During this quarantine, MMA fans have been spoiled with content as of recently. With UFC 249 passing, there are two more UFC Events scheduled this week alone! Unfortunately for the boxing only fans – nothing yet. Fear not, if you are a fan of the sweet science alone, here’s 5 MORE fights to watch while you’re social distancing. Like my previous 5, there is nor ranking of greatest or my favorite fights here, simply 5 bouts that I would show a new fan or someone familiarizing themselves with fights of the past.
1. Sergio Martinez vs Paul Williams 2 – 2010
At the end of the last list I posted, I explained that if someone is nervous about watching violent knockouts to skip the final fight on the list. Sorry, you’re going to have to skip this one too.
Paul Williams was one of the most avoided fighters in the late 2000s. At 6’2, he had a 79” reach, enormous for welterweight and light middleweight (147 and 154lbs). Add that he is a southpaw and had crazy speed, no boxer wanted to take the risk.
That is until Sergio Martinez came around. Martinez and him fought in a 12 round epic battle that ended with Williams edging a close decision. The Argentinian moved up to middleweight and beat Kelly Pavlik to win a world title, only to be met by Williams again in 2010.
Why is the fight memorable?
With an exciting and close first fight, many fans expected more of the same. What many of us didn’t expect is an early KO from Martinez. In round 2, both southpaws launched a left hand at each other, Martinez got to Williams first by a mile, and Williams went out in the middle of the ring with his face down and eyes open.
A third fight never materialized, and Williams had his career cut short following a motorcycle accident in 2012 that paralyzed him just before a fight with Canelo Alvarez. A win over a young Alvarez could have propelled him to a fight with Floyd Mayweather and mainstream stardom, a tragic ending.
2. Floyd Mayweather vs Juan Manuel Marquez – 2009
Moving in another direction, I’m not going to lie, this fight isn’t exactly a war nor is it a close fight. There is no brutal knockout, and the fight does go all 12 rounds.
So why the fuck would I put it on my list?
On a list of the fights I’d want to show a new fight fan, I have to include one to show how unbelievable Floyd Mayweather is. Many know he’s 50-0 and has fought a list of fighters that includes at LEAST 10 hall of famers. However, some don’t realize exactly how easy he made difficult fights look.
I mentioned in Part 1 of this series how Juan Manuel Marquez went to toe to toe with Manny Pacquiao 4 times. Marquez was also a dominant champion at lightweight for years. In comparison, Mayweather retired in 2007 and had nearly been inactive and rusty for 2 years.
Even with all that, Money Mayweather made Marquez look like an amateur. If you want to take a break from the bouts with unapologetic violence, this is an example of a boxing master class.
Side note: Didn’t put this fight on my list, but in the Mayweather vs Bruseles fight, Floyd was so dominant that the commentators Jim Lampley and Roy Jones started discussing the AFC and NFC championship which was happening the next day, because there was nothing to comment on in the one’s sided fight. Mayweather overheard, and started joining the discussion mid-fight, and made predictions for each game as he picked Bruseles apart.
3. Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko – 2017
Most boxing fans would call you an idiot if you told them that you picked 5-10 fights in the history of boxing to watch during a global pandemic, and one of them included Wladimir Klitschko.
Klitschko was a Ukrainian heavyweight who was well known for two traits in the ring. He was unbelievably dominant and unbelievably boring to the casual eye. As a fan of the sweet science I always loved it, but showing a new fight fan his fights would be like including Beethoven on your “pre-game for the club turn-up playlist”.
Fortunately for fans, his last fight of all time happened to be utter chaos when he battled Anthony Joshua. Klitschko lost his title to Tyson Fury 2 years prior. However, after Fury vacated his titles to focus on his mental health, UK Superstar Joshua and Klitschko fought for the vacant crown at heavyweight.
Why was the fight memorable?:
This fight was interesting, because of the mix of cautious tactical approaches from both fighters and caution to the wind brawling. Often times you’ll see a fight either remain slow paced or constantly a war. Dead rounds bursting into wild ones was the narrative for this bout.
Klitschko, despite being knocked out in the 11th round, was able to get off the canvas in two different occasions showing unbelievable resilience, something that many get his legacy was missing. He even knocked down Joshua in the 6th even after being knocked down in the 5th. For the chess player to go out on his shield left fans singing his praises more than cursing his past.
There was a crowd of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium, and Joshuas ability to recover from being knocked down by a veteran was tested. His winning showcased the transition from an older legend passing the torch to a young hungry champion.
4. Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury 1 – 2018
If you asked boxing fans about Tyson Fury in 2016, the general opinion was that he was boxing’s next sad story of a champion with great potential who let the opportunity pass him by.
Following a win over Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 to make him the undefeated, undisputed lineal heavyweight champion, Fury struggled with severe mental health problems. His weight ballooned over 400 lbs, battled addiction with drugs and alcohol, he stepped away from the sport and vacated his belts.
In that time frame, a new American star emerged in the form of Deontay Wilder. There are tactical geniuses in the sport of boxing who are defensive wizards, then there are killing machines. Wilder is a killing machine.
By March of 2018, he was 40-0 with 39 KOs(the only fighter he hadnt knocked out was Bermane Stiverne, who he crushed in the first round of their rematch). There are knockout artists, and then there are devastating knockout artists, and Wilder was the scariest of them all.
Fury began the road back to boxing. He cleaned his life up and trained to fight Wilder, getting his chance at redemption that December.
Why was this fight memorable?
This fight is what many boxing experts say have revitalized the commercial success of heavyweight boxing. Two outspoken, exciting fighters – with Fury, a story of losing everything and fighting his way back to success.
The fight itself lived up to the drama. Fury seemed to have controlled the early rounds, landing with more frequency and showcasing elite defense. The late rounds showed a more aggressive approach from Wilder. Early in the 12th round, Wilder landed a 2-punch combination that everyone watching assumed ended the fight. Fury miraculously recovered, and was able to fight back until the final bell.
After a close fight it was scored a draw. This set up a rematch opportunity between the two which was highly anticipated earlier in 2020. But the story, the battle and Wilders power told a perfect tale in their first run.
5. Diego Corrales vs Jose Louis Castillo 1 – 2005
I’ve mentioned fights being chaotic before this, but in comparison to this fight it is nothing. The violence of this bout is astounding, and every time I watch it I still can’t believe it is real.
Sacramento, CA native Diego Corrales had a strong career but could not seem to win the “big one”. He was a world champion, but devastating losses to Floyd Mayweather and Joel Casamayor seemed to prevent him from developing his identity as a fighter. He had a chance to change that against top lightweight Jose Louis Castillo, who established himself as top dog when Mayweather moved up in weight.
What makes this fight special?
Here’s the deal, I’ve watched way too much boxing in my life. I mean, a LOT of boxing. I would define it as close to an unhealthy obsession. In my entire life, I have never seen anything resembling the 10th round of this fight. I do not even want to spoil it here. I know that sounds weird, but for boxing fans who have not seen this, I would encourage them to watch it as I did, no expectations of outcome and to take it all in.
The entire fight is incredible, but that 10th round is what puts it on this list of bouts you need to see. Brutal from start to finish, two of the worlds best fighters and toughest men testing themselves, that’s why I love this sport and why I hope you love it too.