When it comes to sporting events, few can match a professional boxing championship. Defending the title adds an extra layer of pressure as millions of dollars and potential sponsorship deals are usually at stake. It attracts the attention of people all over the world, with the chance for one of the competitors to earn the title of world champion.
To be a champion means you at one point dominated the sport on a global scale. It’s irreplaceable in the eyes of the world. It’s something you can put on your resume forever.
Top 5 Most Entertaining Title Defenses in Boxing History
Is everyone set to take a trip down memory lane and learn about the greatest title defenses in boxing? First things first:
Evander Holyfield Vs. Mike Tyson II
Holyfield’s appearance in the ring with Tyson in 1996 shocked the boxing world. After being released from prison, Tyson appeared to be regaining his formidable form before being stopped by Holyfield. While Holyfield was clearly the superior fighter, the fight ended in a technical knockout for Holyfield.
Many in the boxing community saw the victory as improbable, pointing to Tyson’s lack of preparation as an example. The energy in the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas was through the roof when they returned to the ring for round two.
By keeping Tyson at bay with his jab and picking him apart from distance, Holyfield showed that his first victory was no fluke. As the fight was going against Tyson, he became frustrated and bit off a piece of Holyfield’s ear, which is considered one of the worst fouls in boxing history.
It was one of boxing’s craziest moments, and it cost Tyson his license for a long time. Even though Tyson was able to get his license back, his ability was greatly diminished by the time this happened.
Floyd Mayweather Jr Vs. Manny Pacquiao
There hasn’t been a more highly anticipated boxing match in recent memory than this super-fight. It took almost a decade of negotiations during which both sides came up with excuses not to sign the deal in order to make the fight a reality.
There was some disagreement about whether or not the fight lived up to the hype, but there is no denying that it made over $410 million in pay-per-view revenue.
The fight featured two of the top boxers of their era and was a thrilling technical battle. Mayweather, who had become known for using a mostly defensive approach in the later stages of his career, increased his offensive output significantly when he faced Pacquaio. He landed some heavy blows early on, making Pacquiao more cautious than usual.
Pacquiao also had his moments, particularly when he caught Mayweather against the ropes and pounded him with punches. Mayweather still won the fight via unanimous decision, cementing his status as the greatest boxer of all time by weight class.
Erik Morales Vs. Marco Barrera
This was one of the most exciting championship bouts in boxing history. WBC super-bantamweight champion Morales entered the fight with a perfect 35-0 record.
It was also a title fight for former super-bantamweight champion Barrera, who had successfully defended his WBO title ten times.
Both men landed some hard blows in the opening round, making for a thrilling fight. Both men were hurt multiple times as they continued to fight at a high intensity. Each man received Ring’s Round of the Year award for their insane opening round.
Morales eventually prevailed via split decision, beginning what would become one of the greatest rivalries in boxing history. In the end, Barrera prevailed in the rematch, setting up the rubber match that ended in Morales’s favor.
Carmen Basilio Vs. Tony DeMarco II
One of the greatest successful title defenses in boxing history occurred in the rematch between these two fighters. By unanimous decision, Basilio defeated Demarco and became the new Ring, NYSAC, and NBA welterweight champion. Later that year, in what was widely regarded as the Best Fight of the Year, Demarco was given another shot at regaining his championship.
Demarco started off well in the rematch, and things looked even better for him after Basilio broke his hand in the second round. Before getting knocked out in the final round, Demarco had the fight pretty much in the bag.
With some hard work, Demarco was able to get back up on his feet, and it appeared that he might make it until the final bell. Shortly after the initial knockdown, however, Basilio jumped all over him and knocked him out for good. This was Basilio’s first successful defense of his NBA, Ring, and NYSAC welterweight titles. Looking to make some bets on the next big fight? Check out our Boxing Betting Guide.
Muhammad Ali Vs. Joe Frazier III
After Ali’s initial defeat by Joe Frazier, one of the greatest rivalries in boxing history was set in motion. Their second fight was the least exciting of the three because Ali knocked him out in the first two rounds.
The “Thriller in Manila” rematch between these two produced what many consider to be the greatest heavyweight fight ever. In their fight against each other, Ali and Frazier threw the most punches ever in a professional boxing match.
Ali dominated the fight from a distance with his jab, and the judges quickly gave him the nod. But Frazier was unflappable as usual, and he kept landing hard hooks. Ali was knocked down so many times that his trainer, Angelo Dundee, had to give him a pep talk to keep going in the later rounds. Ali ramped up his attack in the later rounds, and his blows eventually caused both of Frazier’s eyes to close. As a result, in the 15th round, Frazier’s corner conceded defeat and the fight was stopped. Ali retained his titles as heavyweight champion of the world from the World Boxing Association, World Boxing Council, and Ring Magazine.