JOE LOUIS has been named the greatest heavyweight of all time by George Foreman – with Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson also on the list but no WBC champion Tyson Fury.
Foreman, who in 1994 knocked out Michael Moorer to become the oldest heavyweight champion of all time aged 45, boxed over FOUR decades.
But it’s a figure Foreman idolised, not faced, who he believes is the No1.
In an exclusive interview with SunSport, Foreman said: “Joe Louis is greatest of all time heavyweight as far as a boxer is concerned.
“My number two heavyweight to leave boxing undefeated Rocky Marciano. Number three is John L Sulivan. Four is Jack Johnson. Number five Muhammad Ali.”
Ali is arguably the most popular heavyweight of all time, and Foreman ranks his influence outside the ring as his greatest gift.
He explained: “They never even saw a boxing match in their lives, because he was a great man and the greatest personality and overall, to talk about Muhammad Ali from a pure boxing perspective is a put down.
“He was greater than that. Everybody’s life has been better because of Ali.”
Here is Foreman’s 10 greatest heavyweights, as SunSport details their legendary careers.
10. Jack Dempsey, 68–6–11
Dempsey reigned as champion from 1919 to 1926 and gained recognition for his punching power and aggressive fighting style.
Such was his popularity he was the first boxer to bring in first million-dollar gate from ticket sales.
Dempsey was a major pioneer in boxing hitting mainstream TV channels and can be thanked for his influence in heavyweight headliners going on to become the box office attractions they are today.
9. Evander Holyfield, 44–10–2 (1)
Holyfield was the first fighter to ever hold cruiserweight and heavyweight world titles, with Brit David Haye then becoming the only man to join him.
The ‘Real Deal’ is also the only four-time heavyweight champion, reigning during the late 90s and early 2000s.
Involved in great rivalries with Tyson, Lewis and Riddick Bowe, Holyfield’s explosive speed and power made him a favourite among fans.
8. Mike Tyson, 50–6 (2)
Tyson still sits as the youngest heavyweight champion of all time, having battered Tervor Berbick in 1986 when he was just 20.
His devastating punch power and ruthless aggression made his fights a must-see event – but a lack of discipline led to troubles in and out of the ring.
After being upset by Buster Douglas in 1990, Tyson went on to win the title again in 1996, but after losing key fights against Holyfield and Lewis, the passion was gone and he retired in 2005.
7. Lennox Lewis, 41–2–1
As a heavyweight Lewis has completed it all with legendary wins over Tyson, Holyfield and Vitali Klitschko.
The Brit star lost just twice, in shock upsets to Olivier McCall and Hasim Rahman, but avenged both – meaning he beat every man he shared the ring with.
He is also the last undisputed heavyweight champion, but an asterisk must be be applied as he did not hold the WBO belt, at the time not recognised as a major world title.
6. Floyd Patterson, 55–8–1
Paterson, at 21, was the youngest heavyweight champ of all time until Tyson broke the record, but he also became the first man to lose the belt and then regain it.
He fought but lost to both Ali and Sonny Liston and is celebrated for his softly spoken approach yet heavy hands.
Patterson was nicknamed ‘The Gentleman of Boxing’.
5. Muhammad Ali, 56–5
Widely recognised as the most iconic fighter of all time, Ali transcended the sport and inspired generations with his talent and larger-than-life persona.
He beat the likes of Liston, Patterson, Ken Norton, Frazier and Foreman on his run as a three-time champion that included historic events such as “The Rumble in the Jungle’ and ‘Thrilla in Manilla’
Not only was he a genius on the mic but his footwork and combination punching qualifies him as one of the best pugilists ever to lace up the gloves.
4. Jack Johnson, 70–11–11 (3)
Johnson became the first African American world heavyweight after defeating Tommy Burns in 1908 having been denied a title shot due to his skin colour since turning pro in 1898.
The “Galveston Giant” became a cultural hero having battled racism throughout his career but never got another shot at the belt after losing it to Jess Willard in 1915.
Johnson had just 35 KO’s in 70 wins, instead relying on boxing skill and speed.
3. John L Sullivan, N/A
Sullivan is both recognised as the first gloved heavyweight champion in history and last in bare-knuckle under the London Prize Ring Rules.
The Irish-American, known commonly as John L, became a star during the late 1800s and went on to become one of the highest paid sportsman during the era.
His career also became a catalyst to newspapers first covering boxing and other sports.
2. Rocky Marciano, 49-0
Marciano remains the only heavyweight champion to have retired undefeated.
He made six title defences and was renowned for his come-forward style, power and durable chin, proving too relentless for challengers to come, including an ageing Louis.
But a lack of high-profile and legendary opponents unfortunately leaves Marciano usually falling short of credit his record and talent deserves.
1. Joe Louis, 371-14
Louis was heavyweight champion from 1937 to 1949 – a period in which he defended his title 25 times in the illustrious 13-year run.
More than that, he is widely regarded as one of the first black athletes to achieve the status of national hero in the US.
With 334 KOs in a reported 385 fights, he is regarded as one of the most destructive and hard-hitting punchers of all time.