The 9 Greatest Punchers in Heavyweight History

Who makes your list?
Kinshasa, Zaire - 1974: George Foreman training on 'Walt Disney Television via Getty Images's Wide World of Sports', the Rumble in the Jungle. (Photo by Ken Regan /Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

This list includes all heavyweights, including active fighters.

9) Max Baer

Before the arrival of Joe Louis on the scene in the mid-1930s, a lot of fans thought Max Baer was the biggest puncher in boxing history. He had a pulverizing right hand and up until the “Cinderella Man” James J. Braddock upset him, Baer was a dominant fighter.

8) Jack Dempsey

Dempsey roared through the division from 1919-26, with some memorable knockouts of Jess Willard, George Carpentier, and Luis Firpo. He became a star well beyond the boxing world, drawing royalty and powerful businessmen alike to his fights.

7) Sam Langford

For my money, he’s in the running as the greatest fighter of all-time. He was a deadly puncher with either hand and a ruthless finisher. Harry Wills, Gunboat Smith, Joe Jeannette, and Sam McVea all fell victim to Langford and when asked, all pointed to Langford as the hardest puncher they had ever faced. The guys I just named that Langford beat were mostly all-time greats.

6) Sonny Liston

Liston was one of the most feared men to ever grace the ring and he beat Floyd Patterson by back to back first-round knockouts. He owned multiple knockout victories over Cleveland Williams, too.

5) Mike Tyson

The prime didn’t last very long but while it did he was one of the most menacing men in boxing history to face. His national television knockouts of Jessie Ferguson and Marvis Frazier put him on the map worldwide and his first-round stoppage of Michael Spinks once and for all settled who the Champion was.

4) Earnie Shavers

Shavers was by no means a great fighter but few could crack like Earnie. When fighters like Larry Holmes, Ron Lyle, Jimmy Young, Ken Norton, and Muhammad Ali stated he was the hardest puncher they had ever encountered, that’s hard to ignore! As Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb put it, “Nobody hits like Shavers. If anybody hit harder than Shavers, I’d shoot him.”

3) Rocky Marciano

49 fights ending in 43 knockouts and his knockout to win the Heavyweight Title is still one of the most iconic pictures in boxing history. In heavyweight title fights, Marciano was 7-0 with 6 knockouts. The only man to go the distance with Rocky in a title fight was the legendary Ezzard Charles who Marciano knocked out in the rematch.

2) George Foreman

Foreman could crack! At the age of 45 he became the Heavyweight Champion because of that one-punch power, stopping Michael Moorer in the tenth round. He stopped Ron Lyle in a legendary battle and knocked out Joe Frazier twice!

1) Joe Louis

They did not call him the “Brown Bomber” for nothing. Louis was known for delivering some of the most devastating knockouts in heavyweight history. His knockouts of Max Schmeling and Billy Conn are legendary. Louis was THE Heavyweight Champion of the World for over a decade and dominated the division longer than anybody in history.

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