At its best boxing is one of the greatest sports there is.
Champions have to be at the very peak of their physical condition to even last 10 minutes in the in the ring, let alone think about winning a 12 or 15-round contest.
In the boxing, there are no hiding places. Excuses, as Manny Pacquiao, in the aftermath of his fight with Floyd Mayweather can be offered up after a fight is over, but when that bell sounds there are no apologies to use a shield to protect one’s body or pride. No teammates, no injuries and no shifting of the blame.
It is perhaps for those reasons why boxing is held in such high regard. Why bouts catch the public’s imagination. Loveflutter is going to take a look at three classic boxing matches which are remembered as some of the greatest bouts of all time and as a result some of the best contests sport has ever seen.
Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier (1975).
Seen by most as the greatest boxing match of all time, the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ was the third boxing bout between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Taking place in the capital city of the Phillipines the fight lift up to its billing and was an absolute classic. Ali won the first two rounds decisively as Frazier struggled to bob and weave inside Ali’s jab. However, the third round, saw Ali’s famous rope-a-dope tactic let him down as Frazier landed a succession of punches. By the sixth round, as Frazier continued to push forward, he gained control of the boxing bout. Frazier dominated the middle rounds of the fight, but began to tire by the tenth. Ali hit Frazier with a flurry of punches in the 11th that caused swelling around his opponent’s eyes. By the 14th round Frazier could hardly see and the boxing bout was stopped at the end of that round to give Ali the victory by TKO.
Marvin Hagler vs Thomas Hearns (1985).
Eight-minutes of fury and one of the greatest adverts for why boxing is such an exciting and compelling sport. Hagler vs Hearns may not have the superstar names that a fight like Ali vs Frazier can boast, but for a boxing spectacle it was captivating. Both fighters, from the first bell, just stood toe-to-toe and attacked. ‘How far can this one go? Not very far at this pace,’ came the cry from the boxing commentator as the first round of the bout came to a close. Middleweight boxing champion Hagler had been hurt by a punch early in the round, but hit back to have Hearns backed up against the ropes trying to box his way out under constant pressure. Hagler took control of the fight in the second round and having withstood Hearns’ right hand punch in the first round he managed, despite having a height disadvantage, to get inside. He nullified Hearns’ reach and his ability to box on the outside and turned the boxing bout into a street fight. However, the fight then swung back in Hearns’ favour as Hagler got cut badly in the early stages of the third round and needed attention from the doctor. Was the fight going to be stopped? No, Hagler showed tremendous spirit as he continued to attack and, with blood pouring down his face, landed more telling punches on Hearns’ to send him crashing to the canvas.
Buster Douglas vs Mike Tyson (1990).
Buster Douglas’ defeat of Mike Tyson in February 1990 has to go down as one of the greatest upsets in sporting and boxing history. Tyson was the undisputed heavyweight of the world, who hadn’t been beaten in 37 fights. He had an imposing reputation and record of fast starts and quick knockouts. Nobody gave Buster Douglas, whose only previous boxing title fight had ended in a tenth round defeat to Tony Tucker in 1987, a chance of victory. Most bookmakers refused to take bets for the fight. The Mirage, the only casino in Las Vegas willing to offer odds to punters, rated Douglas as a 42/1 underdog. However, little did they know about Tyson’s poor preparations for the fight. He had hardly trained and spent the days leading up to the fight, in Japan, partying with women. The champion struggled through the early rounds as Douglas, with nothing to lose and everything to gain, went on the offensive. Tyson was cut above the eye and in trouble by the end of the fifth round, with Douglas up on points and landing more effectively. However, in the eighth round Tyson hit Douglas with a telling uppercut that sent him wobbling onto his back. Was Tyson going to be saved by one punch? No, Douglas rose back to his feet on the count of nine. The bell rang immediately to signal the end of the round, giving the contender a few extra seconds to recover. In the tenth round Douglas then knocked Tyson to the canvas for the first time in his career to be crowned boxing heavy champion of the world and complete a remarkable shock victory.