The 12 Biggest & Most Hyped Boxing Fights in HistoryStories
There’s no doubt that boxing is the biggest and most popular fighting sport today. It’s also one of the oldest sports whose origins date back to ancient times. This means that there have been thousands of fights since it was invented, and choosing the biggest boxing match may be difficult.
While some people criticize modern boxing, we can all agree that some of the biggest fights in boxing history have happened in the last five decades. Both boxers were at the peak of their careers in some of these fights, while in others, the underdogs have put up a good fight. We should also mention that these events took place in different parts of the world, which is not unusual because boxing is popular across the globe.
The list of the biggest fights ever that we’ve prepared for our readers includes some of the most exciting matches fans have seen. But, we have also included several hyped fights that might or might not meet the viewers’ expectations. Now let’s reveal more about the 12 biggest & most hyped boxing fights in history.
12. Mike Tyson vs. Lenox Lewis
In 2002 Mike Tyson challenged Lenox Lewis, who was defending unified his IBO, IBF, WBC, and The Ring titles. There’s more than one reason why we have listed this event on our list of the biggest boxing matches of all time.
First of all, Mike Tyson was still recovering from the embarrassing match against Holyfield in 1997. Yet, the fans wanted to see another game with Iron Mike. Also, Lenox Lewis is one of the most successful boxers of all time, just like Tyson. Due to his past performances, many sporting arenas didn’t want to host this match. Still, the event took place in Memphis eventually. Lewis managed to beat Tyson in the eighth round by knockout. Many people remember that this match has earned over 110 million dollars to the organizers.
11. Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo
It’s not just the heavyweight category that contributes to the biggest fights in boxing history. Even lightweight matches can be fascinating, and Corrales and Castillo proved that in 2005. It was a match between a Mexican professional boxer and an American boxer of Mexican and Colombian origin.
What fans liked about this game was the fighting spirit of both athletes and their dynamic movements. This may also be the longest boxing match on this list because those who belong to the heavyweight category usually end before the tenth round. The best part in this duel happened in the last (tenth) round when Castillo knocked down Corrales twice. Just when the fans thought that this was it and the match was over, Corrales stood up and threw a jab at Castillo’s jaw, leading to a knockout.
10. Erik Morales vs. Marco Antonio Barrera
We have two more Mexican boxers on this list. Erik Isaac Morales Elvira (Erik Morales) was the first Mexican boxer to win world titles in four weight categories (super bantamweight, featherweight, super lightweight, and super featherweight) and Marco Antonio Barrera. He won several championships in three weight categories.
There was a massive rivalry between these two athletes that have met a few times in their careers. They have decided to treat their fans by fighting in Las Vegas. Yet, the best fight between them and one of the best boxing matches of all time happened in 2004. The match lasted for 12 rounds, filled with countless punches. In the end, the judges decided that Barrera won the thrilling match marking the end of the so-called Barrera vs. Morales trilogy.
9. Aaron Pryor vs. Alexis Arguello
It turns out that Nicaragua has a long list of excellent boxers, and Alexis Arguello is definitely one of these athletes. In 1982, Alexis Arguello challenged Pryor in a bid to take his title. This match was known as the Battle of the Champions before it started, which tells us a lot about the hype surrounding this event.
In addition to the live HBO audience, almost 24.000 fans watched this match at Miami’s Orange Bowl. Arguello started calmly, and he looked like he was winning the game. However, Pryor has shown why he was the champion at that time in the last few rounds. Alexis Arguello didn’t make it to the end of the match, which ended in a knockout in the 14th round.
8. Micky Ward vs. Arturo Gatti
There were a few memorable boxing trilogies in boxing history. The one that involved Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti was one of them. The match that we can freely describe as one of the biggest fights in boxing ever was the first one in the trilogy. The Irish-American boxer met with the Italian-Canadian fighter. It seemed that they both wanted to throw as many punches as they could in a short period.
Many commentators have confirmed that this was one of the most brutal and dynamic matches they have witnessed. The first eight rounds didn’t show a clear winner, but Ward threw a powerful punch to Gatti’s body in the ninth round, which knocked him down. Miraculously he got back and had a solid tenth round, but in the end, the points decision was in Ward’s favor.
7. Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier
For many boxing fans, this was the biggest boxing match ever. Back then, the media called this event the fight of the century. It was held in Madison Square Garden right after Muhammad Ali got his boxing license back. If you didn’t know, he was suspended because he refused to join the US army in the Vietnam War.
This was the first of three matches between these super talented boxers in the prime of their careers. So, the 1971 match started fast, and the first couple of rounds seemed like Frazier broke Ali’s tactics. After that, he improved his performance, but the game still lasted for 15 rounds. It was a close match, but the judges decided that Frazier was better that night. This fight is also part of the top 10 most heated sports rivalries of all time.
6. Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns
The 1980s brought us a few excellent fights, including one in 1981 when Sugar Ray Leonard fought Thomas Hearns. Even if you are not a boxing fan, you’ve probably heard these names. This event was held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. It was a 15-round match in which Leonard was focused on unifying the World Welterweight Championship title. It’s worth mentioning that Hearns was undefeated at the time.
Leonard was shorter, and that’s why Hearns kept his distance and swung at him with his long arms. However, Leonard figured out that he could win this match by becoming more aggressive. Still, Hearns adjusted to the change of tactics. When the audience thought this match would last for 15 rounds, Sugar Ray decided to stage an all-out attack which helped him knock out Hearns in the 13th round.
5. George Foreman vs. Ron Lyle
There’s an Olympic gold medalist in our article dedicated to the best boxing matches of all time. That’s George Foreman, who won the Olympic gold medal in 1968. Additionally, he is a two-time world heavyweight champion. On the other hand, Ron Lyle was a talented American boxer with an impressive career. Still, he never won a world title, and to be honest, he was an underdog against Foreman in 1976 when these two met in Las Vegas.
Lyle had an excellent punching power and had a great match against Ali in 1975. This time, against Foreman, he lasted for five rounds before Foreman knocked him down for the third time.
4. Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor
In 1990, the world witnessed another great American/Mexican boxing match. We had Julio Cesar Chavez, a Mexican boxer with a few world champion titles in three different divisions in one corner. His opponent, Meldrick Taylor, an American boxer, won a gold Olympic medal and two world champion titles. So, the audience knew that they were about to see a spectacular match.
This boxing match is unique because Meldrick didn’t make it to the end, although there were just two seconds left. Before the final round started, Meldrick Taylor decided to take a risk by attacking Chavez all the time even though the match was even. Chavez used his experience to knock out Meldrick just two seconds before the buzzer.
3. Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman
We’ve already mentioned these boxers, and if you’ve read these paragraphs, you won’t be surprised that their names are found on another match that can be considered one of the best fights ever. We’re talking about the historic “Rumble in the Jungle” match. This event was held in Kinshasa, the capital city of the African country Zaire.
In case you didn’t know, it was Foreman who was supposed to win this match because he was in his prime years, but in the end, it was Ali who was victorious. He used the famous rope-a-dope technique allowing the opponent to punch while he was “resting” on the ropes. Ali saved his energy for the eighth round when he defeated Foreman.
2. Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns
We can all agree that this was not the longest boxing match. Still, it was definitely one of the most exciting events in boxing history. More precisely, this duel between Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns in 1985 lasted for just three rounds. However, every second in this match counted because it filled thrills, actions, and tension. According to many experts, the first round was the ideal round and something the world had not seen before.
It’s probably the strong start that drained the energy of these two boxers, and the match was finished in the third round when Hagler made the final punch, after which Hearns couldn’t stand up on his feet.
1. Mike Tyson vs. Peter McNeeley
Last on this list of most hyped boxing fights in history is the duel between Mike Tyson and Peter McNeeley. As you probably know, Tyson was imprisoned for a few years, and this was his comeback on the boxing scene.
Peter McNeeley was a complete outsider, although he had a few good results prior to this match. Yet, people were worried that Tyson was out of shape after serving his sentence. Their dilemmas were cleared in the first round of this match when Tyson knocked down McNeeley two times in 89 seconds. After that, McNeeley’s team forfeited the game. It’s good to mention that the organizers made 96 million dollars from this event.