BOXING fans around the world argue relentlessly about who is the greatest of all time.
Muhammad Ali is widely considered the best ever while Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather are almost always mentioned too.
But the best people to ask are the guys in the running and the fighters who have stepped in the ring at the highest level.
Here SunSport has collated the main contenders for boxing GOAT, according to some of the world’s most famous fighters.
LENNOX LEWIS – EVANDER HOLYFIELD
British legend Lewis named his former American opponent Holyfield as his toughest opponent ever ahead of Tyson and Vitali Klitschko.
Lewis finished his career with a record of 41-2-1, with his final-ever fights coming against Tyson and Klitschko in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
On Instagram, Lewis wrote: “People seem to be genuinely surprised when I tell them Evander Holyfield was my toughest opponent, not to be confused with my toughest fight, which was Mercer.
“When you combine Evander’s amateur and professional experience, you would be hard pressed not to see the kind of success he’s had in the ring.
“I may tease him a bit on our two fights, he knows I won both fights even though he won’t admit it, but in all seriousness, he’s the only man that has gone 24 rounds with me.”
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CONOR McGREGOR – PRINCE NASEEM HAMED
Notorious was asked to name his favourite boxer during the build up to his bout with Floyd Mayweather in 2017.
He obviously gave a nod to Ali as well as Chris Eubank Sr.
But the Irishman also repeatedly praised 37-1 Prince Naseem who rose to superstardom in the 90s thanks to his devastating and flamboyant style.
McGregor said: “Roy Jones, I like Roy Jones a lot and have been a big fan of his. Muhammad Ali, of course. There’s been a lot throughout history.
“Prince Naseem is another one. Historically, Ali, Roy Jones, Prince Naseem.”
CANELO ALVAREZ – MUHAMMAD ALI
Many would argue legendary multi-weight world champion Canelo should be on the list.
But the 30-year-old Mexican is in no doubt who gets his vote.
In training footage from 2016, Canelo is working out in a t-shirt emblazoned with a picture of Ali.
He was asked by a reporter why he was wearing it.
And Canelo simply replied: “The best. The best.”
FLOYD MAYWEATHER – HIMSELF (ROBERTO DURAN 2ND)
Unsurprisingly 50-0 unbeaten American Mayweather named himself as the greatest ever.
Not known for his humble approach, Mayweather was in no doubt who should be at No 1 but he slotted Panamanian champ Duran in behind him – controversially putting Ali fifth.
Speaking in the third person about himself, Mayweather said: “He’s beat more world champions than any other fighter in a shorter time and less fights than any other fighter.
“Landed punches at the highest percentage and took less punishment. He’s been world champion 18 years in five different weight divisions.”
And on Duran he said: “Came up from lightweight to world champion at 160lbs. Love that guy. A legend.”
TYSON FURY – HIMSELF
Another man who doesn’t doubt his own ability is the Gypsy King.
The 32-year-old champ reckons: “There isn’t a heavyweight from any era in the last one thousand years that could’ve tackled me or beat me.
“Never mind Tyson from the 80s, Ali, Joe Louis, Lennox Lewis, George Foreman, Ken Norton, Rocky Marciano, Floyd Patterson, Gene Tunney, Jem Mace, John L. Sullivan.
“Going right back to the beginning, not one of them could’ve beaten the Gypsy King.
“I’m too big, I’m too good and I’ve got too many styles for them. I’m an adapter and they couldn’t even beat me anyway.
“I’m the greatest fighter that has ever lived. Never mind heavyweight, greatest fighter that’s ever lived. How about that for a bit of modesty?”
However, the WBC heavyweight champ did name his top-five fighters not including himself.
He said: “My all-time five not including myself and in no specific order is Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, Lennox Lewis, Joe Louis and I’d probably put Rocky Marciano in there as well.”
MIKE TYSON – MUHAMMAD ALI
Anthony Joshua once claimed Tyson would have beaten Ali if the pair had fought in a fantasy bout.
Iron Mike retired with a 50-6 record and his ferocious unbeatable style early in his career puts him at the top of the GOAT list in some people’s opinion.
But Tyson has no time for such sentiments and said in January: “I know it’s a fantasy game.
“Most likely I would win the fantasy, I wouldn’t win the real fight.
“Ali’s the greatest there’s ever been.”
ANTHONY JOSHUA – MIKE TYSON
When boxing was suspended during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, fans indulged in discussing the what-if match-ups between greats of the sport.
When asked during a JD Sports Instagram Live in April about the Ali vs Tyson hypothetical, Joshua broke the matter down to give a considered verdict.
The Brit, 31, backed Tyson for his extensive knowledge of how to beat opponents, thanks to his use of modern ‘science’.
AJ said: “He wouldn’t have been a fully fledged heavyweight. Let’s say we bulked Ali up and added size and strength to him, I truly believe Tyson would have won.
“Reason being, when you watch the fight between Joe Frazier and Ali you see a certain Tyson-esque style in Frazier.
“Tyson used to study Frazier: moving, moving, hooks, hooks. He managed to put Ali down, it was a very tough fight for him.
“I just believe Tyson was better schooled because times have evolved, he was more developed with more science, more information. So Tyson would have won – in my humble opinion.”