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Ali and Tyson feature, does Floyd? These are the 10 best boxing fights of all time

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all-time best boxing fights, top 10

Over the years, we have been privileged to witness some truly epic bouts. But which have been the best in boxing history? We were spoilt for choice, but after much debate and discussion here are the 10 best boxing fights of all time.

The 10 best boxing fights of all time

10. Erik Morales vs. Marco Antonio Barrera — February 19, 2005

This classic matchup in Las Vegas was the third between the pair and just as bruising as the previous encounters. Although neither boxer was floored, they knocked the bells out of each other and by the time the fight ended, they looked like they had survived a plane crash.

Barrera eventually took out the fight of the year via a majority decision.

9. Julio Cesar Chavez vs Meldrick Taylor, March 17, 1990

This fight will always be remembered for being controversially stopped by the referee with just two seconds of the final round remaining.

With a stick-and-move style of offence, many people think Taylor would’ve won as he was ahead on points going into the last round. But advised by his corner to go for the knockout, he found himself on the receiving end of a blizzard of punches, which resulted in the Mexican boxer Chavez coming out on top.

It’s rightly viewed as one of the greatest bouts of the 1990s and one of the best boxing fights of all time.

8. Sugar Ray Leonard vs Roberto Duran, June 20, 1980

The ‘Brawl in Montreal’ saw living legend Roberto Duran, boasting a 71-1 record at the time, take on Olympic champion Sugar Ray Leonard in a bruising title bout.

Going the distance of 15 rounds, Duran, who moved up a weight division, won via a unanimous decision. However, Sugar Ray impressed boxing fans with his supreme talent and eventually won a rematch in November of that year.

7. Aaron Pryor vs Alexis Arguello, November 12, 1982

This match-up was labelled ‘The Battle of the Champions’, with Arguello attempting to become the first boxer in history to win titles in four separate weight classes. He almost did it, too, as he was leading after 13 rounds.

However, after saying to his trainer, ‘Give me the other bottle, the one I mixed’, Pryor took a swig from a mysterious black bottle before knocking out his opponent in the 14th. Controversially, the drink was never analysed.

best boxing fights
Arguably the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammed Ali was fought in some of greatest boxing fights ever

6. Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman, October 30, 1974

The ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ was an iconic fight. Foreman was widely seen as unbeatable, but Ali was a hero in Zaire (now DR Congo), where the fight took place. The bout was also Don King’s first as a major boxing promoter and had been hyped up with James Brown and BB King performing in the lead-up.

For much of this world title fight, Foreman rained blow after blow down on Ali. But he absorbed them impressively and eventually knocked out an exhausted Foreman with a devastating blow of his own in the eighth round.

5. Mike Tyson vs Michael Spinks, June 27, 1988

Tyson’s 91-second demolition of former Olympic champion Michael Spinks three days before his 22nd birthday was a one-sided and brutal fight that showcased his intimidating power and strength.

After knocking down Michael Spinks for the first time in a professional fight, Tyson collected him with a ferocious combination that ended the fight, and Spinks’s career, whilst simultaneously cementing Iron Mike’s status as one of the sport’s greatest ever heavyweights.

4. Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier, October 1, 1975

Arguably the most famous fight in boxing history, the third fight between fierce rivals Ali and Frazier – the ‘Thrilla in Manilla’ had everything. Both fighters knew it was their final fight against each other and pushed themselves to the point of exhaustion.

Between them, the two heavyweights set a record for the most punches thrown. After 14 energy-sapping rounds, Frazier’s trainer, Eddie Futch, refused to send him out for the 15th, fearing any further blows could cause permanent or fatal damage.

After raising his arms to acknowledge being the heavyweight champion of the boxing world, Ali promptly collapsed on his stool, signifying the intensity of the affair.

3. Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns, April 15, 1985

The entire fight between Marvelous Marvin and The Hitman at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas only lasted eight minutes. However, it was one of the most insane eight minutes ever witnessed.

It started with a bang, with the two middleweights exchanging blow after blow in an incredible show of power and strength during the first round. The hits eventually took their toll, though, as a battered and bruised Hagler eventually knocked out the ‘Motor City Cobra’ in three rounds with a crunching right hook and two powerful uppercuts.

2. Joe Louis vs Max Schmeling, June 22, 1938

It’s fair to say the second fight between Louis and Schmeling was more than just a rematch. It was a heavyweight championship with massive political overtones on a global scale. Schmeling was the darling of Hitler’s Third Reich, while Louis, who had previously enjoyed wins via TKO against former champions Primo Carnera and Max Baer, was arguably the first black national hero America had ever had.

Louis also had a personal point to prove, having lost their first fight in 1936 after being knocked out in the 12th. However, in the rematch, he came out of the blocks flying, landing all but 10 of the 41 punches he threw in the first round and knocking Schmeling down three times before triumphing after just 2.04 minutes of the contest.

1. Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier, March 8, 1971

The first bout between Frazier and Ali was one of the most anticipated fights in boxing history. At the time, both were undefeated and commanding heavyweight champions. But beyond that, they represented two different sides of cultural and political unrest that was increasing tensions within and dividing America.

Ali was a former Olympic hero who had become a figurehead for the anti-war movement and a vociferous supporter of civil rights. He had also been stripped of his heavyweight title due to his refusal to join the US Army and had been exiled for three years from the sport as the matter was taken to the courts. Frazier, on the other hand, was an intelligent man who was seen as having more of a conservative temperament, akin to the likes of Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis. More than that, the two didn’t really like each other.

The world heavyweight title fight at Madison Square Garden exceeded the fervent hype that surrounded it, going the distance of 15 rounds. It was later called ‘the fight of the century’, which Frazier took out via a unanimous decision when the final bell rang.

rivalries in sport top 10 all time
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier boasted one of boxing’s fiercest rivalries

Conclusion

As you can see, over the course of boxing history, there have been some incredible pugilistic contests. But which two fighters do you think have fought the best boxing match?

Picture of Jarryd Salem
Jarryd Salem
Professional traveller by day, extreme sports binger by night and coffee drinker all the time, Jarryd Salem looks after the operations here at OnlySports. When he's not climbing mountain peaks in some country ending in 'Stan' or snapping pics in the polar regions, he's diving deep into everything that makes the internet work, shopping for sports NFTs and planning his next big snowboarding adventure.

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