5 of The Greatest Boxing Matches of All Time
Very few things are as captivating as watching a frantic battle between two evenly matched warriors inside a boxing ring. Every so often we are treated to a ‘once in a lifetime’ bout that captures the eyes of the nation and we revel in its glory.
With Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor fast approaching, we decided to take a look at five of the best boxing fights of all time:
Rocky Marciano vs. Jersey Joe Walcott – September 23rd 1952
Joe Walcott was 38 years old and was a boxing champion – which is a huge story in itself. He’d won the title with an upset victory over Ezzard Charles the year previous, while Marciano was the rising star in the boxing world. Marciano had beaten Joe Louis into retirement in 1951 in a crucial fight that made many believe he was ‘the next big thing’. Fans were eager to see the undefeated, powerful ‘Rock’ take on Jersey Joe; and rightfully so as it delivered. Despite a terrific technical display from champion Walcott, Marciano delivered a knockout blow in the 13th round to win the bout when it looked as good as over for the rookie.
Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman – October 30th 1974
After beating Joe Frazier in their second fight, Muhammad Ali faced a goliath warrior in George Foreman in a bid to regain heavyweight championship. The odds were significantly stacked against Ali going into the brawl which was dubbed ‘the Rumble in the Jungle’, due to its iconic location in a football stadium in Zaire. In his debut as a major boxing promoter, Don King hyped the big fight as a festival of greatness, getting soul singer James Brown and blues legend B.B. King, among others, involved. Foreman had been billed as ‘unbeatable’ in the run-up, but Ali knocked him out to prove to the world just how incredible he was.
Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali – March 8th 1971
Dubbed ‘the Fight of the Century’, this was to be the start of one of the most legendary rivalries in boxing. The first fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier was hyped so hugely, with two hugely dominate, undefeated fighters stepping into the ring with one another. Ali had been stripped of the world heavyweight title after he denounced the Vietnam War and refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army in 1967. When he was allowed to return to the sport in 1970, he set his sights on Frazier’s gold. The fight itself lived up to the billing, going on for 15 rounds in a hard-fought war before Frazier put Ali on his back and secured the win.
Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Tommy Hearns – September 16th 1981
Despite a brilliant fight between Hearns and Marvin Hagler four years later, this Sugar Ray Leonard/Tommy Hearns fight will go down as more memorable. “The Showdown” was a unification title fight to crown the unified WBC and WBA welterweight champion of the world between a 25-year-old Sugar Ray Leonard and an undefeated 22-year-old Tommy Hearns. After 12 brutal rounds, Hearns had just about edged his way in front ahead of the 13th round. Leonard’s trainers told the fighter he was ‘blowing it’ and those words changed everything – Leonard made sure the fight was halted in the 14th and the unified title was his.
Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier – October 1st 1975
The famous “Thrilla in Manila” was the third and final fight in the historic trilogy between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. And it was a glorious masterpiece in boxing. Hosted in the capital city of the Philippines, this fight decided the fates and legacies of these two legendary boxers in an all-out war. Never to be beaten, this one was an absolute battle which saw Frazier’s trainers throw the towel in during the 14th round of 15. Ali said it was ‘as close to death as he’d ever been’, while Frazier only managed to commit to two more fights following this bout. Amazing.