an off-and-on again contender in the heavyweight division for nearly twenty years, taking on several of the biggest names in boxing during that period. For a brief time, he held the lineal heavyweight championship, following a controversial points win over George Foreman.

Career Highlights:
1997 - George Foreman (Win 12) *wins title*
1998 - Lennox Lewis (Loss by TKO 5) *loses title*
2005 - Ray Mercer (Win by TKO 7)
2006 - Siarhei Liakhovich (Win by TKO 12)
2007 - Sultan Ibragimov (Loss 12)
2010 - Vitali Klitschko (Loss 12)
Nickname: The Lion
Hometown: London, England

Professional Record: 41-2-1 (32 KO wins)
Title Reign: 1998 - 2001 / 2001 - 2004
Successful Title Defenses: 8

The first British-born heavyweight champion in over a century, Lennox Lewis was also one of the most accomplished big men the sport has seen. He bested virtually every prominent heavyweight of his generation. Though both of his losses came by knockout against men he should have beaten easily, Lennox avenged both losses and is one of few boxing champions to have beaten every man he's ever faced. His victory over Mike Tyson is the largest-grossing heavyweight fight in history.

Career Highlights:
1992 - Donovan Ruddock (Win by TKO 2)
1994 - Oliver McCall (Loss by TKO 2)
1997 - Oliver McCall (Win by TKO 5)
1998 - Shannon Briggs (Win by TKO 5) *wins title*
1999 - Evander Holyfield (Draw 12)
1999 - Evander Holyfield (Win 12)
2001 - Hasim Rahman (Loss by KO 5) *loses title*
2002 - Hasim Rahman (Win by KO 4) *regains title*
2002 - Mike Tyson (Win by KO 8)
2003 - Vitali Klitschko (Win by TKO 6)
Nickname: The Rock
Hometown: Baltimore, MD, USA

Professional Record: 50-9-2 (41 KO wins)
Title Reign: 2001
Successful Title Defenses: 0

Hasim Rahman fought behind one of the best jabs of his generation but he was an inconsistent fighter who could appear terrific in one fight and lackadaisical in the next. He was a fringe contender when he was selected to be an easy win for reigning heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. Rahman took advantage of Lewis's overconfidence and poor conditioning to score an upset knockout and enjoy a brief time as champion before Lewis returned for vengeance and retook the title.

Career Highlights:
2000 - Corrie Sanders (Win by TKO 7)
2001 - Lennox Lewis (Win by KO 5) *wins title*
2001 - Lennox Lewis (Loss by KO 4) *loses title*
2002 - Evander Holyfield (Loss 8)
2005 - Monte Barrett (Win 12)
2006 - Oleg Maskaev (Loss by TKO 12)
2008 - Wladimir Klitschko (Loss by TKO 7)
Nickname: Dr. Ironfist
Hometown: Kiev, Ukraine

Professional Record: 45-2 (41 KO wins)
Championship Reign: 2004 - 2005
Successful Title Defenses: 1

Together, Vitali Klitschko and his younger brother Wladimir have pretty much dominated the heavyweight division for a decade, following the retirement of Lennox Lewis. Outside of the former Soviet countries, Vitali is perhaps best known for this thrilling showdown with Lewis in 2004, during which Vitali was stopped because of a very bad cut over his eye. However, he defeated many of the division's best over career spanning 16 years. Politically active outside of boxing, Vitali was elected Mayor of Kiev, Ukraine in 2004.

Career Highlights:
1999 - Herbie Hide (Win by KO 2)
2000 - Chris Byrd (Loss by TKO 9)
2003 - Lennox Lewis (Loss by TKO 6)
2004 - Corrie Sanders (Win by TKO 8) *wins title*
2008 - Samuel Peter (Win by TKO 8)
2009 - Chris Arreola (Win by TKO 10)
2010 - Shannon Briggs (Win 12)
Nickname: Dr. Steelhammer
Hometown: Kiev, Ukraine

Professional Record: 64-4 (53 KO wins)
Title Reign: 2009 - 2015
Successful Title Defenses: 11

Like most heavyweight champions while they still held the belt, Wladimir Klitschko has his vehement detractors and his steadfast supporters; most fans at least give respect to his remarkable record, his longevity, and his gentlemanly demeanor outside of the ring. An aggressive power-puncher early in his career, Wladimir reinvented himself as a cautious boxer-puncher following two surprising knockout losses to lesser opponents. After making that change, Klitschko became as dominant as any heavyweight champion in generations, and wouldn't lose again until age 39.

Career Highlights:
2000 - Chris Byrd (Win 12)
2003 - Corrie Sanders (Loss by TKO 2)
2005 - Samuel Peter (Win 12)
2006 - Chris Byrd (Win by TKO 7)
2008 - Hasim Rahman (Win by TKO 7)
2009 - Ruslan Chagaev (Win by TKO 9) *wins title*
2011 - David Haye (Win 12)
2012 - Jean Marc Mormeck (Win by KO 4)
2015 - Tyson Fury (Loss by 12) *loses title*
Hometown: Wilmslow, England

Professional Record: 25-0 (18 KO wins)
Title Reign: 2015 - present
Successful Title Defenses: 0

A big man - maybe the biggest to ever win the heavyweight title - Tyson Fury is an Englishman of Irish descent. He is well known in the United Kingdom for his "larger than life" personality outside of the ring. Many of Fury's family members have been boxers or are close to the sport in other ways. After going undefeated in his first 24 professional bouts and winning various European titles, Fury scored one of the most significant boxing upsets in recent times by outpointing dominant heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.

Career Highlights:
2009 - John McDermott (Win 10)
2011 - Dereck Chisora (Win 12)
2013 - Steve Cunningham (Win by KO 7)
2015 - Wladimir Klitschko (Win 12) *wins title*

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