Best Light Heavyweight Boxers of all Time

Light heavyweight boxers are sometimes overlooked due to many rating heavyweight boxers as the best boxers of all time.

That said, many light heavyweight boxers also fought at heavyweight during their careers.

Some fans would also argue that light-heavyweight bouts are more entertaining. That’s because they have the power but are also faster than most heavyweights due to the fact there’s a 25 lbs difference.

We’re going to look at who is considered to be on the list of the best light heavyweight boxers of all time.

Sam Langford

Sam Langford fought in many weight classes, but most notably light heavyweight and heavyweight. He turned pro in 1902 and immediately made a name for himself by beating Joe Gans in 1903.

Being a black boxer at that time, meant that he didn’t get the same opportunities to fight the top white boxers of his era. Still, he managed to amass 211 wins with 126 of them being by knockout. 

The fact that he never won a world title means that sometimes he can get forgotten about. Even the legendary Jack Johnson turned down a rematch with Langford, maybe he was scared he would have lost the heavyweight title if he fought him.

Record: 210-43

Ezzard Charles

Ezzard Charles might not have been the light heavyweight champion, but he was at his peak when fighting in this weight division. He never had the opportunity to fight for the light heavyweight title in the six years he fought at this weight.

Charles first won the vacant heavyweight title of the National Boxing Association in 1949. Then, in 1950 he got the chance to fight Joe Louis and beat him to become the lineal champion. He also successfully defended his heavyweight title by defeating Jersey Joe Walcott, Lee Oma, and Joey Maxim.

Record: 95-25-1

Archie Moore

Archie Moore deserves to be on this list as he has held the world light heavyweight title for the longest time in history. He held it between 1952 and 1962 for a total of 9 years, 4 months, and 24 days.

He was already 36 when he won the title after beating Joey Maxim in a fight that went the whole 15 rounds and Moore won on decision.

Whilst he also fought at middleweight and heavyweight, he was most successful in the light heavyweight class.

He also felt like he was robbed of the heavyweight title after a fight with Rocky Marciano. He claimed that the referee was too excitable and helped Marciano recover after Moore knocked him down in the 2nd round.

Moore never won the heavyweight title, which is one reason he didn’t make our list of the best heavyweight boxers of all time. Still, as a boxer, Moore was strong defensively and had a great strategic brain which helped in the ring.

Record: 186-23-10

Roy Jones Jr.

Roy Jones Jr. is the most recent boxer on this list as he only retired in 2018 having started in 1989. He fought in many weight classes and even held world titles in the following four weight divisions:

  • Middleweight
  • Super middleweight
  • Light heavyweight
  • Heavyweight

We’ve included him in this list for many reasons. First, he is the only professional boxer that started as a light heavyweight that went on to win a heavyweight title.

The other reason is that he became the undisputed light heavyweight champion in 1999 when he beat Reggie Johnson to win the IBF title.

This meant that he held the IBF, WBA, and WBC light heavyweight titles, the first to do this since Michael Spinks in 1983.

Record: 66-9

Michael Spinks

Michael Spinks was bound to become a professional boxer as it runs in his family. His uncle, Cory Spinks, was a former welterweight and light middleweight champion. Then, his brother Leon Spinks was a former heavyweight champion.

Spinks won a gold medal as a middleweight amateur boxer at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. He turned professional a year after his Olympic win and went on to win his first light heavyweight title in 1981 from Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.

He then became the undisputed world light heavyweight champion and defended his titles in 10 more fights.

It was then that he decided to move up to heavyweight and fought the heavyweight champion, Larry Holmes. Both went into it undefeated, Holmes 48-0 and Spinks was 27-0. But it was Spinks that came out on top to become a light heavyweight champion as well as a heavyweight champion.

It wasn’t until he faced one of the best black boxers in Mike Tyson that he lost a fight. This would be Spinks’ last fight and it was over in 91 seconds when Tyson knocked him out.

Record: 32-1

Bob Foster

Bob Foster was one of the best light heavyweight boxers of all time. After winning the world light heavyweight title in 1968 after beating Dick Tiger with a 4th round knockout. Amazingly, he defended his title on 14 different occasions against 13 different boxers from the year he won it until 1974.

Foster also fought as a heavyweight throughout his career. He beat Charlie Polite at this weight but didn’t manage to beat Muhammad Ali or Joe Frazier when he faced them.

Record: 56-8-1

Billy Conn

Billy Conn who had the nickname “The Pittsburgh Kid” for most of his career was an American-Irish boxer most well known for his fights with Joe Louis.

He became the light heavyweight champion in 1939, five years after he became a professional boxer at which time he’d amassed 47 wins out of 57 fights.

He managed to defend his title against both Melio Bettina and Gus Lesnevich. He then craved to become the first light heavyweight champion to win a heavyweight title so challenged Joe Louis.

In the first fight between them in 1941, Conn was ahead on points come the 12th round and decided to go for the knockout in the 13th. But, going on the offensive allowed Louis to knock him out so he lost the fight.

The best thing about this fight was that Conn didn’t gain weight to reach 200 lbs so he fought at the same weight as when he was the light heavyweight champion. The two had a rematch after the war in 1946, but Louis managed to win that one too.

Record: 63-11-1

Tommy Loughran

Tommy Loughran was no doubt one of the greatest light heavyweight boxers of all time. He fought many middleweight and heavyweight boxers but never got his hands on the heavyweight title.

After defeating heavyweight boxers James J. Braddock and Max Baer he challenged the then heavyweight titleholder, Primo Carnera.

Loughran lost the fight on decision and claimed that he knew who wouldn’t win unless he managed to knockout Carnera. Even though he had 32 losses in his career, he was still a top light heavyweight boxer.

Record: 124-32-13

Jimmy Bivins

Jimmy Bivins fought as a light heavyweight professional boxer between 1940 and 1955. During this time, he managed to beat some of the greats like Joey Maxim, Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore, and many others. However, he never had the chance to challenge for the light heavyweight or heavyweight title.

He was much shorter than most fighters in these weight classes which was another reason why he was such an impressive boxer. 

Record: 86-26-1

Bernard Hopkins

Another more recent boxer, Bernard Hopkins has won many titles at both middleweight and light heavyweight. His story is pretty fascinating as he went from a life of crime in prison to becoming a boxing champion.

After leaving prison his professional boxing career began. He had his debut fight as a light heavyweight but lost and didn’t fight again for 16 months. He returned as a middleweight and found more success winning 21 fights without one loss.

After losing the middleweight title fight against Roy Jones Jr, he got another chance to win it when he faced Segundo Mercado in Ecuador. The fight was a split draw so there was a rematch in 1995 and Hopkins won this to become the IBF middleweight champion.

Hopkins was 41 by the time he moved up two weight classes to challenge for the light heavyweight title. In 2006, Hopkins went into the title fight with Antonio Tarver as the underdog, but he managed to win by unanimous decision 118-109.

He defended his title against Ronald Lamont “Winky” Wright before losing it to one of the best British boxers Joe Calzaghe in 2008.

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