America vs England the 10 biggest fights ever!
AMERICA VS. ENGLAND: THE 10 BIGGEST FIGHTS EVER
It would only be natural that England, home of modern prizefighting as we know it, and America, which dominated the sport for decades, would produce some big fights over the generations. Here is one writer's view, presented in chronological order, of the 10 biggest - The Revolution excluded.
by Bill Dettloff
Joey Maxim KO 10 Freddie Mills
January 24, 1950
You had to give Mills credit. Yes, it took him a year and a half to officially defend the world light heavyweight title he'd won from Gus Lesnevich in London in July 1948. But he'd had two non-title fights during that time: an eight-round knockout of Johnny Ralph in Johannesburg, and a 14-round knockout loss to Bruce Woodcock for the British and Empire heavyweight titles. In going against Maxim, he was defending against one of the more experienced and crafty guys in the division. Maxim's only problem was he couldn't hit; he'd scored just 14 knockouts in 67 wins. This reassured Mills and his supporters. It shouldn't have, as Doc Kearns, Maxim's manager, told the press beforehand. Maxim, at this advanced stage in his career, had suddenly found power. "He'll stop this limey as sure as you're a foot high," Kearns said. "Before we left Cleveland he flattened Jimmy Bivins in the gym with the big mitts." It turned out Kearns was right. In front of 18,002 fans (an indoors British record) at Earl's Court, Maxim dominated from the second round on and in the 10th dropped Mills for the full count. Afterward, four of Mills' teeth were found embedded in his mouthpiece. He never fought again.
Sugar Ray Robinson KO 10 Randy Turpin
September 12, 1951
New York, New York
You could make the argument that the bigger fight was the first meeting between these two, when Turpin, a 7-2 underdog, upset an under-trained and over-confident Robinson in London the previous July 10. But that was the last stage of a European tour Robinson had breezed through up to that point, partying as much as he trained. The bigger fight was the rematch, where it would be revealed whether or not the first had been a fluke. A massive crowd of 61,370 packed the Polo Grounds to find out.
The first fight was no fluke. Turpin's awkward style and thudding left jab gave Robinson fits in New York just as it had in London. But Robinson was in better shape and after nine rounds he held a slim lead on the judges' cards. In the 10th, Turpin opened a large cut over Robinson's left eye, threatening a stoppage. "I was having a tough time anyway," Robinson said later. "I figured I gotta do something. So I went after him. It was do or die." Robinson dropped Turpin with a thundering right cross and his follow-up volley forced a stoppage at 2:52 of the round.
Cassius Clay KO 5 Henry Cooper
June 18, 1963
This is remembered today almost entirely as a demonstration of Angelo Dundee's quick thinking and acumen. Either by opening a hole in Ali's glove or widening one that was already there after Cooper floored Ali with a left hook at the end of the fourth round, Dundee helped save his charge from, potentially, a kayo loss. But Ali's fifth-round stoppage win on cuts was more than just a demonstration of Dundee's shrewdness and Cooper's tender skin; it was an enormous fight at the time, with big implications. "Our 'Enery" was (and remains) a beloved figure in England.
Though it had long been settled Cooper never would rule the division - he came into the fight with eight losses already - he was the British Empire champion and an easy night for almost no one. A full 55,000 fans turned out at the Wembley Stadium to see how we would do against this young, brash American. Referee Tommy Little's decision to stop it in the fifth was unpopular but necessary; Cooper spewed blood from a 1 1/2" cut over his left eye. Postscript: A rematch three years later drew 46,000 in England's first heavyweight title fight in 58 years. Ali won by TKO in the sixth.
Marvin Hagler KO 3 Alan Minter
September 27 1980
If Hagler deserved anything, it was a coronation worthy of his considerable talents. Instead, his stoppage of Minter turned into an ugly display of hooliganism. "Marvelous Marvin" had waited a long time to become middleweight world champion and most thought he'd done it when he appeared to outbox Vito Antuofermo in November 1979. But the judges scored it a draw and Hagler went back on the road, winning three straight before getting a shot at Minter, who in the meantime had decisioned Antuofermo to claim the title and then stopped him in a rematch.
Hagler overwhelmed Minter from the start, blasting him with left hands and right hooks and opening cuts around Minter's left eye in the first round. He opened another under Minter's nose in the second and was pummeling him freely in the third when referee Carlos Berrocal stopped it at 1:45 of the round. The crowd of 12,000 at the Wembley Pool responded by hurling bottles and cans into the ring. It was an unfortunate way to begin one of the longer and better title reigns in middleweight history.
Lloyd Honeyghan KO 7 Donald Curry
September 27, 1986
Atlantic City, New Jersey
You couldn't be any hotter than Curry was going into his defense of the unified welterweight title against Honeyghan. The 6-1 favorite was undefeated in 25 fights and just two fights removed from his title-unifying blowout of Milton McCrory the previous September. Most saw Curry as a real threat to Marvelous Marvin Hagler's status as the best fighter in the game pound-for-pound and few imagined that Honeyghan, though undefeated himself in 27 fights, could pull off the upset. But he did.
Fighting in an aggressive, two-fisted style, Honeyghan charged after Curry from the opening bell and completely disrupted his rhythm. "I knew from the first round he was gone," he said later. Honeyghan battered Curry around the ring in the fifth round and in the sixth opened a cut that would later require 20 stitches to close. Curry chose to remain on his stool at the start of the seventh round and for the rest of his career appeared a ruined fighter.
Mike Tyson KO 5 Frank Bruno
February 25, 1989
Las Vegas, Nevada
Probably not since Henry Copper had the English fallen as hard for a heavyweight as they did for Bruno, a hulking, muscle-bound product of Hammersmith, London. His meeting with Tyson represented his third with a highly rated American heavyweight. In the first he was stopped in the 10th by Bonecrusher Smith. In a fight for the WBA title in Wembley two years later, Tim Witherspoon knocked him out in the 11th. He was a decided underdog against Tyson, who was embroiled in some ancillary drama - he'd just fired trainer Kevin Rooney, divorced Robin Givens, and driven his car into a tree in what some saw as a suicide attempt. Still, most expected him to get rid of Bruno quickly.
Things didn't start well for the Englishman. The fight wasn't 30 seconds old yet when a right hand sent him crashing to the canvas. He also was penalized a point for repeated holding. But he got his legs under him and fought back hard until Tyson trapped him on the ropes in the fifth and pummeled him, forcing referee Richard Steele to stop it at 2:55 of the round.
Lennox Lewis KO 2 Razor Ruddock
October 31 1992
Virtually all of the 13,000 fans who attended the match at Earl's Court hoped Lewis would eventually become England's first heavyweight champion since Bob Fitzsimmons, whose reign had ended 93 years earlier. They couldn't have known then that the very fight they were watching would make it so. Two weeks after Lewis' knockout win, American heavyweight Riddick Bowe won the WBC title by beating Evander Holyfield, and subsequently tossed the belt into a trash can. Based on his win over Ruddock, the WBC retroactively named Lewis the champion.
The fight was explosive. Ruddock was a 2-1 favorite, based mostly on his two hard fights with Mike Tyson and his spectacular knockout of Michael Dokes. Very little was known for sure about Lewis, whose biggest win was over undefeated Brit Gary Mason for the British and European heavyweight titles. None of it mattered. Near the end of the first round Lewis detonated a perfect right cross, dumping Ruddock on the canvas, badly hurt. "I just fired it like a gunshot," he said afterward. Ruddock rose but was floored twice more in the second before referee Joe Cortez stopped it at :46 of the round.
Nigel Benn KO 10 Gerald McClellan
February 25, 1995
Forgotten among the regret many feel about McClellan's present condition is what a wonderfully entertaining brawl this was. Going in, McClellan, tall and long-armed, was seen as maybe boxing's hardest hitter. Two exciting kayo wins over fellow American bomb-thrower Julian Jackson had marked him a must-see slugger and the fact he was moving up in weight, to super middle, was seen as a plus; he'd had trouble making 160. Benn, on the other hand, once a feared puncher himself, was coming off three consecutive distance fights: a draw against Chris Eubank and decision wins over Henry Warton and Juan Carlos Giminez.
The roughly 12,000 in attendance at the New London Arena had little to cheer in the first round when McClellan punched Benn through the ropes. But Benn willed himself back into it and over the subsequent nine rounds the two took turns hammering one another. Benn was down in the eighth again but never stopped pushing. It looked like fatigue as much as anything when McClellan took a knee in the 10th after Benn landed several bombs. It wasn't. It was the beginning of the brain-bleed that eventually would render him mostly blind, wheelchair-bound and incapacitated.
Naseem Hamed KO 4 Kevin Kelley
December 19, 1997
New York, New York
Say what you will about Hamed's over-the-top showmanship and lack of technical form, his American debut against Kelley, a skilled, respected former champion, was one of the great lower-weight slugfests of the era. Already a star in Europe, the knockout win made Hamed a superstar in the sport and further helped the cause of smaller fighters getting bigger paydays. "My first fight in New York, Madison Square Garden, I wanted to show the people here I can take it on the chin and I can give it," Hamed said after stopping Kelley with a booming left hand. That he did. Fighting in front of his hometown fans, Kelley dropped Hamed in the first with a right hook and then again in the second with a combination of blows. Seconds later Hamed connected with a right that floored Kelley. Two thudding lefts dropped Kelley in the fourth before the final left ended it and even if the fans didn't like Hamed, they couldn't say on their way out of The Garden that they hadn't seen a great show.
Lennox Lewis KO 8 Mike Tyson
June 8, 2002
If you were paying close attention you knew Tyson wasn't going to win the heavyweight title from Lewis but the fight was necessary anyway - for the business to have closure on the Tyson story and also for Lewis' legacy. Tyson by this time was a mere caricature of the fighter he'd been 10 years before, but that didn't stop the fight from doing huge business, shattering pay-per-view records and drawing an enormous crowd to The Pyramid. Tyson said afterward that he wouldn't have beaten Lewis even in his prime. "There's no way I could ever beat him," he said. "He's just too big and too strong."
After a spirited first round, Lewis took over, rattling Tyson with jabs, long right hands and especially head-rattling right uppercuts. It got worse for Tyson with every passing round, but he took his beating without complaint until a huge right hand finally leveled him for the full count at 2:25 of the eighth. "I was noticing that he was ducking to his left, to my right, and I just wanted to catch him as he was doing that," Lewis said after the fight. "I caught him right on the chin and he went down. But some of those punches that I caught him with on the right side, he took like a man. I was shocked that he could take them."
"Sixty forty I kicks yo' ass, Sixty forty I tears yo' ass up" - Roy Jones