November 18, 2009
Ten Greatest Fights in Boxing History
By Richard O'Brien,
1 Jack Dempsey vs. Luis Angel Firpo
Sept. 14, 1923

Heavyweight champ Dempsey defended his title against the "Wild Bull" of the Pampas before 80,000 people at the Polo Grounds. Dempsey floored Firpo seven times, and Firpo knocked Dempsey clean out of the ring -- and that was just the first round. After 11 total knockdowns, Dempsey won by KO in the second.

2 Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier III
Oct. 1, 1975

The third meeting between these two, the "Thrilla in Manila" was an epic, see-saw battle that saw both men tested to the limit. Ali, who called the fight the closest thing to dying, retained his heavyweight crown with a 14th-round TKO.

3 Rocky Graziano vs. Tony Zale II
July 16, 1947

In the second bout in a middleweight trilogy that Red Smith called three of the most two-sided fights ever, Rocky prevailed with a sixth-round KO after being down himself in an all-out war at Chicago Stadium.

4 Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Tommy Hearns
Sept. 16, 1981

This showdown at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas between WBC welterweight champ Leonard and the undefeated Hearns, owner of the WBA crown, ebbed and flowed as first Hearns, then Leonard and then Hearns again held the lead. Told after the 12th by cornerman Angelo Dundee that he was blowing it, Leonard exploded in the 13th, knocking Hearns through the ropes. Leonard finished him off in the 14th.

5 Joe Louis vs. Billy Conn
June 18, 1941

Legendary heavyweight champion Louis was in the middle of his Bum of the Month Club run when he took on former light heavyweight titleholder Conn at the Polo Grounds. Though outweighed by at least 25 pounds, Conn outboxed Louis throughout and staggered the bigger man late in the 12th round. Rather than coast to victory, though, Conn went for the KO in the 13th. He was caught by Louis and counted out with two seconds left in the round. When revived, a rueful Conn said, ?What?s the use of being Irish if you can?t be thick??

6 Aaron Pryor vs. Alexis Arguello
Nov. 12, 1982

Arguello, who had held the featherweight, junior lightweight and lightweight crowns, was seeking to become the first four-division titlist against the 140-pound champ, Pryor. In a brutal, nonstop bout at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Pryor applied constant pressure and, after taking tremendous shots from Arguello, prevailed with an electrifying 14th-round TKO.

7 Joe Gans vs. Battling Nelson
Sept. 3, 1906
A stone marker stands in Goldfield, Nev., at the site of this bout -- and for good reason. Gans regained the lightweight title after an epic and punishing 42 rounds (yes, 42) when Nelson was disqualified for a low blow.

8 Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali I
March 8, 1971

Known simply as "The Fight," Ali-Frazier I pitted the two undefeated heavyweight champions in Madison Square Garden with seemingly the whole world watching and taking sides. Though he received tremendous punishment, the relentless Frazier outworked Ali and dropped him in the 15th round to win by unanimous decision.

9 Marvin Hagler vs. Tommy Hearns
April 15, 1985

Eight minutes of fury in a parking lot at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas was aptly dubbed "The War." The two middleweight champions fought toe-to-toe from the opening bell, throwing nothing but power punches. Bleeding from a nasty cut on his forehead, the desperate Hagler scored a third-round KO.

10 Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo
May 7, 2005

With the WBC lightweight title at stake, both fighters outdid themselves, neither taking a backward step and both landing and receiving repeated shots for nine rounds. The fight ended in astounding fashion in the 10th when Corrales, after being decked twice, rose and landed a devastating series of shots that left Castillo draped helpless on the ropes. Corrales won by TKO.

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