Best Boxing Matches of All Time
Here are the best boxing matches in chronological order, all of which were exciting and some of which were significant.
- Corbett-Sullivan, September 7, 1892. In 1892, vestiges of the old London Prize Ring rules still remained. That meant the fight was to go on until one fighter was knocked out. As a result, Corbett won in a 21-round knockout of a champion everyone had considered invincible. This fight was significant because it showed that a boxer could beat a slugger. A fighter with finesse, named Jake Kilrain, had taken Sullivan on and nearly gotten himself killed in the effort.
- Dempsey-Firpo, September 14, 1923. Many recognize this as the best boxing match of all time. After the challenger had dropped Jack Dempsey, the champion got up and blasted Firpo to the canvas seven times. There was no “neutral corner” rule—something that would come back to haunt Dempsey later. Then Luis Firpo knocked Dempsey through the ropes. Many people claim that, because ringside sportswriters had helped him back in, and because he had actually been indisposed for fourteen seconds, Dempsey should have lost the title. Instead it went down as a 9-count knockdown. Dempsey knocked his man out in the second round.
- Tunney-Dempsey, September 22, 1927. This was the fight where the “neutral-corner” rule did the former champion in. Tunney had beaten the stuffing out of Dempsey to win the title in 1926. This was to be Dempsey’s comeback. It almost happened, but not quite. After six rounds, clearly in second place, Dempsey finally hammered the new champion to the canvas with a barrage of eight punches. Tunney was unconscious, but Dempsey refused to move away. Finally, the referee escorted Dempsey to a neutral corner. Only then did he start his count over the champion, who regained his feet at “nine” and went on to win the decision.
- Louis-Braddock, June 22, 1937. This fight stands out as one of Joe Louis’s best, first because it is the one that gave him the title, and second, because his opponent, unlike others, was not paralyzed with fear, but fought like a champion.
- Marciano-Walcott, September 23, 1952. It seemed as though Walcott would successfully defend his title. He knocked the challenger down, and was way ahead on points, going into the thirteenth round. In that round, the undefeated Marciano remained that way and became champion with a perfect right cross that put Walcott to sleep.
- Moore-Durelle, December 10, 1958. Light-heavyweight champion Archie Moore took on Canadian champion Yvon Durelle in Montreal. The challenger knocked Moore down four times, but Moore hung tough and ended up winning in a dramatic eleventh-round knockout.
- Frazier-Ali, March 8, 1971. Muhammad Ali may be our greatest heavyweight champion. In this bout, he was fighting to regain his title. He gave Frazier a beating, but he took an even worse one. Promoters had hyped this bout as “The fight of the century.” It was one of the best boxing matches, ever.
- Ali-Foreman, October 30, 1974. Known as “The Rumble in the Jungle,” this fight qualifies as one of the best boxing upsets. Muhammad Ali was yesterday’s news, while George Foreman seemed invincible. To everyone’s shock, Ali won in a superbly-executed eighth-round knockout.
- Ali-Frazier, October 1, 1975. As brutal as the first Ali-Frazier fight had been, this one, called “The Thrilla in Manilla,” topped it. Ali beat Joe Frazier in the early rounds, only to allow the challenger to mount a ferocious comeback in the middle rounds. Eventually Ali regained the upper hand and wore the challenger down, earning a 14-round TKO.
- Leonard-Hearns, September 16, 1981. In a fight to unify the middleweight championship, undefeated champion Thomas Hearns met Sugar Ray Leonard. The fight was ferocious, and the lead seesawed between the two champions before Leonard finally put his man away in the fourteenth.
Posted on: May. 13, 2010