Very few things in sports compare to a professional boxing championship fight. It garners the world’s attention, and the stakes are typically high, with millions of dollars and sponsorship opportunities on the line. It’s also an opportunity for one fighter to become a world champion.
Being a champion means you were the best boxer in your division worldwide at some point in time. It’s one of those things no one can take away. It remains on your list of accomplishments for the rest of your life.
The Five Most Entertaining Title Defenses In Boxing History
Ready to jump into memory lane and explore the best title defenses in boxing history? Let’s get started:
1) Evander Holyfield Vs. Mike Tyson II
Holyfield shocked the world when he first shared a ring with Tyson in 1996. Tyson had been released after a stint in prison, and he looked like he was returning to his formidable earlier form until he ran into Holyfield. Holyfield dominated most of their first encounter, eventually winning the fight via technical knockout.
Many in the boxing world viewed the win as a fluke, citing excuses like Tyson being unprepared for the fight. The anticipation was at an all-time high when the two stepped into the ring for a second time at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
Holyfield proved once and for all that his first win wasn’t a fluke, using his jab to keep Tyson off him and pick him apart at outside range. Frustrated with the fight not going his way, Tyson committed one of the worst fouls in boxing history when he bit off a piece of Holyfield’s ear.
It was one of the craziest moments in boxing history, leading to Tyson losing his boxing license for years. Tyson eventually got his license reinstated, but his skill had significantly diminished.
2) Floyd Mayweather Jr Vs. Manny Pacquiao
The super-fight between these two was the most anticipated boxing match in recent history and one of the most anticipated fights in all of boxing history. The lengthy negotiations that took almost a decade to make the fight a reality had much to do with it, as both camps kept coming off with excuses not to sign the deal.
Views on whether the fight ended up living up to the hype are mixed, but we should note the fight pulled in over $410 million from pay-per-view sales alone.
The fight pitted the best boxers at the time against each other and turned out to be an entertaining technical match. Known for using a primarily defensive approach in the latter parts of his career, Mayweather turned up his offense significantly when he faced Pacquaio. He landed hard shots early in the fight, forcing Pacquiao to be more tentative than usual.
Pacquiao had his moments as well, as he occasionally caught Mayweather against the ropes and unleashed punches from all angles. Still, Mayweather dominated most of the fight, earning him the unanimous decision against his archnemesis and the title of the pound-for-pound best boxer of his generation.
3) Erik Morales Vs. Marco Barrera
The first fight between these two was one of the most entertaining championship fights in boxing history. Morales was sporting a 35-0 record coming into the contest, and he was the defending WBC super-bantamweight champion.
Barrera was a former super-bantamweight champion who had defended the WBO super-bantamweight title ten times, and his belt was also on the line.
The first round of the fight couldn’t have been any more exciting, with both men landing their share of powerful punches. They kept up the intense pace for the rest of the fight, with both men hurting each other several times. The crazy first round earned both men Ring’s Round of the Year award.
Morales went on to win the fight via split decision, setting the stage for what turned out to be one of the greatest rivalries in boxing history. Barrera went on to win the rematch, setting the stage for a rubber match that went in Morales’ favor.
4) Carmen Basilio Vs. Tony DeMarco II
The second fight between these two ended up being one of the best title defenses in boxing history. Basilio won that fight by decision claiming the Ring, NYSAC, and NBA welterweight titles from Demarco. Demarco got a chance to reclaim his title later that year in what ended up being the Fight of the Year.
Demarco looked good early on in the rematch and even better when Basilio broke his hand in the second round. Demarco pretty much had the victory in the bag by the final round until a hard shot sent him to the canvas.
Demarco fought his way back to his feet, and for a moment, it looked like he might be able to survive until the final bell. However, Basilio jumped all over him, sending him back to the canvas shortly after the first knockdown for a final time. Basilio successfully defended the NBA, Ring, and NYSAC welterweight titles for the first time with the win.
5) Muhammad Ali Vs. Joe Frazier III
Joe Frazier was the first man to defeat Ali, which set the stage for what turned out to be one of the biggest rivalries in boxing history. The second fight between the two was the least spectacular of their three fights, as Ali only needed two rounds to put him away.
The third fight between these two was dubbed “Thriller in Manila,” and it gave us what many still call the greatest heavyweight bout in boxing history. Ali and Frazier set a record for the most punches thrown in a boxing match
Ali got ahead on the scorecards early in the fight, using his jab to control the offense at range. However, Frazier was relentless as usual and kept fighting to land powerful hooks. Ali took so much damage during the fight that he needed a pep talk from his trainer Angelo Dundee to continue in the later rounds. Ali picked up his offense in the final rounds, shutting both of Frazier’s eyes with his barrages. That was enough to force Frazier’s corner to throw in the towel in the 15th round, bringing the contest to an end. Ali successfully defended the WBA, WBC, and Ring heavyweight titles with the win.
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