This article is a look at the unbeaten world boxing champions through history who have remained unbeaten through their whole career and then not made an ill fated comebacks (such as James J Jeffries). Although this is not a complete list of all the fighters to retire unbeaten it is amongst the the most in depth and is ordered by date of the fighters retirement, with a bit about each fighter. Starting with the post war fighters. Even though you can’t bet on the guys we’re going to mention in this article, you can still bet on current great boxing professionals using our points bet promo code.
Firstly there was Rocky Marciano who retired in 1955 with a record of 49-0 (43KO’s) having held the world Heavyweight title between 1952 and 1955. Although he only had 7 title fights in his entire career he managed to win each of them with only 1 going the distance. Marciano was a small heavyweight weighing around 185-190 though had a relentless work rate coupled with an indomitable will to win and a thunderous punch. His engine never seemed to stop going and this made up his rude approach to fight which lacked the skills of many other fighters. Although many do discredit him due to links to the mob he did beat several key fighters of the era such as Harry Matthews, Archie Moore, Ezzard Charles, Jersey Joe Walcott, Roland LaStarza, Rex Layne and a very faded Joe Louis.
Marciano would die in a plane crash 1 day short of his 46th birthday in 1969.
Boxing had to wait over 30 years for the next undefeated world champion to get out and stay out of the sport. In 1986 Ji-won Kim had gotten out with a record of 16-0-2 (7) whilst he was the IBF super bantamweight champion. Kim had won the belt the previous year and had made 4 defences in 17 months before retiring with a 2nd round knock out of Rudy Casicas. During his career which spanned less than 5 and a half years his only black marks were a pair of draws both to the same man Neptali Alamag (in Kim’s 4th and 7th fight). Kim, like many others on this list have problems being remembered as they fought almost entirely at home (Kim fought 17 of 18 in South Korea, and 1 in the Philippines) mostly against obscure fighters.
Terry Marsh replicated the act the following year when he was forced to retire on medical grounds with a record of 26-0-1 (10). Marsh, like many on this list held an IBF title, this time at Light Welterweight, a title he defended just once before his forced retirement. The English man became the first European fighter to retire unbeaten as a world champion (an act followed several times later on). Though a top class amateur he seemed have his moment of fame when he was seen as the prime suspect in the shooting of his former promoter Frank Warren (Marsh was acquitted). As a fighter he beat Joe Manley for the title and defended it against Akio Kameda to end an almost 6 year old career. Marsh’s only black mark was a draw to Lloyd Christie in his 7th fight as a pro.
It wasn’t until 1997 that the next one came along and another obscure fighter, this time German based Romanian Michael Loewe (also known as Mihai Leu) who retired with a 100% record of 28-0 (10) whilst holding the WBO Welterweight title. A top class Romanian amateur he started his professional career in the early 1990’s aged 22 and yet by the age of 28 was out of the sport and went in to motor racing. Loewe’s record is one of the most disappointing of any unbeaten world champion with only handful of fights against fighters with a winning record. He won the title in February of 1997 and defended it once 7 months later with a close majority decision over Michael Carruth. Loewe would become the first German based fighter to retire with the unbeaten championship tag and only the second man with a 100% win record.
Pitchit Sithbanprachan from Thailand was next when he retired, for the 3rd time, in 2000. Sithbanprachan had debuted in 1988 though wouldn’t win his title, the IBF Flyweight belt, until 1992 when he he stopped Rodolfo Blanco. As a champion he would make 5 defences, including a good win over Jose Luis Zepeda before retiring in 1994 as the champion. He would then take a break from the ring for almost 2 and ½ years before fighting a one off in 1996 then re-retiring. There would later be a 2 fight comeback in 2000 though it was short lived and saw 2 more wins that extended his record to 24-0 (18). He was to be the second fighter from the orient to accomplish the unbeaten champion status and the first to do it with a 100% win rate.
The following year saw the retirement of Ricardo “Finito” Lopez, one of the all time great minimumweight fighters and would actually be a 2 weight champion as he finished his excellent career as the IBF Light Flyweight. In total Lopez held the WBA, WBC and WBO titles at minimumweight and the IBF Light Flyweight, making him one of a very short list of fighters to have held belts with every awarding body. His record of 51-0-1 included 38KO’s and over a decade as a world champion. He’s the only Mexican to be included on this list and probably the most dominant fighter in the lower divisions for many a year.
Although the inclusion of fringe titleholders on this sort of list generally ignored, is seems fair to include the legendary 43-0 (36) fighter Samson Dutch Boy Gym, a fighter who held the WBF title at Super Flyweight from 1994 until his retirement in 2002. In fact Samson won the belt in just his 4th fight as a professional and ran up almost 40 defences before retiring. Samson’s reign included wins over solid fighters like Hugo Rafael Soto and Cruz Carbajal though was almost entirely fought in the west (except for a non-title fight in the US).
When it comes to well known unbeaten champions one of the most well known is German Super Middleweight Sven Ottke, a clever and fast handed fighter who used skill, though lacked power as he controlled the IBF title for 5 and ½ years. He compiled a 34-0 record with just 6 stoppages though scored wins over Charles Brewer, Robin Reid, Glen Johnson, Anthony Mundine, Thomas Tate and Byron Mitchell amongst others. Though the biggest black mark on Ottke’s record was the high level of controversial decisions he saw going his way on what seemed like a regular basis. Ottke’s retirement with both the IBF and WBA had meant he missed out on facing a fellow unbeaten Super Middleweight champion.
That man was Joe Calzaghe the most recent man to add his name to this list when he retired in 2009. Calzaghe ran up 46 straight wins between 1993 and 2008 (his final fight was in November though his retirement came the following year). He was the WBO Super Middleweight champion between 1997 and 2007 having added the WBA, WBC and IBF titles to his collection before moving up to Light Heavyweight where he claimed the Ring magazine belt by out pointing Bernard Hopkins. The big complaints about Calzaghe was that he had missed out on the opponents that were there for him though he did manage to beat Chris Eubank, Richie Woodhall, Robin Reid, Charles Brewer, Byron Mitchell, Jeff Lacy, Mikkel Kessler, Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr.
Though before the alphabet titles of now-a-days there were still unbeaten champions, the two most well known are Jack McAuliffe who had a reported record of 35-0-11-1 between 1884-1897 and was the recognised Lightweight champion during the late 1880’s and early 1890’s. The second fighter was Jimmy Barry (49-0-10-1) the Paperweight (now defunct division) champion for much of the 1890’s before retiring in 1899.