The Greatest HBO Fighter of All-Time Tournament: Elite Eight

By Eric Raskin

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 Round 1: Lampley Region | Merchant Region | Kellerman Region | Lederman Region

See Round 2: Lampley & Merchant Regions | Kellerman & Lederman Regions

QUARTERFINALS

(1) Muhammad Ali vs. (3) Roy Jones

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From the Olympics to the professional ranks, Ali and Jones did things with their fists and their feet that had never been seen before. And both had unmistakable charisma and a gift for the spoken word — whether in the form of poetry or rap — that helped make them iconic, if sometimes polarizing, sports personalities.

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

Round 1 Result: Defeated Miguel Cotto, 89%-11%
Round 2 Result: Defeated Lennox Lewis, 78%-22%

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

Round 1 Result: Defeated Oscar De La Hoya, 77%-23%
Round 2 Result: Defeated Pernell Whitaker, 86%-14%


(1) Roberto Duran vs. (7) Mike Tyson

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It’s hard to find two fighters in history more intimidating than sneering, bad-ass, IDGAF Duran and white-towel-with-a-hole-cut-out-wearing Tyson. Duran had the skill and versatility, Tyson the pure bone-crunching power, and their fantasy fight is an offense lover’s dream.

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

Round 1 Result: Defeated Erik Morales, 72%-28%
Round 2 Result: Defeated Julio Cesar Chavez, 58%-42%

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

Round 1 Result: Defeated Manny Pacquiao, 66%-34%
Round 2 Result: Defeated Joe Frazier, 79%-21%


(1) Floyd Mayweather vs. (2) George Foreman

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Almost the entire run of the HBO Boxing franchise is encompassed in these two careers that barely overlapped. Mayweather and Foreman were transcendent figures with remarkable longevity who were both loved and hated at different times. And the stylistic contrast is striking: This is pure boxer vs. pure puncher.

Floyd Mayweather
Super Featherweight/Lightweight/Super Lightweight/Welterweight/Junior Middleweight Champion
50-0 (27 KOs)
Years Fought: 1996-2017

Best Wins:
KO 10 Diego Corrales, 1-20-2001
W 12 Oscar De La Hoya, 5-5-2007
W 12 Manny Pacquiao, 5-2-2015
 

Round 1 Result: Defeated Vasyl Lomachenko, 63%-37%
Round 2 Result: Defeated Evander Holyfield, 63%-37%

George Foreman
Heavyweight Champion
76-5 (68 KOs)
Years Fought: 1969-1997

Best Wins
KO 2 Joe Frazier, 1-22-1973
KO 2 Ken Norton, 3-26-1974
KO 10 Michael Moorer, 11-5-1994
Round 1 Result: Defeated Felix Trinidad, 76-24%
Round 2 Result: Defeated Larry Holmes, 79%-21%


(1) Ray Leonard vs. (2) Marvin Hagler

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It’s not just a fantasy fight. This was the real thing on April 6, 1987, when Leonard and Hagler fought to a near standstill over 12 rounds, resulting in a decision that fight fans still argue about 31 years later. Will the result change when the boxing community is asked who was greater not just on that single night, but across their entire careers?

Sugar Ray Leonard
Welterweight/Junior Middleweight/Middleweight/Super Middleweight/Light Heavyweight Champion
36-3-1 (25 KOs)
Years Fought: 1977-1997

Best Wins:
KO 8 Roberto Duran, 11-25-1980
KO 14 Thomas Hearns, 9-16-1981
W 12 Marvin Hagler, 4-6-1987

Round 1 Result: Defeated Shane Mosley, 93%-7%
Round 2 Result: Defeated Alexis Arguello, 90%-10%

Marvin Hagler
Middleweight Champion
62-3-2 (52 KOs)
Years Fought: 1973-1987

Best Wins
KO 3 Alan Minter, 9-27-1980
KO 3 Thomas Hearns, 4-15-1985
KO 11 John Mugabi, 3-10-1986

Round 1 Result: Defeated Gennady Golovkin, 51%-49%
Round 2 Result: Defeated Bernard Hopkins, 68%-32%