Top 12 All-Time Greatest Chins

A pugilist’s last line of defense is the durability of his mandible and of course no one doubts that a key qualification for ring greatness is sheer toughness, the ability to absorb heavy blows and fight on. Here are the twelve all-time best chins in boxing history, the warriors who, despite prolific careers and battles with truly dangerous punchers, seldom went down. And who, without fail, always got up when they did.

12. Carlos Monzon: One of the toughest of middleweight champs, the Argentinian had a hundred pro bouts and visited the canvas in just two of them, an early loss in 1964 to the more experienced Felipe Cambeiro, and then to fellow champion Rodrigo Valdez in “Escopeta’s” final fight in 1977.

Top 12 Best Chins
Carlos Monzon

11. William ‘Gorilla’ Jones: In 144 bouts, Jones was off his feet just a single time, courtesy of great middleweight champion Freddie Steele.

William Jones

10. Carmen BasilioThe rugged “Onion Farmer” battled some of the all-time greats at both welterweight and middleweight and was on the canvas just once in 79 fights. When he narrowly beat Robinson in their first epic battle, it was reported he “shook off punches that would have knocked down a horse.”

Basilio rumbles with Sugar Ray.

9. Panama Al Brown: This great bantamweight champion was knocked down on a single occasion in a grand total of 168 bouts. ‘Nuff said.

The lanky Brown was as tough as they come.

8. Barney Ross: In a Hall of Fame career featuring dozens of matches with numerous fellow greats, Ross was decked just once, that knockdown courtesy of the great Jimmy McLarnin.

"Homicide Hank" tried but failed to put Ross on the canvas.
“Homicide Hank” tried but failed to put Ross on the canvas.

7. Pancho Villa: 104 contests in the ultra-competitive 1920’s — never knocked down.

The great Pancho Villa: Drawing by Damien Burton.

6. Muhammad Ali: Deadly bangers such as Sonny Liston, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Oscar Bonavena, Ken Norton, Ron Lyle, and maybe the hardest puncher in boxing history, Earnie Shavers — all tested Ali’s chin. And “The Greatest” proved more than their match. As Frazier said after their third vicious war in Manila: “Man, I hit him with punches that’d bring down the walls of a city.”

Thrilla in Manila
Frazier taking Ali to hell in Manila.

5. Billy Graham: This tough New York welterweight had no fewer than 126 fights, including battles with Joey Giardello, Kid Gavilan and Carmen Basilio. Never off his feet.

Two of the best chins
Gavilan vs Graham: they combine for just two knockdowns in 269 bouts.

4. Marvelous Marvin Hagler: Hagler was the world’s best middleweight for almost a full decade and a host of heavy punchers, including Thomas Hearns and John Mugabi, could not put him down. Tasted the canvas only once, on a bogus knockdown to Juan Roldan.

The late, great Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Drawing by Damien Burton.

3. Jake LaMotta: In 106 fights, “The Bronx Bull” hit the deck on just one occasion. Fought the great Sugar Ray Robinson six times, and even the Sugarman couldn’t put Jake down.

best chins
The Bronx Bull. Ink drawing by Damien Burton.

2. Kid Gavilan: Against the likes of Ralph Jones, Beau Jack, Tommy Bell, Ike Williams, Carmen Basilio, and of course the great Sugar Ray Robinson, Gavilan proved his chin rock hard. Knocked down just twice in 143 bouts.

The Cuban Hawk had a chin of iron.

1. George Chuvalo: Battling in the most competitive heavyweight division in history, this brave Canuck slugger took the hardest shots of Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Patterson, Bonavena, Quarry, Zora Folley, Ernie Terrell, Cleveland Williams, Bob Cleroux, and Yvon Durelle and, amazingly, he was never once off his feet.

Muhammad Ali
Chuvalo takes a hard uppercut from “The Greatest” in Toronto in 1966.

Honorable Mentions: Rocky Marciano, Julio Cesar Chavez, Randall “Tex” Cobb, Juan LaPorte, Joe Grim, Oliver McCall, Salvador Sanchez, Gene Tunney, Sugar Ray Robinson, Hector Camacho, Marion Wilson, Oscar Bonavena, James Toney, Johnny Risko, Harry Greb, Juan Manuel Marquez, Sugar Ray Leonard, Gennady Golovkin.

13 thoughts on “Top 12 All-Time Greatest Chins

    • January 21, 2016 at 5:26 pm
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      Rocky Marciano 49 fights, only kd twice, while off balance, by two known punchers.

      Harry Greb 300 bouts, only stopped twice. Early and by broken arm.

      Reply
  • October 28, 2016 at 1:14 am
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    They got it right. Nobody in history had a chin like George Chuvalo. The man took all that punishment and he’s still completely lucid. The man has the heart of a wolverine.

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    • October 2, 2019 at 1:35 pm
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      Before his tragic death in a plane crash, Rocky Marciano was quoted as saying something to the effect that if heavyweight title fights were scheduled for 50 rounds, George Chuvalo would have been the undefeated champion of the world.

      Reply
  • May 30, 2018 at 3:13 pm
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    Ggg never been down in his 345 ameteur career or his 30 odd professional fights how is he not on this list

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    • June 3, 2018 at 10:22 am
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      Because 99.9% of GGG opponent’s were windowcleaners.

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    • July 22, 2018 at 1:32 pm
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      Julios César Chávez Sr had better chin than anyone except Jake Lamotta.

      Reply
  • May 1, 2021 at 6:32 pm
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    This is a no-brainer. George Chuvalo was the toughest heavyweight ever, the best chin ever. Carlos Monzon would be my second choice.

    Reply
  • June 5, 2021 at 12:25 pm
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    Just a slight technical comment, Kid Gavilan was down three times, once against Carmen Basilio, once against Ike Williams and once in Cuba. This is straight from the Keeds mouth to me.

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  • July 22, 2021 at 5:39 pm
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    The first thing that has to be acknowledged is that NOBODY who didn’t fight as a heavyweight belongs in this list because this is an all-time list and not cut up into weight classes (that might be an interesting article subeject, hint-hint!) and NOBODY who wasn’t a heavyweight took heavyweight shots, the most devastating in history.

    People have to realise that many men who were said to have chins of granite didn’t really. Ali had a chin of iron but was really hard to hit so it served him as well as a chin of granite served others. Foreman also only had a chin of iron but his gigantic arms were a perfect defence and his terrible punching power prevented his opponents from getting close.

    Tex Cobb’s chin is made of granite, proven by his fight with Holmes.

    George Chuvalo had BY FAR the hardest chin in boxing history. This is proven by his 93-fight pro career in which he fought Quarry, Patterson, Foreman, Williams, Frazier and Ali (twice) without ever being knocked down. NOBODY has a resume like that, not even legends like Tyson, Holyfield, (Vitali) Klitschko or Lewis.

    George Chuvalo’s chin wasn’t made of iron or granite, it was made of solid NEUTRONIUM.

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  • August 22, 2021 at 1:05 am
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    Rocky marciano should be #2 on this list!!!

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  • October 12, 2021 at 6:48 pm
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    How about Randall “Tex” Cobb? Larry Holmes hit him with everything including the kitchen sink and he wouldn’t go down.

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  • December 10, 2021 at 1:32 pm
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    Great chin and actually a good boxer-puncher in an age where you had to be more than good to go all the way. But numbers are deceiving. Never being knocked down doesn’t prove any more than Marciano never losing proves his greatness. He was great, but not for that reason. If the referee had been more attentive or a stickler for details, Bonavena might have be been credited for a flash knockdown over Chuvalo when he put him down, which would cut him out of lists like these. But it’s good to see him recognized.

    Reply

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