Why should college basketball get to have all the fun in March? We pit 32 fighters (both historical and fictional) against each other in a pound-for-pound, winner-take-all brawl.
Come on. You didn't really pick Maryland to knock off Kentucky in the Sweet 16, did you? OK, NCAA prognostication might not be your strong point, but we know you know the fight game.
We picked out a group of 32 fighters, including some from movies and video games, for you to determine a pound-for-pound king (or queen).
You might notice two notable exceptions: Muhammad Ali and Rocky Balboa. That's because you can't put the GOAT in with everyone else and expect a fair fight.
Voting starts now and continues through noon PT on March 25. Come back on March 26 when we narrow down to 16 fighters, and check back throughout the NCAA tournament to keep voting your way through the bracket. Want one to print out and take with you? We got you covered there, too.
Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Roy Jones Jr.: Robinson (173-19-6, 108 KOs) is considered by many the best pound-for-pound fighter of all time, but even he was only a champion at 147 and 160. Jones (60-8, 43 KOs) managed championships at 160, 168, 175 and heavyweight.
Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Joe Frazier: Chavez (107-6-2, 86 KOs) had 37 title fights and 27 defenses, the most in history on either count. Frazier (32-4-1, 27 KOs) is a less accomplished fighter, but fought Muhammad Ali in three of the most memorable fights in the history of the sport. Could Chavez handle the bruising Frazier?
Apollo Creed vs. Manny Pacquiao: Creed (48-2, 47 KOs), not only sports one of the best knockout percentages of all time, but he has the greatest nickname in boxing, too, in "The Count of Monte Fisto." Sure, he's fearsome, but what happens when the scrappy Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) takes him the distance? Would Manny know it's a damn show, or does he think it's a damn fight?
Rocky Marciano vs. Balrog: Marciano (49-0, 43 KOs) was as close as anyone to the real-life Creed. He won the heavyweight title in 1952 and defended it seven times until his retirement at age 32 in 1955. Ezzard Charles is the only man who ever lasted 15 rounds against Marciano. Plus, he beat a 134-year-old Joe Louis, if Coming to America is to be believed. Balrog, meanwhile, killed a guy in the ring and left boxing to turn to a life of crime busting heads for M. Bison in Street Fighter II. Tough test for Marciano against a guy who's not afraid to fight dirty on behalf of organized crime.
Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Maggie Fitzgerald: Leonard (36-3-1, 25 KOs) is one of the all-time greats, and maybe the greatest of a stacked generation. Fitzgerald, Clint Eastwood's protege in Million Dollar Baby, was a promising amateur who could have had a solid pro career if it weren't for some unfortunate stool placement.
Jake LaMotta vs. Oscar De La Hoya: LaMotta (83-19-4, 30 KOs) may not be as naturally gifted as De La Hoya (39-6, 30), but he did give us the all-time gratest boxing flick in Raging Bull. That's got to count for something.
Henry Armstrong vs. Evander Holyfield: Armstrong (150-21-10) fought an absurd 181 fights in his lifetime, and at one point held simultaneous titles in three different divisions. He's often considered one of the top five all-time greatest fighters. Still, Holyfield (44-10-2, 29 KOs) would probably take his chances. At least he'd get out with intact ears.
Mike Tyson vs. Harry Greb: Sure, Henry Armstrong fought a lot, but he has nothing on Greb whose official record of 107-8-3 (48 KOs) inflates to 155-9-15 record in newspaper decisions. He fought four times in July 1925 alone. He'll need that kind of endurance against Tyson (50-6, 44 KOs), the Baddest Man on the Planet.
Jack Johnson vs. Bernard Hopkins: Johnson (73-13-10, 40 KOs) dominated the heavyweight ranks in the early part of the 20th century and became a sports celebrity at a time when that just didn't happen. Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs) has had a Hall of Fame career, including going 12 rounds in a loss to Sergey Kovalev at age 49 last year. It makes him a good pairing for Johnson, who fought his last professional fight in 1938, at the age of 60.
Jack Dempsey vs. Thomas Hearns: Dempsey (65-6-11, 51 KOs) was wildly popular in the 1910s and '20s for a string of knockout wins, but it only took one fight for Hearns (61-5-1, 48 KOs) to jump to that kind of immortality: his legendary war with Marvin Hagler. This one would go off like a bomb, no long counts necessary.
Archie Moore vs. King Hippo: Moore (185-23-10, 131 KOs) was a deft, cerebral fighter. He'd need to stay sharp to penetrate Hippo's (18-9, 18 KOs) rock-solid defense. Though if Moore figures out the weak spot those two bandages on Hippo's sizeable stomach are covering, it could end up being a quick one.
George Foreman vs. Joe Gans: Gans (145-10-16, 100 KOs) was called the "Old Master." The same could be said of Foreman (76-5, 68 KOs), who took 10 years off from the sport, returned in 1987 and picked right back up where he left off. His comeback culminated in 1994, when he regained the heavyweight championship he lost to Muhammad Ali in 1974 with a 10th-round knockout of Michael Moorer at the age of 45.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Kid Galahad: Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) might be angling to be considered the best ever, but that's just in boxing. Elvis Presley still has the crown as the best ever across all of entertainment. The King played fighter Walter Gulick (19-0, 19 KOs), the titular Kid Galahad of the 1962 movie of the same name. Elvis might not have had much of a defense—he mostly just ate leather until he could unload a knock-'em-dead right—but he retired undefeated.
Ivan Drago vs. Willie Pep: Pep (229-11-1) fought like a machine, entering the ring 24 times in 1942 alone, but Drago (100-1, 100 KOs as an amateur) was built like one (including some, ahem, chemical enhancement during training). Could Pep use his speed to pick Drago apart, or would the Soviet break him?
Roberto Duran vs. John L. Sullivan: Duran (103-16, 79 KOs) had the Hands of Stone, but he'd need them against the Boston Strong Boy. Sullivan (40-1-2, 34 KOs) was the last of the great bareknuckle boxers, and his only loss came when he was finally forced to wear gloves. Thankfully, he never had to shave his epic mustache.
Joe Louis vs. Marvin Hagler: The Brown Bomber (66-3, 52 KOs) was the pride of the U.S. with his win over Max Schmeling, and he defended his heavyweight title 25 times. Hagler (62-3-2, 52 KOs) was marvelous, but even his brawl with Hearns might not outshine Louis' stuff-of-legends fights with Schmeling.
Thanks for voting! Don't forget to return for the subsequent rounds to help select PBC's all-time pound-for-pound champion.
- Beyond the ring