Joshua, Robinson, Leonard, Ali: Breaking Down Eddie Hearn’s Boxing Mount Rushmore

February 15, 2024
2 months
Eddie Hearn

In a recent interview with GIVEMESPORT, promoter Eddie Hearn named the four fighters he would put on his boxing Mount Rushmore. The Matchroom Boxing boss hasn’t provided too many surprises, naming Anthony Joshua, Sugar Ray Leonard, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Muhammad Ali.

In a sport blessed with legends throughout history, it’s an impossible task. The likes of Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Roy Jones Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquaio, Canelo Alvarez, and many others would all have legitimate claims to be carved into this hypothetical mountain.

So what was Hearn’s thought process behind choosing these four boxers? And do they all have valid reasons to be up there among the four greatest fighters in history? Let’s take a look.

Anthony Joshua

Even the most ardent Joshua fan would struggle to argue that the two-time heavyweight world champion deserves to be talked about in the same conversation as boxing’s greatest. But for Hearn, there is plenty of logic behind this decision.

Starting with AJ’s credentials, he is an Olympic gold medallist and twice heavyweight champion of the world. After becoming IBF champion with an embarrassingly easy second-round knockout win over Charles Martin, Joshua unified the division with a thrilling 11th-round win over the previously dominant Wladimir Klitschko.

A shock defeat on his U.S debut to Andy Ruiz was rectified in the rematch as Joshua reclaimed his belts, but he was desperately outclassed by Oleksandr Usyk in their first fight and pushed the Ukrainian close in the rematch.

A return to form in 2023 has put the Briton back in title contention, but is his CV strong enough for a boxing Mount Rushmore?

For the impact he’s had on modern-day British boxing, there is an argument that he deserves more credit than he perhaps receives. As for Hearn specifically, AJ has absolutely earned his place. No fighter in the Matchroom stable has generated anywhere close to the revenue of Joshua, who has played a major role in turning the company into a global force.

Joshua remains the face of Matchroom’s boxing division, and it can be no surprise that Hearn, who directly benefits from the fighter’s success, continues to push and promote his poster boy in any way he can.

Sugar Ray Leonard

A fighter that would be on the boxing Mount Rushmore of many fans and analysts. Leonard was an era-defining fighter and part of the famed ‘Four Kings’ alongside Duran, Marvin Hagler, and Tommy Hearns – beating them all and only losing to Duran (but beating him twice).

In a career spanning 20 years, ‘Sugar’ won world titles in five weight classes and was the lineal champion in three. He was also the first boxer to gross $100 million in fight purses, and therefore played a key role in ushering in the wealth that is now commonplace at the very top of the sport.

The American suffered his first career defeat to Duran in a classic fight known as the ‘Brawl in Montreal’, but he took his revenge by beating the Mexican in their other two meetings, including an immediate rematch five months later.

Leonard’s only other two losses came at the very end of his career – the last after he had been out of the ring for more than six years. Those in no way would tarnished the legacy of a fighter who has deservedly gone down as one of the greatest of all time.

Sugar Ray Robinson

Regarded by many as the greatest pound-for-pound boxer of all time, Robinson’s record and career is something to behold. A career that stretched across three decades and lasted 25 years from 1940 to 1965, Robinson boasted a remarkable record of 174 wins (109 KO), 19 defeats and six draws.

It took Robinson an incredible 75 fights to earn his first shot at a world title having refused to cooperate with the Mafia, which controlled much of professional boxing at the time. The American duly won the belt and continued his long unbeaten streak; it would ultimately stretch to 91 fights – the sixth-longest unbeaten streak in boxing history.

After holding the welterweight world title for 15 years from 1946 to 1951, Robinson made the step up to middleweight and won the title later that same year. Sugar retired in 1952 but returned to the ring and won the middleweight championship again. In total, he won the belt five times – the first fighter to achieve the feat.

Robinson sits at the top – or near the top – of every major all-time list from reputable organizations, including The Ring Magazine, the IBF, and Boxrec.

Put simply, Hearn choosing Robinson for his boxing Mount Rushmore was a no-brainer.

Muhammad Ali

If any fight fan left Ali off their boxing Mount Rushmore, they would need their head checked. Unquestionably the most important and impactful boxer in the history of the sport, Ali first ruled the heavyweight division in 1964 at the age of 22 following his famous victory over Sonny Liston.

‘The Greatest’ was then robbed of five years of what should have been his prime after objecting to the draft for the Vietnam War. Upon returning to the ring, he became the undisputed heavyweight champion from 1974 to 1978, and held the WBC and Ring titles from 1978 to 1979.

Ali was involved in some of the most famous sporting spectacles in history, including his ‘Fight of the Century’ against Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden in March 1971 (which he lost), the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ – also against Frazier (which he won), and the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ against George Foreman in October 1974.

Ali was actually a heavy underdog for the fight with Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire but claimed an eighth-round stoppage after deploying his now-famous rope-a-dope strategy.

Yet for all his historic accomplishments in the ring, it was Ali’s impact out of it that secured his legacy as one of the most important figures in history. A vocal and inspirational activist during the Civil Rights movement in the United States during the height of his career, and a humanitarian throughout his post-fight life, Ali’s work continues to shape the world many decades later.