Tommy “Hitman” Hearns vs. “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler
Hagler had defended his crown 10 times before this fight with nine by knockout. And, Hearns had beat everyone that he could in his weight class, so he moved up in weight to challenge Hagler. The first round of the fight is one of the most celebrated rounds in boxing history. Hagler, a notorious slow starter, wailed on Hearns at the ring of the bell. He got him to the ropes and it looked like it might be a quick fight, but Hearns slipped a right uppercut and stunned him. Hagler kept coming and Hearns kept punching. Hearns opened up a cut over Hagler’s eye by the end of the round. The two competitors battled through the rounds into Hagler finally imposed his will with a brutal left hook and floored his opponent.
“Iron” Mike Tyson vs. James “Buster” Douglas
Vegas set the odds on this fight at an astounding 42-1 in favor of Mike Tyson. Tyson was a phenom with a 37-0 record, knocking out almost all of his opponents in dramatic fashion. Buster Douglas had an above average career, and had won his last six fights so he got a shot at the champ. And boy, did he capitalize on it. Douglas kept Tyson at bay with a stiff left jab and a hard, straight right. Tyson pushed to get inside where he was most dangerous, but could not penetrate Douglas’ weapons. By the sixth round, Tyson’s left eye had began to swell considerably and close. By the eighth round, Douglas was openly winning the fight which forced Tyson to be more aggressive. In the end of that round, Iron Mike landed a right that sent Douglas to the canvas, but Douglas stood by the 9-count. Tyson thought that he had his opponent was on the ropes and attacked again in the ninth. It cost him dearly. Buster fought him off and stunned him before time elapsed in the round. And in the tenth, James “Buster” Douglas did what no one thought was possible. He sent Mike Tyson to the floor for the first time in his career. Tyson never made it to his feet.
Rocky Marciano vs. Ezzard Charles
Ezzard Charles is considered to be the best light heavyweight that ever stepped into the ring by some boxing historians. But, he also won the heavyweight division and defended his title 9 times. Ezzard’s power was so devastating that Sam Bourdi died from injuries that he incurred in a fight against Charles. In 1954, Charles challenged Rocky Marciano’s heavyweight title in one of boxing’s greatest battles after defeating another competitor in an elimination bout. Though he lost a unanimous decision in the 15th, Ezzard Charles is the only man to ever take Marciano a full 15 rounds. And, Charles actually won the earlier rounds until Marciano landed a vicious right hook in the middle rounds.
“Marvelous” Marvin Hagler vs. “Sugar” Ray Leonard
Marvin had not lost a fight in from 1976 to 1987. That is eleven years without a loss. He was so dominant that he started to have trouble getting fighters to compete against him. Leonard was the challenger, but he was loved by the people, and commanded more concessions (ring size, glove size, and number of rounds) than Hagler the champ despite not having fought for a championship in three years. It was the battle of the pretty boy, showman (Leonard) vs. the working class, everyman (Hagler), and it did not disappoint. Hagler chased Leonard across the ring throwing hard punches, and Leonard danced and shuffled across the ring stepping in for flurries of punches when available. Habler was a force of nature and Leonard played the ultimate strategist in this fight. Leonard had his corner yell when the last thirty seconds of each round approached, so that he could finish each round on a high note. Ultimately, Leonard won a much contested decision, but the debate about the fight still rages on today, 25 years later. Leonard was accused of stealing rounds with flashy footwork, but landing few hard punches. Hagler was seen as one-dimensional and past his prime. One thing is certain, it was a great fight.
Muhammad Ali vs. “Smoking” Joe Frazier III – Ali and Frazier had fought in two prior fights with each fighter winning one. Frazier handed Ali the first loss of his professional career with his mean left hook in their first fight. Then, Ali, the number one contender for Foreman’s title, redeemed his loss by out-boxing the number two contender, Frazier, in the rematch. He won the second fight in 12 rounds by a unanimous decision, and only one score card was close. But the “Thilla in Manila” was a fight considered by many to be the best boxing match ever. Muhammad Ali was again the champion of the world, and everyone thought that “Smoking” Joe Frazier was washed up. But, Joe gave Muhammad Ali the toughest fight of his career in their second rematch. Instead of his normal strategy of counter punching, defense, and the use of hand and foot speed, Ali stood and traded blows with Frazier. The men bloodied each other through 14 rounds until Frazier’s corner decided to stop the fight. Ali won by technical knockout. Frazier left with his eye swollen shut, his mouth bloodied, and his ego broken. Ali left the fight with irreparable damage to his body, and many people of that era believe that Frazier is partly responsible for the onset of Ali’s Parkinson’s disease.
Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman
George Foreman is possibly the hardest puncher that ever lived. He was rumored to have torn numerous heavy bags during training, and he annihilated almost every opponent that he faced in the ring. Ali was considered a counter puncher, and no one believed that he could take any punishment from Foreman. Ali, against all convention, decided to let the hardest puncher in boxing history, “Big George”, punch himself out. For countless rounds, Ali scooted around the ring letting George punch at air. When Foreman had him cornered, he covered himself, let George punch, and taunted him. His corner told him to start throwing punches because he was losing the match, but Ali waited. He waited until Foreman tired and dropped his guard, then Ali pummeled him until he was on his back.
Micky Ward vs. Arturo Gatti – The people who watched this fight knew what they were in for that night. Ward and Gatti were essentially the same fighter when they fought each other. They were two men that preferred to stand chest to chest and slug it out rather than dance and block. The fight was just as gory as you could imagine. Gatti won the first two rounds on points though Ward connected quite a few times. Then, in the third Ward got inside Gatti’s defense and began to turn the fight into a brawl. Each succeeding round through the tenth is a combination of Gatti throwing flurries of punches at Ward, and then being backed up by a devastating punch, or Ward attempting to brawl until Gatti plants a sharp hook to the head or body of Ward. In the tenth round, both fighters were dead on their feet. Gatti took the fight to Ward, but could not land a big shot. And, Ward held on until the bell. Ward won a majority decision over Gatti, but neither fighter felt like a loser in this one.
“Sugar” Ray Leonard vs. Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns – “The Showdown” ticketed two of the greatest boxers of all time against each other in their prime. Leonard was 30-1 with 21 K.O.’s and Hearns was 32-0 with 30 K.O.’s. Both fighters had boxing titles on the line in the fight. Hearns lead heavily in the early rounds of the fight because of his long reach. He followed Sugar Ray Leonard around the ring hitting him with his hard jab and keeping him at bay. By round three, Leonard’s eye had begun swelling, and by round six it was beginning to close. But, Leonard turned the fight around in the middle rounds by becoming the aggressor. He started to land some of his patented combos and got back in the fight by connecting on a left hook. Hearns regrouped and began jabbing. The fight had shifted. Leonard became the power puncher looking for a knockout, and Hearns became the boxer earning points and dodging the big hit. By the later rounds, Hearns was winning heavily, however Leonard kept in pursuit. After a rousing speech from his trainer Angelo Dundee, Sugar used his speed to track his opponent in the thirteenth round. He rocked him with a right hook and followed up with a strong combination before the bell rung. Leonard took the same abandon into the fourteenth round and beat Hearns on the ropes until his corner stopped the fight.
Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo – This fight was a throwback to the gladiatorial days of boxing. Neither Corrales nor Castillo boxed on May 7, 2005, they were pugilists. They stood across from each other and traded blows in the middle of the ring. Both fighters left the ring beaten, swollen, and bloodied. It was a gruesome battle inside the ring. In the tenth round, Castillo floored Corrales twice, but still lost the fight. Corrales threw the perfect right hand and knocked Castillo out.
Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor – This epic fight was called the battle of Thunder and Lightning. It pitted the raw punching power of WBC Jr. Welterweight world champion Julio Cesar Chavez against the foot speed and quickness of IBF world champion Meldrick Taylor. Both fighters were undefeated going into the fight. Chavez was 68-0 with 55 knockouts and Taylor was 24-0-1 with 14 K.O.’s. Taylor fought the perfect fight against his opponent. Since he lacked the pure knockout power that Chavez had, he moved around the ring and released flurries against Chavez, then ducked away from his big punches. By the last round, Taylor was ahead mightily on the cards of two of the three judges, and behind by only one point on the last card. Chavez had to knock him out to win the fight. In line with the classic behavior of any trainer in boxing, Taylor’s corner told him that he had to fight to win in the last round. Taylor stood toe to toe with Chavez, instead of dancing and jabbing. Julio Cesar Chavez hit Taylor with a straight right that sent him to the corner. Chavez walked around him, pinning him there, and started loosing combinations. He hit Taylor with another hard right and sent him to the canvas. Taylor got to his feet, but could not answer the referee. Chavez won on a T.K.O. with 2 seconds left in the fight. It was called the fight of the decade.