Updated: Jul 23, 2020
The boxers of the heavyweight division, at 200lbs plus (91kg), are the kings of the ring. The big men. To pull together a list of the 5 best heavyweight fights in the last 50 years has not been easy there have been so many amazing heavyweight fights.
Now we know that not everybody is going to agree with us but here is the 50plus4men.com's top 5 heavyweight fights from the last 50 years. They are in no particular order. Please watch, comment and enjoy:
Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier III -27th of Aug 75 - Non-title fight.
The Thrilla in Manila was the third and final meeting of two greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. It was the culmination of five-plus years, of carefully nurtured bad blood. For Ali, much of what was said was marketing, the hype that surrounds every big fight. For Frazier, things were different. Ali's comments cut much deeper. Both men had seen better days, and many feel that this was the fight after which both of them should have retired. Often ranked as one of the best bouts of all time. In this fight, these two great warriors gave everything they had to give.
Larry Holmes vs. Ken Norton. June 9, 1978 - WBC title fight.
Ken Norton was the champion ( a WBC belt he was awarded after Leon Spinks defeated Ali and then refused to take the mandatory fight against Norton, instead choosing a rematch and ultimate defeat against a now very faded Ali.) Norton fought in an era of giants (Ali, Frazer, and Foremen) and had held his own. In fact, he had a victory over Ali.
Larry Holmes a long time sparring partner to Ali, Frazer and Foreman, was known for his quick hands and quick feet. Although he was seen as an accomplished boxer nobody thought he could live with the raw power of Ken Norton. Norton's plan was to let Holmes punch himself out. Holmes's plan was to dominate behind his right jab. Norton was the odds on favourite. Holmes had other ideas. Their styles meshed and magic happened. It was a battle that swung to and fro between the combatants. In the end, one man emerged victorious and the next dominant heavyweight was crowned.
George Foreman v Ron Lyle - 24th of Jan 1976 - Non-title fight
Following his surprise defeat to Muhammad Ali in one of the most historic fights in boxing history ( the rumble in the jungle 1974), George Foreman was not just a former champion, but a man looking for redemption.
Ron Lyle, a powerful and tough ex-con who wanted one more title shot.
Each saw the other as an obstacle that needed to be moved out of the way. Both men could bang, and neither man feared the other.
Despite his loss to Ali, Foreman remained the hulking monster of many a boxing fans' nightmare. Lyle who had endured more than seven years hard time at Colorado State Penitentiary and had even been declared clinically dead in the aftermath of a vicious prison brawl was no shrinking violet. Once released, Lyle battled his way to the top of the heavyweight division with wins over Oscar Bonavena and Jimmy Ellis, before losing to Ali by an 11th round TKO.
"The fireworks got underway in earnest near the end of the opening round when Foreman made the mistake of dropping his hands after a clinch and Lyle landed a crushing right that had Foreman staggering all over the ring before the bell saved him from disaster. Round two saw the momentum shift dramatically; now it was Lyle on the ropes and in trouble, but the timekeeper rang the bell a full minute early, robbing Foreman of a chance to capitalise. Round three also belonged to Foreman as a somewhat passive Lyle appeared to be emulating Ali’s victory over Foreman and allowing the former champion to unload his heavy artillery. With three rounds in the books it had already been an action-packed battle, but both warriors were in fact just getting warmed up."
Riddick Bowe vs Evander Holyfield I. 13th November 1992. - WBA, WBC, IBF and Lineal championships on the line.
The first of a trilogy that would ultimately turn the old adage of a good biggan will always beat a good littlun on its head. In what would become one of the greatest heavyweight boxing matches of all time Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe tested each other to breaking point. A titanic battle between the established champion Holyfield and the newly crowned Olympic champion Riddick Bowe.
Always competitive and extremely tough the fight is perhaps best known for its 10th round. In this round Bowe came out strong, hitting Holyfield with several powerful combinations. Holyfield, however, was able to weather the storm and dominated the second half of the round, landing several combinations of his own.
Anthony Joshua vs Vitali Klitschko 29th of April 2017 - WBA - IBF - WBO heavyweight titles on the line.
One of the best heavyweight fights of recent years. This was AJ's first real test. He had already won world titles but in Kiltschko he faced his first elite class opponent. If he won it would show the world that he was a legitimate world-class fighter and the undisputed king of the heavyweights. For Klitschko this fight offered redemption. A way back to the top. After his shocking defeat to Tyson Fury a couple of years earlier Klitschko had retired from boxing. The rise of AJ and the chance of a super fight brought him back.
Both men came to fight. Both men put it all on the line. After 11 rounds of action, one man was counted out on his feet and the other was anointed, King. This is certainly one of the best fights that we have seen on UK shores in the last 50 years. We leave it up to you our 50plus audience to decide if it belongs in this exalted company.