40 Noted Boxing Buffs Recall Their Favorite Round of Boxing

PART TWO OF A TWO-PART SERIES: In previous stories, we asked a set of respondents to name their favorite boxing book, favorite fight, and favorite fighter. This article closes the book on this series. Listing our respondents alphabetically, Part Two of “Favorite Round” opens with the contribution of award-winning HBO broadcaster Jim Lampley, a 2015 inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.


Favorite Round: Round 10, Holyfield-Bowe I (Nov. 13, 1992)

I resist the temptation to go with the easy choice–round nine of Gatti-Ward I–in favor of a higher skill level and bigger stakes. The first half of round 10 of Holyfield-Bowe I showcased Riddick’s spectacular array of skills, from driving jabs to powerful uppercuts that put Evander in deep trouble. The second half was the ultimate tribute to Holyfield’s incomparable recovery capacity and trademark left hooks. As the bell sounded I caught the eyes of Magic Johnson directly across the ring. He lifted his head up in exultation, closed his eyes, and swung it back and forth, side to side as if to say “never saw anything like that before,” and I think Magic was right

ARNE LANG (historian, author, editor-in-chief of The Sweet Science):

Round 15, Holmes vs. Norton, June 9, 1978

This fight was dead even on all three scorecards through 14 rounds. The final tallies were 143-142 for Ken Norton and 143-142 twice for Larry Holmes who likely pulled the fight out in the last 20 seconds. In the New York Times, Michael Katz wrote that the fight provided more action than all the roulette tables in the city and called the 15th round “3 of the finest minutes in boxing history.” Over the next seven years, Holmes was 19-0 in world title defenses. Can’t think of another long title reign that was launched with such a punishing nail-biter.

RON LIPTON (NJ Boxing Hall of Fame referee, former fighter, boxing historian, retired police officer):

Round 2, Jose Torres vs. Charley Green, July 14, 1969.

The “Devil” could punch and was strong as an ox. I was sitting near him as Johnny Bos had gotten the tickets and Charley ate hot dogs and a soda. (Matchmaker) Teddy Brenner found us and in desperation offered Charley $5000 to step in with Jose. Charley made him pay for his ticket, hot dog and soda and said OK. I knew Green and he could knock out anybody without warming up. He came out and dropped “Chegui” so hard they had to drag Torres back to the corner; He would have been counted out today. In the second Charley dropped him again with that crazy over the top round house looping right hand and down went “Chegui.” He got up easier this time. Charley was out of gas and Torres nailed him with a lightning fast right hand and followed it up with that left hook body shot that had previously dropped Thornton, Olson and Pastrano. The right laid “Devil” out like a dead man.

FRANK LOTIERZO (former boxer, writer, and lead analyst for The Boxing Channel):

Round 1, Frazier vs. Quarry, June 23, 1969.

Quarry the counter-puncher came out “Smokin” and took it right to Joe. It was Quarry in his prime and the action was non-stop give and take for the first two rounds, with the first being more frantic and Quarry getting slightly the better of it. Before he tired and got cut, Quarry showed that he could hang with Frazier. This was voted the round of the year by The Ring magazine.

PAUL MAGNO (writer, former boxing web site manager, and boxing official in Mexico):

Round 1, Hagler vs. Hearns, April 15, 1985.

The anticipation for this fight was huge, the crowd was buzzing, the fighters were seething– and when the bell rang, everything just erupted. This was a true war between two elite-level legends with legitimate bad blood for one another. Momentum swung back and forth several times and the wild, frenzied crowd just made everything more exciting. If I had just three minutes to try and sell the sport to a non-fan, I would show them this round. And the menacing scowl from Hagler at the end of the round? Man….

ADEYINKA MAKINDE (author, boxing writer, barrister, author of DICK TIGER: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal and JERSEY BOY: The Life and Mob Slaying of Frankie DePaula):

Round 4, Michael Watson vs. Nigel Benn, May 21, 1989.

This round was an archetypal “ding-dong” affair— a violent exchange ….At the bell, Benn resumed his aggressive rhythm; throwing jabs and short hooks at Watson who stood his ground, stoically blocking most but absorbing a hook. Less than a minute in, Watson slipped a wild left and connected with a right, following up with a fusillade of punches that pushed Benn backwards. Groggy, hands down and with his back against the ropes, Benn suddenly sparked to life. He sent Watson on the retreat with a powerful combination. Now Watson was on the ropes, hands held high, parrying and countering Benn’s thrusts. A jarring punch stunned Benn who, out of thin air, managed to summon another attack: throwing a powerful left-hook followed by four clubbing rights and ending with a left-hook and right-cross combination. The crowd roared, but Watson had blocked each blow. This round determined the outcome of the fight: Benn’s ferocity had been neutralized by Watson’s impenetrability and Benn would run out of steam two rounds later.

 LARRY MERCHANT (retired legendary HBO commentator and 2009 IBHOF inductee):

The deal is, people love lists but I’m not a list-maker. There are too many fights and countless great rounds. My mind wanders to Robinson, his eye a bloody mess, told by the ref he had one more round in the rematch with Turpin, who was strong, athletic, and awkward. But Robinson stopped him. my mind wanders to Ali whispering to me on the flight to Zaire for the Foreman  fight that “if  he doesn’t get me in seven, his parachute won’t open,” identifying the only weakness in Foreman’s armor, his stamina, which i believe was the genesis of the suicidal  rope-a-dope strategy, ending it, yes, in the eighth round. My mind wanders and wanders to many, many more.

ROBERT MLADINICH (former NYPD police detective, author, and boxing writer):

Round 15, Holmes vs. Norton

This was a round for the ages. Both were exhausted and throwing punches on pure adrenaline and desire. The fight was so close, it was up for grabs right up until the last minute. It was a spectacle and set the stage for Holmes’s championship reign. I was in college, and even non-boxing fans were whooping it up because it was so exciting. And who can forget the famous eighth round between Matthew Saad Muhammad and Yaqui Lopez? Saad Muhammad took so many unanswered punches, but stayed upright and came back to later stop Lopez, one of the most durable and popular fighters of the golden age of light heavyweights.

GORDON MARINO (philosophy professor, Wall Street Journal boxing writer, and trainer):

Round 1, Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, June 22, 1938.

I think it was the most significant sporting event in US history. The great Joe Louis had the burden of race in America on one shoulder and the Nazi menace on the other. In addition, in 1936, after being drubbed to the canvas numerous times, Louis suffered a brutal knockout at the hands, or rather, right hand of Schmeling. Knockouts are not easy to reverse; it seems as if the fighter who put you down for the count has your number. I can hardly imagine a more pressurized situation for an athlete than the one Joe Louis faced that June evening, when he tore into Max Schmeling and stopped him in 2:04 of the first frame. It was not a competitive round. Schmeling only got off 2 inept punches. But it was a round that lifted the entire nation.

JOE PASQUALE (esteemed boxing judge):

The final round of Ali /Frazier in The Thriller in Manila. Next is the 9th round of Gatti-Ward 1.

ADAM POLLACK (author, historian, writer and boxing official):

Round 1, Hagler vs. Hearns

No brainer. The fight essentially was decided in that first round. They fought ferociously, blasting away at one another, but Hagler kept forcing, and by the end of the round, one could see that despite the cut, his strategy was working, for he got Hearns on the ropes and was pounding away relentlessly, despite the fact that Hearns was firing back and landing some vicious blows. Two great fighters who just let it all fly in one round, which encapsulated the fight. Hearns tried to box a little thereafter, but Hagler’s confidence was sky high, for he knew that he could take it and that he had him and it was just a matter of time before he broke him down and finished him off.

DANA ROSENBLATT (former world middleweight and super middleweight champion who retired with a 37-1-2 record):

Round 12, Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor I, March 17, 1990.

As controversial as it was, it was as heroic as I have ever seen. If the fight was a scheduled 15 rounder there would have been no controversy and the fight would have ended as the second one did

RICHARD SCHWARTZ (eminent cut-man):

Round 10, Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo I, May 7, 2005.

JOHN “ICEMAN” SCULLY (elite trainer and former world light heavyweight title challenger):

Round 9, Gatti-Ward I, May 18, 2002.

For a long time my answer would have been the first round of Hearns vs. Hagler, but the Gatti and Ward 9th round was even more incredible in my opinion. It was three minutes of constantly sustained action. That’s number one. Also, both guys came very close to being stopped within the same round. And the fact that Micky was able to come back late after being in serious trouble was nothing short of incredible. And the fact that he almost stopped Arturo with the body shot before that makes it the closest I’ve ever seen to a full round actually being like something from a Rocky movie.

MIKE SILVER (boxing historian; author):

Round 4, Foreman vs. Lyle, Jan. 24, 1976.

So many great rounds are crowded into my head, but I’ll go with the incredible fourth round of Foreman vs. Lyle, Cosell’s hysteria notwithstanding.

JOHN STILLER (neurologist; ringside physician)

Round 10, Corrales-Castillo I

Also, round 10 of Douglas-Tyson, the round in which Douglas won by stoppage….But as a physician I like the boring ones where no one gets hit hard.

CARYN TATE (boxing writer):

Round 3, Hagler-Hearns.

It’s a classic for a reason, and it ends with a stoppage. The action was also highly skilled and technical, not just a slugfest. You can study seemingly minor details to better understand why the fight played out the way it did. The urgency of that single round really captured everything great about the sport.

BRUCE TRAMPLER (Top Rank matchmaker; 2010 IBHOF inductee):

Round 10, Earnie Shavers vs. Roy “Tiger” Williams, Dec. 11, 1976.

Also, round 10 of the Foreman-Moorer fight, the round in which George knocked out Moorer.

GARY “DIGITAL” WILLIAMS (boxing writer, blogger and “Master of the Beltway”):

Round 6, Vincent Pettway vs. Simon Brown, April 29, 1995.

Both men were knocked down in the foul-plagued contest but Pettway came back and landed a solid punch that froze Brown in his tracks and knocked him out. The aftermath of Brown throwing punches after being knocked out will echo through time.

PETER WOOD (boxing writer, author, and former boxer):

Round 6, Frankie DePaula vs. Rocky Rivero, July 17, 1968.

It was a night of beauty – and ugliness — in Madison Square Garden. It was the ugly co-main event that had my dad and I–and everyone else in The Garden–standing up screaming. Frankie DePaula, a rising light heavyweight, caught up with an aging Rocky Rivero on the ropes in the sixth round and started doing what he did best–punch. DePaula kept punching–and he punches pretty damn hard. Where was the referee? This was assault and battery at its best. DePaula just kept punching and punching until he was finally pulled off.

Observations: It was no surprise that Round 10 of Castillo–Corrales, Round 9 of Gatti-Ward, Round 1 of Hagler-Hearns and Round 15 of Holmes–Norton each received multiple mentions. Conversely, I found it mildly surprising that none of the following rounds got a call:

Garza vs. Meza (2007) Round 1;

Lee Roy Murphy vs. Chisanda Mutti (1985) Round 12;

“Yaqui” Lopez vs. Matthew Saad Muhammad II (1980) Round 8; and

James Kirkland vs. Alfredo Angulo (2011), Round 1

Based on his perspective as a judge, I thought Dick Flaherty’s inside account of Gatti-Ward I was especially compelling.

Thanks to all for their participation.

Check out more boxing news and features at The Sweet Science, where the best boxing writers write.

Ted Sares, a member of Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame, is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and holds several records in the Grand Master class. He has won the EPF Nationals championship four years in a row.

READ: What Was Your Favorite Round of Boxing? 40 Notables Share Their Picks Part 1

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