Saturday, February 24

10 Heavyweight Boxers Who Surprisingly Had Little Knockout Power


  • Some heavyweight champions excelled without relying on devastating power, using skill and precision instead.
  • Champions like Chris Byrd and Jack Sharkey won a modest percentage of their fights by knockout.
  • These fighters showcased defensive skills, counterpunching, and footwork to achieve success in the division.

Boxing’s heavyweight division is considered one of sport’s top attractions. For more than a century, being Heavyweight Champion meant that you were the king of the mountain. The heavyweight division has produced legendary fights and icons. If there is a singular attraction in the division, it’s knockouts.

Fans crave those edge of seat thrillers where someone could go out at any moment. However, there have been a few heavyweight champions who relied on skill and precision instead of devastating power. Let’s take a closer look at top heavyweight fighters who had success without huge puching power.


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10 Chris Byrd Was A Pure Boxer

​​​ Won 54% Of His Fights By KO

  • Former IBF and WBO champion and Olympic Silver Medalist
  • Awkward southpaw style that gave opponents fits
  • Good defensive fighter with a signature win over Evander Holyfield

Chris Byrd was the division’s premier boxer for a few years. He relied on a strong jab and his counter punching skills to avoid taking punishment. Byrd was the lighter man in almost all of his major fight​​​​s, as he stood 6’1 and often weighed between 205-215 lbs.

Byrd was also considered the top defensive fighter in the division during his peak, using the slip technique to stay out of range for incoming big shots. The former WBO and IBF champion, Byrd had a modest 22 knockouts wins out of his 41 total victories. Somewhat ironically, Byrd won the last fight of his career by knockout.

9 Jack Sharkey ‘s Rough Style Didn’t Produce KOs

Won 34% Of His Fights By KO

  • He was a brawler who liked to fight on the inside.
  • Sharkey was a tough fighter who used controversial tactics.
  • He was the top American fighter when the Heavyweight Division was dominated by Europeans.

Sharkey is one of the most controversial heavyweights of his era. The Ring Magazine champion was involved in intense battles with Jack Dempsey, Primo Carnera, and Gene Tunney. While Sharkey had an aggressive style, he only won 13 fights by Knockout during his career.

Sharkey had an average build, and is considered by some critics as an average, borderline dirty fighter. However, Sharkey will forever be known in boxing history as World Heavyweight Champion and one of the few men to face Joe Louis and Jack Dempsey.

8 Jimmy Ellis Didn’t Carry His Power to Heavyweight

Won 60% Of His Fights By KO

  • He faced Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
  • Ellis was a former WBA champion who won an 8-man tournament.
  • He turned pro as a middleweight.

Ellis won the WBA Heavyweight Title by winning a split decision against Jerry Quarry. A slick counterpuncher with a strong jab and uppercut, Ellis won 24 of his 40 total victories by knockout. Ellis began his career as a middleweight before bulking up. Trained by Angelo Dundee, Ellis fought Hall of Famers, such as Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali, and Joe Frazier, among others.

7 Gene Tunney Used Skills Over Power

Won 60% Of his Fights By KO

  • He was a precision master who was named Ring Magazine’s Fighter of the Year.
  • He had controversial fights with Jack Dempsey and Harry Greb.
  • Tunney was a war veteran who was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

One of boxing’s first technicians, Tunney won the Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight titles. Tunney is most known, perhaps, for his second fight with Jack Dempsey. Dempsey knocked Tunney down but forgot to go to a neutral corner, which gave Tunney a few extra seconds to recover.

Tunney would recover and win a decision. The fight remains controversial in boxing circles. Nicknamed the Fighting Marine, Tunney served in World War I and received a Navy Commendation Medal. Tunney was one of the first heavyweight boxers to rely on footwork and timing.

6 James Corbett Used a Scientific Approach

Won 50% Of His Fights By KO

  • Innovator who changed the sport by relying on defense and fundamentals
  • Believed in technique over power, which allowed the public to start viewing boxing differently.
  • Corbett was the Heavyweight Division’s first lineal champion.

​​Weighing in under 180lbs, Corbett was thought to be too small to ever win the heavyweight title. However, Corbett did just that, becoming one of the sport’s innovators during the process. Corbett relied on fundamentals to win fights. He believed that boxing was a chess match and that he could overcome a lack of strength and power.

Corbett was also one of the first boxers to change the perception that boxing is a sport for barbarians. He became the face of the sport during a time when many people outlawed it. Corbett had a short career, but fought all the best fighters during his era.


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5 Ezzard Charles’ Lack of Power Didn’t Stop His Greatness

Won 55% Of His Fights By KO

  • Light heavyweight champion who beat Joe Louis and Archie Moore. Considered one of the greatest light heavyweight champions of all time.
  • One of the few fighters to last the distance with Rocky Marciano
  • Charles is a Hall of Famer who also served in World War II.

One of boxing’s original counterpuncher masters, Ezzard Charles turned pro as a middleweight before eventually becoming heavyweight champion. Charles rose to stardom after beating Joe Louis and having two exciting fights with Rocky Marciano. One of Charles’ greatest achievements is lasting 15 rounds with Marciano, one of the hardest punches in the history of the sport. Charles used a side stance to keep his head out of his opponent’s danger zone. Keeping the distance and making adjustments allowed Charles to defeat naturally stronger men.

4 Tony Tubbs Did Not Have Dynamite Hands

Won 53% Of His Fights By KO

  • Tubbs is a former WBA champion who faced Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe
  • Tubbs had a Great Amateur career that included competing in the National Golden Gloves.
  • Tubbs had a quick rise to the top but settled below the division’s elite, spending the second half of his career as a stepping stone.

With a nickname like T.N.T., you would expect Tubbs to have explosive power. However, Tubbs did have explosive hand speed, which he used to defeat Greg Page and become WBA Heavyweight Champion. That was the primary highlight of Tubbs’ career, as he would get knocked out by Mike Tyson a few fights later and settle into a journeyman role. At 6’3, 240lbs, Tubbs was one of the first larger heavyweight champs to rely on hand speed instead of pure power.

3 Mahmoud Charr Couldn’t Hurt The Top Fighters

Won 59% Of His Fights By KO

  • ​​​​​​​Charr was a volume puncher ​​​​​​​who wore down his opponents.
  • Charr focused on the body, which allowed him to capture the gold.
  • Charr lost against the very best competition he faced.

At 6’3′ 235lbs, Mahmoud Charr certainly had the frame to be an explosive fighter. However, Charr racked up most of his knockouts through volume punching. Charr is an offensive fighter with a strong body attack. Charr has a couple of solid wins on his resume against Michael Grant and Danny Williams. However, Charr was defeated when he stepped up in class to fight Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and even Mairis Briedis. Perhaps the lack of true punching power kept Charr from reaching the top.

2 ​​​​​Henry Akinwande Was Supposed to Reign For Years

Won 60% Of His Fights By KO

  • Akinwande was a top heavyweight prospect who won the British Commonwealth Title.
  • He is best known for the breakdown during his fight with Lennox Lewis.
  • Akinwande beat a few top fighters, but failed to reach his potential.

​​​​​​At 6’7, Akinwande was one of the most hyped heavyweight prospects. While he had a good career, winning the WBO and European title, there’s still a belief that Akinwande failed to maximize his potential. Akinwande is known throughout boxing for his strange performance against Lennox Lewis when he was disqualified for holding constantly. However, Akinwande did beat quality fighters like Tony Tucker and Johnny Nelson. Akinwande was often frustrating to watch because he had physical gifts, yet he preferred to jab and clinch constantly.


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1 Ernie Terrell’s Slight Frame Led to a Lack of Power

Won 46% Of His Fights By KO

  • ​​​​​​​Terrell was one of the heavyweight division’s first slender fighters.
  • He had a strong jab and took advantage of his large reach advantage over most of his opponents.
  • Terrell was a pressure fighter but far from a big puncher.

The lanky Terrell ruled as WBA Heavyweight Champion before losing to Muhammad Ali. Terrell was a pretty aggressive fighter but relied on his opponents tiring in the later rounds to win fights. Terrell is one of the few heavyweight champions to win less than half of his fights by Knockout.

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