The most epic fights in boxing history

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

Whether they feature the biggest names in their primes or immense historical impact, there are a few fights that have risen above all the rest to be considered the most significant of all time. Here is a look at those bouts in chronological order. All records are at the time of fight.

Floyd Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) vs. Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs)
May 2, 2015, MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas
12 rounds for the WBA, WBC & WBO welterweight championships

For much of the last five years and perhaps longer, the two have been regarded as either No. 1 or No. 2 in the world pound-for-pound ratings. Mayweather is a 2 ½-1 favorite. They have five common opponents – Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton. Mayweather is 5-0 with one knockout against them. Pacquiao is 6-1-1 with three knockouts against them.

Mike Tyson (45-2, 40 KOs) vs. Evander Holyfield (33-3, 24 KOs)
June 28, 1997, MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas
12 rounds for the WBA heavyweight title

Mike Tyson bites into the ear of Evander Holyfield in the third round of their 1997 fight. (AP)
Mike Tyson bites into the ear of Evander Holyfield in the third round of their 1997 fight. (AP)

The bout was a rematch of a Nov. 9, 1996, bout in which Holyfield stopped Tyson in the 11th round as a 25-to-1 underdog. Holyfield won this one by disqualification in the third round -- the bout will be remembered for Tyson, enraged by head butts, twice biting Holyfield's ears, leading to the disqualification by referee Mills Lane. He was fined $3 million by the Nevada Athletic Commission.

Sugar Ray Leonard (33-1, 24 KOs) vs. Marvelous Marvin Hagler (62-2-2, 52 KOs)
April 6, 1987, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas
12 rounds for the WBC middleweight title

The Leonard-Hagler bout had been anticipated for years and on Nov. 9, 1982, an event was held to announce Leonard’s plans. Howard Cosell served as emcee and it was expected Leonard would announce he would fight Hagler. Instead, Leonard said an eye injury would force him to retire. When the two finally met in 1987, Leonard won by split decision. Unable to get a rematch, a frustrated Hagler retired and never fought again.

Muhammad Ali (31-0, 25 KOs) vs. Joe Frazier (26-0, 23 KOs)
March 8, 1971, Madison Square Garden in New York
15 rounds for the undisputed heavyweight championship

Two unbeaten men who both had a claim to the heavyweight crown met in one of the most highly anticipated fights ever, with Frazier winning by unanimous decision. Both men were guaranteed $2.5 million in purses, and Frank Sinatra was a credentialed ringside photographer.

Joe Louis (35-1, 31 KOs) vs. Max Schmeling (52-7-4, 37 KOs)
June 22, 1938, Yankee Stadium in New York
15 rounds for the undisputed heavyweight championship

Schmeling knocked out Louis in the 12th round in a non-title fight in 1936, and Adolf Hitler and his regime used the win as evidence of German superiority. In the rematch, Louis won by first-round knockout. Schmeling, who threw only two punches, wound up in a New York hospital for 10 days following the bout and suffered several broken vertebrae.

Jack Dempsey (65-5-11, 51 KOs) vs. Gene Tunney (63-1-1, 47 KOs)
Sept. 22, 1927, Solider Field in Chicago
10 rounds for the undisputed heavyweight championship

Gene Tunney is down as Jack Dempsey stands in the corner during 'The Long Count' bout. (AP)
Gene Tunney is down as Jack Dempsey stands in the corner during 'The Long Count' bout. (AP)

The bout was a rematch of a sensational 1926 match that was called Ring Magazine's Fight of the Year. Tunney won the second match by unanimous decision in a fight that became known as "The Long Count" bout. New rules required the fighter scoring a knockdown to go to a neutral corner. Dempsey knocked Tunney down in the seventh, but took some time to go to the neutral corner. The referee halted the count until he did. Tunney got up at nine, survived and won the bout. Had Dempsey immediately gone to the neutral corner, he likely would have won by knockout.

Jack Johnson vs. James J. Jeffries
July 4, 1910, in Reno, Nev.
45 rounds for the world heavyweight championship

Jeffries was the former champion coming out of retirement to face Johnson, the African-American champion, and the bout was dubbed "The Great White Hope" match. Johnson won by TKO in the 15th. Jeffries made $120,000 for the fight, which adjusted for inflation would have been around $3 million in 2014.

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