Twenty Heavyweight Fights To Forget

Boxing’s Heavyweight Historic Low Blows

The American automotive industryTiger WoodsMicrosoft… & the heavyweight division… all once

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Nick Nolte joined the ranks of the "Great Future Behind Them Brigade". Photograph courtesy of The Smoking Gun.

mighty, revered institutions of the popular consciousness & now all experiencing historical lulls in public favor & esteem. The heavyweight division has devolved from the glittering to the godawful. Or as the words of a Robbie Williams (who?) foretold is “a burning effigy of everything it used to be.” So in an effort to extract some entertainment value from this talent shy cesspit of the world’s greatest sport I present the 20 worst high profile heavyweight fights we’d all rather had never taken place. Read em & weep.

20. Lennox Lewis vs Henry Akinwande 1997

*Does also qualify as #7 on my list of Best Wrestling Matches Ever.

Henry Akinwande may have lost this heavyweight bout & any future as a highly regarded prize fighting commodity; but in the world of professional hugging they were exclaiming – “A star is born.” ZZ Top were from that point on the obvious choice for all future ring walk music for Team Akinwande with their anthem “Gimme All Your Lovin‘”.

19. Mike Tyson vs Peter McNeely 1995

Mike Tyson comes out of jail. Don King knows there is an almost insatiable public appetite for the return of the fighter who terrorized the heavyweight division from 1986 through the end of that decade. It would, though, require Tyson winning – winning spectacularly, winning shambolic – didn’t matter all that much, the Tyson brand was sufficiently swollen from his ring hiatus to ensure he’d be a cash money hero either way. Enter a white guy whose dad fought & aquitted himself fairly decently against another Constantine “Cus” D’Amato student in Floyd Patterson. The apple though fell far from the McNeely familial tree – how far? Don King vs Mills Lane hairstyle poles apart.

For his part the journeyman McNeely came out game & swinging – though you were left with the overriding impression of a disgruntled road rage incident where an out of shape redneck bites off more than he can ever hope to chew stepping out of his pickup truck only to find… well, frigging Mike Tyson! Violent, yes. Spectacular, perhaps – more pulsating I’d venture. But far from a prize fight worthy of the designation & ultimately little more than another contribution to the dilution in perceived value of the heavyweight class as we headed deeper into the 1990s.

18. Lennox Lewis vs Oliver McCall II 1997

Referee Mills Lane, “In the third round, he got in close, and then seemed frustrated, and then he just backed off and put his arms down. . . . I thought he was playing possum but then I saw his lips started to quiver and I thought, ‘My God, is he crying?'” He was; & so, Mills, was I.

As with Akinwande before him; this interlude with the premier heavyweight of the late 1990’s could well have led to a rethink of ring entrance backing music for McCall…. “Crying” by Roy Orbison seemed the logical choice.


17. Vitali Klitschko vs. Odlanier Solís 2011

There was a kerfuffle in the build up to this fight as the elder Klitschko labelled Solis lazy for his purported lax training methodology. The proof was in the pudding in one of the most pathetic conclusions to a heavyweight title bout in, well sadly, not that long.

16. Andrew Golota vs Ray Austin 2008

China must have been thrilled to land the WBC USNBC Heavyweight Title bout between Poland’s Andrew Golota & Ray “The Rainman” Austin. Must have felt like an explosion of Western culture akin to the first American rock bands who played Moscow’s Red Square. Just as well China have a well oiled state control of the media because anyone with access to Mr. Andrew Golota’s veritable roll call of misdeeds against the sport of boxing wouldn’t have expected much more than another bizarre episode in a grotesque stain on the sport parading as the career of the Polish heavyweight.

End of Part One

To Follow, Part Two: 15 through 11. (Yes, it gets worse, far worse.)

Matt Hamilton, for ESNews Reporting!

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