Unfortunately, Boxing has failed to deliver a ton of what would have been huge fights over the last 50 years. Today we will take a look at some of these missed classics. Too bad that I could write an entire article about this year by itself. The history of boxing is littered with fights that should have happened but never did.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr., was starting to rise in Boxing at the top in the mid-2000s. He was undefeated and had won a portion of the welterweight title. He also had many attractive fights around him.
A bout with Antonio Margarito, then-WBO welterweight champion, was frequently mentioned but never happened.
Margarito was, for many, a formidable challenge to Floyd’s dominance. He fought similarly to Jose Luis Castillo, who had given Mayweather two rough fights and was at the peak of his career.
Between 2005 and 2006, Antonio Margarito was a powerful punching machine. The fight did not go through despite Mayweather’s record-breaking payday offer. He chose to face Carlos Baldomir instead for the WBC title.
Many believe that Mayweather would have used his boxing intelligence to take out Margarito, who is stronger and more refined than Mayweather. It would have been fascinating to see his reaction to the immense pressure the Tijuana Tornado would bring.
Indeed, Oscar De La Hoya was not a regular fighter at the same weight as Tszyu, but “The Golden Boy” only fought three fights at 140 pounds, while Tszyu spent most of his career there. It was viewed as a possible big fight.
De La Hoya weighed 140 pounds when he moved to 140 in 1996. This was a brief stop before he reached 147. However, he did challenge Miguel Angel Gonzalez and won a world title.
Tszyu, who had won his title from Jake Rodriguez in early 1995, was the biggest dog at the weight. Many believed that Tszyu’s appearance on the undercard of De La Hoya V. Gonzalez in 1997 was a sign of a fight.
It didn’t work out as Oscar moved to welterweight immediately to fight Pernell Whitaker. Tszyu would lose his next fight against “Cool Vince Phillips” by knockout.
A super welterweight fight was another widely discussed but never happened. It was between Felix “Tito”, Trinidad, and Ike [Bazooka] Quartey.
Both fighters were part welterweight champions for several years in the mid to late 1990s. They had tremendous power and held significant shares.
This was a loaded division, with three major titles held by Oscar de la Hoya, Quartey, and Trinidad. It would be difficult to find any boxing points, at any weight class, that had these three notable titles held by fighters of this caliber.
Both men fought De La Hoya. Quartey lost a close fight, and Trinidad won a controversial, close-fought decision. They never met. It’s a shame. Someone would have been knocked out.
Roy Jones, Jr.’s inability to fight one of the greatest champions from Europe in his era was a footnote in his historic career.
This list could include any of the following: Chris Eubank or Dariusz Micalczewski and Nigel Benn.
Benn was my favorite and had frightening punching power. Jones was his biggest problem, as he wouldn’t have the boxing skills to beat him unless he hit one of his big shots.
We’ll never know whether Jones’ later career chin problems were ever-present or if they developed due to his declining skills. However, Nigel Benn would have checked.
Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Erik Morales are all considered to be the greatest Mexican fighters of their generation.
Morales fought Barrera in three absolute wars. Barrera won two, and Marquez defeated Barrera in the third. However, Morales & Marquez have never met in the ring.
Although the fight was discussed often, it never became a reality. It would have been fascinating to see who would emerge here. It would have helped settle the dispute about which of the three Mexican warriors was the greatest.
Since his 1999 fight Ike “The President”, Ibeabuchi has enjoyed a loyal following. He is the greatest heavyweight champ who has never been.
Ibeabuchi was severely mentally ill, and his career was ruined. He was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. He spent time in a Nevada jail serving a lengthy sentence for attempted sexual assault and battery.
We will not excuse his out-of-ring behavior. Instead, we will be focusing on his in-ring abilities.
Ibeabuchi was a formidable force. He was solid and had an unusually high activity rate for a heavyweight. When he entered the ring, he looked like a brick wall.
His first major fight was against David Tua, a lethal power-punching prospect who is also a knockout artist.
Before, nobody had ever been able to trade power punches with Tua. That’s what Ibeabuchi did. Both men spent the night in the pocket exchanging bombs. Ibeabuchi set a new heavyweight record for punches thrown by the end of the fight. The two men combined for the record.
Ibeabuchi won a well-deserved victory that night. Three fights later, Ibeabuchi would defeat Chris Byrd, a future heavyweight champion.
That’s when the train ran off the tracks for Ibeabuchi. It would have been fascinating to see how he would fare against heavyweights of the era, such as Lennox Lewis or the Klitschko siblings.
In 2001, Trinidad and Mosley ranked first and 2nd on Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound list. After beating Oscar De La Hoya, they were both full of momentum. However, Mosley’s win was more convincing than Tito’s. Trinidad opted to move up to middleweight instead of pursuing a super fight. Mosley-Trinidad would have been a massive event in 2000 and 2001. Tito, who weighed 160 pounds, saw Bernard Hopkins ruin his career. Vernon Forrest slowed Mosley’s rise, but “Sugar Shane” recovered.
Vitali, the elder Klitschko brother, was also considered to be the less talented of the two. Wladimir had the most significant potential.
Vitali, however, debunked the myth on fight night and became a real force in his own right.
Klitschko was dominant in the First Round and hurt Lewis in the second. In the third round, Lewis responded with a big right hand that completely changed the complexion of the fight. Vitali was then cut in the left eye by Lewis.
Klitschko worked hard and became more urgent as the cut got worse. He led on all three scorecards and seemed well on his way to victory. Lewis quickly tired, so the fight was stopped in the sixth round, after which the doctor at the ringside advised him to stop.
Klitschko was wronged, and the crowd felt Klitschko was on his way to winning. But, that was not true. The cut was horrible, and the fight was stopped justly.
Lewis decided to retire instead of rematching the fight. Boxing fans were left out of what would have been an incredible heavyweight showdown.
Jones, who weighed 175 pounds, was unbeaten in his prime. Michalczewski (a Polish fighter who fought in Germany in his prime) was Jones’ top challenger during several years of the 1990s and 2000s. After dropping to cruiserweight, the would-be Jones foe held on to the WBO light Heavy weight belt for almost a decade. Neither was willing to risk fighting away from their home countries.
Mayweather is known to cherry-pick and defer matchups with Manny Pacquiao or Shane Mosley, which is a greater boxing sin. He chose to fight multiple no-hopers in his early welterweight days and did not face Paul Williams. Mayweather claims that Williams was not interested in facing other big names. Williams, while not an A-lister, would have presented a problem for Mayweather. With a height of 6 feet-1, the southpaw and a reach of 79 inches, Williams won Antonio Margarito’s 2007 welterweight title. Mayweather retired after a nearly two-year-long retirement following big fights against Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya. Williams gained weight in 2008 but was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in 2012.
This historic battle would have been in the late 1970s. Benitez was the youngest boxing champion, winning a title of 140 pounds at 17. Cuevas won the WBA welterweight title at 18. a year later. Both were champions in the late 1970s. The boxer-vs.–puncher matchup and the quality chapter in the long-standing Puerto Rico-Mexico rivalry didn’t materialize. Both boxers lost their belts to future icons Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns.
No Hearns never ducked McCallum! Hearns fought legendary battles at middleweight and welterweight against Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler. However, his greatest weight was 154 pounds. Hearns defeated Roberto Duran in 1984 at junior middleweight and continued to fight there between 1981-86. McCallum was the other belt holder in that division from 1984, and a fight would have been huge for both fighters. It never happened, but it was not because Hearns was ducking McCallum.
The heavyweight division was in its prime period when two of the greatest power punchers in the sport competed. Although Shavers is five years older than Foreman, his path to the top of Boxing took him longer. The fight would have been a good idea for a brief time during the mid-1970s when Shavers was pursuing a title shot and driving his late-blooming boxing career. Foreman canceled this bout in 1977. Although Shavers was able to push Muhammad Ali beyond his limits that year, he later joined Foreman in defeating Ken Norton earlier than expected. However, the most exciting fights against Foreman or Joe Frazier did not happen.
Lopez was the author of one of the most successful careers of his generation, going 51-0-1. For most of the 1990s, “Finito”, a strawweight fighter (105 pounds), ruled. Carbajal, a light flyweight fighter (108), dominated his career. Carbajal was a tremendous fighter, as he was seen in many fights with rival Humberto González during the mid-’90s. Lopez-Gonzalez qualifies for near-miss status as well. However, a Mexican 105-pound champion, Lopez-Gonzalez, entered negotiations with Carbajal to fight for Carbajal’s 1997 light flyweight title. Negotiations failed to materialize, so Lopez was denied a fight that would have raised his profile.
Lopez was a great technician, but the level of competition at 105lbs was severely lacking. This is a fight that should have been made.
Few fighters can match the speed and agility of “Sugar” Ray Leonard’s prime.
Aaron Pryor is a fighter who has been relentless in his pursuit of power and can throw powerful punches at all angles.
There was much debate at the time about Leonard ducking Pryor.
It is hard to believe that Leonard, who has fought Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran and Tommy Hearns, would be able to duck anyone. Leonard was at welterweight, while Pryor spent most of his career at 140 pounds.
It didn’t happen because Pryor was not a viable candidate until he beat the great Alexis Arguello at the end of 1982; unfortunately, Leonard had retired by then because of a detached retina, and Pryor spiraled downwards because of his inner demons.
This fight is a rarity among the greatest fights that never took place — it actually took place.
Riddick and Lennox Lewis were considered the two top heavyweights in the World at one time. However, they never fought in a professional boxing ring. However, they did clash in the 1988 Summer Olympics Gold Medal match.
Lewis won the fight via TKO in round 2. Some felt it was premature.
Evander Holyfield won the undisputed heavyweight title for Bowe in 1992. Donovan Ruddock defeated Lewis to be the number one contender at the WBC.
This fight is where it is clear that someone can be held responsible for the failure to happen. The colorful Rock Newman, Bowe’s manager, demanded ridiculous concessions from Lewis to allow him to fight. The famous request for a 90/10 split of the purse was also made.
Riddick Bowe held a press conference where he threw WBC’s championship in a trashcan to avoid the fight. If Bowe did not fight Lewis, the sanctioning body threatened to remove his belt.
Alexis Arguello was the WBC super-featherweight champion. He moved up to lightweight in July 1978, possibly pursuing Roberto Duran, who was still the champion.
Arguello lost to Vilomar Fernandez, who was unheralded in his first fight at 135lbs. Duran had defeated Fernandez in the 13th Round when they met before this fight.
Many observers believe Duran, who had at that point unified the lightweight division of the weight class, was at his best at 135 pounds.
Both men were stars at this stage in their careers, and a fight would have been a huge success. Arguello was a powerful puncher, but he was reserved and quiet.
“Manos de Piedra” was a strong puncher but also passionate and bold in the ring.
It would have been a thrilling fight, bringing out the best in both of them. It never happened.
The early 1990s, which spanned between Tyson’s Buster Douglas loss (and a life-altering prison sentence), is an under-reported period of Tyson’s career. This period is relevant because Foreman was introduced to the picture as a Tyson rebuild/cash cow opponent. Fearful of how his style would match with the larger Foreman’s, a picking-up-the-pieces Tyson preferred to go in another direction for his 1990 recovery period. Before being sent to prison, “Iron Mike” fought Henry Tillman, Alex Stewart and Razor Ruddock. While Foreman quickly pushed champion, Evander Holyfield.
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