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Top 9 Boxing upsets of the 1980s

Biggest upsets of the 80s!
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 21: Larry Holmes (red belt) battles Michael Spinks during World Championship Fight, September 21, 1985 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Getty Images/Bob Riha, Jr.)

The biggest upset of the 1980s!

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1. Kirkland Laing def. Roberto Duran (1982)

Journeyman Kirkland Laing was given little to no chance and left a big “L” in the hands of the “Hands of Stone.” Boxing fans were worried about Laing’s health leading up to the fight. Laing finally realized his unfulfilled potential, which had been elusive due to his party-boy antics. He eventually became focused and won a victory over the Panamanian legend. Duran would rebound a year later to destroy Davey Moore in eight rounds, and in November of 1983, he gave Marvin Hagler a rougher fight than anyone could have ever imagined.

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2. Lloyd Honeyghan def. Donald Curry (1986).

Donald Curry’s win was so sure that some oddsmakers didn’t bother issuing a betting line. Curry was so focused on his challenge to the “4 Kings of Boxing” he neglected his defense of his welterweight title. It was not pretty. Curry, battered and bloody, quit in his corner in round six. Later, the English Honeyghan threw the WBA Welterweight Title that he won into a garbage can to protest South African Apartheid. That was the end of Donald Curry, who was supposed to be the next Sugar Ray Leonard.

3. Michael Spinks def. Larry Holmes (1985).

Michael, Leon Spinks’ younger brother, did the impossible seven years after his brother defeated Muhammad Ali. Spinks made an unorthodox move to beat Larry Holmes, the legendary (and then-undefeated) champion. He jumped up two weight classes to heavyweight. Spinks’ quick combinations won unanimously in an age-old fight between speed and power. The incredible thing about this upset is that Spinks defended his Light Heavyweight title in June and fought Holmes in September. He gained 20 pounds in three months and bet on the undefeated Holmes.

4. Sugar Ray Leonard def. Marvin Hagler (1987)

It is hard to believe that an all-time great like Sugar Ray Leonard would ever be considered an underdog. After a five-year hiatus, Leonard faced Marvin Hagler as a 3-1 underdog. Leonard won the first four rounds by controlling the pace and volume of punching. This was enough to win a controversial split decision, ending Hagler’s dominance for ten years.

5. Trevor Berbick def. Pinklon Thomas (1986)

Many people thought that Pinklon Thomas would be the next great heavyweight at the time of this fight. Berbick, on the other hand, seemed to be on the downslide of a solid career. Berbick made this fight a war of attrition that Thomas was unprepared for. We would later find out that Thomas dealt with addiction issues throughout his career. Thomas was a 6-1 favorite at fight time.

6. Livingstone Bramble def. Ray Mancini (1984)

While he was eying a fight with Aaron Pryor and still traumatized by seeing his opponent die in the ring, Mancini was beaten by his Caribbean opponent. Bramble, an eccentric character known for breeding Pitbulls and rumoured to practice witchcraft, took the WBA lightweight title from Boom Boom via a 14th-round KO, resulting in an emergency hospital stay. Mancini would lose the rematch by a close decision, and after that rematch, neither fighter saw any real success again. Check out the top new sportsbooks for betting on boxing.

7. Iran Barkley def. Thomas Hearns (1988)

After dominating the first two rounds against Barkley, Thomas Hearns was caught by a series of shots that ended his chances of winning the fight as Barkley stopped Hearns in the third round. Hearns was a huge favorite and landed 52.7 per cent of his punches, compared to Barkley’s 31.1. He also left massive cuts under the eyes of Barkley.

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8. Bobby Joe Young def. Aaron Pryor (1987)

Aaron Pryor, the late great, struggled with addiction and had taken two years off, and he was looking for an easy for. That man was Bobby Joe Young, a car salesman who defeated him in seven rounds for the hall of farmer’s only loss. In retrospect, this was probably not a massive upset because of Pryor’s inactivity and drug use, but at the time, it was shocking.

9. Oscar Muiz def. Jeff Chandler (1983)

Chandler was a dominant Bantamweight Champion, and this was a non-title fight against an unranked and unknown Oscar Muniz. ABC was supposed to show the rematch between Michael Spinks and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, but that fight was cancelled. These two fighters agreed to fight with just one week to prepare.

Chandler (31-1-2) of Philadelphia led with his left jab and allowed Muniz (35-3-3) of Pico Rivera, Calif., to land hard right shots to the body and head from close range.

Muniz, bleeding from two cuts around the left eye for eight rounds, won 5-4-1 on the scorecards of Judges Tom Kaczmarek and Phil Newman. Judge Frank Brunette scored it 5-4-1 for Chandler. Each fighter weighed 121 3/4 pounds.

 

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