Boxing is more than just a sport to its devoted fans. It’s the highest form of entertainment. The entertainment kicks into gear long before the fighters hear the opening bell and throw a punch.
Gamesmanship includes fighters calling each other out via social media and news interviews, trading barbs at news conferences, face-offs, and public appearances. It all culminates in the highest form of the art: the ringwalk entrance.
Fighters can put an impressive amount of planning into their ringwalks, from the staging to the music to the costumes, plus a special guest or two. Lists of “favorites” and “bests” are highly subjective, even more than pound-for-pound lists. When has that ever stopped any of us with a forum?
Our list of favorite ringwalks considers the stakes involved in the fight, the visibility of the fighters, elements including pop culture, costuming, and surprise guests, all wrapped up into the context and technology of the time.
Following is our list of the 8 best ringwalks in no specific order.
Naseem Hamed’s Magic Carpet Ride
Hamed vs Bungu: March 11, 2000, Kensington, England – Hamed wins by fourth-round knockout.
No ringwalk list is complete without “Prince” Naseem Hamed, the undisputed, unified ringwalk king. His showmanship exceeded anyone up to that time, and it can be argued few have matched it. Hamed created performance art with high-level production values at the time, each with their own theme.
Choosing just one isn’t easy, but I’m a sucker for anything rising above the crowd for maximum visibility and impact. So it’s got to be Hamed’s entrance via magic flying carpet like something out of Arabian Nights. Considering it was 23 years ago, the staging is impressive.
Wladimir Klitschko’s Cool K.O. Show
Klitschko vs Chambers: March 20, 2020, Esprit Arena, Dusseldorf, Germany – Klitschko wins by 12th-round knockout
In contrast to Hamed’s heat, Wladimir Klitschko’s ringwalks were all about European precision from start to finish, like a tightly built Mercedes. Music, lighting, dramatic Steadicam cinematography, and the cool of Dr. Steelhammer himself. It’s all just as precise as Klitschko's approach in the ring.
Looking back at this entrance from today’s perspective, as the Klitschko brothers help lead the fight for the freedom of Ukraine, their resolve is apparent even then.
Mike Tyson’s Minimalist Method
Tyson vs Spinks: June 27, 1988, Convention Hall, Atlantic City – Tyson wins by first-round knockout.
As ringwalks grew bigger, bolder, louder, and more elaborate, some fighters chose a more straightforward approach to stand out. With the fearsome legend of Mike Tyson at its all-time peak in 1988, Iron Mike felt no need for flashy bells and whistles. Instead, the undefeated heavyweight with 30 knockouts in 36 wins and 15 of those in the first round, let his reputation lead the way.
Tyson walked into Convention Hall with no music, only rattling chains. His powerful presence intimidated the entire crowd and his unfortunate opponent, Spinks, who had lost the fight almost before it began.
Floyd Mayweather Plays The Heel to Perfection
Mayweather vs De La Hoya: May 5, 2007, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas – Mayweather by split decision
Floyd Mayweather’s marketing genius equals his skills in the ring. After Mayweather bought out his contract with Top Rank, he joined forces with manager Al Haymon. They suggested a reality TV series to preview his upcoming fight with legendary star Oscar De La Hoya.
Mayweather displayed his flashy personality in the new HBO Sports series called “24/7,” hurling insults and throwing money at the camera while claiming his new moniker, “Money” Mayweather. The series got record ratings for HBO.
Mayweather made his ringwalk the extension of the series, trolling De La Hoya on Cinco De Mayo by wearing a red, green, and white tricolor ringwalk outfit and white sombrero Rap star 50 Cent helped hype the crown as Mayweather entered, where he defeated De La Hoya. Mayweather perfected the art of embracing his haters and went from being a B-side to setting the all-time pay-per-view record.
Tyson Fury: Crazy As A Fox
Fury vs Wilder 3: October 10, 2022, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas – Tyson wins by 11th-round TKO
Even though Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” debuted before Tyson Fury was born, never was there a ringwalk song more suited to a fighter. The flamboyant, often unhinged “Gypsy King” put together entertaining ringwalks worthy of his new home base in Las Vegas after signing with Top Rank. He channeled his inner Apollo Creed, celebrated Cinco De Mayo in a sombrero, and entered as a gladiator in his second fight with Deontay Wilder.
For the trilogy fight in 2022, no one wanted, Fury leaned into the promotion, entering the ring as a conquering king on the throne to the perfect song.
Canelo Says Viva Mexico Cabrones!
Alvarez vs Saunders: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas – May 8, 2021 – Alvarez by ninth-round TKO
Like many fighters, Alvarez had a walkout song he used for every fight, the classic mariachi and ranchera ballad, “Mexico Querido Y Lindo” (“Beautiful and Beloved Mexico). Over the years, the song was embellished with medleys, dancing, and elaborate staging.
Grammy award-winning singer Pepe Aguilar and daughter Angela Aguilar, a teenage rising superstar Mexican-American singing sensation performed in front of a record-setting 73,126 fans in Arlington. It was the most-attended boxing event at an indoor venue in U.S. history and the largest U.S. gathering since the beginning of the pandemic.
Canelo destroyed Saunders, breaking his orbital bone and forcing him to quit after the eighth round.
This was nearly as exciting to Mexican and Mexican-American fans as seeing a young Taylor Swift. Aguilar has 9 million followers – although she still needs to catch up to Canelo with 15.8 million followers.
Terence “Bud” Crawford Hooks A Big Fish
Spence vs Crawford: July 29, 2023, TMobile Arena, Las Vegas – Crawford by fifth-round TKO.
Often criticized for shirking the media limelight, Terence Crawford leaned into promotion for the long-awaited showdown with his rival Errol Spence Jr. In the days before the fight, Crawford asked fans who should bring him into the ring on fight night. He said, “I think it would be dope to have Eminem walk me out.”
To Crawford’s surprise, Eminem responded in the comments: “This is 2 crazy.!!! You r 1 of my favorite boxers rn!” Previously unacquainted, Crawford and Marshall Mathers, AKA Eminem, quickly made their plan and kept it quiet. Suspense over whether it might come together built up to a frenzy.
As Eminem rarely did public appearances of this sort, it seemed impossible. When fans at the TMobile Arena heard the first few notes of “Lose Yourself,” they roared in approval. It was Crawford's first victory for the night but not the last.
Y’All Must Have Forgot Roy Jones Jr.
Jones Jr. vs Woods: Rose Garden, Portland, Oregon, September 7, 2002
Unified light heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. wasn’t going to break a sweat in his 11th straight title defense against Clinton Woods of England, so he worked one up in his ring walk production. It was the best show fans in Portland and watching on HBO Boxing would see that night.
Dancer, the theme from “Shaft,” Jones Jr. emerging on a riser atop a platform and putting on his own live rap performance – yes, this one had it all. Crusty HBO Boxing commentator Larry Merchant said Jones was “no shrinking violet.” Come on, Larry, few boxers are. Jones Jr. was always aware of what the public wanted and gave it to them.
When the fight finally got underway, there was so much confetti in the ring referee Jay Nady had to briefly stop the first round to clean up the ring. Safety first! Jones Jr. took his time, easily winning five rounds before putting Woods out of his misery in round six.
8 Best Ringwalks Plus Two
We have our 8 best ringwalks. But the entire list could be constructed from the Naseem Hamed library of ringwalks. We leave two more for your entertainment.
Hamed vs McCullough, Oct 31, 1998 – Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City – Hamed by decision
Billed as “Halloween Fright Night,” Hamed staged a theatrical entrance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” complete with smoke, sound effects, and, skeletons in a mock graveyard. Hamed knocked out a skull but couldn’t knock out McCullough, ending an 18-fight knockout streak. Cursed?
Hamed vs Ingle: MEN Arena, Manchester, England, April 10, 1999 – Hamed by 11th round TKO
Perhaps to make up for his previous decision loss, Hamed’s ringwalk included holograms and lookalikes before the real Hamed emerged and rode to the ring in a nearly 20-foot-long 1960 blue Cadillac, singing along to Busta Rhymes’ “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See.”
Opponent Ingle and his promoter Frank Maloney left the ring and went to the dressing room to wait it out. Once Hamed got near the ring, they returned to take their loss.