8) Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs. Sugar Ray Leonard
Maybe the most debated fight in boxing history. Leonard dominated the first four rounds – then Hagler fought much better the rest of the way. Leonard won the bout by a razor-thin split-decision win.
Why do I have this fight last? Hagler did not look like the same fighter against Leonard. After the Hearns fight, he seemed to be slowing down. A rematch could have been fun, but I think we would have just seen a more deteriorated Hagler.
7) Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas
Maybe the greatest upset in sports history. No rematch clause in the contract.
Douglas dominated the fight from start to finish. He knocked Tyson out in a convincing fashion.
Don King created a long count that made no difference. Both fighters eventually would implode in different ways.
Douglas took the bigger payday to defend against Evander Holyfield. He ate most of it. Holyfield would go on to destroy Douglas and Tyson. The only way a rematch could have happened would have been in the immediate aftermath of the first fight.
6) Michael Spinks vs. Dwight Muhammad Qawi
The “Brawl for it All” was the biggest light heavyweight championship fight in half a decade. Spinks won gold at the 1976 Olympic Games. Qawi was super tough and a heckuva a fighter. The division was loaded. These two were the best.
The fight was dramatic even before the two fighters entered the ring as two months before the bout was supposed to take place, Spinks, longtime girlfriend, who was the mother of his only daughter, had died in a car accident. On the other side, about seven days before the fight, Qawi revealed his doctors had recommended that he not fight.
Qawi had been diagnosed with pneumonia. The fight was in jeopardy, but he decided to go on with the bout.
Spinks had a very emotional moment to overcome before the fight started: His daughter asked while he was in his dressing room if her mother would come to watch the bout. Spinks almost broke down but soon had to recover and get into the ring. Think about the excuses we hear from fighters after losing fights. Spinks overcame all of this to win.
The fight did not live up to the hype, but it was a solid battle between all-time great light-heavyweights. Spinks controlled the first six rounds, then Qawi came on and made it a fight, but spinks took the decision by 3 and 4 points.
The rematch almost happened in 1984, but a Qawi injury during training canceled it. A year later, Michael Spinks would upset Larry Holmes to become heavyweight champion of the world.
5) Larry Holmes vs. Ken Norton
This fight was (said to be) for the WBC heavyweight championship after undisputed champion Leon Spinks decided to give Muhammad Ali a rematch. It would go down as one of the greatest heavyweight championship fights of all time. The 15th round was a classic give and take.
Holmes was awarded the title via a close split decision. Two judges awarded the last round and the fight to Holmes, while the third gave it to Norton. Holmes may have won the fight in the last 15 seconds of the round. He rocked a gassed Norton, who was winning the stanza up to that point.
The fight should have seen an immediate rematch. It was that good and that close, but it’s boxing, and Don King was involved, so is it surprising a rematch didn’t happen? Norton’s hoped-for rematch ended when he was knocked out in the first round by Earnie Shavers. Shaver’s would get the shot at Holmes and be stopped in the 11th round.
4) Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad
This fight was supposed to be the equivalent of Leonard/Hearns. It was hyped beyond belief and did outrageous PPV numbers, but the bout was not exciting. De La Hoys put on a clinic for the first nine rounds. He took his foot off the gas the last three rounds and somehow lost one of the worst decisions you’ll ever see.
A rematch had to happen, but no. Trinidad was promoted by Don King and Oscar by Bob Arum, so it had no chance of ever happening. I am sure money and other politics came into play as we will never know what might have happened. De La Hoya should have had the right to a rematch. I’m sure he would have fought differently. It is one of the great regrets of his career and it kills he could never redeem himself. The problem here is Trinidad should have wanted to redeem himself to prove he could defeat De La Hoya.
3) Thomas Hearns vs. Marvelous Marvin Hagler
This fight included the greatest first round in boxing history. Hagler survived a nasty cut that threatened to stop the bout. Hagler would dominate the second and third rounds – finally stopping Hearns in the third round. Both fighters were elevated to superstar status, so a rematch seemed inevitable, but it was not to be.
Hagler would only fight two more times over the next two years beating John Mugabi and losing a controversial decision to Sugar Ray Leonard.
2) Pernell Whitaker vs. Julio Cesar Chavez
The great Chavez came into this fight undefeated with an astonishing record of 87-0. Chavez moved up one weight division to challenge Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker for his WBC welterweight title. If you thought Oscar got robbed against Trinidad, this fight was even worse than that!
Sweet Pea took Chavez to school that night and got royally screwed by the judges. The fight was ruled a draw. At least Whitaker didn’t sustain a loss on his record.
Why no rematch? DON KING! King was not going to allow Chavez to go through that again and wanted Chavez to have no part of Sweet Pea. Whitaker deserved the win and a rematch.
1) Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman
Ali had stopped the seemingly invincible Foreman in 8 rounds in 1974. After losing to Ali, Foreman disappeared from the boxing scene for over a year. Ali defeated Joe Frazier and then defended his title several other times, beating the likes of Norton, Lyle, and Young. Foreman, after the layoff, did own a huge win over Ron Lyle in an absolute slugfest, but he then lost to Jimmy Young in 1977 and was not to be heard from again for a decade.
Foreman as the reigning champion should have gotten an immediate rematch but that was not in Ali’s plans. Which tells me Ali was never planning on fighting a rematch with the dangerous Foreman.
Could Ali repeat what he did in the jungle in 1974?
We will never know.