The Greatest HBO Fighter of All-Time Tournament: Final Four

By Kieran Mulvaney

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

See Round 3: Quarter-Finals


(1) Muhammad Ali vs (7) Mike Tyson

The fantasy heavyweight matchup that has had fans salivating and arguing ever since Iron Mike exploded on the scene in the mid-1980s and threatened to flatten all those who dared stand in his way. Although Tyson’s peak was brief, it was spectacularly dominant, one foe after another swatted aside with almost cartoonish violence. Ali, in contrast, effectively had two peaks: his initial reign from 1964 to 1971, and then from 1971 to 1975 following his return from exile. Both men captivated and transcended fans to become pop-culture icons, and each man stamped his own unique style on the ring. They are undoubtedly the two most famous heavyweights at least since the days of Joe Louis; but which of these legends will wind up on top?

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%
Round 3 Result: Defeated Roy Jones Jr., 81%-19%

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%
Round 3 Result: Defeated Roberto Duran, 56%-44%

(1) Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs (1) Sugar Ray Leonard

Two men who combined top-tier talent with effortless charisma to become the poster boys of their respective pugilistic generations. Leonard, clutching a Gold Medal from the 1976 Olympics, was a star before he turned professional, and he wasted no time establishing himself as a bona-fide superstar, defeating Wilfred Benitez and Thomas Hearns and splitting a pair of contests with Roberto Duran before an enforced early retirement. He returned from that to enjoy a second career, highlighted by a controversial win over Marvin Hagler. Mayweather never lost in 50 professional contests over more than 20 years, but took longer to connect with a broader audience. After spending the first part of his career as an exciting, daring 130-pounder, he ultimately became a defensive specialist at 147 pounds, whose calculated caution inside the ring was belied by his extravagance outside of it. Two men at the top of the tree in their respective eras: who prevails in this fantasy clash across generations?

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%
Round 3 Result: Defeated George Foreman, 64%-36%

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%
Round 3 Result: Defeated Marvin Hagler, 69%-31%