Your internal organs are 60% turkey, your Nan made you watch the Queen’s speech and you had to Google what “annus horribilis” means, and you’ve stopped speaking to your Uncle because he said some deeply unpleasant things during the A League Of Their Own Christmas special. In short, you’ve had enough of Christmas for one year. So why not take your cue from the name, and spend your Boxing Day watching… boxing!
The term actually comes from the act of boxing up unwanted gifts and giving them to the poor on the day after Christmas. A noble pursuit for sure, which began in the Middle Ages. But why dwell on the Middle Ages, when you could be watching the middleweight division? That’s where we start this round-up of classic fights to get you away from your family this holiday season.
Marvin Hagler vs John Mugabi
‘Marvelous’ Marvin took part in the greatest middleweight contest of all-time when he faced Thomas ‘Hitman’ Hearns in 1985. But that fight is only three rounds, and your Mum’s friend Denise who she makes you call ‘Auntie’ has just whipped out Charades. You’re going to need something that keeps you away a little longer.
Try this battle from a year after the Hearns fight. All the relentless pressure and excitement you love about Hagler, but there’s eleven rounds of it. This was one of the sternest tests of Hagler’s historic middleweight championship run, and the last win of his career. Mugabi pushed him all the way, and it is little wonder ‘The Beast’ would win world titles of his own in the following years.
Mike Tyson vs Lou Savarese
We went for length last time, so why are we now recommending a 38 second fight? Not only that, but one that falls way outside the era of ‘Prime Mike Tyson’? Well to answer the second question first, it’s because everyone has seen ‘Prime Mike’ ten thousand times and there is nothing fresh to say about those fights. To answer your first query, it’s because this is about so much more than the fight.
This whole video is wild. The real action begins after the final bell has sounded, with ‘Iron’ Mike’s transition from polite prospect to wildman of the ring utterly complete. Best of all though is that post-fight interview. The cadence of a WWE promo delivered in the tone of a toddler. The menace, the quotability, the downright weirdness. It is one of the greatest post-fight interviews ever, for all the wrong reasons.
Lennox Lewis vs Shannon Briggs
This fight is here for two reasons. Firstly, because many modern fans do not appreciate how good Lennox Lewis truly was. The sport’s last undisputed heavyweight king, ‘The Lion’ had a supreme legacy that does not deserve to get lost in the shuffle of the modern era, where we are spoilt by the likes of Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.
Secondly, this is one hell of a fight. Shannon ‘Let’s Go Champ’ Briggs was the lineal heavyweight champion going into this one, after a controversial win over George Foreman. He empties his tank quickly and spectacularly in a fun, action fight with then-WBC champion Lewis. Enjoy this classic from when Lewis was on top, and Briggs was far-removed from the cartoon character he became.
Diego Corrales vs Jose Luis Castillo
Simply put, this just might be the best fight ever. When WBO champion Diego Corrales met WBC boss Jose Luis Castillo in this 2005 title unification, we all expected fireworks. Few of us were adequately prepared. We went in expecting rockets, we received a nuclear bomb.
The action is utterly furious throughout, with a wince-inducing number of power shots thrown and landed. The bravery and warrior spirit on show is a sight behold. We won’t spoil the ending here, it really does need to be enjoyed. If you’ve never seen this bout before, welcome to your new favourite fight.
Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman
We end on an obvious one. There must have been hundreds of millions of words written about ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’. In fact, here’s a few of ours. But it is a fight that truly deserves to be cherished, and stands up extremely well to repeat viewings.
This is not the dancing destroyer of Ali folklore, it isn’t even quite the rope-a-dope Ali of contemporary myth. It is, put simply, a work of art from the squared circle’s foremost artist. Cap off your Boxing Day by letting ‘The Greatest’ remind you exactly why we still call him that today.