Five of the best boxing trilogies in history


Ahead of the third instalment of Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury which has been postponed from July to October due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gulf News looks back at some of the unforgettable trilogy fights. Here are five of the best.

Without a doubt, the greatest trilogy of all time. Their first fight in 1971 was billed the “Fight of the Century ‘ as Frazier proved that Ali could be beaten when he scored a unanimous points victory. Ali’s rope-a-dope strategy did not quite pay-off as Frazier battered him against the ropes to shock the world. However, Ali returned to reclaim his title in 1974, this time using a new play — clinching to neutralise Frazier’s distance and power. It was recorded that he clinched Frazier 133 times to secure a unanimous decision setting up a finale. Branded the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ this was a massive slugfest with the doctor stepping in to prevent Frazier from further damage at the start of the 11th round. The win establish Ali as the greatest and cemented his status as a legend.

The rivalry between two outstanding Mexican boxers, Marco ‘The Baby Faced Assassin’ Barrera and Erik ‘El Terrible’ Morales, is regarded to be one of the sport’s greatest. The two ‘haters’ first fought in 2000 where Morales gained a controversial split-decision win. Barrera fought a tactical fight to win the second in 2002 in Las Vegas and then, two years later despite a defeat to Manny Pacquiao, Barrera moved up to the super featherweight division to take on old foe Morales and carve out a majority decision victory. The bout was voted ‘Fight of the Year’ by the sport’s influential Ring Magazine.

Another heavyweight sensation between two of the division’s hardest punchers. America’s Patterson dropped his Swedish rival, Johansson, seven times in round three of the first fight in 1969, for a huge victory. But Johansson would bounce back and level the score. The decider almost brought the roof down in the wild first round with both fighters being dropped to the canvas. Both would go for broke with Patterson appearing to have the edge and by the sixth round had assumed control when he dropped the Swede with a pair of swinging right hooks. This was the end for a brave Johansson who was beaten but by no means disgraced.

The series began in explosive fashion with Pacquiao dropping Marquez to the canvas repeatedly in the very first round at MGM Grand in 2004. However, the Mexican would show his worth by fighting back to take it the distance. A scoring glitch led to it being called a draw but had one judge been more mindful of the scoring system, Pacquiao should have been declared the winner by a split decision. Four years later the pair reunited to settle some ‘Unfinished Business’ at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Pacquiao won by split decision after knocking down the Mexican once in the third round. It was only in 2011 that Pacquiao and Marquez entered the ring to fight for a third time and the Filipino boxing icon confirmed his legacy with a majority decision victory. There would be a fourth fight which Marquez won with a sixth round KO.

Leonard came into the first fight in 1980 having won an Olympic gold medal, being undefeated and as the welterweight champion However, he was defeated by the No. 1 ranked welterweight contender Duran via unanimous decision in front of a 46,317 spectators in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. In the return fight later the same year, which was billed as as “Revenge in New Orleans”, Leonard used his superior footwork and playmanship to taunt Duran during the fight who in the final seconds of the eighth round quit with stomach cramps. The third fight took place eight years later with Leonard doing enough to impress the judges and force a unanimous victory.