We as fight fans are regularly drawn on the subject of fight of the year candidates, taking in the whole contest to give our personal conclusion on the subject at hand, where each of us has our preferred contest which can change from person to person.
It is upon countless posts via blogs/forums that I have been included throughout the years that this has got my attention but instead of looking at a fight in its entirety, I thought why not do a breakdown of each round I believe to be deserving of the best from one to twelve.
So without further ado here is mine for your perusal:
Round One: Marvellous Marvin Hagler v Thomas Hearns
Honourable Mention: Jack Dempsey vs Luis Angel Firpo
Considered one of the greatest rounds ever, Hagler v Hearns started at a frantic pace which never let up, both men exchanged punches for the duration that left many a fight fan in awe at what they saw unfolding before their eyes in an opening round which is etched into the boxing archives and the memory of all that witnessed it.
Round Two: Terry Norris vs Troy Waters
Maybe an overlooked candidate by some but a worthy addition to this list was that of ‘Terrible’ Terry Norris vs. Troy Waters, especially the second round which had spectators glued to their TV sets or the ones lucky enough to be in attendance, perched on the edge of thier seats.
Waters drew first blood in the second as he hurt Norris with a body shot before unleashing a right / left hook to drop ‘Terrible’ to the canvas. This helped a slow burn become an inferno of action, Norris, upon returning to his feet, went in search of an equaliser where both men for the duration of the round traded shots as if their life depended on it.
Round Three: Israel Vazquez vs Rafael Marquez II
A back and forth war between two Mexicans but this time I’m not writing about Barrera vs. Morales, this time it focuses on Israel Vasquez vs. Rafael Marquez and in particular the third round which for those who haven’t seen it really need to go and check it out.
In the third, Vasquez was able to gain the upper hand early by using his brilliant left hook, shaking Marquez to his core as both men returned fire before Rafael was able to answer with a barrage of his own later in the round to cap off an enthralling, exuberating round of boxing.
Round Four: George Foreman v Ron Lyle I
“I’ll never forget that night, Ronnie Lyle is the hardest puncher I’ve ever been in with,” were the words uttered from the Victor George Foreman’s mouth which followed his four round knockout win over Ron Lyle.
Arguably Lyle was the only man to have ever had some success in going toe to toe with Big George in his near prime, both Frazier and Norton tried and failed and Ali topped Foreman because he didn’t stand and trade which at the time would have been suicidal.
Ron Lyle was a rough/tough kind of fighter who for many years was incarcerated on a second-degree murder charge. He took the fight to Foreman much to the enjoyment of the watching public, no more so than in the fourth round which stands as one of the best heavyweight rounds in history, as both men hit the canvas, twice in Foreman’s case.
Round Five: Marco Antonio Barrera v Erik Morales I
Like Mickey Ward vs. Arturo Gatti, The Mexican war between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales has a place in every fight fans archive, whether you were a Barrera fan or a Morales fan (like me) we were all swept away by the sheer action that unfolded before your eyes when these two men stood across the ring from one another.
I picked round five of Barrera vs. Morales’ first encounter because it’s a round which blew me away as the fight like a pendulum swung one way and then the other. We often hear the words from many a fighter of “we will leave it all in the ring” well these two men did just that, in a true classic for the ages.
Round Six: Arturo Gatti v Iran Robinson
In a fight of the year in 1998, Arturo Gatti or “The Human Highlight Reel” went into the trenches with Iran Robinson which served us up a classic.
Robinson fighting off the back foot for the earlier parts of the rounds, exploded in or around the one minute mark as he had Gatti noticeably shook from the big shots he started raining in. Gatti as we knew he would, bit down on his gum shield and returned fire as he caught Robinson clean with a shot to turn the tables, stiffening the legs of Robinson in a great action packed round, one of many in this contest.
Round Seven: Saman Sorjaturong vs. Chiquita Gonzalez
The fight between these two men was high octane from the contests start to its conclusion. The ring magazine named it their fight of the year for 1995, one which took place at the Great Western Forum in LA.
Not many people at the time expected Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez to lose on the night he fought Saman Sorjaturong but in the same breath who could have predicted the performance the Thai boxer would give on the night of the fight. Having already secured a knockdown over the multi divisional champion Gonzalez, to kick start the seventh Sorjaturong came out blasting, using his right hand to hammer over his bad intentions, all of which were making their point as Gonzalez met the canvas.
Gonzalez rose to his feet with blood virtually squirting from the cuts he had sustained as the ending became a reality with Sorjaturong finishing with a flourish until the referee finally (albeit late) called an end to the fight.
Round Eight: Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman
Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman is one of history’s greatest match ups. The contest billed as the “Rumble in the Jungle” took place in the soaring heat of Zaire.
Ali knowing that the heat / humidity was going to play its part at some point decided to use the tactic that we now refer to as the “Rope-a-Dope”
For long periods Ali lay on the ropes as the oncoming Foreman threw shot after shot which often hit the guard of Ali, each time sapping the energy from Big George.
In round eight George pawed with most of his shots looking for any kind of opening until falling into one of them which Ali choose to mount his attack with blurring hand speed finishing with a right hand that dropped George to the canvas, unable to find his feet because of sheer exhaustion within the ten second count from the referee. Truly a remarkable performance, one which will live on throughout the sands of time.
Round Nine: Micky Ward vs Arturo Gatti I
The stars were in alignment on the 18th May 2002 where the boxing gods came together with an offering of the first instalment of one of the great series of bouts that us boxing fans will ever witness, in fact this whole section apart from rounds eleven and twelve could have been filled between the three fights that these two men gave us.
When talking about the greatest rounds in boxing this was the first that popped into my head, Micky Ward v Arturo Gatti Round Nine. This was the round where the intentions were clear from both men. If you want to beat me I’m going out on my shield. like two stags rutting, Ward throwing hook after hook before delivering a paralysing body shot at 2:47, with a grimace on his face it was evident that Micky had made the long-awaited breakthrough and Arturo turned away as the pain rushed through his body as he was made to take a knee. As we knew he would Arturo made it to his feet before the count of ten obviously still hurt with pride keeping him in the contest.
Micky went in search of the stoppage, going to the head and body looking to hit that sweet spot which brought him success at the start of the round but with his energy levels somewhat depleted. Arturo took his chance to turn the tables and backed up Micky with one hurtful shot after another, Gatti was teetering on the verge of a stoppage win but as the clock passed a minute remaining, once again Ward regrouped to launch another attack, closing out one of the greatest rounds in boxing history with a handful of flurries which Gatti simply had no answer to.
The bell sounded and by this point, I for one wasn’t on the edge of my seat I had fallen off it. Both fighters, no scrap that, both warriors took a glimpse at each other, both wondering how they had actually made it to the tenth and final round.
Round Ten: Diego Corrales v Jose Luis Castillo I
Honourable Mention: Riddick Bowe vs Evander Holyfield
On the 7th of May 2005 for nine rounds Corrales and Castillo went to war which was fought for the most part in close proximity much to the dismay of Diego’s trainer Dan Goosen who wanted his charge to use his jab and fight at a distance where fighting inside was apparently playing into the hands of the Mexican.
Cuts and bruising covered the face of both men as they arose from their corners to start the tenth round.
Diego threw out a few jabs while Castillo pawed a jab at the body before unleashing a thundering left hook which dropped Corrales hard to the canvas, as he made it to his feet he was given additional time to recover his mouth guard. Castillo upon the fights restart patiently went back to work, as referee Tony Weekes kick-started the action once more and after another left hook nearly dropped Corrales, an uppercut found its mark and made sure, once again Corrales got up missing a mouth guard which caused a point deduction in what was definitely a tactic to gain more time on Diego’s part.
Dan Goosen’s voice could be heard loud and clear telling Corrales “Your Blowing it son, Your Blowing it” as the action restarted Castillo again went on the offensive looking to make the next knockdown the last, but in a reverse of fortunes Corrales now running on empty with a stoppage loss a possibility put his back against the ropes and started to let loose, throwing bombs in a last stand kind of scenario.
Castillo’s abandonment of his defence led to him catching a few of Diego’s shots the last snapping the head back of Castillo with 56 seconds remaining,
Tony Weekes stopped the contest in what stands as one of the greatest fights and one of the best comebacks in a round you will ever witness.
Round Eleven: Acelino Freitas vs. Jorge Barrios
A South American war which took place between Brazilian hard hitter Acelino Freitas and Argentine Slugger Jorge Barrios in 2003 was one which is often overlooked by fight fans, a shame because round eleven, in particular, brings a smile to my face upon reflecting back to the drama which unfolded that night.
Barrios with blood trickling down his face traded shots with the big-hitting Freitas which left the champion on the seat of his pants from a big right hand. Barrios tried in vain to secure the stoppage victory, sensing his time was now or never, but in doing so left himself open to a right hand from Freitas which had him stumbling around the ring as if he was taking his first steps with stilts on (must see) before dropping to the canvas.
If ever world titles were given out for heart, then Barrios would have taken the spoils as he got to his feet, somehow with the horrendous cut leaving a horror film vision in every fights fans memory.
Round Twelve: Meldrick Taylor v Julio Cesar Chavez Snr
In March 1990, in his 69th contest, The immortal Julio Cesar Chavez was looking down the barrel of a gun with the first loss on his otherwise blemish-free record looking a distinct possibility at the hands of Meldrick Taylor.
For eleven rounds the fleet-footed American boxed circles around Chavez as he cruised to what he thought was a career-defining unanimous decision win.
Julio knew it was now or never, the end was approaching, three minutes left to turn around his fortunes or face the inevitable, a loss on his record.
Possibly down to sheer exhaustion, instead of boxing and moving, Taylor decided to stand his ground which at times played into the hands of the Mexican Legend.
Taylor threw a wild shot at the 1:56 mark which threw him off balance leaving him on the canvas.
Like a Shark tasting the blood in the water, Chavez moved forward throwing a multitude of hurtful shots before missing with an uppercut but followed with a hard right hand that dropped Taylor with 15 seconds remaining.
Surely he didn’t snatch victory from the jaws of defeat? He did, the Referee taking a good long look into the eyes of Taylor decided that the fight should be stopped with two seconds remaining on the clock as Chavez remained unbeaten.
These are amongst my favourite rounds which I am sure there are many more. Let me know some of your favourite rounds by tweeting me at @TOPCLASSBOXING and as always Thank you for your continued support.