It’s a pound-for-pound countdown, so size and weight is taken into account.
Let’s countdown the modern-day speedsters in quickfire fashion.
1- Joe Calzaghe
Wales’ punching machine was derided as ‘Joe Cal-slappy’ by critics for the fact that he didn’t load up on every punch. However what the super-middleweight great did brilliantly was mix in harder shots among his blazing combinations, so baffled opponents never knew where the real damage blow was coming from. Whether surprising Chris Eubank in round one or torturing Jeff Lacy over the full 12, southpaw Calzaghe never lost his volume or rapidity.
2 – Floyd Mayweather Jr
In the second half of his career, Mayweather became more measured, relying on his timing and supreme defensive skills to pot-shot his way to victory. However the young ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd had hand speed and a dazzling array of punches. Quality boxers such as Genaro Hernandez, Angel Manfredy and Diego Corrales – Mayweather’s greatest win – were all stopped not with power, but with the velocity of the pound-for-pound great’s pinpoint combos.
3 – Mike Tyson
Power is dangerous and, as the saying goes, speed kills. But when you have power and speed, it’s a truly devastating mix. Young Tyson – before he neglected his peek-a-boo style and beg an loading up with crude haymakers – was a sight to behold. Those early, spectacular KOs for the heavyweight first known as ‘Kid Dynamite’ were all about his ability to weave inside on taller opponents and wreak havoc with blistering uppercuts and brutal hooks. Terrifying.
4 – Amir Khan
Whatever Khan’s flaws, from his punch resistance to his lack of inside game, one thing is beyond dispute: he is absolutely rapid. Even elite fighters who would go on to stop Khan, such as Danny Garcia and Canelo Alvarez, admitted they struggled to adjust to the Brit’s astonishing quickness at first as no pre-fight sparring partner could match it. Unfortunately Khan, often looking to land one extra punch, fell in love with his speed and it could be his undoing.
5 – Muhammad Ali
Ali’s mesmeric footwork, as a 6ft 3in heavyweight floated around the ring, first grabbed the attention. But his hands were almost as quick. The rapid jab, shot from the waist like a gunslinger, was vicious and most of his early KOs came because opponents simply couldn’t cope with the whirlwind of punches coming at them. As ‘The Greatest’ himself said: “I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch and was in bed before the room was dark.”