By Joe Torcello.
1960 – 1969
Floyd Patterson vs. Sonny Liston
September 25, 1962
Although he was the defending champion, Floyd Patterson was expected to lose to the imposing #1 ranked contender – Charles “Sonny” Liston. Past champions including Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano were among the ever-increasing list of believers who saw Liston as the “new breed” of Heavyweight. Liston appeared to have it all – one of the most powerful jabs in the history of the division. Knockout power in either hand. Respectable hand and foot speed. And a cast iron chin.
Moments into the fight, a big left hook dropped Patterson to the canvas. At 2:06 of the 1st round, a new champion was crowned. Ten months later, Liston and Patterson met again in the rematch. Patterson managed to last four seconds longer.
1970 – 1979
Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali
March 8, 1971
Joe Frazier had won universal recognition as the Heavyweight Champion of the world after Muhammad Ali was banned from fighting in the USA. Ali had been convicted of draft evasion after he refused to serve in the military. From that moment, Frazier was determined to show that he deserved the title and was the “true” Champion of the world. In 1970, Ali’s sentence was overturned and he returned to action with a tune-up bout against Jerry Quarry. Ali stopped Quarry on a bad cut in the 3rd round.
Next was possibly the most anticipated fight in the history of the sport. It was called, the “Fight of the Century” and it was an all out war from the opening bell. Frazier floored Ali in the final round with a sweeping left hook. Ali was able to make it to his feet and heard the final bell. Frazier took the fight on all three scorecards and had retained his title.
Although they would meet twice more, nothing before or since has matched the pure drama and anticipation – leading into this fight. On this night, Joe Frazier became “the” Heavyweight Champion of the World.
1980 – 1989
Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns
April 15, 1985
When the smoke cleared – 7 minutes and 52 seconds after the bell began the fight of the decade, Marvin Hagler had retained his Middleweight title by an electrifying 3rd round TKO. It was a Superfight in every sense of the word. Old timers who remembered great fights and fighters all the way back to the 1930’s stood in awe of what was one of the most brutal three rounds in the history of boxing. The first round of the fight was arguably the most exciting round ever fought.
From the build-up to the fight itself, 15 rounds of action were compressed into three rounds of wild mayhem. Hagler suffered a very bad cut over the right eye. Hearns broke to bones in his right hand.
On April 15, 1985… Hagler and Hearns pounded their way into boxing lore.