Tyson, Foreman, Mayweather, De La Hoya react to death of legendary Muhammad Ali

The world has lost a legend. Boxing icon Muhammad Ali, 74, died early Saturday morning at a Phoenix-area hospital. The former three-time world heavyweight champion is remembered by many as the greatest to ever step into the ring.

So when news of his death was announced, many legendary boxers of today were saddened and shocked. Former welterweight and middleweight champion Oscar De La Hoya couldn't believe the news.

"Muhammad Ali is a legend and one of the world's most celebrated athletes, the fighter who ushered in the golden era of boxing and put the sport on the map," De La Hoya said in a statement. "He paved the way for professional fighters, including myself, elevating boxing to become a sport watched in millions of households around the world.

"Beyond his incredible talent, he also made boxing interesting. Ali was fearless in the ring and took on the toughest, most challenging opponents. Ali exemplified courage -- he never took the easy route, something to be admired in and outside of the ring.

"As he grew older, he didn't let his physical condition become an excuse to stop working; he continued to work hard, focusing on giving back to the community. Today, as we reflect on his life, let us remember a man who pursued greatness in everything he did and inspired to hold ourselves to that same standard."

One of boxing's best, who was considered nearly as polarizing as Ali, Mike Tyson offered up his condolences as well.

Recently retired champion Floyd Mayweather doesn't think he'd be where he is without Ali.

"Words can't explain what Muhammad Ali has done for the sport of boxing," Mayweather told ESPN. "We lost a legend, a hero and a great man. He's one of the guys that paved the way for me to be where I'm at today."

George Foreman, one of Ali's fearsest rivals, took to Twitter to share his sentiments of loss and appreciation.

Former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, a Georgia native who shared the spotlight with Ali in the 1996 Summer Olympics and held 'The Greatest' up as a hero, also shared his thoughts with ESPN.

"I truly believe this is a great loss. My remembrance is of when I was eight years old, I was told I could be like Ali. It inspired me to want to be a world champion," he explained. "And then in 1996, getting the opportunity to carry the [Olympic] torch and find out who Ali really was, it shocked me because I was trying to figure out who could be bigger than I -- and it was Ali. When they talked about his humanitarian work, it was just outstanding. Ali did so many things for the people. He was more than a boxer."

Manny Pacquiao was saddened by the news as well, but more for Ali's efforts outside the ring.

"We lost a giant today. Boxing benefited from Muhammad Ali's talents, but not nearly as much as mankind benefited from his humanity," Pacuqiao said.

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The boxing world mourns the death of Muhammad Ali. Getty Images
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