greatest BOXING fights of all time
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will collide in the richest fight in boxing history, but there are doubts over the quality of the spectacle at the MGM Grand given Mayweather's defensive style. Here we look at the fights that can be considered the greatest of all time.
5. NIGEL BENN v GERALD McCLELLAN, LONDON, 1995
"They brought him over here to bash me up," said an emotional Benn after his 10th-round victory over McClellan, an American with an 85 per cent knockout record. When Benn was sent tumbling out of the ring in the first round and then flattened in the eighth, the end seemed inevitable. Yet the hard-punching Benn summoned his reserves of courage and resilience to register a sensational victory marred only by the health issues subsequently endured by McClellan.
4. SUGAR RAY LEONARD v THOMAS HEARNS, LAS VEGAS, 1981
Hearns' first appearance on this list was a classic welterweight unification fight that ebbed and flowed throughout. Unbeaten Hearns faced a Leonard who had avenged his defeat by Roberto Duran and the scene was set for another two of the 'Four Kings' to signify a golden era for the sport. It was Hearns who led on the scorecards until Leonard, who was told by trainer Angelo Dundee after round 12 "You're blowing it, son! You're blowing it!", exploded into life in the 13th before finishing off his rival in the 14th.
3. JOE LOUIS v MAX SCHMELING, NEW YORK, 1938
Two years after Louis had been knocked out in the 12th round of their first meeting, the 'Brown Bomber' exacted revenge by flattening Schmeling in 124 seconds. It was viewed as a victory for good over evil due to the Nazis' idolisation of Schmeling as evidence of Aryan supremacy, although the fighter himself opposed Hitler's Germany. President Roosevelt told him: "Joe, we need muscles like yours to beat the Germans." No pressure there, then.
2. MARVIN HAGLER v THOMAS HEARNS, LAS VEGAS 1985
Billed simply as 'The War', the middleweight battle between two of the 'Four Kings' - an elite list completed by Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran - surpassed expectations by producing the most explosive three rounds ever seen. An exhausting opener is widely considered the best round in boxing history and set the tone for a succession of brutal exchanges. Hagler went in for the kill in the third and the fight was waved off after 118 seconds.
1. MUHAMMAD ALI v JOE FRAZIER, MANILA, 1975
Ali won the second meeting with Frazier and having shocked George Foreman in Zaire, the decider against Frazier beckoned. 'The Thrilla in Manila' was a brutal 14-round war fought in searing heat that ended with Frazier being withdrawn by his trainer, although Ali was ready to quit himself. Frazier's eye had started closing in the 9th and nearly blind by the 13th. It was a savage fight of awe-inspiring courage with Ali later claiming "this is the closest to death I have ever been".