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The 8 Greatest Upsets In Heavyweight Boxing History That You Can’T Miss

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Today I want to compare and rate the greatest upsets in all of heavyweight history. The criteria here is simply how big the upset was at the time it happened. Ali is on here a couple of times, and to be truthful, knowing what we know now, we could probably relegate those to not being upsets. But, let’s face it; they don’t call him “The Greatest” for nothing.

1) James Douglas KO 10 Mike Tyson
This fight is number one, and it’s not even close! Tyson was a 42-1 favorite and had been quickly dispatching everything that got in his way, while “Buster” had quit against Tony Tucker, and most questioned how much heart Douglas had. On one February night in Tokyo, Japan, though, Buster Douglas was special and dominated Tyson for most of the fight, finally leaving Tyson on the canvas searching for his mouthpiece, a beaten fighter.


2) Max Schmeling KO 11 Joe Louis
Max was the former Heavyweight Champion of the World, but the odds were still over 10-1 against him as he faced the young “Brown Bomber” who had knocked out former Champions Primo Carnera and Max Baer. Schmeling was considered old and over the hill, but he said he saw a weakness in Louis, and he did! He dropped Louis in the 4th round and could barely miss with his right hand afterward, stopping Louis in the 12th.

3) Leon Spinks SD 15 Muhammad Ali
Spinks was in just his eighth pro bout, and just two fights before had struggled to get a draw with Scott LeDoux in a fight most thought LeDoux had won. Ali was older and slower, but he had enough to beat the tough Earnie Shavers just a few months before. Ali tried a little rope a dope against Spinks, but Spinks was too strong and kept coming after Ali. As Ali would say after the fight, Spinks was relentless on the attack.

4) Ken Norton SD 12 Muhammad Ali I
Going into this fight, Ali was ranked number one and Norton number six. Norton had no standout victories, and nobody gave him much of a chance. The surprising thing here is that he actually got the decision! Norton broke Ali’s jaw during the course of the fight and was the definite winner.

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5) Evander Holyfield KO 11 Mike Tyson I
People forget that Tyson was on a roll in this fight, and Holyfield looked old in his last four fights while winning just two of them. At the opening of betting, Tyson was a 25-1 favorite, which was bet down to 10-1 by fight time. Holyfield, in the end, was just the stronger fighter physically, and more importantly, mentally.

6) Andy Ruiz Jr KO 7 Anthony Joshua
Ruiz had been a solid pro coming into this fight, and most fight fans thought that Joshua was the best heavyweight in the world (he’s not). However, Ruiz didn’t just land a single punch to win; he repeatedly knocked Joshua down. On this night, he was clearly the best fighter; no luck was involved.

7) Michael Spinks UD 15 Larry Holmes
No Light Heavyweight Champion had ever beaten the Heavyweight Champion. To make the upset even better, Holmes was just one win away from Rocky Marciano’s 49-0. In three months, Spinks gained over twenty pounds under the guidance of nutritionist Mackie Shilstone. Whatever Shilstone did at the training table and in their workouts worked as Spinks constantly beat Holmes to the punch to win a close but deserved decision.

8) Muhammad Ali KO 8 George Foreman
Ali was 32 years old, and on the downside of his career, at least that’s what most people thought. Foreman was seemingly invincible, knocking out Joe Frazier in two rounds. It seemed the same fate would await Ali. But, instead, Ali employed a rope a dope tactic to tire out Foreman and eventually knocked out Foreman in the eighth round of a classic and unforgettable battle.

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