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