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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 20 Greatest Boxing Matches of the 1990s

Top 20 Greatest Boxing Matches of the 1990s

Publish Date: 06/22/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Great Fights of the 90s

The 1990s was a great decade for Boxing and I could have easily went much deeper on this list, it was that good. Here are the top 20 fights of the 1990s!

20) Michael Carbajal vs Humberto Gonzalez II

As in their initial meeting, Humberto Gonzalez experienced a nasty cut yet managed to secure victory against great rival Carbajal in their Inglewood rematch. Carbajal tried desperately to hold onto his titles. Still, Gonzalez managed to avoid most of Carbajal’s shots by boxing smart from both stances to secure victory and earn himself the victory.

Video: Michael Carbajal vs Humberto Gonzalez II (19.02.1994) Бойцовский клуб

Michael Carbajal vs Humberto Gonzalez II (19.02.1994) Бойцовский клуб

19) Ray Mercer vs Lennox Lewis

Ray Mercer was tough; many people thought he deserved the decision against Lewis. Lewis was forced to go deep in his well to dig out this victory.

Video: Lennox Lewis vs Ray Mercer - Highlights (SUPERB SLUGFEST)

Lennox Lewis vs Ray Mercer – Highlights (SUPERB SLUGFEST)

18) Kennedy McKinney vs Welcome Ncita I

Tortoli, Sardinia may not come to mind immediately when discussing great boxing venues. Still, it was here where unbeaten super bantams Kennedy McKinney and Welcome Ncita engaged in a memorable contest. Once an addict himself, McKinney was finally able to come through in his maiden title bout, though not without difficulty, as Ncita nearly knocked him out in round 10, only for McKinney to score an unlikely knockout in round 11.

Video: KENNEDY MCKINNEY KO 11 WELCOME NCITA 1992 KOOTY

KENNEDY MCKINNEY KO 11 WELCOME NCITA 1992 KOOTY

17) Evander Holyfield vs George Foreman

Many people feared for the 42-year-old Foreman’s safety, but this turned into a great night of boxing as Holyfield stood in front of a still dangerous Foreman and showed the grit and determination of an all-time great. The seventh round was one of the greatest in Heavyweight history as both men were hurt and Foreman showed the heart of a champion.

Video: Evander Holyfield vs George Foreman | Classic Battle Boxing Full Fight Highlights | 4K Ultra HD

Evander Holyfield vs George Foreman | Classic Battle Boxing Full Fight Highlights | 4K Ultra HD

16) Chris Eubank vs Nigel Benn I

Eubank and Benn squared off in one of the biggest British battles ever, which was expected to be an explosive display of violence and hostility. Benn, known as “The Dark Destroyer”, held more experience, while self-belief showman Eubank managed to weather an emotional night, eventually ending their torrid exchanges in the ninth.

Video: Nigel Benn vs Chris Eubank Sr 1 | Fight Highlights

Nigel Benn vs Chris Eubank Sr 1 | Fight Highlights

15) Ray Mercer vs Bert Cooper

“Smokin” Bert Cooper was widely seen as a stepping stone on gold medalist Mercer’s path towards heavyweight contention. But Cooper surprised many by showing both spirit and energy many thought he lacked, forcing Mercer into an extended brawl which brought out both fighters’ best in an intense bout.

Video: Bert Cooper vs Ray Mercer - Highlights (All Out SLUGFEST)

Bert Cooper vs Ray Mercer – Highlights (All Out SLUGFEST)

14) Ray Mercer vs Tommy Morrison

An explosive heavyweight showdown and come-from-behind victory that will forever be remembered for its thrilling finish will live long in the memory. Don’t overlook that this was also a rare, high-risk encounter between young warriors who saw opportunities ahead. Morrison dominated the first three rounds until slowing down in the fourth round and Mercer took advantage and ended this encounter in frightening fashion.

Video: Ray Mercer vs Tommy Morrison Highlights | BOXING fight, HD

Ray Mercer vs Tommy Morrison Highlights | BOXING fight, HD

13) James Toney vs Mike McCallum I

“The Bodysnatcher” and “Lights Out” met for their initial encounter and set off an epic battle of wills between students and experts; strangely enough, though, it was Lights Out who seemed busier with popping jabs and working the body of his young adversary, while both showcased crisp, powerful flurries from each fighter. A rematch would inevitably ensue after judges scored it a draw, although ultimately, there wasn’t much between these two maestros on this night.

Video: CONTROVERSIAL BOXING DECISIONS FREE FIGHT | James Toney vs Mike McCallum 1 | U Score the Fight

CONTROVERSIAL BOXING DECISIONS FREE FIGHT | James Toney vs Mike McCallum 1 | U Score the Fight

12) Razor Ruddock vs Tommy Morrison

Fans in Morrison’s adopted hometown anticipated an all-out brawl, and that is precisely what happened as both former contenders exchanged knockdowns. Ruddock briefly had control, only to run headlong into “Duke’s” money punch and capture certain defeat courtesy of Tommy’s left hook.

Video: Tommy Morrison vs Donovan Ruddock - Highlights (SLUGFEST & KNOCKOUT)

Tommy Morrison vs Donovan Ruddock – Highlights (SLUGFEST & KNOCKOUT)

11) Robert Quiroga vs Akeem Anifowoshe

These undefeated junior bantamweights set an explosive pace from the opening bell to the last round. Though “Kid Akeem” gave up his reach advantage, he gave just as good in an intense close-quarters brawl with Quiroga before eventually winning by decision despite suffering deep cuts himself. Unfortunately, Kid Akeem tragically died three years later while Quiroga was fatally stabbed to death in 2004.

Video: WOW!! FIGHT OF THE YEAR - Robert Quiroga vs Akeem Anifowoshe, Full HD Highlights

WOW!! FIGHT OF THE YEAR – Robert Quiroga vs Akeem Anifowoshe, Full HD Highlights

10) Bert Cooper vs Michael Moorer

Thanks to Cooper’s unpredictability, fans were treated to an unforgettable heavyweight battle from start to finish that began in an action-packed first round when both fighters tasted the canvas. Moorer finished things up after landing a devastating right uppercut and a straight left that sent Cooper into unconsciousness and rendered him too dazed to continue in round 5.

Video: Michael Moorer vs Bert Cooper (Slugfest & KNOCKOUT)

Michael Moorer vs Bert Cooper (Slugfest & KNOCKOUT)

9) Azumah Nelson vs Jeff Fenech I

These two bulldogs met under the bright sun at the Mirage to battle it out for the Ghanaian WBC super featherweight title on the undercard of Mike Tyson vs Razor Ruddock II. Both street fighters put on an electrifying phone booth battle, with Fenech losing via an unpopular decision and the “The Professor” holding onto his title via an unpopular draw.

Video: Azumah Nelson vs Jeff Fenech I (Highlights)

Azumah Nelson vs Jeff Fenech I (Highlights)

8) Michael Carbajal vs Humberto Gonzalez I 

Michael Carbajal and Humberto Gonzalez made history during their junior flyweight unification fight: both fighters became the first in their division to earn one million bucks for one bout. “La Explosion” featured nonstop action with switch-hitting Gonzalez frequently sending Carbajal down, though “Little Hands of Stone” eventually forced an impressive seventh-round stoppage victory.

Video: ONE OF THE GREATEST RALLY FIGHTS OF ALL-TIME | Michael Carbajal vs Humberto Gonzalez 1 | FREE FIGHT

ONE OF THE GREATEST RALLY FIGHTS OF ALL-TIME | Michael Carbajal vs Humberto Gonzalez 1 | FREE FIGHT

7) Riddick Bowe vs Evander Holyfield I

Heavyweight fights in the nineties were thrilling affairs, but none could top this showdown between Holyfield and Bowe. Both boxers traded back and forth until an exciting tenth round became one of the greatest rounds in boxing history. Holyfield held on long enough, but ultimately Bowe’s size, skills, and dogged determination were too much – “Big Daddy” eventually became the undisputed champion.

Video: Riddick Bowe vs Evander Holyfield I - Highlights (FIGHT of the Year 1992)

Riddick Bowe vs Evander Holyfield I – Highlights (FIGHT of the Year 1992)

6) Ike Ibeaubuchi vs David Tua

From start to finish, there was nonstop action as both boxers set a CompuBox record for punches thrown during a heavyweight matchup. Starting strong himself, “The President” held off Tua’s late charge for victory en route to earning himself title contention; unfortunately for him, however, outside factors would soon derail his career while Tua remained relevant as an opponent for a few more years.

Video: Ike Ibeabuchi vs David Tua - Highlights (ALL OUT WAR)

Ike Ibeabuchi vs David Tua – Highlights (ALL OUT WAR)

5) Merqui Sosa vs Prince Charles Williams I

Evidence of this fight’s extreme violence lies in its abrupt termination in the seventh round when both fighters were declared unfit to continue due to injuries sustained from the previous rounds. If you enjoy violence and want a show of pure brutality, look no further. This one should keep any sadistic streak entertained!

Video: Fight of the Year, 1995 : Merqui Sosa TD7 Charles Williams

Fight of the Year, 1995 : Merqui Sosa TD7 Charles Williams

4) Evander Holyfield vs Riddick Bowe II

One year after suffering his first-ever title defeat against Riddick Bowe, Evander Holyfield made amends through a narrow decision in an equally thrilling encounter; one that featured an unforgettable paraglider entering the ring during round seven!

Video: Evander Holyfield (USA) vs Riddick Bowe (USA) II | BOXING fight, HD

Evander Holyfield (USA) vs Riddick Bowe (USA) II | BOXING fight, HD

3) Naseem Hamed vs Kevin Kelley

This featherweight version of Hagler vs Hearns saw six knockdowns, and Hamed emerged victorious by landing an incredible straight left to end matters in round four – winning his American debut under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden while simultaneously proving he was for real.

Video: Prince Naseem Hamed vs Kevin Kelley - Highlights (ALL OUT SLUGFEST)

Prince Naseem Hamed vs Kevin Kelley – Highlights (ALL OUT SLUGFEST)

2) Nigel Benn vs Gerald McClellan

Benn came away victorious after McClellan submitted in the tenth round, after an epic contest which featured relentless British determination by Benn to turn things around after being knocked through the ropes in round 1. Unfortunately, McClellan suffered permanent brain damage after collapsing post-fight in his corner.

Video: NIGEL BENN vs GERALD McCLELLAN - One Tragic Fight Night in 1995

NIGEL BENN vs GERALD McCLELLAN – One Tragic Fight Night in 1995

1) Meldrick Taylor vs Julio Cesar Chavez

Meldrick Taylor must have felt helpless as Julio Cesar Chavez stopped him with two seconds remaining of a fierce twelve-round battle known as “Thunder and Lightning”. The fight was packed with excitement, speedster Taylor outscored an opponent who inflicted significant damage himself, ultimately leaving an unforgettable, heroic and heartbreaking finale in its impact. Taylor was never the same after this fight as his career spiralled out of control after this painful loss.

Video: Julio Cesar Chavez vs Meldrick Taylor - Highlights (FIGHT of the DECADE)

Julio Cesar Chavez vs Meldrick Taylor – Highlights (FIGHT of the DECADE)

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