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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 15 Greatest Defensive Boxers of All time

Top 15 Greatest Defensive Boxers of All time

Publish Date: 06/26/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Greatest defensive fighters

It’s about hitting and not getting hit and today we will look at the best at not getting hit.

15) Winky Wright

With an arm span larger than his height, Wright was constructed for defense. His “peek-a-boo” boxing guard allows him to operate behind an impenetrable shield; when Wright puts up his guard, his elbows extend all the way to his waistband while still covering his head.

Video: Winky Wright - High Guard Defense Highlights

Winky Wright – High Guard Defense Highlights

14) Roberto Duran

Duran developed a reputation as a brawler, but it was simply not true as Duran was a nuanced technical fighter, more commonly referred to as a boxer-puncher; his combat expertise allowed him to battle skillfully when required and exchange aggressively at any moment.

Video: Roberto Duran - Master of Defense

Roberto Duran – Master of Defense

13) Benny Leonard

Benny was an unbearable machine in the lightweight division because of his defensive wizardry.

Video: Benny Leonard -

Benny Leonard – “The Ghetto Wizard”

12) Henry Armstrong

ESPN recently named Armstrong third on their list of 50 Greatest Fighters Ever, Armstrong earned championships in three weight divisions – which, given today’s less restrictive weight divisions would likely amount to seven championships across seven weight classes had Armstrong been alive at that time.

Video: Henry Armstrong - Bob & Weave Defense Highlights

Henry Armstrong – Bob & Weave Defense Highlights

11) Bernard Hopkins

Bernard Hopkins stands out as a masterful boxer of his generation. Retaining his Middleweight Championship 20 times consecutively is an astounding achievement that still stands as a record today.

Video: Bernard Hopkins - Defensive Slips & Rolls

Bernard Hopkins – Defensive Slips & Rolls

10) Jack Johnson

Johnson hailing from Galveston Texas was a product of his time. Johnson back then had taken on a more measured and patient approach; Johnson would wait patiently until mistakes occurred before seizing on them and capitalizing.

Video: The Legendary Jack Johnson

The Legendary Jack Johnson

9) Gene Tunney

Tunney was known as an exceptional boxer with superior boxing ability. He delivered two defeats to Jack Dempsey – including what became known as “The Long Count”. Dempsey was one of the most beloved fighters during this era of boxing history.

Video: Gene Tunney - The Technical Genius

Gene Tunney – The Technical Genius

8) James Toney

Toney is well known for slipping and rolling with punches to avoid taking their full impact. Fading or Swaying allows fighters to counter more effectively by creating opportunities to counter an opponent’s punch; unfortunately, not every fighter possesses the timing needed for such maneuvers – Toney stands out as one of those adept at using them successfully.

Video: James Toney - Defensive Slips & Counters

James Toney – Defensive Slips & Counters

7) Young Griffo

Griffo did not treat his boxing career seriously. Usually, he did not train at all for his fights. He often arrived in the ring drunk or hung over if legend is to be believed. Even so, he was able to win more than his share of fights while absorbing only a minimal amount of punishment.

Video: Young Griffo - 03-18-2015

Young Griffo – 03-18-2015

Β 

6) Wilfred Benitez

Wilfred Benitez of Puerto Rican and New York heritage epitomizes what can only be described as the term “boxer-puncher.” Not only was his defense tremendous, but his aggressiveness was unparalleled. He went toe to toe with Leonard and Hearns and beat Duran.

Video: Wilfred Benitez - Amazing Defense

Wilfred Benitez – Amazing Defense

5) Muhammad Ali

Ali was an amazing defensive fighter; one of the finest ever at the back-pedal knock-outs and creator of rope-a-dope. Ali moved with the grace of a ballerina in the 60s, and his intelligence and defense continued into the 70s.

Video: MUHAMMAD ALI-DEFENSE MASTER

MUHAMMAD ALI-DEFENSE MASTER

4) Floyd Mayweather

Floyd’s speed, counter punching and defense led him to an undefeated career.

Video: Floyd Mayweather Defensive Genius (Defense Highlights) HD

Floyd Mayweather Defensive Genius (Defense Highlights) HD

3) Sugar Ray Robinson

Robinson was named by the Associated Press as the greatest boxer of the 20th century and most sane fans consider him to be the greatest boxer ever. His power in both hands and fluid delivery, made him a masterful pugilist.

Video: Sugar Ray Robinson - Footwork & Defense Highlights

Sugar Ray Robinson – Footwork & Defense Highlights

2) Pernell Whitaker

Pernell Whitaker earned himself the “Sweet Pea” moniker due to his smooth southpaw fighting style and legendary defense. At only 25 years old, Ring Magazine recognized his hard work by crowning him Fighter of the Year.

Video: Pernell Whitaker - The Defensive Master

Pernell Whitaker – The Defensive Master

1) Willie Pep

Pep’s career spanned 26 years and featured 241 bouts with only 11 losses (that’s less than 5 percent! Pep’s competition was great and if you watch the film on him you will know why he sits ar the top of this list.

Video: Willie Pep - Footwork & Defense Highlights

Willie Pep – Footwork & Defense Highlights

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