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The greatest boxing grudge matches


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Ahead of the Haye v Harrison fight, Dan Fitch looks at some of the greatest boxing rivalries of all time.

 

The upcoming fight between David Haye and Audley Harrison has been billed as Britain's grudge match of the year, but it will have a long way to go to live up to the greatest boxing rivalries.

 

For a truly great grudge match, merely disliking your opponent is not enough. You need the two fighters to be of a similar ability and with Haye available at just 1.19, compared to Harrison's 6.4, this seems like something of a mismatch.

 

We might have heard plenty of trash talk between Haye and Harrison, but we doubt that it will hold a candle to the following classic grudge matches.

 

 

7. Eubank v Benn

 

The rivalry between the middleweight fighters Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn was the fiercest witnessed by British fight fans. The flamboyant Eubank began calling the more prominent Benn out after his tenth fight and the verbal sparring continued until they fought in 1990.

 

Eubank was undefeated, while the WBO champion Benn had lost to Michael Watson before bouncing back with victories over Doug DeWitt and Iran Barclay. The fight lived up to the hype and was fought at a furious pace. Benn looked to be heading for victory when he knocked down Eubank in round 8, but the Brighton boxer got off the canvas and stopped Benn in the following round.

 

The rematch took place in 1993, with Eubank now the WBO super middleweight champion and Benn the WBC title-holder. Though many observers felt that Benn had done enough to win the fight, it was called as a draw.

 

 

 

6. Leonard v Duran

 

The best boxing rivalries often come between fighters with opposing styles and few were more different that Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran. Leonard was the consummate boxer and showman, while Duran was a tough hombre, who loved to trade punches.

 

Their first fight in 1980 was known as 'The Brawl in Montreal' and surprisingly, that's just what Leonard did, as he stood toe-to-toe with Duran. The result was a great fight, with a Duran points victory.

 

The rematch came later in the same year and Leonard decided to play smart, giving Duran a boxing lesson. He continually taunted his opponent, until the end of round 8 when Duran controversially quit.

 

It was widely reported that Duran exclaimed "no mas" - meaning 'no more' - though he later claimed that he actually said "No quiero pelear con el payaso." - meaning 'I do not want to fight with this clown'.

 

Leonard and Duran fought for a third and final time in 1989, when both fighters were past their best. This time Duran didn't quit, but still couldn't get near Leonard, who won a unanimous decision.

 

 

 

5. Barrera v Morales

 

Many think of the trilogy between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales as the greatest in boxing history and what made it so great was that it was personal.

 

Barrera hailed from Mexico City, while Morales came from the Mexican border town of Tijuana. The personal animosity grew between the regional rivals, as they battled to become Mexico's top fighter.

 

The first fight was fought at super bantamweight in 2000, with Morales emerging as the victor by a split decision. Two years later the pair clashed in a press conference, before fighting at featherweight. This time Barrera won with a unanimous decision.

 

Finally the rivals clashed at super featherweight, with Barrera moving up in weight to challenge for Morales' world title, after losing to Manny Pacquiao. Barrera won the decider by a majority decision. You'd think that this would have put the rivalry to bed, but speculation still continues suggesting that Barrera and Morales could meet for a fourth fight.

 

 

 

4. Hagler v Hearns

 

Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns only fought once and that bout only lasted for three rounds, yet such was the intensity of the action, that it is considered one of the greatest grudge matches of all time.

 

The opening round is largely held to be the most explosive round ever seen in boxing. Hearns had stepped up from light-middleweight to challenge for Hagler's middleweight crown and managed to cut the champ badly in round 1, as the duo traded bombs.

 

Hearns later said "that first round took everything I had" and Hagler became more dominant in the second. The blood was continuing to pour across his face though and in round 3 the referee Richard Steele had the cut examined by a doctor.

 

Sensing that he needed to win the fight quickly before it was stopped, Hagler launched a blistering attack upon Hearns and dropped his opponent. Though Hearns got up on a count of nine, Steele stopped the fight, giving Hagler his greatest victory.

 

 

 

3. Corrales v Castillo

 

The greatest fight of 2005 was the 10 round war between the late Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo. The two men battled toe-to-toe for the fights entirety, before a dramatic tenth, in which Corrales was knocked to the canvas twice in and was stripped of a point for spitting out his gumshield, as he gave himself vital time to recover.

 

Corrales then threw a punch that Castillo later described as "a perfect right hand". Sensing victory, Corrales trapped Castillo against the ropes and the referee had to step in to end the fight.

 

A rematch was fought in similar fashion, though on this occasion Castillo won with a fourth round knockout. A decider, known as 'The War to Settle the Score' was scheduled, only to be cancelled after Castillo weighed in too heavy.

 

 

 

2. Robinson v LaMotta

 

Jake LaMotta famously said (many times): "I fought Sugar Ray so often, I almost got diabetes."

 

In total the rivals fought six times. Robinson won the first clash with relative ease, but was out-pointed in the rematch, after being knocked through the ropes by LaMotta in round 8.

 

Less that three weeks later, Robinson avenged the defeat and would later go on to win on points on a further two occasions. Their final clash came on 14th February 1951 and was won in such brutal style by Robinson that it was dubbed 'The St Valentine's Massacre'.

 

That fight was the first in which Robinson managed to stop LaMotta, as he scored a TKO in round 13 to finally put an end to an epic series of battles.

 

 

 

1. Ali v Frazier

 

Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier fought on three occasions between 1971 and 1975. Their third clash - the 'Thrilla in Manilla' - is often named as the greatest boxing match of the 20th century.

 

Their first meeting was indeed dubbed 'The Fight of the Century', with both fighters going into the match with unbeaten records. Ali had spent four years out of the ring, after being banned from boxing for refusing the Vietnam draft and during this absence, Frazier had won the world title that Ali had never lost in the ring.

 

Smokin' Joe retained his title with a unanimous points decision and put Ali on the deck in round 15. Three years later they fought again, after Frazier had lost the world title to George Foreman. This time Ali was victorious, winning another points decision.

 

Ali went on to win back his world title against Foreman, setting up a rubber match defence against Frazier. The fight would be held in Manilla and in the build up, Ali was particularly vicious in his insults towards Frazier.

 

Of course, Ali had always verbally abused his opponents, but he took things to another level as he dubbed Frazier an 'Uncle Tom'. Frazier felt particularly betrayed, as he had campaigned on Ali's behalf during his ban and even lent him money.

 

Most pundits thought that Frazier was washed up at this point, but he had trained relentlessly for the bout against his rival and eventually gave Ali the fight of his life.

 

For 10 rounds Frazier somehow kept coming forward against Ali's onslaughts. In the latter rounds though he tired and Ali began to dominate. Unable to see during round 14, Frazier's trainer Eddie Futch threw in the towel against his wishes. Ali later admitted that he had instructed Angelo Dundee to cut his gloves off at the end of the round, only for Frazier to be withdrawn first.

 

 

http://betting.betfair.com/betting/boxing/haye-v-harrison-the-greatest-boxing-grudge-matches-201010.html

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I like it!!! My first instinct was to ask where Zale-Graziano and Gatti-Ward were, but then I realized my error and it's NOT famous rivalrys, but famous grudge matches and the four guys I just mentioned all got along just fine.

 

yeah if it was rivalry's could also of had Marquez-Vazquez

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I like it!!! My first instinct was to ask where Zale-Graziano and Gatti-Ward were, but then I realized my error and it's NOT famous rivalrys, but famous grudge matches and the four guys I just mentioned all got along just fine.

 

Ike Williams vs Beau Jack is another possible grudge match. I know they were great rivals not sure if they actually got on or not at the time.

 

Ike ended his career 126-24-5 (60 Ko's) while Beau was 88-24-5 (43 Ko's). The last fight of each mans career was against the other man.

 

Ike won 3 fights and they shared a draw. Ike famously TKO'd Beau Jack in 6 rounds in a World Lightweight defense (1948), which caused plenty of controversy as the ref let Jack take a helluva beating when even Williams implored him to step in.

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I like it!!! My first instinct was to ask where Zale-Graziano and Gatti-Ward were, but then I realized my error and it's NOT famous rivalrys, but famous grudge matches and the four guys I just mentioned all got along just fine.

 

Ike Williams vs Beau Jack is another possible grudge match. I know they were great rivals not sure if they actually got on or not at the time.

 

Ike ended his career 126-24-5 (60 Ko's) while Beau was 88-24-5 (43 Ko's). The last fight of each mans career was against the other man.

 

Ike won 3 fights and they shared a draw. Ike famously TKO'd Beau Jack in 6 rounds in a World Lightweight defense (1948), which caused plenty of controversy as the ref let Jack take a helluva beating when even Williams implored him to step in.

 

Rob-

Ike and Beau got along really well later in life, and while they weren't good friends when they were fighting, it's another one that by Razz's definition of "grudge" matches, wouldn't be included here.

 

Btw, there's a HBO special called Greatest Knockouts (hosted by Larry Merchant and a very young Mike Tyson) in which they talk to both Ike and Beau, and at the end Tyson tells the story of how Beau Jack ended life as a Shoe Shine Man at an Airport, and when Cus D'Amato saw him there, he shined BEAU'S shoes out of respect.

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Dave I am lucky enough to have that HBO special on VHS. Basically I bought a collection of VHS off a work colleague who recorded loads of boxing during the 80's. (40, 8 hour tapes for £1 each = bargain)

 

That show was on one of the tapes and was my 1st introduction to Jack and Williams. Tyson on the show said with a big smile "I love those guys"

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Great list, and I especially agree with the number 1 pick, Ali vs. Frazier.

 

Ted "Kid" Lewis vs. Jack Britton was one of the truly classic grudge matches, as they fought each other 20 times. It's sad that no film exists of any of these fights, but from all accounts, both men legitimately hated each other and it would show when these two legends faced each other.

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Frank Bruno and Lennox Lewis were rivals and there pre fight antics were heated. Lewis accused Bruno of being an Uncle Tom which caused Bruno to serve him with a writ.

 

I don't think they ever got on properly afterwards. The fight itself was certainly heated and possibly the best I've ever seen Bruno fight. There was alot more at stake than just a Win. It was the 1st ever Heavyweight title fight between two Brits. Lennox the new kid on the block had beaten Bruno to a World title. The pair were fighting for the hearts and minds of the British public which was an impossible task at the time for Lennox, as Bruno was much loved by the public.

 

Basically a turf war in a boxing ring with plenty of nasty trash talk thrown in.

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Dave I am lucky enough to have that HBO special on VHS. Basically I bought a collection of VHS off a work colleague who recorded loads of boxing during the 80's. (40, 8 hour tapes for £1 each = bargain)

 

That show was on one of the tapes and was my 1st introduction to Jack and Williams. Tyson on the show said with a big smile "I love those guys"

 

Rob-

I watched it again a couple months ago, and it's funny to look back at the 1986 Tyson, who at that point was still the media darling (Pre-King, Pre-Robin Givens, Pre-Psychotic Behavior).

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Absolutel number one grude match was Louis-Schmeling ll. The world was emotionally charged for this fight and although the two didn't have a dislike for one another, Louis' previous lose to Schmeling along with Hitler and the war made this a grude match between nations and races.
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Absolutel number one grude match was Louis-Schmeling ll. The world was emotionally charged for this fight and although the two didn't have a dislike for one another, Louis' previous lose to Schmeling along with Hitler and the war made this a grude match between nations and races.

 

Scott-

Another interesting one where the two fighters got along, in fact they got along famously later in life, Max even helping Joe financially. But your right that the circumstance surrounding the fight deserve mention, it was a grudge match....just not so much between the two fighters.

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