Is Muhammad Ali the greatest boxer? Muhammad Ali is not the greatest boxer.
You can’t make a reasonable case for Ali being the best boxer of all time. But to be fair it’s hard to make a case for ANY heavyweight being the best boxer of all time. Unless it’s someone like Charles, or Jones who started as middleweights and became heavyweight champions.
The reason for this is that the other p4p greats in lower divisions are able to move up in weight and fight naturally bigger fighters, the way that Ray Leonard, Ezzard Charles, Roy Jones, James Toney, Bernard Hopkins, Sam Langford, Manny Pacquiao, Roberto Duran, Henry Armstrong, Ray Robinson and yes even Floyd Mayweather did.
Manny Pacquiao for instance was a natural bantam 118lbs or super bantam weight 122lbs yet he fought and won big fights all the way up to 154 against the Jr middleweight Antonio Margarito.
Heavyweights can’t really move up to fight bigger guys. Unless the guy is a small heavyweight, who moved up from lighter divisions you can’t really make a good case for them being the best of all time p4p over guys who moved up in weight and fought bigger men. It just doesn’t work.
The reality is that ali was big for his eras. Ali was considered a huge heavyweight in the 1960s and was considered a big heavyweight in the 1970s. A lot of alis best wins are over guys that were smaller than he was. While most all of Pacquiaos best wins are over guys who were naturally bigger than he was, some very much so.
Is he boxings biggest icon? Yes, along with Mike Tyson they’re boxings 2 biggest icons. But was he the best ever p4p. No.