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When you consider the greatest boxing matches of all time, there is one that always mesmerizes even the best of boxers. This is the 1893 fight between Andy Bowen and Jack Burke; the longest boxing match ever recorded in history, which lasted 110 rounds and had to be stopped by the referee, who called it a “No Contest” when both men were unable to get up from their corners to start the 111th round. In the fight, Jack Burke broke all his finger bones, and Andy Bowen died the following year after a fight with Kid Lavigne. Here is a list of the top 10 greatest fights of all time.
Tenth – Nov 18th 1990 – Nigel Benn vs. Chris Eubank
The two boxers from Britain reached the top of their careers at the same time, and obviously, their fans wanted to see which of the two was the best. Benn was known as the Dark Destroyer and Eubank was just the crowd’s darling. He always entered the ring by vaulting over the top rope. The match was exciting with the two of them trading blows throughout. In the ninth round, Eubank won the title of World Middleweight champion after cornering Benn with a barrage of blows, although he had been floored earlier in the round.
Ninth – March 17th 1990 – Meldrick Taylor vs. Julio Cesar Chavez
This fight was labeled “Thunder meets Lightning”, and the expectations were high, and the fight did not disappoint. Chavez had a lot of punching power and Taylor was very fast. The end was dramatic, sudden and controversial. Taylor was outpunching Chavez and had a margin of 5-1. But when Chavez hit Taylor, the punches would do a lot of damage. In the last round, Taylor was so tired that he fell when he missed a punch. On getting up, he was asked if he wanted to continue. Many say that he gave a slight nod, but the referee called off the fight, hence the controversy.
Eighth – February 19th 2000 – Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Erik Morales
At the turn of the century, Mexico had a number of boxers leading the world rankings and these two were among them. These two slender men gave a fight worthy of a heavyweight title fight; they traded blows in a manner that was just unbelievable. The fifth round was one of the most intense and Morales won by a split decision. This was controversial since Barrera had knocked down Morales earlier. After making complaints, a rematch was organized and Barrera won by a majority decision.
Seventh – April 15th 1985 – Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns
They had the best opening round in boxing history. Marvin “Marvelous” and Thomas “Hitman”, set a fast pace at Caesars Palace, that people still mention to this date. However, they could not keep up this pace for a long time, but their fight was still called the “war”, because of the ferocious nature. After the third round, Hagler scored a knockout to win the match. Ring Magazine said that these were the most electrifying eight minutes that boxing has ever had. This is the fight that reminds boxers of how brutal the sport can be.
Sixth – May 7th 2005 – Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo
Although they were not famous boxers in the WBC lightweight class, they amazed boxing fans in the whole of Mexico. None of the fighters would relent to the other as they traded blows through 10 rounds of boxing. In the 10th, Corrales after being floored twice, got up and furiously let out a barrage of blows that dazed Castillo. Corrales then spat his gumshield and was given a 30 second timeout during which he regained his senses. The match was called “The War to Settle the Score”, but was canceled when it was found that Castillo weighed too much.
Fifth – June 18th 1941 – Joe Louis vs. Billy Conn
Louis and the Pittsburg Kid Conn went at it at the Polo Grounds. Conn was the underdog given Louis’s fame but ended up outboxing Louis. Coon would roll with Louis’s punches, block them and more, and in the 8th round, Louis was dehydrated. Louis was later said to have taken it easy during the last part of his training. Anyhow, Coon got cocky and in the 13th round, thought of going for the KO, thereby exposing himself. He was knocked out with only two second left for the round to end.
Fourth – May 18th 2002 – Micky Ward vs. Arturo Gatti
Three times, these two fighters put their fans through the ringer, but it is their first fight that deserves a mention. They went 10 rounds of non-stop, punishing blows. During the 9th round, Gatti dropped Ward with a blow to the body and it is this that led to the unanimous decision to declare him the victor. The 9th round was dubbed, “The Round of the century”, by one of the co-hosts of the HBO fight, named Emmanuel Steward. Other writers called it the fight of the Century.
Third – September 16th 1981 – Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas “Hitman” Hearns
This is a fight that took place at Caesars Palace and was dubbed ‘The Showdown”. The WBC welterweight champ, Leonard and the WBA crown holder, Hearns, gave a fight that was described as being beautiful. It had ebbs and flows throughout making it artistic in its nature. They kept on trading the lead when it came to points. In the 13th, Leonard, after being scolded by his trainer, punched Hearns through the ropes and finished him in the 14th, through a barrage of blows that forced the referee to call off the fight. Up to that point, Hearns had been leading on the judges’ scorecards.
Second – September 14th 1923 – Jack Dempsey vs. Luis Angel Firpo
Most people recall this fight as having been short and sweet. Jack Dempsey defended his Heavyweight title against Firpo, the “Wild Bull” at the Polo Grounds. The fight was ferocious, with Jack flooring Firpo seven times and Firpo knocking Dempsey out of the ring. Note that all this happened only in the first round. When Dempsey won the match, he is said to have stood over Firpo, and then knocked him down again, instead of going to the neutral corner. At that time, the rules were not as stringent as they are today.
First – October 1st 1975 – Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier
The Thriller in Manila is said to be at number one among the greatest boxing matches of all time in boxing history. Muhammad Ali later said that it was one occasion where he felt closest to death. Each of them had won a fight against the other and the third match would determine who the heavyweight champion would be. They went at each other like animals; no mercy was shown. If it was not for the trainer throwing in the towel in the 14th round, and Frazier yelling that he still wanted to go on, they would probably have fought for more than the record 110 rounds mentioned earlier in this article.
Boxing has had certain moments in its history where the boxers performed with superhuman strength. These are the moments that define the sport as one for the strong, brutal, and fast and those with tenacity, many boxers have gone beyond that which is humanly possible and they have earned their place in the annals of boxing history. You only need to look at these top 10 matches to be amazed at what boxers can do.