Greatest Boxers of the 1980s

The Top Ten
1 Mike Tyson Michael Gerard Tyson (born June 30, 1966) is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1985 to 2005. He reigned as the undisputed world heavyweight champion and holds the record as the youngest boxer to win a heavyweight title at 20 years, four months and 22 days old.

Nobody was badder than the baddest man on the planet. Yes, he was overrated in terms of eliminating the heavyweight talent, but you can't ignore the fact that he did it in a way that hadn't been seen since the days of Joe Louis.

One of those great Tyson moments happened on January 22, 1988, when he faced Larry Holmes in Atlantic City. Before the bout, Muhammad Ali told Tyson to win it for him. In the fourth round, Tyson, with the look of a raging tiger, knocked down Holmes three times. The third knockdown, with Tyson's powerful combinations, forced the end of the fight, thus adding to the legend of Mike Tyson.

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2 Sugar Ray Leonard Ray Charles Leonard, best known as "Sugar" Ray Leonard, is an American former professional boxer, motivational speaker, and occasional actor.

The 80s belong to him as he won so many bouts, some of them great, including his amazing knockout over Dave "Boy" Green on March 31, 1980, in round 4. A left hook punch was best described by Chris Schenkel as TIMBER! He won many titles, including his biggest when on April 6, 1987, he shocked the boxing world by defeating Marvin Hagler for the undisputed Middleweight championship. Even legendary announcer Howard Cosell gave the bout to Leonard (117-112).

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3 Marvin Hagler Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns, was a world middleweight championship boxing match between undisputed champion Marvin Hagler and challenger Thomas Hearns, the then reigning world's junior middleweight champion, who had gone up in weight for the bout.

The man who lost to Sugar Ray Leonard may not remember that defeat fondly, but he is best remembered as one of the greatest middleweights of this decade. Among his wins was Alan Minter. Before their September 27, 1980 bout, Minter said, "No black man is going to take my title." Minter would later insist he meant that specific black man.

It came back to haunt him as Hagler knocked out Minter in round 3 to become the new middleweight champion. Another great win was his victory over Roberto Duran on November 10, 1983. It was a tough fight with a decision that could've gone either way, but Hagler earned a close unanimous decision win to keep his undisputed middleweight championship.

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4 Roberto Duran

The man who lost to Marvin Hagler may not remember that defeat fondly, but he is best remembered as the Hands of Stone, one of boxing's greatest knockout artists. In 1980, he took part in what was, in my mind, his greatest win ever. It was Duran vs. Sugar Ray Leonard at Olympic Stadium in Canada, and it was called The Brawl in Montreal for the WBC Welterweight Championship.

It was hard-fought, but Duran was the aggressor throughout the fight and got a unanimous decision to keep his title and his place in boxing lore.

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5 Julio César Chávez

In the 1990s, nobody was ever as good as he was, but the focus here is on the 1980s. This was the decade he broke through as a major player in the ring. After racking up an amazing 43-0, he got his first chance at title glory when he faced Mario Martinez for the WBC Super Featherweight Championship.

It turned into a major mismatch as he won the championship via TKO in round 8. He then held on to the title for three more glorious years, fending off challengers like Roger Mayweather, Rocky Lockridge, Juan Laporte, and many others. We knew that this man was destined for immortality.

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6 Thomas Hearns

The man who beat Roberto Duran is one of many victories he had during the 1980s (22 in all). But there was more. He was one of the most powerful knockout punchers of all time and was involved in the following: 2 Ring Magazine Fights of the Year, 2-time Ring Magazine and BWAA Fighter of the Year (1980 and 1984), and won 7 different world titles.

Yes, I watched the Leonard-Hearns II from June 14, 1989, and me and Sugar Ray Leonard were right: Hearns won that bout. Long live Thomas "Hit Man" Hearns and long live his legend.

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7 Evander Holyfield

The pro boxing debut of Evander Holyfield began at the cathedral of sports arenas, Madison Square Garden, on November 15, 1984, along with other Olympic gold medalists for a night of debuts. On that night, he beat Lionel Byarm by unanimous decision to begin a Hall of Fame career.

Two years later, he was ready for the title as he faced Dwight Muhammad Qawi for the WBA Cruiserweight Title. In what was one of the best fights of 1986, Holyfield narrowly beat Qawi via split decision to become the new cruiserweight champion. He then fought many great fighters, including Carlos de Leon in 1988, to become the undisputed cruiserweight champion. Evander is one of the great immortals.

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8 Larry Holmes

Larry is often called boxing's forgotten champion, but make no mistake, he was one of the best in this decade and perhaps of all time. No fight symbolized that more than on a hot June 11, 1982 night in Las Vegas. Before a worldwide TV audience, and later to be replayed on ABC Sports, Holmes avoided Cooney's infamous low blows to use his famed left jab to knock out Gerry Cooney in round 13 to retain his WBC Heavyweight Championship.

He would defend that title successfully 16 times in this decade. Larry is a legend for all times.

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9 Aaron Pryor

Pryor was a knockout machine. Did you know that in 1982 he was scheduled to fight Sugar Ray Leonard for the undisputed welterweight championship? Leonard had to retire because he suffered a detached retina in his left eye.

Aaron later fought Alexis Arguello in what Ring Magazine called the Fight of the Century. No hype, it was the real thing, and it ended with a knockout in round 14 as Pryor retained the undisputed welterweight championship. Pryor, one of boxing's all-time warriors.

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10 James Toney

In the 1990s, he shined as a boxing legend, but this comment is on how he began. He made his professional debut on October 26, 1988, when he beat Stephen Lee by technical knockout in round 2, thus beginning a great run. By the end of this decade, he had a 14-0 record with 10 knockouts.

He had a manager named Johnny "Ace" Smith. After his 7th win, Smith died. But he kept on winning. His nickname "Lights Out" was given by either his trainer Gregory Owens or his son.

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The Contenders
11 Ray Mancini

He had an amazing career with a record of 29 wins and 5 losses. Twenty-three of those 29 wins came by knockout, and he held the WBA Lightweight Title from 1982 to 1984. But he is forever remembered for knocking out Duk Koo Kim, a fight that would eventually end Kim's life.

Ray would always be remembered as a great TV boxer and champion.

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12 Pernell Whitaker

He was part of what boxing experts call the last great Olympic USA boxing team back in 1984. Like Evander Holyfield and Mark Breland, he was a warrior and a champion whose career included 40 victories. Though not a knockout puncher, this fighter won titles at lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight, and light middleweight.

In 1989, he was named Fighter of the Year by Ring Magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He was named one of the 100 greatest fighters of the last 80 years by Ring Magazine in 2002. A legend for all times.

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13 Salvador Sanchez
14 Bobby Chacon

He was one of a handful of boxers who did great in the 1970s and 80s as champions. The focus here is on the 80s. He had only one bout in 1980, but it was big as he beat Rafael Limon. Then 1981 came, but he lost a chance to become a champion.

He came back in 1982 and won five fights in a row, including a win over Arturo Leon. Tragically, his wife committed suicide. In his defining bout of this decade, he beat Salvador Ugalde to remain a contender. He then won the WBC Super Featherweight championship in a big win over Limon and became a boxing legend.

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15 Michael Spinks

Michael had a great 1980s, with the only blemish being a loss to Mike Tyson that ended his otherwise perfect decade. Throughout the 1980s, he achieved notable victories, starting in 1980 with a great win over Murray Sutherland. In 1981, he knocked out Eddie Mustafa Muhammad to become the WBA Light Heavyweight Champion.

His greatest triumph came on September 21, 1985, when he handed Larry Holmes his first defeat, preventing him from achieving a 49-0 record. Michael won by a narrow unanimous decision, becoming the new IBF Heavyweight Champion.

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16 Wilfred Benitez
17 Darrin Van Horn
18 Riddick Bowe

He's the big daddy who's famous for his epic trilogy with Evander Holyfield. But before that, he was an up-and-coming fighter in the 1980s. After his gold medal performance as a super heavyweight in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, he turned pro on March 6, 1989. In his pro debut, he knocked out Lionel Butler in round 2.

His then-manager, Rock Newman, kept Bowe active, fighting 13 times in 1989, beating journeymen. The most notable was Garing Lane, whom he beat twice. That's a start for this boxing legend.

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19 Donald Curry
20 Michael Moorer
21 Marlon Starling

It's August 22, 1987, and WBA Champion Mark Breland makes his first title defense of his welterweight crown against challenger Marlon Starling in Columbia, South Carolina. In the first five rounds, it was an even fight. In round 6, Breland drew blood from Starling's nose and mouth.

In rounds seven through ten, Breland was leading on all three judges' scorecards. In round 11, Starling turned aggressor and backed Breland toward the ropes. Three hard rights followed by a solid left hook put Breland on the canvas. It was all over. Marlon Starling was now the new WBA Champion.

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