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.
11. William ‘Gorilla’ Jones: In 144 bouts, Jones was off his feet just a single time, courtesy of great middleweight champion Freddie Steele.
10. Carmen Basilio: The 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.”
9. Panama Al Brown: This great bantamweight champion was knocked down on a single occasion in a grand total of 168 bouts. ‘Nuff said.
7. Pancho Villa: 104 contests in the ultra-competitive 1920’s — never knocked down.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.