Top 5 Favorite Best (Worst) Boxing Beat Downs in Recent Boxing History
Even the most versatile and skilled fighters occasionally end up on the wrong side of a decision loss, a highlight reel knockout or even an agonizing beat down. For this article, I will take you through my top five worst big fight boxing beat downs of the 2000’s.
#5 Floyd Mayweather v. Arturo Gatti (June 25, 2005)
On this day “Money Mayweather” was born as he would dazzle and pretty much do whatever he wanted to do against brave Arturo Gatti. The fight would catapult boxing’s future PPV king into mainstream superstardom. Mayweather’s trademark defense-first style took a rare backseat to a more offensive approach that saw him hammer a hapless Gatti from pillar to post.
Just as he promised, Mayweather was too fast, too talented and simply too much for Arturo Gatti. Everyone except Gatti seemed convinced that this would be a gross mismatch but the then 32-year-old was undeterred.
That relentless pursuit would prove ill fated as Mayweather silenced the mostly pro-Gatti sellout crowd at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall with a shut out performance. CompuBox numbers only reinforced Mayweather’s utter domination with the Michigan native landing 168 total punches to Gatti’s abysmal 41.
Gatti’s face was a complete mess by the end of the sixth when the fight was mercifully stopped. In hindsight, the Italian Canadian should have adhered to the old adage – ‘Be careful what you wish for.’
#4 Vitali Klitschko v. Shannon Briggs (October 10, 2010)
Some fighters are simply able to use name recognition to remain relevant and to secure title shots they do not deserve. Such was the case with Shannon Briggs, the former two-time titleholder in his disastrous bid to unseat reigning WBC boss Vitali Klitschko back in 2010. Dr. Iron Fist was making his fifth title defense since stopping Samuel Peter in October 2008.
Briggs displayed tremendous heart and a gutsy determination but offered nothing else as the big Ukrainian proceeded to pummel him. Miraculously, neither the referee, Ian John Lewis, nor Briggs’ trainers, Herman Caicedo and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad stopped the fight after the carnage began.
Briggs was admitted to Hamburg’s Eppendorf University Hospital with a broken left orbital bone in his face, a broken nose and a torn left bicep. The Brooklyn native also underwent a full CT scan but went on to make a full recovery from his injuries. The elder Klitschko would retire for good in 2013 to try his hand at politics. Unfortunately, Briggs continues to campaign as a heavyweight fighter today.
#3 Lennox Lewis v. Mike Tyson (June 8, 2002)
This long-anticipated fight, years in the making, turned out to be a gross mismatch. However, the unique aura surrounding these aging fighters would at least guarantee its commercial success even if the actual fight failed to deliver. The epic matchup racked in $106.9 million in the U.S. to become the highest grossing heavyweight PPV event in boxing history. Their bizarre press conference brawl would only increase the intrigue.
Tyson was widely viewed as a diminished but dangerous fighter with explosive punching power that could change the tide of any fight. A 3-year stint in an Indiana jailhouse on the rape conviction followed by two devastating losses to Evander Holyfield had eroded much of his skills as well as fighting spirit. That made no difference to Tyson diehards, who saw the Lewis bout as a kind of going away party for their hero.
Many scored the first round for Tyson as he used sheer aggression and a springing attack to keep the champion on his heels. It all went downhill from there after Lewis began to impose his considerable size and weight advantage to smother Tyson. Lewis pressed his advantage with blistering jabs, hooks and rights that seemed to land at will.
By the fifth round, Tyson was bleeding from both eyes and his nose. Lewis would end matters with a hellacious right hook to the jaw that put Tyson flat on his back in the eighth round. Tyson was counted out as he rose to his knees. Although there was a rematch clause, there would be no need to exercise it.
#2 Manny Pacquiao v. Oscar De La Hoya (December 6, 2008)
Billed as The Dream Match, this welterweight fight represented a kind of “passing of the torch”, so to speak, to Pacquiao. It is also the only fight on this list with no titles on the line but clearly featured two of the sports most decorated practitioners.
Pacquiao was The Ring’s current pound-for-pound king, and a five-time world champion in five different weight classes (as well as the reigning WBC lightweight champion at the time). De La Hoya was an Olympic gold medalist, the former holder of 10 world titles across six weight classes and the sport’s cash cow.
Critics of the welterweight fight called it a joke. After all De La Hoya, the naturally bigger man, was expected to be too much for the Filipino whirlwind, who had only fought once at 135 pounds. De La Hoya, while past his prime, was still one of boxing’s greats and had just given a very spirited albeit losing effort against the sublime Floyd Mayweather the previous year.
Any consternation surrounding Pacquiao’s health and well-being was unfounded. Pac Man bruised and battered a very stiff De La Hoya all night with a stifling combination of speed and angles. The end could not come quick enough but De La Hoya would finally succumb to the beating by retiring on his stool before the start of the ninth round.
In a touching moment, Roach and his formal pupil embraced and De La Hoya said, “Freddie, you are right. I don’t have it anymore.” Moreover, with those words, De La Hoya’s Golden Boy career came to its shocking, climatic end.
#1 Joe Calzaghe v. Jeff Lacy (March 4, 2006)
Calzaghe’s surreal 2006 points demolition job on American Jeff Lacy takes the cake here. The fight essentially rplaced the entire world on notice that they had just witnessed something special from British boxing’s best kept secret. Calzaghe threw a staggering 1,006 punches in this masterclass and went on to punctuate an amazing unbeaten career by besting two American legends. Conversely, Lacy’s star would never reach boxing’s upper echelon in the years following the horrendous drubbing.
Jeff Lacy, once hailed as the ‘next Mike Tyson,’ was widely expected to make short work of the mostly obscure and injury-prone Welshman. The only contention among pundits and bookies alike seemed to center upon how badly “Left Hook” would whip old Joe. Well, a whipping would certainly occur, just not in the manner that everyone expected. Calzaghe virtually won every minute of every round using his superior hand speed and work rate to befuddle Lacy.
By round three, Calzaghe was sporting a confident smirk as he continued to punish Lacy with incessant punches from absurd angles. The only thing keeping the American in this fight was his courage and chin until a left and right finally put him down for a count of four in the final round. Lacy looked like he had been in a car wreck with cuts around both eyes by the sound of the final bell. Never before and not since have I seen such a lop-sided title fight.
10 More of My Favorite Boxing Beatdowns (In no particular order)
- Shane Mosley v. Antonio Margarito
- Winky Wright v. Felix Trinidad
- Mikkel Kessler v. Librado Andrade
- Miguel Cotto v. Paulie Malignaggi
- Bernard Hopkins v. Kelly Pavlik
- Oscar De La Hoya v. Fernando Vargas
- Terrence Crawford v. John Molina
- Sergey Kovalev v. Jean Pascal 2
- Marco Antonio Barrera v. Prince Naseem Hamed
- Carl Froch v. Lucian Bute