With the rapid advancement of technology, many things can be measured and quantified. Even in boxing, the speed, power, and technique of boxers can be measured and quantified through expert analysis and the availability of technology. The only thing that can’t be tangibly quantified is the heart beating in a fighter’s chest. The only way to measure ‘heart’ is within the solace of the ring.
Entrenched within the four corners of the squared circle is a place of solitude and trials. Even the strongest, most talented pugilists discover who they are as fighters when they are put to the test. When a powerful shot lands and makes them question their career choices in the blink of an eye, there are only two possible responses. They either succumb to the immense pressure or rise to the occasion.
Throughout the history of the sport, there have been countless displays of heart in the ring. There are many epic tales of triumph over extreme adversities when fighters dug deep within themselves, mustering the courage to push through seemingly insurmountable odds, proving the raw power of the human spirit. Today, Evolve Daily shares 5 of the most powerful displays of heart in boxing history.
1) Marvin Hagler Vs. Thomas Hearns (April 15, 1985)
Though this fight lasted only three rounds, it packed more action than any live fight today. The Legendary pugilists “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns were two of the most exciting fighters in boxing history, and their much-anticipated showdown in 1985 was full of crowd-pleasing action and tense drama.
Both fearsome knockout artists, Hagler and Hearns entered the ring at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to incredible fanfare. In fact, the very first round was one of the most intense 90-minutes of boxing ever recorded. It is arguably the most exciting round in history, as both Hagler and Hearns came out of their corners swinging for the fences. They met at the center of the ring and traded explosive combinations that created roars from the audience.
Fans watching this fight live knew from the moment the first bell rang, it was just the beginning. After a short albeit all-out war, Hagler emerged as the victor that night. A right hand followed by two uppercuts sealed the victory early for “Marvelous.”
Most importantly, both men showcased incredible hearts in attempting to survive each other’s offensive onslaught.
2) Micky Ward Vs. Arturo Gatti I (May 18, 2002)
You would never call “Irish” Micky Ward or Arturo “Thunder” Gatti the two most talented and highly skilled pugilists in history. No, those tags are reserved for the Floyd Mayweathers of the world. But you certainly can’t deny Ward and Gatti had the most heart.
Ward and Gatti always fought with heart, and in their first meeting back in 2002, that was immediately apparent. The entirety of the 10-round slugfest was more than any fan could ever bargain for. It was a war of attrition from start to end.
Each minute was fast-paced, brutal, and unrelenting. Both exchanged damaging blows and tried to see who could stay on their feet. After each round, the two men dragged themselves to their corners, listening to their coach’s motivation and giving even more than they already had.
After all was said and done, Ward ended up taking home a close majority decision for his efforts. But in all honesty, the fight could have gone either way, and no one would have cried robbery.
In fact, the fight was so entertaining that they met in the ring twice immediately after, with Gatti winning both fights to take the series.
3) Erik Morales Vs. Marco Antonio Barrera (February 19, 2000)
Before legendary Filipino firecracker, Manny Pacquiao ever entered the picture and dispatched both of these men, Mexican legends Erik “El Terrible” Morales and “The Babyfaced Assassin” Marco Antonio Barrera had each other to beat up. And that they did.
The action they produced across three amazing fights will forever be remembered in the annals of the sport’s history. However, nothing could compare to when these two Mexican boxers met for the very first time in the year 2000.
One distinct quality of a true Mexican boxer is his inability to take a step back in a firefight. Barrera and Morales put this characteristic on full display for 12 full rounds of non-stop action. They traded their most vicious shots at the center of the ring, with neither man wanting to give in to the other.
Each blistering combination unloaded was met with a ferocious response, and this continued for the duration of the fight. In the end, Morales nabbed a close split decision on the scorecards. But it was clear that no man was the lesser.
What made the rivalry even more interesting was that both Barrera and Morales harbored a real-life personal disdain for one another even outside of the ring.
4) “Sugar” Ray Leonard Vs. Thomas Hearns (Sept. 16, 1981)
The very first encounter between two of boxing history’s most skilled and powerful welterweights is “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns. This was certainly one to remember. Not only did the two men put on a tremendous display of heart, but they also put together a lesson of adaptability, where each fighter made key adjustments mid-fight that turned the tide in their favor.
Early in the fight, Hearns used his size and length advantage to keep the shorter man in Leonard out of range. “Hit Man” scored with his long and powerful jab, deterring Leonard from coming in close. However, Leonard was a master tactician and knew he couldn’t continue fighting from the outside, or else he would lose the fight.
Leonard shifted his game plan and began pressuring Hearns and goading him into exchanges, rather than trying to outbox him. He had great success with this changeup. But Hearns would weather the storm and reassert his size advantage, taking back control of the fight. However, Leonard would simply not be denied.
“Sugar” went back on the relentless offensive and attacked Hearns, scoring a knockdown in the 13th round before finishing “Hit Man” in the following round, winning by technical knockout.
5) Diego Corrales Vs. Jose Luis Castillo (May 7, 2005)
There may never be a rivalry as unheralded as the one that existed between the late, great Diego “Chico” Corrales, and rival Jose Luis Castillo. This 2005 scrap for the WBC Lightweight World Title will live in the hearts of boxing fans for all time.
The 10-round battle saw both men stand toe-to-toe at the center of the ring, trading haymakers for nearly 30 minutes before the chilling but epic conclusion. If you have never seen nor experienced it, it’s bound to leave a lasting imprint in your memory.
After being sent to the canvas by Castillo twice in the 10th and final round, Corrales bravely defied his mind and body and got back up on his feet. However, moments later, a right hand from nowhere caught Castillo right on the chin, shifting the momentum in Corrales’ corner. That’s when “Chico” put the finishing touches on his foe with an offensive barrage that forced the referee to call a halt to the contest.
The two met again months later, and Castillo returned the favor, winning a knockout himself.
Sadly, Corrales and Castillo never met for the third time. “Chico” was killed in a tragic vehicular accident near his Las Vegas home on May 7, 2007, exactly two years to the day after his first encounter with Castillo.
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