Editor’s note: This article was originally published this past January.
The heavyweights of the current era are gargantuan, led by oversized titleholders Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, who outweigh many great champions of the past by 50 or more pounds.
However, we’ve seen unusually large heavyweights throughout the history of boxing, going as far back as the early part of the 20th century. And some of these bygone behemoths reached the pinnacle of the sport, becoming champions.
Here is a list of the 10 heaviest heavyweight titleholders ever.
A few guidelines:
The heavyweights are ranked according to their weight while they were titleholders.
We include their weight when they lost their titles if they were at their heaviest in that fight.
We also include their heaviest weights of their careers, even if they didn’t hold a title at the time.
The weights were found on Boxrec.com, the official record keeper of the sport.
Here we go:
The biggest champion ever is pictured here against Evander Holyfield. AP Photo / Keystone, Steffen Schmidt
Championship weight: 317¾ pounds (144.1 kg)
Highest weight in career: 348¼ pounds (158.0 kg)
Height: 7 feet (213 cm)
Title reign(s): 2005-07; 2008-09
Background: The monstrous Russian was in a class by himself in terms of size. For example, he outweighed more than one opponent by 100-plus pounds. He was an entire middleweight — 159 pounds (72 kg) — heavier than Alarim Uysal in their 1997 fight. Valuev wasn’t a great fighter but, for a man his size, he was competent.
ANDY RUIZ JR.
Andy Ruiz Jr. was grossly overweight in his rematch with Anthony Joshua. Mark Robinson / Matchroom Boxing
Championship weight: 283½ pounds (128.6 kg)
Highest weight in career: 283½ pounds (128.6 kg)
Height: 6-2 (188 cm)
Title reign(s): 2019
Background: Ruiz reached his peak weight in his rematch with Anthony Joshua, which he lost by a wide decision. He weighed 268 (121.6 kg) when he shocked the world by stopping Joshua to become a unified champion in their first fight. Most believe Ruiz’s extreme flab cost him the second time around.
Shannon Briggs (left) stopped Sergei Liakhovich to win his title. AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill
Championship weight: 273 (123.8 kg)
Highest weight in career: 273 pounds (123.8 kg) (twice)
Height: 6-4 (193 cm)
Title reign(s): 2006-07
Background: Briggs held the WBO heavyweight title for seven months in parts of 2006 and 2007. And he was at his heaviest around that time. He weighed 268 when he stopped Siarhei Liakhovich in 12 rounds to win the belt and a career-high 273 when he lost it on points to Sultan Ibragimov.
Tyson Fury (right) imposed his size and will on Deontay Wilder in their rematch. John Gurzinski / AFP via Getty Images
Championship weight: 273 pounds (123.8 kg)
Highest weight in career: 276 pounds (125.2 kg)
Title reign(s): 2015-16; 2020-present
Background: Fury weighed a championship-fight high of 273 in his rematch with Deontay Wilder in February of last year, which was no accident. He intentionally bulked up in order to impose his will on his tall, but lean opponent. It worked. He won by knockout to win the WBC title.
Max Baer (right) was a lot smaller than Primo Carnera but also a lot better. AP Photo
Championship weight: 270 pounds (122.5 kg)
Highest weight in career: 284½ pounds (129.0 kg)
Title reign(s): 1933-34
Background: Carnera moved fairly well for a man his size but his success was attributed more to his mob connections than he ability. Max Baer exposed the massive Italian even though he was outweighed by more than 50 pounds, putting him down as many as 10 times (the records aren’t clear) and stopped him in Round 11 to win the title.
Jess Willard stands over a fallen Jack Johnson in a classic photo. AP Photo
Championship weight: 259½ pounds (117.8 kg)
Highest weight in career: 259½ pounds (117.8 kg)
Height: 6-6½ (199 cm)
Title reign(s): 1915-19
Background: The Pottawatomie (Kansas) Giant weighed 238½ when he stopped the great, but aging Jack Johnson to win the title, bulked up to his peak weight in his only successful defense (against Frank Moran) and then (at 245) went down seven times in the first round and suffered a terrible beating at the hands of Jack Dempsey to lose his title in three rounds in his next fight.
Lennox Lewis (left) peaked in weight in his final fight, against Vitali Klitschko. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Championship weight: 256½ pounds (116.3 kg)
Highest weight in career: 256½ pounds (116.3 kg)
Height: 6-5 (196 cm)
Title reign(s): 1992-94; 1997-2001; 2001-04
Background: Lewis reached his peak weight in his final fight, a grueling six-round battle against Vitali Klitschko in 2003 that Lewis won because Klitschko suffered a gruesome cut and couldn’t continue. Lewis, a three-time champion, realized after that war that it was time to walk away.
Anthony Joshua (right) was a ripped 254 pounds against Carlos Takam. Richard Heathcote / Getty Images
Championship weight: 254 pounds (144.1 kg)
Highest weight in career: 254 pounds (144.1 kg)
Height: 6-6 (198 cm)
Title reign(s): 2016-19; 2019-present
Background: Joshua was able to beat Carlos Takam at a muscle-bound 254 pounds but decided after his knockout loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. that leaner was better, dropping from 247¾ in the first fight to 237 for the successful rematch. He then came in at 240¾ for his KO victory over Kubrat Pulev. That seems to be his ideal weight.
Samuel Peter (left) was big enough but not good enough against Vitali Klitschko. AP Photo / Herbert Knosowski
Championship weight: 253½ pounds (115.0 kg)
Highest weight in career: 291 pounds (132.0 kg)
Weight: 6-2 (188 cm)
Title reign(s): 2008
Background: Peter reached a hefty 291 when he fought journeyman Ron Aubrey in 2014 but was at his best 40, 45 pounds lighter. He weighed 250¾ when he stopped Oleg Maskaev in six rounds to win the WBC belt in 2008. He was at 253½ when Vitali Klitschko stopped him in eight to take his title in his next fight.
Vitali Klitschko (right) was at his heaviest against Chris Arreola in 2009. AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill
Championship weight: 252 pounds (144.1 kg)
Highest weight in career: 252 pounds (144.1 kg)
Height: 6-7 (201 cm)
Title reign(s): 1999-2000; 2004-05; 2008-13
Background: The elder Klitschko brother was remarkably consistent with his weight, hovering around 245-250 for the last decade-plus of his career. That speaks to his discipline. He reached 252 for his defense against Chris Arreola in 2009, a 10th-round knockout. Klitschko retired as a heavyweight titleholder.
George Foreman (eft) weighed a career-high 267 in his fight against Steve Zouski in 1987. AP Photo / Walt Zeboski
Championship weight: 256 pounds (116.1 kg)
Highest weight in career: 267 pounds (121.1 kg)
Title reign(s): 1973-74; 1994-95
Background: Big George was a different man on either side of a 10-year hiatus from the sport. The first version fought at around 220-225. The second topped out at 267 against Steve Zouski in his first fight back in 1987. He was fitter when he stopped Michael Moorer to regain a title and successfully defended against Axel Schulz.