23. Ezzard Charles
Divisions: Light Heavyweight (175) to Heavyweight (200+)
Years Active: 1940-1959
When evaluating the career of the “Cincinnati Cobra,” it really needs to be done in two parts. The first part involves a fighter who went 70-6 to start his career, winning over former champions in three weight divisions, including Archie Moore, Joe Louis and Jersey Joe Walcott.
But slightly before that stretch ended, Charles faced a young opponent named Sam Baroudi, who later died due to injuries sustained in his loss to Charles. Charles was deeply affected by this, and in later matches, including a 23-19 stretch to end his career, he backed off when he had his opponents threatened.
Declining in skill and will, Ezzard had to keep fighting for financial reasons, and in perhaps his most famous bout, he broke the nose of undefeated Rocky Marciano. However, Charles and Marciano were good friends, and many observers think Charles feared doing to Marciano what he had done to Baroudi, and Marciano ended up winning an eighth-round KO victory.
Nonetheless, Charles is remembered as one of the greatest fighters ever in the higher weight divisions and was memorialized on a postage stamp and with a spot in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
(source: bleacherreport.com by Dave Carlson)