Through Ken Hissner: It’s rare for a reigning champion to retire, like former heavyweight champions like Gene Tunney and former super middleweight champion Andre Ward, to name a few, but they weren’t undefeated.
Retiring undefeated is another rarity. Starting at the top would be world champion in five divisions Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr., at 50-0 with 27 interruptions from Las Vegas, Nevada. He was a bronze medalist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
In August 2017, Mayweather had his last official match, defeating MMA/UFC champion Conor McGregor who, although he had no boxing background, the Nevada commission ruled it was an official match. This tarnished his 50th win by most boxers, including his writer.
It was clear that Mayweather, who threw three punches per round, was carrying McGregor. Once he opened up on the tenth lap, it was all over. This added millions to what he believes has earned more money than any other boxer in the history of the sport.
There was no title at stake in this super welterweight contest.
Mayweather won titles in super featherweight, lightweight, junior welterweight, welterweight and superwelterweight. He had some 28 defenses. He had one exhibition after winning his last official match in Japan, the only time he fought from the US where the McGregor match should have been treated the same as an exhibition.
1952 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist Pete Rademacher was the only amateur in his first fight for a world title fight against heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, but not one like McGregor with no amateur boxing experience to the best of this writer’s knowledge.
Would be second on the list with even more wins than Mayweather was a former world champion in two divisions Ricardo “Finito” Lopez51-0-1 with 38 stoppages from Mexico City, Mexico.
Lopez last fought in September 2001, defending his IBF Light Flyweight title which he won, stopping Zolani Petelo, 17-2-2, at Madison Square Garden in New York. He also won the WBC Mini title. He had about 24 defenses. He avenged his only draw a technical decision to Rosendo Alvarez in their next game.
Third on the list would be former heavyweight champion Rocky “The Brockton Blockbuster” Marciano, 49-0 with 43 stoppages from Brockton, Massachusetts. He took that accolade for most wins and was still undefeated until Mayweather surpassed him for 62 years.
Marciano last fought off the canvas, stopping light heavyweight champion Archie “Old Mongoose” Moore, 149-19-8, who still holds the record for most stoppages at 132. Marciano didn’t fight for the title until his 43rd fight. This was in September 1955 at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, in New York.
There was talk of a comeback when Floyd Patterson lost the title to Sweden’s Ingemar Johansson in June 1959 to bring the title back to the US. Still, he was unable to regain the same ability as when he retired four years earlier.
Fourth on the list would be former bantamweight champion Jimmy “Little Tiger Barry”, 59-0-10 with 1 no decision with 39 stoppages from Chicago, Illinois. Eight of those ten draws were in his last eight fights ending in September 1899 with Harry Harris, 24-1-1, in Chicago.
Four of those draws Barry had were with Casper Leon, the first after winning his first 46 fights. They also fought to a no decision.
Fifth on the list would be former super middleweight champion southpaw Joe “Pride of Wales” Calzaghe, 46-0 with 32 stoppages from Newbridge, Wales, UK, who played former World Champion Roy Jones Jr. in his last game in November 2008. 52-4 at Madison Square Garden in New York. He was the unified champion to hold the WBO title the longest, with the WBA, WBC and IBF titles added.
Calzaghe had some 21 defenses. He fought his last two fights in the US, the penultimate of his career, beating former World Champion Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, 48-4-1, by split decision in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hopkins would go on to win another world title after the loss. Calzaghe retired due to broken hands.
Sixth on the list would be former WBC Continental Americas super featherweight champion and WBA Fedebol welterweight champion Edson “Xuxa” Pedro Nascimento, 48-0-1 with 41 stoppages from Santana de Parnaiba, Sao Paulo, Brazil. About 22 opponents had never won a fight.
Nascimento’s last fight was in August 2004, knocking out Leonardo Jose Tissera (2-12-6) in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His only draw was a technical decision with Javier Hector Valadez in March 2000 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He had won his first 37 fights.
Seventh on the list would be the former WBF super flyweight champion Samson Dutch boys gym43-0 with 36 stoppages from Thailand’s Rio-et.
In his last fight in April 2002, Gym defeated Alfren Bulala 10-5-1 in Thailand. He was born Somboon Panltasi.
Eighth on the list would be former Brazilian and South American Cruiserweight Champion William “Thompson” Fernando Bezerra, 41-0 with 40 stoppages from Itaquera, Brazil.
In his last fight, Bezerra stopped Marcelo Duarte, 14-2, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in March 2016. In contact with him, he considered a comeback several years ago, but never did.
Ninth on the list would be former EBU Bantam champion Augustin “Tigre de Irala” Senin, 42-0-1 with 21 stoppages from Bilbao, Pais, Vasco, Spain.
Senin’s last fight was in September 1972, stopping Antonio Sassarini, 34-3, in Italy’s Liguria, LaSpezia. His only draw was with Manolin Alvarez, 12-35-9, in his tenth fight, beating him in a rematch. He represented Spain at the 1964 Summer Olympics.
Tenth on the list would be former NABF heavyweight champion “Baby” Joe Mesi36-0 with 29 stoppages from Buffalo, New York.
In Mesi’s last fight, he stopped Shannon Miller, 15-3 in Lincoln, Rhode Island, in October 2007, for the vacant USNBC title.
After a fierce battle with Vassiliy Jirov, 33-1, in March 2004, Mesi did not fight for two years, during which time his license was suspended. He would go on to have his remaining seven fights, starting in Puerto Rico, then Montreal with the remaining in the US.
Several other undefeated world champions included former IBF and WBA Super Middleweight Champion Sven “Phantom” Ottke34-0 with 6 stoppages from Karlsruhe, Baden, Wurrtemberg, Germany.
Ottke’s last fight was in March 2004, beating Armand Krajnc, 29-2, in a title defense in Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany. Half a dozen of those victories were contested and held in Germany. He was supposed to come back in 2008, but the scheduled match failed. He was a three-time Olympian.
Another is former WBO middleweight champion Dmitry “Grand Master” Pirog20-0 (15), of Gelendzhik, Russia, had his last fight beating Nobuhiro Ishida, 24-7-2, in a title defense in May 2012.
In his only fight outside of Russia in July 2010, Pirog stopped Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs, 20-0, in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the vacant WBO middleweight title. After his retirement, he was elected to the Russian parliament in 2017.
Last but least was former two division world champion southpaw Edwin “The Inca Dynamite” Valero27-0 with 27 stoppages by Merida, Venezuela.
In Valero’s last fight, he stopped Antonio DeMarco, 23-1-1, in a WBC World Lightweight title defense in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, in February 2010. He was charged with murdering his wife and hanged himself in a cell in April of 2010.