A true puncher is the rarest of breeds. Vicious killers that can destroy an opponent and leave them lifeless with one thunderous shot.
Not all were great boxers but most earned a fearsome reputation while fans and opponents alike gazed in awe at their ability to deliver such destructive force with their fists. Determining the rank and order of this all-time list was an arduous task, merely speculative at best and completely subjective.
Please keep in mind that this is a composite list of the 100 hardest punchers ever. Rocky Marciano–always the obligatory example for any of these comparative studies–certainly never threw a punch as powerful and as heavy as the offensive juggernauts of the modern eras.
We are talking about giants like Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko and Deontay Wilder. The argument in favor of Marciano was that no other Heavyweight his size could have generated the same amount of force in his punches, particularly his pulverizing right cross. And had he weighed anywhere near what the others did, there would be no discussion.
Conversely, what if Lewis and Klitschko weighed closer to 195 pounds, would they be as able to punch as hard as they would during their respective peaks? The science of physics would say no.
This might have been a better argument then as to how powerful their punches would have been compared to Marciano’s, who peaked at 185 pounds. But if I may surmise, this logic is flawed as well.
This is because the height and distance from which their punches traveled, the speed and technically flawless execution equated to their concussive blows. Again, Lewis and Klitschko are prime examples here. And my guess is their punches would not have had the same effect as Marciano’s did had they too been Rocky’s height and weight, and fought out of a crouch.
So, pound for pound, who really hit the hardest despite such disparity in size and weight? A composite list has to obviously consider more than brute force, strength and the weight behind the punch. Other components are technique, speed, leverage, accuracy, timing and a commitment to the delivery of a powerful punch.
Moreover, comparing boxers of the modern era with those of the golden era is difficult. And what about those who fought when boxing was still a relatively novel sport? That would be impossible. We did not see those boxers in action and the modern day boxer is technically a superior and better conditioned athlete.
All said, however, it does not mean I am up for the task. Besides, there is no science to this. It is strictly my opinion, some I hope you may share.
So, without further adieu, here is my composite listing of the 100 hardest punchers of all-time (in the modern weight category when they were at their destructive best).
Let the arguments begin.
1. Julian Jackson (Junior Middleweight, Middleweight): The purest puncher of the last half century and perhaps the hardest pound-for-pound puncher in modern boxing history. “The Hawk” possessed concussive knockout power in either hand. So powerful were his punches, opponents were knocked out before their heads hit the canvas. Mike Tyson said Jackson punched as hard as a Heavyweight.
Signature KO: Round 4 KO Herol Graham
2. Thomas Hearns (Welterweight, Junior Middleweight): No other fighter exemplified the term boxer-puncher more than the “Hit Man.” A superb stylist with lightning quick hands. His freakish height and reach gave him excellent leverage on his shots. This combination allowed his fists to generate frightening power. Hearns routinely destroyed fighters known for their iron chins.
Signature KO: Round 2 TKO Roberto Duran
3. Sam Langford (Light Heavyweight): The great Langford rarely weighed much over 170 pounds and stood just 5’6 ½”, but he was a deadly puncher with either hand and a ruthless finisher. The best black Heavyweights of the era – Harry Willis, Joe Jeannette and Sam McVea – all fell victim to Langford’s power and pointed to him as the hardest puncher they had faced. Scored 128 knockouts in his career.
Signature KO: Round 14 KO Harry Wills
4. Jimmy Wilde (Flyweight): The first and greatest Flyweight champion. “The Mighty Atom” rarely weighed over 100 pounds but routinely knocked out men 30 to 40 pounds heavier. His extraordinary strength, timing and speed all contributed to his amazing power. Wilde amassed 98 knockouts in his 131 wins. Many boxing historians consider him the hardest pound-for-pound puncher in history.
Signature KO: Round 11 TKO Young Zulu Kid
5. Earnie Shavers (Heavyweight): His legendary right hand is widely considered the hardest punch in boxing history. The Associated Press named him the “Puncher of the Century” in 1999. He boosted a 92 percent KO rate. 51 of his 68 knockouts were within three rounds and 33 within two rounds, 23 in the first round, and he once scored 27 straight knockouts.
Signature KO: Round 1 KO Ken Norton
6. Bob Foster (Light Heavyweight): Possessed a fast, hard left jab but it is his lethal left hook that many consider the single hardest punch in Light Heavyweight history. His left hook was responsible for some of the most devastating, scariest knockouts in boxing history. In addition to his 46 knockouts in his 56 wins as a professional, Foster also knocked out 89 of his amateur opponents in 94 wins.
Signature KO: Round 4 KO Mike Quarry
7. Rocky Marciano (Cruiserweight): The “Brockton Blockbuster” was a relentless brawler with formidable power, endurance and strong chin. Despite his small stature, some still consider Marciano’s powerful right hand the hardest of all Heavyweights. The short right cross that detonated on Jersey Joe Walcott’s jaw remains the most famous knockout in boxing history.
Signature KO: Round 13 KO Jersey Joe Walcott
8. Deontay Wilder (Heavyweight): The undisputed hardest puncher in the sport today. Although the “Bronze Bomber” is not a technically sound boxer, his electrifying right cross is textbook quality and delivered with unusual speed. 41 of his 42 wins have been by knockout, including 20 in the first round. His KO rate currently stands at 95 percent, the highest in Heavyweight history.
Signature KO: Round 7 KO Luis Ortiz
9. Bob Fitzsimmons (Middleweight, Light Heavyweight): The “Freckled Wonder,” a natural Middleweight and its first world champion, mastered the art of delivering devastating power shots. A tremendous body puncher, his astonishing power helped him also capture the Heavyweight title. He then moved back down to win the Light Heavyweight title, becoming the first triple crown champion.
Signature KO: Round 14 KO James J. Corbett
10. John Mugabi (Junior Middleweight, Middleweight): The “Beast” was one of the most powerful, vicious hitting Junior Middleweights of all-time. His professional career started 25-0, 25 knockouts, destroying many of his opponents in spectacular fashion. Mugabi was a savage, intent on knocking opponents out with every blow. He gave the great Marvin Hagler one of his toughest fights.
Signature KO: Round 1 KO Curtis Parker
11. Edwin Rosario (Junior Lightweight, Lightweight): An aggressive boxer-puncher with stunning one-punch knockout power, especially his concussive right. “Chapo” started his career 24-0, 21 knockouts before his first loss. One of his knockout victims was Edwin Viruet, an opponent that went 25 rounds against Roberto Duran without being stopped.
Signature KO: Round 2 TKO Livingstone Bramble
12. Joe Louis (Cruiserweight, Heavyweight): Arguably boxing’s greatest puncher, and unquestionably, the best finisher the sport has ever seen. “The Brown Bomber” had an amazing ability to torque his body to get everything behind his shots. His stiff left jab, bone breaking left hook and crushing right cross were delivered with speed, perfect balance and technique.
Signature KO: Round 1 TKO Max Schmeling
13. Alexis Arguello (Featherweight, Junior Lightweight): “El Flaco Explosivo” was a brilliant boxer-puncher with great technique and crushing power. He was exceptionally tall, lanky and had explosive power in his fists, hence the nickname. Arguello liked to patiently stalk his opponents and then dissect them with precise combinations, crushing body shots and well-timed counters.
Signature KO: Round 13 KO Ruben Olivares
14. Jack Dempsey (Cruiserweight): An aggressive brawler with exceptional hand speed and punching power. Despite his smaller stature and rarely weighing more than 185 pounds, the “Manessa Mauler” was a merciless warrior with prodigious power and great killer instinct. His ferocious two-fisted attack once earned him a win streak of 32-0 with 28 knockouts, including 17 in the first round.
Signature KO: Round 3 TKO Jess Willard
15. Stanley Ketchel (Middleweight): The “Michigan Assassin” cleared out a stacked Middleweight division during his reign of terror. A deadly one-punch knockout artist. His tremendous power, iron chin and incredible stamina made him a formidable challenge for any opponent and nearly impossible to discourage. Shot down in the prime of his career. Finished with a 79.31 percent KO rate.
Signature KO: Round 3 TKO Philadelphia Jack O’Brien
16. Sandy Saddler (Featherweight): Tall, lanky but vicious slugger with tremendous power, particularly with his unorthodox, leaping left hook. His 103 knockouts is the most of any Featherweight. Knocked out the great Willie Pep in the fourth round to win the world Featherweight title. Pep, whom he beat three out of four fights, had entered the fight with an impressive 134-1-1 (43 KO) record.
Signature KO: Round 4 TKO Willie Pep
17. Manny Pacquiao (Junior Lightweight, Lightweight): Arguably the greatest southpaw of all-time. The “Pac Man” is the only boxer to win world titles in eight weight divisions largely due to his blazing hand speed, crushing power and unmatched footwork. Pacquiao was at his destructive best when weighing under 140 pounds, holding knockout victories over six hall-of-famers.
Signature KO: Round 2 KO Ricky Hatton
18. George Foreman (Heavyweight): The strongest and most powerful Heavyweight champion of all-time. “Big George” used his unbridled power and sledgehammer fists to destroy opponents at the highest level for three decades. Images of launching the great Joe Frazier in the air with an uppercut or his one punch knockout of Michael Moorer two decades apart remain etched in our memories.
Signature KO: Round 2 TKO Joe Frazier
19. Sonny Liston (Heavyweight): A menacing, thickly built Heavyweight with massive hands and extremely long arms. His famous left jab was as powerful as other fighter’s power punches. Solid, very underrated boxing ability augmented his paralyzing power. Widely considered the most intimidating boxer to ever enter the ring. Of his 39 knockouts, 22 were within the first three rounds.
Signature KO: Round 1 KO Floyd Patterson
20. Mike Tyson (Heavyweight): A rare combination of quickness, speed and explosive punching power. “Iron Mike” had concussive power from both sides, behind a peekaboo guard and attacked with a ferocity not seen since the days of Jack Dempsey. His jaw-breaking left hook and explosive right uppercut were usually highlight reel worthy. He finished his career with a 88 percent KO rate.
Signature KO: Round 1 KO Michael Spinks
21. Michael Spinks (Light Heavyweight): An intelligent boxer with an awkward style and a great ability to adapt to adversity. Spinks’ right cross, nicknamed the “Jinx, was one of the most powerful in division history. His combination of unorthodox boxing skills, high IQ and punching power helped him dominate his division and be the first Light Heavyweight champion to win the Heavyweight title.
Signature KO: Round 5 TKO Gerry Cooney
22. Gerald McClellan (Middleweight): The “G Man” was a tall Middleweight with great size and reach and possessed formidable punching power in either hand. Combined with his speed, aggressive style and toughness, McClellan was widely considered the sport’s most prolific puncher during his Middleweight title reign. 85.29 percent of his wins were by knockout.
Signature KO: Round 1 KO Julian Jackson
23. Roy Jones Jr. (Middleweight, Super Middleweight): The finest boxer of the last quarter century. Jones combined unmatched hand speed, exceptional power and athleticism to capture world titles in four different weight divisions. A natural Middleweight, yet many of his most memorable knockouts occurred in the Light Heavyweight division courtesy of one mighty blow.
Signature KO: Round 1 KO Montell Griffin
24. Naseem Hamed (Featherweight): A talented, electrifying southpaw. The hardest punching Featherweight since Alexis Arguello. “The Prince” had brutal one-punch power in both hands. His unorthodox approach was epitomized by his ability to throw devastating punches from unusual angles, especially with his lead left uppercut. Hamed knocked out 31 of his 36 opponents.
Signature KO: Round 4 KO Kevin Kelley
25. “Sugar” Ray Robinson (Welterweight, Junior Middleweight): Boxing’s greatest warrior and most fundamentally complete boxer showed us how speed, flawless technique, exceptional reflexes and timing translates to explosive power. The left hook that stretched out granite chinned Gene Fullmer is called the most perfect punch ever thrown. He finished his career with 109 knockouts.
Signature KO: Round 5 KO Gene Fullmer
26. Danny Lopez (Featherweight): Known for his tremendous power, especially a crushing right hand. He would impassively pressure his opponents, patiently stalking them and then suddenly open-up with an explosive attack. “Little Red” would usually take a number of shots from opponents just to land one of his murderous punches. Lopez scored 39 of his 42 wins by knockout.
Signature KO: Round 15 KO Mike Ayala
27. Khaosai Galaxy (Junior Bantamweight): A southpaw with exceptional strength, toughness and fearsome power. His straight left is considered by many the single hardest punch in the history of the lowest weight divisions. The “Thai Tyson” was also an excellent combination puncher and very adept at slipping opponents’ punches. He scored 19 successful title defenses, 16 by knockout.
Signature KO: Round 5 KO Israel Contreras
28. Wilfredo Gomez (Junior Featherweight): “Bazooka” was a brutal puncher with superb footwork and impeccable timing. He had one of the greatest knockout runs and dominant title reigns in boxing history. A division record of 17 consecutive title defenses, all by knockout. He also started his career with 32 straight knockouts in a row. Gomez finished his career with 44 wins, 42 by knockout.
Signature KO: Round 5 TKO Carlos Zarate
29. Carlos Zarate (Bantamweight): Arguably the most dominant Bantamweight of all-time. He possessed out-of-this-world power in the right hand and brutalized his hapless opponents with it. Zarate also had a stiff left jab and was great at cutting off the ring. His 9 successful title defenses, as well as 5 non-title fights in-between, were by knockout.
Signature KO: Round 4 TKO Alfonso Zamora
30. Ruben Olivares (Bantamweight): A boxing genius and one of the fiercest punching Bantamweights ever. “El Puas” was the most prolific knockout artist of the late 1960’s to early 1970’s largely due to the titanic power of his famous left hook. He finished 69-2-1, 64 knockouts as a Bantamweight, absolutely dominating during the division’s apex of great talent.
Signature KO: Round 5 KO Lionel Rose
31. Lennox Lewis (Heavyweight): He and Riddick Bowe were the first of the truly big, tall and athletic Super Heavyweights. A clever tactician with an educated left jab and fast, powerful straight right hand that could change the complexion of a fight with one thunderous punch. He needed some distance to land it but was extremely accurate. It produced some spectacular knockouts.
Signature KO: Round 4 KO Hasim Rahman
32. Archie Moore (Light Heavyweight): A very patient, strategic boxer with great defense, the heavy-handed Moore was equally adept at boxing or slugging. His patented cross-armed guard not only protected him but allowed opportunities to attack quickly from different angles. The “Ol Mongoose” holds the record for most knockouts all-time with 141 of his 186 wins coming by stoppage.
Signature KO: Round 11 KO Yvon Durelle
33. Aurelio Herrera (Featherweight, Lightweight): A murderous one-punch knockout artist. Often touted as the very first Latino superstar in boxing. His violent knockouts were legendary. The great Lightweight champion Battling Nelson claimed Herrera was the hardest puncher he had ever faced, a sentiment shared by most of his opponents. 61 or his 68 wins came by knockout.
Signature KO: Round 5 KO Young Corbett II
34. Gerry Cooney (Heavyweight): A tall, imposing Heavyweight with a crushing left hook – one of the most powerful punches in boxing history – to the body and a powerful left jab that could shred an opponent’s face to a bloody pulp. He was a ferocious puncher and was a terrific finisher. A weak chin, stamina problems and lack of experience, however, would be his downfall.
Signature KO: Round 1 KO Ken Norton
35. Gennady Golovkin (Middleweight): GGG combines sensational power and technical boxing ability, as seen by his footwork and being able to torque his body into his punches to administer devastating blows. His calculated pressuring style and precise punching allowed him to score 23 straight knockouts and earn a 89.7 percent KO rate, the highest in Middleweight championship history.
Signature KO: Round 8 TKO David Lemieux
36. David Tua (Heavyweight): A slugger known for his formidable punching power, especially his devastating left hook. His bob and weave pressuring style, power and hand speed often drew comparisons to Mike Tyson. Unfortunately, Tua lacked Tyson’s focus and technical skills. Tua knocked out four total former or future world Heavyweight titlists. Of his 43 knockouts, 16 came in the first round.
Signature KO: Round 1 KO John Ruiz
37. Max Baer (Heavyweight): The Boxing Register: International Hall of Fame Official Record Book once termed “the most powerful right hand in Heavyweight history.” His amiable, overt persona belied a fearsome reputation as a puncher. Despite his great size, power and physical strength, his reluctance to attack cost him knockouts. He still managed to score 51 knockouts in his 66 wins.
Signature KO: Round 10 TKO Max Schmeling
38. Naoya Inoue (Bantamweight): The “Monster” is arguably the hardest composite puncher in the world today. He may also be one of the top three active boxers in the sport. A great combination of superb hand speed, ferocious power and brutal attacks to the body and head has led to an 84 percent KO rate and capturing multiple world titles in three different weight divisions in record pace.
Signature KO: Round 2 KO Omar Narvaez
39. Felix Trinidad (Welterweight): A tall, dynamic puncher and one of the sport’s greatest finishers when he had his opponent hurt. “Tito” was a vicious assassin, a two-fisted puncher with a particularly explosive left hook and applied relentless pressure on his opponents. He successfully defended his Welterweight title 15 times, a division record, with 13 of them by knockout.
Signature KO: Round 12 TKO Fernando Vargas
40. Pipino Cuevas (Welterweight): He threw arguably the hardest left hook in Welterweight history. He swung his left like a sledgehammer and it produced some of the most brutal knockouts ever witnessed in his weight division. Cuevas made 11 successful title defenses of his crown, with 10 of them coming by knockout.
Signature KO: Round 2 TKO Angel Espada
41. Alfonso Zamora (Bantamweight): A bull-like, thunderous puncher made a meteoric rise in his professional career. “El Toro” started 29-0, all 29 wins by knockout going into his fight with fellow Mexican knockout artist Carlos Zarate, including a highlight reel knockout of future hall-of-famer Eusebio Pedroza. He never seemed to recover from his loss to Zarate after their titanic battle.
Signature KO: Round 2 KO Eusebio Pedroza
42. Roberto Duran (Lightweight): A versatile, technical brawler and pressure fighter with excellent defense. “Manos de Piedra” indeed had heavy hands and was a formidable combination of punching power, skills and savagery. Duran made 12 successful title defenses with 11 coming by knockout. He finished his career as a Lightweight 62-1, 51 knockouts.
Signature KO: Round 8 TKO Davey Moore
43. Michael Moorer (Light Heavyweight): Before moving up to become the first southpaw to win the world Heavyweight title, Moorer was a vicious hitting Light Heavyweight. A well-school boxer with a powerful straight left and one of the stiffest right jabs in boxing history. He started his professional career 35-0, 30 knockouts, including stopping all of his Light Heavyweight opponents (22).
Signature KO: Round 5 KO Bert Cooper
44. Matthew Saad Muhammad (Light Heavyweight): A capable boxer turned all-action brawler with numbing power in either hand. “Miracle Matthew” was known for his iron chin and the ability to mount comebacks after absorbing an insurmountable number of punches from opponents. The left uppercut he landed on Lottie Mwale is one of the most spectacular shots in Light Heavyweight history.
Signature KO: Round 4 KO Lottie Mwale
45. Wladimir Klitschko (Heavyweight): “Dr. Steelhammer” had a jarring left jab that he could turn into a sweeping left hook and threw perhaps the heaviest right cross in boxing history. His trainer Emmanuel Steward (who also trained Thomas Hearns, Lennox Lewis, Gerald McClellan) once said Klitschko “is the most accurate, single-punch knockout guy I have seen.”
Signature KO: Round 5 KO Kubrat Pulev
46. Joe Gans (Lightweight): A masterful defensive fighter and counter-puncher. “The Old Master” was also gifted with tremendous speed, footwork and carried dynamite in his fists. Gans was highly proficient at ducking opponents’ punches and returning with pinpoint accurate punches with amazing quickness and power. 85 of his 120 wins were by knockout.
Signature KO: Round 1 KO Frank Erne
47. Lew Jenkins (Lightweight): A vicious puncher despite his lanky, scrawny build. His excessive drinking and carousing were as legendary as his punching power. The very hard-hitting Jenkins was also known to take it on the chin as good as he dished it out. Legendary referee Arthur Donovan was quoted as saying Jenkins was the hardest puncher he had ever seen.
Signature KO: Round 3 TKO Lou Ambers
48. Kid McKoy (Middleweight): Known for his “corkscrew punch, which was delivered with a twist of the wrist similar in fashion to a karate punch. McKoy was a quick-handed, scientific boxer but also possessed formidable punching power. After capturing the world Middleweight title, McKoy would go on to challenge some of the best Heavyweights of his era with moderate success.
Signature KO: Round 15 KO Tommy Ryan
49. Ricardo Lopez (Strawweight): A combination of superb technical skills and punching power earned Lopez the nickname “Finito” (Finest). His combined excellence allowed him to dominate his weight division like no other boxer in history. 73.08 percent of his victories were by knockout. His brutal display of punching power is rarely seen in the lowest weight divisions.
Signature KO: Round 2 TKO Saman Sorjaturong
50. Salvador Sanchez (Featherweight): An aggressive, precise counter-puncher with considerable power and speed. Sanchez was also known for his superb conditioning, iron-chin and boxing intelligence. He won 17 of his first 18 fights by knockout. A strategic genius with hammer-like fists. His ruthless, calculated attacks led to knockout victories over three hall-of-famers.
Signature KO: Round 8 TKO Wilfredo Gomez
51. Jim Jefferies (Heavyweight): Known for his enormous strength, stamina and the ability to take a lot of punishment. Jefferies also possessed great speed and one-punch power in his left hook. He reportedly broke the ribs of three of his opponents in title fights and still owns the record for quickest knockout in Heavyweight title history: 55 seconds over Jack Finnegan.
Signature KO: Round 11 KO Bob Fitzsimmons
52. Cleveland Williams (Heavyweight): A tall, chiseled, muscular Heavyweight that made quite an imposing figure. The “Big Cat” was known for his prowling, deceptive ring style and exceptional punching power. Unfortunately, his prime coincided with Sonny Liston’s. Of his 80 wins, 60 came by knockout. Williams began his career with 26 straight wins, 24 by knockout.
Signature KO: Round 7 TKO Ernie Terrell
53. Terry McGovern (Bantamweight, Featherweight): A fine defensive technician, but early boxing historians remembered McGovern for his vicious punching ability. “Terrible Terry” was a tremendous body puncher and possessed a fast, powerful right cross. His power and unparalleled ferocity led to a short but devastating title reign of terror.
Signature KO: Round 8 TKO George Dixon
54. Elmer Ray (Heavyweight): One of the hardest punching Heavyweights, and one of the most feared, during the 1930’s and 1940’s. 65 of his 84 wins were by knockout. Although he never fought for a world title, “Kid Violent” holds decision wins over future champions Jersey Joe Walcott and Ezzard Charles. Ray was the No. 1 contender when he was knocked out by Charles in the rematch.
Signature KO: Round 2 KO Lee Savold
55. Donovan “Razor” Ruddock (Heavyweight): A big, athletic boxer-puncher with exceptional power in the left hand. His favored weapon was a brutal, hybrid half-hook, half-uppercut that he called “the Smash.” The punch was responsible for all his 30 knockouts in 40 wins. Razor Ruddock was considered the second most feared Heavyweight in the world during the Tyson era.
Signature KO: Round 4 KO Michael Dokes
56. Barbados Joe Walcott (Welterweight): The first black to win a world title. Walcott was a very formidable, powerfully built Welterweight with exceptional punching power in either hand. He routinely fought and bested top ranked Heavyweights like Joe Choynski, battled Sam Langsford to a draw and gave Jack Johnson one of his greatest battles.
Signature KO: Round 7 TKO Joe Choynski
57. Antonio Esparragoza (Featherweight): A smooth boxer with good movement that liked to bang when within close range and possessed explosive power in either hand. Often likened to Alexis Arguello because of his tall, lanky build and the ability to land textbook punches of any variety with vicious intent. His fast straight right cross was particularly devastating.
Signature KO: Round 12 TKO Stevie Cruz
58. Ricardo Moreno (Featherweight, Junior Lightweight): “Pajarito” was a very heavy puncher in the lighter weight divisions. He threw vicious, wide-open hooks and had little regard for defense in the fashion of Pipino Cuevas. Incredibly, all but one of his 60 wins came by knockout. The only non-knockout victory was by disqualification.
Signature KO: Round 6 TKO Ike Chestnut
59. Rodrigo Valdez (Middleweight): The very talented Middleweight had explosive power in both hands, but his career was largely overshadowed by the great Carlos Monzon. Valdez was the only man ever to floor the steel-chinned Monzon and knocked out the extremely tough Bennie Briscoe (whom he beat in all three of their epic encounters), both known for their great durability.
Signature KO: Round 7 TKO Bennie Briscoe
60. Bob Satterfield (Light Heavyweight): One of the hardest punching Light Heavyweights of all-time. Known for his exceptional power and aggressive style, which allowed him to move up in weight and compete with some of the top Heavyweights of his day. Even in defeat, he was always dangerous because of his power despite stamina issues and a weak chin.
Signature KO: Round 3 KO Cleveland Williams
61. Diego Corrales (Junior Lightweight, Lightweight): Despite his great height and length, Corrales was a very hard punching, no nonsense brawler who gave as good as he got. His inclination to go toe-to-toe – utilizing his tenacity, iron will, aggression and hand speed to good measure – produced many knockouts and memorable slug-fests.
Signature KO: Round 10 TKO Jose Luis Castillo
62. Bennie Briscoe (Middleweight): A fearless, hard-charging bull of a man with a powerful left hook. He also had a pulverizing right cross, was extremely strong and always coming forward with a bob-and-weave style defense. “Bad Bennie” was the most successful and beloved of the crop of multi-talented, tough Philadelphia Middleweights of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Signature KO: Round 1 KO Eugene “Cyclone” Hart
63. Tommy Ryan (Welterweight, Middleweight): One of the greatest Middleweights at the turn of the twentieth century. Ryan was an intelligent boxer-puncher that fought with a crouching technique for defense. Smart, scrappy and a tremendous hitter, Ryan was a complete boxer. He suffered only 2 losses and secured 84 wins, with 70 percent of those wins by knockout.
Signature KO: Round 3 TKO Jack “Nonpareil” Dempsey
64. Tiger Jack Fox (Light Heavyweight): A very powerful Light Heavyweight boxer had a long, distinguished 22 year career that earned 91 knockouts. 24 of those knockouts came in the first round, second only to Jack Dempsey. Among his high points were two surprising wins over future Heavyweight champion, Jersey Joe Walcott, including one by knockout.
Signature KO: Round 8 KO Jersey Joe Walcott
65. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (Junior Middleweight, Middleweight): A hard-hitting technician with a formidable body attack and excellent counter-punching skills. He has been able to carry his devastating punching power with him through four weight divisions (Super Middleweight, Light Heavyweight). Canelo’s crunching body attack and left hook to the liver continues a proud Mexican trademark.
Signature KO: Round 10 KO Sergey Kovalev
66. Ron Lyle (Heavyweight): An aggressive slugger known for his powerful right and toughness. In his only world title shot, was leading on the scorecards when Muhammad Ali came back to stop him. Dropped the iron-chinned George Foreman twice – the only man ever to do so – before succumbing to Foreman’s sledgehammer fists in one of the most exciting Heavyweight slug-fests ever.
Signature KO: Round 6 KO Earnie Shavers
67. Al “Bummy” Davis (Lightweight): A rugged slugger with a tremendous left hook. Among his early rounds knockout victims included former and future Lightweight champions, Tony Canzoneri and Bob Montgomery. “Bummy” Davis fought out of a semi-crouch. His tenacity and vicious left hook made him a title threat in two weight divisions (Welterweight).
Signature KO: Round 1 TKO Bob Montgomery
68. Oscar DeLaHoya (Lightweight, Junior Welterweight): One of the most complete boxers of the past generation. DeLaHoya combined excellent hand speed, boxing skills and movement with a fast jab and powerful lead left hook. The “Golden Boy” was the gold standard in efficiency and overall ability. His quick and powerful combinations could end fights in dramatic fashion.
Signature KO: Round 11 TKO Fernando Vargas
69. Sergey Kolvalev (Light Heavyweight): Known for his aggressive style and exceptional one-punch knockout power. “The “Krusher” was the most feared, and once the most dominant, Light Heavyweight of the last decade. Kolvalev has combined athleticism, excellent boxing skills with considerable power to overwhelm his opponents.
Signature KO: Round 4 TKO Nathan Cleverly
70. “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler (Middleweight): A rugged, powerful, superbly conditioned converted southpaw. Hagler was a no-nonsense, hard-nosed boxer-puncher with a tremendous right hook. He also had one of the greatest right jabs and a granite chin. 52 of his 62 wins ended in knockout. His 78 percent KO rate is the highest among all undisputed Middleweight champions in history.
Signature KO: Round 3 KO Thomas Hearns
71. Kostya Tszyu (Junior Welterweight): A very well-rounded, accurate boxer-puncher with formidable punching power. He combined quick reflexes, fast footwork with a pulverizing right hand. Considered by many boxing experts as the hardest punching Junior Welterweight of all-time. 10 of his 13 successful title defenses were by knockout.
Signature KO: Round 2 TKO Zab Judah
72. Joe Frazier (Heavyweight): “Smokin’ Joe” was perhaps the most vicious, relentless Heavyweight in modern boxing history. His fabled left hook did tremendous damage to opponents’ body and head. The left hook that dropped Muhammad Ali in Round 15 of their famous first fight cemented his reputation of throwing one of the most lethal punches the sport has ever seen.
Signature KO: Round 4 TKO Jimmy Ellis
73. Nigel Benn (Middleweight, Super Middleweight): The “Dark Destroyer” was known for his formidable power in either hand and vicious fighting style. Benn was often reckless in his matches and not a defensive fighter, but his ability to land crushing blows at any time not only made him a fan favorite but a world champion in two weight divisions. He finished his career with an 83.3 percent KO ratio.
Signature KO: Round 1 TKO Iran Barkley
74. Donald Curry (Welterweight): The “Lone Star Cobra” was a brilliant technician with superb boxing skills, an air-tight defense, a piston-like left jab and threw arguably the fastest, most accurate power shots of any boxer in modern day history. Curry’s crisp, lightning-quick punches were impossible to avoid. His slashing left hook and straight right hand were particularly devastating.
Signature KO: Round 2 KO Milton McCrory
75. Florentino Fernandez (Middleweight): A big left hook artist best known for losing on a split decision to Gene Fullmer for the Middleweight title. Scored 16 straight knockouts to start his professional career. Fans may also remember he was knocked out by Rubin “Hurricane” Carter in the first few seconds of the first round. He rebounded later to knock out future Light Heavyweight champion Jose Torres.
Signature KO: Round 5 KO Jose Torres
76. Frank Bruno (Heavyweight): Known for his chiseled physique, amazing strength and exceptional punching power. Bruno started his professional career with 21 straight wins by knockout. Despite his considerable strength and power, a brittle chin usually betrayed him in title fights. He finished his career with an astonishing 84.4 percent KO rate.
Signature KO: Round 1 KO Gerrie Coetzee
77. Tommy Morrison (Heavyweight): A muscular, athletic boxer-puncher with a fast, very powerful left hook. Morrison won his first 28 fights, with 21 of those fights lasting under three rounds. Finished his career with an 80.77 percent KO rate. “The Duke” had the talent and power to have a promising career that was derailed by a weak chin, drugs and a reckless lifestyle.
Signature KO: Round 6 TKO Donovan Ruddock
78. Carlos Monzon (Middleweight): A versatile, tough and clever boxer-puncher. Monzon used his length, quickness, formidable power, accuracy and relentless pressure to score nearly 60 knockouts in his 87 wins. A methodical, calculated and merciless killer in the ring. He could crush his opponents with hard, straight right hands or clinically take them apart a fast jab or combinations.
Signature KO: Round 12 TKO Nino Benvenuti
79. Julio Cesar Chavez (Junior Lightweight, Lightweight): A strong, relentless pressure fighter with an iron will. “El Gran Campeon” had a granite chin, stamina and a vicious body attack. His devastating left hook broke ribs and re-arranged opponents’ faces. Chavez holds the record for most successful title defenses (27), with 21 won by knockout, and scored a total of 85 knockouts.
Signature KO: Round 12 TKO Meldrick Taylor
80. Eder Jofre (Bantamweight): A crafty, talented technician with one punch knockout power in either hand. His hammer-like fists allowed him to savagely plow through his opponents in two weight divisions (Featherweight) and captured world titles. Even as a Bantamweight, many felt he punched like a Lightweight. He possessed an excellent left hook and superb right cross with equal power.
Signature KO: Round 4 KO Vicente Saldivar
81. Azumah Nelson (Featherweight, Junior Lightweight): A versatile boxer-puncher who had the great ability to dissect his opponents’ weaknesses and was a terrific finisher when he had them hurt. Strong, durable and patient boxer, the “Professor” could then suddenly open-up with explosive combinations that were usually punctuated with a booming left hook or powerful overhand right.
Signature KO: Round 11 KO Wilfredo Gomez
82. Jose Napoles (Junior Welterweight, Welterweight): “Mantequilla” was a buttery-smooth technician with razor-sharp counter-punching skills and deadly power. Napoles had a particularly powerful left hook and right uppercut, but was equally revered for his effortless ability to throw combination punches. A natural Lightweight, his vaunted power made him a Welterweight legend.
Signature KO: Round 13 TKO Ernie Lopez
83. George Chaney (Featherweight, Lightweight): One of the hardest punching southpaws of all-time, “K.O.” Chaney amassed 76 knockouts in his career. (Some boxing historians have it closer to 90 knockouts.) Although his brittle chin betrayed him as he stepped up the quality of opposition, his brutal power made him a fixture in two weight divisions for years.
Signature KO: Round 6 KO Kid Williams
84. Ike Williams (Lightweight): The multi-talented Lightweight was known for his explosive attacks and great right hand. Williams was a cool, calculated technician that could erupt with crushing combinations when he sensed his opponent was in danger. Had 126 wins, including against fellow hall-of-famers Kid Gavilian and Bob Montgomery.
Signature KO: Round 6 TKO Bob Montgomery
85. Eduardo Lausse (Middleweight): One of the first of many powerful Middleweights to come from Argentina. The hard-punching southpaw outfought and beat legends like Gene Fullmer and an aging Kid Gavilan. Known as “Zurdo” or Lefty, his legions of fans in South America claimed he possessed the most powerful left hook in the world.
Signature KO: Round 4 TKO Georgie Small
86. Rocky Graziano (Middleweight): Considered one of the greatest one-punch knockout artists in boxing history. He was a mauling, crude puncher with a potent right hand and iron will. Graziano fought with a reckless abandon, violent nature and tenacity in the boxing ring. His terrific right hand always gave him a “puncher’s chance” against anyone.
Signature KO: Round 6 TKO Tony Zale
87. Jamie Garza (Junior Featherweight): The lanky knockout artist was a deadly combination puncher and, for a brief period, many felt he was pound-for-pound the hardest hitter in the sport. Prior to his shocking knockout loss to Juan Meza, Garza was 40-0, 38 knockouts. His path of destruction often came courtesy of one punch. The title fight loss just as quickly shattered the myth of invincibility.
Signature KO: Round 3 KO Felipe Orozco
88. Jesus Pimentel (Bantamweight): An ultra-tough, terrific punching Bantamweight known for his ferocious attacks. “Little Poison was considered one of the most feared fighters of his era. The Ring Magazine voted him “the greatest knockout puncher in Bantamweight history between 1856-1968.” Of his 77 wins, 68 were by knockout.
Signature KO: Round 9 TKO Mimoun Ben Ali
89. Jersey Joe Walcott (Light Heavyweight, Cruiserweight): A slick boxer-puncher with excellent innovative skills, agile footwork, slippery defense and an uncanny ability to throw powerful shots from odd angles. Always an elusive target, as he constantly moved his head and shoulders, baiting opponents into his art of deception and falling right into his lethal counter-punches.
Signature KO: Round 7 KO Ezzard Charles
90. “Sugar” Ray Leonard (Welterweight): A tremendously gifted boxer equipped with exceptional hand speed, agility and finesse. Leonard also possessed very underrated power, particularly with the left hook, and was a great finisher. He had the ability to land swift, flashy, accurate combinations from different angles with devastating effectiveness.
Signature KO: Round 4 KO Davey “Boy” Green
91. Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Junior Lightweight, Lightweight): Before the transformation to becoming the defensive savant–relying on an airtight defense, fast reflexes, intelligence and counter-punching ability to win fights–Mayweather combined blazing hand speed, power and technical prowess to dominate the Junior Lightweight and Lightweight divisions.
Signature KO: Round 10 TKO Ricky Hatton
92. Tommy Gomez (Heavyweight): A Heavyweight boxer from the 1930’s and 40’s that was ducked by many top contenders because of his ferocious power despite being on the smaller size. He earned his reputation by knocking out bigger, taller Heavyweights. His 65 knockouts is the fourth highest total in Heavyweight history, and 28 of those knockouts came within the first two rounds.
Signature KO: Round 1 KO Freddie Schott
93. Riddick Bowe (Heavyweight): Despite enormous size and reach, Bowe was excellent at in-fighting and combination punching either on the inside or from long range. “Big Daddy” possessed a stiff left jab and powerful right uppercut. When properly focused and conditioned, his size, athleticism, skills and power made him as formidable a Heavyweight as any in history.
Signature KO: Round 8 TKO Evander Holyfield
94. Anthony Joshua (Heavyweight): His combination of sheer size, strength, athleticism and explosive power has fast-tracked him to the pinnacle of the Heavyweight division. The current holder of three of the four major world title belts. It remains to be seen whether his 91 percent KO rate will stay intact as he continues to face the top available competition.
Signature KO: Round 11 TKO Wladimir Klitschko
95. Rodolfo Gonzalez (Lightweight): Known as “El Gato,” Gonzalez was a devastating puncher. A defensive boxer that methodically destroyed his opponents. Gonzalez scored 71 knockouts in his 81 wins. His signature punch was a left hook to the liver. But the big punching Lightweight is largely forgotten and was overshadowed by Roberto Duran.
Signature KO: Round 2 TKO Chango Carmona
96. Edwin Valero (Junior Lightweight, Lightweight): Before his premature death, Valero was 27-0, all of his wins came by knockout. He was an exceptional puncher with an aggressive style. A southpaw, his lethal straight left and right hook were his best weapons. Valero set a world record by winning his first 18 fights by first round knockout against suspect competition.
Signature KO: Round 10 TKO Vicente Mosquera
97. Andy Ganigan (Lightweight): He was renowned for his punching ability. The very hard-hitting southpaw was one of the most dangerous Lightweights of his era. His explosive straight left hand and right hook were responsible for most of his knockouts. “The Hawaiian Punch” won his first 25 fights, with 23 coming by knockout. Unfortunately, a fragile chin and poor defense hindered title hopes.
Signature KO: Round 2 KO Sean O’Grady
98. Ezzard Charles (Light Heavyweight): An extraordinarily skilled boxer with an excellent jab, foot work and combination punching. The “Cincinnati Cobra” started as a Middleweight and peaked as a Light Heavyweight, but had to move up to the Heavyweight division to earn a world title shot. Along the way, he scored 58 knockouts and defeated some of the best talent in three weight divisions.
Signature KO: Round 8 KO Archie Moore
99. Marvin Johnson (Light Heavyweight): A technical southpaw with a big punch. “Pops” was a dynamite thrower and explosive puncher. An all-action fighter, always pressing the attack. He had one of the most devastating uppercuts in the sport. His enormous heart, persistence, fearlessness and punching power made him a formidable opponent and fixture in the division for two decades.
Signature KO: Round 11 KO Victor Galindez
100. Earl Hargrove (Junior Middleweight): A vicious knockout artist that started his boxing career scoring 24 straight stoppages. His streak was stopped when he was halted himself by Mark Medal in his only bid at the Junior Middleweight title. He was a crude banger with a volatile temper but his raw power led to an impressive knockout streak against questionable competition.
Signature KO: Round 9 TKO Donald King
Honorable Mentions: Adonis Stevenson (Light Heavyweight), Al Hostak (Middleweight), David Haye (Cruiserweight), Charley Burley (Welterweight, Middleweight), Tim Witherspoon (Heavyweight), Roman Gonzalez (Junior Flyweight, Flyweight), Engels Pedroza (Welterweight), Vicente Rondon (Light Heavyweight), Freddie Mills (Light Heavyweight), Georges Carpentier (Light Heavyweight), Marcos Villasana (Featherweight), Eugene “Cyclone” Hart (Middleweight), Rubin “Hurricane” Carter (Middleweight), Shane Mosley (Lightweight), Miguel Cotto (Junior Welterweight, Welterweight), David Lemieux (Middleweight), Nonito Donaire (Flyweight, Junior Bantamweight), Juan LaPorte (Featherweight), George Godfrey (Heavyweight), Evander Holyfield (Cruiserweight), Barry McGuigan (Featherweight), Henry Armstrong (Featherweight), Terry Norris (Junior Middleweight), Chalky Wright (Featherweight), Kelly Pavlik (Middleweight), Billy Papke (Middleweight), Bobby Chacon (Featherweight), Harry Wills (Heavyweight), Shannon Briggs (Heavyweight)
Note: Gervonta Davis has shown ferocious power, but we have not seen him tested against the sport’s other top talent to merit inclusion on this list. The same for today’s big men Murat Gassiev, Artur Beterbiev and Daniel Dubois.