Originally Posted by janitor
Who are the heavyweights who were never the lineal champion, but were the best on the planet at one point?
How many have there been and how distinguished is the list?
For my money the clear cut examples are:
Klitschko Snr and Klitschko Jr depending upon whether their title claims are recognised.
In addition I would suggest that:
Ken Norton was probably the best heavyweight on the planet in the twilight years of Muhamad Ali's title reign.
One or more of the contenders of the 80s was the best fighter on the planet late in the title reign of Larry Holmes.
Anything that I should add?
I dont think it has been proven that either Wills or Langford were the best man .I would pick Dempsey to ko Wills .
You can say he was the standout contender ,and I would not argue,but he never proved he was better than Dempsey and their comparative results indicate other wise,imo.
Langford ? Certainly he improved, and Johnson did decline , but Langford was often as fat and out of shape as Jack during those years.
If they had met, Johnson would have had enough respect for Langford to come into the ring in shape, that means a dec win for him imo, a hard fought one but a win.
By the time Johnson beat Moran and drew with Johnson, Langford would be the better man IF he was in shape ,which is by no means a given.
A couple of weeks before Johnson drew with Battling Jim, Langford lost to Gunboat Smith.
Jackson I think was the best man during the last period of a semi -retired Sullivan's reign ,and Corbett blatantly refused a rematch to him.
Holmes was the better man during Ali's twilight years imo, but of course he was champ. Summarising I can only concede Jackson really.