This week in boxing history, PBC remembers some of the most dramatic title bouts of all time, including the first million dollar fight, a high-intensity bantamweight showdown and the bite felt around the world.
June 26, 1999 – Paulie Ayala defeated Johnny Tapia by unanimous decision to win the WBA bantamweight title in Las Vegas.
The undefeated Tapia (46-0-2) was making his first title defense, but Ayala outboxed him over 12 grueling rounds to earn a close decision in The Ring’s Fight of the Year. Ayala also edged Tapia by unanimous decision in a non-title rematch in October 2000.
June 28, 1997 – Evander Holyfield beat Mike Tyson by third-round disqualification to retain his WBA heavyweight title at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
After Holyfield stopped Tyson in the 11th round of their first meeting in November 1996 to win the title, the rematch resulted in one of boxing’s most infamous endings. After Tyson lost the first two rounds, the former champ twice bit Holyfield’s ears in Round 3 and was disqualified by referee Mills Lane.
June 30, 1975 – Muhammad Ali defeated Joe Bugner by unanimous decision to retain his WBA and WBC heavyweight titles before an estimated crowd of 22,000 at Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Ali was making his third title defense in 100 days after reclaiming the championship from George Foreman in October 1974. His rematch with Bugner, who Ali also beat by unanimous decision in February 1973, was the champ’s last bout before he fought Joe Frazier for a third time in the “Thrilla in Manila.”
July 2, 1921 – Jack Dempsey knocked out Georges Carpentier in Round 4 to retain his world heavyweight championship before an estimated 90,000 spectators at Boyle’s Thirty Acres in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The fight generated boxing’s first million dollar gate, with gross receipts totaling more than $1.7 million, and was also the first sporting event ever broadcast on live radio. Dempsey, making his third title defense, was rocked in the second round by Carpentier, the reigning light heavyweight champion, before stopping the Frenchman in the fourth with a right hook.
July 2, 1925 – Harry Greb defeated Mickey Walker by unanimous decision to retain his world middleweight title before more than 50,000 spectators at the Polo Grounds in New York.
Greb outslugged Walker, who was the reigning world welterweight champion, to win one of the most ferocious title bouts of all time and The Ring’s Fight of the Year. According to legend, the fighters ran into each other at a nightclub after the bout and were about to continue their battle in the street until a police officer separated them.