Quantifying and cataloging boxing’s biggest punchers—just like the mythical pound-for-pound list—is an incredibly subjective endeavor since the sport doesn’t use a carnival attraction to measure power.
But you know a big puncher when you see him and nothing grabs the attention of fight fans like a boxer who possesses the power to turn someone’s lights out in the blink of an eye.
“People tend to fall in love with power,” says Showtime boxing analyst and former two-division champion Paulie Malinaggi.
Power isn’t something a boxer can cultivate. Sure, better technique and hard work in the gym can refine and incrementally increase the force behind a punch. But power is essentially inherent. Either you were born with hammers for hands or you’re walking around with a pair of pillowcases.
“Power is primarily a God given thing but I do think you can improve power 10-12 percent with conditioning and technique,” says Jay Deas, the co-trainer for Deontay Wilder. “If you’re in great shape and you’re throwing your punches and getting the right space and distance your punches are that much harder.”
“You gotta be in with a scary guy and knock him out to be on this list. If you knocked out guys that pump my gas at the station I can’t put you in this conversation.” — Paulie Malinaggi
Many of boxing’s best possess premier power, like Wilder, the WBC heavyweight champion, whose right hand just might be the hardest in boxing history. But who else packs a serious punch besides the Bronze Bomber? It’s another boxing debate where there’s no right answer and the criteria varies with every evaluator.
“You gotta be in with a scary guy and knock him out to be on this list,” says Malinaggi. “If you knocked out guys that pump my gas at the station I can’t put you in this conversation.”
Ahead of Wilder’s massive rematch with Tyson Fury this weekend in Las Vegas, we asked for the input of two guys who know way more about boxing—Malinaggi and FOX boxing analyst and former welterweight champ Shawn Porter—to help us rank the sport's top thumpers.