Statistical analysis of heavyweight world championship records -OR- Joe Louis, Wladimir Klitschko, Muhammad Ali: Who has the best world title record?

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN if Wladimir Klitschko decided to call out a 174 lbs opponent for his next heavyweight world championship fight (= an opponent who is 60 lbs lighter than his current opponents)?

 

What would happen if Wladimir Klitschko called out 34-11 guy (who has lost 2 of his last 3 fights, including a loss to an opponent who was 11-2 and 191 lbs)?

 

What would happen if the next world championship opponent earned his title fight by beating three bums[?] (6-8, 13-4, 16-27)?

 

What would happen if Vitali Klitschko decided to call out a 37-30 opponent (= bum[?]) for his next world championship fight?

 

What would happen if Wladimir Klitschko decided to stage a world championship against a 197 lbs boxer who had only 7 fights (of which only 2 had been real heavyweight fights 200×2)?

Or if Wladimir Klitschko decided to lose all his muscles, go all the way down to 197 lbs and then fight another 197 lbs opponent?

Or even go down to 185 lbs to stage a world championship against another 185 lbs (who never had and never will have a single real heavyweight fight 200×2)?

 

Simple. Fans would get upset, cancel their PPV subscriptions or lose their interest in boxing altogether.

Or they would laugh and accuse Klitschko of cherry-picking and the division of being "the greatest joke in history"

 

Yet, exactly such opponents and circumstances HAPPENED and are USED AS A PROOF of the GREATNESS of past eras.

Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier all fought exactly such opponents in exactly such world championship fights.

  • Joe Louis vs ·Jim Braddock (197 lbs vs 197 lbs) (world heavyweight title 1937)
  • Joe Louis vs ·Tony Musto (37-30 whole career) (World heavyweight title 1941)
  • Joe Louis vs ·Billy Conn 174 lbs (Unification(!) world heavyweight title 1937)
  • Rocky Marciano 184 lbs vs ·Roland LaStarza 185 lbs (World heavyweight title 1953)
  • Muhammad Ali vs ·Leon Spinks 197 lbs, 7-0 at bout, 26-17 whole career (WBA+WBC world heavyweight title 1978)
  • Muhammad Ali vs ·George Chuvalo, 34-11 at bout, coming off a loss to a 11-2, 191 lbs guy (world heavyweight title 1966)
  • Joe Frazier vs Dave Zyglewicz, who earned his title fight by beating Pedro Sanchez (6-8), Bob Felstein (13-4), Willie Johnson (16-27) and Levi Forte (18-19) (world heavyweight title 1969)

 

The same fans and experts who declare that "Joe Louis still holds the record for most heavyweight championships won" (which includes world title opponents like mentioned above) have no problems to declare that the current heavyweight division (which excludes such title opponents like mentioned above) is weak.

The same fans who complain about a "dire Klitschko era" have no problem to declare Ali's era to be "The golden Age", yet half of Ali's opponents wouldn't be allowed nowadays or would be a proof of how Klitschko sucks.

The same experts who calculated that "Rocky Marciano is the heavyweight champ with the highest KO'ratio" would turn away from the TV sets if Klitschko's KO victims would be a median 190 lbs.

The same fans who mention that "Rocky Marciano is the only heavyweight champ who retired undefeated (49-0)" would be very upset if Wladimir Klitschko chose 40 of his 49 opponents to be cruisers (200 lbs and below) or chose 49 of his 49 opponents to be cruisers, former cruisers and bums (yes, that's Marciano's record in a nutshell).

 

The same fans who measure Wladimir Klitschko against previous oh-so-great champs would be appalled if Wladimir Klitschko actually fought opponents like those champs fought.

-and-

It's a no-brainer that Joe Louis can hold such records because included in his 26 title wins are opponents like Billy Conn 174 lbs and bums like Tony Musto (37-30).

 

Just take a deep look at this picture:


Heavyweight world title (1906)
172 lbs vs 163 lbs

_THAT_ was a heavyweight world title fight back then.

Such guys (Tommy Burns 160+ lbs vs Philadelphia Jack O'Brien 170+ lbs), both massively smaller than even the referee, are seriously compared to Vitali Klitschko and Lennox Lewis and such world titles are seriously compared to Klitschko's and Lennox Lewis' world titles.

And, believe it or not, exactly this Tommy Burns from that picture is compared to Wladimir Klitschko because "Tommy Burns holds the record for the most (8) consecutive KOs in world title bouts" (all without exception against cruiser-bums like Jewey Smith 22-22 and/or in round #13), while "Klitschko managed to score only 5 in a row".

Klitschko would never want to box or KO such opponents.

Fans would never want to watch Klitschko box or KO such opponents.

It would be even against the current heavyweight rules for Klitschko to box or KO such opponents.

And it would be a proof of the terrible state of the current heavyweight boxing division to box or KO such opponents.

Yet records and streaks against such opponents are being compared to records and streaks of modern world champs.

In other words:

What would now be considered a proof of a terrible state of the division,
is being used as proof of the glory and the achievements of past divisions.

 

I am sorry, but I refuse to compare Tommy Burns to Mike Tyson, to Larry Holmes or even to Muhammad Ali. We have to apply some common sense here:

Either we exclude bums[?] and sub-200 fights to have some common ground for comparisons.

Or we leave bums and sub-200 fights on the record
and then compare Joe Louis to ·Sugar Ray Robinson and Nikolay Valuev to ·Floyd Mayweather Jr
and don't call it "heavyweight toplist" or "heavyweight titles"
but "boxing toplist", "p4p toplist" or "boxing titles"

-and-

The statement
"Joe Louis has XX world title wins and Wlad has only YY world title wins, nah na-na-nah nah"
is equivalent to
"Oscar de la Hoya was world champ in six divisions and Wlad only in one, nah na-na-nah nah".

Apples and oranges.

 

See also:
Boxing eras (1) The best heavyweight era of all time -OR- Is Roy Jones Jr. a better cruiser than Rocky Marciano?
Boxing eras (2) Current heavyweights are fat and out of shape -OR- Ali and the mystery of the six-pack

 

Did Muhammad Ali also face bums in world championship fights? Even worse!

You don't even have to go as far back as Joe Louis. Of Ali's 25 world title fights 10(!) were against bums and/or sub-200 opponents, e.g.

  • Muhammad Ali vs ·Leon Spinks (26-17) 197 lbs (WBA world heavyweight title 1978)
  • or Muhammad Ali vs ·Henry Cooper (40-14) 188 lbs (World Heavyweight title 1966)

(Of the remaining 15 fights (against non-bums, 200+ lbs) 4 were against handicaps (Joe Frazier was blind on his left eye, Cleveland Williams had his intestines removed after a gun shooting and Sonny Liston had an inflammated shoulder), but that's another story.)

 

Similar fights happened during Larry Holmes' era where we had to witness world championship fights like

  • Larry Holmes vs Mike Weaver (41-18) 202 lbs (WBC heavyweight title 1979)
  • Larry Holmes vs Ossie Ocasio (23-13) (WBC heavyweight title 1979)
  • Larry Holmes vs David Bey (18-11) (IBF heavyweight title 1985)

 

Such fights _ARE_ included when fans or TV shows mention "the longest streaks", "the longest reigns" or "the most championships won".

So please, could we finally have some statistics WITHOUT bums and WITHOUT cruisers (or even and sub-cruisers)?

Could we please compare apples to apples? Unpadded heavyweight records to unpadded heavyweight records?

Yes, finally an objective comparison has arrived:

 

Let's make a fair Heavyweight world championship comparison, shall we?

So far there have been approximately 80 heavyweight world champs (since 18xx).

Most of them won only 2 or 1 title fights ("One hit wonders") or even ZERO (e.g. Ken Norton, who was appointed world champ without winning it in the ring).

Once we exclude such "2nd and 3rd tier champs" we are left with the following "top of the crop":

  • Chris Byrd
  • Evander Holyfield
  • George Foreman
  • Joe Louis
  • Larry Holmes
  • Lennox Lewis
  • Mike Tyson
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Nikolay Valuev
  • Vitali Klitschko
  • Wladimir Klitschko

These are the only champs worth mentioning.

These are the only heavyweight world champs you have to know about.

You won't get topper that these guys. If you want to compile your own heavyweight boxing toplist and if you want to rank by actual records (and not by "fame", "footwork" or "foulmouthing") then these guys above MUST be at top positions.

In the tables below I additionally list the following names…

  • Ezzard Charles
  • Gene Tunney
  • Jack Dempsey
  • James J Jeffries
  • Joe Frazier
  • Primo Carnera
  • Rocky Marciano
  • Sonny Liston

… not because they really deserve to be on heavyweight toplists, but because these names are dear to fans.

Some of them didn't even have a single real heavyweight fight 200×2 lbs (Rocky Marciano) or had only 1 (Ezzard Charles), because they were merely "Cruiserweights formerly called Heavyweights" or "Cruiserweights AKA Heavyweights" ("CakaH-Weights"), but nevertheless heavyweight boxing tables wouldn't be complete without them.

 

Important note #1: These tables are compiled after Wladimir Klitschko's fight against Tony Thompson and after Vitali Klitschko's fight against Manuel Charr.

Important note #2: These tables compare achievements like "title fights won" but not "Who would win against whom in the ring?". For a glance at toe-to-toe chances see Muhammad Ali vs Wladimir Klitschko – Fact-based analysis and prediction

Important note #3: I urge you to read my mathematical definition of "bum" at Definitions. It's a strict and objective definition.

Important note #4: "HWWC" = "HeavyWeight World Championship".

 

So, here we go:

NameTotal wins in HWWC including bums and including sub-200HWWC, including sub-200 fights, exlcuding bumsHWWC, excluding sub-200 fights, including bumsHWWC, excluding sub-200, excluding bumsHWWC KO'wins (within 12), excluding sub-200, excluding bums
·Chris Byrd
5
5
5
5
1
·Evander Holyfield
10
9
10
9
3
·Ezzard Charles
9
4
0
0
0
·Gene Tunney
3
2
0
0
0
·George Foreman
5
4
4
4
3
·Jack Dempsey
5
5
0
0
0
·James J Jeffries
8
6
1
1
1
·Joe Frazier
5
3
3
2
1
·Joe Louis
26
19
8
7
4
·Larry Holmes
20
13
20
13
7
·Lennox Lewis
15
15
15
15
10
·Mike Tyson
12
9
12
9
8
·Muhammad Ali
22
15
19
13
6
·Nikolay Valuev
6
6
6
6
3
·Primo Carnera
3
1
2
0
0
·Rocky Marciano
7
5
0
0
0
·Sonny Liston
2
2
0
0
0
·Vitali Klitschko
15
14
15
14
11
·Wladimir Klitschko
19
18
19
17
15

Fistic Statistic [#3634.1]

THAT is a real comparison.

THAT's how we compare apples to apples.

Wladimir Klitschko has won 17 world championships 200×2 (and counting), Joe Louis has won 7.

-and-

Wladimir Klitschko has scored approximately TWICE as many KOs as Mike Tyson
(heavyweight world championship fights, 200×2, non-bums)

 

The last column by the way, although it looks like "just another figure", is basically _THE_ quintessential heavyweight resume of a boxer.

Why?

Because everyone agrees that the worth/resume of a boxer consists of "the number of good opponents that were dominated" and this last column shows exactly this dominance+importance+quality in one single figure.

  • "top opponents" = "non-bums"
  • "dominating" = "KO'ing"
  • "meaningful" = "world championship"
  • "Quintessence of a career: How many top opponents was he dominating in important fights?"

 

Or in clear words:

  • Wladimir Klitschko's world championship dominance at real heavyweight boxing 200×2 is approximately TWICE as impressive as Mike Tyson's and as Muhammad Ali's
  • Wladimir Klitschko's world championship dominance at real heavyweight boxing 200×2 is approximately FIVE TIMES as good as George Foreman's.
  • It's obvious that Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko, Vitali Klitschko and Mike Tyson are a league of their own.
  • Ancient CakaH-weights like Rocky Marciano, Jim Jeffries or Sonny Liston have basically no tangible achievements in terms of modern heavyweight championships. They may have been good boxers (or not), but not in terms of heavyweight.

 

Is disregarding sub-200 fight fair? No!

Now, if you think that it's unfair to compare Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano to modern cruiserweights (instead of modern heavyweights) then it's only because you have been conditioned to think of Rocky Marciano and Joe Louis as heavyweights.

And if you think that it's unfair to compare 200×2 only to 200×2 then you are right, but not in a sense that you probably like.

Because it's not unfair to Marciano, Louis and Ali, but to Wladimir Klitschko, Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson.

Why?

Because no heavyweight world championships takes place at such a low weight nowadays.

To compare 200×2 to 200×2 _IS ALREADY A FAVOR_ to ancient heavies.

With the Klitschkos' opponents weighing somewhere around 230 lbs on the average (and the Klitschkos themselves even more), one should set the threshold not to 200×2 but to a more realistic 215×2. From approximately that weight we begin to compare apples to apples.

So let's check what the Klitschkos' worth would be in a division that would describe modern heavyweight in a more objective way: An "ultraheavweight" division starting at 215 lbs:

NameHWWC, excluding sub-215, excluding bumsHWWC KO'Wins, excluding sub-215, excluding bums
·Wladimir Klitschko
14
13
·Chris Byrd
0
0
·Evander Holyfield
5
1
·Ezzard Charles
0
0
·Gene Tunney
0
0
·George Foreman
2
1
·Jack Dempsey
0
0
·James J Jeffries
0
0
·Joe Frazier
0
0
·Joe Louis
0
0
·Larry Holmes
2
0
·Lennox Lewis
14
10
·Mike Tyson
8
7
·Muhammad Ali
5
2
·Nikolay Valuev
5
3
·Primo Carnera
0
0
·Rocky Marciano
0
0
·Sonny Liston
0
0
·Vitali Klitschko
14
11

Fistic Statistic [#3634.2]

 

In clear words:

The dominance of Wladimir Klitschko, Vitali Klitschko, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis is so great, that their records will stay among the best of the best EVEN if a higher weight class was established.

 

How many undefeated opponents did they beat in world title fights?

Let's compare "quality of opposition" not in terms of "bum'ness" (= the whole career win:loss ratio) but in terms of "undefeated-at-bout-ness".

However, we face three problems:

The first problem is that an opponent in his first fight has a record "0-0" and is undefeated. It would be ridiculous to regard such opponents as quality opponents just because they are unbeaten. Therefore we need to set some threshold which I decided to be "unbeaten in at least 15 fights". That way I exclude greens who have a record of "14-0" and less. I think that's a reasonable minimum.

 

The second problem are rematches. Take this example (which really happened):

  • Evander Holyfield beats Riddick Bowe (34-0) -> Riddick Bowe becomes now 34-1
  • Evander Holyfield rematches Riddick Bowe (now 34-1)

It such a case Evander Holyfield would hurt himself by beating and then rematching Bowe (since Bowe is not undefeated anymore), whereas in the opposite case…

  • Evander Holyfield LOSES against Riddick Bowe (34-0) -> Riddick Bowe stays 34-0
  • Evander Holyfield rematches Riddick Bowe (34-0)

…Evander Holyfield would have fought an unbeaten opponent TWICE hence would be rewarded for LOSING the first time around.

In other words: We must compile an "undefeated record ASIDE" statistic, which disregards losses/wins to each other.

 

The third problem is that world championships against undefeated opponents nearly never happen.

Thus after you compiled all these figures you are not able to actually rank boxers, because most of the world champs wouldn't have faced a single undefeated opponent (e.g. Joe Louis) or only 1 undefeated opponent (e.g. Muhammad Ali).

Therefore I made 3 columns:

  • One with "-0" opponents (= undefeated)
  • another with "-0 and -1" opponents (= undefeated or only 1 loss)
  • and another with "-0 and -1 and -2" opponents (= maximum 2 losses).

I think that's a fair approach.

Let's check first the overall (= championship or not, sub-200 or not) figures:

NameWins against unbeaten opponents, who had at least 15 wins (at bout)
·Vitali Klitschko
6
·Wladimir Klitschko
6
·Lennox Lewis
4
·Muhammad Ali
2
·Mike Tyson
4
·George Foreman
6
·Rocky Marciano
2
·Joe Louis
0
·James J Jeffries
0
·Joe Frazier
2
·Nikolay Valuev
3
·Evander Holyfield
2
·Larry Holmes
7
·Sonny Liston
0
·Primo Carnera
0
·Chris Byrd
1
·Ezzard Charles
0
·Jack Dempsey
0
·Gene Tunney
0

Fistic Statistic [#3634.3]

Already in this stat it's astonishing to learn that household names like Joe Louis had not a single win against an unbeaten, somewhat experienced (= 15 fights or more) opponent, and Ali had only 2 of such fights.

Mind you, we are not even talking about world championships or heavyweight fights 200+ lbs. We are talking about the whole career record, including bums and cruisers.

Let's see how these figures decrement once we exclude sub-200 lbs fights and all non-championship fights:

NameHWWC 200×2, wins against undefeated (-0) opponents with 15+ wins (ASIDE)HWWC 200×2, wins against -0 or -1 opponents with 15+ wins (ASIDE)HWWC 200×2, wins against -0, -1, -2 opponents with 15+ wins (ASIDE)
·Wladimir Klitschko
3
9
12
·Vitali Klitschko
5
9
12
·Lennox Lewis
3
8
11
·Muhammad Ali
1
4
6
·Mike Tyson
3
5
8
·George Foreman
2
3
4
·Rocky Marciano
0
0
0
·Joe Louis
0
0
1
·James J Jeffries
0
0
0
·Joe Frazier
1
2
2
·Nikolay Valuev
0
0
1
·Evander Holyfield
1
5
6
·Larry Holmes
6
7
9
·Sonny Liston
0
0
0
·Primo Carnera
0
0
0
·Chris Byrd
1
2
2
·Ezzard Charles
0
0
0
·Jack Dempsey
0
0
0
·Gene Tunney
0
0
0

Fistic Statistic [#3634.4]

Again you see the same results that we have seen before: The Klitschkos, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis are in a league of their own.

And what do you know? Was Ali cherry-picking opponents who had been beaten often? Wladimir Klitschko has the best world record in this statistic (and counting). He won against TWICE as many "little beatens" as Muhammad Ali.

What Wladimir Klitschko is doing here is UNPRECEDENTED!

"I like the challenge of fighting an undefeated guy."

Wladimir Klitschko

and

"It's always exciting fighting an undefeated guy, because he's always determined, he's always coming and pushing because he's undefeated and he want to keep his undefeated record."

Jonathon Banks (trainer of Wladimir Klitschko) before the bout against undefeated Mariusz Wach

 

However this stat is AGAIN unfair to modern heavies, as we can illustrate in this example:

Ali has faced six (see in the column above) opponents (in world championships) who had 15 or more wins and were -0 (undefeated) or were -1 (one loss) or were -2 (two losses).

One of these 6 opponents was Sonny Liston who was 35-2 at bout.

Take now Sam Peter. Sam Peter was 34-2 when he met Wladimir Klitschko. That looks very similar to Sonny Liston's record at first glance.

However, Sonny Liston's 35 wins consist mainly of cruisers (like Billy Joiner 189 lbs) while Samuel Peter's 34 wins consists of nothing but heavy heavyweights.

So although Samuel Peter's and Sonny Liston's numbers look the same, Sam Peter's opposition has been far heavier and hence Peter's two losses against 36 massive heavyweights (average opponent 240 lbs) are far more impressive than Sonny Liston's 2 losses against far lighter opposition (average opponent 195 lbs).

In other words, in our times Sonny Liston would be somewhere around 13-0 and wouldn't even be included in these "six" of Muhammad Ali.

In fact these "six" consist of Sonny Liston (2x), George Foreman, Joe Frazier (1x), Ron Lyle and Ken Norton (1x) and one should also exclude Joe Frazier who was 12-1 at bout in real heavyweight terms.

Even George Foreman, who was Ali's biggest win (and the best boxer of the Golden Age of Heavyweight Boxing) was merely 23-0 in heavyweight terms (of which 22 were bums and/or former cruisers) hence he was approximately on the level of Alexander Povetkin (albeit 10 lbs lighter than Povetkin), but that's another issue.

OK, back to topic:

Let's compare undefeated fighters in a theoretical ultraheavyweight division 215×2:

NameHWWC 215×2, against undefeated (-0) opponents with 15+ wins (ASIDE)HWWC 215×2, against -0 or -1 opponents with 15+ wins (ASIDE)HWWC 215×2, against -0, -1, -2 opponents with 15+ wins (ASIDE)
·Wladimir Klitschko
3
5
9
·Vitali Klitschko
5
9
12
·Lennox Lewis
2
7
10
·Muhammad Ali
1
2
4
·Mike Tyson
2
4
7
·George Foreman
1
2
2
·Rocky Marciano
0
0
0
·Joe Louis
0
0
0
·James J Jeffries
0
0
0
·Joe Frazier
0
1
1
·Nikolay Valuev
0
0
1
·Evander Holyfield
1
4
4
·Larry Holmes
1
2
3
·Sonny Liston
0
0
0
·Primo Carnera
0
0
0
·Chris Byrd
0
0
0
·Ezzard Charles
0
0
0
·Jack Dempsey
0
0
0
·Gene Tunney
0
0
0

Fistic Statistic [#3634.5]

 

Streaks in heavyweight world championships

Streaks are some of the most useless stats but since they pop up in discussions from time to time let's take a look.

NameHWWC max wins in a rowHWWC max wins in a row, excluding bums, excluding sub-200HWWC max KO'wins in a row, excluding bums, excluding sub-200HWWC max wins in a row, excluding bums, excluding sub-215
·Vitali Klitschko
12
12
5
5
·Wladimir Klitschko
13
13
5
4
·Lennox Lewis
4
4
3
3
·Muhammad Ali
11
7
2
2
·Mike Tyson
10
7
4
3
·George Foreman
3
2
2
1
·Rocky Marciano
7
0
0
0
·Joe Louis
25
6
3
0
·James J Jeffries
8
1
1
0
·Joe Frazier
5
2
1
0
·Nikolay Valuev
4
4
3
3
·Evander Holyfield
4
3
2
1
·Larry Holmes
20
13
5
0
·Sonny Liston
2
0
0
0
·Primo Carnera
3
0
0
0
·Chris Byrd
2
2
1
0
·Ezzard Charles
9
0
0
0
·Jack Dempsey
5
0
0
0
·Gene Tunney
3
0
0
0

Fistic Statistic [#3634.6]

Important note: Fighting bums does not break the non-bum streak. And fighting sub-200 opponents does not break the 200+ opponents streak. Additionally I have excluded special circumstances like "Winning by DQ", "No contest" and "Ending by accidental head butt". In other words: a DQ, NC, headbutt does not break your KO'streak.

Again the same picture:
Yes, ancient boxers like Joe Louis have such long streaks, but only because modern boxers are not allowed to fight such opponents like Joe Louis' opponents.
Once we compare apples to apples it turns out that Wladimir Klitschko's streak is already twice as long as Joe Louis', Mike Tyson's or Muhammad Ali's.

 

World championship fights against Southpaws

Fighting against Southpaws is extremely difficult, which is aggravated by the circumstances of a title bout, since it's against southpaws with a proven quality.

Wladimir Klitschko, one of the best (if not the best) KO'ers of all time, couldn't KO southpaw Chris Byrd, southpaw Ibragimov, had difficulties in KO'ing southpaw Tony Thompson and was KO'ed by southpaw Corrie Sanders.

Southpaws are difficult opponents, hence let's check how many southpaws these champs faced:

nameSouthpaws faced (whole career, non-bums)Southpaws faced (HWCC, non-bums, 200×2)Southpaws wins (HWCC, non-bums, 200×2)Southpaws KO'wins (HWCC, non-bums, 200×2)
·Vitali Klitschko
4
3
2
2
·Wladimir Klitschko
8
7
6
4
·Lennox Lewis
0
0
0
0
·Muhammad Ali
1
0
0
0
·Mike Tyson
0
0
0
0
·George Foreman
1
1
1
1
·Rocky Marciano
0
0
0
0
·Joe Louis
0
0
0
0
·James J Jeffries
0
0
0
0
·Joe Frazier
0
0
0
0
·Nikolay Valuev
2
1
0
0
·Evander Holyfield
4
4
1
1
·Larry Holmes
0
0
0
0
·Sonny Liston
1
0
0
0
·Primo Carnera
2
0
0
0
·Chris Byrd
3
0
0
0
·Ezzard Charles
1
0
0
0
·Jack Dempsey
1
0
0
0
·Gene Tunney
0
0
0
0

Fistic Statistic [#3634.7]

 

Again the same picture, but even more accentuated: The Klitschkos (and Evan Fields) fear not even the most difficult opponents while Tyson and Lennox Lewis didn't even face ONCE a non-bummy southpaw in their entire career. However high the KO'ratio of the Klitschkos is, it's actually even higher because KO'ers like Tyson or Lennox Lewis didn't fight against some of the most difficult opponents.

 

Belts

Another way how to compare champs the number of belts.

This story is still evolving (since Wladimir Klitschko is still boxing and his brother holds the WBC belt).

Only that much:

Wladimir Klitschko has held
more belts
for a longer time
than any other champ before him.

 

Nationalities fought

Although we talk about world titles one important fact tends to be overlooked: How much "world" is in a world title.

In other words: Although past champs were called _world_ champs they were mainly US champs since it was ILLEGAL for Soviet boxers to box.

Currently Americans blame it on the "dire state of the division" that there is no American heavyweight champ.

But that is fooling oneself. Up to the fall of the iron curtain EVERY champ was American. A few years after the fall of the curtain EVERY champ was ex-Soviet.

A similar picture at the Olympic Games which was the only place where Americans could be exposed to boxers of the world: Since approximately 50 years no American has won a gold medal at heaviestweight.

Is American boxing in a dire state since 50 years?

The only exception was 1984… when the Soviet bloc boycotted the Olympic Games.

Americans have to face it: All their famous boxers of the past are untested.

All the glorious fights took place in a reserve.

All the Alis, Foremans, Joe Louises have not been exposed to the global professional competition in such a breadth and depth as modern boxers are exposed to.

This even applies to boxers during the transition period directly after the collapse of communistic empires. After Lennox Lewis faced Mavrovic (who started to box professionally in 1993) he said it was the hardest fight of his career and then Vitali Klitschko effectively retired Lewis.

Ali's division gave you an illusion of American greatness ("Not a heavyweight division but the heavyweight illusion") when in reality it was merely a contest on the level maybe of the current European heavyweight boxing.

Dear Americans: No, the division didn't get worse. It got BETTER because it got BIGGER and more GLOBAL.

In fact, had it gotten worse, an American would hold the belts since Americans were always so great, wouldn't he?

And, no, it's not true that "Klitschko hasn't seen such opponents like previous champs' opponents". It's vice versa: Previous champs haven't seen such top opponents like Klitschko's opponents, let alone opponents like the Klitschkos themselves.

Therefore all the above statistical results have to be even more adjusted to the advantage of modern boxers, because modern world champs are true _world_ champs, while previous champs were protected by politics.

But we shouldn't blame past boxers for it.
It wasn't Ali's fault that the heavyweight division of his time was so bad.
Ali could only beat what was in front of him.
He struggled a lot, but in the end he won.
We should respect that.

 

Summary

Make no mistake: What the Klitschkos are doing, is unprecedented in heavyweight boxing. Especially Wladimir Klitschko's figures are so extremely good, that we can draw two conclusions:

  1. Wladimir actively SEEKS the best of the best. He actively seeks the most difficult opponents.
  2. Wladimir is better than the best of the best.

What Wladimir Klitschko  is doing is unprecedented in the history of boxing.
Already now, he has broken countless of heavyweight championship records
…unless, of course, one counts bums and 175-pounders.

In the history of heavyweight boxing (from 18xx+) nobody has compiled records as impressive as the Klitschkos. Only a few other fighters (like Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis) come close.

And we have merely crunched some general numbers and haven't even inspected the doubtful opposition of some other champs, e.g. Muhammad Ali.

What makes the Klitschkos' records even more impressive is the fact, that they are so good, that their dominance would even survive a newly established "ultraheavyweight" division (or however you want to name it).

 

See also Wladimir Klitschko – Best world heavyweight champion of all time?

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Statistical analysis of heavyweight world championship records -OR- Joe Louis, Wladimir Klitschko, Muhammad Ali: Who has the best world title record?, 4.4 out of 5 based on 31 ratings
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Comments (17)

  • Mr. Objective says:
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    [ip2username: Gigu Rajy]
    #5000 Mr. Objective (2012-10-08th)

    Another GREAT FACTS-BASED ARTICLE. Respect to the author!

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  • Jevon Hill says:
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    [ip2username: Vary Lope]
    #5071 Jevon Hill (2012-10-27th)

    I think you picked and chose irrelevant little facts to make your fighters sound better than they are. If all of their opponents were the same size as them it stilwouldn't matter. O losses also don't matter. There are too many irrelevant arguements to point out.

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    • Admin says:
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      [ip2username: Suva Mywo]
      #5080 Admin (2012-10-27th)

      1) If you don't like my little facts like "weight" or "unbeaten" then you are free to present your "little facts" to make your case. However, please note, that I have read and collected all "little facts" since years and no one could come up with anything that would change the results.

      2) Your objection is basically correct, if (and only if) you were to compile a p4p toplist. As soon as you compile a "heavyweight toplist" (= where it's explicitly allowed to outsize your opponent) or a "toe to toe toplist" (= who would win in the ring) or a "record for record toplist" (= who has the better record) your objection doesn't make much sense.

      Please also read:
      Wladimir Klitschko only wins by outweighing his opponents

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  • Leo says:
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    [ip2username: Wawy Wope]
    #5276 Leo (2012-11-11th)

    Please correct David Bey HvyWgt record when he fought Holmes was 18-0 He was undefeated…

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    • Admin says:
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      [ip2username: Suva Mywo]
      #5277 Admin (2012-11-11th)

      No, Bey was 14-0 when he fought Holmes. He was 18-11 whole career. I always consider only whole career records unless otherwise noted.

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  • Aswin Kini MK says:
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    [ip2username: Tevi Lusa]
    #5449 Aswin Kini MK (2012-12-27th)

    So you get to say that Wladmir fought the best fighter when he choose a 200-pound, overbloated cruiserweight in his fight this March. Dude, while I appreciate the facts that you present, you always seem to weave a convenient story around the facts to suit your arguments.

    Let's compare immediate champs. Shall we? How about comparing Lennox Lewis to Wladmir?
    And weren't you the person on ESB who kept boasting on how Vitali forced Lewis into retirement, but yet kept mum on how Wladmir clearly ducked Corrie Sanders?

    Also, you justified Wladmir's ducking of Sanders stating it was Sander's fault for chosing Vitali ahead of Wladmir. Btw, if this argument is valid for Wladmir, why don;t you accept the fact that Lewis also choose the safe route in not rematching Vitali. HE didn't exactly KO or TKO Lewis. True, he gave Lewis the scare of his life, but wasn't Lennox well into his 30s by then. Tell me something, if a boxer gains respect the hard way around by winning fights against heavyweights such as Botha, Morrison, Golota, Holyfield, Briggs, Mercer and Tyson, gets almost knocked out, but still digs in to a TKO victory against a hungry opponent who is almost a decade younger than him, and wisely desires to retire than damaging his hard fought reputation, should you be appreciating him for his wisdom or calling him a coward.

    You pride yourself to be a great fan of boxing. Tell me something, how much value does a boxer gain by winning against an ageing champion like Lewis. How much respect did Marciano get by KOing an aged Louis? How much respect did Lewis gain by KOing a demotivated Tyson? How much respect did Vitali gain by going the distance with Briggs? Let me answer you, the answer is very little. It is a fact that when an ageing/demotivated/over-the-hill champion faces a hungry challenger, it is given that the challenger will win the match 9 times out of 10. I find it crazy that people still get angry on Lewis for "ducking" Klitchko when all he did was wanting to protect his health… Lewis had already made millions and been in wars with Briggs, Mercer, and Botha…. Plus Vitali was just one of the ex-holder of alphabet titles then. Lewis stood to lose a lot when considering the rematch. His legacy and health. He understood that people never appreciated the fact that he had done enough to cement his legacy. He felt it was never worth proving to the world anymore. And, in my eyes, that is a very brilliant decision. Better to be safe than sorry.

    I can easily say that if Lewis had taken the rematch and got KOed by Vitali, all the boxing fans would have definetely considered Lewis as a weaklin!!!! That is the harsh truth. Accept it.

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    • Tommo says:
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      [ip2username: Puga Lyxo]
      #5679 Tommo (2013-03-26th)

      There is nothing much to really argue here Aswin you are essentially correct. Can't give the same credit for beating an over the hill fighter while in your prime. However it's crazy to think Wladimir "ducked" Sanders, obviously he could have and would have wanted to avenge his defeat and regain the title. And fighting a bloated 200lber well he would obviously fight whoever he had to, whenever. He's not about to be defeated by anybody, whether they're 200lbs or 300lbs. Show him a skilled 250lb fighter and he'll have to test his mettle. Sure he wouldn't duck the opportunity.

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      • Honza says:
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        [ip2username: Gajy Xode]
        #5781 Honza (2013-03-29th)

        I think that I can agree only with Tommo and Aswin. They both are right most of the time. And they are not exxagerating. Only think that I can not agree with Tommo is his believe in todays Ali being journeyman. Also Aswin thinks that Vitali is stronger than Wlad? I do not think so. But other than that great respect for both.

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      • Tommo says:
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        [ip2username: Puga Lyxo]
        #5824 Tommo (2013-03-31st)

        Yes, Mormeck fight was a mis-match. It's more the fact he had so little proven HW exp. Given shot at Wlad too early or cherry picked fight on Wlads behalf one or other. He should have fought ranked contender Alex Povetkin. If he is going to fight that calibre of fighter he may as well start calling out Fury/Price already.

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        • Honza says:
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          [ip2username: Gajy Xode]
          #5875 Honza (2013-04-01st)

          I hope everybody have seen what hapened to Price when he faced Thompson. It is scary just to imagine what colud Wlad do to him. I think only serious contender for Wlad now is Helenius.

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          • Tommo says:
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            [ip2username: Puga Lyxo]
            #5890 Tommo (2013-04-02nd)

            Do you think Fury has chances as well? They're both young, tall, heavy and green lol. The thing with both those 2 is they have the height and weight but they do not have the strong filled out frames like Wladimir has and don't appear to have the superior conditioning he does. The conqueror of Wladimir will need to have everything.

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  • CMA says:
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    [ip2username: Zesi Juwa]
    #5458 CMA (2012-12-31st)

    Hello.
    I would like to ask Admin about top southpaw heavyweights in years 1985-1991.
    Is it Mike Tyson's fault, that first lefthanded heavyweigt champion of the world, was LH Michael Moorer?

    cheers.

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  • Klitschko is a disgrace for german boxing says:
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    [ip2username: Wuna Syto]
    #6182 Klitschko is a disgrace for german boxing (2013-05-13th)

    Most Impressive Record in Heavyweight History is from Joe Louis ,
    and no one will care what you or anyone else said.

    Its written in Record Books forever and cant change , YOU GET THAT?

    Muhammad Ali , Holmes , Lewis , no one could break the Joe Louis record
    and i think even an idiot like you know that it can not break by Klitschko

    PS.

    Your f*cking lbs numbers are annoying.

    You talk about Ali or other Boxers who are Cruiserweights in your stpid mind , very funny ,
    and an official REAL Cruiseweight , lighter then ALI , – David Haye survived easy the distance – with better landed shots than klitschko.

    Muhammad Ali is far better than David Haye.

    So and about Sonny Liston – Liston would broke Klitschkos nose , he would broke his damn face
    with his Jab and give a sh*t if he would hit by klitschko – LOL Klitschko would not even reach him.

    Sonny Liston/George Foreman arm muscles are mutch more powerful as klitchkos ,
    even with 20 years Liston would be mutch stronger then both klischkos who weight more.

    This lbs sh*t is annoying , like yourself.

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    • Tommo says:
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      [ip2username: Loze Xivu]
      #6420 Tommo (2013-07-31st)

      Most impressive HW record is from Joe Louis my ass, only an EXTREME nuthugger would claim that. According to some idiot on ESB, Joe Louis can claim having faced the most top ranked contenders of all the champs. But I have not checked this stat myself however this achievement is overshadowed by the fact that his title opponents are practically without exception (a) CW's and (b) BUM's.

      In a more subjective sense, Louis outweighed all the opponents of comparable skill and the big opponents he faced were absolute oafs of no appreciable skill whatsoever. There were no "super heavy technical boxers" around in his day so it's not his fault. But just to illustrate how silly it is to claim 205lb Louis to have the best world title record at HW, one of these was against an emperor penguin named Galento. This obese piss pot almost knocked Louis out for the title! That's how sh*t boxing was back then compared to today.

      Even if you take Louis' record in total with bums and cruisers, Klitschko is only a few fights away from matching Louis record in absolute terms! That is the reality!

      He talks about those fighters as "former CW's"

      Muhammad Ali imo would be knocked out by David Haye. They are the same size except David is a modern conditioned athlete of superior strength and conditioning and performance to Ali. His reflexes are consistently sharp, Ali's were not. Haye can knock Ali out with his immense power, Ali could not punch through the surface of water!

      Liston would be a punch bag for any modern HW, the stats just show what is immediately apparent who even watches this man fight. He is a terrible boxer.

      Sonny Liston is a physical weakling compared to Klitschko.

      George Foreman? Yeah that may be true, he possesses very high strength levels. However so does Klitschko and it's not exactly certain since Klit is massive and weight trained. Prime Foreman did have huge arms too but overall he looked pretty skinny in the chest etc. Obviously the older Foreman of the 90's was much larger and even stronger. This Foreman I've no doubt was stronger than Klitschko (although prob not as hard a hitter), he pulled cars and his strength was evident when he shoved Morrison across the ring in the opening of their fight.

      So as you can see, some of your points are just rubbish mate!!

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      • Honza says:
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        [ip2username: Luma Pyjo]
        #6449 Honza (2013-08-09th)

        Joe Louis was best at the time when boxing was different. He still managed to be pretty impressive. I like Joe Louis. He was legend but his ancient style was something that he could not use against modern boxers and not against Klitschkos who are so much taller and use every trick to dodge shots (especially Wlads favorite clinches, sticking left fist right into oponents face, pushing head down). But let Joe alone please.
        Yeah Sonny had to slow reflexes to beat Klitschkos but that does not make his punches weak. Remember how slow old George was and he hit harder then at least 97% other boxers.He was puncher who I believe could ko both Klitschkos but can not see how.
        George was stronger then both brothers and harder hitter then Vitali I believe. He was worse boxer but much braver and that does count.
        Muhammad Ali imo would be knocked out by David Haye. They are the same size except David is a modern conditioned athlete of superior strength and conditioning and performance to Ali. His reflexes are consistently sharp, Ali's were not. Haye can knock Ali out with his immense power, Ali could not punch through the surface of water!
        You are my friend Carl but please. Muhammad could hit hard when he wanted why then He was able to knockdown Wepner when George and Sonny were unable to do that? How that he stagerred Ron Lyle with one punch? You are right if you say that Alis reflexes were not consistent as Hayes are. But I do not see ko Muhammad. Not the best version of him. In another article you mentioned that fat could be protective right? And compared Kenny to Wlad. Sorry but two guys who had iron chin were Evander and Oliver Mccall and they both were muscular right? How about Mike? His chin was as good as Vitalis. One example? Their fight with Lewis. Mike took much more accurate bombs then Vitali and did not clinch (he basically couldnt that is true). Fat could protect your body and even arms but chin is the same I think. Maybe Carlk CIA let you push too many pencils. :D

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  • LasViega says:
    flag
    [ip2username: Dewi Ruva]
    #6408 LasViega (2013-07-30th)

    Many of you on here who disagree with the OP have valid Points IMO.

    OP prides himself on using cold hard facts and statistics. Fair enough, but his personal dislike and/or hatred of past champs (and Muhammad Ali in particular) really shines through.

    Personally, I think this site is an entertaining read. Let it also be known that I think this site is, in part, a site that spews hatred towards past greats. Something that I peronally find too harsh.

    It also seems that the OP autamtically assumes that anyone who is not a Klitschko fan is a "Claytard", a "Briton", etc. I am neither.

    He's known to present certain wild speculations and conspiracy theories as cold hard facts as well (i.e.):

    * Mike Tyson most likely suffered from 'roid rage' (Which I believe is total BS, Mike Tyson was genetically predisposed to be a muscular build, he didn't even lift weights in his earlier days. While he admittedly did use substances like cannabis during the latter half of his career, I strongly doubt someone like him ever touched steroids)

    * The 'Rumble In The Jungle' was a fix, a setup for George Foreman to lose. Ali's corner cheated and George Foreman was poisoned (I believe such harsh accusations and speculations must be proven, something that the OP is not able to.)

    Please note that the aforementioned is OP's own speculations, NOT mine.

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  • Talon says:
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    [ip2username: Lagy Robe]
    #7058 Talon (2014-03-13th)

    Weight means little in terms of skilled fighters or power punchers when u bring up the fact of pounds I find it to mean very little but records are the same way a lot of fighters may have great records but a lot of those are fluffed these days and back then people fought constantly with little time in between the sport of boxing was much deeper then and more competitive than it is now with champions at times fighting several bouts in a single month plus with the lack of film you weren't able to study opponents as much as now plus their are several hofs with several losses but that means nothing skill is skill and as long as a champion fought skilled top competition then I give them no fault joe Louis May have fought less then greats or even bums but that just means he was that much better than those guys plus ur boy wlad just fought his sparring partner in a tittle bout now does that say bum or what

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