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Bouts to Recreate

Which bouts should you re-create? There were a lot a great fights in boxing history. Try some of these...
 
Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad AliSept. 30, 1975
This was the famous "Thrilla in Manila" fight coined by promoter Don King. It was the rubber match between the two. Frazier had beaten Ali in 1971 and Ali got his revenge in 1974. They did not like each other by this time, Ali calling Frazier an ignorant gorilla, while Frazier vowed not to just knock him out, but to hurt him and take his heart out. The first five rounds was all Ali. Frazier erased Ali's lead over the next 6, pummeling and battering an exhausted Ali, who miraculously would not go down. Ali dug deep and came back to punish a bleeding Frazier over the next 3 rounds. Frazier's manager threw in the towel before the 15th and final round. Like two great warriors, mutual respect developed between the two.
 
George Foreman vs. Muhammad AliOct. 30, 1974
This was the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" fight coined by first-time promoter Don King. After taking out Frazier and Norton in 2 rounds, Foreman had made a name for himself as a powerful and feared knockout artist. For Ali, most did not give the aging former-champion a chance. This is the fight where Ali unveiled his rope-a-dope strategy, where he mostly stayed against the ropes, resting and fending off Foreman's abuse, hoping to tire him out (pretty boring to watch, second only to Evander Holyfield's clinch-and-punch defensive style). The strategy worked as Ali absorbed punishment for 7 seven rounds only to spring out fresh for the 8th round and knocked a tired Foreman out for the count.
 
Ken Norton vs. Muhammad AliMar. 31, 1973
Relative unknown Ken Norton was ranked but no one gave him a chance when he met the former-champion Muhammad Ali. Norton's record at the time was 29-1 with 23 KO's, though he had yet to fight anyone of stature. But Norton made a name for himself that night when he broke Ali's jaw on his way to a 12-round decision to win the NABF heavyweight title. Norton would hold the title only 6 months and lose it in a rematch to Ali in his first defense. The two would meet for a third time and again, Ali prevailed. This victory was really the last "name" fighter Norton beat. Norton went on to act in motion pictures following his retirement from boxing, until suffering temporary brain and permanent physical damage in an auto accident.
 
Joe Frazier vs. George ForemanJan. 22, 1973
This was the famous "Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!" fight, memorably called by Howard Cosell (do a search on the internet and you'll see that phrase is now used to mark the bad day of any athlete named Frazier). Remarkably, it was also HBO's first boxing broadcast. Both fighters were undefeated at the time and the championship belt was on the line. Frazier as the champ, was 29-0 with 25 knockouts and had already defeated the division's top contenders: Muhammed Ali, Jimmy Ellis and Jerry Quarry. Foreman was 37-0 with 34 knockouts, but hadn't really fought any name fighters. For this reason, Foreman was a 2-1 underdog. Foreman sent Frazier to the canvas six times in their short 2 round bout to become the new heavyweight champ by TKO. Joe Frazier would never again become heavyweight champ, although he still remained a contender.
 
Jerry Quary vs. Muhammad AliOct. 26, 1970
This was Ali's first fight since his 3 year layoff due to his draft-dodging stance. Quary, a respectable hard-hitting fighter, was looking to gain legitimacy with an easy win over the rusty champ. At the time Quary's record was 37-4-4. Unfortunately for Quary, Ali showed very little ring-rust that night and opened a bad cut over Quarry's eye in the third round. After the round was over, the ref examined the cut and stopped the fight.
 
Sonny Liston vs. Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay)Feb 25, 1964
Liston won the title by knocking out Patterson in the first round in 1962. Ironically, the infamous Liston only fought 3 times as champion, winning the rematch with Patterson but losing to an up-and-coming big mouth named Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay). Liston initially refused to fight Ali, whom he didn't feel deserved a title shot. Only after Ali continually harassed Liston at his home and in the media, calling him a coward, a convict, and questioning his intelligence, did Liston relent. Liston came into the fight with a record of 35-1 looking to shut that big mouth. His knockout power and menacing scowl enhanced his ring reputation as a bully and a thug. But he was clearly no match for a younger and faster Ali who, not being the least bit intimidated, peppered the champ for 7 rounds before the once-feared Liston quit on his stool before the 8th round, citing an injured shoulder. After the fight, Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Voted 1964 Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine.
 
Sonny Liston vs. Floyd PattersonSept 25, 1962
Floyd Patterson became the first fighter to regain the crown. But Liston's size and power proved too much for Patterson's guile and agility. Liston knocked him out in the first round. In their 1963 rematch, Patterson attempted to become the first boxer ever to win the world's Heavyweight title three times, but it ended with the same result, a first round knockout by Liston. This solidified Liston's reputation as an unstoppable, invincible force.
 
Floyd Patterson vs. Ingemar JohanssonJune 26, 1959
Floyd Patterson became the youngest heavyweight champion at the age of 20 by knocking out Archie Moore after Marciano retired and left the title vacant. Patterson successfully defended his title 4 times before meeting the Swedish European Champion Ingemar Johansson. The light regard for European Champions, and Johansson's "cowardly" performance against an American boxer in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, led to Johansson being a five to one underdog. When the fight began, Johansson again displayed a "lack of fight" and by the end of the second round, Patterson was convinced Johansson's fabled right-hand, that floored number one ranked Eddie Machen, was just a myth. How wrong he was. A minute into the third round, Johansson caught Patterson flush with a straight right and knocked the champ loopy. A glassy-eyed Patterson staggered up and the ref wiped his gloves and continued the fight. But a hurt and confused Patterson turned to walk to his corner. Johansson stepped in and dropped the champ with a blow to the back of the head. Incredibly, the ref let Johansson knock Patterson down 5 more times that round before stopping the fight! Johansson won by TKO in the 3rd. Patterson got his revenge in a rematch in 1960 and won the title back. He defeated Johansson a third time in '61 and went on to defend his title one more time before losing it to Sonny Liston in 1962. He failed in a 1963 rematch with Liston.
 
Rocky Marciano vs. Archie MooreSept. 21, 1955
Rocky Marciano retired as the only undefeated heavyweight champion in boxing history (mostly because unlike other ex-champs, Rocky didn't feel the need for a comeback). Rocky wasn't known for great boxing skills, he was known for his incredible heart and courage. Rocky just refused to be beat no matter who knocked him down, or how bad he was bleeding. That, and he could also hit like a sledgehammer. This was Rocky's last fight against the great champion Archie Moore, who was probably past his prime but badgered Marciano for this fight with a $50,000 letter-writing and advertising campaign. Incredibly, this was the 177th fight for Moore who came into the bout with a record of 148-20-9! He had more knockouts that Marciano had wins. But Moore was a tough old coot and dropped Rocky in round 2 for only the second time in Marciano's career. That just made the Rock mad and he battered Moore, who went down 5 times over the next 7 rounds. Archie went down for good in the 9th round. When asked by reporters which of Marciano's punches it was that actually hurt him, Archie lamented, "Man, they all hurt." Moore continued to fight for 8 more years and is the only man to have fought Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali.
 
Rocky Marciano vs. Ezzard CharlesSept. 17, 1954
This was a rematch between the two fighters. The first fight was won by Marciano in a bloody 15 round decision, in which both fighters inflicted a lot of damage. Marciano came into the rematch with a 46-0 record, while the veteran Charles was an astonishing 87-11-1. Charles suffered a knockdown in the second round but managed to survive. In the 6th, Charles missed a left hook and hit Marciano's nose with his elbow, splitting it cleanly in two. Marciano was a bloody mess and bled profusely for the 6th and 7th. In danger of fight being stopped due to the cut and losing his first fight, trainer Charlie Goldman told Rock before the 8th round, "Get him now or you'll bleed to death!" Rocky unleashed a barrage of lethal blows and dropped Charles to the canvas. When Charles got up, Marciano continued the attack to win the fight by knockout. Voted 1954 Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine.
 
Rocky Marciano vs. Jersey Joe WalcottSept. 23, 1952
As the challenger, this fight marked Rocky's first shot at the belt. In the first round, Walcott became the first boxer to ever drop Marciano when he connected with a perfect left hook. It is a test of champions to see how a fighter handles his first knockdown. And the Rock got up and proceeded to take a pounding from Walcott for the next 12 rounds. Behind on all the scorecards, the Rock needed a knockout to win. With superhuman courage and determination Rocky delivered a knockout blow in the 13th that slumped Walcott to the floor with one arm hanging in the bottom rope. It took several minutes to revive him.
 
Rocky Marciano vs. Joe LouisOct. 25, 1951
To be fair, Joe Louis was past his prime and Rocky didn't want any part in fighting his idol and ending his comeback hopes. But both fighters were looking for a shot at the title and needed this fight to earn a shot at the champ. Louis fought bravely but it was soon apparent he was no match for the unrelenting Marciano. After round 7, Louis gasped to his trainer "He's hurtin' me, Chappie, he's hurtin' me." In the 8th, Marciano landed several hard blows and sent Louis through the ropes and onto the apron. An embarrassing end for a great champion. Joe later remarked, "When he defeated me, I think it hurt him more than it did me." Louis never fought again.
 
Rocky Graziano vs. Tony ZaleJul. 16, 1947
Rocky Graziano was a colorful character. Fresh out of prison as a young man, he was drafted by the Army to help fight the Germans. But the New York street tough Graziano soon went A.W.O.L. and ended up honing his boxing skills in Leavenworth. In their first fight, Tony Zale became the first man to knockout Graziano. Naturally, Graziano doesn't like this too much but before the rematch is held, New York boxing commission revokes his license for failing to report an attempted bribe. The Chicago boxing commission ignores the New York ruling and the fight gets moved to Chicago.

Graziano came into the fight with a 45-7-5 record. The champion Tony Zale came into the fight with a 63-16-2 record and was no pushover. Zale was favored to win the fight and floored Graziano for a no-count in the third round. For 5 rounds Rocky took a punishing beating, suffering a closed eye and it looked like it was going to be a repeat of the first fight. But Rock had heart and came out for the 6th with a barrage of 30 punches to put Zale on the ropes and score the TKO to become the middleweight champion of the world. Voted 1947 Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine. As a footnote, in their third fight, Zale got his revenge and again knocked out Graziano cold. A movie was made out of his life called "Somebody Out There Likes Me".
 

Jake LaMotta vs. Sugar Ray RobinsonFeb. 5, 1943
Jake was known for being able to take a punch. He could take a pounding that would send a normal man to the canvas. Jake fought the great Sugar Ray Robinson an amazing 6 times! This night marks the second time they fought and was the only time Jake beat Sugar Ray, becoming the first man to hand Sugar Ray a loss with a 10 round unanimous decision. Robinson came into the fight undefeated with a 40-0 record. Incredibly, the rematch was held 21 days later with Robinson avenging the loss (Robinson actually fought Jackie Wilson in between the two bouts). The last time these two fought was on Feb 2, 1951 with Jake's Middleweight belt on the line. Robinson actually gave up the Welterweight belt he had held for 5 years prior to the fight. The press dubbed the fight the "Saint Valentine's Day Massacre". Robinson won by a technical knockout in the thirteenth round, when the fight was stopped with LaMotta lying on the ropes. LaMotta had an interesting life outside the ring. He starred in movies and his ex-wife Vicki LaMotta appeared in Playboy at 53 years of age. A movie was made about his life called "Raging Bull".
 
Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling IIJun. 22, 1938
Joe Louis was only the second black boxing champion. Boxing had not had a black boxing champ since Jack Johnson had taunted white America after winning the title in 1910. The champion Joe Louis came into this rematch with a 38-1-0 record. In their first fight, both fighters needed to win in hopes of getting a shot at the champ James Bradock. Though the then-undefeated Louis was a 10-1 favorite, Schmeling won by a 12th round knockout, thereby becoming the most famous celebrity in Germany. Braddock's team decided to give the title shot to Louis anyway, rather than to Schmeling, who was referred to by Americans as "Hitler's boy". In the rematch, Louis badly wanted to avenge the only (then) loss of his career. A determined Louis came out strong, knocking Schemling to the canvas twice for a first round knockout. Once back in Nazi Germany, Schemling became persona non grata to Hitler, who was humiliated that a "negro" had defeated his "superior" Aryan superman on an international stage. A movie was made about their fights called "Joe and Max".
 
James Braddock vs. Max BaerJun. 13, 1935
A 10-1 underdog going into the fight, James J. Braddock, "The Cinderella Man" won a unanimous 15 round decision to win the Heavyweight title. Max Baer came into the fight with a 40-7-0 record and was known as "the killer" because he once killed a man in the ring in 1930. Max was arrested and charged with manslaughter but charges were later dropped. Known for his womanizing and hard-drinking, Max had just won the title from Primo Carnera and wasn't taking his first title defense very seriously. Braddock was chosen by Baer's handlers because he was seen as an easy payday for the champ. The fight showed a dogged Braddock taking heavy hits from the powerful champion but who kept coming until he wore Baer down. James J. Braddock would later lose the belt in his only title defense to a new young champion named Joe Louis. A movie was made about his life called "The Cinderella Man".
 
Jack Johnson vs. Jim JeffriesJul. 4, 1910
Jack Johnson was the first black boxing champion. In many ways he had a much tougher time breaking the sports color barrier than Jackie Robinson. But unlike Jackie's quiet perserverance, once he broke it, Jack Johnson flaunted it in the face of white society and played by his own rules. He wasn't humble or timid around whites. Jack made news when he for openly dated and married white women during a time when the only time blacks made the news were when they were the perpetrators of crime or had been lynched. The racism Johnson faced at the turn of the century was unfathomable. A recent Supreme Court ruling declared that Jim Crow laws and state-sponsored racial segregation were not unconstitutional. The heavyweight championship was such a respected and covetted position in America that Black fighters were considered unworthy to compete for the title. None of the white heavyweight champions of the day would give Johnson a shot at the title. Though Gentleman Jim Corbett did fight many of the day's top African-American boxers in non-title fights, both Jim Jeffries and John L. Sullivan refused to fight black boxers at all.

Finally Canadian champion Tommy Burns caved in and said he would fight Johnson in Australia if his enormous price was met. The Canadian said "I will defend my title as heavyweight champion of the world against all comers, none barred. By this I mean black, Mexican, Indian or any other nationality without regard to color, size or nativity." Johnson easily won the December 26, 1908 match in 14 rounds and became the first black heavyweight champion. Every time Burns was about to go down, Johnson would hold him up again, punishing him more. The camera was stopped just as Johnson was finishing off Burns so that nobody could actually see Johnson becoming the champion. Almost immedietly the cry went up from white America for a "great white hope" who could wrest the title away from Johnson. Jeffries was coaxed out of retirement to fight Johnson, who many felt was still the champion (not Burns) since he never lost his title in the ring. Johnson had once fought Jeffries' younger brother Jack and knocked him out in 5 rounds. When Johnson help carry Jack to his corner, he turned to Jim sitting ringside and said "I can whip you too". Jim Jeffries had retired in 1905, saying that there are no more "logical challengers" left for him to fight. Though Jeffries trained hard for the fight and shed over 100 pounds, he could not overcome a five-year layoff and was no match for Johnson. Jeffries struck first in the 4th round, opening up a cut Johnson had sustained in training. Jeffries' cheek and nose were bleeding by the 6th and his right eye almost swollen shut. Jeffries wobbled Johnson a bit in the 11th with a wicked body blow but by the 12th, Johnson was in control. Early in the 15th, Johnson landed a right uppercut and a series of lefts to send Jeffries through the ropes. Jeffries had never been knocked down before but struggled to his feet and then spit out some teeth. Johnson quickly sent him to the canvas again. Jeffries' men climbed into the ring to help him up but another Johnson flurry sent him down for the third time. When the count reached 7, Jeffries' second stepped into the ring to stop the fight. Johnson's TKO victory in the 15th sparked race riots across the nation leaving 26 dead. Some states banned the filming of Johnson's victories over white fighters.

After Jeffries failed to win the title back for White America, white society decided to drag the "immoral" Johnson through the court system. He was booked on trumped up charges under the Mann Act for transporting a white prostitute (who had been Johnson's on and off girlfriend for several years) across state lines. The case was successfully prosecuted and Johnson was found guilty in 1913 and given the maximum penalty of a year and a day in prison. Johnson jumped bail and fled to Europe. Johnson eventually lost the title in Havana, Cuba in April 1915 to Jess Willard. No black would fight for the heavyweight title for another 22 years, until Joe Louis did so, winning it in 1937. A documentary was made about Johnson's life by Ken Burns called "Unforgiveable Blackness".
 

Jim Corbett vs. Bob FitzsimmonsMar. 17, 1897
After Corbett won the title from John L. Sullivan, he successfully defended it once to improve his record to 12-0-4 before facing British native and New Zealand champ, Bob Fitzsimmons, who came into the bout with a 42-3-7 record. Nevada had to pass a law to legalize boxing in order to hold this bout in Carson City on Saint Patrick's Day. Carson City in the late 1800's, was a still a wild west town. Wyatt Earp and four other gunslingers were in Corbett's corner to ensure "fair play", while an equal number of gunfighters were in Fitzsimmons's corner doing the same. (Wyatt Earp, a boxing enthusiast, had once referred Fitzsimmon's fight against Tom Sharkey).

This fight was marred by the famous "long count" in the 6th round when Corbett's stiff left hook dropped Fitzsimmons who broke his fall by wrapping his arms around Corbett. Fitzsimmons slid to the floor until his right knee rested on the canvas and kept his balance by clinging to the champion's leg. Corbett dared not break Fitzsimmon's grip for fear of fouling in the eyes of Fitzsimmons's corner gunmen, so he called for Referee Siler to break him from his knee. Siler politely asked Fitzsimmons to let go, which the boxer finally did after a few more seconds. Then Siler started the count. It was estimated this all took 15 seconds or longer. Fitzsimmons recovered and went on to knock out Corbett in the 14th round to become the new heavyweight champion.
 

John L. Sullivan vs. Jim CorbettSept. 7, 1892
John L. Sullivan was recognized as the boxing's first heavyweight champion from 1882-1889 in the era of bare-knuckle fighting. Bored with the competition, Sullivan hadn't fought in the last 4 years, becoming unfit and an alcoholic in the process. The hard-drinking street-tough Sullivan came into this fight the reigning undefeated heavyweight champion with a probably-estimated record of 39-0-4. His last fight in 1889 was a bare-knuckle affair where he knocked out Jake Kilrain in round 75 of a scheduled 80 round fight! "Gentleman" Jim Corbett, on the other hand, was a college educated former bank clerk who just turned 26 and had a 10-0-3 record. Corbett earned his shot at Sullivan. He defeated top heavyweights such as Kilrain, Joe Choynski, and a 4 hour, 61 round draw with Australian Peter Jackson.

Sullivan vs. Corbett was the first heavyweight title fight using gloves. The 33 year-old champion was a 4-1 favorite but spent the first two rounds rushing the challenger as Corbett nimbly sidestepped him. In the third, a Corbett left broke Sullivan's nose and the champion bled profusely for the remainder of the round. In the7th, Corbett shifted to a body attack and began to bury lefts and rights in Sullivan's midsection. By the 14th round, Corbett was easily landing punches and bloody and battered Sullivan wasn't offering much in return. In the 21st round, Corbett unleashed a series of punches that staggered the tired champ. Sullivan retreated to a corner and grabbed hold of the top rope. A right hand dropped Sullivan to his knees. He managed to rise, but a crushing left-right combination pitched Sullivan forward on his face and chest and was counted out for the first loss of his career. A defeated Sullivan addressed the crowd, "Gentlemen, gentlemen, I have nothing at all to say. All I have to say is that I came into the ring once too often -- and if I had to get licked I'm glad I was licked by an American. I remain your warm and personal friend, John L. Sullivan."
 

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Dedicated to Dave Hass, whom I used to routinely school in paper sports games, who provided scans of boxer cards, rules and gameboards!