Friday The 13th: Boxing's Biggest Bloodbaths

There have been some truly gruesome battles in the ring
17:00, 13 Oct 2023

Friday the 13th is a day where it’s socially acceptable to revel in all things gory and boxing has had some particularly gruesome nights over the years. It is tailor-made for such a horror-filled holiday. So if you don’t fancy watching a scary movie this year, don’t fret. Why not check out these five boxing bloodbaths instead...

Vitali Klitschko vs Lennox Lewis, 2003

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Lennox Lewis’ last dance in the ring was a savage spectacle, with six rounds of unadulterated carnage shared between the Brit and Vitali Klitschko at Los Angeles’ Staples Center in 2003. In just under 20 minutes, the fight would drag Klitschko into new realms of pain and discomfort.

Things got especially gory in the third round, especially with regards to Klitschko’s once-chiselled face. At the start of the round, Lewis’ trainer, the legendary Kronk master Emanuel Steward, told his charge to take the fight to the Ukrainian, which Lewis duly did, landing a devastating right and opening up what would be a fight-changing gash over Klitschko’s left eye.

Klitschko bravely fought on but the damage was done, his face looking more and more like a bloody Picasso as the seconds went by. The referee was forced to end the fight in the sixth round, handing the brave Klitschko a TKO.

Chuck Wepner vs Sonny Liston, 1970

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What do you get when you cross a fighter they call ‘The Bleeder’ with one of the most fearsome boxers to ever live? A scene of slaughter that would make Jason Voorhees blush. 

That’s what happened when Chuck ‘the Bayonne Bleeder’ Wepner, whose fight against Muhammad Ali would inspire Sylvester Stallone to write Rocky, faced Sonny Liston in New Jersey in 1970. The fight itself was actually pretty competitive with both men rocking one another, but Wepner’s susceptibility to being cut, hence his nickname, cost him yet again with his face streaming with blood.

The fight was ended by the referee in the ninth round and when all was said and done, Wepner suffered a broken nose, a cracked cheekbone and required the best part of 100 stitches.

Evander Holyfield vs Mike Tyson II, 1997

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You can’t talk horror-show boxing matches without bringing up Evander Holyfield’s rematch with Mike Tyson in Las Vegas in 1997, a fight that contains actual cannibalism. With the exception of a bad night in the office against James ‘Buster’ Douglas in Tokyo, Tyson had blitzed his way through the heavyweight division, wielding raw intimidation as a weapon of mass destruction along the way. Unfortunately, Holyfield hadn’t shared the fear so many who faced Tyson did, and beat him handily in their first meeting a year earlier.

In the rematch, Tyson began to get a bit frustrated once again. In a clinch between the two fighters in round three, Tyson rolled his head back and proceeded to take a bite out of Holyfield’s right ear, pulling away a one-inch piece of cartilage and spitting it to the canvas. Incredibly, the fight continued, with Tyson losing two points, until he ended up in another clinch with Holyfield and bit his left ear. This time the fight was actually stopped and mayhem commenced.

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