With all British boxing suspended until June and sport thin on the ground, Frankie Monkhouse takes a look back at five of his favourite upsets...
"A contest can turn in the blink of an eye. One well-timed punch, one slip when a duck was needed, a momentary lapse in concentration and it could all be over"
Boxing is unpredictable
The fight game, unlike many other sports, is unpredictable. Whether it's a small hall show involving two featherweights or a bout to decide the world heavyweight title, anything can happen. That's the reason boxing is loved by millions around the world.
The sport's history is littered with major upsets. A contest can turn in the blink of an eye. One well-timed punch, one slip when a duck was needed, a momentary lapse in concentration and it could all be over. KO and done. Fighters at every level know this and that's why they pay little heed to the predictions of pundits, odds compilers or fans.
The beauty of the fight game keeps followers on the edge of their seats from the opening bell to the final blow. We have witnessed our fair share of shock results and upsets this season already. During uncertain times, with British boxing suspended until June due to the coronavirus outbreak, we take time to look back at five of our favourite boxing upsets.
Andy Ruiz beat Anthony Joshua
We'll start with a surprise result from last summer when little-known heavyweight Andy Ruiz Jr shocked the world by dethroning unbeaten champion Anthony Joshua. Ruiz had come in as a late replacement for the disgraced Jarrell Miller who failed a drugs test during the build-up.
Despite having 32 wins on his record going in, he was written off by just about everyone, some even calling the match another embarrassment to heavyweight boxing. Ruiz looked to be carrying rolls of excess fat and was expected to be taken out inside three rounds.
The American was sent to the canvas in round three but rose to stun those in attendance at Madison Square Garden, New York. He downed the champ twice in round three, dropping him another two times in the seventh. Referee Michael Griffin called a halt to the contest at 1.27 of round seven, saving AJ from further punishment. The Englishman gained revenge via a convincing points decision win in a rematch six months later, fought in Saudi Arabia.
Tyson Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko
Tyson Fury has carved a career out of causing an upset when entering as the underdog. It's a tag the Englishman thrives under and a strong case could be made for his recent win over Deontay Wilder to be added to this list.
He was betting favourite to beat knockout king The Bronze Bomber in Las Vegas, however. Fury's famous win over Wladimir Klitschko is taken instead. It's a victory that shocked many but will also go down as a result that changed the course of heavyweight boxing, bringing an end to the painfully long reign of the Klitschko brothers.
Fury prepared as an undefeated fighter, but had his fair share of doubters in 2015. Not only was he facing champion of the world, a more experienced man who had spent the majority of his career winning and defending major titles, but he was doing it in Germany. His opponent's adopted home. Fury was written off by the traders but boxed beautifully, racking up a strong points lead. The scorecards that night read 115-112, 116-111, 115-112, all in favour of Tyson.
Jeff Horn beat Manny Pacquiao
Another major shock from recent times. Manny Pacquiao is the multi-weight world champion who has faced some of the biggest names in boxing over the years. The Filipino firecracker made his debut back in 1995 and remains active still. He brutally KO'd Ricky Hatton in 2009 and took Floyd Mayweather the distance in 2015. Pac Man was brought to Australia by promoters to face prospect Jeff Horn.
The Aussie wasn't exactly a household name amongst sports fans before the fight but that all changed when beating Pacquiao in Brisbane. In scoring a deserved points victory, Horn joined an exclusive list of men who had beaten Manny which includes Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez and Mayweather. It was little surprise to see the beaten man make a quickfire return to winning ways, Horn losing his WBO welterweight world title to pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford less than a year later.
James Douglas beat Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson certainly enjoyed a rollercoaster career. At the height of his powers he was regarded as the baddest man on the planet and the undisputed king of boxing.
At his lowest he was losing to fighters like Kevin McBride who had no right being in the same ring as Iron Mike. When watching his showreel, fans are spoiled for choice when it comes to stunning knockout wins. He stopped the likes of Frank Bruno, Michael Spinks and Larry Holmes. However, Tyson will always be remembered for a knockout loss suffered against James Douglas in 1990.
Buster climbed into the ring with a record reading 28 wins against four defeats and one draw. He was in over his head when facing the all-conquering Tyson, according to most.
As sometimes happens in heavyweight boxing, the fight didn't follow a script. Douglas was sent to the floor in round eight but rose to stun the champion, delivering a knockout blow two rounds later at the Tokyo Dome. The scoring judges had the fight close heading into the 10th round but, as it turned out, they weren't needed. Buster Douglas from Ohio finished with a professional record of 37-6-1.
Muhammad Ali beat Sonny Liston
Not many boxing matches attract the attention of conspiracy theorists, but this one did, such was the surprise in the final result. Not only did Muhammad Ali shake up the world, as he had promised to do during a colourful build up, he kickstarted a career that would end with him going down in history as the greatest of all time. Ali may have gone on to become a global boxing sensation, but at the time it was Sonny Liston who was the draw, he was one of the most feared fighters on the circuit in 1964 and would make mincemeat, it was hoped, of the young Cassius Clay.
With WBC and WBA world heavyweight titles on the line at the Convention Center in Miami Beach, Clay held his own during the opening few rounds and the scorecards had him ahead by two, behind by two and level heading into the sixth round of a scheduled 15. The challenger was coming on strong but there was disbelief when Liston retired on his stool blaming an injured shoulder. That clash was named 1964 Ring Magazine Fight of the Year.
Cassius Clay changed his name to Cassius X shortly after, before becoming Muhammad Ali. Of course, there was a rematch the following year. Liston was knocked out in the opening round on that occasion. Ali's final record showed 56 wins, 37 by KO, against five defeats, one inside the distance.