By News Team
22nd May 2020
For every boxer that’s called time on a career, content with their achievements and never looked back, there’s another that just couldn’t shake that feeling of wanting one more fight.
With Mike Tyson reportedly looking to make an in-ring return in the near future, we’ve cast our eye back on some of the most successful comebacks from early retirement.
When he was forced into retirement following his objection to enlisting for the Vietnam War, Muhammad Ali was the reigning world champion. Arduous legal battles ultimately meant he was forced to vacate his crown and saw him out of action for the best part of three years.
After returning in 1970, he stopped both Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena, impressive contenders in their own right, to set up a showdown with Joe Frazier. A mammoth 15-round clash, dubbed ‘The Fight of the Century’, saw Ali lose via unanimous decision after being dropped in the final round.
Ali, though, refused to give up his dream of once again becoming heavyweight champion of the world, and after beating Frazier in the first of two rematches, he set up a bout with the much younger champion George Foreman.
His victory over Foreman was a masterclass of skilful, thoughtful boxing and further cemented Ali’s place as one of the most popular athletes in the world. After losing and then regaining the title against Larry Spinks, Ali would become the first three-time world heavyweight champion in history.
Having retired after his 2015 world heavyweight title win against Wladimir Klitschko, few expected Tyson Fury to once again find himself as one of the world’s top heavyweights.
His return against Deontay Wilder, widely considered the hardest puncher in the division, at best was considered a risky opponent for someone who had been pretty much out of action for three years.
Fury, though, would silence the doubters with a near flawless performance, out-boxing Wilder for 11 rounds before being floored in the last. He would famously rise from the canvas to beat the count and hang on to a draw. However, Fury was able to dismantle the American in their rematch earlier this year, to once again become heavyweight champion of the world.
When former two-weight world champion Evander Holyfield announced his retirement in 1994, suffering from heart problems, it wasn’t expected that he would return to the ring at all.
However, just a year later, after apparently feeling his heart heal while watching a sermon delivered by a TV preacher, Holyfield was back.
He would beat Ray Mercer in his comeback fight, before losing to Riddick Bowe – but it was his rivalry with Mike Tyson that would really reignite Holyfield’s career. He went on to become a three-time heavyweight champion after taking an 11th round TKO win in their first fight, before losing part of his ear to a Tyson bite in the infamous second fight.
Holyfield’s career would ultimately not come to a final end until 2012, after several failed attempts to land the heavyweight crown for a fifth time, finally hanging up his gloves at the age of 49.
As one of the sport’s most prominent stars through the late 1990s, few were surprised when Erik Morales retired following a series of losses, including back-to-back defeats to Manny Pacquiao. Already widely accepted as one of the greatest Mexican fighters of his generation, Morales had made his name with a series of battles with Marco Antonio Barrera.
His return to the ring was not met with the fanfare he may have hoped for, but he began to pick up momentum as a light welterweight, with three straight wins in 2010. Ultimately it was his majority-decision loss to Marcos Maidana that propelled ‘El Terrible’ back into the limelight, after a brilliant back and forth bout with a much younger man.
In September 2011, Morales beat Pablo Cesar Cano to make history as Mexico’s first four-division world champion by claiming the WBC light welterweight belt.