Eighty Epic Fights – The Best Battles From The Eighties (Part One)

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The Nineteen Eighties have been a monumental decade in politics, pop music and, in fact, in boxing. Certainly, the eighties stand out for the sheer quantity of thrilling battles, to not point out the excessive variety of “superfights” which turned big crossover points of interest. This was the period of the legendary “4 Kings” — Hagler, Duran, Hearns and Leonard — of Larry Holmes and Aaron Pryor, of prime Mike Tyson, of the indomitable Bobby Chacon, and of such warriors as Alexis Arguello, Salvador Sanchez, Azumah Nelson, Michael Spinks, Jeff Fenech and Julio Cesar Chavez. Dwelling as much as the requirements set within the Seventies, a golden decade for heavyweight superfights, was no imply feat, however the ring wars of the eighties maintain their very own compared to the glory days of Ali, Frazier, Norton and Foreman.

Pryor vs Arguello: an eighties “superfight.”

The coronavirus lockdown offered us with the proper excuse to delve into boxing’s again catalogue and uncover, or rediscover, essentially the most memorable, dramatic and action-packed clashes from that loopy decade. This isn’t a rating and the bouts are listed right here in random order. They run the gamut, from violent slugfests, to surprising knockouts, to tragic battles, to exhibitions of nice ability and expertise. Some have been “superfights,” some have been contested in entrance of some thousand and barely get talked about now, whereas others have solely grown in stature within the years since. The listing just isn’t supposed to be definitive or exhaustive, however in the event you discover a higher one, do tell us! Word: the hyperlinks take you both on to a video of the combat, or to a publish that has the video embedded. Take pleasure in! And hold on for Half Two tomorrow.

1980
Roberto Duran vs Sugar Ray Leonard I: With only one loss between them in 99 fights, Duran vs Leonard was destined to be one of many decade’s most iconic fights. A showdown between fashionable greats whose legends would solely develop within the years that adopted, “The Brawl in Montreal” was fifteen rounds of ferocious but extremely expert fight, with the tireless Panamanian placing on the efficiency of a lifetime and handing Sugar Ray his first defeat.

Ray and Roberto gave us an all-time nice brawl.

Sean O’Grady vs Hilmer Kenty: The primary world champion from Detroit’s legendary Kronk Fitness center was being groomed for stardom by community tv however he needed to get previous “The Bubblegum Child,” and that proved very tough. An action-packed battle noticed O’Grady rating a knockdown and outwork Kenty within the late rounds to take a unanimous fifteen spherical determination.

Salvador Sanchez vs Danny Lopez I: Most tuning in to the CBS Sports activities broadcast have been anticipating to see Danny Lopez notch yet one more dramatic KO win on nationwide tv. As a substitute, they noticed a generational expertise announce himself, because the gifted “Chava” masterfully dominated “Little Purple,” stopping him in spherical 13 of an entertaining if one-sided bout.

Mike Weaver vs John Tate: A serious upset and one of the dramatic knockout wins in boxing historical past. Additionally a rattling good heavyweight combat.

Tate jabs Weaver.

Shigeo Nakajima vs Sung-Jun Kim: Japan’s Nakajima set a torrid tempo to take his Korean rival’s world title by unanimous determination in a 15 spherical firefight. It was a bloody, action-packed brawl, each males minimize and bleeding, and the motion didn’t let up till the ultimate bell.

Eusebio Pedroza vs Rocky Lockridge I: It was youth vs expertise, to not point out Panama vs America on reside nationwide tv. The younger Lockridge impressed everybody together with his bravery and hustle, together with Pedroza, however the veteran champ got here on robust within the late rounds to eke out a detailed factors win.

Matthew Saad Muhammad vs Yaqui Lopez II: Arguably essentially the most thrilling combat in mild heavyweight historical past, Saad Muhammad and Lopez wrung each final ounce of vitality out of themselves on this rematch. Regardless of struggling a barrage of some thirty unanswered haymakers in a jaw-dropping eighth spherical, Muhammad regrouped to ship Lopez crashing to the ground 4 instances in spherical fourteen.

Saad Muhammad and Yaqui go to struggle.

Randall Cobb vs Earnie Shavers: On the undercard of Thomas Hearns vs Pipino Cuevas, Cobb did his greatest Matthew Saad Muhammad impersonation, consuming tons of brutal pictures, one way or the other surviving, after which coming again to win in a grueling massive man brawl. Contemplating that Shavers is arguably the toughest puncher in division historical past, this was no small feat. Nice heavyweight slugfest.

Mike Weaver vs Gerrie Coetzee: Between bouts of clinching and mauling, Weaver vs Coetzee delivered loads of fireworks, with each massive males unloading megaton punches with unhealthy intentions. After dominating the early rounds, Coetzee ran out of steam earlier than being iced with a blistering counter proper hand in spherical 13.

Lupe Pintor vs Johnny Owen: Given his benefits in peak and attain, many anticipated Welshman Owen to attempt to field the defending bantamweight champ who clearly had the sting in uncooked energy. However “The Merthyr Matchstick” bravely took the combat to the Mexican and the outcome was an thrilling, two-way battle till Owen started to tire and the stronger Pintor took over. The courageous challenger went down for the rely in spherical twelve and needed to be carried from the ring on a stretcher. He by no means regained consciousness and died six weeks later.

Courageous Johnny Owen takes the combat to Pintor.

Bobby Chacon vs Rafael Limon III: It might now be overshadowed by their fourth battle, however Chacon vs Limon III was superior in its personal proper: a kind of hot-blooded Inglewood Discussion board brawls that lingers lengthy within the reminiscence of those that witnessed it. Each warriors have been damage in a torrid fourth, however after ten tight rounds, Chacon was given a cut up determination to avenge his 1975 defeat of their first assembly.

Leo Randolph vs Ricardo Cardona: An absolute struggle made solely extra thrilling for the actual fact it was waged in entrance of Randolph’s dwelling state followers in Seattle and on nationwide tv. Defending champ Cardona figured to have the sting together with his higher expertise, but it surely was the Colombian who discovered himself in deep water within the late rounds as gold medalist Randolph joined his 1976 Olympic brethren together with his personal world title win.

Lupe Pintor vs Albert Davila II: Broadcast reside as a supporting act for the tape-delay broadcast of Leonard vs Duran II, Pintor efficiently defended his bantamweight title however not earlier than Davila gave him all he may deal with over fifteen spirited rounds.

1981
Sugar Ray Leonard vs Ayub Kalule: Combat followers couldn’t wait to see Sugar Ray tackle fellow welterweight champ “Hit Man” Hearns however that’s precisely what they needed to do as Leonard opted to problem Kalule for his 154 pound belt. Most anticipated a straightforward win for boxing’s latest and largest star, however as a substitute they bought an engrossing shoot-out as Ray elected to face his floor and commerce with the skilled African earlier than his massive weapons determined the match in spherical 9.

Kalule down on the finish of spherical 9.

Cornelius Boza-Edwards vs Rafael Limon: “Bazooka” Limon loses the title belt he had gained simply three months earlier than with a TKO win over Idelfonso Bethelmy as Boza-Edwards is the simpler fighter in a hellacious fifteen spherical struggle, one of many all-time best southpaw vs southpaw fights.

William “Caveman” Lee vs John LoCicero: Caveman Lee’s ferocious Detroit dust-up with John LoCicero noticed neither warrior give inch nor quarter, every buying and selling within the pocket for all the combat. Spherical 5 noticed LoCicero rise at 9 from a heavy knockdown, badly damage Lee, then get worn out with a brief left hook.

Salvador Sanchez vs Wilfredo Gomez: The Battle of the Little Giants is probably the usual bearer for Mexico vs Puerto Rico grudge matches. KO machine Gomez deliberate to blast Sanchez into orbit, however regardless of urgent regularly, he couldn’t match the versatile champion who picked him off en path to an electrifying eighth spherical TKO.

Gomez and Sanchez rumble.

Ray Mancini vs Alexis Arguello: Leaping in with a three-weight world champion and fashionable nice is one factor. Doing so on the tender age of twenty, with simply twenty bouts behind you, is one other. Mancini’s inconceivable bid for glory on nationwide tv lastly got here to an finish in spherical fourteen after a outstanding and bloody encounter.

Sugar Ray Leonard vs Thomas Hearns I: A much-hyped unification match between welterweight supremos, Leonard vs Hearns I had every thing: momentum shifts, passages of slick boxing, energy punches and a dramatic comeback finale. By turning the tide and stopping his adversary in spherical 14, Sugar Ray – who at instances had been outboxed and outfought – cemented his greatness.

The Showdown: Leonard vs Hearns I.

Rafael Pedroza vs Gustavo Ballas: An under-the-radar struggle that deserved to be within the operating for Combat Of The Yr for 1981. Pedroza and Ballas battled continuous at a livid tempo for fifteen rounds in Panama Metropolis. The shut determination went to Pedroza, however this was an excellent, back-and-forth donnybrook and a credit score to each proud warriors.

Aaron Pryor vs DuJuan Johnson: Pryor’s death-or-glory title protection towards unbeaten Kronk fighter DuJuan Johnson was sensational. It began oddly although, with Pryor dancing Ali-style around the ring. Then Johnson dropped him with a flush proper, Pryor popped up, did the Ali shuffle and instantly went to struggle. After arguably dropping the primary 5, “Hawk” proved his class and pounded Johnson into submission within the seventh.

Cornelius Boza-Edwards vs Bobby Chacon I: “The Schoolboy” sought to regain the title he had misplaced to Alexis Arguello, however Boza-Edwards was too good on this night time. Chacon had his moments although, rocking his man within the first and ninth and usually being a nuisance till fatigue, a nasty gash and his opponent’s relentless assaults prompted his nook to name it off after spherical 13.

Bobby Chacon and Cornelius Boza-Edwards.

1982 
Katsuo Tokashiki vs Lupe Madera I: Fifteen rounds of high-volume motion noticed Tokashiki take a controversial factors win to retain his mild flyweight title.

Alexis Arguello vs Andy Ganigan: Challenger Ganigan, aka “The Hawaiian Punch,” may crack and he proved it when he rocked champion Alexis and decked him in spherical one. However Arguello stormed again to overwhelm his harmful foe and cease him within the sixth.

Rolando Navarette vs Chung-Il Choi: WBC tremendous featherweight champ Navarette defended his title towards Korea’s Chung-Il Choi and the end result was one other “Thrilla in Manila,” a continuous struggle with a number of knockdowns earlier than the Filipino lastly triumphed in spherical eleven and each males lay on the canvas in exhaustion.

Salvador Sanchez vs Azumah Nelson: It’s becoming that the ultimate stand of Salvador Sanchez generously showcased his ability and bravado. A month earlier than his premature demise aged 23, the grasp boxer-puncher turned again African wildcard Nelson in an exhilarating brawl, surviving a number of heavy raids to cease the boxer who would later be known as “The Professor,” to not point out Africa’s best fighter, in spherical fourteen.

In his closing combat, Sanchez turns again the problem of Azumah Nelson.

Frank Fletcher vs Clint Jackson: One in a sequence of action-packed slugfests involving Frank “The Animal” Fletcher on nationwide tv. The irrepressible Fletcher initiated an intense donnybrook from the opening bell and Jackson was very happy to reply in variety. Combat followers bought twelve action-packed rounds of wonderful back-and-forth slugging and Philadelphia’s Fletcher bought the choice.

Aaron Pryor vs Alexis Arguello I: An important combat and a fantastic story, Aaron Pryor vs Alexis Arguello should undoubtedly be added to any eighties boxing time capsule. Searching for to be the primary boxer to win titles in 4 weight divisions, the Nicaraguan’s ring-craft and measured boxing have been ultimately outmatched by Pryor’s vitality, power and ruthlessness.

Wilfredo Gomez vs Lupe Pintor: Not solely did Pintor and Gomez prolong the endless Mexico vs Puerto Rico turf struggle, they took it to new heights. A macho showdown between reigning world champions, this epic battle was replete with attritional exchanges, Pintor combining sharp boxing with outright slugging earlier than Gomez’s thunderous energy proved the ace card.

Pintor and Gomez gave us one of many nice Mexico vs Puerto Rico wars.

Rafael Limon vs Rolando Navarette: This conflict of southpaw energy punchers was broadcast on free nationwide tv as a result of that’s how they rolled within the eighties, people. Put collectively a fantastic combat; put it on free TV; make extra boxing followers. Anyway, Limon and Navarette didn’t disappoint as they placed on a tough and tumble affair earlier than Limon bought again the title he had misplaced to Cornelius Boza Edwards with a clear KO in spherical twelve.

Frank Fletcher vs Tony Braxton: “There’s no such factor as a straightforward combat for Frank,” mentioned promoter J. Russell Peltz and more true phrases have been by no means spoken. Philadelphia’s Fletcher out-worked and out-lasted Braxton to get a unanimous determination in a crowd-pleasing brawl, however straightforward it undoubtedly was not.

Larry Holmes vs Gerry Cooney: One of many greatest showdowns in boxing historical past to that time, Holmes vs Cooney generated a reside gate of seven million {dollars} and a complete haul of over forty million. As for the combat, it was aggressive and theatrical, Cooney gallantly surviving a knockdown within the second and giving Holmes all he may deal with earlier than succumbing within the late levels.

Holmes vs Cooney was a heavyweight superfight.

Ray Mancini vs Duk Koo Kim: Watching this pivotal slugfest once more, a match which had a profound affect on the game, provokes uncomfortable feelings, however Ray Mancini’s deadly rumble with South Korean challenger Duk Koo Kim was unforgettable. An incandescent struggle between lightweights on reside nationwide tv, it ended tragically in spherical fourteen when Kim collapsed and needed to be carried from the ring on a stretcher. He by no means regained consciousness.

Bobby Chacon vs Rafael Limon IV: The fourth assembly between sluggers Bobby Chacon and Rafael Limon was a real-life Rocky combat. No shock given their shared historical past, however this one eclipsed all that had come earlier than. After recovering from knockdowns within the third and tenth, Chacon closely dropped his rival within the closing spherical to win a detailed unanimous determination. Some reckon it was the best combat of all time.

Chacon vs Limon: the ultimate chapter.

1983
Milton McCrory vs Colin Jones I: Sugar Ray Leonard had retired and so the WBC had Welshman Jones and Detroit’s McCrory battle for his or her vacant title. The outcome was a extremely aggressive battle with McCrory taking the early rounds and Jones successful the late ones and the judges tabbing it a draw. The rematch 5 months later noticed McCrory rating a gap spherical knockdown and eke out a cut up determination win.

Lenny LaPaglia vs John Collins: A throwback, crosstown rivalry combat between undefeated Chicago prospects. As in days of yore, the ethnic factions turned up in massive numbers to again their man, with the Irish cheering for Collins and the Italians rooting for LaPaglia. The outcome was an action-packed battle in entrance of a sell-out crowd and Collins getting the choice.

Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs Roberto Duran: Few anticipated the middleweight incarnation of Duran to pose Hagler many issues, even when he’d appeared nice in his previous bouts with Davey Moore and Pipino Cuevas. Then “Palms of Stone” turned in a classic exhibiting, using his smarts and counter punching to nice impact earlier than the larger man discovered his groove and pulled away down the stretch.

Duran vs Hagler: a conflict of greats.

Larry Holmes vs Tim Witherspoon: Few sporting spectacles are as massive as an open-air heavyweight title combat. Larry Holmes eked out a factors win over proficient challenger Tim Witherspoon, who virtually managed to drag off a well-known upset. Although Holmes was busier, “Horrible Tim” damage the champ early and late and felt aggrieved by the decision.

Aaron Pryor vs Alexis Arguello II: The bit between his tooth, Arguello fought fireplace with fireplace on this spectacular rematch, unloading heavy straight rights and physique pictures in a bid to discourage the irrepressible Pryor and avenge his defeat from the 12 months earlier than. Whereas Alexis staggered “Hawk” greater than as soon as, the person from Cincinnati’s energy and tempo yielded three knockdowns and a career-defining tenth spherical knockout win.

Pryor and Arguello gave us one other superb battle.

Rocky Lockridge vs Cornelius Boza-Edwards: Coming off his Combat Of The Yr with Bobby Chacon a couple of months earlier, Boza-Edwards began brightly right here, bowling Lockridge over with a proper hook in spherical one. However the smaller, busier man roared again and landed many of the telling blows in a detailed however clear determination victory.

Frank Cedeno vs Charlie Magri: In his first title protection, Britain’s Magri was anticipated to present his hometown followers in Wembley Enviornment loads to cheer about however, in a violent brawl, he tasted the canvas thrice earlier than the bout was stopped in spherical six.

Bobby Chacon vs Cornelius Boza-Edwards II: Bobby Chacon scored a second consecutive Combat of the Yr victory with this rip-roaring revenge win over Cornelius Boza-Edwards in Vegas. A twelve spherical canine combat containing a number of knockdowns, unhealthy cuts and a stirring finale, it cemented Chacon’s standing as the final word never-say-die warrior.

Want extra 80’s awesomeness? Don’t fret: the remainder of this glorious listing will probably be proper right here tomorrow!           — Ronnie McCluskey 



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