Boxing Insider’s Boxing Befuddlements: The Tallest Boxers of All Time
By: Oliver McManus
Last week we kicked off a new series for Boxing Insider by looking at the heaviest professional boxers of all time. In the second edition of Boxing Befuddlements we’ll be looking at the tallest boxers of all time.
As with the heaviest fighters there is an obvious starting point for the category in Nikolay Valuev. We profiled his rise to world glory as part of that heavyweight feature so won’t repeat the same information but the Russian giant goes down in history as the tallest and heaviest world champion of all time. Standing at a mighty 7ft (213cm), Valuev’s height is not as a result of genetic dominance, his parents were both a mere 5ft 5inches (167cm) but rather the gigantism, enhanced by acromegaly, he was born with.
Since his retirement in 2009 Valuev has become an ambassador for the Russian national sport of bandy, as well as as member of the State Duma, in case you were wondering what he was up to.
Of course being the tallest champion of all time doesn’t immediately mark you out as THE tallest, full stop. If it did this would be a very short article.
Taishan Dong gives Valuev a very close run for his money, equalling the Russian’s height at 7ft. Initially a basketballer in his home country of China, Dong first foray into combat sports was actually through kickboxing. In 2013 he floored, former UFC fighter, Bob Sapp in an exhibition contest.
Nicknamed ‘The Great Wall’ he quickly adopted the forename Taishan due to his gargantuan stature bringing comparisons with the Shandong mountain of the same name. He moved to America in 2014 and made his debut in July of that year, a 2nd round stoppage of Alex Rozman. Offered a contract with Top Rank, he opted to sign with Golden Boy and gained a cult notoriety before his career stalled at the beginning of 2016. Three years on and he still hasn’t been back in the boxing ring, leaving his record at 6-0.
For a few weeks he was contracted to the WWE roster but that came to a swift end in December last year and the mystery continues.
Before we progress onto who exactly the tallest boxer is – yes, we will keep you waiting – it seems kind of inevitable that these giants are all going to come from the heavyweight division, such is the nature of boxing, so let’s dip into the lower weights and see who’s got something to shout about.
Cast your eyes over to Canada and the name Tony Pep might ring a few bells in the cacophonous chambers of your mind. A professional between 1982 and 2008 (although he only had six of his 53 fights after 2000), Pep was a world challenger, and Commonwealth champion, at super featherweight.
At 6ft 1.5inches (187cm) Pep would have stood head and shoulders, quite literally, over Miguel Berchelt, the current super featherweight world champion. Whilst it’s true the Canadian drifted in weight divisions – as high as 143lbs – the majority of his success was found in the super featherweight division. He also had the pleasure of sharing the ring with Floyd Mayweather and Ricky Hatton so he’s seen his fair share of sights.
The streets of Coachella, California, are the home of a literal giant among men. At 21 years of age it’s questionable as to whether Sebastian Fundora technically qualifies as a man – states laws in America being infinitely more varied than in the United Kingdom – but given his height and physique I won’t be the one to argue it.
The Towering Inferno , as he’s known, has been a professional since he was 18, ticking over in 2016. Since then he’s notched up an unbeaten record of 12-0. Fundoa fought largely Mexico at the beginning of his career but, via a solitary bouts in Uruguay and Argentina, is back making a name for himself in the States. Genuinely talented, as well, he isn’t being placed in the ‘novelty tall man’ drawer. I think it’s safe to say he’s putting the ‘fun’ in Fundora.
That’s the end of our small detour through the twists and turns of ‘The Tall City’ – which is, actually, what they call Midland, Texas – and it’s time for the grand reveal. Officially coming in as the tallest professional boxer of all time, even appearing in the Guinness Book of World Records, is Gogea Mitu.
Born as Dumitru Stefansecu and trading as “the Giant of Marsani”, Mitu was a Romanian heavyweight in the 1930s. There is plenty of conflicting information out there on the internet about him but official records show he was born a just two weeks before World War One broke out. He was the oldest of 11 children, his mother just 16 when she gave birth to him.
Towering over the small village he was from, Mitu was 7ft 4inches (224cm) tall and was offered a job as a literal “greatest showman” in the Prague ‘circus of human rarities’. It was there that he met Umberto Lancia who would teach him how to box. A debut came in Bucharest, June 1935, in which he swept aside Saverio Grizzo – himself 6ft 7.5inches (202cm) – within a round. Four months later he would do the same to Dimitru Pavelescu.
In the summer of 1936, just as his career was starting in earnest, he was travelling back from Istanbul when he caught a cold. After a few days of stagnant conditions, he was taken to the local hospital. Whilst there he would contract poisoning and pass away on June 22nd.
A tragic tale but one that all “tall boxers” will eternally live in the shadow of. Mitu, quite literally, raised the heights and makes the modern day behemoth seem positively miniature in comparison.
When Is Too Tall Not an Asset in Boxing?
When Is Too Tall Not an Asset in Boxing?
By: Ken Hissner
There have been approximately eight men who were 7’0” or taller that put the gloves on in the professional ranks. Only one ever made it and that was the 7’0” former WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev, 50-2 (34), of Russia who retired in 2009.
There are two still active in Marselles “More Than A Conqueror” Brown, 33-18-1 (25), of Louisville, KY, who is 48 years old and has won his last six fights all in Mexico. He retired in 2008 and came back in 2014 with Roy Jones, Jr. training him. He won and lost in North Carolina and then moved his game to Mexico.
Among Brown’s losses to major opponents were Trevor Berbick, Tommy Morrison, Lamont Brewster, Derrick Jefferson. The Jefferson bout ended in the second round due to accidental clash of heads. He won his first eleven bouts by knockout with all but one in the first round.
The other is 7’0” Julius “Towering Inferno” Long, 18-20 (14), formerly out of Michigan now living in Auckland, NZ. He is promoted by Pacific Promotions Mark Eriksen, of Australia. He’s been in with Audley Harrison, Rob Calloway, Tye Fields, Samuel Peter, Odlainer Solis, Alexander Ustinov, Ray Austin, Mariusz Wach, Lucas Browne, Jonathan Banks and Kevin Johnson.
Long is scheduled on May 7th in Australia to fight 41 year old Solomon Haumono, 24-3-2 (21), of Australia in a defense of his the interim WBA Oceania title. He won it in his last bout defeating Bowie Tupou, 26-4, in Australia. He’s been 3-3 since moving to Auckland in 2013.
Others over 7’0” who have tried boxing are “Big” John Rankin, 1-0, of New Orleans, La., at 7’4”, and Ewart Potgieter, 11-2-1, RSA, at 7’2”, who won his first nine bouts by knockout. He came to the US in 1957 and had four fights in four months going 2-2 before retiring.
Thomas Payne, 2-2, of Napa, CA, at 7’2” had all four bouts ending in knockout from 1984-85. He played for the U of Kentucky and the Atlanta Hawks. He will probably spend the rest of his life in prison. Gil Anderson, 2-0 (2), of Richmond, CA, had both fights in 1954, and was 7’0”. Another was Gogea “Giant of Marsani” Mitu, 2-0-1 (2), from Marsani, Romania, at 7’4” who fought in 1935-36.
Remember Ed “Too Tall” Jones, 6-0 (5) at 6’10”, fought in 1979 and 1980? He was a former Dallas Cowboy. He was a high school basketball All-American who chose football when he went to Tennessee State. He had to come off the canvas in his first bout but went onto win the 6 rounder.
Manute Bol, at 7’6” had a celebrity boxing exhibition with professional football player William “Refrigerator” Perry, in 2002 on the Fox Network. He did quite well keeping Perry from doing anything.
Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain at 7’1” was rumored to fight champions Floyd Patterson and Muhammad Ali but never did. Ali went up to him and whispered in his ear “timber” and that was the last time Chamberlain considered boxing.
Why Did the Klitschko’s and 7’0” Giant Nikolai Valuev Not Meet?
Why Did the Klitschko’s and 7’0” Giant Nikolai Valuev Not Meet?
By: Ken Hissner
Nikolai Valuev was the WBA heavyweight champion winning 50 out of 52 fights with 34 by knockout! At 7’0” he was the tallest boxer to ever win a world title. The “Russian Giant” or “Beast from the East” won the Russian title, PABA title, WBA International title, WBA Inter-Continental title and the WBA World title.
Valuev fought in 10 different countries like Germany, Switzerland, Korea, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Japan, Australia, Russia, United Kingdom and the USA. His highest fighting weight was 348 lbs. and his lowest 310 lbs. He made 4 successful title defenses winning the WBA title twice. Much was expected from him due to his size.
Valuev turned professional in October 1993 stopping American John Morton, 10-28, in Berlin, Germany. He then won 3 straight in St. Petersburg, Russia. He would not return to Russia for 4 years. He would travel to the UK and Australia winning a pair by knockout in each country. He then would make his USA debut in Atlantic City, NJ, which would be only one of the 3 appearances in that country. It was May of 1997 and he stopped Terrell Nelson, 6-3, in 2 rounds. It was his 8th stoppage in 9 fights.
Valuev would travel to Japan on the undercard of a world title fight and back to Australia posting a decision win and a stoppage before returning to fight in Russia 11-0 with 7 stoppages. Then off to Germany and Australia before returning to Russia defeating a pair of Americans with American referee’s handling the action. Two fights later he won his first title becoming the Russian champion in January of 1999. He would go to the Czech Republic against future German champion Andres Sidon which ended during the sixth round when the referee left the ring and it was scheduled for 6 and ruled a no-contest.
In June of 2000 he would win the interim PABA title over 12 rounds. Two fights later he won the PABA title outright stopping American George Linberger, 19-6-1, in the first round in Atlantic City, NJ. In his next fight he would make his first defense defeating the OPBF champion Toakipa Tasefa, 27-2-2, of New Zealand putting him into retirement. In February of 2004 he stopped American Dickie Ryan, 54-7, in the first round in Germany. Ryan was the fighter who defeated Brian Nielsen who was 49-0 at the time.
From the time Valuev defeated Ryan he was defeating only fighters with winning records such as Argentina’s Marcelo Fabian Dominguez, 37-4, Nigerian Ricardo Bango, 16-0, of Spain, Italian champion Paolo Vidoz, 17-1, of Italy. Next was his fight with American Gerald “The Jedi” Nobles, 24-0, with 19 knockouts out of Philadelphia. Nobles was a powerful puncher but had problems getting inside of Valuev and when he did he was holding and finally got disqualified in the fourth round. Next was Sweden’s Attila “The Hun” Levin, 29-2, a 1996 Olympian who had most of his fights in the USA trained by Angelo Dundee. Valuev stopped him in 3 rounds.
Valuev would stop American Clifford “the Black Rhino” Etienne, 29-3-2, and follow up with a majority decision over Larry Donald 42-3-3, earning him a WBA title fight with John “the Quiet Man” Ruiz, 41-5-1, defeating him by majority decision to win the WBA title in December of 2005. It was his twelfth straight win in Germany. Neither Klitschko held a title at that time. Vitali was inactive from December 2004 until October 2008 due to being in politics in Kiev UKR.
In Valuev’s first title defense he stopped Jamaican Owen “What the Heck” Beck, 25-2, in 3 rounds. It was his 43rd straight win. In his second defense in October of 2006 he returned to the USA stopping Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett, 31-4, in Rosement, IL, in the eleventh round though well ahead. A month after this Wladimir was making a defense against Calvin Brock. Why did they not unify at that time? In January of 2007 in his third defense he would take on Jamal “Big Time” McCline, 38-6, in Switzerland in January of 2007. McCline retired in the third round injuring his knee. Two months later Wladimir was defending against Ray Austin. Once again why didn’t they unify?
With a 46-0 record Valuev would go 10 months before meeting Chagaev in December of 2009. In the meantime Wladimir defended in June of 2009 defended his title. Vitali fought 3 times during that period in March, September and December of 2009. Valuev returned to Germany making his fourth defense in October of 2009 but lost for the first time to Uzebekistan’s Ruslan “White Tyson” Chagaev, 22-0-1, out of Germany by majority decision. Chagaev defended his title 8 months later and then not fight until 13 months before losing to Wladimir Klitschko. Wladmir had no problem unifying with Chagaev but never Valuev for his WBA title.
Valuev would return to action some 5 months after suffering his first loss not being able to get a rematch with Chagaev he defeated Canadian Jean Francois Bergman, 27-0, the WBA-NABA champion by a lopsided decision. He followed up with a win over former WBO champion Siarhei Liakhovich, 23-2, of the Belarus though living in the USA, taking every round in a WBA eliminator.
In August of 1980 Valuev would fight for the vacant WBA title and once again defeating John “the Quiet Man” Ruiz, 43-7-1. He would return to Switzerland defending against Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, 42-9-2, who had held 3 of the title’s all but the WBO title. In his previous fight he lost to WBO champion Sultan Ibragimov some 14 months before. Thinking Holyfield was on the down side Valuev was in for a big surprise taking a majority decision. Valuev had almost scored a knockdown in the eighth round. In the tenth round both scored heavy punches. Holyfield spent most of the rounds bouncing around the ring with Valuev trying to corner him. The announcement of the decision many felt was controversial. In the previous month Wladimir was defending against Tony Thompson. Why no unification?
It would be 11 months in October of 2009 before Valuev would fight defending against David “Hayemaker” Haye, 22-1, of the UK. Valuev would lose for only the second time in 52 fights by majority decision in Germany. With no rematch clause it would be John Ruiz getting the first defense by Haye who would eventually lose to Wladimir Klitschko in his third defense. Vitali Klitschko after losing to Lennox Lewis who would retire not giving Klitschko a rematch re-won the WBC title holding it until 2012. Vitali would come back after a 4 year absence to fight Samuel Peter in October of 2008 for the WBC title.
The 7’0” Russian Giant, Nikolai Valuev, ended his 16 year career 50-2 with 34 stoppages. He didn’t fight in Russia after 2002. He had 13 bouts in his homeland but oddly enough he never won or defended his WBA World title there.
There were talks of Vitali meeting Valuev but promotional issues between Don King and Sauerland. Valuev announced his retirement 3 days after losing to Haye. His family physician confirmed that due to “serious bone and joint. problems” putting any comeback decisions out the window. His wife Galina is 5’02” and they have children Irma and Grisha. He is a Russian Orthodox Christian. In 2009 he started the Nickolai Valuev Boxing School. In 2010 he founded the Valuev Youth Sports Foundation. The tallest boxer ever to win a world title is Nikolai Valuev!
The Top Five Robberies of the Past 25 Years
THE TOP 5 ROBBERIES OF THE LAST 25 YEARS
By: John Freund
Here’s a news flash: Boxing isn’t fair. The best fighter, or the one who fights the best in the ring on a given night, doesn’t always win. In other sports, the scoring is obvious. Everyone knows when a basket is made or when a touchdown is scored. But in boxing, the scoring remains a mystery until after the final bell. And that often leads to controversy. Whether that controversy stems from poor judgment or corruption on the part of the judges, is up for debate. One thing is for certain though, there are plenty of asterisks alongside boxing wins and losses. Following, are five of the most egregious robberies of the last 25 years:
Note – this list factors in the commercial significance of each bout. So fights like Williams-Lara, and Rios-Abril, while clearly miscarriages of justice, are not weighted as highly given their lack of mainstream significance.
#5) De La Hoya vs. Trinidad – Sep 18, 1999
Billed as ‘The Fight of the Millennium,’ the last of the so-called ‘Superfights’ of the 20th Century, it was a battle of unbeaten champions as reigning WBC megastar Oscar De La Hoya squared off against boxing’s other pound-for-pound king, IBF Champion, Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad. This match would both unify the Welterweight titles, and prove who was the best fighter in the world.
Or so people thought…
“Outclassed is too big a word for what’s happening here, but it’s verging on that.”
When Jim Lampley spoke those words in Round 9, the so-called Superfight had thus far been nothing more than a chess match. And not even a competitive one at that – picture Bobby Fischer versus some hustler in Washington Square Park. Yup, it was that kind of lopsided.
De La Hoya frustrated Trinidad all night with his lateral movement and footwork, never getting caught up in the ropes and keeping his distance from the heavy-hitting Puerto Rican by effectively utilizing his jab. De La Hoya – a fighter known for his jab and vicious left hook – continually stunned Trinidad with right cross after right cross. He seemed to be landing them at will.
I gave De La Hoya 8 of the first 9 rounds. Larry Merchant had it 6 to 2 with 1 even. Howard Lederman had it 6 to 3, which, in my opinion, is exceedingly generous. Regardless of the score, there is little debate about who won the early rounds. It’s rounds 10-12 that this fight is remembered for.
De La Hoya, on the advice of his corner, played defense in the final three rounds – which is a polite way to say that he ran the hell away from Trinidad and didn’t fight for 9 minutes straight.
Now, to be fair, De La Hoya’s entire strategy was to box – stick and move, stick and move – and he employed that strategy beautifully for 9 rounds. He didn’t let Tito cut off the ring, and he picked his opportunities to fight and throw combinations, landing at least 2 or 3 per round. Tito, on the other hand, barely threw a single combination in the first 9 rounds. That’s how effective De La Hoya’s game plan was.
Yes De La Hoya took off the last 3 rounds, and yes he lost all 3 (though the 10th was pretty close). But even still, there is no question who won the fight. As Jim Lampley said, he didn’t outclass Tito, but it was verging on that.
The judges, of course, saw it differently. They handed Tito the win, and that’s how the ‘Golden Boy’ came to record his first ‘L.’ Incidentally, this fight set the record for non-heavyweight PPV buys, with 1.4 million; a mark that would stand for 8 years until De La Hoya-Mayweather broke it.
There would be future controversial decisions in the Golden Boy’s career – one where he was robbed against Mosely, and another where he was gifted against Sturm. Regardless, this fight goes down as one of the biggest boxing robberies of all time, given the hype surrounding it, the status of the two stars inside the ring, and the fact that they never fought again – so we’ll never really know who was the best boxer in the world at the time.
#4) Chavez vs. Whitaker – Sep 10, 1993
Before there was Mayweather-Pacquiao, before De La Hoya-Trinidad, there was Chavez-Whitaker.
Julio Cesar Chavez is a boxing legend, often considered the greatest Mexican boxer of all time, which is saying a lot. Coming into this fight, he had a jaw-dropping record of 87-0. Chavez was that rare combination of boxer and brawler, someone who could bob and weave and play defense on the outside, until he worked his way inside on you and broke your will. He was the best in-fighter in the game, and his chin was legendary; the first time Chavez ever hit the canvas was in his 91st pro fight.
Pernell Whitaker, meanwhile, was the best outside-fighter in the game. A slick southpaw with phenomenal footwork – he would dance, move, duck, hop, and sometimes even leap to places other boxers could only dream of reaching. Whitaker brought a 32-1 record into this fight, with his only loss being to Jose Luis Ramirez in what many consider to be a fight that Whitaker actually won. He was the Floyd Mayweather Jr. of his day, and Chavez-Whitaker was the ultimate ‘Bull vs. Matador’ matchup; it was brute force against blinding speed.
The first half of the fight was dead even. Whitaker established his game plan in Round 3, slipping and dipping, utilizing his speed and elusiveness, and finding just the right moments to throw wicked combinations. Chavez, who was the best in the business at cutting off the ring, was relegated to chasing the man they called ‘Sweet Pea’ around and around, just as Trinidad would chase De La Hoya six years later. Chavez did manage to force the action enough in the first 6 rounds to make it close on the cards, if not even.
But Round 7 was when Whitaker took over. He began to outclass Chavez, sticking and moving, capitalizing on his hand and foot speed. Whitaker even fought Chavez on the inside – and beat him there; something no one thought possible. There were moments when Whitaker double-jabbed Chavez, and somehow brought his right back in time to block a Chavez left hook. Thus was the blinding speed of Pernell Whitaker.
By Round 11 Chavez was exhausted. He was lunging and leaning, his punches lacking their usual sting. They fought the whole round on the inside, and Whitaker dominated without question. It was a masterful show of boxing prowess, and it earned Whitaker the right to be known as the first man to defeat Chavez in the ring.
But the fight was ruled a draw. Conspiracy theories abound, as Don King – Chavez’s promoter – was under federal indictment at the time for a litany of charges, including match-fixing. Dan Duva, Whitaker’s promoter, lodged a formal complaint with the Texas department of licensing and authorities after British judge Mickey Vann admitted to docking Whitaker a point for a low blow in the 6th Round. Referee Joe Cortez warned Whitaker for the blow, but did not instruct the judges to dock a point. To make things even more suspicious, the judges’ scorecards mysteriously disappeared the day after the fight…
If one were so inclined, one might argue that Don King rigged the match to keep Chavez’s revenue-generating, zero-loss streak alive for as long as possible. Of course that would imply that Don King were capable of such devious, underhanded, mafia-style tactics.
Regardless of what actually happened that night, one thing is certain: Sweet Pea won the fight, and was robbed of a victory.
#3) Castillo vs. Mayweather 1 – Apr 20, 2002
I can already hear Mayweather fans cursing my name. Go on, I can take it. Do your worst in the ‘Comments’ section…
If you’re a Mayweather fan, it’s time to eat some humble pie. Your hero was beaten and beaten soundly, and on Hitler’s birthday no less! (No idea why that’s relevant, I just like to point out Hitler’s birthday whenever I see it anywhere…)
Mayweather, at age 25, with a record of 27-0, was years away from the iconoclastic figure nicknamed ‘Money’ for having generated more of it than any other boxer in history. This was ’02, and ‘Pretty Boy Floyd’ was moving up from Jr. Lightweight to Lightweight to face a Mexican bruiser named Jose Luis Castillo. Most experts predicted a Mayweather rout; just another rung on King Floyd’s ladder of greatness.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation – someone forgot to tell Castillo that he was supposed to lose. The fiery Mexican crowded his elusive opponent, pinning Mayweather against the ropes and viciously attacking his rib cage. Remarkably, Mayweather stood and traded with Castillo instead of slipping away eel-like, as he normally does. Perhaps he wanted to prove he could go toe-to-toe with a heavy-handed lightweight. Whatever the reason, as Larry Merchant later said, Mayweather ‘fought the wrong fight.’
His loss was apparent, even to Mayweather, who could be seen hanging his head immediately after the final bell sounded, and staring down at the canvas in the run-up to the decision. This wasn’t the loud and proud Pretty Boy Floyd we’d all come to expect. This was a man who knew he was beaten.
Yet the judges decided otherwise. Two of the judges scored it 115-111, and Anek Hongtongkam (best name ever!) had it 116-111.
I personally had Castillo up 8 rounds to 4. Harold Lederman at ringside had a similar score. I can understand 7-5 Castillo, but anything beyond that is stretching it. And to say that Mayweather not only won this fight, but won it convincingly – as all three judges’ scorecards imply – is an outright travesty. Castillo out-muscled, out-maneuvered, and out-classed boxing’s soon-to-be brightest star.
A lot of people blame the decision on Bob Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Castillo at the time. It’s clear what Arum’s motivation would have been to fix this fight – Pretty Boy Floyd was on the rise, and having that big goose egg in the ‘Loss’ column helped make him a household name.
And a household name he would become, as Mayweather went on to rack up 49 victories with no official defeats, and generate more money than any boxer in history. Would all that have changed if Castillo had gotten his just desserts? No one will ever know…
It’s impossible to say for certain if the fight was fixed, or if the judges were just in awe of Mayweather and scored him more generously than they should have. But don’t forget, this is boxing, where what goes on outside the ring is just as important – or sometimes even more important – than what goes on inside the ring. Perhaps Castillo himself put it best when he responded to the controversy by saying, “Well, I don’t want to say the wrong thing, but boxing is certainly filled with interests, let’s put it that way.”
#2) Holyfield vs. Valuev – Dec 20, 2008
If you’ve never seen this fight, don’t bother. It’s easily the most boring championship match of all time. I’ll give you a quick rundown of the entire fight right here: Valuev stands in the center of the ring and does nothing, while Holyfield dances around him and does next to nothing. Picture that for 12 rounds.
The reason this is an all-time great robbery is because, at the end of the day, next to nothing is still more than nothing.
Holyfield won this fight 11-1. The only round that is even plausible to give to Valuev is the 12th, yet somehow, in some universe, the judges gave Valuev the win. I guess they decided that lumbering around for 33 out of 36 minutes and throwing 4 or 5 punches a round – never mind any combinations – is enough to retain a title. Yikes.
This is a big deal, considering Holyfield would have made history with this win, notching his fifth world title and becoming the oldest man ever to win the heavyweight crown at age 45 (besting ‘Big’ George Foreman by several months). But alas, it was not to be.
The one cool thing about this fight is that Valuev is a monster. And by that I mean he’s 7 feet tall and weighs over 300 lbs. Holyfield, at 6″3, 210, looks like a hobbit dancing around that Stone Giant thing in Lord of the Rings.
The reason this fight is #2 on the list is because the decision is so egregiously wrong. Other than the 12th, I defy you to find one round that Valuev won. I know this isn’t the most meaningful heavyweight bout of all time, but from now on, when someone mentions the fact that George Foreman is the oldest man ever to win the heavyweight title, you can bring up the asterisk that is Holyfield-Valuev.
#1) Pacquiao vs. Bradley 1 – Jun 9, 2012
You knew it was coming. The grandaddy of all highway robberies. The most shameless star-making event in boxing history. The day that three judges decided Tim Bradley out-fought Manny Pacquaio.
A little context before we delve into this one: The fight took place in 2012, right around the time everyone was clamoring for a Pacquaio-Mayweather Superfight. We all know what happened there. Instead of Pacquaio-Mayweather, we got Pacquaio-Bradley.
Okay, fair enough. Bradley came into this fight undefeated, with impressive wins over Lamont Peterson and Joel Casamayor. He was ranked a top 10 pound-for-pound fighter, so after negotiations with Mayweather and for a Cotto rematch both fell through, why not give a guy a shot?
The fight went as everyone predicted. Manny just had too much speed, too much power, too much technical skill for Bradley to handle. Bradley fought Manny’s fight and PacMan picked him apart, landing his straight left all day long. As Max Kellerman declared in Round 5, Manny ‘Outclassed him.’
The fight itself brought zero surprises. It was the decision afterward that left everyone floored. In the narrowest of margins, the judges gave a mixed decision to Bradley.
It’s tough to find a single person who thinks the decision was justified. By my count, Manny won the fight 10 rounds to 2, and most of those were pretty decisive. The only rounds I gave to Bradley were the 10th and 12th. Now, I can see a 9-3 decision, and can even stomach an 8-4, but giving more than 4 rounds to Bradley…?
The judges unanimously gave Bradley the 7th round, even though Manny doubled him in punches landed! 2 of the 3 judges gave Bradley the 8th, even though Manny outpointed him 15-9 in that round. And there was no question who was throwing the harder leather. Jim Lampley and Emanuel Steward were commenting all night how much more power Manny had, and how Bradley simply couldn’t handle his trifecta of speed, skill, and punching power.
After the fight, Bradley was asked by Max Kellerman in the center of the ring if he thought he won. He said that he would ‘have to go back and watch the tape to see who won the fight.’ The crowd booed. Kellerman then asked Pacquiao if he thought he won the fight. Pac responded, “Absolutely, yes.” And the crowd went wild.
Now, if you’re going to claim that a fight is fixed, you should at least have a theory as to why it would be. There’s a pretty convincing one for this fight, and it starts and ends with Bob Arum.
Bob Arum promoted both fighters. Pacquiao was already a legend, and having had 3 losses, wasn’t protecting a goose egg the way Mayweather was throughout his career. So what’s one more loss going to do to his iconic reputation? Absolutely nothing.
Meanwhile, a win for Bradley makes him an instant star – which is exactly what happened. It also sparked a very lucrative Pacquaio-Bradley trilogy, of which Pacquiao convincingly won the last two fights (and wasn’t robbed by the judges).
And if you want to be uber-consipratorial about the whole thing (and who doesn’t!), you could say that, ‘isn’t it a coincidence that Bradley signed with Top Rank just before this fight, and fought a big match on the Pacquaio-Marquez 3 undercard, thus introducing him to a more mainstream audience?’ And… let’s just go the full nine here… ‘isn’t it strange that Bradley looks a heck of a lot like Floyd Mayweather Jr., whom fans wanted to fight Pacquaio, but the fight never materialized (up to this point)?’ Could Bob Arum be pulling his best Vince McMahon impression, giving us a substitute for Mayweather-Pacquiao – only one in which the drama was artificially manufactured instead of naturally ingrained?
Color me cynical, but I think all of the above is possible.
Whatever the case, things certainly didn’t go as planned for PacMan moving forward. He would fight Marquez for the fourth time later that year, and get famously knocked unconscious, then spend over a year recovering before returning to the ring. Boxing fans often point to the Bradley fight as the beginning of Manny’s downfall, if you can call the last 4 years a ‘downfall.’
Bradley, meanwhile, went on to fight and beat some top contenders, including an aging Juan Manuel Marquez, Jessie Vargas, and Brandon Rios.
Tim Bradley is by all accounts a very warm, likable guy, and it’s worth noting that he is not the one who robbed Pacquiao. It was the judges who robbed Pacquiao.
Or maybe it was Bob Arum…
Regardless, this fight is yet another reminder that boxing can be such a cruel mistress: she can seduce you, and just as quickly stab you in the back.
What are some of your all-time biggest boxing robberies? Leave a comment below…