Rating the all-time greatest athletes is never easy as it’s impossible to properly judge athletes from different generations against each other. That said, that doesn’t stop people from arguing about the best of all time, whether it’s in bars or online. There have been many great Canadian boxers over the years, and while it may not be the most popular sport in the country, Canadians have always supported their countrymen when it came to stepping into the ring.
Here is our list of the top Canadian boxers of all time.
10. George Chuvalo (b. 1937)
Chuvalo may not have won any major belts, twice losing to a decision when fighting for the heavyweight world title, but that doesn’t stop him from being one of Canada’s most famous boxers. Despite being a heavyweight and fighting 93 fights in one of the strongest heavyweight divisions in history, Chuvalo was never knocked down and famously went 15 rounds with Muhammed Ali.
9. Adonis Stevenson (b. 1977)
Stevenson made a name for himself with some exceptional knockouts, including his first-round KO victory over Chad Dawson in 2013, which won him the WBC, Ring Magazine and lineal light-heavyweight titles along with the knockout of the year. Stevenson was unfortunately forced to retire with a 24-2 record after suffering serious injuries after a fight.
8. Billy Irwin (b. 1968)
Irwin was a fan favourite fighter in the lightweight division who, although never managed to capture a major title, still impressed Canadians and boxing fans all over the world. Retiring with a 42-6 record, Irwin had 30 knockouts to his name and rarely had a dull moment in the ring.
7. Matthew Hilton (b. 1965)
Hailing from Montreal, Hilton mainly fought in the light-middleweight division, where he captured the IBF world title. After winning the title, however, Hilton suffered from an eye injury, and his career began to decline. By the time he retired, Hilton had a 32-3-2 record.
6. Otis Grant (b. 1967)
Otis Grant retired from the sport in 2006, after making a miraculous comeback from a near-fatal car accident. Grant had previously boxed at the highest level, winning a silver at the Pan-American Games and a WBO middleweight title. Overall, Grant ended up with a 38-17-3 record.
5. Samuel Langford (b. 1883 – d. 1956)
Langford has been described by boxing pundits as “the greatest fighter nobody knows.” With a career that spanned an incredible 313 fights, Langford won 211 with 126 by KO. Unfortunately barred from competing for a world title due to the colour of his skin, Langford was granted an honorary world championship in 2020 by the WBC.
4. Tommy Burns (b. 1881 – d. 1955)
In an era of racial segregation, Burns was the first boxer willing to put his title on the line to fight a fighter of colour, fighting and beating Jack Johnson. Despite being only 5ft and 7in tall and 175 pounds, Burns competed at heavyweight and defended the heavyweight title eleven times.
3. Jimmy McLarnin (b. 1907 – d. 2004)
Today ranked as the 11th best pound for pound boxer of all time, McLarnin had an excellent career becoming a two-time welterweight world champion. He retired with a 55-11-3 record.
2. Arturo Gatti (b. 1972 – d. 2009)
Gatti moved to Montreal as a child from his home country of Italy but competed for Canada in amateur boxing before turning pro. Famous for his grit, determination and exciting style, Gatti won lightweight and super-lightweight titles and was part of four fights of the year. He retired with a 40-9 record.
1. Lennox Lewis (b. 1965)
Lewis won a gold medal for Canada at the 1988 Olympics before carving out a highly successful professional career as a heavyweight. Retiring with a 41-2-1 record, Lewis is one of the only heavyweight champions to have beaten every fighter he faced in the ring.