A recent article, brilliantly written as well as interesting, got plenty of people thinking – avid fight fans, those of us who try their best at writing about this special sport as best as they can, especially.
The article (I’ll be darned if I can’t find it again!) asks the writer to list the greatest fights he ever saw – live and in person, at ringside or while sat in a decent enough seat to afford him a good view of the action (a ringside seat can be hugely expensive, but if you haven’t managed to get the gift of a ringside credential, what ya gonna do!).
Sitting there in person, within almost touching distance of the ring, is a truly special thing, also a thing of privilege. Two men – either proven stars/champions, or emerging contenders, or perhaps unknown prospects – laying it ALL on the line. And you are there to see it unfold. Anything can happen and you know it, as do the two fighters.
So, what then are the ten (yeah, let’s go with 10) greatest, most special, most memorable (for whatever reason or reasons) fights you ever sat (or stood) at ringside?
As the article that inspired this article said, such a list will show your age. That said, don’t go expecting to see any fights involving Sugar Ray Robinson, or Leonard come to that, or Ali, or Hagler, or Duran, or Hearns on my list.
Still, I’ve been lucky enough to have been there for some great ones, some special ones – great as well as special to me, certainly.
Here they are, in reverse order:
Clinton Woods Vs. Julio Cesar Gonzalez II. 2007. Sheffield, UK.
Woods is my favorite British fighter. Criminally underrated (I believe he would have beaten Joe Calzaghe had the fight come off after Clinton had beaten Glen Johnson), Woods had immense drive and toughness. Against Gonzalez, who Woods had beaten handily in a previous meeting, the reigning IBF 175 pound champ needed it all.
The championship rounds were special, with both men digging in as they traded shots. Woods edged it this time, despite what the official cards said
Jamie McDonnell Vs. Julio Ceja. 2013. Doncaster, UK.
Ceja, looked at by some as the next Mexican star, fought hard for the vacant IBF bantamweight title, and McDonnell was right there to match him on this chilly May evening. It was close and both young fighters gave their all. McDonnell edged it (more crazy scoring doing its best to spoil an excellent fight) but Ceja would come again. Best of all on this night, yours truly got to spend some quality time with the great Nacho Beristain.
Shane Mosley Vs. Oscar De La Hoya II. 2003. Las Vegas.
My first super-fight. Nuff said, really. This return fight was not as good as the epic Sugar Shane and Oscar put on in 2000, but it was still full of intensity and class. And the result, a decision for Mosley, had all of Vegas talking for days.
David Haye Vs. Monte Barrett. 2008. London, UK.
Haye was genuinely expected to do big things, great things, as a heavyweight. This fight, against a solid, experienced and when he wanted to be, explosive puncher, was the first step on the road to a reign as a heavyweight superstar. Or so we were led to believe. It was still a hugely appreciated suggest between these two, with both men hitting the floor. Oh, and Monte Barrett’s crazy ring entrance was fun.
James Toney Vs. Evander Holyfield. 2003. Las Vegas.
Two living legends battling it out in a fight neither man could afford to lose. Seeing the simply masterful Toney up close as he did his work – his brilliant defensive moves, his majestic counters – was as incredible as it was educational. And Toney took the time to give almost every reporter an interview afterward. Yeah, special, even if it was sad seeing Holyfield get so badly beaten.
Floyd Mayweather Vs. Carlos Baldomir. 2006. Las Vegas.
My first fight covering the so-called TBE (back then Pretty Boy). No, the fight was no classic, but plenty of Floyd’s moves were. Awesome to observe up close, Mayweather dazzled many of us that night. If only he’d closed the show the way he could have. Bonus: Floyd gave us all a very nice watch at the post-fight presser!
Floyd Mayweather Vs. Miguel Cotto. 2012. Las Vegas.
The pound-for-pound best in the sport was pushed hard in what was his second fight at 154. Cotto worked incredibly hard, he managed to give Floyd a bloody break, and the passionate Puerto Rican fans went crazy! The atmosphere here was electric. Mayweather perhaps proved his greatness here more so than in his other big one staged at 154 pounds.
Carl Froch Vs. Lucian Bute. 2012. Nottingham, UK.
Froch, a significant underdog, made all of British boxing proud. A smashing performance in a fight that, far from being a closer than close war, ended up being a veritable massacre, this one saw Froch at his violent best. And the post-fight party at the hotel was epic (what me and my photographer buddy can remember of it!)
Joel Casamayor Vs. Diego Corrales. 2003. Las Vegas.
Two-way action between two modern greats. Casamayor and “Chico” traded knockdowns and Corrales suffered one of the nastiest and most bloody mouth injuries ever seen. The ending was disappointing but both men gave more in half a fight than many big names do in a full 12 rounds. If only I’d talked with Diego the way I did Joel.
Jamie Moore Vs. Matthew Macklin. 2006. Manchester, UK.
British boxing’s equivalent of Gatti-Ward, this 154-pound war of attrition that contested the British belt was truly incredible. The pace, inside a sweltering arena, was truly something to behold. Macklin put the heat on Moore for round after round, on occasion looking as though he would overwhelm the defending champ.
Moore had some cool moves, some crafty moves, and he held onto what was left in his gas tank longer than Macklin was able to do. It was punch-stat-crazy stuff all the way until the brutal finish; one that left Macklin laid out flat on his face, the crowd left in a state of silence, Moore not going near any celebratory moves.
Thankfully, Macklin was okay. Thanks to the great, the eminent, the distinguished, the simply awesome sport of boxing, I was there.