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Boxing – Great Grudge Fights – Ali-Frazier & Robinson-Fullmer & Louis-Schmeling & Dempsey-Tunney


This HBO Boxing Special with Hosts Barry Tompkins and Larry Merchant….in which they review all of The Greatest Grudge Fights throughout the history of boxing is without a doubt one of the true treasures within our ImaSportsphile boxing library…..cuz within the four corners of the ring….where the “sweet science of boxing” of boxing is exhibited….there lies a level of “dislike and disdain” between fighters that develop into grudge matches…..and when that attitude permeates a match between really outstanding fighters…the battles turn into wars….as the intensity in the ring clicks into overdrive.     

HBO’s Tompkins and Merchant spend upwards of an hour covering boxing greatest grudge matches…. starting with Jack Dempsey vs Gene Tunney….whose two clashes both turned million dollar gates in the 1920’s….when a million dollars was a lot of money…..which was followed by the international grudge fight between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling….a fight that was “spilled over” by the potential of war between the USA and Germany in WWII….man, talk about a little extra grudge being built-in. 

Next, Barry and Larry cover the three raging grudge fights within 21 months in 1948 between Tony Zale and Rocky Graziano…when Zale was a 2-time world middleweight champion and made the Ring Magazine’s list of 100 greatest punchers of all time…..as these three bouts were among the most brutal and exciting middleweight championship matches of all time. 

In 1948, Featherweights Willie Pep and Sandy Saddler faced each other for the 1st of 4 times….and all were grudge fights….with another each year following in 1949, 1950 and 1951….wherein the 1951 fight was stopped in the 8th Round after Pep threw a punch so hard that he dislocated his shoulder.   

During the same period that Pep and Saddler were fighting out their differences in the featherweight division….so too were heavyweights Ezzard Charles and Jersey Joe Walcott….who also met in the ring  4 times between 1949 to 1952….in grudges matches that rivaled any other at the time. 

From 1956 to 1961 middleweights Sugar Ray Robinson and Gene Fullmer faced off in world championship title fights on 4 different occasions….which turned out to be some of the best grudge fights in history with Fullmer winning a unanimous decision in 1956….then losing on a 5th round KO by Sugar Ray in 1957….then meeting again in 1960 in a match that was too close to call….so, Robinson retained his title on a draw after 15 rounds of furious boxing….only to lose his crown to Fullmer in 1961 on a unanimous decision.   

In the heavyweight division from 1959 to 1961….Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johansson would battle three times for the title….in what became the verifiable grudge fights with Johansson winning the 1st by a 3rd round TKO after the Swede had knocked Patterson down 7 times…..so, Patterson retaliates and KO’s Ingemar in the 5th round of their 2nd fight….then would knockout Johansson in the 6th round of their rubber match.   

For the final and in our ImaSportsphile opinion the best “greatest grudge matches” ever….Tompkins and Merchant bring into the studio Muhammad Ali and Smokin Joe Frazier….who fought 3 historic wars in the ring from 1971 to 1974….in what has now become the consummate grudge matches….for never have two world champions beat-up each other quite like Ali vs Frazier…..as both had to enter the hospital on two separate occasions after fighting….for Ali was quoted of saying….“I’ve never been closer to death in my life.”   

Any way you cut the pie….this video is a rare treasure in our boxing library….as it is the definition of MUST SEE TV for any and all boxing fans. 

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