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Boxing’s 10 strangest moments
Anybody who knows boxing, knows that anything can happen. From the glorious to the horrible to the downright odd—it's all commonplace in the world of the "sweet science."
Here's a look at 10 moments that left boxing fans in utter disbelief:
The Fan Man Cometh (November, 6, 1993)
It was the seventh round of a world heavyweight title fight at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and just as defending champion, Riddick Bowe was dropping his long, left jab against a brave Evander Holyfield, James Miller (aka Fan Man) was dropping himself into the ring. Miller's descent via paraglider to the squared circle was slightly off, resulting in his parachute getting tangled in the ring lights and Miller being caught up in the ropes on the far end of the ring. Security and fans quickly jumped on the thrill-seeker, knocking him unconscious and handing him over to law enforcement. Miller was first taken to the hospital to treat his injuries and then to the Clark County Detention Center, where he was charged with reckless flying and then released on bail. Many feel that the twenty-one minute delay while the mess was sorted out, allowed a fading Holyfield to regroup, recover and win the world title via majority decision.
"No Mas" (November, 25, 1980)
Five months earlier, Roberto Duran had snatched the welterweight championship of the world from Sugar Ray Leonard in a close, thrilling action fight. In the rematch, Leonard was determined not to get caught up in a brawl with the ferocious warrior from Panama and he made a focused effort to be mobile and elusive for the entire encounter. An angry Duran pushed for a war, but Leonard wouldn't oblige. The Olympic gold medalist and former welterweight champ moved and taunted his onrushing opponent, even going so far as to bait Duran with a windmill bolo punch with his right hand, only to snap out a jab with his left that caught Duran flush. At the end of the eight round, after yet another failed offensive surge, Duran turned his back to Leonard, held his glove up, and told referee, Octavio Meyran, "No Mas." Duran blamed this episode on stomach cramps from eating too much on the morning of the fight. Duran's manager, Carlos Eleta, would later deny the cramps story, insisting that Duran quit because he was humiliated by his inability to handle Leonard's speed and guile. The quit job would haunt Duran for years, especially in his native Panama, where it took years for him to win their hearts again.
The Foul Pole (July, 11, 1996 & December, 14, 1996)
Riddick Bowe had just re-captured the heavyweight championship of the world in the third installment of his grueling trilogy with Evander Holyfield and was biding his time for a possible Mike Tyson mega-bout. Poland's undefeated heavyweight hopeful, Andrew Golota was chosen as a "stay busy" opponent for a Madison Square Garden defense by "Big Daddy." Overconfident and overweight, Bowe was being beaten to the punch by Golota and in serious trouble when Golota's shots suddenly started straying below the champion's belt line. After some clear warnings and two point deductions, referee Wayne Kelly had no choice but to disqualify Golota. The seventh round DQ detonated mass chaos as members of Bowe's camp attacked Golota, trainer Lou Duva fell unconscious during the in-ring melee, and the entire arena exploded in a near-full scale riot as Bowe's supporters clashed with Golota's fans. Five months later, Golota seemed to pick up where he left off, beating Bowe decisively and on the verge of stopping the defending champ— until his punches started straying low again. After warnings and two point deduction from referee Eddie Cotton, the fight would finally be waved off and the disqualification issued after Golota delivered one final three-punch combination to Bowe's crotch.
The Atomic Bull's Atomic Breakdown (February, 7, 1997)
Three years after Oliver McCall had stopped Lennox Lewis in two rounds for the WBC heavyweight championship of the world, the two were scheduled to meet once against for the same, now-vacant, belt at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas. The three years prior to the rematch were tough ones for "The Atomic Bull," McCall. Aside from losing his title to Frank Bruno at Wembley Stadium in the UK, McCall would also go through a mass of personal problems, including several dealings with law enforcement, a drug arrest, and a stint in rehab. Rumors were rampant that McCall was in no condition to be pushed into a high profile title bout, but his people went ahead with the contest anyway. After three fairly uneventful rounds, McCall began to act strange. He refused to go to his corner between the third and fourth rounds and, much to the dismay of trainer, George Benton, wandered aimlessly around the ring until the bell sounded for the next round. In the fourth, McCall refused to throw punches and just walked the ring, mostly with hands down, while a cautious Lewis stalked the former champion. McCall would sob openly between the fourth and fifth, but was eventually forced into sitting before the bell for the following round. The fifth saw more of the same from McCall as he refused to fight back against a Lewis who was now starting to load up on his shots. Seeing the possibility of a real injury, referee Mills Lane would wave off the bout at the fifty-five second mark.
The Bite Heard 'Round The World (June, 28, 1997)
After being stopped in eleven rounds by Evander Holyfield seven months earlier, Mike Tyson went into the rematch angry and throwing serious leather. Unfortunately for him, Holyfield was more than ready and was able to handle the former champ's aggression. In the final seconds of the third round, a frustrated and infuriated Tyson bit Holyfield's right ear in a clinch, drawing blood. The bout was stopped and referee, Mills Lane debated whether or not to immediately disqualify Tyson. Lane consulted with the ringside physician and decided to let the contest continue, penalizing Tyson with a two-point deduction. Seconds after action resumed, Tyson would bite Holyfield's right ear again, this time ripping off a chunk of it and spitting it to the canvas. Lane would then disqualify Tyson once and for all, between the third and fourth rounds, resulting in a small riot in the ring as Tyson tried to go after Holyfield and began to take swings at the security officials in his way.
"Superfly" Larry Holmes (April, 7, 1991)
Larry Holmes had beaten Trevor Berbick decisively ten years earlier, but Berbick wanted another shot at the former champ, who had just started his comeback after three years away from the sport. Berbick also had a real, personal axe to grind with Holmes, barging into the Holmes-Tim Anderson post-fight press conference at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida and accusing Holmes of sending a female friend of his to break up Berbick's marriage. The argument would turn physical out in the parking lot with witnesses claiming to have seen Holmes kick and punch the Jamaican former world champ. As cameras arrived and Berbick began to tell the world of the attack, Holmes would come running over the roof of a parked limo, leap off, and dropkick Berbick as police and spectators were gathered around. Both would fall to the ground, quickly separated by police and ushered off into opposite directions.
"Come on hit me— I dare ya!" (March, 14, 2004)
Former lightweight champion, Nate Campbell has a lot to be proud of in his eleven-year career, but his most embarrassing moment has to be against unheralded Australian fringe contender, Robbie Peden. In the fifth round of their bout for the USBA super featherweight title, Campbell seemed on the verge of stopping the tough Aussie with some thudding body shots. Then, in a showing of misguided bravado, Campbell stood straight up and dared his opponent to hit him. Peden obliged, landing a left hook-uppercut that sent Campbell to the canvas hard, rendering him unable to beat referee Lou Moret's count.
Pepe Martin vs. The Ref
One of the strangest moments in boxing occurred in one of those small club fights in a foreign country that would never have even registered on the radar of the boxing public had it not been for one person in the crowd with a video recorder. Unknown and unranked Argentine club fighter, Pepe Martin, upset by the referee's point deduction for low blows, tore into the ref, laying out the grey-haired official with a three-punch combination. Martin would be charged with assault and receive a permanent ban from the sport.
"Six Heads" vs. Gastrointestinal Distress
When former welterweight world title holder, Andrew "Six Heads" Lewis went back to his native Guyana to challenge Denny Dalton for the Guyanese light middleweight title, he never expected to be TKO'd by his own gastrointestinal distress. However, a pre-fight milkshake had the former titlist on nervous footing throughout the day, with several visits to the restroom prior to the scheduled twelve-round bout. With his stomach rumbling and the fear of messing himself in front of his hometown fans prominent on his mind, Lewis exited the ring in the seventh round, well ahead on the scorecards, and retreated to the nearest toilet, leaving Dalton to be declared the TKO winner. Lewis would later describe his decision as "the lesser of two evils."
Boxer KO's Self in Three (September, 12, 1959)
Henry Wallitsch had a very modest career, with a 14-13 overall record and no titles to speak of. However, the heavyweight from Jackson Heights, New York does hold the historical distinction of being the only boxer to knock himself out during a prize fight. In his bout with Bartolo Soni, Wallitsch was being frustrated by Soni's movement and unwillingness to engage. In the third round, coming off a clinch, Wallitsch sensed an opening, wound up mightily, but missed completely. The momentum from the missed shot carried the frustrated fighter through the ropes where he banged his chin on the ring apron on the way to the arena floor. Wallitsch was counted out at the 2:58 mark of the third round and Soni was declared the TKO winner without ever delivering a knockout blow.
Paul Magno is a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules, and Eastside Boxing.
Staff, The Infamous Fan Man, Sports-Venue
Fred W. Kiger, ESPN Classic- Duran wanted "no mas," ESPN
HBO, Legendary Nights: The Tale of Bowe-Golota, Legendary Nights: The Tale of Bowe-Golota (Documentary)
Gerald Eskenazi, McCall Tries to Explain Bizarre Actions, The New York Times
Rick Weinberg, ESPN 25-30: Tyson bites…,ESPN
Phil Berger, Holmes's Real Fight in the Parking Lot, The New York Times
Scott Christ, KO of the Day: Nate Campbell v. Robbie Peden, Bad Left Hook
Steve Ninvalle, Sixhead Lewis quits fight, because of bowels, Saddoboxing
Staff, Bizarre Moments in Boxing Part 2, Muhammad Ali Boxing Org.
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