Five mega-fights that never happened

With Manny Pacquiao taking on Shane Mosley on May 7, and Juan Manuel Marquez apparently lined up as the front runner for an October date, the chances of the Pacquiao-Mayweather mega-fight are just becoming slimmer and slimmer.

Blame Mayweather's mounting legal and personal issues or point to Pacquiao's resistance to truly random drug testing, but whatever the case, it has become apparent that the one fight that makes the most sense is not likely to happen any time soon.

Here's a look at five other mega-fights that, for whatever reason, never materialized:

Riddick Bowe vs. Lennox Lewis

On a collision course for heavyweight dominance, the stars were aligned perfectly for a Bowe-Lewis clash. Two weeks before Bowe won the WBC/WBA/IBF belts from Evander Holyfield in 1992, Lewis was laying out Donovan "Razor" Ruddock via second round TKO in a WBC title eliminator. As things would work out, though, Bowe would dump his WBC belt in the trash on nationwide TV rather than fight his new #1 contender. Some point to Lewis' second round TKO over Bowe in the amateurs as the reason for reluctance on Team Bowe's part to take on the UK's Lewis. Others point to a never-resolved financial dispute between both sides that killed the fight before it could ever be seriously considered. Whatever the case, the sport was robbed of a bout that would've established one true champion among the sport's biggest competitors.

Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Aaron Pryor

One of the myths surrounding this possible mega-fight is that Leonard wanted nothing to do with the dangerous, all-action "Hawk" Pryor. The truth, though, is that this sure-fire classic was just a victim of circumstance and boxing economics. Although both rose to prominence at about the same time in the early 80's and were only separated by one weight division, Leonard had his immediate future mapped out against two legit welterweight superstars in Roberto Duran and Tommy Hearns while Pryor was one division below, making a name for himself among the 140 lb. class. By the time Pryor had become a star in his own right, with a couple of thrilling wins over Alexis Arguello, Leonard was another division higher, at 154 lbs. and dealing with a career-threatening detached retina. Eventually, Pryor's personal life would fall apart due to substance abuse, dashing any feint hopes of ever making the Leonard-Pryor mega-fight.

Oscar De la Hoya vs. Miguel Cotto

"The Golden Boy," De la Hoya, was semi-retired, but had his eye set on making one last push to seal the deal on a Hall of Fame career. The tentative plan was to meet welterweight world titlist, Miguel Cotto in one final blockbuster, playing on the long and famed Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry. Unfortunately for De la Hoya, Cotto would be upset violently by Antonio Margarito in a TKO 11 loss that ruined the planned mega-fight. Rather than face the larger, stronger Margarito, De la Hoya would opt to take on the smaller Manny Pacquiao, who had just captured the lightweight title. In a shocker, Pacquiao stopped "The Golden Boy" after eight rounds, officially ending the era of Oscar De la Hoya.

Roy Jones Jr. vs. Europe

One of the knocks on Jones' otherwise stellar career is that he never took that transatlantic flight to face some of Europe's biggest and best stars. When Jones was the dominant force at 168 lbs., UK stars, Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn were still relevant forces in the division. Then when Jones had established himself as the undisputed champ at 175 lbs., the one knock on his run at the top was that WBO champ, Poland's Dariusz Michalczewski never got a shot at Jones' top spot. Timing played its role in these fights not getting made. Another big factor was an unwillingness on Jones' part to put his fate in the hands of European judges and officials. The prevailing thinking among those friendly to Jones' point of view was that since Jones was the established top dog at both 168 and 175, it was the challengers' obligation to play visitor and come to the USA, willing to take the lesser piece of the monetary pie.

Mike Tyson vs. George Foreman

While the 45-year old Foreman was shocking the world by stopping WBA/IBF heavyweight champ, Michael Moorer, Mike Tyson was taking the first steps in rebuilding a personal and professional life torn to shreds by a rape conviction in 1992. From a commercial perspective, Tyson-Foreman was a no-brainer. This mega-fight would've pitted boxing's two biggest stories in one, likely violent, encounter. However, Foreman didn't last long as champion, immediately losing his WBA belt for not facing #1 contender, Tony Tucker and then losing the IBF strap for not giving Germany's Axel Schulz a rematch after a controversial majority decision victory in his first defense. Did a 45-year old fighter with no belts and a big punch offer up too much risk for a still-rusty Mike Tyson who hadn't fought in about four years? Only Team Tyson knows the truth, but in the end, it was a moot point. About fifteen months after his return to the ring, Tyson was upset by Evander Holyfield while Foreman drifted along to novelty status with fights against Crawford Grimsley and Lou Savarese before losing to Shannon Briggs.

Sources:

Ken Pollitt, Did Sugar Ray Leonard Duck Aaron Pryor, The 13th Round

Frank Lotierzo, Heavyweight Histories Missing Page: Bowe vs. Lewis, Eastside Boxing

Boxrec, Boxrec Records and Stats, Boxrec

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Updated Monday, May 2, 2011