To set the mood for tomorrow’s 147lb unifier between WBC boss Danny Garcia and WBA counterpart Keith Thurman (screened live on BoxNation), Glynn Evans reminds us of seven previous occasions when reigning 10st 7lb champions settled their debate the only place that matters, between the ropes!
Sugar Ray Leonard vs Tommy Hearns, Las Vegas, September 1981
A sell-out 23,618 packed the car park at Caesars Palace ans a worldwide TV audience estimated at 300million tuned in to witness ‘The Showdown’.
The skeletal Hearns, just 22, had iced 30 of his 32 victims en route to lifting the WBA belt whilst ‘The Sugarman’, 25, had only ceded to Roberto Duran’s stone hands during a 31 fight career that included two terms on the WBC throne.
In a titanic tear-up, the 6ft 2in Hitman defied expectation by utilising his physical advantages to pummel Ray temporarily blind in the left eye. After 12 rounds, Leonard was well adrift on all three cards.
However, the sweet one gave proof that he had plenty of steel to supplement the silk and, galvanised by some epic cornerwork from Angelo Dundee, clubbed the wilting Detroit willow to the canvas twice in round 13, before overwhelming him a round later in Ring magazine’s ‘Fight of the Year.’
Donald Curry vs Milton McCrory, Las Vegas, December 1985
‘Lone Star Cobra’ Curry, from Fort Worth Texas, had won 23 straight whilst accumulating the WBA and IBF belts and, at 24, was already being touted as heir apparent to the (temporarily) retired Ray Leonard.
In the opposite corner, 6ft 1in WBC czar ‘Milt the Stilt’ AKA ‘The Iceman’ , was undefeated in 28 with 22 of the Kronkman’s victims failing to make it through.
[Image credit: The Fight City]
The pair split $1.5 million equally for what was promoted as ‘The Toss Up’ but, as usual, the bookmakers who enlisted Curry as a 4-1 on favourite, called it right. Curry stormed out in an almighty hurry to drop the Detroiter with a crackling left hook mid way through round two, before sending him soundly to sleep with the other glove moments after.
Felix Trinidad vs Oscar De La Hoya, Las Vegas, September 1999
‘The Fight of the Millennium’ pitched 35-0 (30) IBF king ‘Tito’ Trinidad from Puerto Rico against 31-0 (25) Californian ‘Golden Boy’ De La Hoya in a set-to that seemed certain to sizzle for the 1.4million PPV punters who shelled out a non-heavyweight record of $71 million.
Sadly, it didn’t. WBC boss De La Hoya – already a five weight, four division world champion – boxed and foxed his way into a tidy early lead. However, mistakenly assuming he was out of sight, he eased off the gas and got stuck in reverse gear down the stretch.
[Image credit: Boxing News Online]
The anticipated fireworks failed to fizzle and Trinidad eloped with a highly contentious majority decision after a dozen drab rounds.
Ricardo Mayorga vs Vernon Forrest, Temecula, California, January 2003
They say a master boxer will always beat a pure puncher but here is the evidence to guard against such complacency.
IBF boss Forrest, a former Olympian and world amateur medallist from Atlanta possessed a classical talent and entered unbeaten in 36.
[Image credit: The Sweet Science]
Conversely, Nicaragua’s trash talking, cigar chomping, butt slapping Mayorga had triumphed in just 23 of 28 en route to the WBA crown. Billed as ‘El Matador’, he was actually the roughest bull ever to romp through a china shop and owned a crass but extremely potent right hand swing.
And that was all he required. Heavy connections in rounds one and three put ‘The Viper’ in a crumbled heap with and left the man from Managua free to drown himself in celebratory liquor, after barely eight minutes action.
Cory Spinks vs Ricardo Mayorga, Atlantic City, December 2003
Next up, the Latin barbarian set about completing his belt collection by mugging Spinks of his IBF strap when the planet’s premier 147lbers met for all the marbles at The Boardwalk Hall.
[Image credit: Boxnews]
Son of ex world heavyweight champion Leon Spinks – and dubbed ‘Next Generation’ long before Chris Eubank Jr embarked on some nickname pilfering – the super sly St Louis southpaw was making a maiden defence of the belt he’d imported from Italy’s Michelle Piccirillo in Lombardia, nine months earlier.
On this occasion caveman Mayorga struggled to find a home for his agricultural slugs and – docked a crucial two marks from transgressions in rounds five and 11 – he conceded his belts on a majority to the evasive and baiting Spinks after 12 rounds better suited to a bullring than a prizering.
Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Marcos Maidana, Las Vegas, May 2014
Entering with a resume that already listed nine world titles across five divisions, the one time ‘Pretty Boy’, enjoying his second reign on the WBC welter throne, was made to look pretty average by Santa Fe swinger Maidana at the MGM Grand.
In his previous gig, the potent punching Latino – 31 stoppage wins in 38 - had delighted the sport’s purists by administering a long overdue spanking to petulant ‘Problem’ Adrien Broner to bag recognition as the WBA champ.
‘Money’ man Floyd entered as a 12-1 favourite but, by the time they entered the battle zone, the rehydrated Maidana enjoyed a 17lb weight advantage and his Argie bargie ring manner caused Mayweather several uncomfortable moments. Floyd prevailed on a majority after 12 rounds, but ‘El Chino’ left with the satisfaction of joining Oscar De La Hoya and ‘Canelo’ Alvarez as the only opponents to have divided the judges in Mayweather’s 49-0 career.
Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Manny Pacquiao, Las Vegas, 2015
The ‘Fight of the Century’ finally occurred five years past its sell by date but still generated a 4.6 million pay-per-view take up and a whopping $400 million!
Between them, these ring gods shared 17 world titles spanning 10 divisions and, when they finally clashed at the MGM, Mayweather was gambling his WBA Super and WBC belts against the Pacman’s WBO strap.
Alas. 36 minutes of tepid sparring ensued with Pacquiao bleating that he’d been compromised by a torn rotator cuff. Regardless his promoter Bob Arum still hollowed that the Filipino had won by seven rounds to five and both The Daily Mail and LA Times scored the fight a draw. The realists – which thankfully included the three judges – knew Mayweather romped it. He departed with a clear unanimous decision and the punters left feeling decidedly short-changed.
Watch Danny Garcia v Keith Thurman live on BoxNation on Saturday 4th March.