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Top 10 Pound for Pound Boxers of the 1980s

Publish Date: 24/08/2023
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

The 80s was an exciting decade for boxing fans and was one of the last decades where fights could still be watched for free on television. Here we look back on its greatest players!

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10) Mike McCallum

The Body Snatcher was an incredible fighter; he defeated Sean Mannion on the undercard of Hagler/Hamsho rematch at Madison Square Garden and defeated Julian Jackson, one of boxing history's hardest punchers, before dominating Donald Curry and Milt McCrory for stoppage wins before ending the decade with victory against Herol Graham.

9) Evander Holyfield

Winning Olympic Boxing gold with Team USA 1984 before going on to unify Cruiserweight title beating Carlos DeLeon, Rickey Parkey and Ossie Ocasio before moving up to heavyweight and defeating James Tillis, Pinklon Thomas and an undefeated Alex Stewart along the way. Holyfield was always a bit of a favorite pick for guys betting on boxing but nowadays is mostly remembered by the masses for the infamous Tyson fight.

8) Larry Holmes

Larry Holmes was an all-time great heavyweight champion who held onto his title until 1985. Unfortunately, after beating Gerry Cooney in June of 1982, Holmes did not face off against top competition such as Michael Dokes, Gerrie Coetzee or Greg Page but rather faced Lucien Rodriguezs, Scott Frank and Marvis Fraziers instead. Eventually his title would be taken by Michael Spinks only for it somehow to be taken back again through rematches that somehow were scored for Spinks; Holmes still remains legendary champion status but I wish that would have faced more worthy opponents instead.

7) Julio Cesar Chavez

Chavez made his mark as one of the greatest boxers ever during the 80s. Beating Mario Martinez to claim his first belt, Chavez would go on to stop Roger Mayweather twice during that decade before beating Edwin Rosario with ease and stopping him in 11 rounds; although, due to their close decisions against Rocky Lockridge and Juan LaPorte - both very competitive matches in which Chavez could have easily lost.

6) Roberto Duran

Duran can be difficult to rank on this list because of both his brilliant moments during the decade and his losses to Kirkland Laing and Robbie Simm. Defeating Sugar Ray Leonard in one of the greatest ever fights at welterweight division; however he quit against Leonard in their rematch and didn't show for their rubber match; thereafter his career went into decline until he stopped Pipino Cuevas and won Davey Moore for Junior Middleweight titles before going the distance against Marvelous Marvin Hagler and eventually beating Iran Barkley for Middleweight title belt in 1989!

5) Salvador Sanchez

Sanchez dies tragically at the age of 24, yet during that short span, he won 11 fights against quality competition - winning against Danny Lopez both times for his title, beating Robert Castanon twice and dominating Ruben Castillo, Pat Ford, Robert Castanon Juan LaPorte Pat Cowdell Pat Cowdell as well as dominating Ruben Castillo Pat Ford Robert Castanon Robert Castanon Juan LaPorte Pat Cowdell Ruben Castillo defeated Wilfredo Gomez stopping him in eight rounds before stopping unknown Azumah Nelson for whom Sanchez would become legendary despite his tragic demise; leaving one of history's great what-if's unsolved forever unresolved yet unfulfilled potential fights behind as well.

4) Thomas Hearns

Hearns had legendary power and was always ready for battle. Though some fans may overlook his boxing abilities, just watch the middle rounds of his first fight with Sugar Ray Leonard to witness just how remarkable they were. Although Hearns would eventually lose that WAR to Marvelous Marvin Hagler in 1985 - one could argue it was one of those fights where nobody truly lost; following Leonard's loss Hearns went on to defeat Wilfred Benitez before going on to defeat Dennis Andries and Juan Roldan before finally trying rematch against Sugar Ray Leonard but this time around the judges saw it differently and scored it a draw.

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3) Marvin Hagler

At the start of this decade, Marvin Hagler was almost unbeatable in the middleweight division, dominating almost everyone he faced while making them look relatively easy. For five years he defeated an array of great middleweights but all appeared unremarkable in comparison. Hagler's most notable fight during these five years came against legendary Roberto Duran and while many considered it close, Hagler won 10 out of 15 rounds to prevail decisively. Hagler first became an icon when he faced off against Thomas Hearns in one of boxing history's greatest action fights, one that ended with him violently knocking out Hearns in three rounds with bloodied face. Hagler would eventually defeat Hearns by knockout in round 3. John Mugabi entered their fight undefeated; no opponent had even come close to lasting the distance with this incredible beast. Hagler would eventually stop Mugabi in the eleventh round after an intense and brutal bout, though Leonard may dispute Hagler's greatness as one.

2) Michael Spinks

Spinks was an unparalleled Light Heavyweight Champion who reigned supreme for more than half of this decade. He beat Eddie Mustapha Muhammad for the title before going on to defeat Marvin Johnson and Yaqui Lopez along the way. Unifying both titles by defeating Dwight Muhammad Qawi was achieved before becoming the first Light Heavyweight champion ever to win the Heavyweight title by defeating Larry Holmes for Heavyweight supremacy, eventually going on to defend it three times.

1) Sugar Ray Leonard

Leonard was one of the greatest boxers ever. With fast feet and hands, he won against Roberto Duran at the beginning of the decade; then in their rematch Leonard was dominant and ultimately forced Duran out. From there, he took on undefeated Thomas Hearns in a fight which demonstrated both Leonard's skill and spirit. While being outboxed by Hearns heading into championship rounds, Leonard turned aggressive, walking him down, and knocked him out in 14 rounds - an impressive performance indeed! Ray retired shortly thereafter due to a detached retina, but returned for one last fight with Kevin Howard in 1984. Leonard was dropped by Howard in the fourth round but managed to rebound and defeat him by stopping Howard in nine rounds before retiring once more. Leonard would return three years later and win an impressive split decision victory against Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Following that fight, Leonard challenged Light Heavyweight champion Donny LaLonde. Leonard trailed entering the ninth round, but stopped LaLonde with devastating power - even leading in that round! Later he would receive a gift draw against Thomas Hearns before beating Roberto Duran without much difficulty.

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