What defines a shocking moment in the history of the ancient sport of boxing? A spectacular knockout? An improbable comeback? A horrible robbery by the judges? For this list we're going to focus on a mixture of moments that encompass the wild, unpredictable, sometimes shady, but undeniably classic sport of boxing.
Roy Jones, Jr vs. Park Si-Hun
For our first moment, we will go back to the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. The -71 kg Final. This boxing match was for the gold medal. Its participants? Korea's Park Si-Hun, and the United States' Roy Jones, Jr. before he went on to be the Legend with 65 fights and 47 KO's and at one time #1 P4P, he competed in the Seoul Olympics.
In his first round of competition in the second round of the Olympic tournament, Jones knocked out his opponent in the first round. In his next 3 tournament fights, Jones would handily and obviously beat his opponents by decision. In the final round of the tournament, the Gold Medal fight, he squared off against Park Si-Hun of Korea. In the three-round amateur rules bout, Jones Jr began strong and landed many good counters and flurries on his opponent. He came with the hooks he threw so well and ended up out landing his opponent in the first round 20 strikes to 3!
In the second round Jones did more of the same, out landing his opponent, showing superior footwork, and even causing the referee to step in for a standing 8 count on Si-Hun. Jones, Jr. was clearly dominating. He out landed his opponent 30 to 15 in the second. In the third, more of the same. Roy was doing damage and staggered Si-Hun twice, but the referee didn't come in for the standing 8 count this time. He continued to land hooks, uppercuts, straights, all flush. At the end of the bout in the third, Jones, jr. had out landed his opponent again, this time 36-14. Almost everyone knew that Jones had won the bout. Overall he out landed his opponent 86-32. It was no question, or was it?
When the woman's voice came on the loudspeaker to announce the winner, this is what everyone in the arena heard:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, the winner is, on points – 3:2 – in the Blue corner, Park Si-Hun from Korea!!"
Park Si-Hun then went and lifted Roy Jones, Jr. up in celebration, as Roy himself wore a face of disappointment and confusion. What transpired in Seoul that summer was one of the most horrible robberies the sport has ever seen, where a young man who had worked hard and put on performance after dominant performance was stripped of a rightful gold medal, by a country that was at that time, bent on showing athletic dominance, even in the most shameful of ways.
Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas
Our next moment came just two years later, taking place not too far way in the Tokyo Dome in none other than Tokyo, Japan. February 11, 1990. You may know the date, but if not, it was the day of Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas, a historic fight billed as "Tyson is Back!".
There is a lot to this moment and why it is so significant in the sport of boxing. So let's get right into that. First of all, Mike Tyson came into this fight 37-0, and was riding all sorts of momentum. He had beaten some of the best at the time, such as Michael Spinks, Larry Holmes, Frank Bruno, and on his way to his 37 undefeated wins, he claimed the Undisputed Heavyweight championship: WBA, WBC, IBF, and Lineal boxing championship titles. He was also ranked #1 P4P at the time by The Ring magazine which was considered rare for Heavyweights.
Many considered this fight as a warm up fight for Mike Tyson, who was set to face Evander Holyfield after his fight with Douglas. Speaking of Buster Douglas, here's the first fact about him coming into this fight: he was a 47 to 1 underdog. Before the fight, he had a string of unfortunate events occur; the death of his mother less than a month before the fight, the mother of his child came down with illness, and he himself had contracted the flu a day before the fight, but still was fighting.
The fight itself was nothing less than dramatic. Douglas came out hard and fought bravely and showed he wasn't afraid of Tyson. After two rounds both fighters stalemated but then Tyson came out strong in the middle rounds, landing uppercuts and power shots of his own but Douglas was still standing strong.
Then in the 8th round, Tyson landed a huge uppercut that sent Douglas to the canvas and although many thought this was the end, it wasn't. Douglas got up after a 9 count and survived until the bell. In the 9th round, the tables turned. Tyson came forward hard but Douglas landed a good combo that rocked Tyson, sending him into the ropes. Douglas continued his attack and the round ended this time with Mike barely surviving. In the 10th, the unthinkable happened. Tyson came forward but Douglas continued to attack hard and after landing a couple jabs he followed with a massive uppercut that rocked Tyson, snapping his head back. He stumbled back and Douglas immediately followed with 4 huge punches, a short right, left hook, right hook, left straight combo, the last punch of which knocked Tyson down with authority. His mouthpiece was knocked out of his mouth, and as he lay on the ground the crowd roars. He gets up as the referee counts and gets his mouthpiece half back in, but as he stands the referee has already finished 9, and once he reaches 10, he holds back a severely rocked Mike Tyson as Buster Douglas celebrates his newly won Undisputed Heavyweight Championship. He came back from a knockdown and did the unthinkable.
Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman
For our last moment in boxing history we will examine one of the greatest fights the world has ever seen. It is only appropriate that we include the GOAT, so this one's going to be about one of Muhammad Ali's greatest victories ever.
We go back to the 30th of October in 1974. This was the fight billed as "Rumble in the Jungle" taking place in Zaire (Modern day Democratic Republic of the Congo) in Africa. It was a Heavyweight Championship match-up between Muhammad Ali and then Undisputed Heavyweight Champion George Foreman. This was Ali's first shot at the Undisputed title since losing it once before after he won it from Sonny Liston. Ali had beaten Ken Norton, Rudie Lubbers, and Joe Frazier before facing Foreman in Africa.
Foreman was undefeated, with a 40-0 record coming in against Ali, which was extremely good given the amount of skill in the heavyweight division at the time. He won the Undisputed title from Joe Frazier after second round TKO and his last 8 wins up to the Ali fight came by way of KO/TKO in or before the second round. Foreman was one scary man. And he had beaten men that had bested Ali before, in a matter of a few rounds. He had insane KO power and was stopping people left and right and was THE man to beat in the heavyweight division. His size, strength, speed for his size, and most importantly the Hammers he possessed for hands. How would anyone get past his one punch ability?
In the fight, the first round went to Foreman as he was showing off his power with lead right hands that were catching Ali. Ali was able to keep his feet and use jabs to move around. But in the corner before the second round, he decided to put his 'secret plan' into effect. What Muhammad Ali did next was incredible, he actually invented the Rope-a-Dope strategy. When Foreman took more shots at Ali, Ali backed up and leaned back into the ropes allowing Foreman to swing away and clip Ali on the shoulders and arms. This also have Ali great counter opportunities and more defense options.
It wasn't something anyone had seen before, Ali changed the game right before everyone's eyes. As the rounds went on Ali continued this strategy, and Foreman continued throwing his power punches, he tired, and Ali was able to shoot straight punches, hooks, and other combos to gain points while Foreman was left in the dust. In the 8th round, Foreman came forward heavy and exhausted, both his punches and defense noticeably diminished due to his fatigue. Ali took advantage and landed more and more, until when Foreman tried to get him in the corner, Ali took off with more combos and landed a final 5 punch combination that dropped Foreman as the crowd exploded. He wouldn't get up in time for the 10 count and Muhammad Ali celebrated ecstatically as he was once again the Undisputed Heavyweight Boxing Champion.
Overall, these 3 events were just some of the iconic moments that people associate with boxing. Whether its politics of governments, personal ideologies, or pure greed, sometimes flat out robbery occurs in boxing. Also, no matter how tall some fighters may stand, any given day they can be caught and their reign as the best is as good as over. And lastly we saw how the Greatest of All Time revolutionized boxing right as he fought in the ring.