Ward vs. Dawson and 10 of the Greatest All-American Fights
Andre Ward and Chad Dawson will step into the ring this Saturday for a showdown that pits the best light heavyweight in the world against the best super middleweight in the world. Both Dawson and Ward hold the WBC and Ring Magazine championships in the their respective weight classes.
The card, which has been named Made in America, has all the makings for a great fight between two elite boxers in the prime of their careers.
The following are 10 of the best fights of all time in no particular order, which feature two combatants made in America.
I am sure there are a lot of fights I missed, but these are my favorites.
Let the debate begin.
1. Ron Lyle vs. George Foreman
George Foreman and Ron Lyle participated in arguably the greatest heavyweight fight ever on Jan. 24, 1976.
Lyle, an ex-con who had served seven years in prison for a murder conviction, was ranked No. 5 in the world at the time of the fight. Foreman, the former heavyweight champion, was participating in his first fight since being stopped by Ali 15 months earlier in Zaire.
The fight was absolutely brutal from the onset with both men landing huge bombs over the five rounds it lasted.
Words can hardly do this war in the ring justice, so just watch the video.
2. Riddick Bowe vs. Evander Holyfield I
In November 1992, former U.S. Olympians Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield met for the first time in the ring. The two would go on to fight two more times in one of the greatest trilogies in the history of the heavyweight division and the sport.
Bowe and Holyfield engaged in a 12-round classic that saw both men hurt and come back from the brink of destruction. The matchup ended up winning the fight of the year from Ring Magazine.
Round 10 of Bowe vs. Holyfield really embodied what this fight was all about and why it is a great All-American fight.
3. Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Tommy Hearns I
Rounds 13 and 14 Leonard vs. Hearns I
In September 1981, Tommy Hearns and Ray Leonard would meet in Las Vegas in one of the biggest fights in the history of the sport.
At the time of the fight, Detroit’s Hearns was undefeated with a 32-0 record and an unbelievable 30 knockouts to his credit.
Leonard's record was almost equally as impressive at the time, he had 31 wins and 21 knockouts with only one loss to Roberto Duran, which he had already avenged before meeting Hearns.
The fight took place outdoors at Cesar’s Palace in Casino and was a huge event.
For the first 13 rounds of the fight, it was back and forth, with Leonard seemingly winning the first few rounds, then Hearns taking over in the middle.
Before the 13th round, legendary trainer Angelo Dundee told his fighter Leonard, “You’re blowing it, son; you’re blowing it.”
Over the next two rounds Leonard would knock down, then knock out Hearns.
4. George Foreman vs. Joe Frazier
In January 1973, Joe Frazier and George Foreman squared off for the first of two matches.
Coming into the bout, Frazier was riding high. He was the heavyweight champion of the world, having bested Muhammad Ali just two years earlier and had defended the title twice by knockout.
The George Foreman of the early '70s was not the lovable grill-selling George we know today. The George Foreman of 1973 was a killer in the ring and was just as mean out of it.
The fight would only last two rounds and saw the undefeated Frazier taste the canvas six times in less than six minutes.
The shots with which Frazier was hit were so hard some appeared to lift him off his feet.
5. Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier III
The third fight in the trilogy between Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier may have been their best. The fight, which was fought in the Philippines, was dubbed “The Thrilla in Manila.”
Ali and Frazier were not the same fighters they had been when they met for the first time in New York in 1971.
Though both fighters had faded somewhat by their third meeting, they still put on what is considered by many to be one of the greatest fights of all time when they met in 1975.
The fight would be a slugfest that lasted 14 rounds before Frazier’s trainer Eddie Futch stopped the fight prior to the start of the 15th round.
6. Marvin Hagler vs. Tommy Hearns
When Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns squared off in 1985 in Las Vegas, the fight was billed as “The War.”
It certainly lived up to that name.
At the time of the fight, Hagler was the undisputed middleweight champion of the world. Hearns was moving up in weight to challenge him for that title.
“The War” would only last a little more than eight minutes, but those could be the most furiously fought eight minutes ever in a boxing ring.
The fight, which lasted less than three rounds, was the 1985 Ring Magazine fight of the year and deservedly so.
Hagler won by a knockout.
7. George Foreman vs. Muhammad Ali
At the time of the 1974 fight, George Foreman was seen as an unstoppable force in the heavyweight division. Foreman had recently decimated the previously unbeaten heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, scoring six knockdowns in just two rounds.
Going into the fight, Muhammed Ali said he had a secret plan to beat the undefeated Foreman. That plan would be what has become known as the rope-a-dope.
Throughout the fight, Ali, who had an unbelievable chin, laid back on the ropes and let the aggressive Foreman tire himself out by hitting him with huge bombs. Ali would taunt the younger fighter the entire bout, frustrating the power-punching Foreman.
By the eighth round, Foreman was completely exhausted. Ali pounced on him, landing a series of punches that knocked him out.
8. Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier I
Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali was billed as “The Fight of the Century,” and it very well may have been.
Ali was challenging for Frazier’s heavyweight championship, a title that many believed still belonged to Ali since he had not lost the title in the ring.
Ali had been stripped of his title when he refused to enlist for the Vietnam War in 1967.
In the interim, Joe Frazier, a former Olympic gold medalist from South Carolina who fought out of Philadelphia, would be declared the heavyweight champion when Ali was stripped.
When they met in the ring in 1970, the fight lived up to its billing. Both men fought brilliantly throughout.
Frazier would hand Ali his first career defeat by a 15-round decision in the first of their three fights.
9. Kelly Pavlik vs. Jermain Taylor I
In September 2007 when Kelly Pavlik stepped into the ring with Jermain Taylor at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, no one but the Youngstown, Ohio faithful expected him to win.
Luckily for Pavlik, the referee that night was Steve Smoger.
In the second round, Pavlik was knocked down by a brutal series of shots from the middleweight champion Taylor. Most referees would have stopped the fight, but Smoger let it go on.
After the scare in the second, Pavlik started making a comeback. By the fifth round, he had complete control of the fight.
In the seventh round, Pavlik had Taylor in the corner and out on his feet when Smoger had seen enough and stopped the fight.
10. Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward I
Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward had to make this list. Their trilogy has been deemed by some as one of the greatest of all time.
Gatti and Ward engaged in three knockdown, drag-out, slugfests, and all could have made this list. None of them, however, was as good as their first meeting.
Round 9 in the first Ward vs. Gatti trilogy has been called the round of the century. It was three minutes of non-stop, back-and-forth action that saw both men get as good as they gave.
Though neither Ward nor Gatti is an all-time great fighter, they certainly put on some all-time great fights.
Disclaimer: Gatti was born in Italy and was a Canadian citizen, but he was truly New Jersey to the core.