Best Come-from-Behind Victories in Boxing History
Steve Finn/Getty Images
Any time you go to the arena to see a boxing match, the idea is that you will see two fighters who are at their best and they will put on a memorable show.
The hope is that both fighters will put all their offensive and defensive skills on display. In addition to their technical expertise, the fighters who show heart and courage in the ring will become fan-favorites.
Come-from-behind fights are not usually the norm. Fighters who start slowly and fall behind have a difficult time coming back. When they absorb physical punishment, it's often difficult to rally after getting battered in the ring.
However, when come-from-behind fights occur, they are always memorable. Fighters who can come back in the late rounds demonstrate intelligence, courage and tenacity under the most difficult circumstances.
6. Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman
Muhammad Ali appeared to be in way over his head when he got in the ring with George Foreman in 1974.
The fight in Kinshasa, Zaire, was a strange one. It featured explosive knockout power against an aging former champion who no longer appeared to have great skills.
Ali's charismatic personality made him a great favorite of the African fans, and they chanted his name everywhere Ali went.
On fight night, Ali appeared to have a curious strategy. He let the powerful Foreman whale away at him while he leaned on the ropes (source: Boxrec.com). While it looked like Ali was getting pummeled, he was leaning back on the ropes, and that took away much of the power in Foreman's punches.
Ali knew that his opponent had tired himself out. In the eighth round, Ali let loose with a series of lefts and rights, and the seemingly indestructible Foreman went down and was counted out.
Ali had regained his championship with the come-from-behind knockout.
5. Mike Weaver vs. John Tate
Mike Weaver was a journeyman heavyweight when he got in the ring in 1980 with undefeated John Tate for the WBA World Heavyweight title.
Weaver came into the ring with an unimpressive 21-9 record. He was showing some improvement by winning seven of his previous eight fights, and he also had a heavy punch.
Tate was a sharp boxer, and he gave Weaver a lesson in the fistic arts for the first 14 rounds.
But the 15th round was another story. Weaver continued to come at his man, trying desperately to end the fight with a power punch. About two minutes into the final round, Weaver had Tate measured. He let loose with a vicious left hook.
Tate sagged onto Weaver's shoulder, and when he backed away, Tate fell face first on the canvas and was counted out.
Weaver took the championship with his memorable knockout, and he held the title until he was knocked out by Michael Dokes two years later.
4. George Foreman vs. Michael Moorer
George Foreman got into the ring with Michael Moorer in 1994 with a chance to win back the heavyweight title he had lost to Muhammad Ali 20 years earlier.
Foreman, 45, was decidedly slower and less ferocious than he had been in his prime, but he had a veteran's experience to go with a still-powerful punch.
Moorer, the champion, was giving Foreman a boxing lesson. He was beating him to the punch, and Foreman was bruised, and his face was swollen.
However, Foreman knew he still had a chance to take the title if he could unleash his powerful right hand. That chance came in the 10th round. Foreman slipped in a left and came through with a crisp right. It didn't look overly powerful, but it landed right on Moorer's chin, and the champion went down.
He could not get up, and Foreman had regained the title. Foreman defended his title three times before he lost to Shannon Briggs in 1997 before calling it a career.
3. Rocky Marciano vs. Jersey Joe Walcott
Jersey Joe Walcott was a slick and skilled boxer who was the heavyweight champion in 1951. He met hard-punching challenger Rocky Marciano in Philadelphia.
At that point in his career, Marciano was respected for his power, but he was quite awkward in the ring, and he was regularly off-balance when he threw his punches.
Walcott thought his superior boxing skills would allow him to dominate.
That's just what happened. Walcott took charge early in the fight, knocking Marciano down with a hard right in the first round. Walcott seemed to outclass Marciano through most of the fight.
However, Marciano still had his power late in the fight. He was looking for that one opening to deliver his short, powerful right hand. He delivered that punch early in the 13th round, and Walcott fell to the ropes before toppling over. He was counted out, and Marciano had his championship thanks to one of the most devastating knockout punches in the history of boxing.
2. Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor
Julio Cesar Chavez and Meldrick Taylor engaged in a compelling bout in 1990 for the light-welterweight title. Chavez was the harder puncher, but he got outboxed significantly through most of the fight. He was behind significantly on two of the three judges scorecards and was in danger of losing his title.
In the 12th and final round, Chavez let loose with a series of blows that hurt Taylor badly. Chavez was ripping rights and lefts at Taylor's head and body and knocked him down. When he got up, referee Richard Steele stopped the fight. There were only two seconds remaining, but Steele did not think Taylor could continue.
The stoppage was controversial, but Chavez came back from certain defeat to get the victory.
1. Joe Louis vs. Billy Conn
Billy Conn was a very good fighter when he met Joe Louis in 1941, but he was challenging a fighter who would establish a reputation as perhaps the best heavyweight fighter of all time.
Conn had speed, hand-eye coordination and was a good puncher. However, he weighed 174.5 pounds for this fight, while Louis checked in at 199 pounds.
Despite the weight and strength disadvantage, Conn fought hard against the bigger Louis, and he was having a great night. He moved with speed, threw crisp lefts and rights and started to establish an edge in the middle rounds.
As the fight moved along, Conn did not let up. In the 12th round, he was hitting Louis with some big shots, and the champion was in trouble (source: ESPN.com).
After that round, Louis' corner advised him that he needed a knockout to win. Louis knew that, and he was happy to find that Conn was still fighting hard and throwing punches in the 13th round. Conn could have decided to move and run at that point, and he would have almost certainly won the championship.
Conn may have made a courageous decision, but he paid a big price. He delivered a few heavy punches, but Louis relentlessly came after him, and his power came through at the end of the 13th. Conn went down from a series of punches and was counted out at the 2:58 mark.
It was a good night for Conn, but it could have been great had he decided to fight intelligently in the last three rounds. Instead, he never made it out of the 13th.