Published on February 27, 2013 | by George Preece


Top 5 biggest boxing upsets

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson’s 1990 defeat to ‘Buster’ Douglas was a huge upset.
Flickr: Shelbysdrummond

Boxing, a sport of strength, discipline, heart and upsets.

A sport where one punch can change not just the context or outcome of a fight, but a whole fighter’s career.

Some fighters use this moment in their career to drive them on to bigger and better things, whilst others simply crumble and fall from boxing grace.

Prompted by Liverpool’s giant heavyweight David Price suffering a shock defeat on Saturday night at the hands of 41-year old American Tony Thompson we offer our list of the top five boxing upsets of all-time:

5) Frankie Randall vs Julio Cesar Chavez (1994)

Chavez came into the fight unbeaten in 90 professional bouts against a 15-1 underdog in Randall. Even though Chavez was ageing, the even older Randall was not meant to pose any sort of threat to the then WBC light welterweight champion.

Chavez, a notoriously slow-starter was pinned back in the early rounds and Randall kept up the pressure to open a large gap on points going into the middle rounds.

Chavez railed into the late rounds but a low blow in the 11th round saw him have a point deducted and then moments later be knocked down for the first time in his career.

This all but ended the fight as Randall shocked the world to claim the light welterweight title on a split decision.

4) Lloyd Honeyghan vs Donald Curry (1986)

Donald Curry was the undisputed welterweight champion of the world and at the time was ranked higher than Marvin Hagler in the Ring Magazine pound-for-pound rankings.

Curry was meant to be the next big thing for American boxing, however, Honeyghan, who was so confident in himself, told his manager to put £10,000 on himself winning, had different ideas.

Honeyghan dished out a one-sided beating which was eventually stopped when Curry’s corner retired him at the end of the sixth round. Curry never fully recovered from the loss whilst Honeyghan carved a name for himself as much more than just a one-hit wonder. The Londoner went on to make five more title defences.

3) Bernard Hopkins vs Kelly Pavlik (2008)

It’s not too often you hear Bernard Hopkins being mentioned as an underdog, however, in October 2008 he met unbeaten Kelly Pavlik at a catch-weight of 170 pounds.

The 26-year-old Pavlik entered the fight with 30 knockouts from his 34 fights, and many pundits expected Pavlik to become the first man to knock-out a 43-year-old Hopkins, who many thought age was getting the better of.

Hopkins had other ideas though, as he produced one of the best fights of his career, beating Pavlik to the punch and showing tremendous accuracy, which cemented Hopkins’ legacy as an all-time great.

2) Hasim Rahman vs Lennox Lewis (2001)

Lennox Lewis was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and in his prime, having recently defeated Evander Holyfield. However, Lewis went into the fight undertrained after a brief cameo in the Hollywood blockbuster Ocean’s Eleven.

Rahman, a 20-1 underdog on the night of the fight, took the fight to Lewis and following five rounds of exchanging blows, Rahman landed a huge right hand that landed flush on the Briton’s chin.

Lewis couldn’t beat the count and was beaten for only the second time.

1) James ‘Buster’ Douglas vs Mike Tyson (1990)

Not only the biggest upset in boxing history, but perhaps in sporting history. In 1990 the most feared man on the planet, Mike Tyson, was in his prime – a human wrecking ball who was simply unstoppable.

The fight was meant to be a warm up for a proposed fight with Evander Holyfield, however, the huge 40-1 underdog in James Douglas ripped up the script to write sporting history.

Douglas, whose mother had passed away 23 days before the fight, showed no fear from the first bell.

He used his jab effectively and although Tyson knocked down Douglas in the eighth round with a trademark uppercut, Douglas managed to regain his grip on the bout.

By the tenth round Tyson was hanging on and when he walked onto a huge uppercut which rocked him, Douglas smelt victory and handed Tyson his first loss in an almighty upset.


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