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Greatest Upsets in Boxing History – Will we see another?

By Tom Eynon: As our evening is nearing, and we are contemplating payment towards a $70.00 investment towards the unknown, I cannot help but to wonder about some other legendary nights that have been rewarding for the underdog in history.  Although tonight’s fight is an unlikely win for Algieri, I will mention he is in the best position a fighter can ever be in, as a professional.  Not one person is giving him a chance to win, very few expect him to go the distance, and to be honest, even his own family probably wouldn’t imagine a later than normal bedtime, heading into the east coast nightfall.


That being said between the two, all of the pressure in the world is sitting on Pacquiao.  All of the experience in the world does not put the pressure on a night like tonight.  It is one thing to defend a title.  But when you are defending a title, along with the expectations to have a walk in the park without one person in the world expecting you to lose a single round, the pressure can sometimes become overwhelming, as some in history’s past have shown.

As we now prepare this evening into the unknown, I would like invite everyone to take a look back at 4 of the greatest upsets in boxing history.


Then ask yourself, will Algieri possibly become number 5 in this list?

• James J Braddock vs. Max Baer

After defeating Max Schmeling, and completely destroying the heavyweight champion (Primo Carnera), by dropping him 11 times in the fight before the referee had finally seen enough, as well as another 2nd round KO title defense, Baer seemed to be invincible.

Braddock on the other hand was walking into the ring that evening supporting an overall record of 49 wins, 25 losses, 7 draw’s, and 2 no contests. Although his career began promising, between 1930 and 1935, Braddock’s career slumped with 13 wins, 17 losses, 1 draw, and 2 no contest. Between hand injuries, and a career of defeats, Braddock had resorted to other means to support his family, including the need of public assistance.

June 13th, 1935 set up the stage for what should have been an easy title defense for the Heavyweight Champion, Max Baer. But as history would tell it, the 10 to 1 underdog would be famously known for staging one of the greatest upsets in boxing history. James J Braddock Had won the Heavyweight Championship of the world by Unanimous Decision, and will forever be known as the “Cinderella Man”

• John L Sullivan vs. James J Corbett

John L Sullivan was the last of the gloveless breed of champions, in which men fought endless rounds of bare knuckle battles, until one was left standing. This man was known as a devastating bruiser that would punish every portion of an opponent, until they would submit to defeat. During a career spanning of 40 victories, Sullivan was heading into this fight as a heavily favored heavyweight champion of the world.

Jim Corbett was also an undefeated fighter walking into the ring that evening. However his experience would play a huge role in what many would believe would be a huge disadvantage over the current Heavyweight Champion of the World. Not only did Corbett have just 9 professional fights, only 2 of them had come by way of Knockout, which led many to believe this would be a huge mismatch for the heavy handed Sullivan.

September 7th, 1892 a crowd of 10,000 fans packed into the Olympic Club arena, located in New Orleans to witness an event that would later result in the retirement of a legend.

As the fight began, Sullivan started off as he always did. He rushed in like a bull, trying to trap Corbett in every corner, throwing heavy punches at all times. However, Corbett had a game plan by utilizing the ring, and had barely thrown a punch thru the first 3 rounds. And before the closing of the 4th round, while Sullivan was rushing Corbett into another corner, Sullivan was met with a crushing blow that had broken his nose. Slowly the fight was shifting, and by the 21st round, Sullivan had met the end. The young 9 and 0 fighter, with only 2 knockouts, had KO’d the most vicious fighter in Boxing history (at that time), and retired the legendary John L Sullivan for good.

• Joe Luis vs. Max Schmeling

As racism was at an all time high, and the coincidence of Adolf Hitler’s German power, Max Schmeling had become known as Hitler’s “Nazi Puppet”. Although very experienced, with 48 wins and 7 losses, Schmeling was supposed to be no match for the 22 year old Brown Bomber.

Joe Luis was on the rise of his career at only 23 years of age, and had easily beaten all 24 of his opponents, knocking out all but 4 heading into the bout. Schmeling was meant to be a tune up match for the seemingly unbeatable Luis.

June 19th, 1936 another historical upset had been made. In front of a large crowd packed inside Yankee Stadium, Max Schmeling had not only defeated Joe Luis that evening, the underdog from Germany had knocked out the Brown Bomber in the 12th round. Although a title for this first match was not involved, the fight did earn recognition by Ring Magazine in 1936, as the fight of the year.

Two years later, nearly to the day of the first encounter, a rematch was awarded. This time a title was on the line. Unfortunately for Schmeling, he quickly learned upsets are a rarity in the sport, and was completely dismantled within minutes of the very first round.

• Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas

As betting lines opened up, a 90 to 1 under dog named James Buster Douglas had been announced as Iron Mike Tyson’s next opponent. Although Buster had a decent record, he never had much success when stepping up in competition. His last attempt at glory prior to this matchup had been 3 years earlier against Tony Tucker, then suffering a 10th round TKO.

To complicate matters worse, 23 days prior to this match Buster’s Mother had passed away. Adding too, the mother of his child was dealing with a severe kidney ailment, and just days before the fight Douglas had come down with the Flu.

Mike Tyson on the other hand had his own personal issues, as he was in the midst of a nasty divorce. With the reputation that had been built however, many had figured the brutality would just be an additional delivery of punishment, figuring Tyson already a fierce specimen fighting out of anger, would just increase the level of pain he was going to deliver on another victim put in his path.

However, February 11th, 1990 the Tokyo Dome had witnessed what many believe to be the biggest upset in boxing history. Even Vegas had believed this to be such a one sided event, only one location had even allowed this fight to be apart of the parlay betting lines.

For 10 straight rounds Buster Douglas had controlled the entire fight, by landing combinations, stiff jabs, and rocking straight right hands to Tysons face. Only once during the 8th round did Douglas slip in his game plan, dropping his hands and tasting the power of Tyson’s powerful uppercut. This one moment would become later a protest, as Douglas had been knocked down, and the referee had delayed his count timing by 2 seconds, which Douglas had reached his feat by the count of 8. However, the moment Douglas had hit the canvas it was apparent his head was clear, as he was pounding the canvas with his glove out of disappointment for his carelessness. As the 9th round began Douglas had picked up from where he was prior to the knockdown, and controlled Tyson all over the ring. Then by round 10 the once invincible Iron Mike Tyson had finally shown that he was human. After a crushing right uppercut, followed by a thunderous combination from both hands, Tyson’s body fell to the canvas with such a thud, his mouthpiece came bouncing out of mouth. During the count by the Referee, the dazed Mike Tyson had rolled to his knees and with his glove, searched the corner for his mouthpiece prior to rising to his feat. Once found, he had slid the mouthpiece halfway into his mouth, and had risen to his feat, only to be met with the referee, and the taste of his first defeat of his entire career. James Buster Douglas had knocked out Mike Tyson, and became the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the world.

The protested long count from the 8th round had later been over ruled, and Douglas was given the clear victory for his win.

 

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