The best fights of the 80s


Boxing News readers named the first Ali-Frazier contest as the best fight of the ’70s, but what were your picks for the best fights of the’ 80s?

THE premise of Desert Island Fights is simple: you will soon be stranded on a desert island. To ease the boredom, you can take one – and only one – fight from each of the past five decades (1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s) to watch while you’re at it. What are the five fights you lead?

If the 70s were the decade of heavyweight legends, the 80s were dominated by four kings: Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran faced each other in several iconic blockbusters; various fights involving two of the four appeared in 80 percent of readers’ votes when they named their favorite contest of the decade.

It’s a shame, however, that some classics don’t feature accordingly. For example, there is no room for the rematch between Matthew Saad Muhammad and Yaqui Lopez, nor for the Evander Holyfield-Dwight Muhammad Qawi slugfest. Interesting, too, that fights featuring peak Mike Tyson garnered only a handful of votes. All of this may speak of a flaw in the voting system (only one fight from each decade could be submitted), but what is clear is that – as far as valuable fights go – the ’80s were about four years old. men in particular.

5. SUGAR RAY LEONARD w pts 12 MARVIN HAGLER (1987)

A FIGHT that continues to divide opinion as to whether the right man has won. At the time, Boxing News made Hagler a practical winner and that opinion (from then-editor Harry Mullan, who unlike so many others was in fact at ringside) deserves the Warning. So does the view that Leonard, having won the long, winding battle of wits between the two before, then bamboozled Hagler for long stretches in the contest. What is not debated is that this fight deserves a regular re-investigation and is therefore the perfect companion for a boxing fan speared on a desert island.

PAY ATTENTION TO:
About halfway through the final round, you can see Leonard, as he dances away from Hagler, talking in his corner. According to ring reporters, Sugar Ray – tiring but still shooting – asked them how much time was left in the round.

DID YOU KNOW:
When the contest was officially announced in November 1986, it was widely criticized by the media as Leonard was inactive and had never previously competed in middleweight. The IBF refused to sanction the fight and the WBA would later strip Hagler (for not necessarily fighting, Herol Graham). Only the WBC belt was on the line, although they proudly announced that the sanction fees would go directly to their “new medicine fund” – whatever that means.

Focus on sport / Getty Images

4. AARON PRYOR w rsf 14 ALEXIS ARGUELLO

A REALLY fierce battle which some say remains marred by the concoction in the infamous bottle that Pryor’s coach Panama Lewis requested after round 13. If he was responsible for fueling the final rally of “The Hawk’s” (a 2008 documentary suggested that crushed amphetamines might have been added to the water), he worked his magic quickly; Arguello was saved on 1-06 of the 14th. Whatever the truth – which may not be anything untoward – it was arguably the most exciting fight of the whole decade.

PAY ATTENTION TO:
The amazing durability of Pryor. In the 11th round, Arguello – the 12/5 favorite in hopes of becoming the first fighter to win world belts in four weight classes – scores with a huge right hand that stuck in Pryor’s eye. The American stands up straight and in a few moments is smiling and talking to Arguello. “Yes, it’s the turn,” he said, “let’s fight now. “

DID YOU KNOW:
Pryor, the 140-pound WBA champion, previously said he dedicated this fight to his brother, Lorenzo: “He’s been 25 to 135 just for a few flights to make sure we had something to eat. He really took care of me. If he ever saw me on the street between eight in the evening and three in the morning, there was no tougher fighter in the world. He wanted me to come home.

Alexis Arguello vs. Aaron Pryor

3. ROBERTO DURAN w pts 15 SUGAR RAY LEONARD (1980)

Although Roberto Duran still fought for many years, this might be the last time we saw the fierce Duran spared by age. In truth, a bit of Duran’s legend would be faded forever in the “No Mas” rematch. But here in Montreal, Duran was tireless and unrivaled; the way he defeated Leonard – the enemy Duran dragged into a violent war – has to be considered one of the best performances of all time. Sugar Ray’s role in portraying Duran should also never be understated.

PAY ATTENTION TO:
The constant changes in supremacy are fascinating. In the ninth, Leonard scored with two right uppercuts and missed Duran. The Panamanian chuckles, takes a step back and imitates Leonard. Suddenly the welterweight champion – eager to prove he’s the toughest man – gets drawn into Duran’s fight. At the end of the round, the former lightweight boss scores with a huge right but Leonard doesn’t fall.

DID YOU KNOW:
The story of the undercard was deeply moving; Seventeen days after being stopped by Gaeten Hart, lightweight Cleveland Denny died of injuries sustained in the bout. A year after Denny’s death – following a Canadian boxing safety investigation – his wife filed a lawsuit for $ 509,682. There was a suggestion that Hart had used illegal bandages which hardened when mixed with perspiration.

Leonardo vs. Duran

2. SUGAR RAY LEONARD w rsf 14 THOMAS HEARNS (1981)

OUT of all fights involving two of the Four Kings, this was the only one where both could legitimately claim to be at their absolute prime: Thomas Hearns, the bone-breaking “Motor City Cobra” was undefeated and fearless as Leonard had a learned from Duran’s rivalry that made him one of the greatest all-rounders in boxing history. Hearns boxed beautifully, finding the second and third winds along the way, to build up a dominant lead before the 13th. Leonard then shifted into high gear and, for the first time, Hearns just couldn’t keep up.

PAY ATTENTION TO:
Angelo Dundee’s famous address to Leonard between round 12 and 13 – “You’re blowing yourselves, son” – remains creepy, even after seeing and hearing it countless times. But equally revealing, perhaps, was Hearns allowing himself to become overconfident between rounds 11 and 12. As the crowd shouted “Tomm-eee!” Tomm-eee! Hearns stands up and throws his arms in the air in somewhat premature celebration.

DID YOU KNOW:
In his report in Sports Illustrated, the great Pat Putnam identified flaws in the mandatory 10 point system that remains valid today. He argued that rounds six and seven – Leonard’s big rounds but only scored 10-9 in his favor – should have been wider than rounds one and two that Hearns won by the same margin, though. whether they are much closer sessions.

Leonard vs Hearns fighting on the desert island

1. MARVIN HAGLER w rsf 3 THOMAS HEARNS (1985)

THE runaway leader you picked for the 1980s Desert Island Fight is the epic three-round slugfest between Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns. After having to wait for that clash with Hearns (it was originally scheduled for 1982) and missing out on a bout with Leonard (for now, at least), Hagler fought with incredible intensity on his signing outing. The three-round bout, which lasted just 11 minutes, mirrors the tale of several great boxing trilogies: the first game is incredibly exciting; the second captivating but significantly slower than the first; before the rivalry is decided in the brutal third act.

PAY ATTENTION TO:
How quickly it catches fire. Hagler is the first to let go and Hearns quickly follows him. The opening minute is intoxicating because neither of the two men is holding back; the pace imposed in such an important fight is rare. Looking back, Hearns is a beaten man as the bell rings to end Round One. Watch his legs bend and wobble, even when not attacked, in the second.

DID YOU KNOW:
Before the days of Michael Buffer and Jimmy Lennon Jnr, Chuck Hall – who’s behind the mic here – was the king of ring announcers. Pit boss at several Las Vegas casinos, including the MGM Grand, Hall grew up in orphanages after losing both parents and serving in the Navy. He announced his first fight in 1960 and often did so without pay, such was his love for work and sport. He died in 2000, at the age of 75.

Marvin Hagler's battles on the desert island

Other bouts receiving votes
Evander Holyfield w rsf 10 Michael Dokes; Evander Holyfield w pts 15 Dwight Muhammad Qawi; Mike Tyson w rsf 5 Frank Bruno; Mike Tyson w rsf 2 Trevor Berbick; Roberto Duran w pts 12 Iran Barkley; Barry McGuigan with 15 points Eusebio Pedroza; Mark Kaylor with 8 Errol Christie; Jeff Harding w rsf 12 Dennis Andries; Don Lee wrsf 8 Tony Sibson; Salvador Sanchez w rsf 8 Wilfredo Gomez; Bobby Chacon with 15 Rafael Limon points.

EDITORS CHOICE
My personal Top 5 from the 80s:
5) Marvin Hagler w rsf 11 John Mugabi
4) Fidel Bassa w rsf 13 Dave McAuley
3) Bobby Chacon with 15 Rafael Limon points
2) Lee Roy Murphy with 12 Chisanda Mutti
1) EVANDER HOLYFIELD with 15 DWIGHT MUHAMMAD QAWI points
Firstly, I love all the fights involving the Four Kings (except Leonard-Duran III) but saw them so many times that I might do something different for my trip to the island. So at the top of my list is the fierce Holyfield-Qawi slugfest which has unfolded at an astonishing pace throughout. But any fight on this list would provide me with welcome company.

THE CHOICE OF HIPSTERS
You know the genre. They know more about boxing than you …

SHIGEO NAKAJIMA with 15 SUNG JUN KIM
There were many battles in the 1980s that did not receive the attention they deserved in the year-end awards. This fierce fight for the WBC flyweight title, fought inside Korakuen Hall in Tokyo in January 1980, was one of them. Challenger Nakajima started at an incredible pace, Kim quickly followed, and none gave in. After 15 bloody and exciting rounds, Nakajima was the new champion.

Read the battles of the Deserted Island: 1970s HERE