By William Hill
Last Updated: 15th November 2019
With Anthony Joshua taking on Andy Ruiz Jr. in their highly anticipated rematch on December 7 for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO world heavyweight titles in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, we’re taking a look at some of boxing’s previous titanic clashes that have taken place across far corners of the world.
The Rumble in the Jungle: George Foreman vs Muhammad Ali – Kinshasa, Zaire
What better place to start than with The Rumble in the Jungle? A fight seen by some as the greatest sporting event of the 20th century.
Taking place in Kinshasa, Zaire (today known as the Democratic Republic of Congo) on October 30, 1974, Muhammad Ali came into this one as the underdog, having previously been banned from boxing for three years after he refused to be drafted into the U.S. army for the Vietnam War. Such an absence meant he was not the fighter he once was and few gave Ali a chance against the undefeated world heavyweight champion George Foreman.
How wrong they were. In front of 60,000 spectators inside the 20th of May Stadium, not to mention the estimated one billion believed to be watching on television sets around the globe, Ali overcame the odds. Using his now-famous ‘Rope-A-Dope’ tactics along the way, in which he retreated to the ropes while deflecting and counterpunching, Ali went on to floor Foreman in the eighth round to regain his old title by knockout. If he hadn’t done so already, this was the night Ali cemented his legend in sporting history.
Thrilla in Manila: Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier – Quezon City, Philippines
A year later and Muhammad Ali was back fighting on the other side of the world – this time in Quezon City, Philippines on October 1, 1975 to defend his world heavyweight title in the last of the epic trilogy against his old foe Joe Frazier.
The duo came into this bout with one win apiece – Frazier successfully defended his world title in 1971, before Ali got revenge three years later in a non-title fight across 12 rounds – meaning it was all to play for in the Philippines, with another global audience of one billion believed to be watching on.
Ali boasted beforehand that the fight would be “a killa and a thrilla and a chilla, when I get [Frazier] in Manila.” And he was not wrong as a thriller it was, with the fight also being ranked as one of the sport’s greatest ever – the 14th round, in particular, going down in history as both fighters unleashed hell against one another. Frazier’s trainer Eddie Futch then went on to refuse to let his boxer fight what could have been a potentially fatal 15th round to hand Ali another legendary victory.
James ‘Buster’ Douglas vs Mike Tyson – Tokyo, Japan
It’s testament to his brilliantly terrifying aura that even to this day, Mike Tyson is considered one of the most intimidating men boxing has ever seen. He came into his fight with James ‘Buster’ Douglas in Tokyo, Japan on February 11, 1990 as the undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world expecting to be tested, but not severely, by the No. 7-ranked heavyweight in the world.
Things didn’t quite go to plan, however, as Douglas would land an uppercut that would be felt around the world, winning by knockout in the tenth round. The shock inside the arena was palpable. Nobody had ever thought Tyson could lose this fight.
The defeat would do little to dent Tyson’s global stardom, if anything it would give him another opportunity at public redemption as he fought his way back to the top. Douglas, meanwhile, would retire (albeit temporarily) after losing his first and only title defence against Evander Holyfield, but would be remembered forever for one of boxing’s greatest shocks.
Clash on the Dunes: Andy Ruiz Jr. vs Anthony Joshua – Diriyah, Saudi Arabia
It’s to Diriyah, Saudi Arabia we head next month for the Clash on the Dunes between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua on December 7 – the first-ever world heavyweight title fight to be held in the Middle East. The bout will form part of Saudi Arabia’s ‘Diriyah Season’, a wider programme of international sports and entertainment events happening at UNESCO heritage sight Diriyah.
After losing his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO world heavyweight titles to Ruiz Jr. in New York in June, Joshua fights in just his second bout outside the UK in what is set to be a mouth-watering rematch. If he can overcome the challenge of Ruiz Jr., Joshua will put himself in line for mega-fights with the likes of Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder and the chance to unify the division.