Boxing has had several “hey days” throughout its history, with different eras producing great fighters and memorable fights. However, many people consider the 1920s and 1930s as the “Golden Age of Boxing” due to the emergence of several legendary fighters, such as Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Joe Louis, and Sugar Ray Robinson, among others. This era saw boxing’s popularity soar, with huge crowds attending major bouts and the sport becoming a significant part of American culture. The heavyweight division, in particular, was highly competitive, with several great champions and fights that captured the public’s imagination.
Here are ten of the most memorable and significant boxing matches in history, listed in chronological order:
Jack Johnson vs. James Jeffries (July 4, 1910) – The “Fight of the Century” between Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, and Jeffries, who came out of retirement to try to regain the title. Johnson dominated the fight and won by TKO in the 15th round.
Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Jake LaMotta VI (February 14, 1951) – The sixth and final fight between these two legendary rivals. Robinson won the middleweight title with a unanimous decision after a grueling 15-round bout.
Rocky Marciano vs. Jersey Joe Walcott I (September 23, 1952) – Marciano knocked out Walcott in the 13th round to become the heavyweight champion. It was the start of a legendary unbeaten streak for Marciano.
Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston I (February 25, 1964) – Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, shocked the world by defeating Liston, the heavyweight champion, by TKO in the seventh round. The fight is remembered for Ali’s famous taunts and victory celebration.
Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali I (March 8, 1971) – The first meeting between two undefeated heavyweight champions. Frazier won by unanimous decision in a brutal 15-round fight that is considered one of the greatest of all time.
Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns (September 16, 1981) – A welterweight title unification bout that pitted two of the sport’s most talented and exciting fighters against each other. Leonard won by TKO in the 14th round in a classic back-and-forth battle.
Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns (April 15, 1985) – A three-round war that is often called the greatest fight of all time. Hagler won by TKO in the third round after an intense, non-stop exchange of punches.
Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas (February 11, 1990) – One of the biggest upsets in sports history, as Douglas knocked out Tyson in the tenth round to win the heavyweight title. Tyson was a 42-1 favorite going into the fight.
Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward I (May 18, 2002) – The first of three epic fights between these two warriors. Gatti won by unanimous decision in a bloody, thrilling battle that is still talked about today.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez IV (December 8, 2012) – The fourth and final fight in a long-running series between two of the sport’s greatest fighters. Pacquiao was knocked out cold by Marquez in the sixth round, providing a stunning end to their rivalry.
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