Movie trilogies rarely work. For more information, see The Matrix, The Hobbit… Mighty Ducks. The two that followed lived off a strong opener. In fact, the word trilogy automatically scares off many cinema-goers, having had their fingers burnt in the past.
Fighting trilogies are very different, however. The boxing world loves a treble, especially a decider. We keep lovers of the noble art entertained with a flick through our three favourite boxing trilogies.
1. Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward
Many younger sports fans may know ‘Irish’ Micky Ward best from the movie The Fighter (2010) starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, but the story runs deeper; much deeper. Gatti vs. Ward I took place at Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Ward taking a majority decision in a barnstormer.
The performances of both men in that grudge match propelled them towards the big time, selling out major venues in the two that followed. Gatti ultimately won both on points – neither for a recognised title – which is staggering as they fought like champion gladiators. The pair deserved to make much more money than they did from the saga, with two of the three bouts named fight of the year by Ring Magazine.
Ward now owns and operates a boxing gym in Lowell. Old friend Arturo ‘Thunder’ Gatti was found dead in 2011 in a Brazilian hotel room he was sharing with his Brazilian wife. The cause of death remains a mystery.
2. “Sugar” Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran
The trilogy that’ll be forever remembered for the muttering “no mas”. Power-punching Panamanian great Duran upset the odds to win a 15-round points decision over the much-loved Ray Leonard at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, 1980 for the WBC world welterweight title. With the cards as close as you’d want to see, in 145-144, 148-147, 146-144, the pair were always going to meet again.
Sugar looked below par during that fight one reverse but was back to his silky best when stopping Duran in eight rounds in a rematch fought at the Superdome in New Orleans. We’d challenge boxing followers to find a more polished performance in a major fight, with Ray picking Roberto apart as he walked forward, frustrating his man before finishing it.
Tied at 1-1, money men had their say and Leonard put the argument to bed with a 12-round unanimous decision in Las Vegas. That was to be his final win, losing to Terry Norris and Hector Camacho before throwing in the towel in 1997. Duran, the warrior that he is, continued until 2001, ending with a record of 103-16-0, with 70 of those wins coming by way of knockout.
3. Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier
The most-talked-about trilogy through the ages since, the deciding ‘Thriller In Manilla’ was voted Ring Magazine fight of the year in 1975, ‘The Greatest’ winning in the 14th of a 15-round contest that will be loved forever. The scores were tied at 1-1, with Frazier winning fight one in 1971, dropping Ali in the last, before Muhammad fired back with a points victory over his rival in 1974; this time, over 12 rounds, the new legal maximum duration.
The odds were stacked against Muhammad Ali in the decider. He was old, past his best, had endured too many years out of the ring fighting other fights, and not a lot of people liked him – but by the end of that night in Quezon City, Ali had secured his place as boxing’s main man.
The trilogy is, most definitely, one to show your kids and grandkids. The backstory alone will instantly win over any who doubt the brilliance of the noble art. They don’t make them like that anymore, that’s for sure.