2000s: Top 10 Greatest Upsets
Hasim Rahman def. Lennox Lewis
<i>Sports Illustrated</i> boxing writer Richard Hoffer referred to the lightly regarded Rahman as "an upset winner of Buster Douglas magnitude." A 20-to-1 underdog who was fighting his first title bout, Rahman knocked out a poorly conditioned Lewis with a big right hand in the fifth round in South Africa. Lewis, perhaps looking ahead to a potential fight with former Douglas victim Mike Tyson, lost for only the second time in his career.
Warriors def. Mavericks
Golden State (42-40 in the regular season) became the first No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 in a seven-game series, and took out a 67-win Mavs team that was the clear-cut title favorite. What's more, coach Don Nelson got revenge on his former team and bitter enemy, Mavs owner Mark Cuban, and the Warriors won their first playoff series in 16 seasons.
Y.E. Yang def. Tiger Woods
Yang, a 37-year-old Korean and your 2009 Honda Classic champion, played in the PGA's final-round pairing with Woods, who had a two-shot edge and had never lost a major championship that he led after 54 holes. Until now. Yang stared down Woods, hit the hybrid shot of his life to the 72nd green, won the PGA by three strokes and acquired lifetime superstar status as the first Asian-born golfer to win a major.
Robin Soderling def. Rafael Nadal
For 31 matches, dating to his debut on May 23, 2005, Nadal never truly was challenged, much less defeated, at the French Open, winning four consecutive titles and closing in on becoming the first player with five in a row. But in the fourth round this year, the 23rd-seeded Soderling, a 24-year-old underachiever from Sweden who never had won so much as a third-round match at any major tournament before this one, defeated Nadal 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 7-6 (7-2). Soderling finished with 61 winners, 28 more than Nadal.
A 50-to-1 shot on a five-race losing streak, Giacomo (left) emerged from obscurity -- and far off the pace -- to win at Churchill Downs. But that was just part of a shocking race: Closing Argument (right) was second at 72-1 odds, even longer than the third-place finisher, Afleet Alex. That straight-up exacta paid $9,814.80 for a $2 wager.
Greece soccer team
Greece had never won a game at a major tournament before stunning the soccer world as 100-to-1 underdogs at Euro 2004. A band of hard-working unknowns, the Greeks beat host Portugal twice, including 1-0 in the final, and also eliminated defending champion France in the quarterfinals and the Czech Republic (4-0 in the tournament) in the semifinals.
Appalachian State def. Michigan
Ranked No. 5 entering the season, Michigan had national-championship aspirations. This game was viewed as a virtual scrimmage to ease the Wolverines into the '07 campaign. But Appalachian State had different plans. Led by dynamic QB Armanti Edwards and speedy WR Dexter Jackson, the Mountaineers stormed the Big House and became the first Division I-AA team to beat a ranked Division I-A team. Appalachian State blocked a 37-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game to preserve the win.
Rulon Gardner def. Alexander Karelin
Karelin, the three-time defending champion in Greco-Roman wrestling, had never lost in international competition and was on a 13-year winning streak. Gardner, an Olympic novice, wasn't even expected to contend for a medal. But the 29-year-old from Wyoming stunned the Russian 1-0 in overtime of the 286-pound final.
George Mason's 2006 Cinderella run was the most magical NCAA tournament performance by any team. The 11th-seeded Patriots went from unknowns to America's Team in a matter of two weeks, pulling off a string of upsets -- over No. 6 Michigan State, No. 3 North Carolina, No. 7 Wichita State and No. 1 UConn, in overtime -- that gave hope to little guys everywhere that they could become the Next George Mason. Their Elite Eight win over the Huskies, who had four NBA players on the floor (Rudy Gay, Marcus Williams, Josh Boone and Hilton Armstrong), was the Patriots' defining moment.
Giants def. Patriots
One of the biggest underdogs in Super Bowl history, the Giants made some history of their own by upsetting the previously undefeated Patriots with a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the clincher with 35 seconds left. The victory capped an improbable run of 11 consecutive road or neutral-site victories by the Giants, including four straight in the playoffs.