Boxing is actually one of the oldest sports to have ever been played, and it’s remarkable how the sport has withstood the test of time.
Its roots are traced all the way back to 688 BC, with fighters engaging in bare-knuckle boxing back in Ancient Greece. The more modern form of the sport that we know today has also been around for quite some time — over a century, in fact. It began in 1904 in the United States, and in its early days, it was one of the most popular sports out there, with boxing biggest fights.
There was also prizefighting in London, a few hundreds of years before it came to the United States. The Marquess of Queensbury Rules, established in 1867, called for amateur championships across a few different weights — lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight. This establishment of weight classes paved the way for boxing in the United States just a few years later.
Boxing really peaked in the United States in the 1960s-1990s, with the greatest boxer of all time — Muhammad Ali — completely captivating the world with his unique, dominant fighting style. Not only that, he injected politics into the sport as well, which, during a period of civil unrest, made a lot of sense, and resonated with many people. As Ali’s popularity began to fade, around the time of his last fight in 1980, it was only a few years until power-puncher Mike Tyson entered the boxing world — with a bang. Tyson was arguably the most powerful and vicious knockout artist the sport ever saw, and his 50 wins (44 by knockout) and only 6 losses spoke for itself.
Tyson was involved in some of the best rematches the sport ever saw as well. His first title-defending fight against Evander Holyfield had been rumored for quite some time, but finally took place in 1996. It was so entertaining, that the two agreed to a rematch just one year later. That fight had it all, ending in Tyson getting disqualified for biting Holyfield’s ear. His title was stripped, and his license was rescinded by Nevada State Athletic Commission as well. He never really recovered, as the two years he spent out of the ring had a negative impact on him, and Tyson could never revert to his dynamic, dominant form of old.
Circling back to Ali, he was involved in a great rematch as well. The bout between him and Joe Frazier in 1971 was one of the best of all time. It was so good that the two agreed to duke it out again in 1974, as Ali looked to get revenge against the guy who knocked him out in the past. Frazier had just lost his title belt to George Foreman, so he was reeling as well. In the end, Ali fought one of his more strategic fights, and emerged victorious by unanimous decision.
There were a few other great rematches as well, with the third and final fight between Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti being highly entertaining. Rocky Graziano and Tony Zale had some great bouts as well, dominating the sports headlines after World War II, and their second fight was a great rematch. Lastly, the rematch between Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe was critically acclaimed, as the first bout between the two was one of the best of the ‘90s. The second did not disappoint, either.
Part of what makes boxing so great is its heavily-hyped rematches, and these five really stood out.