SAN DIEGO, Calif., April 17, 2020 – Top Rank Boxing cracks open its video vault of priceless boxing performance for an augmented encore presentation of classic fights featuring some of the sport’s greatest names including Lison, Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Chavez, Tyson, Hagler and Hearns on Saturday, April 18.
Following the success of its heavyweight fight marathon, ESPN will air 11 consecutive hours of the sweet science starting at 12 noon ET/9 am PT. This time, some of the greatest bouts of all time in multiple weight divisions will thrill fans again, or for the first time.
For the first time in 30 years, the entire epic trilogy between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier will be shown. Ali vs. Frazier I has never been aired before on ESPN platforms, and has not aired on U.S. television in nearly 30 years since August 1991.
In addition to the linear telecast, Ali-Frazier I will become available on ESPN+ , joining the other two fights in the Ali-Frazier trilogy. This marks the first time ever that all three of the historic fights are available together on demand.
Action gets underway with vintage Ali moments
The action will begin with back-to-back presentations of vintage Muhammad Ali moments with three of Ali’s most memorable battles: Ali vs. Foreman, Ali vs. Frazier III and Ali vs. Leon Spinks II.
At 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT, fans will see a special replay of four legendary Mike Tyson bouts, including Tyson vs. Trevor Berbick, Tyson vs. Larry Holmes, Tyson vs. Michael Spinks and Tyson vs. Douglas.
The action will conclude at 1 a.m. ET/10 p.m. PT with the 1991 thriller between Holyfield and Foreman.
We recommend calling over a few new to boxing fans in your household to the couch to enjoy these classic contests in real-time for the first time.
The full lineup:
Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman, October 30, 1974, Stade du 20 Mai, Kinshasa, Zaire: Ali was a 4-to-1 underdog against Foreman, who entered the fight at 40-0 with 37 KOs and two title defenses under his belt. The historic fight, dubbed “The Rumble in the Jungle,” became iconic after Ali employed the “rope-a-dope” tactic to tire out and ultimately stop Foreman in eight rounds.
Evander Holyfield vs. George Foreman, April 19, 1991, Atlantic City: Holyfield knocked out Douglas to win the heavyweight title and chose Foreman, 42 years old and four years into his comeback, for his first world title defense. Holyfield won a unanimous decision, but Foreman pushed the younger man for 12 rounds. “The Battle of the Ages” was a heavyweight title showdown for the ages – and my favorite of all on the list.
And guess who was in the audience at the Atlantic City Convention Center? Perhaps President Trump, a noted boxing fan, will be watching tonight.
Oscar De la Hoya vs. Julio Cesar Chavez I, June 7, 1996, Las Vegas: De La Hoya, the 23-year-old unbeaten Mexican-American superstar and Olympic gold medalist, sought a world title in a third weight class against Mexico’s hero Chavez Sr., age 33. Billed as “Ultimate Glory,” Chavez Sr.entered the bout with an astounding 97-1-1 record. Chavez Sr. suffered a broken hose and serious cuts, losing his super lightweight world title in four shocking rounds to De La Hoya when the ringside physician stopped the fight on cuts.
Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad September 18, 1999, Las Vegas: In an epic Mexican Independence Day weekend showdown, Trinidad and De La Hoya were both undefeated in a combined 66 prior fights coming into their welterweight division unification title fight. At the time, the bout set records as the biggest non-heavyweight moneymaker in boxing history. Trinidad rode a strong finish to a controversial majority decision. Ask hardcore boxing fans about the scorecards, and you’ll get a guaranteed debate to this day.
Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns, April 15. 1985, Las Vegas: Without question, Hagler vs. Hearns stands up as one of the greatest fights in boxing history. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum calls it the best three rounds of boxing ever delivered. Following a 24 city promotional tour and build up to put any current promotions to shame, Hagler and Hearns were hot to tangle, The middleweights delivered a brutal all-action fight, ending in a TKO win for Hagler.
MIke Tyson vs. Trevor Berbick, November 22, 1986, Las Vegas Hilton: The beginning of a legend. Tyson knocked out Berbick in two rounds to become the youngest man (20 years old) to win a heavyweight world title.
33 years ago, 20-year-old Mike Tyson became the youngest heavy weight champ ever after this devastating knockout 💥 pic.twitter.com/X6KRgrn60x
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 22, 2019
Mike Tyson vs. Larry Holmes, January 22, 1988, Atlantic City Convention Center: In a matchup of youth versus experience, Tyson needed only four rounds to knock out Holmes, who entered the fight having not fought in nearly two years. Holmes held the world heavyweight title from 1978-1985, made 20 successful title defenses, and is considered to be among the greatest heavyweights who ever lived.
Mike Tyson vs. Michael Spinks, June 27, 1988, Convention Hall, Atlantic City: Tyson earned lineal heavyweight champion status with his 91-second destruction over Spinks, who first defeated Larry Holmes in 1985 to win the recognized heavyweight title. Spinks edged Holmes in their 1986 rematch and defended the lineal title twice more over the next two-plus years before running into Tyson.
Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas, February 11, 1990, Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan: Still the greatest upset in boxing history, Douglas, a 42-to-1 underdog, knocked out Tyson in 10 rounds at the Tokyo Dome. Tyson had made nine title defenses before Douglas shocked the world.
Sonny Liston vs. Cassius Clay 1, February 25, 1964, Miami Beach: Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, faced overwhelming odds against him fighting for the WBC and WBA world heavyweight titles held by Sonny Liston. Clay claimed the victory after Liston, one of the most intimidating fighters ever, quit on his stool after the sixth round.
Ali vs. Frazier Trilogy: In their first battle, since then known as “Fight of the Century” on March 8, 1971, Ali and Joe Frazier were both undefeated Olympic gold medalists. Both had their own legitimate claims to the heavyweight title. At the time, the United States was distracted by conflict in Vietnam, but Ali vs. Frazier gave Americans something all could agree on and cheer from Madison Square Garden.
In the era of 15 round title fights, Frazier landed a leaping left hook putting Ali down on the canvas in the final round, closing the bout to win the unanimous decision.
Three years later on January 28, 1974, Ali and Frazier reunited at Madison Square Garden for a rematch. Neither was a world titleholder, with the belts in the hands of George Foreman. But something more important was on the line: pride. Ali avenged his earlier loss in a rematch by unanimous decision. Before the 10-point must system, the fight was scored eight rounds to four (Jack Gordon), seven rounds to four (Tony Castellano), and six rounds to five (referee Tony Perez).
Following his win over Frazier, Ali won back his titles from George Foreman in 1974’s “Rumble in the Jungle” in Kinshasa, Zaire. He put them on the line against Frazier one year later.
Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier III, October 1, 1975, Araneta Coliseum, Barangay Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines: Ali had defended his title three times since upsetting George Foreman, and the “Thrilla in Manila” turned out to be the most brutal fight of Ali’s career. Ali and Frazier split their first two matchups, and the two went to war outdoors under the sweltering Manila sun. The fight was watched by a record global television audience of 1 billion viewers, including 100 million viewers watching the fight on closed-circuit theatre television, and 500,000 pay-per-view buys on HBO.
After 14 rounds, Frazier’s trainer, Eddie Futch, stopped the fight. Neither man was ever the same, and the greatest rivalry in boxing history had reached its conclusion.
ESPN+ also features a library of hundreds of the greatest fights in boxing history streaming on-demand, as well as more recent Top Rank on ESPN fight cards for replay. Among them are legendary heavyweight showdowns like Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier III, Ali vs. George Foreman, Joe Louis vs. Billy Conn, Mike Tyson vs. Larry Holmes, Jack Dempsey vs. Gene Tunney, Max Baer vs. James J. Braddock, Ali vs. Sonny Liston I and II, Fury-Wilder II and many more.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
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