This week in boxing history, PBC looks back at two Fights of the Year, highlights a heavyweight title rematch, recalls a matchup of unbeaten world champions and celebrates one of boxing’s biggest upsets.
April 17, 1967 – Nino Benvenuti beat Emile Griffith by unanimous decision to win the WBA and WBC middleweight titles at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
In the first of their three meetings, which The Ring named Fight of the Year, Griffith was knocked down in Round 2, and Benvenuti hit the canvas in the fourth. Griffith would go on to win the rematch in September 1967 before Benvenuti won the rubber match in March 1968.
April 18, 1961 – Joe Brown defeated Dave Charnley by points over 15 rounds to retain his world lightweight championship at Earl’s Court Stadium in London.
Brown defended his title for the 10th time in a rematch with Charnley in a bout The Ring named Fight of the Year. While there were no knockdowns, a bloodied Charnley desperately pressed the action late in the contest, which resulted in the fighters swapping punches to the delight of the crowd.
April 19, 1986 – Michael Spinks edged Larry Holmes by split decision in a rematch to retain his IBF heavyweight title at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Spinks gained his second straight victory over Holmes, who had won his first 48 fights while dominating the heavyweight division before losing a unanimous decision to Spinks in September 1985.
April 22, 2001 – Hasim Rahman knocked out Lennox Lewis in Round 5 to win the WBC and IBF heavyweight titles at Carnival City in Brakpan, South Africa.
In one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, Rahman caught Lewis, a 20-to-1 favorite, with a right cross that sent the champion to the canvas and ended the fight. The Ring named the bout Knockout of the Year and Upset of the Year. Lewis would regain the titles by fourth-round KO in a November 2001 rematch in Las Vegas.
April 23, 1977 – Carlos Zarate stopped Alfonso Zamora in Round 4 of their bantamweight fight at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
Although both Zarate (45-0 with 44 KOs) and Zamora (29-0 with 29 KOs) were undefeated world champions, neither the WBC or WBA sanctioned the contest as a title fight. That didn’t diminish the intensity of the bout, which was interrupted by a fan entering the ring in Round 1, and ended with Alfonso Zamora Sr. throwing in the towel before climbing on the ring apron to go after Zarate’s trainer, Arturo Hernandez.