This week in boxing history, PBC highlights two heavyweight title bouts, including a Knockout of the Year, looks back at Hall of Famer going down in an Upset of the Year, honors one of the sport’s most thrilling welterweight champions and celebrates the finale of a legendary trilogy.
June 6, 1988 – Iran Barkley stopped Thomas Hearns in Round 3 to claim the WBC middleweight title at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Hearns, a 4-to-1 favorite, was making the first defense of the title he won by knocking out Juan Domingo Roldan in October 1987. After the champ controlled the first 2½ rounds, Barkley landed a right cross that put Hearns on his back. Hearns got up but was immediately sent into the ropes as referee Richard Steele stopped the right, which The Ring named Upset of the Year.
June 7, 2003 – Arturo Gatti defeated Micky Ward by 10-round unanimous decision in a 142-pound non-title bout at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the finale of their storied trilogy.
Gatti won despite being knocked down in the sixth round of The Ring’s Fight of Year. The first of their two fights in 2002 also was named Fight of the Year. Their final meeting was the fourth time Gatti competed in the FOY, and marked the third consecutive year Ward, who retired after the bout, was involved in the year’s top fight, becoming the first boxer to do so since Carmen Basilio from 1955-57.
June 8, 2002 – Lennox Lewis knocked out Mike Tyson in Round 8 to retain his WBC and IBF heavyweight titles at The Pyramid in Memphis, Tennessee.
Lewis dominated the bout and was ahead 69-64 on all three judges’ scorecards before sending a bloodied Tyson to the canvas with a powerful right that resulted in The Ring’s Knockout of the Year. It would be the last title fight in Tyson’s career.
June 9, 1978 – Larry Holmes defeated Ken Norton by split decision to win the WBC heavyweight title at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Norton was making the first defense of the title he was awarded in March 1978 after Leon Spinks was stripped of the crown for giving Muhammad Ali an immediate rematch instead of defending against Norton. Despite injuring his left arm just days before the bout, Holmes edged Norton in a thriller, with two of the judges scoring it 143-142 for Holmes and the third giving Norton a 143-142 advantage.
June 10, 1955 – Carmen Basilio stopped Tony DeMarco in Round 12 to claim the world welterweight title at War Memorial Auditorium in Syracuse, New York.
Basilio would go on to win their title rematch in November by 12th-round TKO in a bout The Ring named Fight of the Year. It was the first of three consecutive years in which Basilio would be victorious in the Fight of the Year.