Yesterday, I began my countdown of the top 10 biggest fights of the past 20 years which never happened for one reason or another, in honor of the now officially destroyed Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao clash (see below). Here, I’ll finish the top 10 with my 5 biggest fights from the past two decades which boxing fans never got to see. Take a look and enjoy.
5. Felix Trinidad vs. Ike Quartey
During the 1990’s, Trinidad and Quartey were two of the finest welterweights in the sport, with both men holding a share of the championship for significant periods of the decade and neither tasting defeat until 1999. Trinidad held the IBF title for 6 years before adding the WBC belt to his collection by beating Oscar De La Hoya in 1999, while Quartey was the WBA champion from 1994 till being stripped of the title in 1997.
The two boxers proved their willingness to take on the best the division had to offer, as both challenged the other great welterweight of the period, De La Hoya. The Golden Boy beat Quartey via split decision, while against Trinidad, he lost a close and disputed decision. However, despite their willingness to enter the ring with the division’s best, their paths would never cross.
Some will point out that the reason this fight never materialized was due to the long periods of inactivity from Quartey, with the Ghanaian fighting only twice in 3 years at the end of the decade. However, there were ample opportunities to make the fight on several occasions before this, and it remains a travesty that the world never witnessed a unifying fight between the two, when they were both still undefeated, in what could have been one of the 90’s defining fights.
4.Vitali Klitschko vs. Wladimir Klitschko
Unlike many of the bouts here, this fight hasn’t been made due to the politics that surround promoters and boxing organizations, or one fighter ducking the other, but rather it hasn’t occurred due to the boxers of course being related.
The fact that this fight has never been expected due to the family ties means we aren’t left with the sour taste in our mouths as we have been by missing some other clashes. All the same, in the current era of boxing, when the show-piece division is at arguably it weakest point in history, it is a depressing fact that the only two fighters who could even hold a candle to the previous greats will never meet inside the ring.
The two brother’s have dominated the heavyweight division since Lennox Lewis stepped away from the sport, but despite the fact that between them they have racked up over 100 wins, neither fighter has that truly career defining victory. Arguably the closest either has come was Wladimir’s victory against a blown up cruiserweight in the shape of David Haye, with that fight likely to be consigned to a footnote in the history books due to Haye’s poor performance.
A fight between the two not only would have given the brothers their defining fight, but would have also cemented the victor’s place in history alongside the all-time heavyweight greats.
3. Roy Jones Jr. vs. Dariusz Michalczewski
Between 1996 and 2003, Jones and Michalczewski dominated the light heavyweight division, holding all the sanctioning bodies belts between them at one point. The only loss either man had suffered at 175lbs, until Michalczewski’s controversial split decision loss to Julio Cesar Gonzales in October 2003, was Jones’ disqualification against Montell Griffin, one he would quickly avenge in their rematch with a first round knockout. Incredibly, before the loss to Gonzales the duo had combined record at light heavyweight of 62-1 with 39 of those fights being for world titles.
With the two seeing off all competitors it seemed the only natural course of action was for them to meet and decide once and for all who was the finest light heavyweight in recent history. Fight fans across Europe and America were clamoring for the showdown, with it seemingly becoming more and more inevitable with each man’s further victory. However, one thing fans didn’t anticipate was each man’s stubbornness to travel.
In Michalczewski’s case, his promoters Universum were unwilling to make the fight anywhere else other than Germany, where the Tiger was a huge draw. Jones Jr. meanwhile refused to travel as he still harbored bad memories of his robbery at the Seoul Olympic games, and felt he might not get a fair decision outside of the states. With the inability to find a solution to this problem, the fight was never made, and asterisks will remain against each man’s legacy for not fighting the other.
2. Lennox Lewis vs. Riddick Bowe
In 1993, Lewis and Bowe were the cream of the crop in the heavyweight division. Mike Tyson was serving time in jail, while Evander Holyfield and Razor Ruddock, the divisions two other main contenders, had been beaten by Bowe and Lewis respectively in their last outings, paving way for a showdown between the Seoul Olympic super-heavyweight finalists.
On that occasion, the ref stopped the contest in the 2nd round, handing Lewis the gold medal; however, it was Bowe who was now the undisputed champion, having beaten Holyfield for his WBA, WBC and IBF titles. Lewis meanwhile had blasted out Ruddock inside two rounds to become the WBC mandatory contender, thus making the fight a near formality, but Bowe had other ideas.
During a press conference Bowe would infamously throw his WBC belt into a trash can, resulting in him being immediately stripped of his titles and ending dreams of a clash with Lewis. Although most point to this action as proof that Bowe ducked Lewis, no one can say for certain the reasons behind Bowe’s actions, what is for certain is that it was a turning point in both men’s careers.
From here, Bowe would go on to defend his remaining titles against the average Micheal Dokes and Jesse Ferguson before losing a rematch to Holyfield, never reaching the same previous dizzy heights. Of course, Lewis would go on to become an undisputed champion and the greatest heavyweights of all-time.
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs Manny Pacquiao
It can be of little surprise to see this fight top the list, after all it seems like this match-up has been in the making for the best part of a decade. Since the two began topping pound for pound lists at the number 1 and 2 positions, this fight, more than any other, is the one fans have been craving. Such was the hype surrounding the possible clash, PPV records would certainly have been smashed. But as was the case of the previous nine fights listed here, no fight would materialize.
Every fight fan has speculated why the fight hasn’t happened, be it due to the drug testing, the splitting of the purse, the promoters, or one ducking the other, and I guess it’s one of those things we may never know. What is clear for all to see though, is that the biggest fight of the past 20 years will never happen, and both fighter’s careers may ultimately be remembered for the fight that never was.
Some have began to point out that the fight is now more likely than ever, following Pacquiao’s knockout defeat against Marquez. However, even if the two meet, the buzz surrounding it won’t be the same as a few years ago when both could lay claim to being the top fighter in the world. In all honestly, I now hope a fight between the two rivals doesn’t occur, as it would leave a bad taste in my mouth, with the only reason for the fight now being to allow both parties to cash in on the last of the hype, in what would undoubtedly be a mismatch.
While we might have missed out on Mayweather-Pacquiao, there are plenty more potential match-ups to look forward to in 2013, lets just hope this time they’re made.