The Hardest Hitters: Tyson, Ngannou, Holyfield and Wolfe

February 4, 2024
4 months
Image of Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson has been talking to the boxing news sites about his career and, more specifically, about the opponents who packed the biggest punch. Without hesitation, Tyson quickly said that Evander Holyfield packed the most potent strike. Is Iron Mike modest, and how would others like Francis Ngannou and Ann Wolfe measure punch velocity?

Holyfield Derailed Tyson with his Punches

Image of Evander Holyfield knocking down Mike Tyson

If you didn’t watch that iconic night of boxing in November 1996, Evander Holyfield stopped Mike Tyson in the 11th round of a scheduled 12 as Iron Mike could not defend himself from an onslaught of Holyfield’s strikes. That punch still reverberates in Tyson’s psyche as he was never the same boxer. He famously bit Holyfield in the re-match, leading to disqualification, a series of non-contest bouts, and multiple losses. When Tyson was asked why Holyfield threw the most powerful punches, he said, “He threw terrific shots with both hands and bad intentions.”

Tyson also fought other opponents with equal power as Lennox Lewis famously threw a KO punch in 2002 that ended any hopes of Mike returning to the championship stage. However, Tyson was more open to discussing his adversaries, José Ribalta and Larry Holmes.

Uncharacteristically, Iron Mike didn’t talk about himself as a power puncher or in terms that described his accomplishments with great vigor. Given Tyson’s fame and notoriety within boxing, scientists have studied the power of his punch. Multiple units of measurement have been used to describe it, but the number that sticks is around 1,600 joules. This is the same amount of power as being shot by someone multiple times.

Was Wolfe just as Dominant as Tyson?

Image of Ann Wolfe throwing punch

To call Ann Wolfe the female equivalent of Mike Tyson seems lazy. Wolfe was Wolfe with her legacy. She won 16 of her total 24 victories by knockout, dominating the super middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. The most brutal finish she ever displayed was most likely the KO right in the first round against Vonda Ward in 2004, which is still revered as one of the most potent KO strikes in women’s boxing.

Have we yet Seen Ngannou’s Power in Boxing?

Francis Ngannou made a living out of his powerful punches. He won the UFC heavyweight championship with a fierce strike against Stipe Miocic at UFC 260. Whether or not he’s earned his status in heavyweight boxing correctly, his punch power is transferable from MMA. Many articles on MMA news websites speculate that Ngannou has the most potent punch on the planet. One commonly cited metric is that his punches have the equivalent of 96 horsepower. That’s like being hit by a compact car. Whether he can run down Joshua or not, it’s only a matter of time before he knocks someone down with this power punch.

Some gatekeepers and boxing purists would have preferred Ngannou to showcase his talents at a lower level of boxing first, where he would be able to display his MMA punch power and probably knock out multiple opponents and earn main event fights with the likes of Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, instead of being handed opportunities by the financially blessed Saudi Arabian sports and tourism board.

Destructive Beterbiev Only Wins by KO

Artur Beterbiev might be the most potent boxer on the planet right now. The Russian-born Canadian has dominated the light heavyweight division by winning all 20 of his fights by knockout; never once has he depended on the judges. His recent success against Callum Smith was another vulgar display of power that broke his opponents’ guard, and he ended the fight on his terms. His power comes from his techniques as he almost charges up his strikes with his graceful movement and pivots in the ring, which essentially winds up the velocity that his opponent feels.

Is Savannah Marshall the Hardest Puncher in Women’s Boxing Now?

Trending boxing news quickly reminds the wider boxing community that Savannah Marshall lost to Claressa Shields in 2022, as does Shields herself. What is commonly forgotten is that Marshall has the power to ground any fighter across from her. Rather than chase a re-match against Shields, Marshall took the step up to super-middleweight, where she won four belts upon returning to the division, yet another vindication that she’s got the power to rival any contemporary boxer.

Wilder’s One Punch Fame

The Bronze Bomber built his career successes on trying to get that ‘one punch’ on an opponent. In the build-up to his three fights with Tyson Fury, it was the main point of conjecture that Wilder’s conditioning would allow him to skirt Fury’s offense until a proper opening arrived for the iconic right-hand. Journalists and former boxers like David Haye have all remarked that this punch could not be messed with and could end fights.

The unfortunate truth for Wilder is that power has now abandoned him, or he cannot wield it anymore. In his last fight against Joseph Parker, Wilder looked sluggish, in poor condition, and couldn’t utilize a fraction of the power he built his success on. As such, many boxing news websites have suggested that the American retire from the sport before he gets any more Ls on his resume. 

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By Dean McHugh