The Biggest Fights That Never Happened!
Wednesday, 12 November 2014 | Carl
A Nice write up from Gav Duthrie: www.boxingnews24.com
Gav Duthie: As the optimism increases yet again for a possible superfight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquaio there is no doubt the most talked about fight in history. If it doesn’t actually happen in May or September 2015 it will also be the biggest fight never to have happened in the sport. This article focuses on some of the other big fights that we have missed out on over the years and who might have won.
Ray Leonard 36-3-1 (25) v Aaron Pryor 39-1 (35)
Aaron Pryor was recently awarded recognition as the greatest light welterweight of the 20th century. The problem is all the big fights at this time Tommy Hearns, Wilfried Benitez, Roberto Duran, Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler were at 147lbs and above. He had beaten Hearns as an amateur and was dominating as a Jnr welterweight. After turning down consecutive offers of $500,000 to face Duran and Leonard, Pryor eventually agreed to step up to challenge Ray Leonard for his Welterweight title for $750,000. This fight WAS going to happen.
Although both parties had agreed to the fight Leonard needed to first face his mandatory challenger Roger Stafford. Pryor recalls that he was on his way to Sugar’s location to promote the fight when he heard on the radio that Leonard had suffered a detached retina in training hence the Stafford fight was cancelled as was his subsequent deal with Pryor. Pryor recalls he pulled over and cried. Leonard then retired 6 months later making a renegotiation impossible.
Who would have won
After the set back Pryor decided not to move up to 147. He reigned supreme at 140lb holding one title version or another from 1980-1985. His crowning glory was his two wins over 4 weight title chaser Alexis Arguello. Leonard seemed to improve as he moved through the divisions and I don’t think Pryor’s power would have affected him.
Leonard UD 15
Joe Calzaghe 46-0 (32) v Sven Ottke 34-0 (6)
As a spectacle I don’t think this would have been a great fight but it should have happened. Both Calzaghe and Ottke retired undefeated and made over 20 defences of their WBO and IBF Super middleweight titles repectively. Sven would never fight out of Germany which meant a fight with Calzaghe was always unlikely. Ottke only stopped 6 opponents from his 34 victories meaning he won 28 decisions.
Why it didn’t happen
A number of Ottke’s wins were considered highly controversial attributed to hometown decisions which is still considered prevalent in Germany today. Ottke fought close fights against fellow Brits David Starie and laterally Robin Reid but the Calzaghe team never made the trip over as the previous combatants were hard done by with judges and referees. By the time of the Robin Reid fight Ottke’s skills were on the slide. He was lucky to get the victory there and retired after his next fight. After the David Starie fight team Sauerland (Ottke Promoters) said that a Calzaghe fight was dead. They claimed they had been rebuffed every time they tried to negotiate. It was also said that Calzaghe was not a big enough name in Germany and they would prefer Bernard Hopkins which also never happened. Warren however made similar claims that Ottke avoided Joe and that their decision not to leave Germany made any deal unlikely.
Who would have won
Ottke was a very good technical fighter but I think he would have been outworked by Joe Calzaghe. Joe did struggle with good technicians like Kessler and Hopkins but his plan B was always to up the workrate on both occasions and take over in the latter stages. I think the same would happen here.
Calzaghe UD 12
Mike Tyson 50-6 (44) v George Foreman 76-5 (68)
Ok so this clearly wouldn’t have been Big George at his devastating best but there was definitely a big opportunity to put two of the biggest punchers of all time against each other. When Foreman returned in to the ring in 1987 from his 10 year hiatus Tyson was champion. At the time there was no big call for a fight because George’s return was seen as a bit of a joke. Foreman was determined however and was fighting every other week and amassed a 20-0 (19) record with wins over Bert Cooper, Dwight Qawi and Gerry Cooney. The majority of his foes were B/C class however and few fancied him to beat Tyson.
Why it didn’t happen
In 1991 George was tipped for a title shot but Evander Holyfield was first in line. Nobody had expected James Buster Douglas to spoil the party with a 10th round knockout over Iron Mike in Japan. For ‘Busters’ first defence he came in well overweight and was knocked out by Holyfield in 3 rounds. Again rather than going straight for a title shot v Holyfield the Tyson camp wanted a big name comeback fight and Foreman fit the bill. Rumours are varied but Mike seemed to be reluctant to fight Foreman. He felt he was better than people were suggesting and that it didn’t suite him to fight Big George. Instead he faced amateur bogeyman Henry Tillman (beat Tyson twice at amateurs) and knocked him out in 1 round. He then beat Alex Stewart before his rape conviction sent him to jail for 3 years before he could face Foreman and more importantly Holyfield. George and Evander fought in 1991 with The Real Deal winning on points and Foreman had another failed title shot against Tommy Morrison before finally regaining the world heavyweight crown beating Michael Moorer in 1994 over 20 years since losing it to Ali.
Who would have won
I agree with Tyson that this wouldn’t have been as easy as it looked but he would surely have won. Mike had gone the distance a couple of times prior to the Douglas loss against James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith and Tony Tucker and his higher punch volume would have been a factor. Foreman had a fantastic chin and I think he would have possibly hurt Mike a couple of times on the way in but ultimately would have been edged out.
Tyson UD 12
Roy Jones Jnr v Darius Michalczewski 48-2 (38)
Why this fight didn’t happen I will never know. Roy and Darius were rated #1 and #2 for about 5 years at light heavyweight. In 1994 the German was the WBO light heavyweight and WBO Cruiserweight champion simultaneously. He dropped the cruiserweight title and stayed at light-heavyweight. He made no less than 23 successful defences before he eventually lost the belt after 11 years as champion. In 1997 he beat Virgil Hill on points to briefly become WBO, WBA and IBF light heavyweight champion. This was Hill’s first loss since Tommy Hearns. After that fight would have been the perfect time for him to fight Jones but Roy fought Virgil Hill instead winning a 4th round stoppage. There were several other times negotiations took place but it is unfortunate for Roy that this bout never materialised.
Why it didn’t happen?
I’ve wrote before about the German comfort zone. This seemed to be the main problem for this fight. Michalczewski was apparently making around $1.5-2 million dollars per fight for facing mandatories in Germany. HBO made offers to him to come over to the U.S but they weren’t tempting enough. Before a fight with Roy HBO wanted to build his profile by having him on undercard fights with Jones Jnr as the headline, this is not an uncommon tactic. He would allegedly be offered around $3 million dollars per fight and then eventually $5 million to face Roy. Again his team probably felt they were better off facing more winnable opponents in Germany. As of course Jones Jnr also plain refused to fight in Germany at that time they fight was never realistically going to be made.
Who would have won
Michalczewski was good, very good he had a strong jab, could cut ff the ring well and was very powerful. At the time though Roy was untouchable and his footwork and hand speed would have been too much for him to handle.
Jones Jnr UD 12
For all our sakes we can only hope that Mayweather v Pacquaio is not going to be added to this list.