Ali-Frazier Trilogy Highlights A Saturday Marathon Event

Over the past few weeks, a variety of boxing promotions have opened the vault to provide fans a taste of epic boxing fights. Top Rank just recently did that with a number of Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson matchups. Now, the promotion will be looking to go all out in the wake of the coronavirus.

Starting at noon, a marathon of some of the greatest fights in boxing history will be showcased on ESPN programming. It will all end with the entire Ali-Joe Frazier trilogy.

The following fights will be shown in a marathon Saturday, April 18:

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  • 12 p.m. ET – Muhammad Ali v. George Foreman (10/30/74)
  • 1 p.m. ET – Evander Holyfield v. George Foreman  (4/19/91)
  • 2 p.m. ET – Oscar De La Hoya v. Julio Cesar Chavez I (6/7/96)
  • 3 p.m. ET – De La Hoya v. Felix Trinidad (9/18/99)
  • 4 p.m. ET – Marvin Hagler v. Thomas Hearns (4/15/85)
  • 4:30 p.m. ET – Tyson v. Berbick (11/22/86)
  • 5 p.m. ET – Tyson v. Holmes (1/22/88)
  • 5:30 p.m. ET – Tyson v. Spinks (6/27/88)
  • 6 p.m. ET – Sonny Liston v. Cassius Clay I (2/25/64)
  • 7 p.m. ET – Ali v. Frazier I (3/8/71)
  • 9 p.m. ET – Ali v. Frazier II (1/28/74)
  • 10 p.m. ET – Ali v. Frazier III (10/1/75)

Known as “The Rumble in the Jungle”, Muhammad Ali v. George Foreman was watched by over 1 billion viewers, a major record at the time. Ali came in as a 4-1 underdog as Foreman (40-1 at the time) was in the prime of his career. This was one of the major showings of the “rope-a-dope” tactic, which threw Foreman off. In the latter part of his career, Ali ended up winning the fight by KO in the eighth. He survived an onslaught by Foreman, and a rematch never took place.

Although he wasn’t given a shot by many, George Foreman managed to keep Evander Holyfield on his toes. Holyfield, the WBA, WBC, IBF and lineal heavyweight Champion won via unanimous decision but Foreman proved that even at 42 he still had something left in the tank. He showed that two+ years later by becoming world champion at 45.

A fight that did not go on traditional PPV by order of Bob Arum, the first fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. could be highlighted as a classic in its own way. A surging De la Hoya, who was 21-0 at the time, faced a man in Chavez who already had 96 wins. A lightweight champion, De La Hoya decimated Chavez in four rounds to win the WBC and lineal Light-Welterweight Titles. One of the main factors of victory was a gash above Chavez’s eye. It was the second loss of Chavez’s career, and De La Hoya ended up giving him his third loss a few fights later.

Following his second win over Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya won two in a row before challenging Felix Trinidad for the IBF Welterweight Title. In the last fight before the turn of the century, the two competed in a historical bout. A controversial outcome, Trinidad ended up winning via majority decision after De La Hoya appeared to not focus towards the later rounds. As a result, Trinidad won the WBC and lineal Light-Welterweight Titles. 

Home to one of the greatest first rounds in boxing history, Thomas Hearns v. Marvin Hagler is a fight that will stand the test of time. Hagler ended up winning via third-round KO.

In a fight that really started the legend of Mike Tyson, “Iron” Mike beat Trevor Berbick in his 28th pro fight to win the WBC heavyweight Title. It was a dominant performance in which it only took the second round to knock the champion out. As a result, Tyson became the youngest man to win a heavyweight title.

In the fifth fight since beating Berbick, Tyson faced one of the best in Larry Holmes in 1988. Tyson knocked him out in four rounds, the only time Holmes was knocked out.

The height of Tyson’s dangerous run was against Michael Spinks. In a fight considered the richest in boxing history in 1988 at a $70 million gross, Tyson and Spinks fought to decide who the true heavyweight champion was. In the end, Tyson didn’t need to sweat, as he attacked early and never looked back. The fight was over after 91 seconds.

Right before he became Muhammad Ali, Cassius Clay was just starting his journey as one of the greatest boxers of all time. In his first fight for a major title, Clay beat Sonny Liston, who at the time was established with 35 wins and one loss since his eighth pro fight. Ali dispatched of Liston after six rounds, becoming the WBA, WBC, The Ring and lineal Heavyweight Champion in the process.

March 8, 1971 is the fight that started one of the most famous rivalries in boxing history. Muhammad Ali, finally returning to boxing following his license getting pulled, fought Joe Frazier, who was becoming a hot commodity like Ali was. The “Fight of the Century”, Ali lost via unanimous decision in a bout in which Frazier had a true coming out party.

The rematch between Ali and Frazier took three years to make. While it wasn’t the most acclaimed one of the three, both fighters gave it their all. Ali ended up winning via unanimous decision.

Known as the “Thrilla in Manila”, this was the end of one of the greatest rivalries in boxing. Ali and Frazier went to war with one another, with both giving it their all. Ali would damage the eyes of Frazier, making it hard for him to see. Frazier’s corner would not let him continue, allowing Ali to win via TKO. Both fighters were on the verge of collapsing as a chapter of boxing was coming to a close.

BoxingESPNEvander HolyfieldFelix TrinidadFIGHT SPORTSGeorge ForemanJoe FrazierJulio Cesar ChavezLarry HolmesMarvin HaglerMike TysonMuhammad AliOscar De La HoyaSonny ListonThomas HearnsTop Rank