By News Team
5th June 2020
Boxing has always created fierce rivalries and when the stakes are at their highest, we often see fireworks.
Below we’ve taken a look at two of the biggest boxing rivalries of all time.
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier
‘Fight of the Century’, ‘Super Fight II’ and the ‘Thrilla in Manila’. Three of the greatest boxing matches in history, and all fought between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
Ahead of the first fight in 1971, it was Ali’s return to boxing after he had been stripped previously by the governing bodies of his world heavyweight championship titles, a price to pay for his refusal to be drafted into the military for the Vietnam War.
Frazier was the new world champion, and many saw the American as Ali’s superior, and he backed their claims by winning their first bout, a 15-round fight by unanimous decision.
But as history will tell you, Ali did not accept his defeat, calling into question the judges’ decision, and he would prove victorious in the two fights to follow, settling the debate in the third and final ‘Thrilla in Manila’ in 1975.
It truly was an epic ending, with Frazier’s trainer throwing the towel in just before the beginning bell of the 15th round, signalling a win for Ali.
Incredibly, just seconds before the referee had waved off the fight, Ali had told his own corner to cut his gloves off and end the fight. Both boxers had brutalised each other, but Ali proved victorious.
Ali said after the fight: “Frazier quit just before I did. I didn’t think I could fight anymore.”
Their legacy remains as the greatest rivalry that boxing has seen, and certainly that in the heavyweight division. Two warriors at the very peak of the powers, with barely a hair to split their ability and determination.
Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez
This four-bout rivalry had it all. Brutal knockouts, controversial moments, and two fighters at the very top of their game for the duration of their feud.
While Manny Pacquiao knocked Juan Manuel Marquez down three times in the opening round of their first fight in 2004, many ringside observers believed Marquez won a large enough balance of the following 11 rounds to earn the decision, which ended as a draw.
In the two fights to follow in 2008 and 2011, Pacquiao would go on to win by a points decision, but again, there has been dispute as to whether both of those decisions were won fairly.
The culmination of the rivalry would happen in December 2012, and there could be no dispute as to who won the final meeting.
Marquez’s spiteful right hand in the sixth round left Pacquiao unconscious, so devastating in fact that it took over two minutes for the then 33-year-old to clamber to his knees and onto his stool.
A rivalry for the ages and one that will only be looked back on even more fondly as time goes on.