Ranking the 10 Best Boxing Matches That Never Happened

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2012

Ranking the 10 Best Boxing Matches That Never Happened

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    Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao may never fight each other. It's a reality that many fight fans have already come to grips with. 

    And it wouldn't be the first time a big fight was discussed at length, only to never happen. 

    You can chalk this up to various reasons. Sometimes it was financial. Sometimes promoters didn't get along or didn't do their job. Sometimes two guys just didn't want to face each other.

    Whatever the reason, this is not the first, and will almost certainly not be the last time something like this happens.

    With that said, these are the 10 best boxing matches that never happened.

Roberto Duran vs. Alexis Arguello

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    In July of 1978, Alexis Arguello, the reigning WBC super-featherweight champion, stepped up in weight to lightweight, presumably in pursuit of reigning champion Roberto Duran. 

    Arguello struggled and won a close majority decision against unheralded Vilomar Fernandez in his first fight at 135 pounds, while Duran had knocked out Fernandez in the 13th round when the two met prior to this fight.

    Many observers feel that Duran, who, at this point, had unified the lightweight division, was at his best at 135 pounds.

    At this point in their respective careers, both men were huge stars, and a fight would've been a barnburner. Arguello was a huge puncher with tremendous power, but he was quiet and reserved. 

    Meanwhile, "Manos de Piedra" was also a big puncher, but he was brash and passionate both in the ring and outside. 

    It would've been a great fight and a great contrast in personalities. But it never happened.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Antonio Margarito

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    In the mid-2000's, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. was just arriving at the top of boxing. He was undefeated, had won a share of the welterweight title and had attractive fights all around him. 

    One that was often mentioned at the time, but never came to pass, was a bout with then-WBO welterweight champion Antonio Margarito.

    Margarito presented, in many eyes, a lethal challenge to Floyd's dominance. He fought a similar style to Jose Luis Castillo, who had twice given Mayweather rough fights and was in the prime of his career.

    Antonio Margarito circa 2005-2006 was a punching machine with tremendous strength. But the fight never came off despite a then record-high payday offer to Mayweather, who instead elected to face Carlos Baldomir for the WBC title.

    Many feel that Mayweather would've used his supreme boxing intellect to pick apart the stronger but much less refined Margarito. But it would've been interesting to see how he would've responded to the tremendous pressure the Tijuana Tornado would've brought.

Oscar De La Hoya vs. Kostya Tszyu

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    While it's true that Oscar De La Hoya and Kostya Tszyu didn't spent a lot of time at the same weight class, "The Golden Boy" only fought three times at 140 pounds, while Tszyu spent his entire career there. It was talked about as a potential huge fight.

    When De La Hoya moved up to 140 pounds in early 1996, a short stop on the way to 147, he did challenge for and win a world tittle against Miguel Angel Gonzalez. 

    But Tszyu was the big dog at the weight, having won his title from Jake Rodriguez in early 1995. Many felt that when Tszyu appeared on the undercard of De La Hoya v. Gonzalez, in 1997, this would be a precursor to a fight.

    But it never came off, as Oscar immediately jumped to welterweight for a big fight with Pernell Whitaker, and Tszyu would go on to stunningly lose his next fight by knockout against "Cool" Vince Phillips. 

Riddick Bowe vs. Lennox Lewis

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    A rarity amongst the best fights that never happened —this one actually did happen. 

    Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis, considered the top two heavyweights in the world at one point, never fought inside a professional boxing ring. But they did clash in the Gold Medal match at the 1988 Summer Olympics.

    Lewis won the fight by second-round TKO, a stoppage which some felt was premature.

    In 1992, Bowe won the undisputed heavyweight championship from Evander Holyfield, while Lewis defeated Donovan "Razor" Ruddock to become the WBC's number one contender.

    This is one fight where blame can clearly be placed for it not happening. Bowe's manager, the colorful Rock Newman, immediately began demanding ridiculous concessions from Lewis to make the fight. This included a famous request of a 90/10 purse split.

    It culminated in Riddick Bowe staging a press conference in which he literally threw the WBC championship in a trash can to avoid the fight. The sanctioning body had threatened to strip Bowe of the belt if he did not face Lewis. 

    For many, the act was considered one of cowardice and proof that Bowe wanted no part of his old foe.

Roy Jones, Jr. vs. Nigel Benn

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    A footnote in the historic career of Roy Jones, Jr. was his inability to ever secure a fight with one of the great champions from Europe that fought in his era. 

    You could put any of the following into this list: Chris Eubank, Dariusz Micalczewski or Nigel Benn.

    To me, Benn was the best of this lot and had fearful punching power. His biggest problem was that he probably wouldn't have had enough boxing ability to give Jones trouble, unless he connected with one of his huge shots.

    Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and we'll never know if Jones' later career chin problems were always there or only developed when his skills eroded. But Nigel Benn certainly would've checked.

Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Aaron Pryor

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    Few fighters have had the speed and movement in the ring possessed by "Sugar" Ray Leonard in his prime. 

    Similarly, few fighters have been as relentless and had the ability to throw powerful punches from all angles as Aaron Pryor.

    Many argued at the time that Leonard was ducking Pryor, and stories of the two battling during sparring sessions are legendary. 

    It's hard to believe that a fighter like Leonard, who fought Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns, would duck anyone. Pryor spent most of his career at 140 pounds, while Leonard was at welterweight.

    While a fight would certainly have been entertaining, and a tremendous stylistic clash, it's uncertain why it never happened. And the blame game will likely go on forever. 

Erik Morales vs. Juan Manuel Marquez

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    Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez are considered the best Mexican fighters of their generation—the one which was immediately preceded by Julio Cesar Chavez.

    While Morales and Barrera engaged in three absolute wars, with Barrera winning two, and Marquez defeated a less-than-prime Barrera, Morales and Marquez never met in the ring. 

    The fight was often discussed, but never came to fruition. It would have been interesting to see who would've emerged here. And it would've helped settle the argument of which of the three Mexican warriors was the best of his era.

    For the record, in my opinion, that is a title held by Marquez.

Lennox Lewis vs. Vitali Klitschko II

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    When undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis stepped into the ring in 2003 with upcoming contender Vitali Klitschko, he was an overwhelming favorite.

    Vitali, the older of the Klitschko brothers, was also considered the lesser of the two, with the real potential seemingly contained in Wladimir.

    But on fight night, Vitali exploded the myth and emerged as a true force in his own right.

    Klitschko dominated the early rounds of the fight, hurting Lewis in the second round. Lewis responded in the third with a big right hand that changed the entire complexion of the fight, opening a huge cut over Vitali's left eye.

    But Klitschko continued to work, with more urgency as the cut got worse. He was ahead on all three scorecards, and seemingly en route to victory as Lewis rapidly tired, before the fight was stopped after the sixth round after advice from the ringside doctor.

    The crowed felt Klitschko had been wronged and was on the way to a near certain win. 

    A rematch was proposed immediately and discussed, but Lewis instead elected to retire. Boxing fans were cheated out of what would certainly have been a tremendous heavyweight showdown.

Felix Trinidad vs. Ike Quartey

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    Another fight that was widely discussed but never came about was a welterweight superfight between Felix "Tito" Trinidad and Ike "Bazooka" Quartey.

    Both fighters held shares of the welterweight championship for a several year stretch in the mid-late 1990's and had impressive power. 

    The division was simply loaded at this point, with the three major titles being held by Trinidad, Quartey and Oscar de la Hoya. You'd be hard pressed to find any points in boxing history, in any weight classes, where the three belts were held by these caliber fighters.

    While both men fought De La Hoya, with Quartey losing a close decision and Trinidad winning a close, controversial decision, they never met each other. And that's a shame. Because someone would've gotten knocked out.

Ike Ibeabuchi vs. the Top Heavyweight's of the 1990's/2000's

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    Ike "The President" Ibeabuchi has developed a cult following since his last fight in 1999. He is the greatest heavyweight champion who never was.

    Ibeabuchi's career was derailed by a series of severe mental problems. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is currently serving a long jail sentence in Nevada for battery and attempted sexual assault.

    While none of the following is intended to excuse his out-of-ring behavior, we will focus just on his in-ring ability.

    Ibeabuchi was a force. He was rock solid, had a freakish activity rate for a heavyweight and literally looked like a brick wall when he stepped into the ring.

    His first huge fight came in June of 1997 against lethal power-punching prospect and knockout artist David Tua. 

    Nobody before had been able to stand in there with Tua and trade power punches. But that's exactly what Ibeabuchi did. Both men sat in the pocket all night exchanging bombs. By the end of the fight, Ibeabuchi had set a heavyweight record for punches thrown, and the two combined for the record in a fight.

    Ibeabuchi won a well-deserved decision that night, and three fights later, would go on to blast another undefeated fighter, future heavyweight champion Chris Byrd. 

    But that's where the train ran off the tracks for Ibeabuchi. It would've been interesting to see how he would've fared against the top heavyweights of his era, including Lennox Lewis and the Klistchko brothers.