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Top 10 Heavyweight of the 1970s

The Top 10 Heavyweights of the 1970s!
Publish Date: 07/29/2023
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

10) Joe Bugner

Bugner went life and death in back-to-back losses against legends Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in the early 70s. The Brit was a much tougher boxer than people give him credit for. He holds wins over Henry Cooper, Chuck Wepner, Brian London, Manuel Ramos, Jurgen Blin, Rudi Lubbers, Mac Foster, Jimmy Ellis, and lost a close decision to Ron Lyle. Bugner was ranked in the Ring magazine heavyweight rankings from 1971-1976. 

Video: Joe Frazier vs Joe Bugner (Highlights) 4K

Joe Frazier vs Joe Bugner (Highlights) 4K

9) Jerry Quarry

Quarry’s best was in the 1960s, but he still had solid wins over Earnie Shavers who he took out in one round, and Mac Foster who was 24-0 with 24 KOs at the time Quarry beat him. Quarry was listed as an underdog in both fights.

Video: Jerry Quarry - I Won't Back Down (Highlights & Knockouts)

Jerry Quarry – I Won’t Back Down (Highlights & Knockouts)

8) Earnie Shavers

One of the hardest punchers in heavyweight history and came close to being the champion on two separate occasions. The first was losing a close decision to Ali, and the second time came within seconds of beating Larry Holmes before finally being stopped in the eleventh round. He knocked out Ken Norton in one round and holds wins over Roy Williams, Jimmy Ellis, and Jimmy Young.

Video: Earnie Shavers - Hardest Puncher of All Time (R.I.P. 1944-2022)

Earnie Shavers – Hardest Puncher of All Time (R.I.P. 1944-2022)

7) Ron Lyle

Lyle was actually up on two of three scorecards until Ali knocked him out in the eleventh round in 1975. Lyle holds wins over Manuel Ramos, Buster Mathis, Jurgen Blin, Jimmy Ellis, Oscar Bonavena, Earnie Shavers, Joe Bugner, and Scott LeDoux. Knocked George Foreman down twice before being stopped in a classic heavyweight slugfest.

Video: Ron Lyle Tribute

Ron Lyle Tribute

6) Jimmy Young

Bad decisions hurt Young’s career and the one that stands out the most with his losing effort to Ali on points. Most boxing people (and fans) thought he deserved the decision. His decision win against George Foreman put him into title contention again but another disputed decision loss to Norton seemed to take the fighting spirit out of him. Young also beat Lyle twice.



5) Ken Norton

Norton pulled off a huge upset when he outpointed Ali in 1973. He lost a split decision to Ali in the rematch. The third fight was another close decision that even today most thought Norton won. He went life and death with Larry Holmes before losing another razor-thin decision. He did get the nod over snake bit Jimmy Young in 1977.

Video: Ken Norton - Black Hercules (Highlight Reel)

Ken Norton – Black Hercules (Highlight Reel)

4) Larry Holmes

Holmes did not win the title until 1978 defeating Norton in one of the greatest heavyweight title fights of all time. Also had two wins over Shavers, the second in which he had to overcome a knockdown that would have knocked out most mortal men. Also went life and death with a huge underdog in Mike Weaver before finally stopping Weaver. At the time it was not considered a great win but Weaver went on to win an alphabet title and have a solid career.

Video: 10 Larry Holmes Greatest Knockouts

10 Larry Holmes Greatest Knockouts

3) Joe Frazier

Beating Ali in 1971 in the Fight of the Century will tell you why he is ranked so high. On that March night in 1971, Joe Frazier was as good as any heavyweight that ever lived. He was never quite the same after that bout but the only fighters to beat him are the two guys ranked above him on this list.

Video: 10 Joe Frazier Greatest Knockouts

10 Joe Frazier Greatest Knockouts

2) George Foreman

Foreman was a force of nature. He destroyed Frazier twice and knocked Norton out easily in the second round. His only hiccups were being stopped by Ali and losing to Young in 1977. Also stopped the very tough George Chuvalo.

Video: George Foreman - In His Prime

George Foreman – In His Prime

1) Muhammad Ali

Easily number one. “The Greatest” knocked out Foreman, beat Frazier two out of three, and did the same to Norton. Throw in wins over Shaver’s, Lyle, Quarry, (twice) Ellis, Mathis, and Spinks in the rematch. Ali fought everybody who was anybody in the 70s and beat the guys ranked number two and three on this list. The fights with Norton were all disputed decisions but I thought Ali won the second. The third was razor close.

Video: Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman (Highlights) The Rumble In The Jungle

Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman (Highlights) The Rumble In The Jungle


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