Former featherweight king Barry McGuigan hits 60 this weekend, February 28, and to celebrate, the enormously popular “Clones Cyclone” has listed his six all-time favourite fights.
Now, a more ego-driven fighter might list one, maybe even two fights of his own when compiling such a list, but not McGuigan. Instead, in writing the piece in his usual column for The Mirror, the man who ruled the world at 126 pounds in 1985 and 1986 has picked one special fight from the 1960s, one from the 1970s, one from the 1980s, and so on. Each fight has a special place in McGuigan’s heart.
Picking just one favourite fight from a full decade is of course a tough thing to do; there are simply so many great and historic fights to pick and choose from. But McGuigan has done a good job, testament to his vast boxing knowledge. McGuigan’s Top Six, from the 1960s to the 2010s, reads as follows
1: Cassius Clay Vs. Sonny Liston. 1964.
“We had never seen anything like Clay before,” McGuigan writes. “He was not only a brilliant fighter he was brash and beautiful. I loved him.”
2: Joe Frazier Vs. Muhammad Ali. 1971.
“It was March of 1971, I was ten years old and this was my introduction to boxing, the first fight I remember seeing,” Barry writes. “Both fighters gave everything.”
3: Roberto Duran Vs. Sugar Ray Leonard I. 1980.
“If I have to pick a favourite Sugar Ray Leonard fight it would be the first meeting with Duran in June of 1980,” McGuigan explains. “I was captain of Ireland’s boxing team preparing for the Moscow Olympics. Everyone in our training camp picked Leonard to win. I chose Duran. Two unbelievable fighters, one incredible spectacle.”
4: Riddick Bowe Vs. Evander Holyfield. 1992
“Another bout fought at an incredible pace. Both Bowe and Holyfield demonstrated limited courage and strength,” Barry writes. “These are the kind of fights that take a little something from a fighter. And they never quite get it back.”
5: Erik Morales Vs. Marco Antonio Barrera. 2000.
“It was breath-taking, shots given and taken at a brutal pace all the way through,” write the former champ.” You could have tossed a coin. Morales got it, though many thought Barrera deserved it. He would get his revenge in the rematch.”
6: Juan Manuel Marquez Vs. Manny Pacquiao. 2012.
“Pacquiao was unique but Marquez was his bogeyman,” McGuigan writes. “Incredibly it was not until their fourth meeting that he got the victory he perhaps deserved in the first two. It was all Pacquiao until Marquez caught him with a right hand that sent him to the deck in the third. Pacquiao responded with a knockdown in the fourth and looked to be closing in on the win in the sixth when a shattered Marquez landed with a counter right for a sensational knockout.”
Six legendary fights that will never be forgotten, picked by a modern day legend who gave the sport some truly special moments himself.
McGuigan won the featherweight title when he defeated the great Eusebio Pedroza in June of 1985. For plenty of fight fans this was a truly special moment and the 15 round battle Mcguigan won is deserving of being ranked as a classic itself. And the epic fight that saw McGuigan lose his crown to huge underdog Steve Cruz also ranks as a great one.
McGuigan may have most in the scorching Las Vegas heat, yet the raw fighting courage he showed in somehow managing to hear the 15th and final bell is indeed the stuff of legend.