The Greatest HBO Fighter of All-Time Tournament Round 1: Merchant Region

Inside HBO Boxing is crowning the greatest boxer ever to compete on the network, as determined by you, the fans. Among the countless icons and Hall of Famers who’ve battled on the HBO airwaves, we’ve selected an elite field of 32 fighters for entry in a bracket-style tournament. All matchups are previewed in depth on the HBO Boxing Podcast, and you can vote for the winners on Twitter (@HBOboxing). Who is truly the greatest? That’s for you to decide.

See the other regions: Lampley

MERCHANT REGION

Named after Hall of Fame HBO Boxing color analyst Larry Merchant, this region features a trio of Mexican legends, a pair of power-punching heavyweights, and a matchup as loaded with star power as any in the first round of the tourney.

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(1) Roberto Duran vs. (8) Erik Morales

If you’re into grunting, sneering bad-assery, there is no better matchup for you than “Manos de Piedra” vs. “El Terrible.” Latino pride is on the line when arguably the greatest lightweight ever takes on the newest Hall of Famer in a battle of four-division champions.

Roberto Duran
Lightweight/Welterweight/Junior Middleweight/Middleweight Champion
103-16 (70 KOs)
Years fought: 1968-2001
Best Wins:
KO 11 Esteban De Jesus, 3-16-1974
W 15 Ray Leonard, 6-20-1980
W 12 Iran Barkley, 2-24-1989

Erik Morales
Junior Featherweight/Featherweight/Junior Lightweight/Junior Welterweight Champion
52-9 (36 KOs)
Years fought: 1993-2012
Best Wins:
KO 11 Daniel Zaragoza, 9-6-1997
W 12 Paulie Ayala, 11-16-2002
W 12 Manny Pacquiao, 3-19-2005


(4) Julio Cesar Chavez vs. (5) Juan Manuel Marquez

Viva Mexico! In a showdown that arguably determines the best fighter in the nation’s history, it’s JCC vs. JMM, a battle of versatile boxer-punchers—one a stalk-forward body-banger, the other a clever counterpuncher—who provided fans with countless thrills.

Julio Cesar Chavez
Junior Lightweight/Lightweight/Junior Welterweight Champion
107-6-2 (85 KOs)
Years fought: 1980-2005
Best Wins:
KO 11 Edwin Rosario, 11-21-1987
KO 12 Meldrick Taylor, 3-17-1990
W 12 Hector Camacho, 9-12-1992

Juan Manuel Marquez
Featherweight/Junior Lightweight/Lightweight Champion
56-7-1 (40 KOs)
Years fought: 1993-2014
Best Wins:
W 12 Marco Antonio Barrera, 3-17-2007
KO 11 Joel Casamayor, 9-13-2008
KO 6 Manny Pacquiao, 12-8-2012


(3) Joe Frazier vs. (6) Aaron Pryor

You aren’t going to need ringside judges for this one. When “Smokin’ Joe” squares off with “The Hawk,” it’s a guaranteed brawl. Both men were defined by one rivalry, ruled a single division, and burned out quickly after about a decade of shining brightly. Who’s left standing when this slugfest is over?

Joe Frazier
Heavyweight Champion
32-4-1 (27 KOs)
Years fought: 1965-1981
Best Wins:
KO 7 Jerry Quarry, 6-23-1969
KO 4 Jimmy Ellis, 2-16-1970
W 15 Muhammad Ali, 3-8-1971

Aaron Pryor
Junior Welterweight Champion
39-1 (35 KOs)
Years fought: 1976-1990
Best Wins:
KO 4 Antonio Cervantes, 8-2-1980
KO 14 Alexis Arguello, 11-12-1982
KO 10 Alexis Arguello, 9-9-1983


(2) Manny Pacquiao vs. (7) Mike Tyson

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You won’t have any trouble selling tickets or pay-per-views for this clash between two of the most popular, truly global superstars boxing has ever known. Non-stop action is assured when the spellbinding speed of “Pac-Man” meets the bone-crunching power of “Iron Mike.”

Manny Pacquiao
Flyweight/Junior Featherweight/Featherweight/Junior Lightweight/Lightweight/Junior Welterweight/Welterweight/Junior Middleweight Champion
59-7-2 (38 KOs)
Years fought: 1995-present
Best Wins:
KO 11 Marco Antonio Barrera, 11-15-2003
KO 10 Erik Morales, 1-21-2006
KO 8 Oscar De La Hoya, 12-6-2008

Mike Tyson
Heavyweight Champion
50-6 (44 KOs)
Years fought: 1985-2005
Best Wins:
KO 2 Trevor Berbick, 11-22-1986
KO 4 Larry Holmes, 1-22-1988
KO 1 Michael Spinks, 6-27-1988

The Greatest HBO Fighter of All-Time Tournament Round 1: Lampley Region

By Eric Raskin

We’re crowning the greatest boxer ever to compete on HBO, as determined by you, the fans. Among the countless icons and Hall of Famers who’ve battled on the HBO airwaves, we’ve selected an elite field of 32 fighters for entry in a bracket-style tournament. All matchups are previewed in depth on the HBO Boxing Podcast, and you can vote for the winners on Twitter (@HBOboxing) or the article below. Who is truly the greatest? That’s for you to decide.

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LAMPLEY REGION

Named after longtime HBO Boxing blow-by-blow announcer Jim Lampley, this region features a pair of three-time heavyweight champions, a pick-’em matchup of power punchers, and a potential second-round showdown that would determine who goes down as the best boxer of the 1990s.


(1) Muhammad Ali vs. (8) Miguel Cotto

It’s the ultimate personality clash, pitting the soft-spoken, stoic Puerto Rican against the godfather of modern trash talk, the man who dared to declare himself “the greatest of all-time.” And you won’t find two bigger hearts anywhere. You could knock Ali or Cotto down, but you couldn’t keep them down.

Muhammad Ali
Heavyweight Champion
56-5 (37 KOs)
Years fought: 1960-1981
Best Wins:
KO 6 Sonny Liston, 2-25-1964
KO 8 George Foreman, 10-30-1974
KO 14 Joe Frazier, 10-1-1975

Miguel Cotto
Junior Welterweight/Welterweight/Junior Middleweight/Middleweight Champion
41-6 (33 KOs)
Years fought: 2001-2017
Best Wins:
W 12 Shane Mosley, 11-10-2007
KO 9 Antonio Margarito, 12-3-2011
KO 10 Sergio Martinez, 6-7-2014


(4) Thomas Hearns vs. (5) Lennox Lewis

Whose corner would Emanuel Steward work? The Kronk Gym legend’s two greatest students — one he trained from the start, the other a mid-career reclamation project — make for a slam-bang matchup of two of the most explosive pure punchers the sport has ever known.

Thomas Hearns
Welterweight/Junior Middleweight/Middleweight/Light Heavyweight Champion
61-5-1 (48 KOs)
Years fought: 1977-2006
Best Wins:
KO 2 Pipino Cuevas, 8-2-1980
KO 2 Roberto Duran, 6-15-1984
W 12 Virgil Hill, 6-3-1991

Lennox Lewis
Heavyweight Champion
41-2-1 (32 KOs)
Years fought: 1989-2003
Best Wins:
KO 2 Razor Ruddock, 10-31-1992
KO 4 Hasim Rahman, 11-17-2001
KO 8 Mike Tyson, 6-8-2002


(3) Roy Jones vs. (6) Oscar De La Hoya

It’s time to settle the primary pound-for-pound debate of the latter half of the ‘90s, a clash between the most talented fighter and the most popular fighter of a generation. If there was one man who could go left hook for left hook with 1988 Olympian Jones, it was 1992 Olympian De La Hoya.

Roy Jones
Middleweight/Super Middleweight/Light Heavyweight/Heavyweight Champion
66-9 (47 KOs)
Years fought: 1989-2018
Best Wins:
W 12 James Toney, 11-18-1994
KO 1 Montell Griffin, 8-7-1997
W 12 John Ruiz, 3-1-2003

Oscar De La Hoya
Junior Lightweight/Lightweight/Junior Welterweight/Welterweight/Junior Middleweight/Middleweight Champion
39-6 (30 KOs)
Years fought: 1992-2008
Best Wins:
KO 2 Rafael Ruelas, 5-6-1995
W 12 Ike Quartey, 2-13-1999
KO 11 Fernando Vargas, 9-14-2002


(2) Pernell Whitaker vs. (7) Roman Gonzalez

It’s “Sweet Pea” vs. “Chocolatito,” a tasty pairing of two pound-for-pound kings. Do you prefer the relentless offensive fire power of Gonzalez or the unsurpassed defensive mastery of Whitaker? Either way, the skill on display in this matchup is off the charts.

Pernell Whitaker
Lightweight/Junior Welterweight/Welterweight/Junior Middleweight Champion
40-4-1 (17 KOs)
Years fought: 1984-2001
Best Wins:
W 12 Greg Haugen, 2-18-1989
W 12 Jose Luis Ramirez, 8-20-1989
W 12 Azumah Nelson, 5-19-1990

Roman Gonzalez
Strawweight/Junior Flyweight/Flyweight/Junior Bantamweight Champion
46-2 (38 KOs)
Years fought: 2005-present
Best Wins:
KO 4 Yutaka Niida, 9-15-2008
W 12 Juan Francisco Estrada, 11-17-2012
KO 9 Brian Viloria, 10-17-2015

Dmitry Bivol to Battle Issac Chilemba on Kovalev-Alvarez Card on August 4

 Photo: Ed Mulholland

Photo: Ed Mulholland

WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs) of St. Petersburg, Russia will make his third title defense against light heavyweight contender Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba (25-5-2, 10 KOs) of Blantyre, Malawi as the co-main event on the Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev vs. Eleider “Storm” Alvarez card at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on Saturday, August 4. The event will be presented by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Groupe Yvon Michel and World of Boxing. The double-header will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10 PM ET/PT.

Bivol, 27, made his professional debut in 2014 with six straight knockouts. In 2016, he defeated Felix Valera to secure the Interim WBA Light Heavyweight Title. After the retirement of Andre Ward in September of last year, the WBA elevated Dmitry to WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion. In November 2017, he made his first successful title defense against Trent Broadhurst in Monte Carlo with a first round knockout. In March at Madison Square Garden, Bivol handed Sullivan Barrera his second defeat and first career knock out loss with a thrilling 12th round stoppage. This will Bivol’s first fight in Atlantic City and mark his third appearance on HBO.

When asked about his upcoming bout with Chilemba, Bivol said, “I am glad that my next opponent will be a tough and well-known boxer in Chilemba!  I will do my best to put on another exciting performance for all my fans!”

Bivol’s promoter, Andrei Ryabinskiy, of World of Boxing added, “Looking forward to another great event with Main Events! I believe Dmitry Bivol is a star in the making; he is very impressive!”

According to Bivol’s manager, Vadim Kornilov, “We are glad another great event will take place on the East Coast featuring two great Russian champions on one card. We had to go through many different opponents and finally were in a tough position trying to find an opponent that would fight Bivol. Happily, Chilemba is a good opponent who has proven to be tough in his previous fights. I’m looking forward to another great event!”

Chilemba, 31, who is from Malawi and fights out of Johannesburg, South Africa is no stranger to tough competition. After making his professional debut in 2005 at the age of 18, Chilemba quietly worked his way through the light heavyweight rankings. In 2013, he traveled to Liverpool, England to face Tony Bellew in Bellew’s backyard for the WBC Silver Light Heavyweight Title. The bout ended in a draw and less than two months later Chilemba returned to the UK to face Bellew again in a hard-fought loss. Then in 2015, Chilemba travelled to Quebec City, Canada to face Eleider “Storm” Alvarez to be the mandatory challenger for WBC Light Heavyweight World Champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson. Alvarez defeated Chilemba in a close majority decision.

In Chilemba’s next fight, he travelled to Ekaterinburg, Russia to challenge then unified light heavyweight titleholder Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev in Kovalev’s backyard. Chilemba stood toe-to-toe with the Krusher for 12 rounds, but lost via unanimous decision. After suffering an arm injury in his next fight against Oleksandr Gvozdyk that forced his trainer, Roy Jones, to stop the fight, Chilemba took nearly a year off to recover from the injury. In his most-recent bout, he defeated former world title contender Blake Caparello in Caparello’s backyard.

Chilemba said, “Firstly, I thank God for always watching over me. I thank my manager for never giving up on me, Roy Jones Jr. for all his knowledge and support and I thank Main Events for this opportunity. 2017 was a bad year for me, recovering from surgery and thinking that my career was over, but I'm a fighter; I couldn't give up and I won't give up. I'm going to take this opportunity and give it everything I have. A big thanks to the rest of my team and all my supporters.”

Chilemba trainer, former world titleholder Roy Jones, Jr., said, “So happy to have this fight for Isaac. It’s a great opportunity at a great time. I look forward to a great night for Isaac.”

PODCAST Ep 253: Micky Ward

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney interview legendary warrior Micky Ward on the 15th anniversary of his final fight, discussing his trilogy with Arturo Gatti, what it's like to become the subject of an Academy Award winning movie, his health and daily life after boxing, and why he plans to donate his brain to science.

American Dreamscape

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By Carlos Acevedo

In his heyday, Muhammad Ali, who died on June 3, 2016, after a lifetime of top billing on the gaudy marquee of sports celebrity, was a walking jamboree. Although he was one of the most polarizing figures to emerge from the delirious vortex of the 1960s, Ali would eclipse every fighter in history when it came to recognition. But one of the most interesting American lives of the last half century did not begin with coast-to-coast adoration. In fact, for the first half of his career, which included his exile of over three and a half years in the late 1960s, Ali was loathed by more than the so-called “White Establishment.” Early on, Americans of all stripes were appalled by his rage, his ties to the Nation of Islam, his nasty edge in the ring, and his refusal to serve in Vietnam.

A quirky young man when he returned from Rome in 1960 with an Olympic gold medal, Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) would soon become flamboyant, then defiant, before settling somewhere on the verge of megalomania en route to becoming one of the most cherished celebrities in the world.

Read the rest here

PODCAST Ep 252: Barrera - Morales Trilogy Revisited

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney look back at all three fights in the legendary trilogy between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, the latter of whom is about to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in June.

PODCAST Ep 251: Jim Lampley on Munguia's Emergence, Canelo, Eddie Hearn and More

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney welcome Hall of Fame HBO broadcaster Jim Lampley onto the podcast to discuss the latest news pertaining to Jaime Munguia's emergence, the top of the pound-for-pound list, Canelo Alvarez's VADA agreement and what it means for a Gennady Golovkin rematch, the Supreme Court's ruling on sports betting, and Eddie Hearn's ambitious new venture.

PODCAST Ep 250: Ali - Munguia Postfight

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney break down Jaime Munguia's stunning four-round destruction of Sadam Ali and Rey Vargas' hard-fought decision win over Azat Hovhannisyan. (Spoiler alert: Raskin and Mulvaney actually have a strong disagreement about something!)