Okay, so it’s probably best to reveal right from the get-go, that nothing is concrete about a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather at this point – and it has been like this for some time. However, one thing is for certain about the fight and that is that should it take place, it will be one of if not the biggest fight in boxing history. It’s certainly the most anticipated of our generation and one that would likely have Betfair and other major bookmakers struggling to pin down a major favorite for the contest.
Pacquiao has recently come out and claimed that he wants “that fight too” and with time running out on both fighter’s career spans, it may be now or never. What we can do while waiting though, is remember ten of the most arduous, vicious and gruelling bouts to ever take place in the history of boxing, with the hope that we will one day watch Manny and Floyd slug it out in the squared circle.
10 – Diego Corrales v Jose Luis Castillo
In 2005, these two took trading shots to a whole new level. It was essentially a thirty-minute slugfest to get to the tenth round, in which a remarkable chain of events was sparked. There was little to choose between both Corrales and Castillo as they reached the aforementioned tenth round in what was later believed to be by many as one of the fights of 2005, but once the fire was sparked, it turned into a bloodbath. Castillo took the initiative in the fight and knocked Corrales down twice in the tenth round, but that wasn’t enough to stop “Chico” Corrales, who sprang up to his feet and caught Castillo with a right hand right on the chin. This spurred Corrales on to eventually win the bout and take control of the WBC Lightweight Title.
9 – Sugar Ray Leonard v Thomas Hearns – 1981
Another untimely classic, this bout saw Hearns go into the match – held at none other than Caesars Palace – as the undefeated WBC Welterweight Champion, but that would all change at the hands of Leonard. The fight went all the way to the fourteenth round, in which Leonard ultimately won by TKO, although the shock came when the judges’ scorecards were revealed post-bout. Both men had took turns with the initiative of the fight as the match unravelled, but ultimately Hearns was on course to win the fight had he been able to go the distance with Sugar Ray.
8 –Erik Morales v Marco Antonio Barrera
This pair of Mexican boxers contested one of the greatest boxing rivalries and as usual, those great rivalries usually come with a trio of bouts. This pairing of Morales and Barrera was no exception, but the particular fight in question was their third fight over the five-year feud. After two fights between the pairing, there was no love lost and neither held back from the opening bell of this third contest in 2004, which ultimately spanned twelve, gruelling rounds. Neither Morales nor Barrera hit the floor throughout this slugfest, but it looked like they had been through so much more than a boxing match come the end of the bout, as Barrera ultimately came away from Las Vegas with the majority decision victory and also a major win in the war that was Morales v Barrera.
7 – Mike Tyson v Michael Spinks
Short but sweet is likely how this bout will be remembered. Spinks – the current IBF Champion – was set to defend his gold against ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson, who at this point in his career was just a relative newcomer with a killer punch. It was yet to be seen whether Tyson could do the business against the big boys in his heavyweight division, but there were little doubts about that after the fight, which was barely a fight at that. Spinks had made several moves to avoid the challenge of Tyson as ‘Iron’ Mike rose through the ranks and you can even see the despair in Spinks’ face as he approaches the ring. What followed next was simply stunning, as Tyson dispatched the reigning champion after just two minutes and less than one full round of boxing. A stunning knockdown left Spinks – and his career – completely side-tracked, while Tyson inevitable moved onto bigger and better things, after securing what was his 16th first round knockout in 35 professional fights.
6 – Floyd Mayweather v Miguel Cotto
This fight makes the list – and such a high-ranking at that – due to Miguel Cotto’s durability throughout. Many had already written of Cotto before the bout had even begun, instead opting to debate when and not if Mayweather could knock Cotto out of the bout. Instead, we saw something quite the opposite, as Cotto hit Mayweather with more punches than he had been hit with ever before in his career. It is important to remember that this fight was staged only in 2012 – a year when Mayweather had long been considered one of the all-time boxing greats – and the relatively unflavoured Cotto did more than enough to ensure that when ‘Money’ eventually prevailed from the bout, he could leave with his head held high.
5 – Rocky Marciano v Jersey Joe Walcott
This fight takes us all the way back to 1952 and Marciano’s impressive boxing record, which at the time of this fight stood at 42-0. He was simply unstoppable in the eyes of many, but in the eyes of Jersey Joe Walcott. Walcott instead branded Marciano as “amateurish” in the build up to the fight, but that would not deter Marciano. The pair touched gloves and began to slug it out, although it was not long before Marciano had hit the canvas. Walcott used his technical skills to boss the match and did send Marciano to the floor in the first, but eventually the slug-fest nature of the fight came to the fray, allowing Marciano to take the upper-hand. In the thirteenth round and almost out of desperation to win with a knockout (Walcott would surely win the bout on points due to his technical skills), Marciano pulled out all the stops after surviving a barrage of Walcott’s strikes and slammed him with a vicious right hand. Walcott was knocked unconscious and while the bout will go down in history, it will also go down as the closest Marciano ever came to losing a boxing match.
4 – Marvin Hagler v Tommy Hearns
Three years prior to Hearns’ bout with Tyson, he squared off against Marvin Hagler. Now, we have used the term ‘slug-fest’ several times thus far in this article, but no fight applies to the term better than this one. This was recalled by many in attendance as what is best described as all-out war – and it only lasted eight minutes. Both men were bloodied and beaten by the end of the first round alone, as they sprung from their respective corners after the first bell and simply went to town on each other – unleashing on each other’s heads. Hagler began to see through Hearns tactics by the second round though and in the third, he promptly dispatched of Hearns and sent him crashing to the canvas.
3 – Micky Ward v Arturo Gatti (Bout 1)
Another classic boxing trilogy, this rivalry kicked off in 2002 in emphatic fashion. Both men set out to simply punish one another, but it was this bout that sparked two more classics for boxing fans of all ages to enjoy. Nobody in the arena could decide who was in charge until Ward sent Gatti crashing to the floor in the ninth with a simply stunning shot to the kidneys (Ward was famed for his work on the body throughout his boxing career) and although Gatti re-emerged and made it to the end of the fight, it was enough to see Ward through the first of the three fights between the pair.
2 – Sugar Ray Leonard v Tommy Hearns 2
Poor Tommy Hearns. The boxer has made three appearances on this list and only has three losses to show for it. But he can leave with his head held high, as he was perceived by many to have won the rematch in 1989. Now many will argue that this boxing match does not merit second place on this list, but the sheer fact that the first match brought about a war between the pair, not to mention the boos that rang around Detroit Michigan when the decision to award Leonard the victory was announced mean that the fight meant a lot more than the result. Leonard even backtracked later and admitted the Hearns did enough to win the fight, after Hearns sent him to the floor as many as two times in the fight, something that was particularly impressive given the outcome of the first fight.
1 – Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier (Bout 3)
Dubbed as the “Thrilla in Manilla” by most, this bout saw two of the most influential boxers in the history of the sport take to the ring in order to contest the Heavyweight Championship in 1975, in the heat of the Philipines. The fighters were one win-a-piece going into this third and final contest, as Frazier had defeat Ali in their first bout – which also saw Frazier secure the trilogy’s only knockdown, sending Ali crashing to the floor in the final round – before Ali hit back in the second fight, although there were major question marks surrounding the officiating of the bout after Ali appeared to illegally hold and pull Frazier down continuously without consequence on the way to his victory.
For Frazier, this proved to be the last real shot at the heavyweight championship – and he certainly gave it everything. So did Ali. The pair slugged it out in emphatic fashion, with Ali dropping his famous ‘rope-a-dope’ energy saving tactic as soon as the third round, instead opting to offer some power hits – all which missed.
The pair took the fight all the way to the end of the fourteenth round, in which Ali began a barrage of punches onto Frazier, after already knocking the man’s gum shield from his mouth in the thirteenth. The tactic proved a wise one from Ali, as Frazier’s trainers packed in the fight and threw in the towel before the fifteenth and final round had chance to get underway and it is remarked by many that Ali simply gave everything he had in the fourteenth, in order to ensure there would be no final round.
If there was any doubt that this was a master-class in boxing, Ali later revealed that the bout was the “closest thing to dying” he had ever encountered.