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The most memorable heavyweight fights of all time

Boxing history is littered with fights that have achieved legendary status, particularly within the heavyweight division.

The size and athleticism of the combatants often make for a thrilling spectacle, mainly when they deliver their knockout blows.


With that in mind, we look closely at some of the most memorable heavyweight fights of all time, starting with one that attracted a vast television audience.

George Foreman vs Muhammad Ali – 1974

According to recent research by Betway Insider, the legendary Rumble in the Jungle was watched by one billion people – a whopping 25% of the global population.

Muhammad Ali became the world heavyweight champion for the second time after overcoming the previously unbeaten George Foreman.

Ali went into the fight as an underdog, with many boxing pundits predicting Foreman would overpower him with his strength.

However, using his infamous ‘rope-a-dope’ tactic, Ali tired Foreman out before picking him apart with the precision of a surgeon. This was well before the era of boxing streaming, but it’s safe to say this fight would have ‘broken the Internet’ if it existed at the time.

Evander Holyfield vs Mike Tyson II – 1997

Evander Holyfield shocked the world when he defeated the formidable Mike Tyson to win the WBA heavyweight title in Nevada in 1996.

Tyson was the favorite for the rematch the following summer, but Holyfield proved the doubters wrong by using his jab to keep his opponent at bay.

‘Iron Mike’ eventually lost the plot as he grew increasingly frustrated, biting off part of Holyfield’s ear in one of the most shocking incidents ever seen in boxing.

Tyson was rightly disqualified and stripped of his boxing license, but he was eventually reinstated and returned to action in January 1999.

Rocky Marciano vs Joe Walcott – 1952

As is often the case in heavyweight match-ups, the first meeting between Rocky Marciano and Joe Walcott divided the boxing community.

Marciano had rattled off 42 straight victories heading into their bout in September 1952, but many experts thought he was vastly overrated.

Walcott held the same opinion and set about Marciano with vigor during the early part of the contest. By the seventh round, Marciano was complaining he could not see.

He turned things around in epic style, delivering a huge right hook that left Walcott unconscious as he fell into the ropes midway through the 13th round.

Jack Dempsey vs Luis Firpo

The 1923 clash between Jack Dempsey and Luis Firpo has gone down in history as one of the most brutal heavyweight fights in history.

Dempsey repeatedly knocked Firpo during the opening round, but the Latin-American bravely battled back to floor his opponent on two occasions.

Firpo’s second knockdown sent Dempsey tumbling out of the ring, but he recovered to finish the fight clinically just 57 seconds into round two.

Eleven knockdowns were recorded during the vicious contest – a modern-day professional boxing record that remains intact today.