Boxing: 5 mega fights that lived up to the hype

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March 3rd, 2020

The biggest fights on paper do not often catch the fire we all hope for. In an era where the best are no longer pressured to fight each other, big-time fights need to deliver more than ever.

These five fights promised fireworks and blood and exceeded expectations. They lived up to the hype.

Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns

Leonard and Hearns were both at the top of their game ahead of this massive showdown in 1981. The hype for this fight was huge, and two of the greatest fighters of their generation put forth a legendary performance that has stood the test of time.

Leonard, his eye swollen shut by Hearns' vicious power and behind on the scorecards, rallied in the 14th round to knock out an exhausted Hearns.

Evander Holyfield vs. Riddick Bowe

Holyfield and Bowe were undefeated going into the first of their three brutal slugfests, and it was their first fight that is remembered as the best. Holyfield’s reputation grew after he dispatched Buster Douglas and George Foreman, but Bowe was seen as the future of the division.

The two battered each other in ferocious exchanges, particularly in a 10th round that you have to see to believe, with Bowe the victor on the scorecards.

Oscar De La Hoya vs. Fernando Vargas

De La Hoya was at one time the biggest star in the sport, and while that made him a marked man for any fighter wanting a payday, Vargas wanted blood after an altercation in the past between the two left him wanting revenge.

In perhaps the most savage fight of the Golden Boy’s career, De La Hoya’s class outlasted Vargas’ rage to stop him in the 11th. 

Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Erik Morales III

No two fighters on this list hated each other more than Barrera and Morales, and while they already split two hellacious fights, they saved the best for last to close one of the best trilogies of the modern era, in an operatic episode of violence and blood.

There was not one moment in this 12-round brawl where one fighter outpaced the other, but Barrera won a narrow decision and jawed at his hated rival after he was announced the winner.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez IV

After three fights with controversial outcomes that went against him, Marquez was determined to leave technique at the door and sought to knock Pacquiao out in their fourth and final encounter.

For six rounds Marquez and Pacquiao knocked each other down and battled ruthlessly, until Marquez nailed Pacquiao with the right hand heard around the world. Pacquiao’s limp body fell to the canvas and Marquez finally conquered his greatest foe in perhaps the best fight of the 2010s.