Top Five Greatest Boxers in British History

Published on 21 March 2024 at 20:00

Britain has seen some of the greatest performers in their home nation as certain boxers have won a medal in the Olympics, won multiple world championships, and beaten some of the most iconic and legendary fighters in the history of Boxing. Here are the top five British Boxers who have stood out the most in the history of the sport.


naseem hamed

Naseem Hamed, otherwise known as Prince Naseem or Naz, was a masterclass in the Featherweight division. The Sheffield-born fighter competed in professional boxing for 10 years, holding multiple world featherweight title from the World Boxing Organisation (WBO), World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and International Boxing Organisation (IBO).

Hamed was on a three fight second-round knockout winning streak before he earned his first shot for a world title. In 1995, he defeated the likes of Sergio Rafael Liendo, Enrique Angeles and Juan Polo Perez whilst defending his WBC International Super Bantamweight Championship. Prince Naseem would capture the WBO World Featherweight title in the same year when he defeated Steve Robinson by eight-round TKO in Cardiff.

In 15 title defences for the WBO World Featherweight title, 13 of them ended by knockout as Naz was proving to be the real knockout artist of Boxing. One of his most recognisable wins came against Kevin Kelley as Hamed would make fight for the first time in the USA. In an anticipating match-up, Naseem would defeat Kelley by fourth-round KO in Madison Square Garden, making it one of his best performance of his Boxing career.

Prince Naseem's first career loss came against Marco Antonio Barrera by unanimous decision at the MGM Grand as he would miss out on winning the IBO World Featherweight belt. A year later, Hamed returned to fight for the same vacant title against Manuel Calvo and would win by unanimous decision despite not being at his best. This would be his last professional boxing fight before retiring.

Record: 36-1-0

Knockout Wins: 31 knockouts

Best Rivalry: Naseem Hamed vs Kevin Kelley

Best Performance: vs Tom Johnson, 8 February, 1997

Chris Eubank sr

Christopher Livingstone Eubank was a force to be reckoned with  in the Middleweight division. The Dulwich-born fighter held the WBO World Middleweight and World Super Middleweight titles between 1990 and 1995 in his 13 years of being a professional boxer. 

Eubank fought against Kid Milo in Brighton to defend his WBC International title and would successfully do so by eight-round TKO. 17 days later, Eubank would fight in Kensington against Reginaldo dos Santos, knocking him out in just 20 seconds which would earn his first opportunity for a world championship.

Eubank first won the WBO Middleweight title against Nigel Benn in Birmingham, defeating him by ninth-round TKO back in November 1990. During his title reign, the London boxer defeated the likes of Michael Watson, Lindell Holmes and Sam Storey as Eubank earned a total of 17 title wins. 

After five golden years, Eubank would lose the WBO World Super Middleweight title to Steve Collins by unanimous decision . Despite winning his next two fights by first-round knockout, Simply The Best would lose the rematch to Collins by unanimous decision. Eubank would also pick up losses to Joe Calzaghe and Carl Thompson twice as his last professional boxing bout would end by referee technical decision, the first time Eubank had ever been stopped in his career.

Record: 45-5-2

Knockout Wins: 23 knockouts

Best Rivalry: Chris Eubank vs Nigel Benn

Best Performance: vs Reginaldo dos Santos, 22 September, 1990

Ricky hatton

Ricky Hatton, known as The Hitman and The Pride of Hyde, competed as a professional boxer for 15 years. The Stockport-born fighter fought in both the Welterweight and Light Welterweight divisions as he won the IBO World Super Light Welterweight, IBF World Super Light Welterweight and WBA World Welterweight titles.

Hatton fought the majority of his fights in Manchester, especially when they were hosted by the M.E.N. Arena, which is now known as the AO Arena, as he looked unstoppable in his own city. This is where he would defend his World Boxing Union Super Light Welterweight title numerous times before capturing the IBF Super Word Light Welterweight title against Kostya Tszyu, stopping him him in the eleventh round. Just under five months later, Hatton would knockout Carlos Maussa in the ninth round to takes the WBA Super World Light Welterweight title in Sheffield. 

The Hitman would not fight in America until March 2006 as he would challenge Luis Collazo for the WBA World Welterweight title. In a close fight, Hatton would take the victory by unanimous decision as his title glory in the USA did not end there. The Pride of Hyde defeated Juan Urango by unanimous decision to not only defend his IBF World title but win the IBO World Super Light Welterweight title in Las Vegas. Five months later, Hatton returned to Las Vegas and knocked out Jose Luis Castillo in the fourth round, defending the IBO World title and becoming the new WBC International Super Light Welterweight champion.

In December 2007, Hatton lost for the first time in his career as he challenged Floyd Mayweather Jr for WBC World Welterweight title, losing TKO in the tenth round at the MGM Grand. Hatton earned two more title wins before returning to the MGM Grand as he would face Manny Pacquiao. The Briton would lose his IBO World title by knockout in the second round. Hatton's final boxing bout would end in heartbreak as he lost by knockout in the ninth round in the Manchester Arena, losing to Vyacheslav Senchenko.

Record: 45-3-0

Knockout Wins: 32 knockouts

Best Rivalry: Ricky Hatton vs Floyd Mayweather

Best Performance: vs Jose Luis Castillo, 23 June, 2007

Lennox lewis

Lennox Lewis, otherwise known as The Lion, formerly fought professionally in the Heavyweight division for 14 years, capturing the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBC World Heavyweight titles. Lewis did win gold medals in the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games and the 1988 Seoul Olympics although he did represent Canada.

The West Ham-born fighter was undefeated heading into his first world title bout in 1993, the previous year showed why Lewis deserved the opportunity as he earned one unanimous decision win and three consecutive TKO victories which all ended before the fifth round. Lewis would be set to face Riddick Bowe after he defeated Donovan Ruddock in a title eliminator, but Bowe relinquished his WBC World Heavyweight title so the belt was given to The Lion, thus his title reign would start.

Lewis defended the WBC World Heavyweight title three times before losing to Oliver McCall by second-round TKO. Despite his first career loss, Lewis would bounce back as he would earn a four-fight winning streak to fight for the title again before defeating McCall in the rematch for the vacant title. The Briton/ Canadian would earn recognisable wins over Shannon Briggs, Evander Holyfield and Hasim Rahman but his most well-known victory would come against one of Boxing's greatest ever, Mike Tyson.

Lewis would face Tyson at the Pyramid in Memphis in what would be his most challenging title defence. With the IBF, IBO and WBC World titles on the line, The Lion would prevail to defeat The Baddest Man on the Planet by eight-round TKO. After his significant title triumph, Lewis would have one more professional boxing bout, defending his IBO and WBC belts against Vitali Klitschko at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Heavyweight maestro would conquer against Klitschko, winning by sixth-round TKO.

Record: 41-2-1

Knockout Wins: 32 knockouts

Best Rivalry: Lennox Lewis vs Mike Tyson

Best Performance: vs Michael Grant, 29 April, 2000

Joe calzaghe

Joe Calzaghe, very well-known as The Italian Dragon, fought 46 times and won all oh those bouts as his undefeated record saw him capture the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO World Super Middleweight titles. The Pride of Wales made 21 title defences with the WBO World Middleweight belt over the time period of nine years.

The Hammersmith-born fighter went on a 12-fight knockout winning streak before earning his first world title shot as he would fight for the vacant WBO World Super Middleweight Championship. Calzaghe would get his first title victory against recognisable Briton, Chris Eubank, winning by unanimous decision. The Welsh masterclass would not fight outside the UK until October 2001 when he fought Will McIntyre at Parken, Copenhagen. Calzaghe would not only be the first fighter to knockdown McIntyre and defeat him by knockout as The Italian Dragon would win by fourth-round TKO.

Calzaghe wouldn't earn multiple world titles until March 2006 when he faced Jeff Lacey in Manchester, winning the IBF World Super Middleweight belt by unanimous decision. With two titles over his shoulders, he would defend the belts in the M.E.N. Arena once again, this time facing Sakio Bika as the Briton would win by unanimous decision. Calzaghe would make Boxing history in Cardiff when he defeated the talented Danish fighter, Mikkel Kessler, by unanimous decision. Not only did he win the WBA and WBC World Super Middleweight titles, he would become the first fighter to defeat Kessler.

After title glory in Wales, Calzaghe would have two more professional Boxing bouts which would not be title fights. The Southpaw Boxer would face Bernard Hopkins in Las Vegas first, winning by unanimous decision despite getting knocked down in the first round. Calzaghe would then fight well-recognised boxer, Roy Jones Jr, in Madison Square Garden as the same scenario would happen compared to his last bout, winning by unanimous decision despite suffering a knock down in the first round.

Record: 46-0-0

Knockout Wins: 32 knockouts

Best Rivalry: Joe Calzaghe vs Mikkel Kessler

Best Performance: vs Byron Mitchell, 28 June, 2003

Who do you believe is the best British boxer? Which fight do you believe is the greatest in British Boxing history?


Featured Images: Flickr - nationalss, Itsmee, photographer695, Pix online, showtime_sports, arocco456, Roger GrandgenettJean MAUGER, The Boxing Historian, willshand1986.


Written by Charlie Oxtoby


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