Many count Castillo vs. Corrales (2005) as their favorite while older fans like Graziano vs. Zale (1947), Durelle vs. Moore (1958, Pep vs. Saddler (1949) and DeMarco vs. Basilio (1955). The “War” between Hagler and -Hearns (1985) rightfully tops many lists as does the drama-filled Jorge Castro–John David Jackson (1994). When Hearns came out fast at the opening bell only to be met by a bald headed monster, it was spine-tingling electricity at its best; it was anticipative mayhem. .Vazquez-Marquez (2008) and Morales-Barrera (2000) showcased Mexican fighters who combined technique with a brawler’s proclivity to create an atomic cocktail.
Bobby Chacon and Cornelius Boza Edwards (1983) was legendary, and Chacon’s classic battle with Rafael Limon (1982) was the most compelling and memorable in their four-fight series
The first Gatti vs. Ward is one that is at the top end of many memory banks and, of course, Ali’s bouts with Frazier and Foreman are up there along with the frenzy of Pryor vs. Arguello (1982).
Lyle and Foreman exchange bombs and knockdowns in 1976. Then in 1972, Michael Moorer and Bert Cooper did the same. These two brawls could easily be someone’s favorite. However, the Nardico-Norkus eight knockdown Pier Six in 1954 was quintessentially old school and it is on many leader boards.
The scary Tommy Morrison vs. Joe Hipp slugfest in Reno in1992 gave new meaning to the phrase “bone crunching.” Morrison‘s jaw and both of his hands were broken, but Joe lost via a 9th round comeback stoppage by the “Duke.” Not to be outdone, Joe suffered a complete shattering of his cheekbones.
Bruce Curry and Monroe Brooks put on their own version of “To Live and Die in LA” in 1978 at the Olympic Auditorium. For those who witnessed the fifth round of the incredible Somsak Sithchatchawal vs. Mahyar “Little Tyson” Monshipour savagery in 2006, Brooks-Curry was like that for almost nine full rounds. Neither man died in L.A.; they both lived on, but in different ways.
Thus, it seems that every serious fan, aficionado or writer has that One favorite fight, the one that is indelible and is locked into the memory like concrete.
Carl Thompson vs. Ezra Sellers (2001)
“Thompson looks to be hurt by every shot he takes, but then again so does Sellers.”—Spencer Oliver
High up on my list is Carl “The Cat” Thompson vs. the late Ezra Sellers, a classic match (with a prime Steve Smoger refereeing) in 2001 that involved at least six official knockdowns; Thompson was knocked down four times, Sellers twice. This was no boxing match but rather a no holds-barred fight between two of the most exciting punchers in boxing
Going into the third round, both men had been staggered and dropped hard. Both were on the verge of being put to sleep. Finally, Sellers became the Sandman when he KO’d The Cat in the fourth round with a crunching counter right hook, ending a winning streak that started after Thompson lost to Johnny Nelson in 1999. Thompson had been knocked down many times, but he always got up. This time he was separated from his senses and sent to Feline Dreamland. He finally rose from the canvas to the applause of the stunned and worried crowd.
This fight showed what can happen when two heavy handed types with suspect chins face off and decide to let it all hang out Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBX6OPvMdJg
Lee Roy “Solid Gold” Murphy vs. Chisanda Mutti (1985)
One of the most unique happenings in a boxing match occurred in Monte Carlo, Monaco, in 1985 when Chicagoan Lee Roy “Solid Gold” Murphy (the IBF cruiserweight titleholder) and rugged Zambian Chisanda Mutti engaged in a brutal simultaneous double knockdown in the waning moments of the fight. A badly hurt Murphy barely beat referee Larry Hazzard’s count while Mutti remained down and was counted out. The crowd was up and roaring in disbelief. And so was I. Mutti then had to be helped from the ring.
This was no Rocky movie; this was real and unforgettable and it came after an 11th round that had to be seen to be believed. In fact, the entire fight involved seesaw exchanges that were of the career ending type. Because of its ending, this ended up being a cult classic
My ONE favorite (2000)
“It was almost as though Wayne and myself [sic] had communicated through telepathy. Somehow he got it across to me that he’d taken enough and I stopped…”—Michael Ayers
“Squinting at features even more battered than his own, Michael Ayers could tell from the look of resignation in Wayne Rigby’s eyes that his opponent was finished. The fire which raged fiercely for 10 rounds had been doused. Then, with Rigby helpless and American referee Arthur Mercante Jr. hesitating, came a moment unique in boxing.”—Mike Lewis, February 24, 2001, the Telegraph
…a credit to the sport f—– nearly brought me to tears i would’ve emptied my pockets and thrown it in the ring—poster named Tony Stephenson
On July 1, 2000, a bout occurred at the Bowler’s Arena in Manchester, UK, that, like Mutti-Murphy, also involved unique happenings. This one had all the ingredients for a classic Brit dust-up and it didn’t disappoint. The participants were late-substitute Wayne Rigby (17-5) from Manchester and Michael “Shaka” Ayers (28-3-1) from London. “Shaka” was the IBO lightweight titleholder.
On paper, Ayers, a stylist, looked to be the strong favorite. In fact, the accomplished Ayers had stopped the highly rated Colin Dunn in 1996. But the Mancunian challenger Rigby came to fight.
In the early going, Rigby started fast showing surprisingly fast hand speed and a punishing right uppercut that he landed repeatedly. Things heated up in the third round as both men exchanged bruising shots, but Rigby was dictating the action to this point.
In the 4th round, Ayers fought back using a variety of punches behind a good jab and tightened things up. Then, in the 6th, “Shaka” put the lad from Manchester down with a beautiful straight right, but he failed to close matters.
Rigby came storming back in the 7th as both men engaged in mutual savagery, but Ayers managed to get in two crunching blows just before the bell that probably won the round for him. Rigby was fortunate the bell rang.
Again showing great recuperative powers in the 8th round, Rigby drilled Shaka with every punch in the book and finally landed two hammering left hooks that sent the Londoner to the canvas like he had been hit with a Bobby’s sap. Somehow, someway, the tough champion, who was in danger of being stopped for the first time in his long career, got up and signaled to Rigby at the bell that he had indeed been rocked. Mutual respect and uncommon sportsmanship was now in play. What else was in play was that Ayers was at risk of losing to a man, albeit a former British champion, who had taken the fight on short notice.
Ayers also showed his ability to recuperate between rounds as he came out fast, but the ninth round was Rigby’s as he forced the action with straight rights, hooks and uppercuts to the rousing approval of his hometown fans. However, he expended valuable energy in the process. Both men continued to engage in malefic violence. Ayer’s mouth was bleeding and Rigby’s eyes were badly bruised.
The first half of the tenth round was even as both combatants continued to engage in what had become a closet classic. Ayers then began to use effective stinging right crosses and right leads. He took control with 1:26 left and accelerated his assault until the gallant Wayne found himself with an empty tank. Then, with only 29 seconds left, Ayers signaled to Mercante Jr. that the fight should be stopped, but for some inexplicable reason the clueless Mercante was not responsive. Ayers then pummeled his helpless and badly bloodied opponent until both men signaled that enough was enough, touched gloves, and headed back to their corners. This occurred with just 14 seconds left. It was a rare moment of poignancy that made those who witnessed it feel chills run down their spines.
Mercante finally put his arms around Rigby to officially halt the fight, but the two noble warriors had taken away that important responsibility from Mercante. In fact, Mercante’s potentially dangerous hesitation could well have resulted in Rigby taking unnecessary and career altering punishment. Here is the remarkable end: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-Q0KqEZ4Ro
As Mike Lewis writes, “Dropping their hands, Ayers and Rigby decided there and then that this memorable bruising battle was over. They touched gloves, nodded at one another and headed back to their respective corners. [It was] an extraordinary finish to an extraordinary contest. Hardened Manchester ringsiders had never seen anything like it. “Barry Hearn, my manager, said it was eerie,” recalled the then 36-year-old Londoner Ayers of his remarkable victory which was deemed to be a stoppage. “It was almost as though Wayne and myself [sic] had communicated through telepathy. Somehow he got it across to me that he’d taken enough and I stopped.”
But the very best quote came from Jerry Storey, Ayers’ Irish trainer, when he said, “Those two guys showed boxing still had a soul.”
Like most, I keep my own list of favorite fights. This one is at the top.
Do you have ONE?
Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and holds several records. A member of the Ring 4 Hall of Fame, he enjoys writing about boxing.
Everyone Has That ONE Favorite Boxing Match