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Fights of the Year

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These are bouts that were rated as the top fights of the year by ring magazine.  They are some of the best fights of all time.

Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) vs Doug Jones - 1963 Fight of the Year

 On March 13, 1963 in Madison Square Garden, Clay won a close
decision over Doug Jones in 10 rounds.  Few fights have generated more myths than the March 13, 1963 bout at Madison Square Garden between heavyweight contenders Cassius Clay and Doug Jones. To hear some people tell it, Clay was given a gift decision. Jones kept hurting him with rights, they say. Jones was too slippery for Clay to hit. Jones nearly knocked Clay out with a right in the first round. Jones would have had a knockdown if the ropes hadn't kept Clay from spilling to the canvas. On and on it goes.  See what you think.

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Muhammad Ali vs Sonny Liston 1 - 1964 Fight of the Year

MIAMI BEACH, Feb. 25 - Incredibly, the loud-mouthed bragging, insulting youngster had been telling the truth all along. Cassius Clay won the world heavyweight title tonight when a bleeding Sonny Liston, his left shoulder injured, was unable to answer the bell for the seventh round.  Immediately after he had been announced as the new heavyweight champion of the world, Clay yelled to newsmen covering the fight: "Eat your words." Only three of 46 sports writers covering the fight had picked him to win. A crowd of 8,297, on it's feet through the early rounds at Convention Hall, sat stunned during the one-minute rest period between the sixth and seventh rounds. Only Clay seemed to know what had happened; he threw up his hands and danced a little jig in the center of the ring.

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Joe Frazier vs Jerry Quarry - 1969 Fight of the Year

1969 Joe Frazier KO7 Jerry Quarry

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Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier 1 - 1971 Fight of the Year

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Fight #1: "The Fight of The Century"  there remains one fight that truly lived up to it's billing. The first contest between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier was simply called "The Fight of the Century." To this day, the billing rings true. When Ali challenged Frazier at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971, the ramifications reached far beyond the boxing ring. America had just emerged from the turbulent 1960s and the nation was divided. Ali was still held in contempt by much of the country. He was viewed as a brash, draft-dodging, Muslim who embodied the defiance and spirit of both the anti-war movement and the radical chic. Frazier -- who read the Bible and liked to sing -- was held up as the conscientious, blue-collar champion. THE SHOWDOWN was the most anticipated heavyweight title fight since Joe Louis defeated Max Schmeling in their 1938 rematch at Yankee Stadium. It remains a night to remember. Of those who participated that evening, seven have been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. They are Ali, Frazier, referee Arthur Mercante, matchmaker Teddy Brenner, Garden president Harry Markson, Ali's trainer Angelo Dundee, Frazier's trainer Eddie Futch and a broadcast team that included Don Dunphy and Archie Moore. Futch, a six-decade veteran of the sweet science, has said he has never seen a night like it before or since. There were more than 700 working press credentials issued for the fight and at least 500 more were turned down. The fight was a happening with celebrities such as Barbra Streisand, Bill Cosby, Sammy Davis Jr. and Hugh Hefner sitting ringside. Dustin Hoffman and Diana Ross were chased out of the press section but Frank Sinatra had a position along the ring apron as a photographer for Life Magazine. The fight was unique in that for the first time in history it matched an unbeaten former heavyweight champion against the unbeaten current champ. Ali was stripped of his title after refusing induction into the Army in 1967. Since he had not lost the crown in the ring, he proclaimed himself the People's Champion. As he entered the ring against Frazier, his record stood at 31-0 with 25 knockouts. The showdown between Ali and Frazier was the only fight that mattered and the participants were each compensated with a guaranteed purse of $2.5 million, a record at the time. The Garden was sold out a full month before the fight and ringside tickets were going for a record $150. Mercante recalled being in awe of the atmosphere, which included Hollywood stars and national politicians as well as former champions Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey. The night was simply electric. Once the fighting started, it got even better. IF STYLES make fights, then there has never been a pair of fighters who complemented each other more. Ali was the boxer and Frazier the puncher. The key to Ali's success was his speed. He possessed lightning-fast hands and had a left jab that could dictate a fight. He also had enough agility and footwork to escape danger. Frazier's best punch was a devastating left hook but his greatest asset might have been his indomitable will. A fight with Joe Frazier was a war of attrition. It was a war he was used to winning. Ali weighed 215 pounds. Frazier weighed 205˝. From the opening bell it appeared that inactivity caused Ali to lose a touch of his hand and footspeed. He chose to stand flatfooted and go to war on the champion's terms. It might not have been the best strategy, but it made for marvelous action. For 15 furious rounds, Frazier stalked Ali with his sweeping left hook while Ali countered by flashing his jab and stiff left-right combinations. They fought at a pace that seemed more accustomed to lightweights. Ali predicted a sixth-round knockout but it was Frazier who carried Round 6. He pinned Ali to the ropes and battered the former champion to the head and body. Ali remained on the ropes and absorbed punishment, offering only token resistance. He launched three pitter-patter punchers as if he were playing "Patty Cake" with the champion. Later, Mercante would remark that Ali gave away rounds, such as the sixth. At one point in the eighth round, Mercante instructed him to fight. The momentum changed in the ninth round when Ali backed Frazier up under a barrage of left-right combinations. They traded blows until the bell and the round was a clear statement from Ali -- it's not over yet. However, it would nearly end in the 11th. With 49 seconds left in that round, Ali was trapped in a corner and then rocked by a Frazier hook. Another hook buckled Ali's knees as he fell into the ropes. Ali stumbled across the ring with Frazier in pursuit. He was talking to Frazier and taunting him, never letting on how hurt he really was. Amazingly, Ali would survive the round. Frazier put an exclamation mark on the night at 2:34 of the 15th round. As Ali prepared to launch a right uppercut, Frazier unloaded a left hook and dropped Ali. Again, Ali would survive the round, but the fight was already lost. The scoring by rounds was as follows: Judge Artie Aidala, 9-6 for Frazier. Judge Bill Recht, 11-4 for Frazier. Mercante had it 8-6, with one even round, for Frazier. THE FIGHT was witnessed by 20,455 at the Garden and it has been estimated that 300 million more watched it across the world on closed-circuit television. The live gate generated $1.3 million. Ali and Frazier set the standard that night at the Garden. They would meet two more times and their rivalry stands as one of boxing's most dramatic trilogies. Boxers will forever battle punchers, but few will do it with the skill, grace, courage and determination of Ali and Frazier. They brought the best out of each other and out of the sport of boxing.

Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman - 1974 Fight of the Year

 

"The Rumble In The Jungle"  On October 30th, 1974 Ali tangles with Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire -- the "Rumble in the Jungle". Ali is a 3-1 underdog, and many actually fear for his safety against perhaps the hardest puncher in heavyweight title history. But Ali is in tremendous shape, and he has spotted a weakness in Foreman's armor. Letting Foreman punch himself out by employing his now famous "rope-a-dope", Ali covers up on the ropes as Foreman exhausts himself before the fight is even half over. In the eighth round, Ali comes off the ropes and stuns Foreman with a combination, dropping him in the center of the ring where he is counted out with two seconds left in the round. Again Ali has done the impossible, as he becomes only the second man to ever regain the heavyweigt crown.

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Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier 3 - 1975 Fight of the Year

"The Thrilla in Manila"  Oct. 1, 1975: Ali beats Frazier in Thrilla.  Joe Frazier had won the first bout and Muhammad Ali the second. It's 10:45 a.m. in the Philippines when their rubber match, "The Thrilla in Manila," starts, and the fight lives up to the hype. The bout is really three fights in one: The first has Ali outboxing and outscoring Frazier, nailing him with clean, sharp shots. The second fight, from the fifth through the 11th rounds, has Frazier pounding the champion terribly. The third fight starts in the 12th and somehow Ali, with the will of a champion, tears into Frazier for the next three rounds. When the bell rings for the 15th round, Frazier, with his eyes almost completely shut, stays in his corner as his trainer, Eddie Futch, throws in the towel. Later, Frazier says, "Man, I hit him with punches that'd bring down the walls of a city. Lawdy, lawdy, he's a great champion." Ali says of the fight, "It was like death. Closest thing to dying that I know of."

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Muhammad Ali vs Leon Spinks 1 - 1978 Fight of the Year

 

Fights of the Year in my collection

1963 Cassius Clay W10 Doug Jones

1964 Muhammad Ali KO7 Sonny Liston

1969 Joe Frazier KO7 Jerry Quarry

1971 Joe Frazier W15 Muhammad Ali - The Fight of the Century

1973 George Foreman KO2 Joe Frazier

1974 Muhammad Ali KO8 George Foreman - The Rumble in the Jungle

1975 Muhammad Ali KO14 Joe Frazier - Thrilla in Manila

1976 George Foreman KO4 Ron Lyle

1977 Jimmy Young W12 George Foreman

1978 Leon Spinks W15 Muhammad Ali

1980 Muhammad vs Lopez II - Added December, 2008

1981 Sugar Ray Leonard KO14 Thomas Hearns

1982 Chacon vs Limon - Added December, 2008

1983 Chacon vs Edwards II - Added December, 2008

1984 Ramirez vs Rosario II - Added December, 2008

1985 Marvin Hagler KO3 Thomas Hearns - The War

1986 Cruz vs McGuigan - Added December, 2008

1987 Sugar Ray Leonard W12 Marvin Hagler

1988 Lockridge vs Lopez I - Added December, 2008

1989 Roberto Duran W12 Iran Barkley

1990 Julio César Chávez KO12 Meldrick Taylor (fight #1) - Thunder Meets Lightening

1992 Riddick Bowe W12 Evander Holyfield

1994 Jorge Castro KO9 John David Jackson

1996 Evander Holyfield KO11 Mike Tyson (Also Wilson Rodriguez vs Arturo Gatti - also considered 1996 Fight of the Year by some - Dropped in round three and with his right eye closing fast, Gatti knocked out Rodriguez in round six to retain the title.)

1997 Arturo Gatti KO5 Gabriel Ruelas

1998 Ivan Robinson W10 Arturo Gatti (fight #1)

2000 Erik Morales W12 Marco Antonio Barrera

2002 Micky Ward W10 Arturo Gatti (fight #1)

2003 Arturo Gatti W10 Micky Ward (fight #3)

1980-1989 FOTY 5 Disc set