This article originally appeared on Evolve Vacation.
Boxing is such a dynamic sport. Despite the fact that only the fists can be used, boxing has so many varied techniques and literally dozens of unique styles exist among boxers of yesterday, today, and most likely tomorrow.
From the way boxers move inside the ring, shuffling their feet, darting in and out of danger, to how they throw their punches from unorthodox angles and deliver their signature offense, there are so many different styles out there that it is simply amazing to watch.
Like in any sport, the upper hand often belongs to competitors with a unique style that is difficult to prepare for. Throughout boxing history, there have been a handful of fighters who certainly approached their offense with a high degree of flair. These boxers possessed uncommon movement and grace that cannot be replicated. Here are The Top 5 Most Uniquely Offensive Fighters in Boxing History.
1) “Prince” Naseem Hamed
There are very few fighters, if any, in the history of boxing who possessed the unique movement of featherweight legend “Prince” Naseem Hamed. The English fighter slithered across the ring from post to post like a snake, baiting his prey with his guard seemingly down before unleashing his lethal strikes.
Hamed was a master of head movement, which made him next to impossible to hit. And just when you think you’re out of danger, he tags you with a power shot you never saw coming.
The way Hamed gracefully utilized the entire length of the ring, moving wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted via ultra slick footwork is just legendary. He is also the only guy who could lead with an uppercut and completely get away with it.
Not only did Hamed move extremely well, he also punched like a mule. Of his 36 victories as a professional, 31 came by spectacular knockout. Those numbers speak the truth. Hamed was a monstrous puncher and one of the most feared fighters of his time.
2) Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao
“Manny Pacquiao is a storm!” These are the famous words of HBO color commentator Jim Lampley, who likened the Filipino firebrand to a monstrous cyclone, ripping through any opponent he came across.
One of the most uniquely overwhelming offensive fighters of our generation, Pacquiao at his best was a relentless puncher who maintained the same level of energy from the beginning of a bout to the final bell. Pacquiao did not only throw punches to pad his stats however, every shot had the intention of knocking his opponents out.
While he may not have been a one-punch knockout artist, Pacquiao certainly pounded opponents into submission with his non-stop barrage of off-angle combinations. Most fighters average around 500-700 total punches thrown in a fight. Pacquiao once threw 1,200 punches in a single match (against Joshua Clottey in 2010). Try that for perspective!
There has never been a fighter in the history of boxing quite like Pacquiao, and there may never be again. Boxing’s only eight-division world champion is now at the tail end of his career, and once he retires, the sport will never be the same.
3) “Iron” Mike Tyson
Known as one of the biggest punchers in heavyweight history, and perhaps the most devastating knockout artist of all time, “Iron” Mike Tyson was once considered the “baddest man on the planet”.
Ending his career with a professional record of 50 wins, 44 of which came by knockout, Tyson became the stuff of legend in the 1980’s and early 90’s.
Opponents were scared to get in the ring with him. More often than not, guys were already mentally defeated before they even stepped foot on the canvas. Those who were less afraid were met with thudding rights and lefts, delivered by Tyson’s enormous fists.
What made Tyson’s offense so special, however, was his very unique “Peek-a-Boo” style. Keeping both gloves in front of his mouthguard as opposed to the side of the cheekbones like most boxers, Tyson bobbed and weaved, ducked and slipped punches, and attacked with no regard for anything else other than landing a knockout blow.
That’s how he will be remembered, regardless of how his career ended.
4) Muhammad Ali
Known the world over as simply, “The Greatest of All Time”, the late great Muhammad Ali was a legend in every sense of the word.
Floating like a butterfly while stinging like a bee, Ali danced and moved effortlessly across the ring, utilizing incredibly smooth footwork while peppering opponents with well-timed combinations.
No boxer in history moved with as much flair and flawlessness as Ali, and the cultural icon transcended the sport far beyond the reaches of the ring. Not only was Ali an incredibly unique offensive gem, he was also a defensive stalwart and a complete package.
He finished his career with 56 wins including 37 knockouts. But arguably the most memorable Ali performance of all came when he took on big George Foreman at the Rumble in the Jungle in 1974.
It was a grueling fight which saw Ali employ the infamous “rope-a-dope” technique to tire out Foreman, then known as the most devastating knockout puncher in boxing, before finishing him in the eighth.
5) Arturo Gatti
The original blood and guts warrior, Arturo Gatti was known for his iron clad will to win. Surviving even the most brutal of beatings, Gatti was also known as “Thunder” for his incredible heart and bravery inside the ring.
It didn’t matter what you hit Gatti with, he would never go down and he would never quit. On top of it all, Gatti was also an exceptional puncher. With 40 total victories including 31 knockouts, the Italian Canadian prize fighter delivered fan-friendly and awe-inspiring performances during the 90’s and early 2000’s.
His most memorable sequence came in three grueling fights against rival Irish Micky Ward. Round nine of their first encounter was dubbed by the late Emanuel Steward as “Round of the Century”. If you have never seen that round, you should probably check it out.
Gatti’s most unique trait was definitely his durability, and that is enough to name him one of the most uniquely offensive fighters in boxing history.