Premium History Issue

What to watch from boxing history this week

Muhammad Ali
A different view of ‘The Phantom Punch’ is among the YouTube highlights this week, writes Matt Christie

5. LLOYD HONEYGHAN w rsf 8 HORACE SHUFFORD
May 21, 1986; Wembley Arena, London
THIS is dripping in 1980s nostalgia. The shiny red Bryan boxing gloves that always looked a bit too big for all but the heftiest of physiques. The white Pony boots, knee-length socks and short shorts. Harry Carpenter with his combover and unmistakeable voice introducing the broadcast. Pour yourself a nice mug of Bovril, grab a 5-4-3-2-1 chocolate bar from the pantry (while your mum isn’t looking) and watch Honeyghan go to work.

The Jamaica-born Londoner scythed through the WBC number one contender, dropping him twice and dishing out the kind of shellacking that made him such a joy to watch. His technique is worth studying: How he leans in with his left shoulder to fire the right uppercut and the manner in which he sets up his rapid-fire hooks to head and body. In his next bout Lloyd dished out a similar beating to division leader, Don Curry.

DID YOU KNOW? The bill also featured wins for Gary Mason, Chris Pyatt, Duke McKenzie (over Charlie Magri) while Michael Watson was upset by James Cook.

WATCH OUT FOR: Honeyghan at his ferocious best. The knockdown in round four is particularly impressive.

4. MUHAMMAD ALI w ko 1 SONNY LISTON
May 25, 1965; Civic Auditorium, Omaha, NE
THERE are three Ali fights to choose from in this particular week in history. His 1966 rematch victory over Henry Cooper and his stoppage of another gutsy Englishman, Richard Dunn, a decade later were more competitive and entertaining outings but we chose the Sonny Liston rematch after finding a gem on YouTube.

You all know how the fight played out inside a high school hockey rink. Liston goes down from an innocuous right hand, Ali – seemingly aware the punch couldn’t have caused such damage – screams over his rival to get up while referee Jersey Joe Walcott loses all control of proceedings. Search for ‘Ali-Liston II Full Film’ and you’ll find a 30-minute show, recorded one week after the fight, that features some brilliant analysis from Howard Cosell, Jimmy Cannon, Jack Dempsey, W.C. Heinz and Rocky Marciano.

DID YOU KNOW? George Chuvalo burst into the ring as Ali celebrated at the end and forcibly shoved his future rival across the ring.

WATCH OUT FOR: Dempsey lamping up a cigarette midway through the broadcast and blowing smoke in Jimmy Cannon’s face.

3. ROBERTO DURAN w ko 14 LOU BIZZARRO
May 23, 1976; County Field House, Erie, PA
NOT a barnburner by any stretch but interesting for a number of reasons. First up is the size of the ring – there were unconfirmed reports that it was as big as 30ft – alongside accusations that the padding was taken out to help Bizzarro stay fleet of foot. There’s also the Duran ‘knockdown’ in round seven that was dismissed by the referee and ignored by commentators. Tagged by a right jab as he rushed in, the lightweight king oh so briefly touched down.

In the end, no matter. Duran was at his calculating and fearsome best, only too happy to give chase to his long-legged challenger. Throughout, the champion exhibits some of the finest ring craft in history. By the 14th round, Bizzarro was exhausted and the finish gruesome and emphatic.

DID YOU KNOW? Duran defeated Saoul Mamby via 10-round decision just 18 days before knocking out Bizzarro.

WATCH OUT FOR: The horrific actions of referee Waldemar Schmidt. His failure to stop the bout earlier was bad enough, but him pushing away Bizzarro’s corner so he could complete the 10-count over the clearly unconscious challenger was criminal.

2. BOB FOSTER w ko 4 DICK TIGER
May 24, 1968; Madison Square Garden, New York
THIS always figures highly on the ‘Greatest KO’ lists with good reason. After being laid out in the fourth round, the dazed Tiger’s description of how he was feeling illustrates what being knocked out does to the brain.

“I do not see everything,” he said. “I do not hear anything. Everything is all quiet, and it is dark. There is no pain, there is no sound. I do not know I was on the floor. Was I on the floor?”

He certainly was. After a decent start in which he forced his way inside, Tiger – dramatically outsized by five pounds and seven inches – was soon out of his depth. The finish in round four from an electric left hook is worth another viewing.

DID YOU KNOW? The event made a loss of $20,800 after the fighters’ purses (Tiger: $100,000, Foster: $79,200) outnumbered the overall gate.

WATCH OUT FOR: The commentators’ amazement at the colour of Sugar Ray Robinson’s jacket as he’s introduced to the crowd before the fight.

1. CARL FROCH w rsf 5 LUCIAN BUTE
May 26, 2012; Nottingham Arena, Nottingham
ONE of the finest displays of Froch’s entire career. Written off by plenty of experts, the Briton was expected to struggle against the unbeaten Bute, particularly as he was coming off a loss to Andre Ward.

But Froch was a revelation. Inside a bouncing Nottingham Arena, “The Cobra” set about his rival like a vegan having a crafty bacon sandwich. Bute tried to fight back. But the punches had no effect. Froch savagely socked the resistance out of his opponent.

By the fourth, Bute looked done. Cut and bedraggled, he answered the bell for round five only to be powered into the ropes where his head was volleyed skywards. After too many years not getting the attention he deserved, Froch had delivered when it mattered most.

DID YOU KNOW? This was the fight that persuaded Sky Sports bosses to listen to Eddie Hearn’s vision for bringing back pay-per-view in the UK.

WATCH OUT FOR: That unforgettable and awkward moment when Hearn realised he’d jumped into the ring to celebrate too soon.

BOXING ON THE BOX
What else to watch this week

KOTV
Get full access to the KOTV archives and weekly show just by signing up to their website. It won’t cost you a thing. A interesting recent addition is the latest fight from Evan Holyfield, the 22-year-old super-welterweight with the legendary heavyweight for a father.

SKY SPORTS
Lots to keep you entertained on the Sky Sports Boxing You Tube channel. When Naz Hit New York, a 25-minute film on Hamed that culminates with his thrilling win over Kevin Kelley is worth a look.

ESPN PLAYER
No Mas is an excellent documentary that tells the story of the Sugar Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran rivalry and that astonishing conclusion to their rematch.

NETFLIX
The early life of Manny Pacquiao is dramatised in Kid Kulafu, a 2015 biopic which stars Buboy Villar as Pacquiao.  

AMAZON
Boxing: In and Out of the Ring was made in 2001 is low on production values but does include some interesting insight from Cedric Kushner, Jay Larkin and others as it focuses on the shady side of the sport.

FURTHER VIEWING
Muhammad Ali w rsf 6 Henry Cooper (1966); Joe Frazier w rtd 4 Ron Stander (1972); Marvin Hagler w ko 4 Wilfred Scypion (1983); Roy Jones Jnr w pts 12 Bernard Hopkins (1993).

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