The Top 10 Heavyweight Boxing Matches

Mixed martial arts is growing on me, but there are so many poor fighters it seems to me.  And regardless, the matches just don’t go head-to-head with the ultimate heavyweight traditional boxing matches.

Traditional boxing just seems so much more thoughtful.  At least the great ones.  And no one matches Ali.

Now, the heavyweight division just suxes.  I dream of the old days, but enjoy the guys in the lower-weight classes while I await the next great heavyweight. lists the current Top 50 heavyweight boxers.

The Bleacher Report has their Top 10 Heavyweight Boxers of All time.  Can’t argue with their list.  Nice!!  Find them @BleacherReport.

But that is not what this post is about!!

So, here are my Top 10 matches I have ever seen in person, on TV or on pay-per-view.

10)    Larry Holmes vs. Ken Norton. June 9, 1978. Las Vegas. Result: Holmes W15 (split)

Two top boxers of all time trying to fill the void left by Ali.  Ali had recently lost to Leon Spinks.  No comment.  Larry Holmes had that monster jab of his, just punishing his opponent.  But Ken Norton always could take a punch.  Then he just got mad.  And he had powerful punches of his own, winning the middle rounds.  Norton just hammered Holmes in Round 14 with a barrage of heavy overhand rights.  Round 15 was even as both boxers went toe-to-toe trading massive punches.  The bell found them exhausted and a split decision in Larry Holmes’ favor.  Great fight.

9)    The Rumble in the Jungle, Muhammed Ali vs George Foreman 1974.  No one gave Ali a chance of winning.  Foreman was the giant monster who had knocked out BOTH Joe Frazier and Kenny Norton.  Ali had beat both boxers, but he also had lost to both.  This was Ali’s chance to regain the title.  No one expected him to do it.

Ali surprised everyone with his rope-a-dope tactic, hanging on  the ropes and inviting Foreman to hit him.  Foreman did.  Over and over and over for 7 rounds.  But his punches were ineffective and he was exhausted.  Round 8:  Ali knocks Foreman to the floor with a strong combination and won back his title.  I remember cheering and even a few tears.  Ali was my hero.

A personal note:  Once when I was at Harrah’s in South Lake Tahoe, I wound up eye to eye with Foreman in the casino.  When I was younger I was 6’5″ and 220ish.  Usually the biggest guy in the room, sometimes I would meet up with guys my size or bigger.  Kind of like a club.  I’ve known other heavyweights and pro football players.  Big guys.

Foreman was not only tall & big, he was so massive he actually made me feel small.

OK, he made me feel frigging tiny.  Tiny.

Never happened to me before or after.  We shook hands.  Well, I had a hand.  He had a giant something.  I never have seen hands that large.  He could have been frightening, but with a huge smile and a soft voice he said, “Nice to see you, man.  Nice to see you.”


8) 7)  6) & 5)   I really have a hard time picking one over the other so we get the two Ali vs Kenny Norton bouts and the first two Ali vs Frazier bouts.  All four were split, Ali beat each man and lost to each man.  Those bouts set up the third Ali vs Frazier which is number:

4)   The Thrilla in Manila.  Ali vs Joe Frazier for the third and final time.  1975.  Each boxer had bested the other in some great prior bouts.  Everyone seemed to expect Smokin’ Joe Frazier to win.  Ali had just fought Chuck Wepner in a bout that inspired the original Rocky film.  Wepner, a journeyman with no real skills besides being able to survive hard punches to his face,  had knocked Ali down like 3 times.  How shocking.

This match went 14 hard rounds in grueling 100 degree heat with the Manila humidity.  Frazier’s eyes were swollen shut.  He could not answer the bell for Round 15 and Ali prevailed.  Ali always surprised.  A master of so many boxing styles.

November 8, 2011:

Joe Frazier dies, Ali will remember him with “respect”.  Read the article HERE.

3)    George Foreman vs. Ron Lyle. Jan 24, 1976. Las Vegas. Result: Foreman KO 5

Foreman had recently lost to Ali and this was a tune-up for him to try to regain his title.  No one really expected much of a fight here.  Both had recently lost to Ali and were looking for a path to another title bout.

Lyle was a fearless fighter and registered badass.  He had spent over 7 years in the penitentiary.  While in prison he was stabbed and actually pronounced dead.  So, was he afraid of the massive Foreman?  Sure didn’t seem to be.

Ron Lyle scared the hell out of me.  He always seemed to be just on the edge of exploding.  Even Cosell seemed to be afraid of Lyle when he interviewed him.

What a fucking slugfest!  Each boxer kept slamming and each kept reeling  as both fighters threw big big punches.  Heavy punching was the only skill on exhibit here.  It was an amazing and entertaining fight.  And much much too short.

Round 1, Ron Lyle staggered Foreman with many hard punches.

Round 2, Foreman turns it around and Lyle is really only saved by the bell.  He seemed to be in deep trouble.

Round 3, pretty much a draw as both men tried to box, but ended up trading massive punches.

Round 4, Lyle slams Foreman early with a hard right hand and a number of massive left-right combinations and Foreman gets a standing 8 count.   It was vicious.

Lyle moved in for the win, only to meet Foreman’s huge overhand right, smashing him to the canvas.  Now Foreman moves in for the kill.  Lyle is desperate but manages one tremendous left hand punch as he was against the ropes, sending Foreman to the mat once again!!  Foreman was flat on his face, but somehow beat the ten-count and was saved by the bell.

Round 5, Foreman just reels from a hard right and crushing left by Lyle.  A huge uppercut actually lifts the massive Foreman up off the canvas.

Foreman gets Lyle against the ropes again and just punishes his body.  Punch after punch after punch.  Finally Lyle slumps to the canvas and is counted out.

That fight crowd is still cheering!!

I read somewhere that there was a very large earthquake like a week after the fight.  The guy thought that maybe it was caused by all the heavy hitting in this bout.

You MMA fans check this shit out.

2)    ok, I take it back.  Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier 3, Oct 1, 1975 Manila, Phillipines. Result: Ali TKO

yes, I listed this fight as my #4.  But it has to be higher, maybe even #1 from a sheer spectacle perspective.  So sue me for listing it twice.

I was never a Frazier fan.  But I gained tons of respect for him in this fight.  He nearly killed Ali.  Ali says he actually thought of quitting after Round 10.  He said it was the closest to death in the ring that he had ever experienced.

Round 11 was just more of the same as Frazier seemed to be just too brutal for Ali.  After that Ali seemed to hit Frazier whenever and wherever he wanted.

Frazier had no answer.  Round 14 ended and Frazier’s trainer would not let him come out for Round 15.  Ali wins and regains his title.  Somehow.

The 3 matches between these two were some of the best bouts ever, and the 3 matches together were just amazing.

1)  Ali vs Frazier first fight, 1971:  The Fight of the Century


    Ali Vs Floyd Patterson


    Ali (then Cassius Clay) vs Sonny Liston, 1967

I know, I know….pick one dude,  just pick one.

The first Frazier fight was great with Ali winning and setting up his loss in fight #2 and his great win in the Thrilla in Manila.

Ali vs Patterson was just kind of surreal, so I pick:

Ali vs Sonny Liston, 1967.  I was 15 and a Liston fan, listening to the Saturday Night Fights on the radio.  Boxing matches on radio were just so exciting as you conjured up the fight in your head, hanging on the announcers every word.

Clay (Ali) was a skilled Olympic gold medal winner but had no chance against the experienced champion Liston.  Liston was a strange guy but had been a good  and consistent champ.

Liston had great powerful punches, but Ali was a dancer.  And his jab was just lightening quick back then.  Heck, it was quick even in his later years.

But against Liston the jab was magnificent, and Ali shocked the world as Liston refused to answer the bell for Round 7.

People hated Ali the next day, as if he had done something wrong, when maybe it was actually Liston who had fought dirty.

Many said he had smeared something toxic on his gloves between Rounds 3 & 4, blinding Ali in the 4th round.

And then, suddenly we had a new heavyweight champ and even though it was definitely not #1 based on all of Ali’s other great matches, shocking the world counts as the greatest ever in my book.

No, none of Mike Tyson’s bouts are on the list.  He was amazing.  For awhile.  Then Tyson’s brain exploded and so did his career.  Prison did nothing for his boxing skills, but mostly I think losing Cus D’Amato early in his career was an event he just was unable to recover from.  But if first round knockouts constitute great fights, then Tyson is your man.

For me:  Ali Ali Ali

What are your Top 10??  Let us know.



  1. Thank you and nice job.


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