Most boxing rematches are made when the two combatants produce a thrilling and dramatic match the first time they meet, their fight ends in a draw, or when a champion loses his title. There have been hundreds of excellent rematches throughout the history of the sport and we’re going to list the 12 best here.
Now keep in mind, these are rematches for boxers who met each other only twice during their careers. We’ll take a look at the best trilogies such as Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier and Micky Ward vs. Arturo Gatti in the near future. But in the meantime, check out these amazing rematches for pure excitement and drama, as each man displays a tremendous amount of skill, determination and courage.
12. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling
The great Joe Louis was upset by Germany’s Max Schmeling at Yankee Stadium in 1936 when the former heavyweight champion stopped the Brown Bomber in the 12th round. The rematch took place on June 22, 1938 at the same venue in front of over 70,000 fans. World tensions were rising at the time, as Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were making headlines and this bout was viewed by many as Democracy vs Fascism.
Louis, who was now the world champ, wasted no time as he decked Schmeling with a big right hand early in the first round. Schmeling got up, but Louis continued the onslaught and dropped the German twice more. Schmeling managed to get to his feet, but referee Arthur Donovan waved the fight off at the 2:04 mark of round one when the challenger’s cornerman jumped into the ring. Louis landed 31 of 41 punches while Schmeling pawed with his jab and managed to throw just a handful. Schmeling spent 10 days in hospital recovering and the two became good fiends.
11. Orlando Salido vs. Roman Martinez
Mexico’s Orlando Salido has been one of this era’s most exciting boxers and still is today, even though he just turned 37-years-old. He’s a four-time world champion as a featherweight and super featherweight and has been involved in numerous slugfests. One of the most memorable was his rematch with WBO Super Featherweight Champion Roman Martinez of Puerto Rico.
The pair originally met in April 2015 when Martinez retained title via a unanimous decision. Salido was down in the third and fifth rounds, had a point deducted for a low blow in the 11th and lost by scores of 116-109, 115-110 and 114-111. They met again in Las Vegas five months later and battled to a thrilling 12-round split decision draw with scores of 115-113, 113-115 and 114-114. Salido threw 1,037 punches in the fight and Martinez attempted 691 with both of them landing 27 per cent of their shots.
10. Yoshihiro Kamegai vs. Jesus Soto-Karass
Yoshihiro Kamegai of Japan and Jesus Soto-Karass of Mexico are both known as big-hearted junior middleweight sluggers who always give it everything they have. Fans were anxiously looking forward to their first contest in April of 2016, as they knew it had the potential to be the fight of the year. They were right, as the two warriors went to-to-toe and fought to a 10 round draw.
The two battled it out again five months later at the Forum in Los Angeles and produced another amazing spectacle. They traded thunderous body and head shots nonstop every round, with Kamegai generally getting the better of the exchanges. Soto-Karass was dropped in the eighth round and rose to his feet and fought back. However, he couldn’t make it out of his corner to answer the bell for round nine.
9. Leo Santa Cruz vs. Carl Frampton
When Leo Santa Cruz of Mexico met Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton in Brooklyn in July 2016, both boxers were unbeaten and Santa Cruz was the WBA Super Featherweight Champion. After 12 rounds of furious boxing, Frampton took the title via majority decision by scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 114-114. Their rematch took place Jan. 28th, 2017 in Las Vegas and was another barn burner, with both fighters landing numerous power punches per round. Santa Cruz managed to regain his title and avenge his only defeat with scores of 115-113, 115-113 and 114-114 in a majority decision. Fans are hoping these two guys will make it a trilogy by meeting in a rubber match in 2018, which could very well take place in Belfast.
8. Tommy Hearns vs. Sugar Ray Leonard
Who can forget the classic Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Tommy Hearns bout of 1981 in Las Vegas? Leonard was the once-beaten WBC Champion and Hearns was the undefeated WBA Champ. It was an instant classic, with Leonard stopping the Motor City Cobra in the 14th round. The two met again in June of 1989 with Leonard the WBC Super Middleweight boss and Hearns the WBO Champion.
The bout was once again held at Caesars Palace in Vegas and although their first meeting was named Ring Magazine’s Fight of the Year, the second bout was even better in many ways. The two opted to slug it out this time around, instead of trying to box each other. Leonard was dropped in the third and 11th rounds. However, he still earned a controversial draw by scores of 113-112, 112-113 and 112-112. Unfortunately, Leonard and Hearns never met a third time.
7. Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Carmen Basilio
The legendary Sugar Ray Robinson lost his World Middleweight Title to Carmen Basilio via a 15-round split decision in 1957’s Ring Magazine Fight of the Year. The two Americans met again just five months later at Chicago Stadium in March of 1958, with Robinson looking to win a world title for a fifth time.
The two fought another classic and for the second year in a row the battle was named Fight of the Year. This contest was another split decision, but Robinson pulled it out by scores of 72-64, 71-64 and 66-69. Basilio’s left eye was swollen shut half way through the fight, but many believed Robinson may run out of gas since he struggled to make weight. Robinson regained his title though, in what most fans thought should have been a unanimous decision.
6. Tommy Hearns vs. Iran Barkley
Tommy Hearns makes this list for the second time with his war against Iran ‘The Blade’ Barkley in Las Vegas. Hearns had problems with Barkley the first time around, as he lost his WBC Middleweight Title to him in June 1988 by third-round TKO. It was quite unexpected, to say the least, and the fight was named Upset of the Year by Ring Magazine.
Hearns and Barkley met again in March 1992 when they threw down at Caesars Palace in Sin City. Hearns was now the WBA Heavyweight Champion, but lost his crown to Barkley once again. It was by split decision this time with scores of 114-113, 113-114 and 113-115. It was an exciting back and forth affair, and Hearns was even a 2-1 betting favorite before the fight. He was dropped in the fourth round though and had to wear a cast on his right hand for seven months after the fight.
5. Orlando Salido vs. Juan Manuel Lopez
Orlando Salido returns to the list with another epic battle. This time it’s for his brutal rematch with Juan Manuel Lopez of Puerto Rico. The two got it on for the first time in April of 2011 with Salido winning the WBO Featherweight Title from the undefeated champ in his own backyard. The challenger dropped Lopez in the fifth round and stopped him in the eighth in a big upset.
They met again in Puerto Rico in March 2012 in a fight that was even better than the first. Salido was down in the fifth round, but picked himself up and went toe-to-toe in the ninth. He then stopped Lopez with a tremendous combination in the 10th, with Lopez inexplicably ahead on two of the judges’ scorecards and even on the other. Lopez complained about the stoppage and was suspended for a year by the WBO when he insinuated the referee had a gambling problem.
4. Alexis Arguello vs. Aaron Pryor
One of the greatest all-time rivalries was between Alexis Arguello of Nicaragua and Aaron ‘The Hawk’ Pryor of Cincinnati, Ohio. Unfortunately, they met only twice. Arguello was a former Featherweight, Super Featherweight and Lightweight Champion who was aiming to become the first man in history to win championships in four weight divisions. He challenged Pryor for the WBA Junior Welterweight Title in November 1982 and was stopped in the 14th round in Ring Magazine’s Fight of the Decade.
They hooked up again in September 1983 at Caesars Palace and produced another classic. This time Arguello was stopped in the 10th round by the unbeaten champion. Arguello was also deducted a point for a low blow in the eighth and decked in the first and fourth rounds. The rematch may not have been as dramatic as the original, but was still an exceptional bout.
3. Cornelius Boza Edwards vs. Bobby Chacon
The very likeable Cornelius Boza was born in Uganda and added the last name Edwards after moving to England and reuniting with British father figure Jack Edwards. He was a former WBC Super Featherweight Champion who took on the best of his weight classes. One of these opponents was Bobby Chacon of California. Edwards was the reigning champ when they met the first time in 1981 and retained his title when Chacon couldn’t come out for the 14th round of a slugfest.
They met again in May 1983 in Vegas and continued to go toe-to-toe. Boza Edwards was dropped in the first, second and 12th rounds while the bloodied and bruised Chacon, who was now champion, was down in the third. Chacon won the battle via unanimous decision by scores of 117-111, 115-112 and 115-113 and the scrap was deservedly named Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine.
2. Riddick Bowe vs. Andrew Golota
Just watching this brutal rematch between American Riddick Bowe and Andrew Golota of Poland will leave you breathless. The two heavyweights first met in July 1996 at Madison Square Garden. It was a close, classic fight that was stopped in the seventh round when Golota was disqualified for continuous low blows. A riot ensued at the arena, but the two signed for a rematch in Atlantic City five months later.
It was deja vu all over again as Golota was disqualified for vicious low blows, but this time it went nine rounds. However, it was nine rounds of mayhem which saw Golota ahead 75-71, 75-73 and 74-72 on the scorecards when it was stopped even after having a couple of points deducted. It was a punishing fight with the former Undisputed Heavyweight Champion Bowe on the canvas in rounds two and five and Golota on the deck in the fourth. Both men were bust up and the fight ended with Bowe writhing in pain on the canvas.
1. Matthew Saad Muhammad vs. Yaqui Lopez
Matthew Saad Muhammad of Philadelphia was an action-packed, fan-friendly boxer as was fellow light heavyweight Alvaro ‘Yaqui’ Lopez of Mexico. Both could take a punch as well as anybody and this led to a pair of amazing fights. Their first duel resulted in an 11th-round TKO for Saad Muhammad for the NABF Light Heavyweight Title in October 1978 when Lopez’s eye was swollen shut.
They squared off again in July 1980 in New Jersey when Saad Muhammad was defending his WBC World Title and they put on one of boxing’s all-time greatest slugfests. The bout was named Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine, with the unbelievable eighth stanza being named Round of the Year. When all was said and done, the fight was stopped at 2:03 of the 14th round with Saad Muhammad retaining his title after dropping Lopez four times in the round.