Greatest fights in History I: Must-watch, binge-worthy boxing classics
World Boxing News provides fans with some much-needed boxing classics to binge on during these isolation times we currently live in.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our great sport – like all others, is on hold.
With the prospect of July being the earliest we see live-action exchanges again, WBN lists ten bouts every fan should watch during the lockdown.
Part one leads up to the 1970’s.
Jack Dempsey vs Luis Firpo – 1923
Firpo challenged Dempsey for his world heavyweight title in New York City. Within seconds, the underdog had the champion on the canvas in what has since been a hotly-debated knockdown.
In one of the most explosive first rounds in boxing history, Dempsey then planted Firpo no less than SEVEN times in the next 90 seconds. Many thought the fourth had finished Firpo off.
Amazingly, Firpo came back. In his wild, swinging style, Firpo caught Dempsey off balance and sent him through the ropes and outside onto the floor.
Dempsey reported hit a typewriter with the back of his head and suffered a cut. But in the second, the world ruler wasted no time ended the fight with two more trips to the canvas for Firpo.
Jim Braddock vs Max Baer – 1935
Giving away seventeen pounds in weight, Jim Braddock was a snow-white underdog against the great Max Baer in 1935. Despite this fact, Braddock pulled off one of the greatest shocks in history to win the world heavyweight title.
Years later, Russell Crowe would portray Braddock in the hit film ‘Cinderella Man’.
Joe Louis vs Max Schmeling – 1936
German Schmeling became the first man to defeat Louis when the pair traded blows in a barnstormer at Yankee Stadium in 1936.
Louis was 24-0 at the time and Schmeling had only won four of his last eight bouts. Schmeling shocked the crowd by stopping the previously unbeatable Louis in twelve.
Henry Armstrong vs Lou Ambers I – 1938
Defending his world welterweight title, Armstrong earned a split decision over Ambers at Madison Square Garden.
The fight was named Fight of the Year and went down as one of the greatest of all time.
Rocky Graziano vs Tony Zale II – 1947
Having lost to the then world middleweight champion Zale in 1946, Graziano was seemingly on his way to a second loss in the rematch.
Rallying and stemming blood from a bad cut, Graziano turned the tide to avenge his sixth-round loss with one of his own.
Sugar Ray Robinson vs Jake LaMotta – 1951
Known as ‘The Valentine’s Day Massacre’, Robinson vs LaMotta VI was one of the most talked-about fights for years.
Early on, it was LaMotta who seemed to have the edge, although the ‘Bronx Bull’ tired badly in the later rounds.
The first man to beat Robinson in 1943, LaMotta had lost the other four leading into the bout. He was fully expected to lose again as a 3-1 underdog.
Despite this, LaMotta put on his bravest performance yet and was well ahead on many scorecards at the midway point.
But from round nine onwards, it was all Robinson. LaMotta eventually took one of the most punishing beatings ever until succumbing in the 13th round.
Famously, LaMotta refused to go down and was eventually immortalized in the Robert DeNiro movie ‘Raging Bull’ years later.
Rocky Marciano vs Joe Louis – 1951
Marciano met Louis at the tail end of the career of the ‘Brown Bomber’. The passing of the torch was fully complete when the younger, stronger man forced the stoppage.
Louis was one of 43 KO’s on Marciano’s C.V., which ended on 49-0.
Floyd Patterson vs Ingemar Johansson II – 1960
Patterson had been shocked by Johansson a year earlier and was focused on becoming the first heavyweight in history to regain the world title.
A fifth-round demolition ensued, with Johansson down for a full five minutes after the devastation.
Muhammad Ali vs Sonny Liston I – 1964
February 1964 was a defining date in the awesome career of one of the most memorable heavyweights in history. Ali had come back from the 1960 Olympics with a gold medal and a mass of confidence to go with it.
Goading Liston throughout, Ali eventually backed up his words to defeat the most formidable puncher of his era.
No footage special mention:
Harry Greb vs Gene Tunney – 1922
13,000 packed into Madison Square Garden to witness Tunney’s first defense of the USA light-heavyweight title. What transpired was Tunney’s only ever defeat.
Greb was inspired on the night and busted up Tunney to win a decision at the end of 15 enthralling rounds.
The pair would meet four more times during their respective careers.
No footage of the fight was able to be found on the internet.