The best boxing matches of all time

Which are the best boxing matches of all time? It is undoubtedly a tough question to answer, with the sport’s history littered with some truly epic encounters.

One of the biggest issues about producing a definitive list is the hype that surrounds boxing, which often leads to a skewed view about the merits of certain fights.

For instance, the Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao bout in 2015 was eagerly anticipated, but ultimately failed miserably to live up to expectations.

With that in mind, we take a closer look at some of the fights that can truly be classified as being amongst the best boxing matches of all time.

George Foreman vs Muhammad Ali – 1974

The 1974 heavyweight clash between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali was one of the biggest sporting events staged during the 1900s.

According to Betway, the Rumble in the Jungle attracted a worldwide television audience of one billion people – around one-quarter of the global population.

Foreman was widely tipped to overpower Ali during the contest, and set about the former champion with gusto during the early rounds.

However, Ali’s ‘rope-a-dope’ tactics worked to perfection, and he went on to secure a famous eighth round knockout victory to regain the title.

Erik Morales vs Marco Barrera I – 2000

The first meeting between Erik Morales and Marco Barrera was a classic, with both fighters landing a flurry of punches throughout the contest.

Morales appeared to take control in the fifth round, unleashing a barrage of punches on his opponent to send the crowd wild.

Barrera refused to buckle, and sent the noise levels through the roof with a succession of vicious punches that left Morales stunned.

Morales eventually won the fight by split decision, sparking two further fights which Barrera won on points on each occasion.

Sugar Ray Leonard vs Marvin Hagler – 1987

Sugar Ray Leonard, a boxing superstar before the era of boxing streams, had fought just once in five years heading into his bout against Marvin Hagler and was widely tipped to take a beating. 

However, Leonard had other ideas and produced a defensive masterclass that deservedly earned him a split decision victory.

While Hagler attempted to spend most of the fight as the aggressor, Leonard pounded his opponent with combinations before backing away.

He actually landed more punches than Hagler during the contest to secure one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.

Israel Vazquez vs Rafael Marquez III – 2008

Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez shared a ring four times between 2007 and 2010, and their third meeting was unquestionably the pick of the bunch.

The pair had each recorded a victory inside the distance in their first two bouts, but the third contest in 2008 went all the way.

The fight ebbed and flowed, with each fighter dominating at different periods. Vazquez was eventually announced as the winner by split decision.

Vazquez and Marquez met for the final time in 2020, where the latter levelled the series at 2-2 courtesy of a stylish third-round knockout.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com