Who Has the Most Knockouts in Boxing History?



Who Has the Most Knockouts in Boxing History?

Since the earliest days of boxing, the sport has been known for its characteristic violence. Naturally, as boxing matches only end when fights go the distance or one fighter is unable to continue, it’s a sport that leads to plenty of knockouts. But who has the most knockouts in boxing?

These are the fighters who, throughout the sport's history, have gone down as the boxers with the most knockouts on their records.

Top Five Fighters with the Most Knockouts in Boxing History

When it comes to impressive knockouts, the list could go on indefinitely. However, if we’re strictly speaking about the number of knockouts, these are the five fighters who have the most knockouts in boxing history.

5. Buck Smith (120 KOs)

Born on July 22, 1965, in Oklahoma, Buck Smith has gathered 120 different victims of his knockout power. 

Fighting at welterweight, Buck Smith turned professional in 1987 at the age of 22, despite having no prior experience in the sport. He lost his first pro fight, a volunteer no-show in Oklahoma City, where he faced a fighter named Ali Smith and earned $50.

Despite his loss, the fight fueled his desire to become a fighter, and he went on a winning streak afterward, fighting every week against ordinary opponents in small Midwestern venues. He used his heavy schedule to get paid for beating lesser opponents rather than sparring against better ones for little money.

Smith competed in 224 professional matches, winning 179 (120 by knockout), losing 19, and drawing two. However, he could have boxed under different names, opening the door to other possible fights in which he may have participated.

Even though he did not win any major titles, he did emerge victorious from many great fights, among which are his seventh-round knockout of Kirkland Laind and a second-round knockout against Robert Wangila, an Olympic gold medalist.

He lost to former and future champions, including Buddy McGirt, Mark Breland, Julio César Chávez, and Antonio Margarito. Smith once fought twice in one day and had a notable “iron man stint” in March 1993, fighting 12 matches, which was made illegal by the Boxing Reform Act of 1996.

Smith fought his final fight on June 30, 2007, losing by knockout in the second round, bringing his record to 179 wins, 20 losses, two draws, and 25 no contests in 226 fights.

4. Sam Langford (126 KOs)

Samuel Edgar Langford was born in 1885 in Weymouth Falls, Nova Scotia, Canada. The man has gone down in history as having the fourth most knockouts in boxing, with a record of 314 fights, 178 wins (126 by knockout), and 30 losses.

Making his professional debut as a lightweight in 1902, Langford defied expectations with his imposing presence despite his height of five feet, seven inches. Langford, also known as the “Boston Terror,” resembled a heavyweight with his broad shoulders, 17-inch neck, and thick arms. This physicality enabled him to compete in the welterweight, middleweight, and even heavyweight divisions, where he frequently faced opponents who weighed 20 pounds or more than him.

Langford's boxing career showcased his resilience and versatility, earning him a reputation as a boxer who took on giants across weight divisions. Despite his remarkable accomplishments, he never secured a world title, a fact that added to his mystique. Renowned champion Jack Dempsey went on record stating, “I think Sam Langford was the best boxer we've ever had”.

The boxer’s career spanned 24 years and was defined by technical skill, punching power, intelligence, and courage. He faced and defeated top-tier opponents such as Joe Gans, Joe Walcott, and Jack Johnson, but his most intense and long-standing rivalry was with Harry Wills.

Langford's legacy as a champion without a crown stems from his failure to win a world championship despite defeating numerous champions. In 1923, at the age of 43 and suffering from severe vision loss, he approached Jack Kearns, Jack Dempsey's manager, about a championship fight. However, he was avoided due to his physical condition and age, making him a less appealing opponent.

The indomitable will of Langford  was further demonstrated when he chose to fight despite being virtually blind since his fight with Fred Fulton in 1917. Despite this vision loss, his pursuit of a championship fight in 1923 showcased determination to compete at the highest level.

His final fight in 1926, at the age of 43 and completely blind, marked the touching end of an extraordinary career in which he faced any challenge that came his way.

3. Young Stribling (129 KOs)

With just three knockouts more than Sam Langford, Young Stribling sneaks his way into third place on our list of the most knockouts in boxing history.

Born in Bainbridge on December 26, 1904, William Lawrence “Young” Stribling Jr. wanted to be a professional boxer from when he was a little boy. Or at least this is what his mother, Lily Braswell, reports. 

To help Stribling in his goal, the young boy used to fight his brother in oversized gloves, their father refereeing the bouts. As Stribling developed, he had his first professional fight when he was 16 years old. The next nine years would see Stribling progress through a total of seven weight divisions, finally landing on the heavyweight division by 1929.

Stribling never fulfilled his potential as a fighter, even though he accrued a professional record of 256 wins with 129 knockouts. Analysts at the time believed his father was booking too many fights for Stribling, wearing the fighter out and not allowing him to fight at his best. Stribling competed in 285 professional fights over 12 years, with many of them taking place outside of the United States. However, when he eventually got a new manager, this too failed to improve his performance.

Sadly, the boxer’s career ended when he was only 28 years old. Stribling was heading to visit his family at a nearby hospital on his motorbike, when the fighter was struck by a car in October 1993.  Stribling’s funeral in Macon further served as evidence of how loved he was. 25,000 people walked past his coffin in the town’s auditorium so they could pay their condolences, while another 10,000 attended the service.

2. Archie Moore (132 KOs)

Archie Moore, known in the ring as “The Mongoose,” has landed the second most knockouts of all time in the sport.

Born Archibald Lee Wright on December 13, 1913, in Benoit, Mississippi, Moore had a tough childhood. His father left when he was just a kid. Because she was incapable of taking care of both him and his sister, Moore’s mother had to leave both of them to his uncle and aunt.

After his uncle, who was one of the most important figures in his life, passed away in 1928, things took a turn for Moore. He surrounded himself with the wrong people and ended up being sentenced to a three-year term at a reform school in Booneville, Missouri, which he was released from early after 22 months due to his great behavior.

Moore's professional boxing career was an astonishing 27 years long, from 1935 to 1963. Over this period, he amassed an impressive record of 186 wins (132 of which were by knockout), 23 losses, and 10 draws. What made Moore so special was his adaptability and his ability to compete across so many different weight classes. He competed not only as a light heavyweight but also as a heavyweight, demonstrating his ability and resilience against fighters who were much bigger than him.

Archie Moore was finally crowned champion on December 17, 1952, at the age of 39 after defeating Joey Maxim by unanimous decision to claim the world light heavyweight title. The victory made him the oldest boxer to win a world championship—a record that still stands today. He also went on to defend his title 10 times, cementing himself as the dominant light heavyweight that he was.

1. Billy Bird (139 KOs)

With Billy Bird and his yet-to-be-surpassed record of 139 knockouts, our list of the boxers with the most knockouts in boxing history comes to an end. He also holds the record for the most recorded professional fights in boxing history. With a staggering 356 bouts, his dedication and perseverance are truly remarkable. There are even rumors of even more fights that weren't officially documented.

Born on January 1, 1899, in Chelsea, London, Bird fought in the welterweight division. He won 260 of his 356 professional fights, which took place from 1920 to 1948, which made him also known for how active he was.

He fought the vast majority of his fights in his country, England, to the point that he only fought outside of it twice, once in Belgium and once in Italy. Little else is known about Bird, except that when he was not boxing, he also worked as a taxi driver. That’s one cab you wouldn’t want to pull a runner on. 

Billy Bird's achievements are considered near-impossible to replicate in today's boxing landscape. Experts believe this record for most knockouts “will never be repeated” due to the evolution of training and fighting styles.

Fighters with the Most Knockouts in Boxing History: Honorable Mentions

As a top five leaves many great fighters out, here are some other boxers who, even though they do not make it to the top five, came close to having the most knockouts in history.

Kid Azteca (114 KOs)

With a record of 144 knockouts, Kid Azteca, whose real name was Luis Villanueva, accrued an impressive 114 knockouts.

Born on January 3, 1917, in Mexico City, Kid Azteca was a well-known figure in the boxing world, particularly in the welterweight and middleweight divisions. His first professional fight took place during the 1930s, and he quickly went from an unknown figure to a skilled and entertaining fighter who gave each fighter that he fought a run for his money.

He is celebrated for his long and storied career that spanned from 1929 to 1961, making him one of the longest-serving professional boxers in history. Known for his aggressive style and powerful left hook, Kid Azteca fought 255 bouts, with a record of 193 wins (114 by knockout), 49 losses, and 11 draws.

His career highlights include notable victories over top contenders of his era, and he was a regular draw in arenas across Mexico and the United States. On March 18, 1943, he defeated the Australian fighter Dave Sands, becoming the first Mexican-born boxer to obtain the world title in the middleweight division. Despite never winning a world title, Kid Azteca's impact on boxing and his enduring popularity in Mexico remain significant. He passed away on March 16, 2002, leaving behind a rich legacy in the sport.

George Odwell (111 KOs)

Born in Camden Town, London, on February 15, 1911, George Odwell was a fighter who boxed from 1930 to 1945 in the welterweight division.

With a total of 210 fights and 159 wins (111 of which were by knockout), Odwell fought for the first time against Tom Daniels, winning by knockout in the third round.

On November 1, 1937, Odwell defeated Jack Kid Berg (British Lightweight Champion 1934) by knockout in the seventh round. Odwell has been recognized as one of Britain's top 500 fighters, and even though footage from his era might be scarce, his record speaks volumes about his boxing prowess.

Sugar Ray Robinson (109 KOs)

The infamous Sugar Ray Robinson was such a heavy hitter that he even went to the point of taking a life inside the ring, ending Jimmy Doyle’s life in 1947.

Born Walker Smith Jr. on May 3, 1921, he is revered as one of the greatest boxers in history. From 1940 to 1965, Robinson competed primarily in the welterweight and middleweight divisions, earning the nickname “Sugar Ray” for his unparalleled skill, footwork, and charisma. 

He won the world welterweight title in 1946 and the middleweight title five times, making him a multi-weight champion. His record includes over 170 victories, numerous knockouts, and very few defeats. After retiring in 1952, Robinson made a comeback in 1955, reclaiming the middleweight title with a historic victory over Carmen Basilio in 1958.

These are the fighters with the most knockouts in boxing history. The best of the best fighters that were, are, and will continue to be absolute inspirations to millions of people all around the world. 

Will anyone ever surpass any of the mentioned fighters? Many would say that we won’t get to see something like that happen again, but who knows? Boxing’s real magic resides in its magic and its unpredictability. Never say never, and less in boxing.

Bren Gray is our resident Kiwi, and has been writing about sports since he could first string words together. He first fell in love with boxing when David Tua took on Lennox Lewis in 2000, and hasn't looked back since.