The Top 10 Most Anticipated Fights Of The Last 20 Years

Ivan GonzalezContributor IDecember 2, 2008

I understand that Filipino fans and De la Hoya fans are riding high in anticipation for this Saturday's "Dream Match." Yawn!

If there's something that a boxing fan knows is that anticipation for a good matchup doesn't guarantee a good fight and, I'm sorry, but I just don't see what there is to be excited about DLH/Pacman, but it got me thinking: before Cotto vs Margarito or Pacquiao vs Marquez II earlier this year, when was the last time boxing fans felt truly excited about an upcoming superfight?

Here's my "two cents" on the issue with an emphasis on popular opinion (personally, Cotto vs Margarito would've been my No. 1). I can distinctly remember feeling butterflies for a week before some of these fights happened. I may have called in sick on the Friday prior to some of these fights just because my brain was on boxing overload. Without further ado:

10. De La Hoya vs Mayweather Jr. (2007) Jr. Middleweights
I just felt I needed to put this one somewhere in here. After all, it is the highest grossing fight in boxing history, so somebody was hot for it. Personally, I thought it sucked as both a potential matchup and a fight. I do have to admit that it is a better matchup than Pacquiao-De La Hoya.

9. Leonard vs Hearns II (1989) Super Middleweights

Seven years too late? Maybe. A couple of washed up fighters trying to recapture past glories? Definitely. Were Leonard's trousers migraine inducers? You betcha! We all watched the fight; and what we saw was Hearns even his rivalry with Leonard (even by Leonard's admission), despite the draw decision in a superb scrap.

8. Lewis vs Tyson (2002) Heavyweights
We all knew that Tyson didn't stand a chance against the bigger, stronger Lewis; but we all watched. It was a Tyson fight after all. As much as it wasn't even close to being a great fight, even on paper, it was so long overdue that I was chomping at the bit to see this happen. As with many of Tyson's fights, we re-learned that we should probably not buy into the hype of the PPV build-up shows. Damn you, HBO 24/7!!!

7. Morales vs Barrera II (2002) Featherweights
After their classic 2000 bout, this was a no-brainer. As was their third fight.

6. Pacquiao vs Marquez II (2008) Super Featherweight/Jr. Lightweight
After a four year-long wait, Pacman and JMM fought to another controversial and inconclusive finish. This time, Pacman won a split decision. Fight three wouldn't hurt anybody's feelings, now would it?

5. De La Hoya vs Hopkins (2004) Middleweights
Seen as a mismatch due to DLH's smaller frame, this fight was for the undisputed middleweight championship of the world, but was fought at 158 lbs. The fight itself was close until the 9th round when Hopkins landed a body shot that folded DLH in half and, in the process, cemented Hopkins' status as a boxing legend.

4. Cotto vs Margarito (2008) Welterweights
In April of this year, these true warriors set the stage for the biggest fight that could be made in boxing at the time by defeating lesser opponents on the same card. After nearly three months of hype and speculation. We were treated to a nearly perfect clash of styles and a "fight-of-the-year" contender. The rematch is tentatively scheduled for 2009. Can't wait.

3. Whitaker vs Chavez (1993) Welterweights
Chavez was "given" some decisions he didn't deserve in his day. This was the worst case, in my opinion. Moving up in weight to challenge Whitaker for his WBC piece of the welterweight title, Chavez was thoroughly outboxed and outclassed. This remains one of the most obvious "gift" decisions in boxing history.

2. De La Hoya vs Trinidad (1999) Welterweights
In what was billed as the Fight of the Millennium, Felix Trinidad defeated Oscar de la Hoya by a controversial majority decision. The fight generated 1.4 million PPV buys; at the time a record for a non-heavyweight fight and the last superfight of the 20th century. A rematch never materialized.

1. Holyfield vs Tyson (1996) Heavyweights
Simply billed as "FINALLY!", this fight was originally signed for November of 1991. By this time, The Real Deal had spent the better part of the last two years as the No. 1 heavyweight in the world. Tyson was still the hottest commodity in boxing, even after losing soundly to Buster Douglas, but between the alleged Tyson injuries during training and his conviction for the rape of Desiree Washington, the fight was delayed for five years.

Being 34 at the time, Holyfield was considered to be "washed-up" and a huge underdog (two to one). Holyfield went on to destroy and humiliate Tyson (twice) and cement his place in boxing history (not before losing part of his ear in the rematch).

Did I miss something? Leave a comment.