28-years ago today: THE greatest cruiserweight fight in boxing history!

Evander Holyfield boxing image / photo

Today in 1986, at The Omni in Atlanta, Georgia, two cruiserweights put on a truly unforgettable 15-round war of a fight that still ranks, all these years later, as THE finest to have been waged in the weight class directly below heavyweight. And though, at the time, the still relatively new cruiserweight division was both dismissed and mocked by many a fan and expert, the battle defending WBA ruler and challenger Evander Holyfield put on went a long way towards getting the division accepted by all.

Holyfield, a 1984 Olympian who was having his 12th pro bout, was seen by many as too inexperienced for the tough, dangerous and crafty born-again Muslim who used to be known as Dwight Braxton. Holyfield, the critics, said, ran out of gas after just a few rounds of warfare, and if that happened against the saw-off slugger (who was also blessed with good defence and a rock of a chin) known as “The Camden Buzzsaw” he would be in a whole heap of trouble.

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Ruslan Chagaev wins “Regular” WBA heavyweight title with majority decision win over Fres Oquendo

Fres Oquendo, Ruslan Chagaev boxing image / photo

Tonight in Grozny, Russia, former WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev became a two-time champ, as he won a 12-round majority verdict over Fres Oquendo to pick up the “regular” WBA strap. The scores were 115-113 twice and 114-114. 35-year-old Chagaev is now 33-2-1(20). 41-year-old Oquendo, who felt he had won, fell to 37-8(24).

It was a bizarre night in many ways. The setting for the fight was quite impressive, as was the ring set-up and the pre-fight entertainment. The presence, too, of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov was quite unique. As for the fight itself, the action was intriguing enough in the early rounds, with southpaw Chagaev pressing the action in his usual bull-like fashion. Fast-handed, Chagaev out-jabbed the taller Oquendo, winning the early to middle rounds. Neither man was noticeably hurt, until Chagaev picked up a nasty cut above the left eye in the 7th.

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Terence Crawford takes a big step towards superstardom with sizzling stoppage win over Yuriorkis Gamboa

Crawford vs. Gamboa, Terence Crawford, Yuriorkis Gamboa boxing image / photo

WBO lightweight king Terence Crawford looked superb last night in handing former amateur superstar Yuriorkis Gamboa his first pro defeat. Too big, tall and rangy he may have been for former featherweight Gamboa, but nothing should be taken from Crawford’s win. Looking for all the world like a Thomas Hearns clone, Crawford displayed power, accuracy, speed and, most of the time – barring the occasion in the 9th-round when he was hurt before turning things back around in his favour – patience.

Gamboa, at a major disadvantage in terms of reach, had to, as commentator Larry Merchant said, “try and make things happen,” and in doing so, by coming in and trying to land dome hurt on his taller opponent, the Cuban talent put himself at serious risk. Crawford of course took advantage of this and buzzed his challenger a number of times. Only Gamboa’s ridiculous heart and courage kept him in the fight, and Gamboa even stated post-fight that, after the second hurtful knockdown of the 9th and final round, he’d wanted to continue.

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Evander Holyfield retires at age 51 – “The Real Deal” goes down in history as a true great

Evander Holyfield boxing image / photo

Living legend and huge overachiever Evander Holyfield has officially retired from boxing at the age of 51. “The Real Deal” said that he has been unable to get fights and that he “don’t want to get hit.” The announcement will no doubt come as a relief to Holyfield’s fans and friends, as it looked until quite recently that the former four-time heavyweight ruler would stick around for what he hoped would be one last big fight.

Now that he has realised he has done more than enough in boxing, Evander can sit back and let the historians decide where they will rank him amongst the other boxing greats that lit up the sport. It’s almost a gimme that Holyfield – who retires with an overall record of 44-10-2 – 1 no-contest (29 KO’s) but a spotless 18-0 (14) as a cruiserweight – will go down as THE greatest cruiserweight of all-time. As to where he will be placed amongst the heavyweight immortals, the 1984 Olympic bronze medallist will probably be placed somewhere in the top-10, or at the very least just below the top-10.

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Yuriorkis Gamboa: time to deliver

Terence Crawford, Yuriorkis Gamboa boxing image / photo

Go back a few years, to 2008 or 2009, and an unbeaten Cuban talent by the name of Yuriorkis Gamboa was on the lips of many a fight expert as a can’t-miss prospect of the hottest variety. The Olympic gold medallist and sensational all-round amateur standout who had defected from his homeland and set up base in Miami appeared to have it all: speed, power, balance, elegance and a killer instinct to match a peak Mike Tyson.

Back then, the only negative aimed at Gamboa was his somewhat leaky defence and his tendency to go down as a result. This only made the featherweight all the more exciting, however, and Gamboa always got back up and upon doing so took care of business. World titles and superstardom looked inevitable but – though the man dubbed “El Ciclon de Guantanamo” picked up a not so shabby three “world” titles at different weights (the WBA and IBF belts at feather, the interim WBA strap at super-feather-weight and interim WBA belt at lightweight) – somewhere along the way Gamboa all but fell off the radar.

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James Toney: 100 fights and out

Whatever you think of him and his decision to be still fighting when in his mid-40s and way past his best, it has to be agreed how future Hall of Famer James Toney has given his whole life to the sport that made him famous, respected and successful. An old-school warrior and fiercly proud of it, Toney, who has already achieved more than enough to have walked away satisfied, has two more goals to reach before he’s done: to have fought a total of 100 pro bouts and to retire as the undisputed heavyweight champion. One of these targets may well be reached, while the other will not. Toney is next scheduled to box in Latvia on July 26th against the huge Evgeny Orlov. Even at this stage in his career, Toney should have enough left to out-score the man-mountain who is colorfully known as “The Molecule From Hell.”

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