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8 Biggest Shockers in Boxing History

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2012

8 Biggest Shockers in Boxing History

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    It's difficult to predict upsets in boxing.

    When you're familiar with the fighters, and one has a better jab, more power, more athleticism and a better record going into the fight, it's difficult to see that fighter losing to an inferior opponent.

    But in a one-on-one sport like boxing, all the physical characteristics that give a fighter an advantage can fly out the window if he is having personal problems, suffers from an injury, or if his opponent has improved significantly.

    Here's a look at eight of the biggest shockers in boxing history.

Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson

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    This is one of the biggest upsets of all time.

    Mike Tyson was the undefeated heavyweight champion in 1990 and was thought to be indestructible.

    Buster Douglas was a classic opponent who was supposed to be in the ring with Tyson simply to let the champion show off his knockout power.

    However, Tyson had not trained well for the fight, and was making changes in his management. He did not appear to take the larger Douglas seriously. Douglas used his jab well to set up combinations. He was not intimidated by Tyson and was winning the fight

    Tyson knocked Douglas down in the eighth round and appeared to be ready to end the fight.

    However, Douglas withstood the assault and launched one of his own in the ninth round. He hurt Tyson badly.

    In the 10th round, Douglas continued to land shots on Tyson and then stopped him in his tracks with a right uppercut. Four more hard punches followed, and Tyson went down.

    He was counted out, and Buster Douglas had registered a monstrous upset (source: New York Daily News).

Muhammad Ali over Sonny Liston

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    Sonny Liston was similar to Mike Tyson in the early 1960s. He was tough and brooding, and he was also a knockout machine.

    He was the heavyweight champion of the world when scheduled to face Muhammad Ali (known as Cassius Clay at the time).

    Liston had brutally knocked out former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, twice. While Ali had a good jab and eye-catching speed, it seemed likely that he would be knocked out in brutal fashion by the hard-punching Liston.

    However, Ali used his superior athleticism to dictate the pace of the fight.

    He ended up taking the title from Liston when the soon-to-be-ex-champion stayed on his stool at the start of the seventh round.

    It was one of the greatest upsets in the sport's history.

Randy Turpin over Sugar Ray Robinson

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    Sugar Ray Robinson was one of the greatest fighters of all time.

    It was expected that when he fought challenger Randy Turpin in 1951 (source: terra.com), he would have no problems.

    However, Turpin was magnificent, and he beat Robinson to the punch all night. He was clearly victorious in this one-sided fight.

    Robinson had only lost once prior to the fight.

    He would get revenge by knocking out Turpin five years later.

Muhammad Ali over George Foreman

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    Muhammad Ali was seemingly past his prime in 1974.

    But he had defeated Joe Frazier by a decision in Madison Square Garden earlier in the year (the second of their three fights), earning him a chance to fight hulking George Foreman.

    The fight had a familiar feel to Ali: He was a huge underdog, just as he had been when he defeated Sonny Liston to take the heavyweight championship.

    Foreman was a powerful puncher with a vicious uppercut. Ali planned to use his speed to confound Foreman, but few thought he had a legitimate chance.

    However, Ali absorbed Foreman's punches by using the ropes to his advantage. His "rope-a-dope" strategy tired out Foreman, and Ali stunned the boxing world with an eighth-round knockout.

Hasim Rahman over Lennox Lewis

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    Heavyweight fighter Lennox Lewis was a dominant champion when he got into the ring with unheralded challenger Hasim Rahman in 2001.

    Lewis was becoming a celebrity, having just filmed a role in the George Clooney movie Ocean's Eleven.

    He had not trained at championship-level prior to his fight with Rahman, and it showed in the ring. Rahman held his own against Lewis throughout the early rounds.

    In the fifth round, Rahman landed a right cross on Lewis's jaw and toppled him with the punch. Lewis, a 15-1 favorite, was counted out and Rahman had the huge upset (source: BoxRec.com).

Leon Spinks over Muhammad Ali

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    Muhammad Ali had engineered two of the greatest upsets of all time in his victories over Sonny Liston and George Foreman.

    However, when he fought Leon Spinks in 1978, he found out what it feels like to be on the wrong side of an upset.

    Ali was nearing the end of his career, and he had slowed down in the ring, his punches lacking the crispness they once had. However, he seemingly had Spinks outclassed, Ali's jab keeping the young fighter at bay.

    Spinks didn't care about Ali's legacy or advantage.

    He took it to the aging champion and came away with the upset and the heavyweight championship.

Antonio Tarver over Roy Jones, Jr.

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    When Roy Jones, Jr. met Antonio Tarver in 2004, he had only been defeated once in his career.

    Jones had been disqualified in a controversial bout in 1997, after it was ruled that he hit Montell Griffin when he was already on the canvas.

    Jones had taken a close decision over the hard-punching Tarver in 2003, and the rematch appeared to be a dangerous fight for Jones.

    This time Tarver would not be denied.

    He hit Jones with a brutal left hook in the second round that knocked Jones down and hurt him badly.

    While he would get up from that punch, he was in no condition to finish and the fight was stopped on a technical knockout (source: BoxRec.com).

George Foreman over Michael Moorer

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    George Foreman was a dominant heavyweight who had registered one of the most brutal knockouts in memory, when he battered Joe Frazier in 1973.

    However, after he lost in 1974 to Ali, his career was in shambles.

    He made a memorable comeback in 1987, after a 10-year absence from the ring. Few thought his comeback was anything more than a publicity stunt.

    However, a much more affable Foreman made consistent progress, despite his age and the considerable spare tire around his middle. He still had a devastating right-hand punch.

    He earned a title shot against champion Evander Holyfield in 1991, but lost. Foreman then got another shot against champion Michael Moorer in 1994.

    Foreman was 45 years old at the time.

    While Moorer dominated the fight on points for the first nine rounds, Foreman still had a puncher's chance.

    He delivered on that chance when he knocked out Moorer with a straight right in the 10th round. He would hold onto the title until 1997, when he lost a decision to Shannon Briggs and subsequently retired.

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