Boxing isn't just about strength – this is a sport closely acquainted with showmanship, and no showman worth his salt would go near a stage without the right song to soundtrack his exploits.
For a boxer, the perfect ring entrance song should do a few things. It should hype up the crowd. It should intimidate your opponent. And it should say something about you, too. Here are eight of the all-time best.
1. Stormzy – Shut Up
Used by: Anthony Joshua
Stormzy was already a name on the grime scene when he took to the ring to perform Shut Up at the O2 before Anthony Joshua’s clash with Dillian Whyte – but this was one of the performances that solidified his place as one of the nation’s favourite MCs. “Man try say that he’s better than AJ… tell my man shut up!” AJ called on Nines to sing his walk-out music when he fought Alexander Povetkin in 2018, and has also walked out to music by Burna Boy, Fela Kuti, Giggs and the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army.
2. Whysper – The Grind
Used by: Joshua Buatsi
Fast-rising UK light heavyweight Joshua Buatsi is a massive music fan, and has walked out to tracks including Ye by Afrobeats star Burna Boy – a nod to his Ghanian heritage – and Pound Cake from Drake's 2013 album Nothing Was The Same. He's also walked out to a track called The Grind, a rousing mix of gospel and rap made for him by his friend, London MC Whysper.
3. Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger
Used by: Manny Pacquiao
You probably can’t name any other songs by Chicago hard rock group Survivor, but Eye Of The Tiger is perhaps the boxing anthem to end all boxing anthems. Written as the theme tune to Rocky III, it was seized upon by Filipino boxer and eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao.
4. Ini Kamoze – Here Comes The Hotstepper
Used by: Prince Naseem Hamed
One of the true showmen of the ring, ‘90s featherweight “Prince” Naseem Hamed was known for his elaborate entrances – flying into the ring on a flying carpet, carried in in a palanquin, and so on. This extremely swag 1994 single by Jamaican dancehall artist Ini Kamoze captured his vibe perfectly.
5. 2Pac – Road To Glory
Used by: Mike Tyson
2Pac wrote this song specifically for his friend Mike Tyson, and Tyson walked out to it in his 1996 fight with British heavyweight Frank Bruno. The lyrics address the fight directly – and Pac isn’t beating around the bush: “Throw your hands up, Mr Bruno, ride/Big Mike Tyson 'bout to brutalize that ass tonight”.
6. Tina Turner – The Best
Used by: Chris Eubank
Let’s call this one a guilty pleasure? British boxing’s great eccentric called himself “Simply The Best”, and he got it from this glossy ‘80s anthem – first a hit for Bonnie Tyler, then covered by Tina Turner. Eubank would carefully synchronise his entrance to the song, leaping into the ring at the start of the second chorus.
7. Kanye West – All Of The Lights
Used by: Kell Brook
He's nicknamed "The Special One", and Sheffield's Kell Brook has the skills to back it up – The Ring magazine called him he world's best active welterweight. He's also something of a showman in the old-school mode – watch his hugely dramatic ring walk, which makes rousing use of Yeezy's Rihanna-featuring All Of The Lights. If you're not waving your mobile phone around like a madman by the time he hits the ring, you've got no soul.
8. AC/DC – Thunderstruck
Used by: Arturo Gatti
It comes with the territory that boxers are not nervous sorts overly concerned with their personal safety, but watch Arturo "Thunder" Gatti approach the ring amidst explosive pyrotechnics, wearing a extremely flammable-looking robe, and you see a true daredevil. His choice of music is equally bombastic – the excellent riff to AC/DC's Thunderstruck. "I guess part of the plan is to puncture Floyd Mayweather's eardrums," exclaims the commentator.
9. Meek Mill ft. Rick Ross – Ima Boss
Used by: Floyd Mayweather
Few rappers spit with as much intensity as Meek Mill, and so it’s no surprise the Philadelphia artist's high-octane track Ima Boss – featuring Maybach Music labelhead Rick Ross – was in Floyd Mayweather’s Hard Work & Dedication Playlist, which he shared ahead of his hotly-debated fight with MMA star Conor McGregor in August 2017. For entering the ring at the fight and for the press-baiting face-off that preceded it, Mayweather made Ima Boss his entrance music, looping Meek’s lyric “At the fight we watchin’ Floyd we on the floor” for ego-boosting effect.