In the world of boxing, speed is often considered a vital component of a fighter’s success. However, history has shown that some of the sport’s most iconic figures have defied this notion, using their unique skills and tactical prowess to dominate the ring despite their slower fighting styles.
George Foreman is a former heavyweight champion, Olympic gold medalist, and boxing legend. Foreman became a dominant force in the heavyweight division despite his slower foot and hand speed. Born in 1949 in Marshall, Texas, he amassed an impressive professional record of 76 wins, 5 losses, and 68 knockouts.
Foreman’s fighting style focused on his incredible punching power and strength, which allowed him to overwhelm his opponents. He employed a cross-armed defense to protect himself from incoming shots. At the same time, his heavy jabs and thunderous right hands were enough to drop even the most durable of opponents. Foreman’s ability to cut off the ring and close the distance also contributed to his success.
One of Foreman’s most notable victories came in 1973 when he defeated the then-undefeated heavyweight champion, Joe Frazier. Despite being a significant underdog, Foreman’s relentless power and pressure proved to be too much for Frazier. He went on to have a storied career, even regaining the heavyweight title at the age of 45, proving that speed is not the only factor in determining a great boxer.
Joe Joyce, born in 1985 in London, England, is a British heavyweight boxer who is often criticized for his lack of speed. Despite this, he has built an impressive professional record of 15 wins, 0 losses, and 14 knockouts. Joyce’s success can be attributed to his size, strength, and boxing intelligence.
Standing at 6’6″ and with a reach of 80 inches, Joyce uses his physical advantages to dictate the pace and distance in the ring. His methodical, deliberate fighting style enables him to break down opponents over time, wearing them out with a consistent output of powerful punches. In addition, Joyce’s granite chin and tremendous stamina allow him to absorb punishment and remain competitive throughout the fight.
One of Joe Joyce’s most significant victories came in 2020 when he defeated the highly touted Daniel Dubois. Many had expected Dubois to outspeed and overpower Joyce. Still, the latter’s patience, toughness, and precise jab were enough to secure a stoppage victory. Joyce’s win over Dubois demonstrated that even slower fighters can achieve greatness with the right strategy and determination.
Nikolai Valuev, the “Russian Giant,” was born in 1973 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Despite his slow, lumbering fighting style, he became a two-time WBA heavyweight champion, compiling a professional record of 50 wins, 2 losses, and 34 knockouts. At 7’0″ tall and weighing over 300 pounds, Valuev was a truly imposing figure in the boxing ring. Be sure to check other tallest boxers in history.
Valuev’s size and reach were undoubtedly his greatest assets, as he often used his long jab to keep opponents at bay. He also possessed surprising durability, which allowed him to absorb punishment while delivering powerful counterpunches. Although not the most agile or swift fighter, Valuev’s ability to control the distance and pace of the fight often led him to victory.
One of his most notable wins came in 2005 when he defeated John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight title. In that fight, Valuev demonstrated his ability to effectively use his size and power to control the action, outworking Ruiz en route to a unanimous decision victory. This triumph cemented Valuev’s place among the top heavyweights of his era, proving that even slower fighters can achieve great accomplishments in boxing.
Carl Froch, born on July 2, 1977, in Nottingham, England, is a former professional boxer who competed between 2002 and 2014. Froch boasted an impressive professional record of 33 wins, 2 losses, and 24 knockouts. Although he was not known for his quickness, Froch was a highly skilled and intelligent fighter.
Froch’s fighting style centered around maintaining a steady and relentless pace. This allowed him to wear down his opponents over the course of a fight. Despite his lack of speed, Froch possessed excellent timing and a powerful right hand that enabled him to capitalize on openings in his opponent’s defense. His tactical approach often involved applying constant pressure and utilizing his exceptional endurance to keep his opponents on the back foot.
Despite his slower pace, Carl Froch achieved considerable success in his boxing career. He became a four-time super-middleweight world champion, holding WBC, WBA, and IBF titles. Froch’s ability to overcome his speed disadvantage by employing intelligent tactics and showcasing his tenacity in the ring solidified his place as one of the best super-middleweight fighters in history.
Gennady Golovkin (GGG)
You must have heard of Gennady Golovkin. Also known as “GGG,” Golovkin was born in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, on April 8, 1982. Golovkin’s professional boxing career began in 2006 and continues to this day. With a record of 42 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw, including 37 knockouts, GGG is considered one of the most dominant middleweight boxers of his era.
Although GGG is not known for his speed, he possesses exceptional power and precise punching ability. His fighting style is characterized by a relentless attack and an iron chin, which allows him to take significant punishment while continuing to press forward. He utilizes a mix of pressure fighting and counterpunching, which enables him to break down his opponents and capitalize on their mistakes.
Golovkin’s success in the ring can be attributed to his ability to compensate for his lack of speed with exceptional timing, accuracy, and raw power. As a result, GGG has won numerous world titles in the middleweight division, including the WBA, WBC, and IBF belts.
His tactical acumen and devastating punching power have helped him to overcome his speed limitations and establish himself as one of the most feared fighters in his division. He only recently had his second loss against the GOAT, Canelo Alvarez.
Born on September 1, 1923, in Brockton, Massachusetts, Rocky Marciano is a legendary figure in the world of boxing. Marciano retired with an undefeated record of 49 wins, 0 losses, and 43 knockouts, making him the only heavyweight champion with a perfect record. Despite being known for his slower movement, Marciano’s power and aggression made him a force to be reckoned with.
Marciano was considered slow compared to other boxers of his era. Still, he made up for it with his devastating punching power, remarkable stamina, and a granite chin. Marciano’s relentless pressure and ability to absorb punishment and continue moving forward often overwhelmed his opponents.
A prime example of Marciano’s tactics can be seen in his fight against Jersey Joe Walcott in 1952. Despite being outboxed for much of the fight, Marciano persevered, ultimately landing a brutal right hand in the 13th round that knocked Walcott out and secured him the world heavyweight title. Marciano is one of only a few undefeated boxers in history.
Shannon Briggs, born December 4, 1971, in Brooklyn, New York, is a former heavyweight world champion. He held the lineal title from 1997 to 1998 and the WBO title in 2006. Briggs had an impressive professional record of 60 wins, 6 losses, and 1 draw, with 53 of those wins coming by knockout.
Despite being considered one of the slowest boxers of all time, Briggs succeeded with a style focused on powerful punches and relentless pressure. His heavy hands and ability to cut off the ring enabled him to corner opponents and exploit their weaknesses. Additionally, Briggs was known for his exceptional endurance, which allowed him to absorb punishment and outlast his adversaries.
Briggs’ most memorable victory came against George Foreman (although he was 48 at that point) in 1997 when he won the lineal heavyweight title. In this bout, Briggs showcased his tactical acumen by using his jab effectively and staying active throughout the fight, ultimately leading to a majority decision win. Briggs is also quite well known for his shenanigans with Vitali Klitschko, against whose brother he lost.
Alfredo Angulo, born August 11, 1982, in Mexicali, Mexico, is a Mexican professional boxer who has competed in various weight classes, including light middleweight and middleweight. His professional record is 26 wins, 7 losses, and 21 knockouts.
Angulo’s boxing style can be characterized by his relentless aggression and heavy-handed punches. Despite being seen as one of the slowest boxers of all time, he compensated for this by applying constant pressure on his opponents and utilizing his strength and power to break them down.
One of Angulo’s most notable fights was against Erislandy Lara in 2013. Though Angulo ultimately lost by TKO, he knocked down the much faster Lara twice, showcasing his ability to compete against faster opponents using his power and determination.
Antonio Margarito, born on March 18, 1978, in Torrance, California, is a former professional boxer who competed in multiple weight classes, including welterweight and light middleweight. With a professional record of 41 wins, 8 losses, and 27 knockouts, Margarito was a formidable fighter despite his slower fighting style.
Margarito’s success in the ring was due to his relentless pressure, high-volume punching, and exceptional durability. His aggressive approach and ability to throw a significant number of punches per round often wore down his opponents. Additionally, Margarito possessed an iron chin, enabling him to take significant punishment while continuing to press forward.
One of Margarito’s most notable victories came in 2008 when he defeated the highly regarded Miguel Cotto for the WBA welterweight title. In this fight, Margarito showcased his ability to overcome a speed disadvantage by applying constant pressure and overwhelming Cotto with his high-volume attack, eventually scoring a late stoppage in the eleventh round. Although Cotto did manage to revenge his loss soon after.
Carlos Monzon, born on August 7, 1942, in San Javier, Argentina, is widely regarded as one of the greatest middleweight champions in the history of boxing. With a professional record of 87 wins, 3 losses, 9 draws, and 59 knockouts, Monzon’s slower fighting style did not prevent him from dominating his division for nearly a decade.
Monzon’s success in the ring was largely due to his excellent timing, precise punching, and incredible reach. Despite not being the fastest fighter, Monzon could control the distance and pace of his fights, utilizing a stiff jab and powerful right hand to keep his opponents at bay. Monzon was also known for his exceptional ring intelligence, which allowed him to adapt and exploit his opponent’s weaknesses.
One of Monzon’s most famous fights came in 1970 when he defeated Nino Benvenuti for the undisputed middleweight title. In this bout, Monzon demonstrated his ability to overcome a speed disadvantage by using his reach and timing to control the action, eventually scoring a devastating knockout in the twelfth round. Monzon would go on to defend his title 14 times, cementing his status as one of the greatest middleweights of all time.
The legendary fighters featured in this article have demonstrated that a lack of speed doesn’t necessarily equate to a lack of success in the boxing ring. Through their exceptional power, precise punching, and tactical acumen, these athletes have managed to overcome their speed disadvantages, achieving greatness in their respective weight classes.
Their inspiring journeys testify to the fact that with the right combination of skill, determination, and strategy, even slower fighters can etch their names into the history books.