From Tomato Cans To Mike Tyson: The Definitive ‘Punch-Out!!’ Fighter Power Rankings

We already listed off some interesting facts about Punch-Out!!, so we’re instead doing a power ranking today of the top 20 boxers from the Punch-Out series (I’ll be saving keystrokes and dropping the exclamation points from now on). You can probably guess who No. 1 will be, but there may be some surprises along the way…

Note: The Punch-Out games already sort of rank the boxers, but we’ll be looking beyond their fake stats and accomplishments to their backstories, moves and just generally how awesome/lame they are in deciding these rankings. Needless to say, this is all very serious stuff.

20) Mr. Dream

Record: 99-0

Titles and Accomplishments: WVBA World Champion

I considered not including Mike Tyson’s lame replacement at all, but I suppose he’s, technically, just as tough as the Baddest Man on the Planet. Also, a 99-0 record is nothing to sneeze at. Still, man, what a lame-oh.

19) Gabby Jay

Record: 1-99

Titles and Accomplishments: None

Glass Joe is the most infamous “jobber” of the Punch-Out series, but I would argue Nintendo created an even more pathetic specimen in Gabby Jay, your first opponent in Super Punch-Out. From the meek “Yay!” he starts matches with, to his gray Jonathan Taylor Thomas haircut, Gabby Jay is a truly accomplished wuss.

18) Donkey Kong

Record: ?

Titles and Accomplishments: Lord of Games

A secret character in the Wii version of Punch-Out, Donkey Kong is certainly a memorable character, and his wacky ape-like fighting style is a real challenge. That said, he doesn’t really fit with the Punch-Out series that well, so I can’t rank him any higher.

17) Don Flamenco

Record: 22-3

Titles and Accomplishments: Major Circuit Champion

Don Flamenco is a guy whose stats don’t really match up with his skills. He’s got a good win-loss record, and even managed to finagle himself a championship in the Wii version of Punch-Out, but, in my opinion, the guy’s always been a chump and easier to beat than Glass Joe in the NES version of the game.

16) Glass Joe

Record: 1-99

Titles and Accomplishments: None

Speaking of Glass Joe, I think he’s a bit unfairly maligned. He’s one of the most famous losers in all of gaming history, but he’s got some solid fundamentals. He’s just cursed with a weak jaw. In the Wii Punch-Out, Glass Joe starts wearing headgear after losing his 100th match, at which point he becomes fairly formidable.

15) Bear Hugger

Record: 17-12

Titles and Accomplishments: Champion of Canada

Champion of Canada! I stand on guard for thee Bear Hugger! Honestly, Bear Hugger is a bit of a chump, but he’s the first really huge guy you face in Super Punch-Out and will always be memorable because of that.

14) Piston Hurricane

Record: 21-10

Titles and Accomplishments: Minor Circuit No. 1 contender

No, not Piston Honda, he comes later. This is the other Punch-Out fighter named Piston. A good solid hand in the ring, Piston Hurricane seems like an okay guy, who’s just a bit overshadowed amongst Punch-Out‘s cast of crazy characters.

13) Von Kaiser

Record: 10-13

Titles and Accomplishments: Minor Circuit No. 1 contender

Every boxing game needs an old-timey boxer with a curly mustache and long trunks. Von Kaiser is the first real challenge you face in the Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out and one of the series’ best villains.

12) Aran Ryan

Record: 18-10

Titles and Accomplishments: None

Aran Ryan was a bit generic in the Super Nintendo version of Punch-Out, but they actually turned up the stereotype dial another notch in the Wii game, and Ryan become a full-on foul-mouthed hooligan. Knocking the smirk off his face is particularly satisfying.

11) Narcis Prince

Record: 12-3

Titles and Accomplishments: None

Narcis Prince has more personality than any other boxer exclusive to Super Punch-Out. The classic vain, effeminate villain, Narcis Prince has thousand fantastic little animation and facial expressions. Oh, and he boxes in a letterman sweater and has a random Cockney accent. Honestly, I’m not sure exactly what stereotype the Japanese developers were going for with Narcis Prince, but I’m still into him.

10) King Hippo

Record: 18-9

Titles and Accomplishments: Minor Circuit Champion

And the award for weirdest Punch-Out character goes to King Hippo. It’s kind of no contest. Orange, anthropomorphic hippo man/Pacific Islander, King Hippo makes no kind of sense, but that’s the way we like him. When you first face King Hippo, he’s one of the most intimidating foes in the Punch-Out series, but once you learn his weak spot, things flip and he becomes one of the game’s easiest foes, hence him barely cracking the top 10 on this ranking.

9) Nick and Rick Bruiser

Record: 83-1 (combined)

Titles and Accomplishments: WVBA World Champion

When Super Punch-Out came around, Nintendo no longer had Mike Tyson, and they didn’t want to trot out Mr. Dream again for obvious reasons, so they basically replaced Tyson with two characters, Rick and Nick Bruiser. Rick and Nick are identical brothers, but they have very different personalities. Rick is flashier, while Nick, the champion, is imperious and egotistical. The “twins with different personalities” thing is actually fairly clever, although both characters are just a bit on the generic side compared to other top-level Punch-Out fighters.

8) Mad Clown

Record: 17-9

Titles and Accomplishments: World Circuit No. 1 contender

Argh! Giant Clown! Mad Clown is basically just a re-skinned Bear Hugger, but let me reiterate, he’s a giant clown with boxing gloves. If that doesn’t qualify as a major threat, I don’t know what does.

7) Great Tiger

Record: 24-15

Titles and Accomplishments: Major Circuit No. 1 contender, Champion of India

In Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, Great Tiger is one of the first guys to really pull out some fancy moves. His magical, teleporting Tiger Punch can be a real mind-boggling baffler. Great Tiger is where the NES game goes from a decent challenge to seriously, hair-tearingly hard.

6) Piston Honda

Record: 26-1

Titles and Accomplishments: Minor Circuit Champion

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always had a lot of trouble with Piston Honda, particularly the second version of him you fight at the beginning of the NES Punch-Out‘s World Circuit. Honda may not have the flashiest fighting style, but he also doesn’t have the obvious weaknesses of other characters, and you may find him dealing you a TKO from Tokyo more often than you’d like.

5) Mr. Sandman

Record: 27-2

Titles and Accomplishments: WVBA World Champion (2), Major Circuit Champion

Muthaf*ckin’ Mr. Sandman; this guy is basically the Punch-Out series’ Tyson stand-in for when they couldn’t get Tyson. He’s was the final boss in both the original arcade Punch-Out and the Wii version of the game. The little fist-twirling animation he does before he punches still makes my thumbs twitch.

4) Super Macho Man

Record: 35-0

Titles and Accomplishments: WVBA World Champion, World Circuit No. 1 Contender

Super Macho Man is basically a mashup of Ric Flair and Mach Man Randy Savage, so duh, of course he ranks high on this list. I’d put him higher based on personality alone, but I’ve never found him particularly difficult compared to some of the other elite Punch-Out fighters. Mr. Sandman, Soda Popinski, and even Bald Bull have always given me more trouble.

3) Bald Bull

Record: 38-4

Titles and Accomplishments: Minor Circuit Champion, Major Circuit Champion

Speaking of Bald Bull, the big bald guy makes the top three. With the possible exception of Tyson himself, Bald Bull is the most intimidating character in the Punch-Out series. Bald Bull was so huge by NES standards that it felt like he took up the entire screen, and his intimidating Bull Charge super move still makes the back of my neck sweat. Once you figure out the timing on that Bull Charge, Bald Bull isn’t that hard, but he earns his spot on this ranking for his unbeatable aura.

2) Soda Popinski

Record: 33-2

Titles and Accomplishments: Champion of the USSR

Soda Popinski (or, as he was known in the original arcade games, Vodka Drunkenski) may be the most aggravating villain in video game history. His annoying laugh that sounds suspiciously similar to the Dog from Duck Hunt‘s chuckle, his egotistical pec flexing, his weird, loopy, hard-to-dodge punches, his gross, bright pink skin… everything about this guy makes you want to punch him out. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the time, you’re going to be the one looking up at the lights. Pinko bastard.

1) Mike Tyson

Record: 31-0

Titles and Accomplishments: WVBA World Champion, and uh, maybe some real world championships, too.

The video game version of Mike Tyson isn’t just the toughest Punch-Out character, he’s one of the toughest challenges in video game history. I’ve been banging my head up against him for more than 25 years and barely made a dent. He’s also pretty much a spot on caricature of the real Tyson, and exudes a truly intimidating amount of gleeful menace. Maybe the best final boss of all-time. ‘Nuff said.

So, there you have it, a definitive top 20 power ranking of the best Punch-Out characters. What do you folks think? How would you rank the fighters? Let’s hit the comments and get way too serious about cartoon boxers.

This is an updated version of an article that originally ran in 2015.