Boxing has had a number of African American fighters who have dominated the sport for years. From world champions to just fights that will last a lifetime, the archive is rich and plenty. Top Rank Boxing is opening their archive in honor of Black History Month.
The promotion announced that it will showcase fights on its YouTube page that will highlight some of the most memorable nights of boxing. That includes fighters from the past (Muhammad Ali, Marvin Hagler, George Foreman) and the present/future (Terence Crawford, Shakur Stevenson).
Top Rank already shared the first fight of the month, featuring the September 15, 1978 bout between Muhammad Ali and Leon Spinks. This was a rematch of their bout in February of that year, with Spinks winning via split decision. The 36-year-old Ali returned to the ring against Spinks and beat him via unanimous decision. He became the first three-time heavyweight champion with the win, grabbing the WBA, The Ring, and lineal Heavyweight Titles. It was the last win of his professional career and was watched by over 90,000,000 people.
Yesterday (February 5), Timothy Bradley’s unanimous decision-win over Ruslan Provodnikov in 2013 was released. Considered the Fight of the Year in 2013, this was after Bradley’s win over Manny Pacquiao in 2012. This was also the first defense of Bradley’s newly-won WBO Welterweight Title.
The remainder of the schedule, and the fights involved, include:
– Saturday, February 8: Evander Holyfield v. George Foreman – April 19, 1991
- Foreman’s attempt at becoming a world champion once again at the age of 42. In a competitive bout, Holyfield won via unanimous decision. This would not be the last time Foreman would fight for a title.
– Wednesday, February 12: Terence Crawford v. Yuriorkis Gamboa – June 28, 2014
- Crawford today is considered one of the top welterweights int he world. Winning the WBO Lightweight Title off of Ricky Burns was his first test, defending it was his next test. He knocked out Gamboa in front of his friends and family. From there, there was no turning back.
– Saturday, February 15: Marvin Hagler v. Thomas Hearns – April 15, 1985
- A fight that would be billed as “The War” for being highly-contested for only three rounds. Lasting eight+ minutes, Hagler retained his WBA, WBC, IBF, The Ring, and lineal Middleweight Titles following a TKO that was named the Fight of the Year by The Ring.
– Monday, February 24: Sugar Ray Leonard v. Wilfred Benitez – November 30, 1979
- Leonard was the young gun, just making his pro debut three years before this fight. 25-0 at the time, Leonard was destined for great things following a medal win in the Olympics. After 15 rounds, Leonard stopped Benitez and his 38-fight win streak via TKO to win the WBC, The Ring, and lineal Welterweight Titles.
– Wednesday, February 26: Floyd Mayweather Jr. v. Genaro Hernandez – October 3, 1998
- The legend of Floyd Mayweather began in Las Vegas as the then-18-0 fighter fought Hernandez, who was at the top of his game with 38 fights at the time. It was all Floyd in this performance, as “Money” won the bout via corner retirement. It was Gernaro’s last fight of his career, while Mayweather moved on to become one of the greatest boxers in the history of the sport.
– Saturday, February 29: Shakur Stevenson v. Jessie Cris Rosales – January 18, 2019
- The first true test for the 22-year-old from New Jersey. In his tenth fight as a pro, Stevenson knocked out Rosales to win the IBF Inter-Continental and WBC Continentals Americas Featherweight Titles. Only a few months later, he won his first major title, the WBO NABO Featherweight Title.