Pacquiao-Mayweather and the 10 Best Fights Never Made

Lawrence DonnellyContributor IIIFebruary 23, 2012

Pacquiao-Mayweather and the 10 Best Fights Never Made

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    Pacquiao-Mayweather is allegedly the only fight that can bring the sport of boxing back into the casual fan's consciousness.

    Two fighters in the same weight class, ranked one and two on any pound-for-pound list, both all time greats—it's a fight that is projected to break every pay-per-view record.

    It's the unusual "water cooler" fight, one that folks who haven't watched boxing since Mike Tyson was good will be talking about on Monday.

    And yet, the chances that it will never happen are just as good as the chances that it will.

    With that in mind, let's look back through history at five of the 10 fights that should have happened, but were never seen.

    The next five will be published shortly.

Jack Dempsey-Harry Wills

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    Why it should have happened: Jack Dempsey was heavyweight champion from 1919-1926. During that period, he drew the popular color line and refused to fight any black challengers.

    However, the credentials of Harry Wills could not be denied, and eventually Dempsey and his promoter Tex Rickard signed a contract for the fight.

    Unfortunately for Wills, it was a dummy contract that Rickard (and possibly Dempsey) had no intention of fulfilling.

    Why it never happened: Wills and other black challengers were kept out of the title picture because of rampant racism, but more particularly because Jack Johnson, champ from 1908-1915, had made the idea of a black heavyweight champion more unpopular than ever. 

    What would have happened: Wills was a big, slow, hard hitting heavyweight. Dempsey was called the "Giant Killer" for a reason. He feasted on bigger, slower opposition, and this fight would not have ended much differently than the Dempsey-Jess Willard fight in 1919.

    Willard walked away from that bout with a broken jaw, orbital bone, and multiple shattered ribs. 

Riddick Bowe-Lennox Lewis

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    Why it should have happened: Riddick Bowe was defeated by Lennox Lewis for the super heavyweight gold medal in the 1988 Olympics.

    After they both turned pro, each became an elite heavyweight. Lewis became Bowe's World Boxing Council mandatory, but Bowe literally threw his belt in the trash rather than make the fight.

    Bowe went on to beat Evander Holyfield two out of three times, and Lewis eventually became an all-time great late in his career. 

    Why it never happened: To be frank, this fight was never made because it was a stylistic nightmare for Bowe, and he was a bigger star than Lewis at that point.

    Additionally, Lewis's stock plummeted after his loss to Oliver McCall.

    What would have happened: As stated, "Big Daddy" just didn't have the style to beat Lewis. Bowe was an outstanding infighter for such a large man, but that wouldn't have helped against the cat-footed Briton.

    Furthermore, Bowe had a reputation for not being very disciplined, which again would not have served him well. Lewis would have won fairly easily. 

Riddick Bowe-Mike Tyson

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    Why it should have happened: Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe were two of the preeminent heavyweight boxers of the early 1990s.

    Of course, no one needed to tell you that, particularly about Tyson, whose commercial appeal far outlived his athletic prowess.

    Their hard hitting, infighting styles would have made for a mesmerizing matchup for however long it lasted.

    The perfect time for this fight would have been between 1993 and 1995.

    Why it never happened: Following Tyson's humiliating loss to Buster Douglas in 1991, he began to publicly unravel.

    This fight was never tenable because Tyson was sent to prison in 1992 on rape charges. By the time he was released in 1995, Bowe had begun his own descent.

    What would have happened: This may be the most intriguing hypothetical among these 10 fights. If Tyson hadn't gone to jail, he likely would have fought Evander Holyfield in 1992.

    Holyfield simply held the stylistic edge over Tyson and probably would have beaten him. Assuming that Bowe would have still beaten Holyfield for the title, Tyson-Bowe would have been for the championship around the time Holyfield regained the belt against Bowe.

    If Bowe were in the same shape he was in that fight, Tyson would have mutilated him. 

Sugar Ray Leonard-Aaron Pryor

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    Why it should have happened: Sugar Ray Leonard was the most dynamic, charismatic boxer of the 1980s (at least whenever he wasn't "retired").

    Aaron Pryor had one of the all time most exciting styles inside the ring, and Leonard wasn't too shabby in that regard either.

    Pryor chased Leonard for years, hoping that a win over Sugar would bring some of the acclaim he so desperately craved. 

    Why it never happened: The timing for this match up was all wrong. Pryor's low profile, combined with his fantastic fighting ability was anathema for the advancement of his career, and though Leonard was brave, he wasn't stupid.

    The risk/reward ratio dictated that this fight not be made. Pryor finally got a high-profile fight against Alexis Arguello in 1982, but by that time Leonard was already into his first extended vacation. 

    What would have happened: Pryor never fought anyone like Leonard. However, he never adapted his style very much, choosing to wing dozens of punches from as many angles as possible.

    Roberto Duran does a pretty good job of mimicking Pryor's style, who pinned the first loss on Leonard.

    Pryor's style, particularly his dedication to conditioning, would dictate that Leonard must box the finest fight of his life over 15 rounds.

    Barring a perfect Sugar Ray performance, in an exciting match, Pryor gets the upper hand by the late rounds. 

Sugar Ray Robinson-Charley Burley

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    Why it should have happened: Charley Burley was one of those fighters who was too good for his own good, and was never able to land a big fight.

    He's widely regarded as perhaps the greatest fighter to never fight for a world title, and his legend has grown steadily over the last decade or so.

    Robinson, on the other hand, is widely regarded as perhaps the greatest fighter of all time, period.

    With their sublime styles, this fight would have been excellent to watch. 

    Why it never happened: This fight never surfaced for a few reasons. Burley was snake bitten, being too good and too black to make himself an attraction, and was especially ignored by the boxing establishment after beating the white Fritzie Zivic not once, but twice.

    Additionally, Burley had been a pro for four years by the time Robinson made his debut, and was retired 15 years before Robinson hung them up. 

    What would have happened: The timing issues indicated above mean that the prime opportunity for this matchup would have been around 1948, when Robinson began flirting with moving up from welterweight to middleweight.

    Burley was on the downside of his career, while Robinson was just gearing up for the great things he would do.

    Additionally, Robinson didn't suffer his second loss until 1951. Burley was big enough and good enough to give Robinson trouble along the way, but Robinson would have won by fairly wide scores.