A boxing history deep-dive: 6 of the most epic rivalries of all time

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Sure, the boxing world is still filled with plenty of ongoing rivalries and epic fights. But over the course of boxing history, a few select pairs have had us on the edges of our seats like few others. Are you feeling a bit underwhelmed by current fighters, and do you not have much planned for the summer? Then why not find a shady spot in your garden and sit down to watch some good, old throwback fights. To inspire your watchlist, we’ve compiled some of the greatest boxing rivalries of all time below. Happy watching!

Ted Lewis vs. Jack Britton: 

Starting off with a pair from way back, there are unfortunately no recordings of brawls between these two. We couldn’t not include them, though, considering how they faced off no less than 20 (!) times. As Mike Tyson said about Lewis: “You rate a fighter by longevity, and for years Ted Lewis beat the greatest American fighters”.

Harry Greb vs. Gene Tunney: 

Some of the greatest rivalries also result in a unique bond of mutual respect, and this was most certainly true for Harry Greb and Gene Tunney. Tunney retired in 1928 having only ever lost to Greb in what was truly a horror show of a fight – and when Greb died prematurely, Tunney served as pall-bearer at the funeral.

Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier: 

No pair set the standard for epic boxing rivalries quite like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. They famously fought what was dubbed “The Fight of the Century”, perfectly demonstrating two extremes – brazen trash talk vs. humility, power vs. speed – in a clash like no other. Like the previous pair, they truly respected each other, and Ali was even quoted saying he’d want Frazier with him in a holy war.

Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield: 

When Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield met in the ring, it had been a long time coming. They originally met and trained alongside each other while both were trying to get on the Olympic team way back in 1984, sharing a mutual respect for the other’s skills. Both went on to become world champions, with audiences seeing their fights as epic matches between “good” (Holyfield) and “evil” (Tyson, the ex-con).

Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez: 

These two were truly a joy to watch in the ring. Few other pairs were ever as equally matched as Pacquiao and Marquez, and in a fight between them, anything could happen. Providing one-punch knockouts, knockdowns en masse and plenty of blood, they never ceased to entertain when facing off – and, with some predicting a return for Pacquiao, this rivalry is still very much relevant today.

Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward: What happens when you fight your twin?

“Irish” Micky Ward used to ask himself this question – but once he crossed paths with Arturo Gatti, he didn’t have to wonder anymore. In a trilogy to remember, the two gave each other their absolute all, resulting in 30 truly brutal rounds and a friendship for the ages.

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