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Boxing's Lineal Heavyweight Champions

1876 - Present

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With all the title belts floating around, boxing fans tend to be most interested in the 'lineal' champion in any particular weight class. A fighter can only truly become the lineal champ by beating the previous lineal champ, or being "the man that beat the man". In the event the prior lineal champ has permanently retired (or, for non-heavyweights, permanently left the weight class), there is no definitive process to recognize a new lineal champ, but it generally requires a fighter to become universally acclaimed as the best in that class.

1876 - May 30, 1880: Joe Goss - Claimed the title after defeating Tom Allen on a foul in 21 rounds.

May 30, 1880 - Feb. 7,1882: Paddy Ryan - Won the title from Joe Goss in the 87th round when Goss was unable to continue.

Feb. 7, 1882 - Sept. 7, 1892: John L. Sullivan - Won championship from Paddy Ryan when Ryan was unable to continue after nine knockdowns. Recognized as the last bare knuckle champion and the first Marquess of Queensberry heavyweight champion.

Sept. 7, 1892 - Mar. 17, 1897: James J. Corbett - Won championship via 21st round KO of John L. Sullivan.

Mar. 17, 1897 - June 9, 1899: Bob Fitzsimmons - Won the championship via 14th round KO of James J. Corbett

June 9, 1899 - May 13, 1905: James J. Jeffries - Won championship via 11th round KO of Bob Fitzsimmons. Retires as champion.

May 13, 1905 - July 3, 1905: Title Vacant

July 3, 1905 - Feb. 23, 1906: Marvin Hart - Won vacant championship via 12th round KO of Jack Root.

Feb. 23, 1906 - Dec. 26, 1908: Tommy Burns - Won championship via 20 round decision over Marvin Hart.

Dec. 26, 1908 - Apr. 5, 1915: Jack Johnson - Won championship via 14th round TKO of Tommy Burns. First African-American heavyweight champion.

Apr. 5, 1915 - July 4, 1919: Jess Willard - Won championship via 26th round KO of Jack Johnson.

July 4, 1919 - Sept. 23, 1926: Jack Dempsey - Won championship via 3rd round TKO of Jess Willard.

Sept. 23, 1926 - July 31, 1928: Gene Tunney - Won championship via 10 round decision over Jack Dempsey. Retires as champion.

July 31, 1928 - June 12, 1930: Title Vacant

June 12, 1930 - June 21, 1932: Max Schmeling - Won vacant championship via 4th round DQ over Jack Sharkey

June 21, 1932 - June 29, 1933: Jack Sharkey - Won championship via 15 round decision over Max Schmeling.

June 29, 1933 - June 14, 1934: Primo Carnera - Won championship via 6th round KO of Jack Sharkey.

June 14, 1934 - June 13, 1935: Max Baer - Won championship via 11th round KO of Primo Carnera.

June 13, 1935 - June 22, 1937: James J. Braddock - Won championship via 15 round decision over Max Baer.

June 22, 1937 - Mar. 1, 1949: Joe Louis - Won championship via 8th round KO of James J. Braddock. Retired as champion.

Mar. 1, 1949 - Sept. 27, 1950: Title Vacant

Sept. 27, 1950 - July 18, 1951: Ezzard Charles - Won vacant championship via 15 round decision over Joe Louis to be recognized as heavyweight champion of the world.

July 18, 1951 - Sept. 23, 1952: Jersey Joe Walcott - Won championship via 7th round KO of Ezzard Charles.

Sept. 23, 1952 - Apr. 27, 1956: Rocky Marciano - Won championship via 13th round KO of Jersey Joe Walcott. Retired as champion. Only undefeated heavyweight champion.

Apr. 27, 1956 - Nov. 30, 1956: Title Vacant

Nov. 30, 1956 - June 26, 1959: Floyd Patterson - Won vacant championsip via 5th round KO of Archie Moore.

June 26, 1959 - June 20, 1960: Ingemar Johansson - Won championship via 3rd round TKO of Floyd Patterson.

June 20, 1960 - Sept. 25, 1962: Floyd Patterson - Won championship via 5th round KO of Ingemar Johansson. First man to regain the heavyweight championship.

Sept. 25, 1962 - Feb. 25, 1964: Sonny Liston - Won championship via 1st round KO of Floyd Patterson.

Feb. 25, 1964 - Apr. 28, 1967: Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali - Won championship via 7th round TKO of Sonny Liston.

Apr. 28, 1967 - Mar. 8, 1971: Title Vacant - On Apr. 28, 1967, Ali is stripped of championship for refusal to be inducted via draft into the U.S. Army.

Mar., 8 1971 - Jan. 22 1973: Joe Frazier - Won vacant championship via 15 round decision over Muhammad Ali.

Jan. 22, 1973 - Oct. 30, 1974: George Foreman - Won championship via 2nd round TKO of Joe Frazier.

Oct. 30, 1974 - Feb. 15, 1978: Muhammad Ali - Won championship via 8th round KO of George Foreman. Second man to regain the heavyweight championship.

Feb. 15, 1978 - Sept. 15, 1978: Leon Spinks - Won championship via 15 round decision over Muhammad Ali.

Sept. 15, 1978 - June 27, 1979: Muhammad Ali - Won championship via 15 round decision over Leon Spinks. First three-time heavyweight champion.

June 27, 1979 - Oct. 2, 1980: Title Vacant

Oct. 2, 1980 - Sept. 21, 1985: Larry Holmes - Won vacant championship via 10th round TKO of Muhammad Ali to be recognized as heavyweight champion of the world.

Sept. 21, 1985 - June 27, 1988: Michael Spinks - Won championship via 15 round decision over Larry Holmes.

June 27, 1988 - Feb. 11, 1990: Mike Tyson - Won championship via 1st round KO of Michael Spinks.

Feb. 11, 1990 - Oct. 25, 1990: James 'Buster' Douglas - Won championship via 10th round KO of Mike Tyson.

Oct. 25, 1990 - Nov. 13, 1992: Evander Holyfield - Won championship via 3rd round KO of James 'Buster' Douglas.

Nov. 13, 1992 - Nov. 6, 1993: Riddick Bowe - Won championship via 12 round decision over Evander Holyfield.

Nov. 6, 1993 - Apr. 22, 1994: Evander Holyfield - Won championship via 12 round decision over Riddick Bowe. Third man to regain the heavyweight championship.

Apr. 22, 1994 - Nov. 5, 1994: Michael Moorer - Won championship via 12 round decision over Evander Holyfield.

Nov. 5, 1994 - Nov. 22, 1997: George Foreman - Won championship via 10th KO of Michael Moorer.

Nov. 22, 1997 - Mar. 28, 1998: Shannon Briggs - Won championship via 12 round decision over George Foreman.

Mar. 28, 1998 - Apr. 22, 2001: Lennox Lewis - Won championship via 5 round TKO of Shannon Briggs.

Apr. 22, 2001 - Nov. 17, 2001: Hasim Rahman - Won championship via 5th round KO of Lennox Lewis.

Nov. 17, 2001 - Feb. 6, 2004: Lennox Lewis - Won championship via 4th round KO of Hasim Rahman. Fourth man to regain the heavyweight championship. Retires as champion.

Feb. 6, 2004 - Present: Title Vacant

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