Fifteen years ago, the IBA light heavyweight title was on the line in Biloxi, Mississippi between the undefeated defending champion Vonda Ward (18-0) and Ann Wolfe (17-1-1) who held belts in middleweight and super middleweight. Two seasoned fighters getting ready for an evenly matched title fight, but what transpired has been considered the “Greatest Knockout in the History of Women’s Boxing”.
Watch the full broadcast of Vonda Ward vs. Ann Wolfe from May 8th, 2004:
That punch has helped Ann Wolfe cement her legacy which has since exceeded many of her peers in women’s boxing. She has appeared in major motion films like “Wonder Woman” and her life has been a subject of numerous think pieces and documentaries.
While history remembers Wolfe knocking out Ward, at the time she was walking into the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on fight night, Wolfe had the deck stacked against her.
Fighting an undefeated champion who towered over her in not only height, but weight, Wolfe would need to gain 11 pounds on fight week to make weight in their battle for the IBA Light Heavyweight title.
For Ward, this was supposed to be her star-turn, undefeated and promising to “sign autographs” after the fight, the former Division 1 basketball player who played under Pat Summit at Tennessee was excited about the fame.
Across the ring, Wolfe, who had fought throughout her life to go from a homeless construction worker to the WIBC middleweight and WIBA, IFBA super middleweight champ was looking to send Ward to the hospital.
Ward told the AV Club in 2010 that she felt Ward “underestimated her” saying, “The worst thing you can do when you fight anybody is underestimate your opponent.”
As the ring clock hit 0:59, Wolfe drove a right hand into the jaw of Ward, who accidentally leaned into the punch, sending the former basketball player straight back onto the canvas. The punch to Ward’s head and neck, would send the light heavyweight’s eyes into the back of her head in a jarring image to those watching on CSI Sports’ World Class Championship Boxing.
Ward was sent to the hospital, while Wolfe hoped she ended her opponent’s career.
“I went to the hospital to see her,” Wolfe said to The AV Club.
“What I do is try to end your career when I fight you, so I was hoping that her boxing career was over. But I didn’t want her to be hurt.”
The punch did not end Ward’s career, the first-round dusting turned out to be the only loss in the Ohio born fighter’s career, which saw five more wins between 2004 and 2008, including multiple title wins in the heavyweight division.
Wolfe would fight seven more times in two years, retaining her IBA and WIBA light heavyweight titles in two defenses, before becoming a trainer and having a role in 2017’s blockbuster film “Wonder Woman”, after being specifically chosen by the casting director Patty Jenkins. And, in the end, she does not want to be remembered as one of the greatest women’s boxers, as she feels there are bigger things in life: “I want to work hard, take care of people, and do what I want to do,” she says.
“But I want to have a good, balanced life. I want to laugh and have fun.”
HERE ARE 5 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT ANN WOLFE VS. VONDA WARD: