3 PEOPLE WHO COULD HAVE HELD THE TITLE BEFORE MIHAWK
Dracule Mihawk is currently the “Greatest Swordsman in the World” but when Roger was executed he was only a rookie so during his rookie days who was the Strongest Swordsman? Shanks was also a rookie so we only have 3 people worthy of this title:
1-Gold Lion Shiki
Shiki possesses great skills in swordsmanship as he dual-wielded Oto and Kogarashi to single-handedly massacre an entire army of Marines before getting subdued by Garp and Sengoku.
Even though he lost that duel against Sengoku and Garp, he destroyed half of Marineford with 2 swords.
I think that he got weaker after he cut his legs and replaced them with his katana.
Shiki also ate the Fuwa Fuwa no Mi, a Paramecia type Devil Fruit which allows him to make surrounding non-living matter levitate once he has come in contact with it.
It could be possible that Mihawk defeated him in order to become the greatest swordsman.
2-Ryuma “The King”
After his death Ryuma was buried in the land of Wano.
He was legendary in the Wano Country for his extraordinary mastery in swordsmanship. His skills resembled a mix of Kenjutsu and Battojutsu. He could slice through copper, kill Cyrano, a first-rate swordsman, and an enormous dragon with little effort.
He was renowned as the strongest swordsman of his time. Due to this, as well as his strong belief in protecting others, Ryuma was also called “King,” the swordsman who carries the world’s greatest “Warrior’s Soul”.
He possessed immense physical strength, durability and speed but he could have been weaker in his zombie form meaning that Zoro was only able to beat a fracture of his real strength but he would be a lot stronger if he was human.
It could be possible that Mihawk killed him inorder to become the greatest swordsman.
3-“Dark King” Silvers Rayleigh
Rayleigh in my personal opinion was the previous holder of the title “Greatest Swordsman in the World” but he isn’t that dependent on his sword as he usually uses Haki to escape or avoid fights. Anyway he is a tremendously powerful and skilled swordsman. He combines Busoshoku Haki with his swordmanship, allowing him to fight equivalently with Kizaru, who himself is a highly skilled swordsman wielding his Ama no Murakumo light energy sword and also managed to cut and draw blood from Kizaru’s face, who is a Logia user.
It could be possible that Mihawk was Rayleigh’s last ever duel or that Rayleigh intentionally gave the title to him because Mihawk had more determination of being a swordsman rather than Shanks even though both of them were equally skilled in swordsmanship.
*Theory by King of beasts kaido