Casinos and boxing have gone hand in hand for decades. The operators of gaming establishments soon realized the potential of linking up with big-name fighters. Some of the greatest fights ever took place on casino resort grounds, and the biggest names in boxing have had their names in lights in Vegas and Atlantic City.
Remember when Lennox Lewis fought Wladimir Klitschko in a Vegas casino? Ok, that was just Holywood fantasy for Ocean’s 11, and sadly the real fight never happened. But, despite that tantalizing match never occurring, many others have at Caesar’s Palace, and the MGM, to name just two casinos.
Some truly huge fights have occurred on casino property, largely in Las Vegas, and the link between Sin City and boxing is undeniable. Even as other destinations and arenas have staked their claims to the noble art, Las Vegas still attracts big names such as Tyson Fury and Canelo Álvarez.
Here are some of the most memorable and biggest fights to be held in casinos over the years.
When did boxing matches start to be hosted by casinos?
Las Vegas first started seeing professional fights back in 1955, but the first main bout wasn’t in a casino but at a baseball stadium. Still, the fight between Archie Moore and Nuno Valdez ignited something in Vegas and the casinos.
Nowadays, if you want to bet on boxing or enjoy casinos you can do so in an online nettikasinot. But, in the last century, you would have had to visit a land-based casino, and then you could have enjoyed witnessing some of the biggest fight nights ever.
Of course, some of the greatest fights have been away from Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Joe Louis vs Max Schmelling goes down as two of the best matchups ever to happen. However, by the 1970s, Vegas had become home to big fights, with Foreman vs Lyle going down as one of the best bouts of the year in 1976.
Casinos realized the value of adding boxing to their entertainment roster, and what followed were notorious, memorable, and occasionally, great fights. Here are just a sample.
Michael Moorer vs George Foreman
Held at the MGM Grand, this was a fight that seemed destined never to happen. First, there was the age gap between the fighters. Moorer was 26 while Foreman was already in his mid-forties. The WBA also tried to stop the fight by warning Moorer that he would be stripped of his belt. Put all this on the back of a loss by Foreman to Tommy Morrison, and the event looked unlikely to happen.
The fight is mostly memorable for Foreman’s constant pressing and the stunning short right that won the fight in the tenth. But the real reason this fight makes the list is that Foreman regained the Heavyweight Championship of the World in this fight, 20 years after losing it to the great Muhammad Ali.
Foreman’s last ever fight was also in a casino against Shannon Briggs. Foreman lost the fight but believed the judges had scored the fight wrongly and was so angry that he even announced the fight to be fixed, and an investigation was urged. So upset was the legendary fighter, that he never entered the ring in competition again.
Roy Jones Jr vs Montell Griffith I
This fight at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort may not be the greatest of Jones’ illustrious career, but it is certainly memorable. While Jones was displaying all of his God-given talents that made him look unbeatable in his prime, disaster was waiting for him in the ninth round.
Griffin looked like he had enough and dropped to one knee after taking another solid punch from the champion. While down though, Jones was unable to restrain himself and tagged Griffin with two more punches resulting in disqualification, and Jones’ first career defeat.
Jones Jr has expressed his desire to keep fighting even after 75 matches. His record at the time of writing was 66 wins, 45 by KO, and 9 losses including one to Joe Calzaghe in the Welshman’s last ever fight.
Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield II
This fight has become notorious for the events that happened in the ring, but outside of it, something else was happening.
The MGM Grand helped the PPV industry see $1 billion for this fight which ended in ignominy for Tyson. The former champion took a bite out of Holyfield’s ear resulting in disqualification, and his license being revoked.
Sugar Ray Leonard vs Thomas Hearns
Leonard was one boxer never to duck the big fights and took on Hearns, Marvin Hagler, and Roberto Duran, among others through an impressive career. He went into this fight as a slight favorite being the champion and already impressing many.
Yet, the fight didn’t go Leonard’s way for most of it. By the fifth, he was struggling with a swollen eye. The next four rounds were a constant battle between the two fighters before Hearns stepped up the pressure and won the next three rounds.
Leonard’s furious trainer told him he was blowing the title, and something ignited in the champion. Furious combinations in the 13th and 14th rounds saw Hearns pinned against the ropes and hurt resulting in the referee stopping the fight.
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao
There are many similarities between boxing and casinos, and one is that they generate huge sums of money. The MGM Grand Garden Arena was home to one of the biggest money-spinning fights ever. Floyd Mayweather fought Manny Pacquiao, the former took home around $250,000,000.
While this fight will never go down as one of the greats, and in fact was pretty mundane, it will be remembered in history for the huge amount of cash that was taken from PPV, the gate, merchandise, and through the casino and sportsbooks.
Holyfield vs Bowe was one of the greatest Vegas fights but it didn’t take place in a casino so, like many, it fails to make this list. However, if there were boxing-themed slots they would surely be based around fights of that magnitude.
Caesar’s Palace has lost some of its glitz over the years and no longer gets as much action as before. Yet, Las Vegas can still attract big fights, and the casinos such as MGM are continuing to keep boxing at the forefront and help the sport to thrive.