Boxing is a sport where no matter how good you are, there’s always someone out there who can take you. Aside from the rare case, the majority of boxers will taste a bitter defeat at some point in their career. Sometimes, that loss is not a close defeat, but an emphatic, brutal beatdown. The game has seen many of the latter in its 100 plus years of existence. Today, I take a look at the fights that I’ve deemed the worst beatdowns since the year 2000.
For this list, considerations were made regarding the amount of punishment received and how long the beating took place. You’ll notice the majority of these fights go into the latter rounds despite the victim taking hellacious shots. That’s not only a testament to the brutality of this sport, but also the undying will to win of most fighters, even when the odds are hopelessly stacked against them.
Without further adieu, here is The Biggest Boxing Beatdowns of the 21st Century.
#10 Mikkel Kessler vs. Librado Andrade (March 24, 2007)
“Are you human?!” HBO commentator Max Kellerman to Librado Andrade after the fight
Despite losing every minute and getting his head snapped around repeatedly every round, this was the fight that made Andrade’s career. This is one of the best displays of chin that you will ever see outside of heavyweights George Chuvalo and Tex Cobb. Librado Andrade never stopped coming forward and took wincing bombs from a prime, hard and accurate punching Mikkel Kessler. This fight made many proclaim Kessler as having the best 1-2 in the business.
Kessler landed 348 punches in this bout with the majority being head shots.
#9 Alfonso Gomez vs. Arturo Gatti (July 14, 2007)
2007 was the end of the road for popular all-action fighter Arturo Gatti. For years, Gatti had thrilled fans with dramatic comeback performances (Wilson Rodriguez, Gabriel Ruelas) and slugfests (Mickey Ward trilogy). But at age 35 and at too high a weight class for his frame at welterweight, Arturo Gatti was nothing but a punching bag even for limited fighters like Carlos Baldomir and Alfonso Gomez. What was on display in this sad final fight was simply Gatti’s warrior spirit, but not much else. For those who followed Gatti, Gomez’s final overhand right was a sad end.
#8 Felix Trinidad vs. Ricardo Mayorga (October 2, 2004)
When Felix Trinidad announced his comeback in 2004 against Ricardo Mayorga, there were some questions. Could Trinidad withstand Mayorga’s wild pressure and brawling tactics? Could Trinidad, who has regularly hit the canvas with flash knockdowns, handle Mayorga’s power? Would Mayorga’s chin brush off Trinidad’s power?
Turns out, Trinidad picked the perfect opponent to look good against. Outside of the brazen display in the first round where Mayorga taunted Trinidad into hitting him with several left hooks, Trinidad administered a methodical, beating that resulted in the Mayorga hitting the canvas for the first time his career. This fight proved the Nicaraguan’s toughness, but his form was never the same after the amount of left hook bombs Mayorga took in his fight.
#7 Manny Pacquiao vs. Oscar De La Hoya (December 6, 2008)
Hindsight is 20/20. Leading into this fight, most journalists believed Pacquiao had taken too big a leap in moving to welterweight to face Oscar De La Hoya. The consensus was that De La Hoya, a former world champion at the weight, would be too strong for Pacquiao, who was jumping 12 pounds for the contest.
It turns out the opposite was true. De La Hoya had not competed at welterweight in seven years, and the pushing his body back down to the 147 pound limit weakened him. On the fight, his reaction time was bad and he was nothing more than a sitting duck for a fighter possessing the speed and power of Manny Pacquiao.
After smacking him with hard counters in the early rounds, Pacquiao pressed his attack in the mid and latter rounds on a hapless De La Hoya. Realizing he had nothing left, De La Hoya retired on his stool after the eighth round and called it a career. He conceded afterward that his former trainer Freddie Roach was right in that he could no longer “pull the trigger.”
#6 Roy Jones vs. Jeff Lacy (August 15, 2009)
Roy Jones had been down as an elite fighter since 2004 when he suffered back to back knockouts to Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson. But even a diminished 2009 version had more than enough to dominate a younger but damaged Jeff Lacy, who following a rotator cuff surgery on his left shoulder and a beating from Joe Calzaghe had nothing to combat Jones’ speed and caginess. Jones rope-a-doped, clowned and abused Lacy.
Lacy has not fought since 2009 and may be done with boxing following this stoppage loss.
#5 Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson (June 8, 2002)
Just because two fighters are close in age doesn’t mean physically they are at the same stage of their careers. So was the case with Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson, a fight that should’ve conceivably happened in the mid 90s. By 2002, Lewis was still the formidable heavyweight champion of the world. Tyson, who’s crouching and explosive style tends to result in shorter primes (see Marciano, Frazier), was a mere shell of his former shelf with nothing resembling his late 80s form except punching power.
After a decent first round, Lewis commenced to bludgeoning Tyson with wincing right hands round after round. Lewis would later remark about his astonishment about the shots Tyson was taking. But everyone has their limits, and Tyson’s reached his in the eighth. Lewis scored a knockdown off a snapping uppercut and effectively ended Tyson’s career as a contender with a follow-up overhand right for a second knockdown. Lewis pushed for another payday in a rematch, but Tyson refused.
#4 Floyd Mayweather vs. Arturo Gatti (June 25, 2005)
Years from now when Floyd Mayweather’s career is over, people will look back on this fight as the beginning of the “Money Mayweather” character and his ascent to mainstream boxing superstardom. Mayweather had been in the Top 5 pound for pound rankings for several years, but had failed to generate a significant following with his defense first style. He broke that tradition with this fight by constantly deriding Arturo Gatti for his past alcohol problems, his fighting ability(“he a paper champion and C+ fighter”), and even his appearance after years of fighting (“Gatti looks Chinese”).
Unable to get a fight with the true champ of the division in Kostya Tszyu, Mayweather essentially used this fight as a PPV showcase and totally outclassed and humiliated Gatti. Whether it was triple overhand rights or Fight Night-type hooks to the body, Gatti had no answer for Mayweather’s offense. After just six rounds, both of Gatti’s eyes were swelling and he had yet to land a significant punch. His trainer Buddy McGirt stopped the massacre, and Gatti found out the answer to his question regarding whether he had the skill to handle the elite fighters of the division.
Mayweather would have his final non-PPV fight in his next bout against Sharmba Mitchell. Since then Mayweather has gone on to become the biggest PPV fighter of all time.
#3 Manny Pacquiao vs. David Diaz (June 28, 2008)
Manny Pacquiao only made one appearance at lightweight. But that appearance was an absolute annihilation of belt-holder David Diaz. Diaz would admit later that while he could handle Pacquiao’s power, the speed was just too much for him. By the later rounds, even right jabs were snapping Diaz’s head back and visibly bothering him. The knockout would come in the ninth when a Pacquiao left hook resulted in a bloody Diaz sinking to his knees and slowly falling on his face.
Pacquiao was so impressed with Diaz’s heart that he gave his opponent a portion of his purse.
#2 Shane Mosley vs. Antonio Margarito (January 24, 2009)
Before this fight many were fearing for Shane Mosley’s safety. In his mid-30′s and coming off an uneven showing a few months earlier against Ricardo Mayorga, many believed Mosley was in store for beating against reigning welterweight champion Antonio Margarito.
Margarito had become one of the most feared men in the division. He had twice KO’d Kermit Cintron, and stopped Miguel Cotto after easily shaking off the Puerto Rican star’s punches. The belief was that Mosley would also be overwhelmed and possibly stopped late.
Someone forgot to tell Shane Mosley that. The man nicknamed Sugar turned in one of the best performances of his career. He easily bullied Margarito on the inside and used his superior handspeed to punish the Tijuana Tornardo with hard right hands and a left hook. Margarito’s famous chin was on display, but only take the shellacking for so long. A straight left hand and right hook hurt Margarito and resulted in a knockdown in the eighth. In the ninth, Mosley cornered him and ended matters with several hooks that dropped Margarito again.
Magarito’s reputation would be forever sullied when illegal, hardened plaster-like wraps were found in his hand wrappings before the fight. He would be suspended for over a year, and many fans and critics would later say the beating he received during the fight served as karma.
#1 Joe Calzaghe vs. Jeff Lacy (March 4, 2006)
Famed trainer Emmanuel Steward called this the most-lopsided superfight in boxing history. If you happened to catch this fight, you’d be inclined to agree.
Joe Calzaghe was viewed by many, especially in America, as a fraud. He was considered the stereotypical European fighter that defended their belts in their home country and failed to seek out stronger challengers in the U.S. After nine years of defenses in the UK, Calzaghe finally secured a fight with a top U.S. challenger in Jeff Lacy.
Lacy was viewed as the heir apparent to the division. Undefeated and with huge knockout power, many were predicting Lacy to simply blast Calzaghe out of there early.
Instead, fans got a performance that validated Calzaghe’s career and signaled the end of Jeff Lacy’s. To say Calzaghe dominated would be an understatement. The Welshman utterly destoyed Lacy, winning every second of the fight for the entire 12 rounds. Early on Calzaghe realized Lacy was no match for him, and began smiling at the American as he pummeled him with combinations. Because Calzaghe was not a puncher, Lacy had to take rounds and rounds of punishment.
Lacy’s corner could have pulled him around the eighth, but they kept him in there to take unnecessary damage. It did no favors for his psyche, and Lacy was never the same mentally after this fight. He physically suffered a huge setback in his next bout when his best weapon, the left hook, was taken away following extensive rotator cuff surgery.
Bernard Hopkins vs. Felix Trinidad
Floyd Mayweather vs. Diego Corrales
Nate Campbell vs. Ricky Quiles
Vitali Klitschko vs. Danny Williams
Miguel Cotto vs. Paulie Malignaggi
Manny Pacquiao vs. Marco Antonio Barrera I