- Apr 29, 2005
Updated schedule as of Nov. 25th:
At Bangkok: Eagle Kyowa vs. Oleydong Sithsamerchai, 12 rounds, for Kyowa's WBC strawweight title
At Santa Ynez, Calif. (Showtime): James Kirkland vs. Allen Conyers, 10 rounds, junior middleweights; Alfredo Angulo vs. Archak TerMeliksetian, 8 rounds, junior middleweights
At Tampa: DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley vs. Dairo Esalas, 10 rounds, lightweights
At Karlsruhe, Germany: Sergei Dzindziruk vs. Lukas Konecny, 12 rounds, for Dzindziruk's WBO junior middleweight title; Thomas Ulrich vs. Yuri Barashian, 12 rounds, for Ulrich's European light heavyweight title; Regina Halmich vs. Hagar Shmoulefeld Finer, 10 rounds, female flyweights
At Mashantucket, Conn. (Showtime): Antonio Tarver vs. Danny Santiago, 12 rounds, light heavyweights; Vernon Forrest vs. Michele Piccirillo, 12 rounds, for Forrest's WBC junior middleweight title; Nonito Donaire vs. Luis Maldonado, 12 rounds, for Donaire's IBF flyweight title
At Albuquerque, N.M. (Top Rank PPV): Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Ray Sanchez, 10 rounds, junior middleweights; Jorge Arce vs. Medgoen Singsurat, 12 rounds, bantamweights; Ivan Calderon vs. Juan Esquer, 12 rounds, for Calderon's WBO junior flyweight title; Mike Alvarado vs. TBA, 10 rounds, junior welterweights
At Panama City: Celestino Caballero vs. Mauricio Pastrana, 12 rounds, for Caballero's WBA junior featherweight title
At Hollywood, Fla.: Sechew Powell vs. Terrance Cauthen, 12 rounds, IBF junior middleweight eliminator; Juan Urango vs. TBA, 10 rounds, junior welterweights; Kevin Johnson vs. TBA, 8 rounds, heavyweights
At New York (Versus): Yuri Foreman vs. Andrey Tsurkan, 10 or 12 rounds, junior middleweights; Sergio Martinez vs. Ossie Duran, 10 rounds, junior middleweights
At Newark, N.J. : Eric Harding vs. Shaun George, 10 rounds, light heavyweights
At Las Vegas (Telefutura): Bronco McKart vs. Enrique Ornelas, rematch, 12 rounds, middleweights; John Murray vs. TBA, 10 rounds, lightweights; Craig McEwan vs. TBA, 8 rounds, middleweights
At Miami (Telemundo): Alejandro Hernandez vs. Carlos Tamara, 12 rounds, flyweights; Alex De Jesus vs. Steve Quinonez, 12 rounds, junior welterweights
At Montreal: Joachim Alcine vs. Alfonso Mosquera, 12 rounds, for Alcine's WBA junior middleweight title; Jean Pascal vs. TBA, 10 rounds, super middleweights
At Las Vegas (HBO PPV): Floyd Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton, 12 rounds, for Mayweather's Ring/WBC welterweight title; Jeff Lacy vs. Peter Manfredo, 10 rounds, super middleweights; Daniel Ponce De Leon vs. Eduardo Escobedo, 12 rounds, for Ponce De Leon's WBO junior featherweight title; Wes Ferguson vs. Edner Cherry, rematch, 10 rounds, lightweights
At Bolton, England: Amir Khan vs. Graham Earl, 12 rounds, for Khan's Commonwealth lightweight title; Dean Francis vs. TBA, 12 rounds, for Francis' Commonwealth light heavyweight title
At Belfast: John Duddy vs. Howard Eastman, 10 rounds, middleweights
At Basle, Switzerland: Arthur Abraham vs. Wayne Elcock, 12 rounds, for Abraham's IBF middleweight title; Cristian Sanavia vs. Danilo Haussler, rematch, 12 rounds, for Sanavia's European super middleweight title
At Sydney: Anthony Mundine vs. Jose Alberto Clavero, 12 rounds, for Mundine's WBA "regular" super middleweight title
At Cicero, Ill. (Telefutura): Orlando Salido vs. Hector Avila, 10 rounds, featherweights; Miguel Angel Huerta vs. Daniel Alicea, 10 rounds, lightweights
At Cancun, Mexico (PPV): Edwin Valero vs. Zaid Zavaleta, 12 rounds, for Valero's WBA junior lightweight title; Jorge Linares vs. Gamaliel Diaz, 12 rounds, for Linares' WBC featherweight title; Rudolfo Lopez vs. Naoki Matsuda, rematch, 10 or 12 rounds, featherweights; Wilfredo Vazquez vs. TBA, 6 or 8 rounds, featherweights
At Edinburgh, Scotland: Alex Arthur vs. Steven Foster Jr., 12 rounds, for Arthur's WBO interim junior lightweight title
At Perth, Australia: Stipe Drews vs. Danny Green, 12 rounds, for Drews' WBA light heavyweight title
At Las Vegas (Versus): Joshua Clottey vs. Shamone Alvarez, 12 rounds, IBF welterweight eliminator; Tye Fields vs. TBA, 10 rounds, heavyweights; Vanes Martirosyan vs. TBA, 8 rounds, junior middleweights
At Las Cruces, N.M. (Telefutura): Urbano Antillon vs. Adrian Valdez, 10 rounds, junior lightweights
At Vancouver, B.C. (ESPN2): "Friday Night Fights" season premier, Dominick Guinn vs. Alonzo Butler, 10 rounds, heavyweights
At Bielefeld, Germany: Steve Cunningham vs. Marco Huck, 12 rounds, for Cunningham's IBF cruiserweight title
At Atlantic City, N.J. (Showtime): Paulie Malignaggi vs. Herman Ngoudjo, 12 rounds, for Malignaggi's IBF junior welterweight title; Ronald Hearns vs. TBA, 10 rounds, junior middleweights
At Osaka, Japan: Hozumi Hasegawa vs. Simone Maludrottu, 12 rounds, for Hasegawa's WBC bantamweight title; Wladimir Sidorenko vs. Nobuto Ikehara, 12 rounds, for Sidorenko's WBA bantamweight title
At New York (HBO PPV): Roy Jones Jr. vs. Felix Trinidad, 12 rounds, light heavyweights; Cory Spinks vs. Verno Phillips, 12 rounds, for Spinks' IBF junior middleweight title
At TBA (Showtime): Oleg Maskaev vs. Samuel Peter, 12 rounds, for Maskaev's WBC heavyweight title
At Las Vegas (HBO PPV): Kelly Pavlik vs. Jermain Taylor, rematch, 12 rounds, super middleweights
At New York (HBO): Wladimir Klitschko vs. Sultan Ibragimov, 12 rounds, IBF/WBO heavyweight unification
At Montreal: Lucian Bute vs. TBA, 12 rounds, for Bute's IBF super middleweight title
At TBA (Showtime): Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez, rubber match, 12 rounds, for Vazquez's Ring/WBC junior featherweight title
Week after week, I get the same question from an assortment of the "Fight Freaks" in my Friday afternoon ESPN.com chat. It generally goes something like this: "I want to start collecting DVDs and tapes of fights, so which are the best ones to start my collection with?" Well, I'm going to tell you, so listen up. I've been a hardcore fight collector since the early 1990s, although I taped my first fight in 1987 (Mike Tyson vs. Tyrell Biggs). Over the past 15 years or so, I have amassed a massive collection: More than 3,500 video tapes and more than 1,000 DVDs from around the world. I have no idea of the exact number of bouts that are in the collection, but every one of them is meticulously cataloged in a data base -- alphabetically by winner (by the fighter I like better in the case of a draw) with the tape or disc number next to the entry. Since my wife and I moved into a new house a few months ago, the video tapes are packed into about 60 computer paper boxes and stacked in the otherwise empty family room. It's all good though -- we don't have any furniture for that room yet anyway. There are fights in about a dozen languages. Old fights. New fights. Great fights. Horrible fights. So when the bosses suggested that I make a list of the fights freaks should have in their collection, I thought about it. Where in the world to start? There are some fights that are mandatory for any collection: Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier III. Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns I. Marvelous Marvin Hagler-Hearns. Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield I, II and III. Archie Moore-Yvon Durelle. George Foreman-Ron Lyle. Julio Cesar Chavez-Meldrick Taylor I. Salvador Sanchez-Wilfredo Gomez. Prince Charles Williams-Merqui Sosa I and II. Aaron Pryor-Alexis Arguello I. Pretty much any Jake LaMotta, Bobby Chacon or Matthew Saad Muhammad fight. I could go on forever. But for the sake of this list, I decided to limit it to fights that have taken place on my watch as a full-time boxing writer. That means anything from 2000, when I became the beat writer at USA TODAY, through last week's bouts are eligible. I like action fights and there are some that just missed the cut -- Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales III, Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward III, Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Torres, Tomasz Adamek-Paul Briggs I, Ezra Sellers-Carl Thompson, James Toney-Vassiliy Jirov, Danny Williams-Mike Tyson, Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao, the Pacquiao-Morales trilogy, Felix Trinidad-Ricardo Mayorga, Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez I and II, Oscar De La Hoya-Fernando Vargas, Jorge Arce-Hussein Hussein I, Julio Gonzalez-Julian Letterlough, Injin Chi-Michael Brodie I, Hector Quiroz-Antonio Diaz II, Sakio Bika-Jaidon Codrington and others. I have watched those fights time and again. But the following fights are my favorites from the time period I outlined. These are the fights I find myself going into my collection to retrieve more often than others. If you don't agree with the list, or don't like the list, wonderful. Make your own. It's your collection. Here are my top 10. Let's get it on: [h2]10. Michael Gomez TKO5 Alex Arthur[/h2]
John Gichigi/Getty Images
Michael Gomez, right, knocked Alex Arthur down three times in the fifth to reclaim the British junior lightweight belt.
When: Oct. 25, 2003. Where: Meadowbank Sports Center in Edinburgh, Scotland. Was I ringside? No. The Lowdown: Since his only defeat, Arthur has gone on to win the European junior lightweight title and an interim world title. But I became a fan after seeing his loss and Gomez's greatest win. They were fighting on Arthur's turf and the crowd noise was so intense, it sounded like it was bleeding through my TV speakers. The funny thing about this fight is that although I had read a few articles on the Internet in the UK media, I didn't realize how great it was until I got my DVD a couple of weeks later from my longtime trading partner in England. Gomez rocked Arthur in the opening moments of the fight and the brawl was on. Eventually, Gomez dropped him three times in the fifth round to reclaim the British 130-pound title. This is not the most well-known fight, but I love it. [h2]9. Micky Ward W10 Emanuel Augustus[/h2]When: July 13, 2001. Where: Hampton Beach Casino in Hampton Beach, N.H. Was I ringside? No. The Lowdown: Throw two journeymen (who had a combined 27 losses going into the fight) together and sometimes you get a classic like this one. It's the best fight in the history of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" and I called it the 2001 fight of the year in USA TODAY. This junior welterweight slugfest set the stage for Ward's more well-known battles with Arturo Gatti as Ward and Augustus (then still going by the name Emanuel Burton) combined to throw 2,100 punches. The one thing I always remember about this fight is that just as I was calling up one of my buddies at the end of the fourth round to make sure he was watching, ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas uttered a prophetic quote: "Anybody watching this fight at home, in between rounds, call your friends up. You're seeing something you don't see too often." Thankfully, this fight has become a staple of the fight library on ESPN Classic. A classic indeed. [h2]8. Acelino "Popo" Freitas TKO12 Jorge Barrios[/h2]When: Aug. 9, 2003. Where: Miami Arena in Miami, Fla. Was I ringside? No. The Lowdown: Yes, I am an unabashed Popo fan. I even named one of my cats Popo after him. I instantly became a fan of his after seeing a tape from France of his bone-chilling first-round annihilation of Anatoly Alexandrov to win his first junior lightweight title in 1999. By the time Freitas met Barrios in defense of his now-unified 130-pound titles, he had become a staple on Showtime and this is the most exciting performance of his career. Freitas was down in the eighth and 11th rounds. Barrios was down in the 11th and 12th rounds. The entire fight -- a classic nationalistic rivalry between Brazil's Freitas and Argentina's Barrios -- was action-packed. And who could forget Barrios, a bloody mess from the sixth round on, so desperate to stay in the fight that he wiped the blood gushing from the cut over his left eye onto the shirt sleeve of the referee? Popo fan or not, this is one of the most thoroughly entertaining fights in Showtime's 25-year history of televising boxing. [h2]7. Shane Mosley W12 Oscar De La Hoya I[/h2]
GERARD BURKHART/AFP/Getty Images
After falling behind early in the fight, Shane Mosley, left, rallied in the later rounds to take a split decision win over Oscar De La Hoya.
When: June 17, 2000. Where: Staples Center in Los Angeles. Was I ringside? Yes. The Lowdown: This was my first trip to California, and earlier in the day, I had gone to see an ABC "Wide World of Sports" card -- remember those? -- headlined by the first Jose Luis Castillo-Stevie Johnston lightweight title fight. I didn't realize the fight was outside. That was a bad mistake. I sat ringside in a casino parking lot and got brutally sunburned. By the time I got to the Staples Center for the big show, I wasn't feeling so good. Fortunately, the fight was so good, I made it through the night on adrenaline. It was such a star-studded Hollywood crowd that I, along with Associated Press reporter Beth Harris, kept a list of the dozens of movie stars, sports stars and politicians we saw at ringside. I sat maybe 10 feet from Pamela Anderson. I even met Mel Gibson at this one. But I digress. This was a terrific action battle fought at a supremely high skill level between two elite fighters at their best. Mosley took over in the second half of the fight and wound up winning the welterweight title on a tight decision. De La Hoya, rueful of the mistake he had made by easing up against Felix Trinidad when he thought he had the fight in the bag, fought like a warrior in the toe-to-toe 12th round. So did Mosley. [h2]6. Lennox Lewis TKO6 Vitali Klitschko[/h2]
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
The Lennox Lewis-Vitali Klitschko gem literally happened by accident.
When: June 21, 2003. Where: Staples Center in Los Angeles. Was I ringside? Yes. The Lowdown: Best heavyweight fight I've ever covered. It was action packed. It was significant. And it happened by accident. If you recall, Lewis was supposed to fight Kirk Johnson and Klitschko was supposed to be on the undercard hoping to set up bigger business with Lewis down the road. But Johnson suffered an injury about two weeks before the fight and a deal was cut in short order to bump Klitschko into the main event to challenge Lewis for the heavyweight championship. Lewis, who was coming off his huge knockout win of Mike Tyson a year earlier, obviously wasn't taking Johnson very seriously and came into the fight in less-than-perfect condition. It was life and death for Lewis, who was rocked repeatedly in the all-out slugfest. Lewis also landed some huge punches, including one that tore open one of the nastiest cuts I have ever seen: a gash over Klitschko's left eye that forced the fight to be stopped after the sixth round. It turned out to be the final fight of Lewis' Hall of Fame career, and, despite the loss, Klitschko's finest hour. The heavyweight division still hasn't recovered from Lewis' exit and when I want to remember "the good old days," I reach for the tape of this one. [h2]5. Erik Morales W12 Marco Antonio Barrera I[/h2]
Jed Jacobsohn /Getty Images
Erik Morales, left, and Marco Antonio Barrera fought two more times after their epic first battle.
When: Feb. 19, 2000. Where: Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Was I ringside? No. The Lowdown: This junior featherweight unification bout between two of Mexico's greatest warriors just barely meets the eligibility standards I set for the list. Although technically I wasn't yet covering boxing, I included it because I had already been hired by USA TODAY as the beat writer a couple of weeks before the fight. I just wasn't due to actually start for a few more weeks. But I can vividly recall sitting on the floor of my apartment in Vestal, N.Y., packing my dishes for my move to Virginia while watching this incredibly savage fight unfold and thinking to myself, "Damn, I wish I had started the new job a few weeks ago because if I had, I would be there." Watching it on HBO wasn't so bad though. What a fight. Morales eked out the split decision in the epic battle that began their unforgettable trilogy. I was fortunate enough to be ringside for their second and third fights, and as exciting as they were, neither compares to the first (although No. 3 was also a classic and named 2004 fight of the year). How much do I love the first fight? I used to have the bulk of my tape collection spread over numerous bookshelves in my old living room. But I turned this tape backwards in its position so I always knew exactly where it was when I wanted to watch it. [h2]4. Felix Trinidad TKO12 Fernando Vargas[/h2]
Brian Jones/AFP/Getty Images
Felix Trinidad figured he had Fernando Vargas beaten the second time he knocked him down in the first round. He was wrong.
When: Dec. 2, 2000. Where: Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Was I ringside? Yes. The Lowdown: It's perhaps the greatest junior middleweight title fight in history and was the centerpiece of a huge week for me. I went to five boxing cards in four days followed by my sister-in-law's wedding at the Venetian. But the trip was all about Trinidad and Vargas, exciting undefeated champions in their prime, and the buzz in Vegas was awesome throughout the week. Everybody just knew this was going to be a classic fight and it was just that. I was very confident in my pick: Trinidad by a knockout. Then, swayed by the fact I had spent a lot of time around Vargas in the days leading up to the fight, I stupidly changed my pick -- on national TV during a guest appearance on "Friday Night Fights" the night before the fight. Even if my changed pick was awful, the fight was sensational. Trinidad floored Vargas twice in the opening moments and it looked it was going to be a blowout. But the game Vargas survived and rallied to knock Trinidad down in the fourth round. Finally, in the 12th, Trinidad scored three more brutal knockdowns to unify 154-pound titles in the fight I eventually named fight of the year in USA TODAY. I could watch this fight all day. [h2]3. Micky Ward W10 Arturo Gatti I[/h2]
AP Photo/Steve Miller
Arturo Gatti, left, and Micky Ward traded bombs on mostly even terms for 10 full rounds.
When: May 18, 2002. Where: Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. Was I ringside? No. The Lowdown: As you read earlier on this list, I have a cat named Popo in honor of Acelino Freitas. Well, I also have one whose official name is Arturo Thunder Gatti. We call him Thunder. So, yeah, I'm a Gatti guy also. What Fight Freak isn't? As many sensational action fights as he was in, this is the one that will be talked about more than any other. And he lost. Granted it was a questionable majority decision, but looking back, had he won we might not have seen his incredible trilogy with Ward. This junior welterweight brawl, the obvious fight of the year in 2002, was a remarkable action battle. When I watch the tape, I still wonder how Gatti survived being knocked down by the monster left hook to the body that Ward blasted him with in the ninth round. Now for an admission: I was supposed to be ringside for the fight, but the day I was supposed to leave for Connecticut, I came down with a bad case of the flu. I was barely awake as I watched the fight from my guest room bed with a cold washcloth on my head. Of all the fights I've covered, how could I have gotten sick for this one? At least I have the fight in my collection, and so should you. If you don't you should be banned. [h2]2. Somsak Sithchatchawlan TKO10 Mahyar Monshipour[/h2]
AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere
Somsak Sithchatchawlan, left, and Mahyar Monshipour won fight of the year accolades for their epic battle.
When: March 18, 2006. Where: Palais des Sport Marcel Cerdan in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret. Was I ringside? No. The Lowdown: It's quite amazing that a fight between a fighter from Thailand and one from France could gain such a cult following, but this one did thanks to whoever it was that loaded the fight in four parts onto YouTube for all the Fight Freaks of the world to see. It's pure action from start to finish, a mesmerizing battle that is on par with any slugfest you want to talk about. I don't understand French, but I know exactly what the announcers mean each time they exclaim, "Oooooooooooh la la la la la! Oooooooooooh la la la la la" during the rocking action. Eventually, Sithchatchawlan, who I like to call "The Sith Lord" (no relation to Darth Vader), stopped Monshipour to win a junior featherweight title. Fortunately, I was able to trade for a mint DVD of the French telecast and have watched it over and over and over again. There was a period of time where I probably watched at least part of this fight every single day for about six weeks. I've been known to watch it in the dark at 3 a.m. just for the hell of it. How in love with this fight am I? I campaigned for it among my fellow Boxing Writers Association of America members to vote it as fight of the year. I urged as many as I could to just take the time to watch it on YouTube or, if they wanted, I would send them a DVD. It worked and the fight won the award (and, of course, I picked it as ESPN.com fight of the year, too). In addition, I tried to spread the gospel of the fight to the Fight Freaks, sending it on my own dime to dozens of the Fight Freaks who asked for copies it my weekly chats. A postscript: The Sith lost the title in his first defense seven months later and Monshipour retired. But Monshipour was so proud of the fight, even though he lost, that he traveled all the way from France to New York to pick up his fight of the year award at the BWAA dinner in June. He speaks a little English and had a translator with him, so I had a chance to meet him and talk with him. Naturally, I mentioned that I had seen the fight on DVD a few times. [h2]1. Diego "Chico" Corrales TKO10 Jose Luis Castillo I[/h2]When: May 7, 2005. Where: Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Was I ringside? Yes. The Lowdown: How could this fight, one of the greatest of all time, not be No. 1? If you don't have it No. 1 on your list, your Freakhood is in jeopardy. Owning this fight on tape or DVD is one of the 10 commandments for boxing fans. Even before Corrales' mind-blowing comeback from two knockdowns in the 10th round to stop Castillo in their lightweight unification bout, this was already the best fight I ever covered, or seen for that matter, as Corrales and Castillo cemented their place in history with a bloody slugfest that will never be forgotten. This is quite simply an action fight without peer, and it was obviously named fight of the year. No exaggeration: I have probably watched my DVD more than 100 times and I'm proud to have the honor of having been one of Showtime's press row scorers for the historic bout. So every time you watch your DVD, you will know how I was scoring the match; I had Castillo up 86-85 going into the 10th round. Even though the crowd was pretty weak -- only 5,168, believe it or not -- there was more media than normally would have been at the fight because it came the night after the annual Boxing Writers Association of America awards dinner, and what a treat it was. Although neither fighter would ever be the same again after inflicting so much damage on each other, and Corrales would die in a motorcycle crash two years to the day after the fight, the fight will live forever. Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.