This trilogy ended in one of boxing's most public tragedies, the death of Paret after he was punched into a coma by Griffith in their final fight. The rivalry between these two welterweight world champions was heated, with a tremendous amount of personal animosity.
Griffith captured the title from Paret in April 1961 by Round 13 KO, after 12 extremely competitive rounds. At the weigh in before their Madison Square Garden rematch five months later, Paret enraged Griffith by calling him a Spanish homophobic slur.
Paret won a hotly contested split decision. Between his second war with Griffith and their rematch, Paret stepped up to middleweight and challenged the champion, Gene Fullmer.
Fullmer pounded Paret for 10 rounds before stopping him. In Teddy Atlas and Burt Sugar's The Ultimate Book of Boxing Lists, Fullmer is quoted as saying "I never beat anybody like that in my life."
And Fullmer beat a lot of people up in his career.
Four months later, Paret was back down at welterweight to defend his belt against Griffith. Again, he insulted Griffith at the weigh in, with the same word.
The fight was another war. Griffith generally outworked Paret, but Paret dropped Griffith with a hook in Round 6.
In Round 10, Griffith captured Paret in the corner and pounded him with over 30 unanswered punches. Paret was unconscious and slumped against the ropes before the referee finally intervened. He would never gain consciousness.
The fight was broadcast on live television and seemed to have a lasting impact on Griffith, who continued to be a world-class fighter, but truly seemed to knock out less people than he could have for the rest of his career.