Boxing / Editorial

10 Biggest Fights in Boxing History

Corey Erdman / February 23, 2015 - 4:04pm

The six year wait is finally over.

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have agreed to fight on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, setting up one of the biggest events the sport of boxing has ever seen.

Every once in a while, boxing has the unique ability to create a spectacle which transcends sports, and dominates the news cycle at large.

Let’s take a look at the ten biggest fights in the history of boxing.

Louis-Schmeling II

Backed by extreme political tension, the rematch between the American Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling became almost a sporting embodiment of the World War.

An estimated 70 million people tuned into the radio broadcast, in addition to the 80,000 people in attendance at Yankee Stadium in New York, to watch Louis turn in one of the finest performances in championship history, smashing his foe in two minutes and four seconds.


Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier engaged in perhaps the greatest trilogy of all time, but their first meeting remains one of the biggest and most anticipated bouts ever.

Both men held claim to being the heavyweight champion, as Ali never lost his title before being convicted of draft evasion.

Frazier and Ali received 2.5 million dollars in purse money, an extraordinary amount in 1971, and earned every penny of it. Frazier handed Ali his first professional loss in what was deemed the Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine and the Fight of the Century by some.

Tunney-Dempsey II

The rematch between Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey is known simply as “The Long Count Fight.”

In the seventh round, Dempsey floored Tunney for the first time in his career, and a new rule which required fighters to stand in the neutral corner during a knockdown was in effect. Referee Dave Barry wrestled with Dempsey to stand in the corner, allowing what some people feel was up to 14 seconds for Tunney to recover.

Tunney would go on to win a unanimous decision and retain his heavyweight title, in front of a reported 104,943 fans, creating the first two million dollar gate in entertainment history.


One of the most culturally important events, sporting or otherwise, was the 1910 heavyweight title bout between Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries.

Each fighter received a $10,000 signing bonus, on top of a $101,000 purse, and a split of movie theater airing rights.

It was the first time a stadium had ever been built for a single sporting event, with Tex Rickard erecting a structure on a whim in Reno, Nevada.

When Johnson stopped Jeffries in the 15th round, race riots ensued across the country.

The fight film is now part of the National Film Registry, due to its historical significance.

Trinidad-De La Hoya

Felix Trinidad-Oscar De La Hoya was a rarity by today’s standards: Two 26-year old, undefeated superstars meeting up to unify world titles.

Though it was billed as “The Fight of the Millenium,” and set the record for the highest grossing PPV not involving heavyweights, the action inside the ring didn’t exactly live up to the hype.


After Evander Holyfield pulled a shocking upset in their first meeting, a rematch between the two most popular heavyweights of their generation was inevitable.

This time, more money was on the table--$30 and $33 million respectively—and more money was made, with 1.99 million PPV buys, and a $100.2 million dollar gross.

The bizarre ending to the fight would become one of the most iconic moments in sports and cultural history.


One of the most heavily chronicled and fabled sporting events in history, “The Rumble in the Jungle” is perhaps Ali’s most memorable performance.

It was also one of the most unique events ever held, part of a three day festival in Zaire that featured the top music artists of the time as well. Both men received $5 million to take part in the fight, with it being broadcast in closed circuit locations across the world and on tape delay on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

Ali went on to stop George Foreman, and the stories about the fight haven’t stopped since.

Mayweather-De La Hoya

Mayweather-De La Hoya shattered all PPV records, and revolutionized how modern boxing matches are marketed, launching HBO’s 24/7 series leading up to the bout.

Tickets sold out in three hours, and immediately broke the gate revenue record in the state of Nevada as well.

Perhaps more importantly, Mayweather’s victory represented a passing of the torch from the sport’s biggest star, De La Hoya.


Six years later, Mayweather would break his own record, netting the highest grossing PPV in history for his clash with Canelo Alvarez.

The event infiltrated the mainstream media, as Mayweather-Canelo became the 10th most searched term in the United States in 2013.

However, as gargantuan and satisfying as “The One” might have been, it wasn’t “The One” everyone really wanted to see…


On May 2nd, we’ll get a fight that will be forever remembered amongst the previous nine superfights.

Rumors already suggest that the men could split a $250 million purse, and that PPV prices could skyrocket to $100 to account for the incredible demand.

Whether the action inside the ring is forgettable or not remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, Mayweather-Pacquiao will be an event we will never forget.

(0) Comments
Add your comment
Share with friends
Add your comment
Login or Join Now to participate in the conversation