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Boxing's Most Intense Rematches of All Time

Steve SilvermanFeatured Columnist IVDecember 29, 2016

Boxing's Most Intense Rematches of All Time

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    When two great fighters get together and produce a stellar boxing match, the fans and promoters often want those two fighters to meet a second or perhaps even a third time.

    The thought process is if the first fight is good, the second fight will be even better.

    However, there are some rematches that aren't as good as the first fight.

    In this piece, we are looking at the best and most intense rematches. In some cases, it's not so much as a second (or third) fight, but a continuation of where the first fight left off.

    In many cases, these bouts feature boxers who have great ability and contrasting styles. These contrasting styles make for some of the best and most action-filled bouts, and they live on in the memories of boxing fans.

Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier III

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    This is widely considered one of the top fights of the last 50 years, and it featured two of the best heavyweight champions of all-time as they were nearing the end of their era.

    Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier both saved their best effort for their third meeting.

    In this bout, Ali set the tone early in the fight with his speed, left jab and accurate punching. He dominated the early rounds.

    However, Frazier heated up in the middle rounds and let loose with a series of power punches that left Ali gasping for breath and in severe pain.

    Few fighters could have survived Frazier's onslaught, but Ali did his best to keep fighting. In the later rounds, Frazier's punches lost some of their steam, and Ali closed his rival's eyes with razor-sharp punches.

    Frazier was nearly blind, and trainer Eddie Futch stopped the fight after the 14th round because he didn't want the nearly sightless fighter from getting killed in the ring (source:

    In the opposite corner, an exhausted Ali may not have been able to finish the fight. He raised hand in exhaustion and victory when he found out Frazier could not continue and he was the winner.

Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns II

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    In their first epic bout, Sugar Ray Leonard was being outboxed by Thomas Hearns, and it looked like he would go down to defeat.

    However, he turned on his power in the late rounds and recorded a TKO after the 14th round.

    That 1981 bout stung Hearns, and he wanted a rematch. It finally came about in 1989.

    He dominated the fight in the early rounds with his stinging punches and his reach. Leonard again turned it on and went after Hearns. While he hurt him with a devastating attack that included significant body punches, Hearns survived and fought on even terms in the later rounds.

    In the eyes of most observers, Hearns had the edge and should have been given the decision. However, to the satisfaction of nobody, the fight was called a draw.

    There would be no third fight between Leonard and Hearns.

Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Carmen Basilio II

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    In 1957, Sugar Ray Robinson's skills were starting to erode.

    He was 36 years old when he got in the ring with Carmen Basilio at Yankee Stadium. In the bout, Robinson hit Basilio hard, but he could not stop his opponent's attack, and Robinson lost a decision.

    The two met again in Chicago a year later. This bout was even more intense than the first, and they went at it hard for 15 rounds. The action was non-stop, and Robinson got the decision in a fight that will be remembered as one of Robinson's last great bouts.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Erik Morales II

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    Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales fought in 2005 for the IBC and the WBA super featherweight title.

    Morales won a surprising decision.

    The two got back in the ring a year later, and Pacquiao was bent on revenge and getting the super featherweight title for himself.

    Morales fought hard and hit Pacquiao with hard shots, but there would be no stopping Pacquiao on this night.

    He was aggressive throughout the fight. He knocked Morales down twice, and as the fight went along, Pacquiao continued to assert himself. The fight was stopped in the 10th round, and Pacquiao won by a TKO.

Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling II

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    The rematch between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling in 1938 was one of the most dramatic fights in boxing history.

    Schmeling had knocked Louis out in their first bout in 1936 at Yankee Stadium. Louis had been the favorite in the fight, but he was rocked by Schmeling's powerful right hand.

    Louis was embarrassed by the defeat and went on a winning streak. However, he wanted a rematch with Schmeling. It came about in 1938, again at Yankee Stadium.

    In addition to revenge for Louis, the bout was fought against the backdrop of Nazi tyranny. Schmeling was used as a symbol of German superiority by Adolph Hitler. Louis was fighting for social equality of African Americans because he was the first black superstar athlete in the United States. He was also fighting as an American symbol of freedom.

    Louis took a hard punch early from Schmeling, and that triggered a devastating attack. Louis ripped rights and lefts at his opponent, and Schmeling could be heard groaning from the beating he took. Louis knocked Schmeling out in the first round.

Floyd Patterson vs. Ingemar Johansson III

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    In 1959, Ingemar Johansson knocked down heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson seven times to win the heavyweight crown.

    A year later, Patterson regained the title by knocking out Johansson in the fifth round.

    The two fighters met a third time in 1961. Johansson came out on fire and knocked Patterson down twice in the first round. However, Patterson steadied himself and knocked Johansson down once before the end of the round.

    As the fight progressed, Patterson took charge. By the sixth round, he was hammering Johansson hard, and he sent him to the canvas for a 10-count to retain the heavyweight crown.

Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward II

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    Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward were a couple of hard punching fighters who were known for giving everything they had and leaving it all in the ring.

    That was never more true than when they fought each other.

    Ward won a majority decision when they met in May 2002 in Connecticut. The bout was not for a title, but boxing fans loved the non-stop action and wanted a rematch.

    The two met again six months later in Atlantic City. This time it was another war, but Gatti came away with the unanimous decision. It was another action-packed bout, with both fighters giving and taking a lot of punishment.

    A third fight would follow, and Gatti would win again, but the second fight may have been the best of the three-bout trilogy.

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