Everyone may know about the big rivalries between Frazier and Ali or Zale and Graziano, but British boxing has thrown up its fair share of rivalries. With Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora set to meet for a 2nd time this month, we take a look at some more of the classics.
1) Frank Bruno vs Lennox Lewis
Though they may have only met once and their rivalry wasn’t the bitterest, their fight will go down in history. Why? Well, it was the first time two Brits had fought it out for the World Heavyweight title.
There was definitely some niggle, though, mainly focusing on the fact Lewis had won Olympic Gold boxing for Canada. This led Bruno to label Lewis as “not British”, leading the younger fighter to hit back.
Lewis labeled Bruno an “Uncle Tom” and made fun of his opponents appearances in pantomime, saying: “He makes a fool of himself, dressing up in girls’ clothing on television.”
The build up was quite tame compared to modern standards, although the fight itself lived up to expectations. Lewis won with a 7th round technical knock out after landing a left hook that shook Bruno and basically ended the fight.
Bruno did go on to win the World Title against Oliver McCall, but lost it soon after against Mike Tyson. There was one other interesting happening at the Lewis Bruno fight, however, as Joe Calzaghe – future undisputed super middleweight world champion – made his professional debut with a 1st round stoppage of Paul Hanlon.
2) George Groves vs Carl Froch
It’s hard to make a list of rivalries without including the biggest fight ever on British soil. George Groves and Carl Froch managed to attract a massive 80,000 to Wembley Stadium for their rematch in February 2014.
Groves had felt aggrieved after the first fight was stopped prematurely, so when the boxing authorities ordered a rematch, the Londoner went on the offensive. Constantly throwing barbs at his Nottingham bred rival, Groves soured the build up. Yet it didn’t have the desired effect.
In the 8th round, Carl Froch served up a right hand that the public purred over. With swift finality, he knocked Groves to the canvas, sending the Londoner: “back down the hole he crawled out of”.
3) David Haye vs Dereck Chisora
So, while things are heating up ahead of Chisora’s rematch with Tyson Fury, the Londoner has another big rivalry to fall back on. This one was so fiery Chisora was stripped of his boxing license!
It all started in the aftermath of Chisora’s defeat to Vitali Klitschko, when fellow Londoner David Haye tried to call out Klitschko. Soon after, Chisora called Haye an embarrassment, before things got even more heated and a mass brawl ensued.
Dereck Chisora was arrested by German police before his British license was revoked. Haye had already given up his license after his retirement in 2011. The Luxembourg Boxing Federation stepped in to license the fight however, which took place in London in front of 30,000 fans.
At the end of the 5th round, David Haye landed a quick left right combination to sprawl Chisora on the canvas. Del Boy got up again, but when Haye unleashed the same combination again, the ref stepped in to stop the fight.
4) Nigel Benn vs Chris Eubank
When you talk about British boxing rivalries, though, there are only two fighters who come to mind. Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank were ferocious fighters and worst enemies and their two world title fights are still seen as two of the most thrilling match-ups in British boxing history.
Nigel Benn had won his first 22 fights by knockout, but that didn’t stop Eubank calling Benn out for a fight after only 10 fights. The two were almost polar opposites, with Benn the people’s champion and Eubank the cocky, eccentric bad guy, and the media lapped it up.
In fact, Benn’s trainer turned to psychological warfare to rattle Eubank, giving the fighter a tiny changing room, dirty towels and cutting off his ring music half way through. Nevertheless, Eubank vaulted into the ring and waited for Benn.
Benn was likened to a caged lion and pure hatred poured out of his stare as he waited for the bell, but when the fight started, boxing fans were treated to a superb match-up. Eubank was sent sprawling, before getting up and forcing the ref to step in with a brutal left, right, left combination rocked Benn. A straight right finished him off, but the two were back in the ring three years later.
The rematch took place in 1993 and a tight, cagey fight finished evens. The match was a draw and this great boxing rivalry lived on.
While there may be no huge, 4 fight rivalry like Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, British boxing has served up its fair share of exciting rivalries. With Fury and Chisora squaring up for fight 2 in their own series, this is surely not the last, either.