By Kieran Mulvaney | Special to ESPN.com

50 Greatest

Who's really the greatest of all time? ESPN.com ranks 'em. Let the debate begin.
• How we picked the list | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1 | The entire list

40. Evander Holyfield

Cruiserweight, heavyweight
Ring career: 1984-present Record: 41-8-2 (26 KOs)
Career notes: Considered to have one of the greatest fighting hearts of any boxer. … Recognized as greatest champion in history of mostly moribund heavyweight division. … Won WBA cruiser belt by split decision against Dwight Muhammad Qawi after a tremendous battle in just 12th pro bout. … Later added IBF and WBC belts before moving up to heavyweight. … Knocked out Buster Douglas in third round to become heavyweight champion in 1990. … Lost title to, and regained it from, Riddick Bowe in 1992 and 1993, respectively, before losing it again to Michael Moorer. … Regained WBA belt with stunning 11th-round knockout of Mike Tyson in 1996; Tyson bit off part of his ear en route to disqualification in the rematch. … Widely adjudged to have lost March 1999 unification bout with Lennox Lewis officially scored a draw, but lost on scorecards in rematch. … Three successive defeats, to Chris Byrd, James Toney and Larry Donald from 2002-04, led to calls for his retirement, but has scored three victories since and continues to campaign for another shot at heavyweight title.

39. Oscar De La Hoya

Junior lightweight, lightweight, junior welterweight, welterweight, junior middleweight, middleweight
Ring career: 1992-present Record: 38-5 (32 KOs)
Career notes: Most financially successful non-heavyweight in boxing history, and arguably sport's only remaining mainstream star. … Won WBO 130-pound title in 12th fight, and same organization's lightweight belt two bouts later. … Stopped Rafael Ruelas in two rounds in May 1995 to take IBF lightweight crown. … Defeated Julio Cesar Chavez, adding WBC junior welterweight belt to collection the following year, and outpointed Pernell Whitaker to claim WBC welterweight crown the year after that. … Lost highly controversial decision in unification bout with IBF champ Felix Trinidad in September 1999, and suffered second defeat, to Sugar Shane Mosley, in June 2000. … Defeated Javier Castillejo to become WBC junior middleweight titlist in June 2001, and added WBA belt with September 2002 stoppage of Fernando Vargas, but lost both belts on disputed points defeat to Mosley. … Claimed WBO middleweight belt with razor-thin victory over Felix Sturm in June 2004, but was knocked out by Bernard Hopkins in bid for undisputed championship that September. … Knocked out Ricardo Mayorga in May 2006 to regain WBC 154-pound belt. … Lost 154-pound belt in split decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Saturday.

38. Larry Holmes

Heavyweight
Ring career: 1973-2002 Record: 69-6 (44 KOs)
Career notes: Claimed vacant WBC heavyweight title with thrilling 15-round split-decision win over Ken Norton in June 1978, but labored in shadow of the recently retired Muhammad Ali. … Ali came out of retirement to challenge him in October 1980, and Holmes dished out a terrible beating until Ali's corner stopped the fight after 10th round. … Made 20 defenses of heavyweight crown and ran record to 48-0 before dropping a pair of controversial points decisions to Michael Spinks, after which he briefly retired. … Came back in January 1988 to challenge Mike Tyson, but was stopped in fourth round. … Came back again in 1991 and fought more or less continuously until 1997. … Fought twice more for heavyweight crown, losing on points to Evander Holyfield (June 1992) and Oliver McCall (April 1995). … Final bout was glorified carnival sideshow win over Eric "Butterbean" Esch in 2002.
Let's go to the video: 50 Greatest: Larry Holmes ESPN Video

37. Thomas Hearns

Welterweight, junior middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, cruiserweight
Ring career: 1977-2006 Record: 61-5-1 (48 KOs)
Career notes: With freakish power and an occasionally suspect chin, seemed destined to either knock out or be knocked out in many of his big fights. … Won WBA welterweight title with two-round stoppage of Pipino Cuevas in 1980, but failed in unification attempt with WBC champ Sugar Ray Leonard in 1981; leading on points through 12, was knocked down in the 13th and stopped in 14th. … Bounced back to win WBC junior middleweight title from Wilfred Benitez in 1982; in second defense, starched Roberto Duran in the second round. … Was knocked out in three by Marvin Hagler in thrilling attempt to lift middleweight crown in 1985. … Stopped Dennis Andries to win WBC light heavyweight title in March 1987, then dropped back down to middleweight to claim vacant WBC belt. … Lost title in shocking three-round knockout at hands of Iran Barkley in June 1988, but came back to score draw in June 1989 rematch with Leonard most observers thought he won. … Retired after loss through injury to Uriah Grant in cruiserweight fight in 2000, but staged two-fight comeback in 2005 and 2006.

36. Eder Jofre

Bantamweight, featherweight
Ring career: 1957-76 Record: 72-2-4 (50 KOs)
Career notes: Won NBA bantamweight title with sixth-round knockout of Eloy Sanchez in November 1960, and became recognized as undisputed champion with defeat of Piero Rollo the following March. … Made seven successful defenses, all by knockout, until losing championship, and rematch, to Fighting Harada in 1965 and 1966, only two defeats of career. … Won world featherweight championship in May 1973, after 16 years as a pro.

35. Marvin Hagler

Middleweight
Ring career: 1973-87 Record: 62-3-2 (57 KOs)
Career notes: First attempt to win world title came up short when held to draw against Vito Antuofermo in November 1979. … In following September, did win title by stopping Alan Minter in three. … Defended title successfully 12 times, winning first seven bouts by knockout (including rematch with Antuofermo). … Resisted strong challenge over 15 rounds from Roberto Duran in November 1983, and knocked out Thomas Hearns in the third round of one of the most intense and exciting title fights in living memory, in April 1985. … Retired after suffering controversial points defeat to underdog Sugar Ray Leonard in April 1987.

34. Emile Griffith

Welterweight, junior middleweight, middleweight
Ring career: 1958-77 Record: 85-24-2-1 (23 KOs)
Career notes: Despite winning the world welterweight championship three times and middleweight championship twice, will be forever known for one dark night, when he regained 147-pound crown from Benny "Kid" Paret on March 24, 1962: live on national television, he battered Paret into unconsciousness and death, and although he fought on for many years, was never quite the same. … After losing middleweight title the second time, made four more attempts to regain it, before retiring after losing to Alan Minter in 1977. … Was stopped just twice in 112 fights.

33. Ruben Olivares

Bantamweight, featherweight
Ring career: 1965-88 Record: 88-13-3 (78 KOs)
Career notes: Popular, hard-hitting champion won WBA and WBC bantamweight titles in August 1969, but lost on cuts to Chucho Castillo in October 1970, before regaining championship six months later. … Lost belts a second time, to Rafael Herrera, in March 1972. … Took vacant WBA featherweight championship in July 1974, but lost to Alexis Arguello four months afterward. … Came back from two second-round knockdowns to score second-round TKO over Bobby Chacon and win WBC belt in 1975. … Lost title in first defense, over 15 rounds to David Kotey.

32. Jose Napoles

Welterweight, middleweight
Ring career: 1958-75 Record: 77-7 (54 KOs)
Career notes: Won world welterweight title in April 1969 with 13th-round TKO of Curtis Cokes. … Challenged Carlos Monzon for middleweight crown in 1974, but was stopped in seventh round. … Made three defenses, but was stopped on cuts by journeyman Billy Backus in December 1970. … Avenged loss with fourth-round TKO six months later, and made nine more defenses of title before losing to John H. Stracey in 1975 and retiring immediately afterward. … Known as "mantequilla" for his buttery-smooth boxing skills.

31. Billy Conn

Middleweight, light heavyweight, heavyweight
Ring career: 1935-48 Record: 63-12-1 (14 KOs)
Career notes: Talented boxer beat middleweight champion Fred Apostoli twice in non-title bouts, before claiming light heavyweight crown in July 1939. … Challenged Joe Louis for heavyweight championship in June 1941, and was outboxing the champion until he decided to stand and trade -- he started fighting, when he should have continued boxing -- and was knocked out at the end of the 13th round.
Let's go to the video: 50 Greatest: Billy Conn ESPN Video

Kieran Mulvaney is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He covers boxing for ESPN.com, Reuters and TigerBoxing.com.

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