The greatest last hurrahs in boxing history

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Danny Howard

August 5th, 2021

There is nothing more common in boxing than an old fighter lasting well beyond his best days and turning in a miserable performance, leaving fans to reminisce about the days when they were kings. While not all fighters bow out gracefully, these five showed they had one great fight left in them.

Antonio Tarver destroys Danny Green (2011)

Tarver was best known for his shocking knockout win of Roy Jones Jr., but his failure to capitalize on that moment prevented him from becoming a true great. When Tarver outgrew light heavyweight, he moved up to cruiserweight to face off against puncher Danny Green, who recently picked Jones off in a single round.

At the age of 42, Tarver turned in a magnificent performance as he battered an overmatched Green before stopping him in the ninth.

Erik Morales stands his ground (2011)

There were plenty of people who were legitimately scared for Morales’ health and wellbeing when the aged battler faced off against Marcos Maidana in April 2011. With his prime long behind him, many hoped Maidana would score an early stoppage to prevent permanent damage.

Morales showed Maidana a lesson in toughness as he went blow-for-blow with the puncher. While Maidana won a close decision, Morales’ brave showing proved that legends always have one last great fight in them.

Larry Holmes turns back the clock against Ray Mercer (1992)

Holmes had recently returned to full-time boxing at the age of 41, and while he was brushed off as an ex-champ looking for another payday, he’d change that perception overnight.

Holmes faced off against the undefeated Mercer with the winner to face Evander Holyfield for the title. Behind his legendary jab and chin, Holmes outsmarted him all the way to a shocking decision win. Holmes didn’t beat Holyfield, but the Mercer win was a testament to his greatness.

Thomas Hearns wins a title in his fifth division (1991)

With the era of the Four Kings behind him, Hearns was the last man standing in 1991. The Hitman faced off against undefeated light heavyweight champion Virgil Hill, and not many expected Hearns to do more other than give a decent effort against a rising star. Hearns instead showed the full extent of his boxing skill, outsmarting Hill at every turn and cruising to an easy decision win.

Though Hearns would lose the title in his very next fight against old foe Iran Barkley, Hearns proved his mettle long past his prime.

Roberto Duran conquers Iran Barkley (1989)

When Barkley shockingly knocked out Hearns in their first fight in 1988, many feared the worse when his first challenger was 37-year-old Roberto Duran, now thought to be too old and too small for Barkley. While that may have been true, Duran was also too smart and supremely confident he could outslick "The Blade," taking plenty of punishment and giving it right back to him.

Duran sealed the deal with an 11th round knockdown, then held onto win a split decision in the biggest moment of his legendary career.