Boxing is one of the most famous sports in the world. Some of the most recognized athletes are boxers or ex-boxers like Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather, and Mike Tyson. They have become legends in the sports world.
There have been many excellent boxing matches that have taken place in the past. These bouts have been about leaving it all out on the ring, incredible knockouts, iconic moments, and fighters showing heart for the sport. We have all of that in this list and more.
Since this list isn't narrowed down to a specific weight class, a lot of thought had to go into classifying all the bouts and picking the best of the best. Without further ado, here are the top 25 greatest boxing matches of all time!
25. Israel Vazquez vs Rafael Marquez III
Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez ended up having four fights between them. Their first fight was intense with Marquez taking the win after an absolute brawl between the two. The second fight was even better winning the Ring Magazine Fight of the Year award after Vazquez won by split decision.
After two fantastic fights everyone was expecting a war between the two. This fight also won the Fight of the Year award and it went the full twelve rounds. Vazquez fought with deep cuts on his eyes and after another huge brawl Vazquez took the win by split decision.
24. Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson II
The second bout between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield is an iconic one. Originally nicknamed as "The Sound and the Fury" before being infamously named "The Bite Fight" this was the fight for the WBA Heavyweight Championship.
This was probably one of the most insane fights in boxing history as in the third round, Tyson bit off part of Holyfield's ear. This got Tyson disqualified and made him lose his boxing license even though it was later reinstated to him. One of the most bizarre things ever seen in a boxing ring!
23. Carmen Basilio vs. Sugar Ray Robinson
Carmen Basilio vs Sugar Ray Robinson was a beautiful fight. Robinson was jabbing perfectly throughout while Basilio pressed him, always keeping up the aggression. Robinson had come out of a three-year retirement recently before this fight.
It was a tough match to score but Basilio got the split decision in the end which gave him the middleweight champion title. The fight ended up winning the Fight of the Year award and the two fought again 6 months later, with Robinson winning that rematch which got him his fifth middleweight title of his career!
22. Jack Johnson vs. James Jeffries
Jack Johnson and James Jeffries had one of the most anticipated fights ever as this one was nicknamed the "Fight of the Century". Johnson was African-American and the white people in America at the time were unhappy that he was holding the championship belt.
James Jeffries at the time was retired, but he retired as an undefeated champion and he came back to strip Johnson of his belt. Johnson battered Jeffries to the point that his corner stopped the fight. After he won, riots broke out throughout America.
21. Muhammad Ali vs. Ken Norton III
This was the third bout between Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton. In their first fight Norton won and sent Ali to the hospital with a broken jaw. Their second fight was much closer with Ali scraping a win by split decision.
This was the most money ever offered to a fighter at the time with $6 million dollars going to Ali for the fight. This was also an extremely close fight and many boxing fans argue about who actually deserved to win it. After 15 grueling rounds Ali took the victory.
20. Erik Morales vs. Marco Barrera
Erik Morales and Marco Barrera were two Mexican fighters who held the super bantamweight title. The first round alone was all action from both fighters and it was a pretty even round.
In the fifth round, Morales was assaulting Barrera with right hands until the final minute of the round were Barrera answered with his own punches in what was awarded the Round of the Year by Ring. Morales won by split decision which paved the way to one of the best trilogies the boxing world has ever seen!
19. Carmen Basilio vs. Tony DeMarco II
This was the second bout between the two fighters as the first time they crossed Tony DeMarco lost his champion title to Carmen Basilio in a 12-round bout. DeMarco was on a mission to reclaim his welterweight title.
Round one was all DeMarco and round two saw Basilio breaking his left hand. Basilio knocked down DeMarco in the last round who managed to get up on the count of eight. Basilio assaulted him again and left DeMarco unconscious on the ring floor to win the fight.
18. Floyd Mayweather Jr vs. Manny Pacquiao
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fought for the welterweight title in what was billed the "Battle for Greatness". The fight broke PPV revenue records in the United States with $410 million, making it the highest-grossing PPV fight in history.
The first three rounds went to Mayweather with Pacquiao getting his mojo back for the fourth round. By the end of it, Mayweather's defense was too good for Pacquiao, and Mayweather took the win by unanimous decision, even though Pacquiao himself said he thought he won the fight.
17. Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury II
The most recent fight on our list, Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury 2 was billed as "Unfinished Business". Their first bout ended in a controversial draw and the two giants were now fighting for the heavyweight title.
This was a completely different fight from their first encounter as Fury absolutely dominated Wilder and even knocked him down two times before his corner threw in the towel. Fury's performance was praised and said to be one of the most impressive in recent years for a heavyweight fighter.
16. James Corbett vs John Sullivan
James Corbett and John Sullivan fought in 1892 for the World Heavyweight Championship. Boxing back then was nothing like it is now and it was even outlawed in many states.
Corbett won the fight by knocking out Sullivan in the 21st round, yes, the 21st. These fights could sometimes go up to 75 rounds and would end when an opponent was knocked out! Gloves were also recently added as until 1889 the title championships had been bare-knuckled.
15. Rocky Marciano vs. Joe Walcott
This fight was great because of how divided it was before it even started. Walcott was the champion at the time and he stated how Marciano "couldn't fight" and even stated that if he got beat by him to "take my name out of the record books".
Walcott gave Marciano the first knockdown of his career midway throught the fight. Both fighters were cut and hurt and by the seventh round Rocky said he couldn't see. Marciano got a perfect hit on Walcott's chin and knocked him out cold to win the fight.
14. Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Marvin Hagler
Sugar Ray challenged Hagler to a fight after only having one bout in five years, so this seemed like an easy win for Hagler with big money involved for fighting the former world champion.
However, Leonard took the first couple of rounds and then finished the fight by boxing smartly. It was a huge upset that no one expected but Sugar Ray took the split decision win and Hagler never fought again afterwards.
13. Zolani Tete vs. Siboniso Gonya
Zolani Tete vs Siboniso Gonya set a world record in this fight. This bout was for the WBO World bantamweight title that Tete was defending. There isn't much to say about the fight itself as it didn't last very long.
In only 11 seconds, Tete knocked out Siboniso Gonya with his first and only punch of the entire fight. This was the fastest knockout ever seen in a world title fight and that is what makes this fight so iconic.
12. Joe Louis vs. Billy Conn
At this point in time, Joe Louis was the heavyweight world champion and he had defended his title 17 times. Louis took the first two rounds but Conn showed that he was there to fight in the third.
For the first time ever, the champion Joe Louis was retreating and noticably hurt by Conn's strategic and powerful punches. Louis responded with a right that dazed Conn and then finished him off with perfect power punches to win the match. One of the most intense fights in history.
11. Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran II
Billed as "The Super Fight" this was the second of three fights between Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard. Duran won the first fight by unanimous decision, stripping Leonard of his welterweight champion title.
Leonard was teasing Duran and outboxing him throughout and then came the eighth round. At the end of the eighth Duran started waving his glove and supposedly saying "no mas" to the referee, which means "no more". Leonard won by TKO and reclaimed his title.
10. Andy Bowen vs. Jack Burke
This boxing match broke a record as Andy Bowen and Jack Burke fought for 110 rounds, the longest bout in history. The match was for the lightweight title of the South. It started on a Thursday evening and didn't end until Friday.
Burke broke both of his hands during the fight and both fighters lost nearly 10 pounds by the end of it, insane! After 7 hours and 19 minutes of fighting, the bout ended in a draw after the referee stopped it.
9. Marvin Hagler vs. Tommy Hearns
Many believe that this is the best middleweight fight in boxing history. The first round was three minutes full of action were both fighters hurt each other. Hearns and Hagler both showed incredible heart and gave the fans a show.
Remembered as "Eight Minutes of Fury", this fight is iconic for boxing fans. Hagler won the fight in the third round by knockout. The bout won the Fight of the Year in 1985 even though it only lasted those three rounds.
8. Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Jake LaMotta VI
Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta are two legendary fighters who always gave their fans a show. They fought a crazy six times and their final fight was their most memorable as it was a full on assault.
The fight took place on February 14th and it is remembered as the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre". Robinson won the fight in the thirteenth round when ringside officials signaled the referee to stop the fight because of the vicious beating LaMotta was taking.
7. Jack Dempsey vs. Luis Firpo
Luis Firpo was the first Latin American fighter to challenge the world heavyweight title. The Argentine fighter dropped Jack Dempsey almost immediately in the first round to which Dempsey responded by dropping Firpo seven times in the space of a minute and a half.
Towards the end of the first round Firpo hit Dempsey right on the chin literally dropping him out of the ring. Dempsey somehow recovered and in the second round he knocked Firpo out. The fight had 11 knockdowns in four minutes in what is one of the most historic and brutal fights the sport has ever seen.
6. Julio Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor
The first fight between Julio Chavez and Meldrick Taylor was a spectacular battle. The fight was exhilarating from the start with Taylor landing many clean punches on Chavez who endured them like a champ.
Taylor punished Chavez for most of the fight but Chavez also landed good combinations when the two got in close to trade blows. If the fight ended before the last round, Taylor would've won, but in the epic last round Chavez landed a devastating right with only 2 seconds left of the fight that won him the fight.
5. Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns
Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns were the two biggest boxers at the time and this was a very anticipated fight. The fight was pretty even until the 6th round when Leonard struck Hearns on the chin leaving him stumped for the round.
Round thirteen saw Sugar Ray stun Hearns with a right hand that followed by him throwing 25 punches and knocking him down. Round fourteen was more of the same with Hearns taking a beating until the referee stopped it and raised Leonard's hand for the win.
4. George Foreman vs. Muhammad Ali
This was the fight that crowned Muhammad Ali as the heavyweight champion of the world for the second time in his career after knocking out George Foreman in what was billed as the "Rumble in the Jungle". Ali was the underdog coming into the fight but you can never undersell a legend like him.
Foreman landed some very hard punches on Ali, but that was the plan all along. Ali waited for Foreman to get tired and then in the eighth round he answered with a barrage of quick combinations that laid Foreman on the mat to give Ali the win.
3. Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward
The ending of this fight is magnificent. Gatti started off better and the end of the third round was a slug fest between the two fighters. Gatti gets saved by the bell in the eigth round after some monster shots to the head by Ward.
In the last round, both fighters just unleashed as many shots as they could on each other and as soon as the final bell rang, they both fell into each other's arms. Ward was declared the winner and the two ended up having two more fights.
2. Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali
Billed as "The Fight of the Century", this was the most anticipated fight the boxing world had ever seen. This was the first time two undefeated heavyweight boxers fought for the title. Ali took the first rounds but Frazier quickly showed why he is the champion that he was.
In the 15th round Frazier hit Ali with one of the most iconic left hooks in boxing history. Ali somehow got up though, and when it was all over Frazier won via unanimous decision. The fight was outstanding and widely regarded by many as the biggest boxing match in history.
1. Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier III
The "Thrilla in Manila" was the third fight between the two boxers after Frazier won the first bout and Ali the second. Although it didn't have the same anticipation as their very first fight, both boxers showed why they are legends in this one. Ali started strong again on the first rounds but in the middle ones Frazier bashed Ali with powerful body shots.
Ali regained momentum in the last couple of rounds and towards the end of the fight Frazier could barely see from how swollen shut his eyes were. Eddie Futch, Frazier's trainer, asked the referee to stop the fight after the 14th round to give Ali the win. This iconic fight gave Ali the win in their trilogy and is the greatest title fight in history.