There is more than one way to win a boxing match, but nothing quite captures the imagination of the public like a big knockout. Here we take a look at the top-five fighters with the most KO victories.
Clearly, the number of bouts is going to play a big part in putting fighters towards the top of this list and generally modern era boxers don’t have the longevity of those of the past. However, that doesn’t detract from some incredible records.
Billy Bird – active 1920-1948 (138 knockouts)
Billy Bird holds the record of most knockouts with 138 big-punching victories. The Chelsea man boxed at lightweight; welterweight and middleweight and he amassed a card of 359 professional bouts.
The London cab driver won 260 of his fights, lost 73, drew 20 and three were ruled no contests. It is incredibly difficult to see Bird’s record being broken by any current or future boxer because they simply do not fight enough to match those numbers.
Deontay Wilder is seen as the current biggest hitter in boxing and his near 100 per cent knockout ratio is impressive. The Bronze Bomber has seen 41 of his 42 career victories come via KO, but at the age of 35 he isn’t going to be troubling Bird’s tally.
Archie Moore – active 1935-1963 (132 knockouts)
Another fighter with incredible longevity in the sport was Archie Moore. The American is the longest reigning world light-heavyweight champion of all time, and although he has to settle for second place behind Bird in terms of knockouts, that’s a record that is unlikely to ever be snapped.
The Mongoose won 186 of his 220 fights and 132 of those ended in a KO win for the Mississippi man.
Moore’s career lasted for a staggering 28 years and in 1955 he was involved in a memorable fight against Rocky Marciano. The Mongoose had Marciano down early in the contest, but he was unable to finish the job, and he was later stopped himself.
Check out Moore’s top-five knockouts here.
Young Stribling – active 1921-1933 (129 knockouts)
Leaving aside the 129 knockouts for a second, it’s a pretty miraculous achievement that Young Stribling managed to cram 291 fights into a 12-year career and again that’s something that isn’t going to be repeated.
Stribling sadly passed away aged 28 after a motorcycling accident, but he certainly left his mark on his opponents and the sport of boxing.
Astonishingly, the King of the Canebrakes had a record of 64-3-12 at just 17 years of age. The Georgia fighter stepped into the ring more times than any heavyweight and recorded the most knockouts in heavyweight history.
Stribling can be seen stopping Paddington puncher Phil Scott at the now demolished Wimbledon Stadium in 1930. In 2018 the Plough Lane venue was knocked down, like so many of Stribling’s opponents.
Sam Langford – active 1902-1925 (126 knockouts)
Sam Langford was another hugely prolific fighter of the past. Boston Tar Baby racked up 313 bouts, with 211 wins and 126 knockouts. Langford was crowned heavyweight champion of England, Australia, Canada and Mexico, but he was denied a shot at many titles by racial segregation.
Regarded by many as one of the best fighters not to win a title in the United States, the Canadian was ranked number two in Ring Magazine’s 100 greatest punchers of all time, and it’s believed that he may have fought in over 600 bouts.
Langford lost the sight in his left eye in a fight in 1917, but he continued to box with impaired vision for a further eight years.
The Canadian’s final bout came in 1926, a contest that was called off during the opening round, because the Nova Scotia scrapper was unable to see his opponent. Langford’s career highlights can be found here.
Buck Smith – active 1987-2009 (120 knockouts)
Buck Smith lost his opening bout as a professional, and while he was mainly a small hall fighter, the American turned things around and went on to notch 120 knockout victories.
The Oklahoma man’s first title fight came in his 127th fight, when challenging for the USBA welterweight title, but he was beaten on points. Smith once fought twice on the same day, and he is the only man to hold the record of fighting professionally in two different American states on the same night.
The Oklahoma puncher did get it on with some elite-level fighters and here’s a link to his clash with all-time great Julio Cesar Chavez.