This week in boxing history, PBC spans a century of title fights, including an early middleweight champion retaining his crown, two successful defenses by heavyweight icons and the second chapter from one of the sport’s most thrilling rivalries.
July 31, 1908 – Stanley Ketchel knocked out Hugo Kelly in Round 3 (of 20) to retain his world middleweight title at the Coliseum in San Francisco.
The 21-year-old Ketchel, who won the title in February with a first-round KO of Mike Twin Sullivan, would fight seven times in 1908, including wins in two of his three fights with Billy Papke later that year as he became the first man to regain the middleweight championship.
August 1, 1987 – Mike Tyson beat Tony Tucker by 12-round unanimous decision to become the undisputed world heavyweight champion before a crowd of 7,419 at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Tyson, an 11-to-1 betting favorite, retained his WBA and WBC titles with the victory and unseated Tucker as the IBF titleholder to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Leon Spinks upset Muhammad Ali in February 1978.
August 2, 1980 – Thomas Hearns stopped Pipino Cuevas in Round 2 (of 15) to win the WBA welterweight title at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
Cuevas was attempting to make his 12th defense of the championship he won by stopping Angel Espada in July 1976, but his reign came to an end when the rangy Hearns caught him with two right hands that knocked the champ face-first to the canvas and led referee Stanley Christodoulou to wave an end to the bout.
August 4, 2007 – Israel Vazquez stopped Rafael Marquez in Round 6 (of 12) to reclaim the WBC super bantamweight title at Dodge Arena in Hidalgo, Texas.
Vasquez earned the title back from Marquez in the second of their four meetings, which the fighters split at two wins apiece. The rematch was chosen as The Ring’s Fight of the Year, as would be their third bout in 2008. After both fighters suffered cuts in an action-packed Round 3, which was named Round of the Year, Vasquez dropped Marquez in the sixth with a left hook before referee Guadalupe Garcia waved an end to the bout at the 1:16 mark.
August 6, 1966 – Muhammad Ali knocked out Brian London in Round 3 to retain his world heavyweight championship at Earls Court Arena in London.
Ali, a 15-to-1 betting favorite in his fifth title defense, secured the victory with a devastating flurry of punches that dropped the British challenger in the corner.