The biggest heavyweight rematches
Ahead of the Derek Chisora and Joseph Parker fight, we have decided to delve into the history books of boxing’s blue riband division to look at some heavyweight rematches.
Having had to postpone the first fight due to Parker receiving a spider bite in training, the pair finally squared off on May 1 this year with Parker surviving a first-round knockdown to shade the verdict on the scorecards via split decision.
However, before that, we take a look at some of the biggest heavyweight rematches to see if they often end in repeat or revenge.
Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier
One of the most famous rivalries in heavyweight boxing history, Ali and Frazier actually met three times during their time at the top of the heavyweight division – twice at Madison Square Garden and then in the ‘Thriller in Manilla’.
Having unsuccessfully employed his famous ‘rope-a-dope’ tactics when suffering a unanimous points decision loss in their first battle, the greatest of all time corrected the record in their second showdown, registering his own victory via the scorecards.
That set things up perfectly for the rubber match in Manilla, which came a year after another of Ali’s most famous victories in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’.
The bout took place in the most extreme of conditions, with temperatures hitting 38 degrees and stifling humidity.
This time Ali’s ‘rope-a-dope’ tactics worked to perfection and having weathered the early Frazier storm, he came on strong in the latter rounds.
With both of Frazier’s eyes swollen shut, the referee waved off the contest in the final three minutes to award Ali a TKO victory.
In the aftermath, Ali was on record as saying “that was the closest thing to dying that I know” and when asked if he would watch the fight back, retorted with ‘Why would I want to go back and see Hell?’
Tyson Fury v Deontay Wilder
Another duo who have fought a trilogy, the Fury/Wilder rivalry has dominated the heavyweight scene in recent years.
Fury dragged himself off the canvas twice when the pair contested a controversial draw in their first meeting in 2018 before setting the record straight in their next two battles.
The Gypsy King produced a dominant display to rip away Wilder’s WBC title in Las Vegas in the second fight, dropping the Bronze Bomber with regularity before the towel came in to save the exhausted Alabama man in the seventh round.
In one of the fights of 2021, Fury was dropped twice in the fourth round by the hard-hitting American but once again showed heart and resilience to knock out Wilder in the 11th round.
Joe Louis v Max Schmeling
Set against the backdrop of the Nazi’s rise to power in Europe, Louis was tasked with restoring national pride when taking on Schmeling for the second time in 1938.
Having lost the first fight by 12th-round knockout in 1936, the Brown Bomber had the whole US behind him as 70,000 packed out Yankee Stadium in New York.
Louis made short work of the rematch, overpowering the German with a relentless onslaught and making him face a referee’s count three times in the opening exchanges. The fight never made it past the first round.
Although a proud German, to his credit Schmeling never played up to the political tensions of the time and even risked his own safety by having a Jewish manager and also refusing the ‘Dagger of Honour’ award offered by Adolf Hitler.
Both are members of the international hall of fame and following their rivalry in the ring the duo remained friends for life.
Evander Holyfield v Mike Tyson
Holyfield first met ‘the baddest man on the planet’ in November 1996, stopping Iron Mike late in the fight to rip away his WBA heavyweight title, but it is the dramatic ending to the rematch that everyone remembers.
The duo signed to rematch in Las Vegas in June the following year but the bout ended in the most bizarre and controversial of manners when Tyson bit a chunk from Holyfield’s ear.
Tyson, annoyed at what he perceived to be persistent headbutts from the champion, came out for the third round without his mouthpiece and at the first opportunity bit into Holyfield’s ear while in a clinch, ruthlessly spitting the remains onto the canvas.
The fight was delayed for several minutes with Holyfield in clear distress and referee Mills Lane deliberating on whether to disqualify Tyson.
Lane declared Tyson would be deducted two points for the assault and was warned not to try it again but a switch had been flicked and after a second nibble on Holyfield’s cartilage, the fight was stopped with ‘The Real Deal’ awarded the victory.
In the aftermath, a furious Tyson took out his frustration on anyone in sight, first charging Holyfield and his corner team and then jumping the hoardings to confront members of the crowd.
Things then went from bad to worse when he had his boxing license indefinitely revoked and was fined $3,000,000.
Anthony Joshua v Andy Ruiz
Having been selected as a late replacement for original opponent Jarrell Miller, Ruiz inflicted a beating on Joshua on his US debut at Madison Square Garden, dropping the Brit four times on the way to a shock seventh-round TKO victory.
Ruiz’s victory derailed a forecast all-British showdown for Joshua with Fury and the likable Ruiz became the first world heavyweight champion of Mexican heritage.
📅ON THIS DAY: Ruiz Jr shocks AJ🤯
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) June 1, 2021
The talk in the aftermath was how Joshua had underestimated his unassuming opponent but the 2012 Olympic gold medallist vowed to be at the top of his game for the contracted rematch which took place later that year in Saudi Arabia.
In a pretty uneventful affair, Joshua dictated throughout with an exhibition of the sweet science as for the first time he boxed off the back foot and picked apart his rival rather than the seek-and-destroy tactics that had served him well in his rise to stardom.
His cause was helped by Ruiz ballooning in weight to a huge 248lb for the fight which made him an easy target for Joshua to pick apart.
Lennox Lewis v Evander Holyfield
The first fight between these two was branded as a scandal and a travesty, with the undisputed world heavyweight title bout declared a split-decision draw despite Lewis’ dominance throughout the contest.
The Brit was made to wait for his defining night in the US but when it came it was equally as controversial as the first fight, with Lewis having his hand raised in the rematch.
Headlining Las Vegas this time, Lewis was the winner on all three scorecards but many believed Holyfield had done enough to at least earn a draw, ironically the reversal of what happened in the first bout eight months previous.
Sonny Liston v Muhammad Ali
Ali was involved in another classic rematch when taking on Liston for a second time having stunned the world by winning their first bout in Florida.
The rematch was postponed for six months as Ali suffered a hernia injury three days before the fight, with the duo finally getting it on for the second time in Lewiston, Maine in 1965.
The ending of the rematch remains one of the most controversial moments in boxing history with Liston going to ground midway through the first round from the famous ‘phantom punch’ and failing to beat the referee’s count.
The image of Ali stood over his stricken foe encouraging him to get back up and fight has become one of the most well-known sports photos of all time and there is many conspiracy theories about the ending of the fight.
Many believed Liston took a dive to pay off gambling debts or death threats, although some have said Ali’s blow to Liston was so fast and fearsome that there was no way Liston could beat the count of 10.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication