/bok"sing/, n.
1. the material used to make boxes or casings.
2. a boxlike enclosure; casing.
3. an act or instance of putting into or furnishing with a box.
[1510-20; BOX1 + -ING1]
/bok"sing/, n.
the act, technique, or profession of fighting with the fists, with or without boxing gloves.
[1705-15; BOX2 + -ING1]

* * *

Sport involving attack and defense with the fists.

In the modern sport, boxers wear padded gloves and fight bouts of up to 12 three-minute rounds in a roped-off square known as the ring. In ancient Greece fighters used leather thongs on their hands and forearms, while in Rome gladiators used metal-studded leather hand coverings (cesti) and usually fought to the death. Not until implementation of the London Prize Ring rules in 1839 were kicking, gouging, butting, biting, and blows below the belt eliminated from the boxer's standard repertoire. In 1867 the Queensberry rules called for the wearing of gloves, though bare-knuckle boxing continued into the late 1880s. The last of the great bare-knuckle fighters was John L. Sullivan. From Sullivan on, the U.S. became the premier boxing venue, partly because immigrants supplied a constantly renewed pool of boxers. Boxing has been included among the Olympic Games since 1904. Today there are 17 primary weight classes in professional boxing: strawweight, to 105 lbs (48 kg); junior flyweight, to 108 lbs (49 kg); flyweight, to 112 lbs (51 kg); junior bantamweight, to 115 lbs (52 kg); bantamweight, to 118 lbs (53.5 kg); junior featherweight, to 122 lbs (55 kg); featherweight, to 126 lbs (57 kg); junior lightweight, to 130 lbs (59 kg); lightweight, to 135 lbs (61 kg); junior welterweight, 140 lbs (63.5 kg); welterweight, to 147 lbs (67 kg); junior middleweight, 154 lbs (70 kg); middleweight, to 160 lbs (72.5 kg); super middleweight, 168 lbs (76 kg); light heavyweight, to 175 lbs (79 kg); cruiserweight, 190 lbs (86 kg); and heavyweight, over 190 lbs. A bout can be won either by knocking out or felling one's opponent for a count of 10 (a KO) or by delivering the most solid blows and thus amassing the most points. The referee can also stop the fight when one boxer is being badly beaten (a technical knockout, or TKO) or he can disqualify a fighter for rules violations and award the fight to his opponent.

* * *

▪ 2009

      The long, highly successful boxing career of Oscar De La Hoya (U.S.) appeared to be at an end following his technical knockout defeat at the hands of Manny Pacquiao (Philippines) in a nontitle welterweight bout held on Dec. 6, 2008, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The 35-year-old De La Hoya took the worst beating of his career before the fight was stopped between the eighth and ninth rounds. De La Hoya went into the bout as the betting favourite, mainly owing to the fact that he was a naturally larger man, while Pacquiao, who began his career as a flyweight, had never before fought above the lightweight division. Once the fight began, however, the left-handed Pacquiao dominated with speed, precision punching, and nimble footwork. The match—the largest-grossing fight of the year—drew a live crowd of more than 15,000, paying a gate in excess of $17 million, and sold pay-per-view television packages to approximately 1.25 million customers, which generated another $70 million in revenue.

      Pacquiao, widely considered the best boxer in the world, fought three times during the year, in three different weight classes. On March 15 he won a narrow 12-round decision over Juan Manuel Márquez (Mexico) to win The Ring junior lightweight championship and World Boxing Council (WBC) super featherweight title. In his next bout, on June 28, Pacquiao moved up to the lightweight division and knocked out David Diaz (U.S.) in the ninth round to capture the WBC belt. Both bouts were held in Las Vegas. His accomplishments earned him The Ring magazine's Fighter of the Year award. Márquez rebounded from his close loss, annexing The Ring lightweight championship on September 13 with an 11th-round knockout of Joel Casamayor (Cuba) in Las Vegas.

      The already confusing heavyweight picture became even more complicated when former WBC champion Vitaly Klitschko (Ukraine) returned to action for the first time since December 2004, after which he retired owing to a series of injuries. In his first comeback bout, on October 11, Klitschko took the WBC title with an eighth-round technical knockout of Samuel Peter (Nigeria) in Berlin. Peter had won the title on March 8 when he stopped Oleg Maskayev (Russia) in Cancun, Mex. The fact that Vitaly Klitschko and his younger brother, International Boxing Federation (IBF) titleholder Wladimir Klitschko (Ukraine), had refused to fight each other meant that a unification bout was unlikely. Wladimir Klitschko successfully defended the IBF title three times in 2008, winning a boring 12-round decision on February 23 over Sultan Ibragimov (Russia) at New York City's Madison Square Garden, scoring an 11th-round knockout of Tony Thompson (U.S.) on July 12 in Hamburg, and stopping former champion Hasim Rahman (U.S.) in the seventh round on December 15 in Mannheim.

      Undefeated World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight titleholder Ruslan Chagaev (Uzbekistan) successfully defended his belt on January 19, winning a 12-round decision over Matt Skelton (U.K.) in Düsseldorf, Ger. Injuries and illness, however, sidelined Chagaev for the remainder of the year, and Nicolay Valuyev (Russia) won the so-called interim WBA title on August 30 with a 12-round decision over John Ruiz (U.S.) in Berlin. In the final heavyweight title fight of the year, on December 20, Valuyev scored a controversial majority decision over 46-year-old former champion Evander Holyfield (U.S.) in Zürich.

      In his first bout in the U.S., “unified” super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe (U.K.) took The Ring and linear light heavyweight championship from Bernard Hopkins (U.S.) on April 19 via a 12-round split decision in Las Vegas. Calzaghe, undefeated in 46 professional bouts, returned to the U.S. and tallied a one-sided 12-round decision on November 8 over Roy Jones, Jr. (U.S.), at Madison Square Garden.

      The 43-year-old Hopkins, considered close to retirement after losing to Calzaghe, returned on October 18 to score a stunning upset in a nontitle bout in Atlantic City, N.J., dominating reigning WBC middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik (U.S.) to win a 12-round decision and drawing rave reviews for his performance. Prior to his unexpected loss to Hopkins, Pavlik had won a 12-round decision on February 16 over former champion Jermain Taylor (U.S.) in a nontitle bout in Las Vegas and knocked out Gary Lockett (U.K.) on June 7 in the third round of a title defense in Atlantic City.

      The retirement of welterweight champion and crossover star Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (U.S.), was a serious setback for the sport. A number of quality fighters battled to fill the void at welterweight: Antonio Margarito (Mexico) knocked out Kermit Cintrón (Puerto Rico) on April 12 in the sixth round of their bout in Atlantic City to win the IBF welterweight title. Next, in one of the year's most thrilling fights, held on July 26 at the MGM Grand, Margarito came from behind to stop previously undefeated Miguel Cotto (Puerto Rico) in the 11th round to capture the WBA title; the bout generated approximately 450,000 pay-per-view sales. In order to fight Cotto, Margarito was forced to relinquish the IBF title, and that vacancy was filled on August 2 when Joshua Clottey (Ghana) won a ninth-round technical decision over Zab Judah (U.S.) in Las Vegas. Andre Berto (U.S.) won the vacant WBC welterweight title on June 21 by stopping Miguel Rodríguez (Mexico) in the seventh round in Memphis, Tenn. Berto made his first successful defense on September 27, winning a 12-round decision over Steve Forbes (U.S.) in Carson, Calif.

      After having failed to take the welterweight championship from Mayweather in 2007, Ricky Hatton (U.K.) dropped back down in weight and on May 24 defended The Ring junior welterweight championship with a 12-round decision over Juan Lazcano (Mexico) at City of Manchester (Eng.) Stadium. Hatton retained the title again on November 22, stopping Paul Malignaggi (U.S.) in the 11th round in Las Vegas.

      The best action fight of the year was the third bout of a junior featherweight trilogy between champion Israel Vázquez (Mexico) and former champion Rafael Márquez (Mexico), won on March 1 by Vázquez via a 12-round decision in Carson. The riveting blood-splattered slugfest was up for grabs going into the final round, when Vázquez knocked down Márquez in the closing moments of the bout to win the decision and retain The Ring and WBC super bantamweight titles.

Nigel Collins

▪ 2008
 Responding to significant pressure from the growing popularity of mixed martial arts (Mixed Martial Arts Makes Its Mark ), boxing enjoyed a surprisingly good year in 2007, thanks in large part to the May 5 bout between American rivals Floyd Mayweather (Mayweather, Floyd ) and Oscar De La Hoya. The fight shattered all existing pay-per-view records when approximately 2.4 million homes purchased the bout, generating $134.4 million in revenue. The live gate of $19 million, created by a capacity crowd of 16,700 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, was also a new record. Additional income from closed-circuit television, sales to sports bars and restaurants, overseas rights, and merchandise pushed the overall gross to an estimated $165 million, which made it the richest boxing match in history.

      The unprecedented success of the Mayweather–De La Hoya fight was due to several factors, starting with De La Hoya's enduring popularity as the sport's number one attraction and Mayweather's widely accepted status as, pound-for-pound, the best fighter in the world. Mainstream interest in the match was stimulated by HBO's four-part reality-TV-style miniseries 24/7, which featured both boxers during the months leading up to the fight. The fight itself was somewhat of an anticlimax; De La Hoya, after a good start, faded in the second half, which permitted Mayweather to counterpunch his way to a 12-round split decision and win the World Boxing Council (WBC) super welterweight title. Mayweather followed the victory with a 10th-round knockout of previously undefeated Ricky Hatton (U.K.) on December 8 in Las Vegas in defense of the WBC and The Ring magazine welterweight titles. The bout was sold to approximately 850,000 pay-per-view customers in the United States and Canada and another 1,200,000 in the U.K., which made it the second largest grossing fight of the year.

       Miguel Cotto (P.R.), the World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight titleholder, established himself as Mayweather's chief rival with a trio of victories in 2007. On March 3 in San Juan, P.R., Cotto stopped Oktay Urkal (Germany) in the 11th round. Cotto knocked out former welterweight champion Zab Judah (U.S.) on June 9 in the 11th round in front of a sellout crowd of 20,658 at New York City's Madison Square Garden. In his final bout of the year, Cotto returned to Madison Square Garden, where he won a 12-round decision over former International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight and WBC welterweight titleholder Shane Mosley (U.S.).

      Another boost to the sport came from the emergence of super middleweight Joe Calzaghe (U.K.) as a major box-office attraction. Calzaghe drew 35,000 fans to Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, on April 7 to see him stop Peter Manfredo, Jr. (U.S.), in the third round. Calzaghe returned to the same venue on November 3 and won a 12-round unanimous decision over previously undefeated Mikkel Kessler (Denmark), a fight that attracted more than 50,000 spectators. Calzaghe, unbeaten in 44 professional bouts, was recognized as world super middleweight champion by The Ring as well as the WBA and the WBC.

      The heavyweight division took a back seat to the lighter weight classes, as the alphabet titles remained split between three uninspiring fighters. Wladimir Klitschko (Ukraine), considered the best of a mediocre group, made a pair of easy defenses of the WBC title, knocking out journeyman Ray Austin (U.S.) in the second round of a March 10 bout in Mannheim, Ger. In his next fight, on July 7 in Cologne, Ger., Klitschko stopped Lamon Brewster (U.S.) in the sixth round. Although Brewster had defeated Klitschko in 2004, he had since undergone eye surgery and failed to put up much resistance. Nikolay Valuyev (Russia) began the year as WBA titleholder and made a successful defense by stopping Jameel McCline (U.S.) on January 20 in the third round of a bout in Basel, Switz. In his next fight, on April 14 in Stuttgart, Ger., however, Valuyev lost the title to Ruslan Chagaev (Uzbekistan) via a 12-round decision.

      Linear and The Ring light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (U.S.) tallied another upset victory when he won a unanimous 12-round decision over Ronald (“Winky”) Wright (U.S.) on July 21 in Las Vegas. The 42-year-old Hopkins was the first opponent to defeat Wright, the former undisputed junior middleweight champion, since 1999.

      The heir apparent to the light heavyweight throne appeared to be Chad Dawson (U.S.), who won the WBC light heavyweight title on February 3 with a 12-round decision over Tomasz Adamek (Poland) in Kissimmee, Fla. Dawson made two subsequent defenses, knocking out Jesús Ruiz (Mexico) in the sixth round of a bout on June 9 in Hartford, Conn., and stopping Epifanio Mendoza (Colombia) in the fourth round of a bout held in Sacramento, Calif. International Boxing Federation (IBF) light heavyweight titleholder Clinton Woods (U.K.) fought just once, winning a 12-round decision over Julio Gonzalez (Mexico) on September 29 in Sheffield, Eng. The WBA light heavyweight title was won by Stipe Drews (Croatia) in a 12-round decision over Silvio Branco (Italy) on April 28 in Oberhausen, Ger. In his first defense—on December 16 in Perth, Australia—Drews lost the title when Danny Green (Australia) beat him via a 12-round decision.

      A new middleweight star surfaced when Kelly Pavlik (U.S.) knocked out reigning world champion Jermain Taylor (U.S.) in the seventh round of an exciting fight held on September 29 in Atlantic City, N.J. The undefeated Pavlik was knocked down and badly shaken in the second round but rallied to stop Taylor in the seventh round and hand the champion his first loss. The victory gave Pavlik The Ring and WBC belts.

      Although he did not hold a major title in 2007, junior lightweight Manny Pacquiao (Philippines) continued to be the number one attraction among the lighter-weight boxers. On April 14 in San Antonio, Texas, Pacquiao knocked out previously undefeated Jorge Solis (Mexico) in the eighth round. In his only other bout of the year, Pacquiao won a 12-round decision over Marco Antonio Barrera (Mexico) on October 6 in Las Vegas. Between fights, Pacquiao entered Filipino politics and unsuccessfully ran for a congressional seat.

Nigel Collins

▪ 2007

      The hunt for a universally recognized heavyweight boxing champion continued in 2006. Wladimir Klitschko (Ukraine) won the International Boxing Federation (IBF) title with a dominant seventh-round knockout of Chris Byrd (U.S.) in Mannheim, Ger., on April 22. Klitschko made his first defense on November 11 at New York City's Madison Square Garden, knocking out previously unbeaten Calvin Brock (U.S.) in the seventh round. The emphatic victory enhanced Klitschko's reputation as the best of the current heavyweight titleholders. Nikolay Valuyev (Russia) defended the World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight title for the first time with a third-round knockout on June 3 of lightly regarded Owen Beck (Jamaica) in Hannover, Ger., and then on October 7 scored an 11th-round knockout of Monte Barrett (U.S.) in Chicago. The 2.14-m (7-ft)-tall Valuyev was marketed by promoter Don King as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” but he displayed only rudimentary boxing skills and failed to impress American fans and the media. Oleg Maskaev, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Kazakhstan, knocked out Hasim Rahman (U.S.) in the 12th round on August 12 in Las Vegas to win the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight title. On December 10 in Moscow, Maskaev defended the WBC title with a 12-round decision over Peter Okhello (Uganda).

      The divisive effect of the three major “alphabet organizations” was evident. Worthy champions were stripped of their titles for refusing to fight mandated challengers, who were frequently unworthy and lacked box-office appeal. Some top boxers balked at paying the huge “sanctioning fees” levied by these governing bodies for title bouts. No major titles were at stake when former unified middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins (U.S.) won a comprehensive 12-round decision over light heavyweight Antonio Tarver (U.S.) on June 10 in Atlantic City, N.J. Despite the lack of alphabet organization involvement, Hopkins was recognized as light heavyweight champion by The Ring magazine and the majority of the boxing industry.

      Undefeated super middleweight Joe Calzaghe (Wales) solidified his position as the top boxer in the division with a 12-round decision on March 4 over previously unbeaten IBF titleholder Jeff Lacy (U.S.) in Manchester, Eng. Calzaghe's masterful performance earned him The Ring magazine's recognition as world super middleweight champion. On October 14 Calzaghe won a 12-round decision over Sakio Bika (Cameroon-born Australian) in Manchester. On the same day, in Copenhagen, WBA titleholder Mikkel Kessler (Denmark) knocked out WBC champion Markus Beyer (Germany) in the third round to unify those two super middleweight titles and become the most serious threat to Calzaghe's preeminence.

      World and WBC middleweight champion Jermain Taylor (U.S.) retained the titles by boxing a bristling 12-round draw on June 17 with accomplished left-hander Ronald (“Winky”) Wright (U.S.) in Memphis, Tenn. Even though the unbeaten Taylor was widely recognized as the legitimate middleweight champion, both the WBA and the IBF had withdrawn recognition because Taylor refused to comply with their edicts. Taylor defended the world and WBC titles on December 9 with a 12-round unanimous decision over Kassim Ouma (Uganda) in Little Rock, Ark.

      Boxing's leading box-office attraction, Oscar De La Hoya (U.S.), returned to action for the first time since Sept. 18, 2004, and on May 6 scored a sixth-round knockout of Ricardo Mayorga (Nicaragua) in Las Vegas to win the WBC super welterweight title. The pay-per-view television broadcast was sold to approximately 925,000 households and generated $46.3 million in revenue, which made it the most successful promotion of the year.

      Meddling by an alphabet organization reached new heights of absurdity when unified welterweight champion Zab Judah (U.S.)—who had won the WBC, WBA, and IBF titles by knocking out Cory Spinks (U.S.) on Feb. 5, 2005—lost a 12-round decision on January 7 to Carlos Baldomir (Argentina) in New York City. The upset victory should have made Baldomir the unified welterweight champion, but because he had declined to pay the IBF and WBA sanctioning fees, the IBF continued to recognize the defeated Judah as champion, and the WBA declared the unified title vacant.

 Judah lost the IBF belt to Floyd Mayweather via a 12-round decision on April 8 in Las Vegas in a bout marred by a miniriot that erupted inside the ring near the end of the 10th round. Judah twice fouled Mayweather, first with a punch below the belt and then, when Mayweather doubled over in pain, with a “rabbit punch” to the back of the head. Before referee Richard Steele could react, Mayweather's uncle and trainer, Roger Mayweather, stormed into the ring and attacked Judah. This prompted members of both corners to enter the ring, and a wild melee ensued. When order was restored, the fight was permitted to continue. The Nevada State Athletic Commission subsequently punished a number of those involved in the mid-fight brawl. Judah was fined $250,000 and had his boxing license revoked; Judah's father and trainer, Yoel Judah, was fined $100,000 and had his seconds license suspended for a year; Roger Mayweather was fined $200,000 and suspended for a year; and Mayweather's cornerman was fined $50,000 and had his seconds license suspended for four months. Mayweather subsequently gave up the IBF belt, which Kermit Cintron (P.R.) claimed on October 28 by stopping Mark Suarez (U.S.) in the fifth round of a bout held in West Palm Beach, Fla. On November 4 Mayweather won a one-sided 12-round decision in Las Vegas over Baldomir to gain recognition as the legitimate WBC welterweight champion.

      Among the lighter weight divisions, the struggle for supremacy at 130 lb between Manny Pacquiao (Philippines), Marco Antonio Barrera (Mexico), and Erik Morales (Mexico) was the most compelling and financially successful. On January 21 in Las Vegas, Pacquiao avenged a 2005 decision loss to Morales by knocking out his rival in the 10th round of a rematch that generated 350,000 pay-per-view sales. Pacquiao next scored a 12-round decision on July 2 over Oscar Larios (Mexico) in Quezon City, Phil. Pacquiao and Morales met on November 18 in a rubber match in Las Vegas, with Pacquiao scoring a spectacular third-round knockout in front of a crowd of more than 18,000. Again, approximately 350,000 homes purchased the pay-per-view telecast. Barrera meanwhile tallied two 12-round decisions over Rocky Juarez (U.S.). The first bout, held on May 20 in Los Angeles, was originally announced as a draw but was later changed to a decision for Barrera when a mistake in arithmetic was discovered on one judge's scorecard. In the rematch on September 16 in Las Vegas, Barrera boxed conservatively to win a convincing decision.

Nigel Collins

▪ 2006

      The retirement of World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight titleholder Vitali Klitschko (Ukraine) on Nov. 9, 2005, ended an uneventful year for the sport's so-called glamour division, which had been in the doldrums since the retirement of Lennox Lewis ( U.K.) in 2004. Klitschko, who won the vacant title by knocking out Corrie Sanders (S.Af.) in 2004, suffered a series of injuries and did not fight at all in 2005. He announced his retirement after having surgery to repair his right knee, which was injured while training for a bout with former champion Hasim Rahman ( U.S.). The WBC subsequently awarded the title to Rahman.

       World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight titleholder John Ruiz (U.S.) made two defenses. He lost a 12-round decision to James Toney (U.S.) on April 30 in New York City, but the result was later changed to “no contest” when Toney tested positive for steroids. The title reverted to Ruiz, and Toney was suspended for 90 days and fined $10,000. Ruiz filed a $10 million lawsuit against Toney, claiming that despite having gotten the title back, he had incurred significant financial damage as a result of Toney's use of an illegal substance. Ruiz's suit was believed to be the first case of one professional athlete suing another for using a performance-enhancing drug. Nikolay Valuev (Russia) won a controversial 12-round decision over Ruiz on December 17 in Berlin to take the title. At 2.13 m (7 ft), Valuev was the tallest boxer to win a major title. Chris Byrd (U.S.) made a solitary defense of his International Boxing Federation (IBF) title, winning a 12-round decision over DaVarryl Williamson (U.S.) on October 1 in Reno, Nev. The lacklustre bout was widely criticized as one of the most boring heavyweight title fights of all time.

       Antonio Tarver (U.S.) regained recognition as the world's top light heavyweight with a 12-round decision over former IBF champion Glen Johnson (Jamaica) on June 18 in Memphis, Tenn. None of the alphabet organizations' belts was on the line because Tarver and Johnson had refused to allow the organizations to dictate whom they should fight, but the match was recognized as a world title bout by The Ring magazine and the majority of the boxing industry. (See Sidebar (Boxing's Alphabet Soup of Champions ).) Tarver's next bout was a rubber match with former champion Roy Jones, Jr. (U.S.), whom he had lost to in a close decision in 2003 and then knocked out in a 2004 rematch. The third Tarver-Jones bout, on October 1, drew a capacity crowd of 20,895 to the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., and the pay-per-view television broadcast sold to approximately 405,000 households. Although it was one of the most financially successful bouts of the year, it was a relatively tame fight, which Tarver won in a unanimous 12-round decision.

      IBF super middleweight titleholder Jeff Lacy (U.S.) impressed critics and fans alike with a trio of successful defenses. On March 5 he scored a seventh-round knockout of Rubin Williams (U.S.) in Las Vegas. Lacy followed on August 6 with a seventh-round knockout of former WBC titleholder Robin Reid (U.K.) in Tampa, Fla., and on November 5 finished the year with a second-round knockout of Scott Pemberton (U.S.) in Stateline, Nev.

      Undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins (U.S.) lost his titles to Jermain Taylor (U.S.) in a controversial 12-round bout on July 16 in Las Vegas. The 40-year-old Hopkins, who won the IBF belt in 1995 and unified the title with successful WBA and WBC title bouts in 2001, started slowly, rallied in the late rounds, and lost in a split decision. Taylor and Hopkins fought again on December 13 in Las Vegas, and again Taylor won a close but unanimous 12-round decision in a lacklustre bout that attracted approximately 410,000 pay-per-view customers.

      The attempted comeback of Félix Trinidad (P.R.) came to a sudden halt when he lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Ronald (“Winky”) Wright (U.S.) on May 14 in Las Vegas. Wright, a skillful, defensive-minded southpaw, easily controlled the match and gave the favourite a one-sided boxing lesson. The pay-per-view event sold to approximately 510,000 households and generated $25.5 million in revenue, which helped to make it the largest-grossing match of the year. Less than two weeks after the fight, Trinidad retired again.

      On June 4 Ricky Hatton (U.K.) scored one of the year's biggest upsets when he forced unified junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu (Australia) to quit on his stool at the end of the 11th round of their bout held in Manchester, Eng. Hatton was a popular boxer in the U.K., and his bout with Tszyu drew a capacity crowd of 22,000. Hatton defended the title (and added the WBA belt) with a ninth-round knockout of WBA titleholder Carlos Maussa (Colom.) on November 26 in Sheffield, Eng.

      By far the most spectacular fight of the year was the lightweight title bout between WBC titleholder José Luis Castillo (Mex.) and Diego Corrales (U.S.) on May 7 in Las Vegas. It was a toe-to-toe battle from the start, with both men landing numerous flush punches in every round. The bout was very close as the 10th round of the scheduled 12-round fight began, but when Castillo twice knocked down Corrales with left hooks to the head, victory for the Mexican boxer seemed imminent. On both occasions, however, Corrales spit out his mouthpiece as he went down. Although he was penalized for doing so, the delay caused by having the mouthpiece retrieved, washed, and replaced gave him extra time to recover. When action resumed and an overeager Castillo went for the finish, Corrales caught him with several hard blows to the head that rendered Castillo helpless and prompted the referee to stop the fight and declare Corrales the winner.

      The nature of the Corrales-Castillo fight and the controversy surrounding the ending led to a much-anticipated rematch on October 8 in Las Vegas. This time the controversy came before the bout started, when Castillo failed to make the lightweight-division weight limit. Although Corrales's WBC title would not be at stake, the fight went on as scheduled after Castillo was fined $120,000 of his $1.2 million purse—half of the fine money went to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and half was given to Corrales. Although it was another give-and-take affair, Castillo dominated and knocked out Corrales in the fourth round with a left hook to the chin. Negotiations began almost immediately for a rubber match in 2006.

Nigel Collins

▪ 2005

      When reigning heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis (U.K.) announced his retirement on Feb. 6, 2004, it threw the sport's premier division back into the chaotic situation that had existed prior to Lewis's unification of the World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Association (WBA), and International Boxing Federation (IBF) titles in 1999. Even though Lewis was widely recognized as the best heavyweight in the world and the true champion, the title was already splintered owing to the gratuitous meddling of the various governing bodies when he stepped down.

      IBF titleholder Chris Byrd (U.S.) successfully defended that belt in New York City on April 17 in a 12-round draw with Andrew Golota (Pol.) and again on November 13 with a 12-round decision over Jameel McCline (U.S.), also in New York City.

      The WBA version of the heavyweight title was given back to John Ruiz (U.S.) by the Venezuela-based governing body when Roy Jones, Jr. (U.S.), who had defeated Ruiz in March 2003, dropped back down to the light heavyweight division. Ruiz made the first defense of his second reign on April 17 in New York City, stopping Fres Oquendo (P.R.) in the 11th round. On November 13 Ruiz defended again, winning a 12-round decision over Golota in New York City.

       Vitali Klitschko (Ukraine), who almost upset Lewis in what proved to be Lewis's final title defense, enhanced his standing by knocking out Corrie Sanders (S.Af.) on April 24 in Los Angeles to win the vacant WBC heavyweight title. Klitschko took another step toward being recognized as the world's best heavyweight when on December 11 he stopped Danny Williams (U.K.) in the eighth round of a WBC title defense in Las Vegas, Nev. Williams had earned the title shot by knocking out former champion Mike Tyson (U.S.) in the fourth round on July 30 in Louisville, Ky. Tyson suffered a knee injury in the fight but was expected to continue to box in an effort to repay his debts, which had been estimated at $38 million when he filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

      In one of the most dramatic falls from grace in boxing history, Jones, formerly considered one of the most gifted fighters of his era, suffered back-to-back knockout defeats. In a May 15 rematch with Antonio Tarver (U.S.) in Las Vegas, Jones was knocked out in the second round with a single left hook to the head. The upset victory earned Tarver the WBA and WBC light heavyweight titles. On September 25 in Memphis, Tenn., Jones attempted a comeback against IBF light heavyweight titleholder Glen Johnson (Jam.) but was knocked out by Johnson in the ninth round. Johnson had won the vacant IBF belt earlier in the year with a 12-round decision over Clinton Woods (U.K.) in Sheffield, Eng.

      The light heavyweight division saw another shocking result when Johnson won a 12-round decision over Tarver on December 18 in Los Angeles. The WBC and the IBF had tried to prevent the bout, so Tarver and Johnson relinquished the organizations' belts in order to compete against each other in what turned out to be one of the best light heavyweight bouts in recent years.

      In the biggest moneymaker of the year, undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins (see Biographies (Hopkins, Bernard )) knocked out fellow American Oscar de la Hoya with a left hook to the body in the ninth round on September 18. De la Hoya, the sport's most dependable box-office attraction, started well but was already beginning to fall behind when Hopkins delivered a textbook punch to the liver that put de la Hoya on the floor for the count of 10. Hopkins's emphatic victory was his 19th successful defense of the middleweight title, a division record. The Hopkins–de la Hoya fight was held in front of a crowd of 16,112 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, creating a live gate of more than $12 million. The pay-per-view telecast was sold to approximately one million homes, generating another $55 million in revenue. All told, it was the second largest grossing nonheavyweight fight of all time. Earlier in the year, Hopkins and de la Hoya had both fought on the same card on June 5 at the MGM Grand as part of a marketing plan to build interest in their September showdown. Hopkins scored a comprehensive 12-round decision over Robert Allen (U.S.), and de la Hoya struggled to win a close 12-round decision over Felix Sturm (Ger.).

      Adding spice to the middleweight division was the comeback of Félix Trinidad (P.R.), who had not fought since May 11, 2002. The three-division former titleholder returned to action on October 2 in New York City, where he scored an eighth-round knockout of former unified welterweight champion Ricardo Mayorga (Nic.). The event drew a near-capacity crowd of 17,406 for a live gate of $4.65 million, the third highest in Madison Square Garden history. The pay-per-view event was sold to 420,000 households, generating another $21 million.

      Unified welterweight champion Cory Spinks (U.S.), the son of former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, twice retained the title, coming off the canvas to win a close 12-round decision over Zab Judah (U.S.) on April 10 in Las Vegas and comfortably outpointing Miguel Ángel González (Mex.) over 12 rounds on September 4, also in Las Vegas.

       Erik Morales (Mex.) improved his status as one of the best fighters among the lower weight classes by winning the WBC super featherweight title on February 28 via a 12-round decision over Jesús Chávez (Mex.) and the IBF junior lightweight belt on July 31 with a 12-round decision over Carlos Hernandez (U.S.). Both fights were held in Las Vegas. Morales, however, lost a bitterly contested bout to Marco Antonio Barrera (Mex.) in a 12-round decision on November 27 in Las Vegas. Considered by many to have been the best action fight of the year, it gave Barrera a 2–1 record against Morales.

Nigel Collins

▪ 2004

      The heavyweight boxing division was in an even greater state of flux than normal in 2003 owing to the reluctance of World Boxing Council (WBC) champion Lennox Lewis (U.K.) to fight on a regular basis. Lewis fought just once, defending his title with a controversial sixth-round technical knockout of Vitali Klitschko (Ukraine) on June 21 in Los Angeles. Klitschko, who replaced Lewis's original opponent, Kirk Johnson (Can.), on two weeks' notice after Johnson was injured in training, staggered the titleholder with hard blows to the head in the first and second rounds. The challenger seemed on his way to an upset victory when Lewis opened a cut over Klitschko's left eye with a legal punch in the third round. The exciting give-and-take match was terminated at the end of the sixth round when the ringside physician ruled that Klitschko's cut was too severe for him to continue. This sparked an animated protest from the Ukrainian and set the stage for a rematch, but Lewis decided that he did not want to fight again in 2003 and said that he was unsure whether he would continue to box. Klitschko strengthened his position by knocking out Johnson in the second round of a bout held at New York City's Madison Square Garden on December 6.

      In one of the year's most intriguing contests, Roy Jones, Jr. (see Biographies (Jones, Roy, Jr. )), of the U.S. became only the second light heavyweight champion to win a heavyweight title when he scored a 12-round decision over John Ruiz (U.S.) to capture the World Boxing Association (WBA) title on March 1 in Las Vegas, Nev. Rather than remain a heavyweight, however, Jones dropped back down to the light heavyweight division on November 8 and regained the WBC title with a close and controversial decision over Antonio Tarver (U.S.) in Las Vegas.

      International Boxing Federation (IBF) heavyweight champion Chris Byrd (U.S.) defended his title against Fres Oquendo (P.R.) on September 20 in Uncasville, Conn., scoring a hotly debated 12-round decision. IBF cruiserweight titleholder James Toney (U.S.) invaded the heavyweight division and knocked out four-time former champion Evander Holyfield (U.S.) in the ninth round of their bout on October 4 in Las Vegas.

      Bernard Hopkins (U.S.), the unified WBA, WBC, and IBF middleweight champion, defended twice, knocking out Morrade Hakkar (France) in the eighth round on March 29 in Philadelphia and winning a 12-round decision over William Joppy (U.S.) on December 13 in Atlantic City, N.J. It was Hopkins's 17th successful defense, a division record.

      Oscar de la Hoya (U.S.), the sport's biggest attraction outside the heavyweight division, had a mixed year. On May 3 he defended the WBC and WBA super welterweight (junior middleweight) titles with a seventh-round knockout of Yory Boy Campas (Mex.) in Las Vegas. Although considered a mismatch, the pay-per-view bout was sold to approximately 350,000 homes. In his next bout, on September 13 in Las Vegas, de la Hoya lost a 12-round decision and both titles to Shane Mosley (U.S.), who had also beaten him in a 2000 welterweight bout. It was a skillful, closely contested fight, and de la Hoya and his promoter, Bob Arum, complained bitterly about the unanimous decision, even though a majority of the media agreed with the three judges, who all scored the bout 115–113 in Mosley's favour. The victory restored Mosley's prestige, which had slumped after he lost two of his three previous bouts. Financially, the Mosley–de la Hoya rematch was the biggest fight of the year. A crowd of 16,268 spectators paid a total of approximately $11 million and filled the MGM Grand Garden Arena to capacity, while almost a million homes purchased the pay-per-view, generating more than $50 million.

      One of the biggest upsets of the year came on January 25 in Temecula, Calif., when WBA welterweight titleholder Ricardo Mayorga (Nic.) knocked out WBC titlist Vernon Forrest (U.S.) in the third round to gain a second belt. Going into the bout, the technically proficient Forrest had been widely considered one of boxing's most accomplished craftsmen. The colourful Mayorga, who often lit a victory cigarette in the ring after a bout, beat Forrest again on July 12 in Las Vegas with a 12-round decision in defense of both titles. Mayorga's championship reign came to an end on December 13, when he was outpointed by Cory Spinks (U.S.), the son of former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks.

      In the most significant women's bout of the year, Laila Ali (U.S.), the daughter of former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, knocked out Christy Martin (U.S.) in the fourth round of a bout held on August 23 in Biloxi, Miss. The match set new highs in live attendance (9,888) and pay-per-view revenue, with more than 100,000 buys.

      On May 3 boxing returned to network television for the first time in more than a decade when NBC broadcast the Rocky Juarez–Frankie Archuleta featherweight bout, which Juarez, a silver medal winner in the 2000 Olympics, won via a sixth-round knockout. It was the first of the four Budweiser Boxing Series programs that the network aired in 2003. NBC had made a commitment to broadcast at least five more shows in 2004.

Nigel Collins

▪ 2003

      The much-anticipated match between World Boxing Council (WBC) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis (U.K.) and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson (U.S.) took place in Memphis, Tenn., on June 8, 2002. While the fight itself was a one-sided affair that ended with Lewis's scoring an eighth-round knockout, the bout was a financial blockbuster. Approximately 1.8 million homes purchased the pay-per-view telecast, setting a new all-time revenue record of $103 million. The live gate of $17.5 million, contributed by a crowd of 15,327, also established a new all-time record.

      Tyson made a promising start in the first round but soon fell prey to Lewis's left jabs and right-hand counters. In the eighth round a bleeding Tyson was dropped by a right uppercut. He regained his feet, but the fight was stopped when Lewis knocked him down again with a right to the side of the jaw. The emphatic victory over Tyson further secured Lewis's status as the best heavyweight in the world.

      John Ruiz (U.S.) defended the World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight title against Kirk Johnson (Can.) on July 27 in Las Vegas, Nev. The unappealing bout was filled with clinches and fouls, with Johnson being disqualified in the 10th round for repeatedly hitting Ruiz below the belt. When Lewis relinquished the IBF title in September, former champion Evander Holyfield (U.S.) and Chris Byrd (U.S.) were matched for the vacant title. The bout was held in Atlantic City on December 14, with the skillful Byrd boxing his way to a 12-round decision over the 40-year-old Holyfield.

      Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko became a major force in the heavyweight division in 2002, scoring knockout victories over former IBF titleholder Frans Botha (S.Af.), former Olympic gold medalist Ray Mercer (U.S.), and high-ranking contender Jameel McCline (U.S.). Klitschko was expected to challenge Lewis in 2003.

      Roy Jones, Jr. (U.S.), defended the WBA, WBC, and IBF light heavyweight titles twice in 2002. On February 2 he knocked out Glen Kelly (Australia) in the seventh round of a bout held in Miami, Fla. Then on September 7 Jones knocked out Clinton Woods (U.K.) in the sixth round of a match held in Portland, Ore.

      Bernard Hopkins (U.S.), holder of the WBA, WBC, and IBF middleweight titles, set a new division record for successful defenses by knocking out Carl Daniels (U.S.) in the 10th round on February 2 in Reading, Pa. Hopkins's 15th defense eclipsed the mark established by Carlos Monzón (Arg.) in 1977.

      In a high-profile title-unification bout, WBC super welterweight (junior middleweight) champion Oscar de La Hoya (U.S.) knocked out WBA titleholder Fernando Vargas (U.S.) in the 11th round of a grudge match held in Las Vegas. An intense personal rivalry between the fighters created much interest, and approximately 900,000 homes purchased the pay-per-view telecast, which generated an estimated $45.6 million and thereby made it the second richest nonheavyweight fight in history. Vargas's postfight urinalysis revealed anabolic steroids in his system. He was fined $100,000 and suspended for nine months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

      In the biggest upset of the year, Vernon Forrest (U.S.) captured the WBC welterweight title by winning a unanimous 12-round decision over previously undefeated Shane Mosley (U.S.) on January 26 in New York City. Forrest emphasized his superiority over Mosley by winning another 12-round decision in the rematch on July 20 in Indianapolis, Ind. Neither fight was particularly entertaining, and both featured almost as much holding as punching.

      Unified WBA, WBC, and IBF super lightweight (junior welterweight) titleholder Kostya Tszyu (Australia) made only one defense in 2002, winning a unanimous 12-round decision over Ben Tackie (Ghana) on May 18 in Las Vegas. Tszyu, usually considered more of a puncher than a boxer, impressed observers with a flawless exhibition of technical craftsmanship against Tackie.

      In the year's most celebrated fight, Micky Ward (U.S.) won a 10-round majority decision over Arturo Gatti (Can.) on May 18 in Uncasville, Conn. The super lightweight nontitle bout was a savage give-and-take brawl that evoked comparisons with many of the great fights of the past. The much-anticipated rematch between Ward and Gatti took place in Atlantic City, N.J., on November 23, with Gatti winning a unanimous 10-round decision. After Ward suffered a knockdown in the third round, Gatti, employing far more defensive skills than normally, dominated the suspenseful but ultimately one-sided contest.

      Major featherweight action centred on Marco Antonio Barrera (Mex.) and Erik Morales (Mex.), who had outpointed Barrera in the best action fight of 2000. They fought a rematch on June 22 in Las Vegas, with Barrera winning a close 12-round decision. Barrera followed with an impressive 12-round decision over Johnny Tapia (U.S.) on November 2 in Las Vegas. Although Barrera was widely considered the best featherweight in the world, no alphabet title was on the line in his bout with Tapia. Barrera declined to fight for the WBC belt, which he had technically acquired when he defeated Morales, because he did not want to pay the sanctioning fee. Tapia was stripped of the IBF featherweight title for accepting the lucrative bout with Barrera. Morales kept pace, winning an equally imposing 12-round decision over Paulie Ayala (U.S.) on November 16 in Las Vegas to win the vacant WBC featherweight title. Barrera and Morales were expected to fight a third time in 2003 to settle supremacy at 126 lb.

Nigel Collins

▪ 2002

      In 2001, Lennox Lewis (U.K.) brought a measure of continuity to a year filled with unexpected results when he regained the World Boxing Council (WBC) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) heavyweight titles by knocking out Hasim Rahman (U.S.) in the fourth round of their November 17 rematch in Las Vegas, Nev. Lewis ended the fight with a single right hand to the jaw that floored Rahman for the 10 count. The unheralded Rahman had sprung a stunning upset on April 22, knocking out Lewis in the fifth round of a bout held in Johannesburg, S.Af., to win the WBC and IBF belts.

      John Ruiz (U.S.) became the first boxer of Latino heritage to win a heavyweight title when he annexed the World Boxing Association (WBA) title with a 12-round decision over Evander Holyfield (U.S.) on March 3 in Las Vegas. A rematch in Mashantucket, Conn., on December 17, ended in a draw. Owing to a back injury and several canceled bouts, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson (U.S.) fought only once during the year, scoring a seventh-round knockout of Brian Nielsen (Den.) on October 13 in Copenhagen. The victory ensured Tyson a title bout in 2002.

      In another stunning upset, Bernard Hopkins (U.S.) became the first unified middleweight champion in 14 years when he knocked out Felix Trinidad (P.R.) in the 12th round on September 29 in front of a capacity crowd of more than 19,000 fans at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The match was the final bout in a middleweight championship tournament promoted by Don King. In the first bout of the tournament, IBF middleweight champion Hopkins added the WBC title by winning a 12-round decision over Keith Holmes (U.S.) on April 14 at Madison Square Garden. In the next round of the tournament, Trinidad won the WBA middleweight title with a fifth-round knockout of William Joppy (U.S.) on May 12 at the Garden. Trinidad was heavily favoured to win the finale, but the bout was dominated by Hopkins, who gave one of the finest performances in middleweight history. Approximately 475,000 households purchased the Hopkins-Trinidad television pay-per-view, making it the largest pay-per-view sale of the year. It was Trinidad's first loss in 41 professional bouts and left Hopkins in possession of all three major middleweight titles—IBF, WBA, and WBC.

      Undisputed light heavyweight champion Roy Jones, Jr. (U.S.), defended his WBA, WBC, and IBF titles twice in 2001. Jones scored a 10th-round knockout of Derrick Harmon (U.S.) on February 24 in Tampa, Fla., then tallied a 12-round decision over Julio Gonzalez (U.S.) on July 28 in Los Angeles. Despite these two relatively easy victories, Jones lost prestige owing to the mediocre quality of his challengers.

      Box-office attraction Oscar de la Hoya (U.S.), who had been without a world title since June 17, 2000, when he lost the WBC welterweight title to Shane Mosley (U.S.), moved up to the super welterweight (junior middleweight) class, where he won the WBC title with a 12-round decision over Francisco Castillejo (Spain) on June 23 in Las Vegas. The undefeated Mosley enhanced his standing as one of the sport's finest practitioners by making two defenses of the WBC welterweight title. Mosley scored a fifth-round knockout of Shannon Taylor (Australia) on March 10 in Las Vegas, then followed with a third-round knockout of Adrian Stone (U.K.) on July 21 in Las Vegas.

      The first major upset of the year came on April 7 when featherweight Marco Antonio Barrera (Mex.) won a 12-round decision over previously undefeated Naseem Hamed (U.K.) in Las Vegas. Hamed, known for his outspoken personality and extravagant ring entrances, was exposed as a one-dimensional fighter by Barrera's clever boxing and accurate punching. The bout drew 12,847 live spectators, and close to 250,000 homes purchased the pay-per-view program, which made it the largest-grossing featherweight bout in history. Barrera followed up with a sixth-round knockout of Enrique Sánchez (Mex.) on September 8 in Reno, Nev., to further establish his credentials as the world's foremost featherweight.

      The theme of unification and upsets continued when WBA/WBA 140-lb titleholder Kostya Tszyu (Australia) became the first undisputed junior welterweight champion since Nicolino Locche, in 1968, by stopping favoured IBF champion Zab Judah (U.S.) in the second round of a bout held on November 3 in Las Vegas. After the fight was halted, an enraged Judah shoved his glove under referee Jay Nady's chin and threw a stool. In a disciplinary action, the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended Judah's boxing license for six months and fined him $75,000.

      In a bizarre match between the offspring of two famous rivals, Laila Ali (U.S.), the daughter of former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, won a spirited eight-round decision over Jacqui Frazier-Lyde (U.S.), the daughter of former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, on June 8 in Verona, N.Y. Although panned by the media beforehand, the pay-per-view event was sold to approximately 100,000 households, which made the surprisingly entertaining contest the richest women's boxing match in history.

Nigel Collins

▪ 2001

      In 2000, problems outside the ring overshadowed what was an excellent year for boxing in terms of competitive matches. (See Sidebar (Knocking Out Corruption in Boxing ).) The first in a series of outstanding bouts was between World Boxing Council (WBC) junior featherweight (super bantamweight) champion Erik Morales (Mex.) and challenger Marco Antonio Barrera (Mex.) on February 19 in Las Vegas, Nev. After 12 rounds of virtually nonstop punching, Morales won a controversial split decision. The next exceptional bout came on March 3, when former International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight champion Felix Trinidad (P.R.) successfully moved up in weight to the junior middleweight (super welterweight) division by winning the World Boxing Association (WBA) title with a unanimous 12-round decision over 1996 Olympic gold medalist David Reid (U.S.) in Las Vegas. In another top-notch bout, held on April 15 in Las Vegas, IBF junior middleweight champion Fernando Vargas (U.S.) scored the most impressive victory of his career, winning a 12-round decision over former WBA welterweight champion Ike Quartey (Ghana). The hard-fought unification bout between Trinidad and Vargas took place on December 2 in Las Vegas. Trinidad knocked down his previously unbeaten opponent twice in the first round and three times in the 12th to add the IBF belt to his WBA title.

      Oscar de la Hoya (U.S.), boxing's biggest attraction outside the heavyweight division, continued to have difficulties both inside and outside the ring. He won his first match of the year, scoring a seventh-round knockout of Derrell Coley (U.S.) on February 26 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. In his only other match, de la Hoya lost a 12-round decision to Shane Mosley (U.S.) for the vacant WBC welterweight title on June 17 in Los Angeles. It was a superb, hard-fought fight, with approximately 580,000 households purchasing the television pay-per-view. Shortly after the loss to Mosley, de la Hoya brought a lawsuit against his longtime promoter, Bob Arum, seeking to break their contract. Arum filed a countersuit.

      By beating de la Hoya, the undefeated Mosley, a former IBF lightweight champion, gained recognition as one of the sport's very best fighters. In his first WBC welterweight title defense, Mosley stopped challenger Antonio Diaz (U.S.) with a sixth-round knockout.

      WBC and IBF heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis (U.K.) bolstered his recognition as the best heavyweight in the world with a trio of successful title defenses. On April 29 he knocked out previously undefeated Michael Grant (U.S.) in the second round of a bout held in Madison Square Garden; on July 15 in London he scored a second-round knockout of Francois Botha (S.Af.); and on November 11 in Las Vegas he punctuated his excellent year by defeating David Tua (N.Z.) with a 12-round unanimous decision. The vacant WBA heavyweight title, which had been stripped from Lewis because he refused to defend against little-known John Ruiz (U.S.), was won by former WBA and IBF champion Evander Holyfield (U.S.), who scored an unpopular 12-round decision over Ruiz on August 12 in Las Vegas.

      Advised by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to take his act elsewhere following a series of controversial performances in Las Vegas, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson (U.S.) had his first two bouts of the year overseas. On January 29 he tallied a second-round knockout of Julius Francis (U.K.) in Manchester, Eng., and on June 24 he scored a first-round technical knockout over Lou Savarese (U.S.) in Glasgow, Scot. The latter fight was highlighted by Tyson's refusal to stop punching after referee John Coyle (U.K.) stopped the fight. Tyson pushed Coyle to the floor and kept hitting Savarese until the referee regained his feet and restored order. Tyson was subsequently fined $187,500 by the British Boxing Board of Control for his misconduct. Tyson returned to the United States for his third fight of the year, scoring a third-round technical knockout of Andrew Golota (Pol.) on October 20 in Auburn Hills, Mich., near Detroit.

      Roy Jones, Jr. (U.S.), boxing's only unified champion, defended the WBC, WBA, and IBF light heavyweight title belts three times. On January 15, in the first boxing show ever held at New York City's Radio City Music Hall, he won a 12-round decision over David Telesco (U.S.). On May 13 he scored an 11th-round technical knockout of Richard Hall (Jam.) in a bout held in Indianapolis, Ind. In his final bout of the year, Jones scored an 11th-round technical knockout of Eric Harding (U.S.) in New Orleans.

      In a rematch of 1999's best action fight, Paulie Ayala (U.S.) again won a 12-round decision over Johnny Tapia (U.S.). While highly competitive, the featherweight bout, which took place on October 7 in Las Vegas, was not quite as exciting as their first encounter, but the close decision was more controversial than the first. After both fights Tapia accused the judges of being influenced by the fact that Ayala was under contract to promoter Bob Arum, whose company, Top Rank, Inc., was accused of corruption in Nevada and New Jersey. Tapia's charges, however, were not substantiated.

      The most significant occurrence in women's boxing took place on February 6 in Scranton, Pa., when Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, the daughter of former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, turned pro with a first-round knockout of Teela Reese. Frazier-Lyde, a practicing attorney, hoped to procure a match with one of Muhammad Ali's daughters, Laila Ali, who had turned pro in 1999.

      At the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Cuban boxers won 4 of the 12 gold medals at stake. Six-time amateur heavyweight world champion Félix Savón Fabré of Cuba collected his third consecutive Olympic gold. (See Biographies (Savon, Felix ).)

Nigel Collins

▪ 2000

      The most positive note in an otherwise disappointing year for boxing was the crowning of a new undisputed heavyweight champion on Nov. 13, 1999, when the World Boxing Council (WBC) titleholder, British/Canadian Lennox Lewis (see Biographies (Lewis, Lennox )), defeated Evander Holyfield (U.S.), the World Boxing Association (WBA) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion, in a lacklustre rematch in Las Vegas, Nev. The title had been split since December 1992 when then-unified champion Riddick Bowe (U.S.) relinquished the WBC title rather than fight Lewis, the organization's number one contender. An attempt to unify the three titles earlier in the year resulted in a 12-round draw between Lewis and Holyfield at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The controversy sparked by the decision, which most observers believed should have gone to Lewis, led to an inquiry by the New York State Senate Committee of Investigations. While the probe uncovered no wrongdoing, it did prompt the state of New York to adopt a stricter licensing procedure for boxing judges. The IBF at first denied Lewis that title in a dispute over the payment of a sanctioning fee but soon relented.

      Two-time former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson (U.S.) continued to have problems both inside and outside of the ring. In his first fight since his boxing license was reinstated by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Tyson knocked out Francois Botha (S.Af.) in the fifth round on January 16, in Las Vegas. Three weeks later, Tyson was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no-contest to charges he had assaulted two men following a minor automobile accident in Maryland. Tyson was released from the Montgomery County Detention Center after serving 31/2 months and returned to the ring in October against former WBA cruiserweight champion Orlin Norris (U.S.). The bout was ruled a no-contest at the end of the first round because Tyson hit Norris after the bell and knocked him down. Norris dislocated his right knee during the fall and was unable to continue. As referee Richard Steele ruled that the foul was accidental, Tyson was not disqualified or fined, but his stock as a major attraction fell another notch.

      Oscar de la Hoya (U.S.), boxing's biggest draw outside of the heavyweight division, lost the WBC welterweight title and his unbeaten record when he was outpointed over 12 tactical rounds by IBF champion Felix Trinidad (P.R.). The bout was the first non-heavyweight fight to register more than one million pay-per-view sales, with 1,250,000 households purchasing the telecast. The gross of $64 million made the Trinidad–de la Hoya bout the third highest pay-per-view event in history. The highly anticipated match turned out to be another disappointment when both Trinidad and de la Hoya boxed too cautiously to provide much excitement. Earlier in the year, de la Hoya had won 12-round decisions over Ike Quartey (Ghana) and Oba Carr (U.S.) in defense of the WBC title. The WBA welterweight belt was held by James Page (U.S.), who won the title by knocking out Andrey Pestryayev (Russia) and made three successful defenses, winning 12-round decisions over José Luis López (Mexico) and Sam Garr (U.S.) and knocking out Freddie Pendleton (U.S.) in the 11th round.

      The light heavyweight championship was also unified when Roy Jones, Jr. (U.S.), already the holder of the WBC and WBA titles, won a 12-round decision over IBF champion Reggie Johnson (U.S.) in Biloxi, Miss., in June.

      David Reid, the only American to win a gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., won the WBA junior middleweight title with a 12-round decision over Laurent Boudouani (France). Reid later outpointed Kevin Kelly (Australia) and Keith Mullings (U.S.) in two title defenses and appeared to be headed for a unification bout with IBF junior middleweight champion Fernando Vargas (U.S.). Vargas made two successful defenses in 1999, scoring a fourth-round technical knockout of Howard Clarke (U.K.) and an 11th-round technical knockout of Raúl Márquez (U.S.).

      Flamboyant Naseem Hamed (U.K.), the highest paid featherweight in boxing history, turned in a pair of prosaic performances in 1999. He struggled before stopping unheralded Paul Ingle (U.K.) in the 11th round and then won the WBC featherweight title with a 12-round decision over César Soto (Mexico) in an uneventful bout that was marred by illegal tactics.

      In the best action fight of the year, Paulie Ayala (U.S.) won the WBA bantamweight title with a 12-round decision over Johnny Tapia (U.S.) in Las Vegas. Tapia, who had previously held the IBF junior bantamweight title, was heavily favoured and unbeaten in 48 professional bouts going into the Ayala match. Ayala made his first successful defense by outpointing Sahoiu Sithchai Condo (Thailand) in another action-packed bout that boosted Ayala's reputation as a dynamic performer.

      Tony Ayala (U.S.), no relation to Paulie Ayala, made news when he returned to the ring at age 36 after serving more than 16 years in prison for sexual assault. In his first fight in nearly 17 years, Ayala, who had been the number one junior middleweight contender when he was incarcerated, scored a third-round knockout of Manuel Esparza (U.S.) on August 20.

      Two events in women's boxing captured the public's imagination. Laila Ali (U.S.), the 21-year-old daughter of former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, turned professional, winning three matches during the year. Margaret MacGregor (U.S.) won a four-round decision over Loi Chow (U.S.) in Seattle, Wash. The bout, approved by the Washington State Department of Licensing, was the first-ever sanctioned match between a man and a woman.

      A new scandal hit boxing when a federal grand jury in Newark, N.J., charged IBF Pres. Robert W. Lee with taking bribes from promoters and managers to manipulate the IBF rankings. Three others associated with the IBF, Robert Lee, Jr., Donald William Brennan, and Francisco Fernández, were also indicted.

      In a landmark case, a High Court judge in London ruled that Michael Watson, who had lost half of his brain functions and was paralyzed on his left side as a result of injuries suffered in a bout with Chris Eubank eight years earlier, was entitled to damages from the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) because he did not receive “proper attention.” The $1.5 million Watson was seeking could possibly bankrupt the BBBC.

Nigel Collins

▪ 1999

      The world heavyweight championship, reduced to an all-time low in 1997 when former champion Mike Tyson (U.S.) bit the ear of Evander Holyfield (U.S.) in a World Boxing Association (WBA) title clash in Las Vegas, Nev., made little recovery in 1998. With Tyson's suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission not lifted until October, there was a lack of lucrative matches. The one exception would have been a bout between Holyfield, the WBA and International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion, and Lennox Lewis (U.K.), the World Boxing Council (WBC) titleholder. The stranglehold that promoter Don King had on competition for the title held up proceedings, however, because King had to spend months in court fighting allegations that he had been involved in an insurance fraud against Lloyd's of London. He eventually won the case and later flew to London to negotiate a Holyfield-Lewis clash for the WBA, IBF, and WBC titles, which was scheduled to take place in March 1999. Tyson applied for a license to box in New Jersey but withdrew and reapplied in Nevada, which demanded that he undergo an examination for mental stability. With his license restored, Tyson was scheduled to fight Francois Botha (S.Af.) in January 1999.

      There were, therefore, no memorable heavyweight title bouts in 1998. Holyfield retained the WBA and IBF versions of the championship, outpointing Vaughan Bean (U.S.) over 12 rounds at Atlanta, Ga., in September. A week later Lewis retained the WBC crown against former European champion Zeljko Malrovic (Croatia) after 12 punishing rounds in Uncasville, Conn. Previously, Lewis had successfully defended the title by stopping Shannon Briggs (U.S.) in five rounds at Atlantic City, N.J. He was then scheduled to face Henry Akinwande (U.K.) in New York City, but a blood test on Akinwande revealed hepatitis B and the match was called off.

      The heavyweight situation sank even lower when the World Boxing Organization (WBO) sanctioned two title defenses by Herbie Hide (U.K.) against the almost unknown Damon Reed (U.S.) and Willi Fischer (Germany). Fischer was halted after 24 seconds of the second round, and Hide knocked out Reed in 52 seconds. The latter bout set a record for the fastest heavyweight championship knockout, the previous mark having been set when James J. Jeffries flattened Jack Finnegan in 55 seconds in 1900.

      The outstanding champion of the year was again Oscar de la Hoya (U.S.). The 25-year-old, who had won titles ranging from featherweight to welterweight, remained undefeated after 29 contests. A crowd of 50,000 attended his successful defense of the WBC welterweight crown when he defeated Patrick Charpentier (France) in three rounds at El Paso, Texas, in June. In September at Las Vegas de la Hoya stopped the legendary Julio César Chávez (Mexico) after eight rounds, thereby repeating a four-round win he had gained over the Mexican in 1996. Chávez had taken part in 35 world title fights and had suffered only three defeats in 105 contests.

      Roy Jones, Jr., (U.S.) established himself as one of the best light heavyweights in many years, knocking out Virgil Hill (U.S.) in a nontitle bout, but the WBC titleholder's ambitions to earn bigger purses among the heavyweights were dampened during a 12-round victory over WBA light heavyweight champion Lou Del Valle (U.S.). In the fight Jones suffered his first-ever count as a professional when knocked down in the eighth round.

      Naseem Hamed (U.K.), the WBO featherweight champion, remained undefeated, knocking out Wilfredo Vazquez (P.R.) in seven rounds at Manchester, Eng. His audience rating on the HBO cable network broke records in the U.S. He had earned $1.7 million when stopping Kevin Kelley (U.S.) in New York City's Madison Square Garden at the end of 1997. Though Hamed retained his title and unbeaten record by outpointing Wayne McCullough in Atlantic City at the end of October, his performance was criticized in light of his prefight boast of knocking out McCullough in three rounds.

      The end of a long, long trail appeared to have arrived for Roberto Duran. The 47-year-old Panamanian, fighting for the 116th time in 31 years, was battered in three rounds when challenging William Joppy (U.S.) for the WBA middleweight crown. It was a mismatch against a champion 20 years younger. Azumah Nelson (Ghana), one of Africa's greatest champions, announced his retirement. During his career of almost 20 years he won WBC featherweight and super featherweight titles.

      A bizarre end to a fight occurred when Bernard Hopkins (U.S.) defended the IBF middleweight crown against Robert Allen (U.S.). In the fourth round Hopkins was accidentally pushed from the ring by the referee, injuring his ankle so that he could not continue the fight, which was then declared "no contest."

      Despite much opposition women began establishing themselves in the sport. Female boxers, judges, and managers operated regularly in Nevada and New Jersey. Among them Mia Rosales St. John, a 31-year-old mother of two, commanded large purses. There was an outcry, however, when Maria Nieves-Garcia was found to be 21 weeks pregnant during the medical test before her scheduled fight against Christy Martin (U.S.). The British Boxing Board of Control lost a legal battle when Jane Couch (Eng.) took it to court. Couch had boxed in the U.S. and claimed that she had had to turn down lucrative matches in the U.K. because women were not allowed to box professionally there. Two bouts between young women had taken place in amateur tournaments in England. Because of Couch's legal victory the British Board was required to grant professional licenses to women.


▪ 1998

      The reputation of boxing's heavyweight division sank to an all-time low in 1997 with the disqualification of former undisputed world champion Mike Tyson for biting the ears of Evander Holyfield (BIOGRAPHIES (Holyfield, Evander )) during a World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight title bout in Las Vegas, Nev., on June 28. Tyson received a warning from referee Mills Lane after biting a chunk out of Holyfield's right ear in the third round. When the fight resumed, Tyson sank his teeth into Holyfield's other ear, and Lane was forced to disqualify him.

      Declaring Tyson a "discredit to boxing," the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended him for at least one year and fined him 10% of his $30 million purse, the maximum penalty permitted under existing rules. Subsequently, however, the commission gave itself the power to confiscate the entire purse of a boxer who commits a serious offense.

      Apart from the Tyson horror show, several contests for other versions of the heavyweight crown only tarnished the division further. A fight for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) title ended in a farce as Lennox Lewis avenged a knockout loss to Oliver McCall (U.S.). McCall, who had been in and out of drug rehabilitation programs in the months prior to the rematch, showed a complete reluctance to throw punches and sometimes turned his back on his opponent. After five frustrating rounds the referee stopped the bout, disqualifying McCall for refusing to defend himself.

      In another dreary exhibition early in the year, Henry Akinwande (Eng.) retained the World Boxing Organization (WBO) crown by defeating reluctant challenger Scott Welch (Eng.). In July Akinwande relinquished the WBO title to challenge Lewis for what was considered the more prestigious WBC championship. During the bout, which was held in South Lake Tahoe, Nev., and also refereed by Lane, Akinwande did little more than force clinches with Lewis. In the fifth round Lane disqualified Akinwande for "blatant and persistent holding."

      An International Boxing Federation (IBF) title match between champion Michael Moorer and challenger Vaughan Bean (U.S.) provided no great boost to the unhappy heavyweight situation as Moorer outpointed Bean over 12 lacklustre rounds.

      Fortunately, some excitement came late in the year in two separate fights involving Lewis and Holyfield. In a bout held in Atlantic City, N.J., in October, Lewis raised his standing in the eyes of many boxing enthusiasts by destroying Polish-born challenger Andrew Golota (U.S.) in only 95 seconds to retain the WBC crown. Golota, whose penchant for throwing low blows had cost him two disqualification losses to former champion Riddick Bowe (U.S.), suffered a seizure in his dressing room after the fight, and at year's end his future in boxing seemed uncertain.

      In November Holyfield restored some pride to the heavyweight division in an impressive performance against Moorer, knocking Moorer to the canvas five times before the referee, on advice from the ringside physician, stopped the fight in the eighth round. Holyfield was declared the winner by technical knockout and added Moorer's IBF championship belt to the WBA belt he already held. Named Fighter of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America, Holyfield hoped to face Lewis in a unification match in 1998.

      The 48-year-old former heavyweight champion George Foreman made news in November as well, in part because of the respectable performance he put in against Shannon Briggs, who was nearly half his age, and in part because of his announcement—for the second time—of his retirement from the ring. Foreman lost the controversial majority-decision fight to Briggs in Atlantic City, N.J.; the crowd was clearly convinced that Foreman, at 118 kg (260 lb), should have won, but two of the judges scored the match for Briggs and the ring referee called it even.

      Among the champions in the lower weight divisions, Oscar de la Hoya proved outstanding again, remaining undefeated after 27 bouts. After retaining the WBC lightweight crown against Miguel González (Mex.), de la Hoya moved up and captured the WBC welterweight crown from highly rated Pernell Whitaker, albeit on a controversial decision. De la Hoya later silenced loudmouth Hector ("Macho") Camacho (U.S.) in a 12-round decision before administering a sound beating to Wilfredo Rivera (P.R.), which the referee stopped in the eighth round. De la Hoya's purse total for 1997 was $33 million, an amount seldom seen outside the heavyweight ranks.

      Another extraordinarily talented champion, Roy Jones, Jr., carelessly gave away the WBC light heavyweight title in a fight with Montell Griffin (U.S.) in March. After flooring Griffin in the ninth round, Jones threw two quick punches while his opponent was down. The referee had no choice but to disqualify him. A rematch between the two in August was aptly billed under the slogan "Unfinished Business," and it did not take long for Jones to settle matters; he knocked out Griffin in the first round for the title.

      Ricardo López made his 19th defense of the WBC strawweight crown by beating Mongkol Charoen (Thai.). A victory over Alex Sanchez later in the year boosted López's record to 46-0. IBF welterweight king Felix Trinidad moved up a division and flattened Troy Waters (Austr.) in the first round. WBC super welterweight champion Terry Norris blew his chance for a future meeting with de la Hoya when he was stopped in the ninth round by 7-1 underdog Keith Mullings in December.

      WBO featherweight champion Naseem Hamed won the IBF title by stopping Tom Johnson (U.S.) in eight rounds. Hamed later defeated Billy Hardy (Eng.) in one round, Juan Cabrera (Arg.) in two, and José Badillo (P.R.) in seven. Before his fight with Badillo, Hamed gave up the IBF crown rather than agree to a mandatory defense against Hector Lizarraga. The 23-year-old Hamed made a highly publicized U.S. debut on December 19 at Madison Square Garden in New York City against Kevin Kelley (U.S.). In a wild match that saw each fighter hit the canvas three times, Hamed eventually prevailed, knocking out Kelley in the fourth round. With the win, Hamed, who was born in Great Britain to Yemeni parents, boosted his record to 29-0.

      In 1997 boxing suffered a double blow from the deaths of two former world champions, Willie Pastrano (U.S.) and Edwin Rosario (P.R.). (OBITUARIES. (Rosario, Edwin )) Pastrano won the light heavyweight title in June 1963, defended the title twice before losing it to José Torres (U.S.) in 1965, and retired with a record of 63-13-8. Rosario, a three-time world lightweight champion active in the 1980s and '90s, had a career record of 43-6. His death was believed to be related to drug abuse, a problem he battled for most of his career. Zambian Felix Bwalya fell into a coma and died on December 23 after a two-day drinking spree to celebrate winning the Commonwealth light welterweight title.


▪ 1997

      Included among the biggest upsets in world heavyweight boxing since the introduction of the Marquess of Queensberry rules more than 100 years ago was the overwhelming defeat of Mike Tyson (U.S.) in 11 rounds by Evander Holyfield (U.S.) at Las Vegas, Nev., in November. The victory gained for Holyfield the World Boxing Association (WBA) crown. In winning the heavyweight championship for the third time, he equaled a record previously held only by Muhammad Ali (U.S.). Holyfield had first become champion in 1990 by knocking out James ("Buster") Douglas (U.S.), at the time the only pugilist to have defeated Tyson, but after losing to Michael Moorer (U.S.) in 1994 and again to Riddick Bowe (U.S.) a year later, Holyfield was considered to be in the twilight of his career. It was a remarkable feat to come back and destroy Tyson in his 36th contest, especially given the fact that at one time it was feared that Holyfield would be forced to retire because of a suspected heart condition, which, however, a thorough cardiac examination later ruled out.

      Tyson had begun his comeback late in 1995 after serving three years in prison for rape. In March he regained the World Boxing Council (WBC) title by destroying Frank Bruno (Eng.) in three rounds. He then chose to take on Bruce Seldon (U.S.) and won the WBA crown, disposing of his opponent in the first round. He gave up the WBC crown to fight Holyfield. Bookmakers in Las Vegas made him a 22-1 favourite to annihilate Holyfield, but the latter's skill and courage won the battle.

      Nearly 10 years earlier Tyson had eliminated the ridiculous number of heavyweight champions created by the various self-appointed controlling bodies. He defeated the WBC, WBA, and International Boxing Federation (IBF) titleholders to prove himself undisputed champion. Internal disputes, battles for power, and legal threats, however, continued to leave the heavyweight and other weight divisions in chaos, with many mediocre champions.

      On the same bill as the Tyson and Holyfield promotion were two other "world" heavyweight championship fights. Michael Moorer retained the IBF version, stopping Frans Botha (S.Af.) in 12 rounds. The South African had won the IBF crown by defeating Axel Schulz (Ger.) but lost it in a courtroom after testing positive for steroids. The World Boxing Organization (WBO) champion, Henry Akinwande (Eng.), also kept his title by battering Aleksandr Zolkin (Russia) in 10 rounds.

      Apart from the heavyweights, two outstanding champions in lower weight divisions became top-class attractions. Roy Jones (U.S.), the IBF super middleweight champion, when defending the title in June against Eric Lucas (Can.), showed arrogance by taking part in a professional basketball match in the afternoon before climbing into the ring to retain his title in 11 laborious rounds at Jacksonville, Fla. He later regained lost popularity by knocking out the top-ranked challenger, Bryant Brannon (U.S.), in two rounds in New York City. He donated his purse (apart from promotional expenses) to various charities and also contributed to medical expenses to assist Gerald McClellan (U.S.), who had received permanent injury during a challenge match with Nigel Benn (Eng.).

      The other outstanding boxer was Oscar de la Hoya (U.S.), the WBC lightweight champion, who moved up to light welterweight and inflicted a four-round hammering on the legendary champion Julio César Chávez (Mex.). Chávez had taken part in 34 title bouts during a career approaching 100 contests. Though Chávez was obviously past his glory days, the ease with which de la Hoya handled him surprised many. Chávez, who earned $9 million against de la Hoya, hoped for a return match, and in October he crushed Joey Gamache (U.S.) in eight rounds. His $1.5 million purse was, however, paid directly to Mexican authorities for back taxes.

      Another remarkable veteran, Azumah Nelson (Ghana), retained the super featherweight crown at the age of 37, triumphing over Jesse James Leija (U.S.) in six rounds. Leija had previously drawn with and outpointed Nelson, but the Ghanaian proved himself to be one of Africa's best-ever champions.

      Steve Collins (Ire.) retained the WBO super middleweight title with victories against Chris Eubank (Eng.) and Benn. Both British fighters announced their retirement, but Eubank later made a comeback as a fighter and at the same time also became a promoter, staging the first professional tournament in Egypt. There his low-rated Argentine opponent, Luis Barrerar, was easily disposed of in five rounds.

      The outstanding British fighter Naseem Hamed continued his winning ways, retaining the WBO featherweight crown with a two-round win over Remigio Molina of Argentina. Hamed hoped to meet IBF featherweight champion Tom Johnson (U.S.) in 1997.

      The British Medical Association continued its antiboxing campaign with a series of 60-second advertisements to be shown in 100 British movie theatres, but with television offering Holyfield and Tyson millions of dollars to meet again, the chances that professional boxing would be outlawed appeared slim, if not nonexistent.


▪ 1996

      The world heavyweight championship in 1995 lost further credibility in another disappointing year, leaving it in a more confused state than ever before. George Foreman (U.S.), who late in 1994—after 10 years of retirement—had sensationally regained the title he had lost 20 years earlier, ceased to be recognized by most of the many organizations that claimed to control the sport. The 46-year-old Foreman made only one unsatisfactory defense of his title in 1995, against Axel Schulz of Germany in Las Vegas, Nev., on April 22. Foreman won the bout, but the decision was hotly disputed. The World Boxing Association (WBA), which had refused to sanction the fight, had stripped Foreman of his title for refusing to fight the WBA top-ranked challenger, former champion Tony Tucker (U.S.). When Foreman declined to meet Schulz in a return contest in Germany, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) declared the title vacant and left Foreman without a championship belt. The WBA recognized Bruce Seldon (U.S.) as champion after he defeated Tucker. On December 9 Schulz fought Frans Botha (South Africa) in Stuttgart, Germany, for the IBF version of the title. When Botha was declared the winner in a split decision, angry German fans threw coins and bottles into the ring.

      There was further devaluation of the World Boxing Council's (WBC's) heavyweight championship when Frank Bruno (England) outpointed Oliver McCall (U.S.) in London in September. In three previous attempts to win the title, the 33-year-old Bruno had been stopped by Tim Witherspoon (U.S.), Mike Tyson (U.S.), and Lennox Lewis (England).

      Tyson's comeback contest after three years in prison—against the almost unknown Peter McNeeley—lasted 89 seconds before McNeeley was knocked helpless. In a widely ridiculed move, McNeeley's manager climbed into the ring and stopped the fight. Tyson's share of the gross purse was reported at approximately $35 million. Buster Mathis, Jr. (U.S.), was chosen as Tyson's next opponent, in November, but after disappointing advance sales, the fight was postponed when Tyson reported a damaged thumb. Finally, at a poorly attended fight on December 16, Tyson knocked out the overmatched Mathis in the third round.

      Adding to the complications that left the heavyweight championship in confusion, Riddick Bowe (U.S.), a former champion who relinquished the WBC title, strengthened his claim to be the top-ranked heavyweight by battering to defeat in eight rounds another former champion, Evander Holyfield (U.S.), in Las Vegas in November.

      Julio César Chávez (Mexico) carried on another year as a remarkable champion, successfully defending his WBC super lightweight title against David Kamau (Kenya) in September. Chávez was reported to have been paid $1 million for the fight, though at 33 the Mexican, who had fought in 19 world title bouts, seemed to be losing his old sparkle. Nonetheless, his record of 95 wins, 1 loss, and 1 tie made him the most outstanding boxer seen in years.

      Two popular fighters relinquished newly won titles in 1995. WBC welterweight champion Pernell Whitaker (U.S.) defeated Julio César Vásquez of Argentina in March to win the WBA junior middleweight title and immediately abandoned it. In July Oscar De La Hoya, the only American to win gold at the 1992 Olympic Games, gave up the IBF lightweight belt, only two months after taking it from Rafael Ruelas (U.S.).

      The most promising new champion in 1995 was Roy Jones (U.S.), the IBF super middleweight champion, who remained undefeated in 30 fights. His closest rival was Nigel Benn (England), the WBC super middleweight champion. Benn's greatest triumph during the year was overshadowed by tragedy. In a bout to retain his WBC crown, he knocked out the highly rated Gerald McClellan (U.S.) in 10 rounds in London in late February. McClellan collapsed and was rushed to the hospital for brain surgery. Though he survived, his career was over and he remained disabled. Until he collapsed, McClellan had put up a spirited challenge in what was Benn's ninth title defense, and the British champion was all but knocked out in the first round.

      After severe brain damage ended the career of another super middleweight, Michael Watson (England), when he was stopped in 12 rounds by Chris Eubank (England) in 1991, the British Boxing Board had ruled that an anesthetist, paramedics, and physicians had to be at ringside and that an ambulance had to be available so that a brain-damaged boxer could be rushed to a hospital with a neurosurgeon on duty. But tragedies continued to occur. James Murray (Scotland) died following brain surgery after being knocked out by Drew Docherty (Scotland) in a clash for the British bantamweight crown at Glasgow, Scotland, in October. In May Jimmy Garcia (Colombia) died 13 days after being knocked out in a world super featherweight championship in Las Vegas by Gabriel Ruelas (U.S.). Dong Choon Lee (South Korea) died after boxing in Japan, and two young Filipinos suffered fatal injuries in bouts in the Philippines.

      The deaths and permanent injuries in Britain brought another call from the British Medical Association for boxing to be banned in the U.K. Pro-boxing people argued that if the sport was banned it would continue more dangerously underground, where bouts would be held without control or medical precautions. (FRANK BUTLER)

▪ 1995

      One of the biggest upsets in world boxing history was recorded at Las Vegas, Nev., in November 1994 when 45-year-old George Foreman (U.S.) knocked out the World Boxing Association (WBA) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) heavyweight champion Michael Moorer (U.S.) in the 10th round. In his defeat of the 27-year-old and previously undefeated Moorer, Foreman thus became the oldest heavyweight ever to win the world crown. It was an extraordinary performance by a fighter who had first won the title by defeating Joe Frazier (U.S.) in Jamaica 21 years earlier only to be destroyed by a 32-year-old Muhammad Ali (U.S.) the following year. So humiliated was the young Foreman that he quit boxing for 10 years and became a Baptist preacher.

      Adding to this almost unbelievable result was the fact that Foreman had not fought in a match for 17 months after he was soundly outpointed by Tommy Morrison (U.S.) in a bid for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) heavyweight title. Yet another bizarre situation in world heavyweight competition was that another former champion, 45-year-old Larry Holmes (U.S.), was scheduled to challenge Oliver McCall (U.S.) for the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight championship early in 1995. If Holmes should win, a future bout with Foreman would match two grandfathers fighting for boxing's most lucrative prize.

      Apart from the Moorer-Foreman upset, the heavyweight division went through another year of instability and unpredictable results. All the holders of WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO versions lost titles in a series of upsets. Evander Holyfield (U.S.), who had regained the WBA/IBF crown, was surprisingly outpointed by Moorer, who had earlier relinquished the WBO version. More upsets followed when Michael Bentt (U.S.), who had shocked the experts by taking the WBO title with a first-round knockout of Morrison in late 1993, made his first defense against Herbie Hide (England) in London and was knocked out in the seventh round. After the fight, Bentt collapsed in his dressing room and spent a night in the hospital. It later emerged that he had had dizzy spells while in training and was reported to have blacked out on the plane back to New York. After a series of medical tests, the 29-year-old Bentt retired. He had taken part in only 13 professional contests, winning 11.

      The heavyweight scene had to endure a complete fiasco. Hide had signed to make the first defense of the WBO title against Morrison in Hong Kong in October. It was to be the biggest boxing tournament ever staged in Hong Kong, also including several other fights for world championships. The promised financial backing never was obtained, however, and an angry press conference replaced the weigh-in only 17 hours before the tournament was scheduled to begin. Never before had a heavyweight championship been called off at such a late hour. Yet another upset took place when Lennox Lewis (England), having successfully defended the WBC title by defeating Phil Jackson (U.S.) in Atlantic City, N.J., was stopped in two rounds in London by McCall, the former sparring partner of Mike Tyson. Lewis' defeat by McCall brought back to prominence Don King, who had controlled the title for years when he managed Tyson and now handled McCall.

      The outstanding fighter of the year was again Julio Cesar Chávez (Mexico), despite the big surprise when he lost the WBC junior welterweight (also called super lightweight) crown to Frankie Randall (U.S.). It was Chávez' first defeat in the 91 contests of his 14-year career. Randall, given his first shot at a championship after 11 years in boxing, was quoted as a 15-1 underdog but won the decision against an out-of-form Chávez at Las Vegas in January. In the return match in May, also at Las Vegas, Chávez regained the title with a controversial verdict following an accidental clash of heads in the eighth round that severely cut the Mexican. Under the rules the bout was stopped, and Chávez was awarded the decision on points. Many experts thought that Randall had been robbed and that the 31-year-old Mexican had seen his best days. But Chávez confounded the boxing world by coming back to demolish Meldrick Taylor (U.S.) at Las Vegas in September. Taylor, who had come close to defeating Chávez four years earlier, was leading when Chávez dug deep and with a savage attack finished off his challenger in the eighth round. Also fighting that night in Las Vegas, Randall gained consolation by surviving a knockdown and then defeating Juan Martin Coggi (Argentina) for the WBA junior welterweight crown.

      Other outstanding champions of 1994 included Mike McCallum (Jamaica), who at 37 won his third world title by defeating the WBC light heavyweight champion Jeff Harding (Australia). Orlando Canizales (U.S.) relinquished the IBF bantamweight crown after defending it for the 16th time. Virgil Hill (U.S.) remained the WBA light heavyweight king with only one defeat in 38 contests. Roy Jones (U.S.), IBF super middleweight, Ricardo López (Mexico), WBC mini-flyweight, and Pernell Whitaker (U.S.), WBC welterweight, were other impressive champions. In a tough fight against Jesse James Leija (U.S.), Azumah Nelson (Ghana), one of Africa's greatest fighters, lost the WBC junior lightweight title that he had held for six years.

      A tragedy took place in Britain in April when Bradley Stone (England) died after being defeated in 10 rounds by Richie Wenton (England) for the British junior featherweight championship, a weight division introduced in the U.K. in 1994. Another boxer, Robert Wangila Napunyl (Kenya), also died after being defeated at Las Vegas in July. Wangila had won an Olympic gold medal for Kenya at Seoul, South Korea, in 1988. (FRANK BUTLER)

▪ 1994

      The heavyweight division continued to be in turmoil in 1993, with three fighters claiming to be world champion. The chaos was increased by the World Boxing Organization's (WBO's) persistence in creating the most unlikely titleholders. In addition, a big upset took place when Evander Holyfield (U.S.), who had lost the World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Association (WBA), and International Boxing Federation (IBF) titles to Riddick Bowe (U.S.) in November 1992, regained the WBA and IBF titles by outpointing Bowe at Las Vegas, Nev., one year later. Apart from the unexpected result, this fight would always be remembered for the bizarre interruption when a parachutist crashed into the canopy above the ring in the seventh round. The incident caused a 20-minute delay and injuries and panic among ringsiders.

      Bowe had obstructed the unifying of the heavyweight title after taking the WBC, WBA, and IBF versions of the title from Holyfield in 1992 by defying the WBC's order to defend his championship against Lennox Lewis (England). Subsequently, Lewis was crowned WBC champion without even putting on a pair of boxing gloves. Lewis, ordered to defend this title against the veteran Tom Tucker (U.S.), dutifully obeyed and won a dull contest in Las Vegas. While it did little for his prestige, it added greatly to his bank account, and he followed this by defending against the British veteran Frank Bruno at Cardiff, Wales. This fight took place on a damp cold night in the open air at 1 AM (British time) to coincide with peak viewing time on U.S. cable television. The referee stopped the fight in the seventh round, and although Lewis beat the 32-year-old Bruno, he was not impressive. He was behind on points until he produced the punch that dismissed Bruno, who was making his third unsuccessful challenge for a world crown. Lewis earned £4 million for his efforts.

      Having spurned the WBC version of the title, Bowe did little to confirm the belief that he was the world's best heavyweight, taking on less than moderate challengers in defense of his WBA and IBF titles. His first victim was 34-year-old Michael Dokes (U.S.), a former champion long past his prime, who was battered to defeat in the first round. Bowe's next opponent, 36-year-old Jesse Ferguson (U.S.), was an unjustified challenger; the odds against him were quoted at 42-1. He was flattened in the second round at Washington, D.C., another multimillion-dollar payday for Bowe to add to the $7 million he reportedly earned against Dokes. While the IBF did not ban this bout, it declined to recognize it as a championship contest.

      Though Bowe became richer, he paid for his lack of dedication and rocketed to 127 kg (280 lb). He trained down to 112 kg (246 lb) for the return with Holyfield, but he was far heavier than in their first meeting, and Holyfield appeared to be fitter. The contest was a triumph for the 31-year-old Holyfield, five years older than Bowe and nearly 14 kg (30 lb) lighter. He had reversed his only defeat, and he became the third champion, after Floyd Patterson and Muhammad Ali, to regain a lost heavyweight title. Holyfield's victory was good news for Lewis. A match in 1994 between the two for the WBA, IBF, and WBC titles was far more likely than one between Bowe and Lewis, as the managements of the latter could not agree to financial terms.

      The fight with Lewis would have to wait, however, as the IBF and WBA ruled that Holyfield's next defense had to be against top-ranked challenger Michael Moorer (U.S.). At year's end the champion was reportedly offered $20 million to fight a rematch with Bowe, but Holyfield rejected the deal because he would have had to relinquish his titles or risk having them stripped if he failed to face Moorer.

      The WBO lived up to its reputation of being out of step with rival bodies by ignoring both Holyfield and Bowe and choosing to recognize a lesser performer in Michael Moorer (U.S.); when Moorer did not bow to its wishes, the WBO matched Tommy Morrison (U.S.) with the 44-year-old George Foreman (U.S.) for the title. Morrison clearly outpointed his aging rival over 12 rounds. What followed was outrageous even for the WBO to tolerate. Morrison chose to defend his title against the mediocre Mike Williams (U.S.), who had appeared as an opponent of Morrison in the film Rocky V. Now they were to appear in the ring for real with the so-called world title at stake. An hour before the contest, Williams declined to take a drug test, and the fight was canceled. However, a crowd of 12,000 plus a large television audience had to be entertained. Someone spotted Tim Tomashek (U.S.), an unrated heavyweight, at ringside, and he was persuaded to rescue a desperate promoter and television presenter by stepping in with Morrison. The WBO accepted the practically unknown 28-year-old from Green Bay, Wis., who offered no serious opposition; the fight was ended by the ring physician in the fourth round.

      Taking on yet another little-known challenger in 29-year-old Michael Bentt (U.S.), ranked only ninth by the WBO, Morrison came crashing down to Earth when flattened by Bentt in 1 min 33 sec of the first round at Tulsa, Okla., in October. Bentt, born in London, immigrated to the U.S. when only six. He achieved a good amateur record but was knocked out in the first round in his professional debut. He then gained 10 wins against almost anonymous opponents and became WBO champion in his 12th professional contest.

      With television continuing to pour millions of dollars into any fight that carried a world title label, there was no shortage of people scheduling such bouts. Among them the WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO recognized nearly 70 world champions. With three other bodies also trying to get in the act, there were 90 fighters claiming to be world champions. Not so many years earlier, there had been only eight world champions.

      Despite so many irrational decisions, the WBO increased its influence in Europe, particularly in the British Isles, which by the end of 1993 claimed four of the organization's titles. This was proving very lucrative to British boxers and promoters. Chris Eubank (England), having retained the WBO super middleweight crown against several moderate challengers, faced Nigel Benn (England), the WBC super middleweight champion, over 12 rounds at Manchester. The contest ended in a draw, and so each fighter retained his title. The fight attracted 42,000, with Benn collecting £1 million and Eubank £800,000. It was seen by 16 million people on one British TV channel.

      The promoter Don King, who had dominated the world heavyweight competition since persuading Pres. Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire to stage the George Foreman-Muhammad Ali clash in Kinshasa in 1974, was copromoter of the Eubank-Benn bout. King had controlled the heavyweight division until Mike Tyson (U.S.) was jailed following a rape charge in 1992. With Bowe's management strongly opposed to King, the promoter no longer controlled the heavyweight division but remained active because of his worldwide television connections.

      The outstanding boxer of the year was Julio César Chávez (Mexico), the WBC light welterweight champion. He remained undefeated after 90 contests over 13 years. Mexico's best pugilist ever had over the years held three world titles at different weights. But, when bidding for his fourth crown in September, most experts considered him extremely fortunate to be given a draw against Pernell Whitaker (U.S.), the WBC welterweight champion. The highly skilled and elusive Whitaker defied the aggressive Mexican, and Chávez was lucky not to lose his undefeated record. He remained a hero among his countrymen, and a world-record paying attendance of 132,899 had seen him retain the light welterweight title against Greg Haugen (U.S.) at the Aztec Stadium in Mexico City in February.

      Other outstanding champions included Azumah Nelson (Ghana), who continued as WBC super featherweight champion though he was deemed fortunate to earn a draw with up-and-coming Jesse Leija (U.S.). Myung Woo Yuh (South Korea) retained the WBA light flyweight crown but, having won 38 of 39 contests over 16 years, announced his retirement. Virgil Hill (U.S.) successfully defended the WBA light heavyweight championship for the 14th time when he stopped Saul Montana (Mexico) in 10 rounds in November, but Hill was criticized because it was thought he had faced too many unimpressive challengers. Ricardo López (Mexico) continued to dominate the WBC strawweight division, as did Genaro Hernandez (U.S.) the WBA super featherweight and Michael Carbajal (U.S.) the WBC and IBF light flyweight. One of the brightest of the champions was Julio Borboa (Mexico), who won and defended the IBF super flyweight title twice.

      Professional boxing increased throughout Europe, mainly because the countries of Eastern Europe, where it had been banned, were now joining the chase. The European Boxing Union at its last congress accepted affiliation from Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and Latvia and gave provisional membership to Poland and Bulgaria. World title matches also were held in China and elsewhere in Asia. Good attendances and large television audiences were reported.

      Boxing in the U.S. saw the end of an era when the management of New York City's Madison Square Garden announced that it was ending participation in the sport. The first arena (1874) was a converted railroad station at Madison Square; Tex Rickard promoted the first million-dollar fights there in the 1920s. The Garden, which later moved to different sites, was regarded as the most famous boxing locale in the world. In the future tournaments might be held there occasionally but only if arranged by an outside promoter. (FRANK BUTLER)

* * *


      sport, both amateur and professional, involving attack and defense with the fists. Boxers usually wear padded gloves and generally observe the code set forth in the Marquess of Queensberry rules. Matched in weight and ability, boxing contestants try to land blows hard and often with their fists, each attempting to avoid the blows of the opponent. A boxer wins a match either by outscoring the opponent—points can be tallied in several ways—or by rendering the opponent incapable of continuing the match. Bouts range from 3 to 12 rounds, each round normally lasting three minutes.

      The terms pugilism and prizefighting in modern usage are practically synonymous with boxing, although the first term indicates the ancient origins of the sport in its derivation from the Latin pugil, “a boxer,” related to the Latin pugnus, “fist,” and derived in turn from the Greek pyx, “with clenched fist.” The term prizefighting emphasizes pursuit of the sport for monetary gain, which began in England in the 17th century.


Early years
      Boxing first appeared as a formal Olympic (Olympic Games) event in the 23rd Olympiad (688 BC), but fist-fighting contests must certainly have had their origin in mankind's prehistory. The earliest visual evidence for boxing appears in Sumerian relief carvings from the 3rd millennium BC. A relief sculpture from Egyptian (Egypt, ancient) Thebes (c. 1350 BC) shows both boxers and spectators. The few extant Middle Eastern and Egyptian depictions are of bare-fisted contests with, at most, a simple band supporting the wrist; the earliest evidence of the use of gloves or hand coverings in boxing is a carved vase from Minoan Crete (c. 1500 BC) that shows helmeted boxers wearing a stiff plate strapped to the fist.

      The earliest evidence of rules for the sport comes from ancient Greece (ancient Greek civilization). These ancient contests had no rounds; they continued until one man either acknowledged defeat by holding up a finger or was unable to continue. Clinching (holding an opponent at close quarters with one or both arms) was strictly forbidden. Contests were held outdoors, which added the challenge of intense heat and bright sunlight to the fight. Contestants represented all social classes; in the early years of the major athletic festivals, a preponderance of the boxers came from wealthy and distinguished backgrounds.

      The Greeks considered boxing the most injurious of their sports. A 1st-century-BC inscription praising a pugilist states, “A boxer's victory is gained in blood.” In fact, Greek literature offers much evidence that the sport caused disfigurement and, occasionally, even death. An amazingly bloody bout is recounted by Homer in the Iliad (c. 675 BC):

      “Sons of Atreus, and all you other strong-greaved Achaians,
we invite two men, the best among you, to contend for these prizes
with their hands up for the blows of boxing. He whom Apollo
grants to outlast the other, and all the Achaians witness it,
let him lead away the hard-working jenny [female donkey] to his own shelter.
The beaten man shall take away the two-handled goblet.”

      He spoke, and a man huge and powerful, well skilled in boxing,
rose up among them; the son of Panopeus, Epeios.
He laid his hand on the hard-working jenny, and spoke out:
“Let the man come up who will carry off the two-handled goblet.
I say no other of the Achaians will beat me at boxing
and lead off the jenny. I claim I am the champion. Is it not
enough that I fall short in battle? Since it could not be
ever, that a man could be a master in every endeavour.
For I tell you this straight out, and it will be a thing accomplished.
I will smash his skin apart and break his bones on each other.
Let those who care for him wait nearby in a huddle about him
to carry him out, after my fists have beaten him under.”

      So he spoke, and all of them stayed stricken to silence.
Alone Euryalos stood up to face him, a godlike
man, son of lord Mekisteus of the seed of Talaos;
of him who came once to Thebes and the tomb of Oidipous after
his downfall, and there in boxing defeated all the Kadmeians.
The spear-famed son of Tydeus was his second, and talked to him
in encouragement, and much desired the victory for him.
First he pulled on the boxing belt about his waist, and then
gave him the thongs carefully cut from the hide of a ranging
ox. The two men, girt up, strode into the midst of the circle
and faced each other, and put up their ponderous hands at the same time
and closed, so that their heavy arms were crossing each other,
and there was a fierce grinding of teeth, the sweat began to run
everywhere from their bodies. Great Epeios came in, and hit him
as he peered out from his guard, on the cheek, and he could no longer
keep his feet, but where he stood the glorious limbs gave.
As in the water roughened by the north wind a fish jumps
in the weed of the beach-break, then the dark water closes above him,
so Euryalos left the ground from the blow, but great-hearted Epeios
took him in his arms and set him upright, and his true companions
stood about him, and led him out of the circle, feet dragging
as he spat up the thick blood and rolled his head over on one side.
He was dizzy when they brought him back and set him among them.
But they themselves went and carried off the two-handled goblet.

(From Book XXIII of Homer's Iliad, translated by Richmond Lattimore.)

 By the 4th century BC, the simple ox-hide thongs described in the Iliad had been replaced by what the Greeks called “sharp thongs,” which had a thick strip of hard leather over the knuckles that made them into lacerative weapons. Although the Greeks used padded gloves for practice, not dissimilar from the modern boxing glove, these gloves had no role in actual contests. The Romans (ancient Rome) developed a glove called the caestus (cestus) that is seen in Roman mosaics and described in their literature; this glove often had lumps of metal or spikes sewn into the leather. The caestus is an important feature in a boxing match in Virgil's Aeneid (1st century BC). The story of the match between Dares and Entellus is majestically told in this passage from the pugilism article in the 11th edition of Encyclopædia Britannica:Further on we find the account of the games on the occasion of the funeral of Anchises, in the course of which Dares, the Trojan, receiving no answer to his challenge from the Sicilians, who stood aghast at his mighty proportions, claims the prize; but, just as it is about to be awarded him, Entellus, an aged but huge and sinewy Sicilian, arises and casts into the arena as a sign of his acceptance of the combat the massive cesti, all stained with blood and brains, which he has inherited from King Eryx, his master in the art of boxing. The Trojans are now appalled in their turn, and Dares, aghast at the fearful implements, refused the battle, which, however, is at length begun after Aeneas has furnished the heroes with equally matched cesti. For some time the young and lusty Dares circles about his gigantic but old and stiff opponent, upon whom he rains a torrent of blows which are avoided by the clever guarding and dodging of the Sicilian hero. At last Entellus, having got his opponent into a favourable position, raises his tremendous right hand on high and aims a terrible blow at the Trojan's head; but the wary Dares deftly steps aside, and Entellus, missing his adversary altogether, falls headlong by the impetus of his own blow, with a crash like that of a falling pine. Shouts of mingled exultation and dismay break from the multitude, and the friends of the aged Sicilian rush forward to raise their fallen champion and bear him from the arena; but, greatly to the astonishment of all, Entellus motions them away and returns to the fight more keenly than before. The old man's blood is stirred, and he attacks his youthful enemy with such furious and headlong rushes, buffeting him grievously with both hands, that Aeneas put an end to the battle, though barely in time to save the discomfited Trojan from being beaten into insensibility.

      With the rise of Christianity and the concurrent decline of the Roman Empire, pugilism as entertainment apparently ceased to exist for many centuries.

Michael Poliakoff

The bare-knuckle era
      Boxing history picks up again with a formal bout recorded in Britain (United Kingdom) in 1681, and by 1698 regular pugilistic contests were being held in the Royal Theatre of London. The fighters performed for whatever purses were agreed upon plus stakes (side bets), and admirers of the combatants wagered on the outcomes. These matches were fought without gloves and, for the most part, without rules. There were no weight divisions; thus, there was just one champion, and lighter men were at an obvious disadvantage. Rounds were designated, but a bout was usually fought until one participant could no longer continue. Wrestling was permitted, and it was common to fall on a foe after throwing him to the ground. Until the mid 1700s it was also common to hit a man when he was down.

      Although boxing was illegal, it became quite popular, and by 1719 the prizefighter James Figg (Figg, James) had so captured the public's imagination that he was acclaimed champion of England, a distinction he held for some 15 years. One of Figg's pupils, Jack Broughton (Broughton, Jack), is credited with taking the first steps toward boxing's acceptance as a respectable athletic endeavour. One of the greatest bare-knuckle prizefighters in history, Broughton devised the modern sport's first set of rules in 1743, and those rules, with only minor changes, governed boxing until they were replaced by the more detailed London Prize Ring rules in 1838. It is said that Broughton sought such regulations after one of his opponents died as a result of his fight-related injuries.

      Broughton discarded the barroom techniques that his predecessors favoured and relied primarily on his fists. While wrestling holds were still permitted, a boxer could not grab an opponent below the waist. Under Broughton's rules, a round continued until a man went down; after 30 seconds he had to face his opponent (square off), standing no more than a yard (about a metre) away, or be declared beaten. Hitting a downed opponent was also forbidden. Recognized as the “Father of Boxing,” Broughton attracted pupils to the sport by introducing “mufflers,” the forerunners of modern gloves, to protect the fighter's hands and the opponent's face. (Ironically, these protective devices would prove in some ways to be more dangerous than bare fists. When boxers wear gloves, they are more likely to aim for their opponent's head, whereas, when fighters used their bare hands, they tended to aim for softer targets to avoid injuring the hand. Thus, the brain damage associated with boxing can be traced in part to the introduction of the padded boxing glove.)

      After Jack Slack beat Broughton in 1750 to claim the championship, fixed fights (fights in which outcomes were predetermined) became common, and boxing again experienced a period of decline, though there were exceptions—pugilists Daniel Mendoza (Mendoza, Daniel) and Gentleman John Jackson (Jackson, John) were great fighters of the late 1700s. Mendoza weighed only 160 pounds (73 kg), and his fighting style therefore emphasized speed over brute strength. Jackson, who eventually defeated Mendoza to claim the championship, contributed to the transformation of boxing by interesting members of the English aristocracy in the sport, thus bringing it a degree of respectability. During the early to mid 1800s, some of the greatest British champions, including Jem Belcher, Tom Cribb (Cribb, Tom), Ben Caunt (Caunt, Benjamin), and Jem Mace (Mace, James), came to symbolize ideals of manliness and honour for the English.

      After the British Pugilists' Protective Association initiated the London Prize Ring rules in 1838, the new regulations spread quickly throughout Britain and the United States. First used in a championship fight in 1839 in which James (“Deaf”) Burke lost the English title to William Thompson (“Bendigo” (Bendigo)), the new rules provided for a ring 24 feet (7.32 metres) square bounded by two ropes. When a fighter went down, the round ended, and he was helped to his corner. The next round would begin 30 seconds later, with each boxer required to reach, unaided, a mark in the centre of the ring. If a fighter could not reach that mark by the end of 8 additional seconds, he was declared the loser. Kicking, gouging, butting with the head, biting, and low blows were all declared fouls.

      The era of Regency England was the peak of British boxing, when the champion of bare-knuckle boxing in Britain was considered to be the world champion as well. Britain's only potential rival in pugilism was the United States. Boxing had been introduced in the United States in the late 1700s but began to take root there only about 1800 and then only in large urban areas such as Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and to some extent New Orleans. Most of the fighters who fought in the United States had emigrated from either England or Ireland; because boxing was then considered to be the national sport of Britain, there were few American-born fighters of the time.

      Boxing's hold upon the British imagination is evidenced in the many idioms taken from pugilism that entered the English language during this period. Phrases such as come up to scratch (to meet the qualifications), start from scratch (to start over from the beginning), and not up to the mark (not up to the necessary level) all refer to the line that was scratched in the dirt to divide the ring. At the beginning of each round, both boxers were required to put their toes up against the line to prove they were fit enough for the bout. If they were unable to do so, they were said to be unable to come up to scratch, or to the mark. The term draw, meaning a tied score, derives from the stakes that held the rope surrounding the ring: when the match was over, the stakes were “drawn” out from the ground, and eventually the finality of taking down the ropes came to stand for the end of an inconclusive fight. Further, these stakes were also the basis behind the monetary meaning of stakes. In early prizefights a bag of money, which would go to the winner of the bout, was hung from one of the stakes—thus high stakes and stake money. As for the ropes held by the stakes, to be against the ropes connotes a posture of defense against an aggressive opponent. And any telling point in an argument is spoken of as being a knockout blow, and a beautiful woman as being a knockout.

The Queensberry rules (Marquess of Queensberry rules)
      Though the London Prize Ring rules did much to help boxing, the brawling that distinguished old-time pugilism continued to alienate most of England's upper class, and it became apparent that still more revisions were necessary to attract a better class of patron. John Graham Chambers (Chambers, John Graham) of the Amateur Athletic Club devised a new set of rules in 1867 that emphasized boxing technique and skill. Chambers sought the patronage of John Sholto Douglas, the 9th marquess of Queensberry, who lent his name to the new guidelines. The Queensberry rules differed from the London rules in four major respects: contestants wore padded gloves; a round consisted of three minutes of fighting followed by a minute of rest; wrestling was illegal; and any fighter who went down had to get up unaided within 10 seconds—if a fighter was unable to get up, he was declared knocked out, and the fight was over. During this period the introduction of the first weight divisions (boxing) also took place.

      The new rules at first were scorned by professionals, who considered them unmanly, and championship bouts continued to be fought under London Prize Ring rules. But many young pugilists preferred the Queensberry guidelines and fought accordingly. Prominent among these was James (“Jem”) Mace (Mace, James), who won the English heavyweight title under the London rules in 1861. Mace's enthusiasm for gloved fighting did much to popularize the Queensberry rules.

      In addition to the shift in rules, dominance in the ring began to slowly shift to American fighters. The change started, perhaps, with American fighters competing in Britain during the Regency era. Two such early fighters were former slaves—Bill Richmond and his protégé Tom Molineaux. Both Richmond and Molineaux fought against the top English pugilists of the day; indeed, Molineaux fought Tom Cribb (Cribb, Tom) twice for the championship title, in 1810 and 1811. Soon British champions began touring the United States and fighting American opponents.

      Despite the change to the Queensberry rules, boxing was losing the social acceptability it had gained in England—partly because of changing middle-class values and an Evangelical religious revival intensely concerned about sinful pastimes. Boxing, after all, had close associations with such unsavoury practices as drinking and gambling. Further, the violence of boxing was not confined to the boxers—the spectators themselves, who often bet heavily on matches, were prone to crowd into the ring and fight as well. Large brawls frequently ensued.

      This energy, conversely, suited the American scene and the millions of new immigrants. Bouts were frequently promoted and perceived as ethnic grudge matches—for instance, between fighters from Ireland and those of American birth—and violence between ethnic gang members frequently broke out during and after such bouts. This was the heyday of such fighters as Yankee Sullivan, Tom Hyer, John Morrissey, and John Heenan.

      British ascendancy in boxing came to an end with the rise of the Irish-born American boxer John L. Sullivan (Sullivan, John L.). Sullivan was the first American champion to be considered world champion as well. For a hundred years after Sullivan's ascendancy, boxing champions, especially in the heavyweight division, tended to reside in the United States. It was Sullivan who was also responsible for aligning professional fighters on the side of the Queensberry rules. He claimed the world heavyweight championship in 1882 under the London bare-knuckle rules, and in 1889 he defended his title against Jake Kilrain in the last heavyweight championship bare-knuckle fight in the United States. Legal problems followed the Kilrain match, because bare-knuckle boxing had by that time been made illegal in every state, and so when Sullivan went up against James J. Corbett in 1892, he fought under Queensberry rules.

Thomas Hauser Jeffrey Thomas Sammons Ed.

Boxing's legal status
      Rule changes in British boxing took into account not only shifts in societal norms but the inescapable fact that the sport was illegal. The primary task of proponents was to reconcile a putatively barbaric activity with a civilizing impulse. According to English law, as reported in William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765–69), “a tilt or tournament, the martial diversion of our ancestors is an unlawful act: and so are boxing and sword playing, the succeeding amusements of their posterity.” Perceived by the courts as a throwback to a less-civilized past, prizefighting was classified as an affray, an assault, and a riot. However, widespread public support for boxing in England led to legal laxity and inconsistency of enforcement.

      In the United States the response was different. There a combination of Puritan values and fears of lawlessness often produced heightened judicial vigilance. As the frequency of prizefights increased, various states moved beyond general and sometimes vague statutes concerning assault and enacted laws that expressly forbade fistfights. In 1876 the Massachusetts State Supreme Court confirmed its intention to maintain a lawful and ordered society by ruling that “prizefighting, boxing matches, and encounters of that kind serve no useful purpose, tend to breaches of the peace, and are unlawful even when entered into by agreement and without anger or ill will.” Boxing thus took a course of evasion by bringing a greater appearance of order to the sport through changes in rules and by relocation to more lenient environments. Matches were frequently held in remote backwaters and were not openly publicized in order that the fighters might avoid arrest; barges were also used as fight venues because they could be located in waters outside U.S. legal jurisdiction and fights could be held unimpeded.

      Eventually the ever-growing popularity and profitability of the sport combined with its hero-making potential forced a reconsideration of boxing's value by many state authorities. The fact that the heavyweight champion of boxing came to symbolize American might and resolve, even dominance, had a significant impact on the sport's acceptance. Likewise, its role as a training tool in World War I left many with the impression that boxing, if conducted under proper conditions, lent itself to the development of skill, courage, and character. Thus, the very authorities who had fined and jailed pugilists came to sanction and regulate their activities through state boxing and athletic commissions. State regulation became the middle ground between outright prohibition and unfettered legalization.

Jeffrey Thomas Sammons

The boxing world

Economic impetus
      By the early 20th century, boxing had become a path to riches and social acceptance for various ethnic and racial groups. It was at this time that professional boxing became centred in the United States, with its expanding economy and successive waves of immigrants. Famine had driven thousands of Irish to seek refuge in the United States, and by 1915 the Irish had become a major force in professional boxing, producing such standouts as Terry McGovern (McGovern, Terry), Philadelphia Jack O'Brien, Mike (“Twin”) Sullivan and his brother Jack, Packey McFarland, Jimmy Clabby, and Jack Britton, among others. German, Scandinavian, and central European fighters also emerged. Outstanding Jewish fighters such as Joe Choynski, Abe Attell (Attell, Abe), Battling Levinsky, and Harry Lewis were active before 1915 and were followed by a second wave consisting of Barney Ross (Ross, Barney), Benny Leonard (Leonard, Benny), Sid Terris, Lew Tendler, Al Singer, Maxie Rosenbloom, and Max Baer (Baer, Max). Italian Americans to reach prominence included Tony Canzoneri (Canzoneri, Tony), Johnny Dundee, Rocky Marciano (Marciano, Rocky), Rocky Graziano (Graziano, Rocky), Carmen Basilio (Basilio, Carmen), and Willie Pep (Pep, Willie).

      African Americans also turned to boxing to “fight their way to the top,” and foreign-born black boxers such as Peter Jackson (Jackson, Peter), Sam Langford, and George Dixon (Dixon, George) went to the United States to capitalize on the opportunities offered by boxing. Of African American boxers, Joe Gans (Gans, Joe) won the world lightweight championship in 1902, and Jack Johnson (Johnson, Jack) became the first black heavyweight champion in 1908. Before and after Jack Johnson won his title, prejudice against black boxers was great. Gans was frequently forced by promoters to lose to or underperform against less-talented white fighters. Other black fighters found it difficult or impossible to contend for championships, as white boxers refused to face them. For instance, John L. Sullivan refused to accept the challenges of any black, and Sullivan's successor, Jim Corbett (Corbett, James J.), refused to fight the black Australian Peter Jackson (Jackson, Peter), although Jackson had fought Corbett to a 63-round draw before Corbett became champion. Jack Dempsey (Dempsey, Jack) continued the tradition by refusing to meet the African American Harry Wills. During Jack Johnson's reign as champion, he was hounded so relentlessly that he was forced to leave the United States.

      Blacks nevertheless continued to pursue fistic careers, particularly during the Great Depression. In 1936 African American fighter Joe Louis (Louis, Joe) was matched against German Max Schmeling (Schmeling, Max) in a bout that was invested with both racial and political symbolism. Louis lost to Schmeling in a 12th-round knockout. In 1937 Louis captured the world heavyweight title from James Braddock, but stated he would not call himself a champion until he had beaten Schmeling in a rematch. The fight occurred on June 22, 1938, and was seen on both sides of the Atlantic as a confrontation between the United States and Nazi Germany; the American press made much of the contest between an African American and an athlete seen as a representative of Aryan culture. Both Adolph Hitler and Franklin D. Roosevelt had personal meetings with their nation's pugilist. Louis's sensational 1st-round victory over Schmeling in the rematch was a pivotal moment for African American athletes, as Louis in victory quickly became a symbol of the triumph of world democracy for Americans of all races.

      Other African Americans followed Louis, with Sugar Ray Robinson (Robinson, Sugar Ray), Archie Moore (Moore, Archie), Ezzard Charles (Charles, Ezzard), Henry Armstrong (Armstrong, Henry), Ike Williams, Sandy Saddler (Saddler, Sandy), Emile Griffith (Griffith, Emile), Bob Foster, Jersey Joe Walcott (Walcott, Jersey Joe), Floyd Patterson (Patterson, Floyd), Sonny Liston (Liston, Sonny), Muhammad Ali (Ali, Muhammad), Joe Frazier (Frazier, Joe), and George Foreman (Foreman, George) winning world championships in various weight divisions. By the last quarter of the 20th century, African Americans were a dominant force in professional boxing, producing stars such as Sugar Ray Leonard (Leonard, Sugar Ray), Marvelous Marvin Hagler (Hagler, Marvin), Thomas Hearns, Aaron Pryor, Larry Holmes (Holmes, Larry), Michael Spinks (Spinks, Leon), Mike Tyson (Tyson, Mike), Evander Holyfield (Holyfield, Evander), Riddick Bowe, Pernell Whitaker, Shane Mosley, and Roy Jones, Jr.

Amateur boxing
      In 1867 the first amateur boxing championships took place under the Queensberry rules. In 1880 the Amateur Boxing Association (ABA), the sport's first amateur governing body, was formed in Britain, and in the following year the ABA staged its first official amateur championships.

      The Amateur Athletic Union (Amateur Athletic Union of the United States) (AAU (Amateur Athletic Union of the United States)) of the United States was formed in 1888 and instituted its annual championships in boxing the same year. In 1926 the Chicago Tribune started another amateur competition called the Golden Gloves. It grew into a national competition rivaling that of the AAU. The United States of America Amateur Boxing Federation (now USA Boxing), which governs American amateur boxing, was formed after the 1978 passage of a law forbidding the AAU to govern more than one Olympic sport.

      Amateur boxing spread rapidly to other countries and resulted in several major international tournaments taking place annually, biennially, or, as in the case of the Olympic Games, every four years. Important events include the European Games, the Commonwealth Games, the Pan American Games (Pan American Sports Games), the African Games, and the World Military Games. All international matches are controlled by the Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur (AIBA), formed in 1946.

      Although the former Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) did not permit professional boxing, it joined the AIBA in 1950, entered the Olympics in 1952, and became one of the world's strongest amateur boxing nations, along with such other communist countries as East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Cuba. Cuba, which had produced many excellent professional boxers before professional sports were banned by Fidel Castro's government, became a dominating force in international amateur boxing. The Cuban heavyweight Teófilo Stevenson (Stevenson, Teófilo) won Olympic gold medals in 1972, 1976, and 1980, a feat that was duplicated by his countryman Felix Savón (Savón, Felix) in 1992, 1996, and 2000. African countries advanced in boxing after acquiring independence in the 1950s and '60s, and by the end of the 20th century Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Egypt, and South Africa had excellent amateur boxing programs.

Thomas Hauser Jeffrey Thomas Sammons Ed.

Intercollegiate boxing
      Intercollegiate boxing has a venerable tradition in Great Britain. By the early 1800s many British aristocrats thought boxing to be a required skill for a well-rounded gentleman, and soon thereafter pugilism was encouraged as an appropriate exercise for young college men (though only at the amateur level). The first varsity match between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge was held in 1897, and it was considered a privileged “full blue” sport: an athlete who has represented Oxford is permitted to wear a dark blue blazer and a Cambridge athlete a light blue one. To be a boxing blue for either of these universities is a great honour.

      The first American national intercollegiate boxing tournament was held in 1932, but boxing had existed as an intramural sport in the United States since the 1880s. Intercollegiate boxing formally emerged after World War I, when the officers responsible for armed forces training programs returned to college campuses imbued with the belief that boxing should be included in higher education because of its value in both physical conditioning and character building. Initially used to qualify collegians for Olympic tryouts in 1932 and 1936, the national tournament became an annual National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship event in 1937 and continued through 1960 with the exception of years 1944–46, when it was suspended because of World War II.

      During the heyday of NCAA boxing, officials insisted that their sport disassociate itself from professional boxing and what many saw as the sordid blood, gore, and brutality of the prize ring. Physical conditioning, skill, “science,” and sportsmanship were emphasized. The foremost concern was the safety of participants; therefore, well-padded gloves, protective headgear, and mandatory standing nine counts (in which the action is stopped and a boxer who has been hurt but not knocked down has until the count of nine to respond to the referee's satisfaction or loses the fight as a technical knockout) were required. To compensate for the stress of ring combat, coaches often arranged for opponents to socialize before and after bouts, creating a fraternal spirit and many lasting friendships. Some famous participants in NCAA boxing were Alabama Governor George Wallace, U.S. Senators William Proxmire and Warren Rudman, and President Gerald Ford, who was a boxing coach for a time at Yale University. The Universities of Idaho, Virginia, and Wisconsin, Syracuse University, and Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, San Jose, and Washington State universities had leading programs. One hundred institutions had teams in the late 1930s, and attendance at boxing matches was second only to that for football on many American campuses.

      Although the NCAA rules attempted to prevent more-experienced boxers from competing, a number of institutions did give scholarships to former champions of such organizations as the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), Golden Gloves, and the armed forces. This led to bouts featuring some highly skilled contestants and intense action, although it sometimes created lopsided contests. Even during peak participation years, however, few collegians turned professional.

      Efforts to humanize the sport, maintain it on a high plane, and differentiate it from professional boxing could not mitigate its essentially violent nature, nor could boxing overcome the longtime opposition from educators who claimed that its objective was to hurt an opponent. In 1960 the ring-related death of University of Wisconsin boxer Charles Mohr, as well as a general waning of interest in the sport, contributed to the end of “big time” intercollegiate boxing, and boxing is unlikely ever to regain NCAA status. However, it continues today at a college club level with 20 to 25 institutional teams involved each year in national tournaments of the National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA). Seeking to teach fundamentals to novices in a safety-oriented and structured environment of balanced competition, the NCBA bars persons who have participated in noncollegiate bouts after age 16. Almost since its inception and the first tournament in 1976, NCBA boxing has been dominated by the U.S. Air Force Academy (United States Air Force Academy), which has won 14 team titles. Other U.S. military academies, such as those at West Point and Annapolis, also have strong traditions in intercollegiate boxing.

E.C. Wallenfeldt

Military boxing
      Boxing has been considered excellent training for soldiers, at least since the time of ancient Greece and Rome. The British army has long trained its personnel in boxing, believing that it developed fitness and, more important, character. The American military followed that lead, and soon after World War II a large number of armies from nations in Europe and Asia incorporated boxing into their military training.

      Although few armies currently include boxing in basic training, amateur boxing still features heavily in military sports. The German army (Bundeswehr), British army, and U.S. military all have extensive boxing programs, and their boxers compete at the Olympics as well as at the Military World Games organized under the auspices of the Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM). Leon Spinks (Spinks, Leon), Ray Mercer, and Ken Norton are among the prominent boxers who learned their trade in the U.S. military.

Professional boxing
      The man who made boxing into big business was George (“Tex”) Rickard (Rickard, Tex), the sport's first great promoter. After staging the world's lightweight championship bout between Joe Gans (Gans, Joe) and Oscar (“Battling”) Nelson to publicize the mining town of Goldfield, Nevada, in 1906, he realized the potential of prizefighting. Rickard made an art of boxing publicity, playing on the public's prejudices to boost interest and ticket sales. Five of the bouts that he promoted for Jack Dempsey (Dempsey, Jack), heavyweight champion from 1919 to 1926, each grossed more than $1 million. In the Great Depression years that followed Dempsey's retirement, receipts from boxing dwindled. Then in 1935 promoter Mike Jacobs signed Joe Louis (Louis, Joe) to a contract, launching a new era of prosperity in the sport. Louis's career purses totaled more than $5 million.

      After World War II television took on an increasingly important role in professional boxing. Because of its popularity and relatively low production costs compared with other sports, professional boxing became a regular feature of network programming throughout much of the 1950s and early '60s. The televising of boxing led to the demise of many boxing clubs, which had been the training ground for young fighters. Therefore, in place of carefully trained boxers brought up slowly through the club system, televised boxing led to a preference for sometimes poorly trained, stylish boxers who had a showy knockout punch but fewer defensive skills. Mismatches were inevitable, which further harmed the sport. Eventually, there was so much televised boxing shown that it led to saturation and created a dilution of the talent pool; that is, there were not enough gifted boxers available to appear in the many bouts scheduled. Moreover, the televising of boxers being beaten into a coma, sometimes fatally, especially in the instance of Benny (“Kid”) Paret, further damaged the sport with the viewing public. After a period of decline, boxing enjoyed a television revival when five American boxers (Leo Randolph, Howard Davis, brothers Michael and Leon Spinks (Spinks, Leon), and Sugar Ray Leonard (Leonard, Sugar Ray)) won gold medals in the 1976 Olympics and turned professional following those games. The success of the 1976 movie Rocky, the widespread popularity of Muhammad Ali (Ali, Muhammad), and the advent of cable television in the United States also greatly increased boxing's presence on television.

      Television also greatly increased boxing revenues, particularly events broadcast via closed-circuit television and, later, pay-for-view events on cable. Million-dollar purses for heavyweight championships became commonplace by the 1970s, and the heavyweight champion Ali earned an estimated $69 million during his 20-year professional career. By the 1980s multimillion-dollar purses were no longer restricted to the heavyweight division. When middleweights Leonard (Leonard, Sugar Ray) and Marvin Hagler (Hagler, Marvin) fought on April 6, 1987, they shared a purse estimated at $30 million.

      Aside from television, casino gambling has had the biggest influence on modern professional boxing in the United States and, to a lesser degree, in continental Europe. Casinos, especially those in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, have found boxing to be a highly successful marketing tool for increasing gaming revenues and therefore pay large site fees to attract major bouts to their premises.

      Not surprisingly, the link between gambling and professional boxing has not been all positive. organized crime has long been involved in the sport—indeed, John L. Sullivan (Sullivan, John L.)'s bid for the championship in 1892 was financed by a Chicago organized-crime boss. Criminal involvement has sometimes taken the form of gambling syndicates asking a boxer to “throw” a fight—that is, lose a match deliberately. Boxer Primo Carnera (Carnera, Primo), who boxed during the early 1930s, was under the control of an American crime syndicate, and fighter Jake La Motta (La Motta, Jake) eventually cooperated with organized crime by throwing a fight against Billy Fox after he was unable to obtain a title bout without the consent of the mob. Controversy continued through the 1970s, '80s, and '90s over many of the fights organized by promoter Don King (King, Don), who himself had a criminal record.

      While fights are still sometimes thrown, a more common problem is now the manipulation of the system by which boxers are rated. A boxer's rating determines his eligibility to participate in world championship fights and is thus linked closely to the amount of money he can earn. All the professional boxing organizations—such as the World Boxing Council (WBC), the World Boxing Association (WBA), and the International Boxing Federation (IBF)—rank boxers, and complaints concerning these organizations favouring fighters belonging to certain promoters have been widespread. In 1999 promoters Bob Arum and Cedric Kushner admitted to bribing the IBF in order to receive favourable ratings for their fighters, and Don King was described as an unindicted coconspirator in the case.

      Professional boxing also remains controversial because of the potential danger to the fighters. A fighter's risk of incurring brain injury while boxing is hotly debated between devotees of the sport and the medical community. This issue came to the fore in 1982 when South Korean boxer Kim Dŭk-gu (Duk Koo Kim) died after being knocked out by Ray (“Boom Boom”) Mancini in a championship fight that was nationally televised in the United States. (It was most likely the cumulative effect of the punishing blows throughout the match that led to Kim's death, however, and not the final knockout punch.) Despite improved safety measures taken in boxing, some 30 boxers have died in the decades since that bout. The death of light-heavyweight fighter Beethavean (Bee) Scottland after a nationally televised bout in July 2001 renewed the call for greater safety measures for boxers.

      Protective headgear is worn in amateur boxing, and some have called for this headgear to be adopted by professional boxers. Prizefighters have generally objected to such suggestions, arguing that headgear would make fighting yet more dangerous because it causes a boxer to be less vigilant about guarding the head against blows but cannot make the blows less damaging overall. Further, while headgear protects a fighter from facial cuts, some observers think it increases a fighter's chance of incurring brain damage because it enlarges the hitting surface of the head and thereby makes the head an easier target.

      Death as a result of a boxing injury is actually less likely in the heavyweight division, an unexpected fact given that it is in this division that the punches have the most force. (The explanation for this may be that boxers at the lighter weights throw and receive far more punches, and the cumulative effect of this is more damaging to the human brain than one monumental punch.) Even so, heavyweights are just as prone to brain damage as fighters at the lighter weights. The injury suffered by former heavyweight Muhammad Ali (Ali, Muhammad)—who was diagnosed with Parkinson syndrome, which slurred his speech and impaired his movement—has again focused attention on the potential dangers of boxing. Critics of the sport have even called for it to be banned, but supporters believe that outright prohibition might cause boxing to go underground, where fighters would be afforded less medical protection, such as access to ringside physicians authorized to stop a fight.

      Not helping the sport's reputation in recent years have been the much-publicized violent acts of former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson (Tyson, Mike), a convicted felon who, in a notorious incident, bit off part of opponent Evander Holyfield (Holyfield, Evander)'s ear in a televised championship fight in 1997. After an altercation with heavyweight Lennox Lewis at a press conference in 2002, Tyson was denied a license to box by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Prizes and awards
      Large and elaborate belts given to boxing champions are an old tradition. English bare-knuckle champion Tom Cribb (Cribb, Tom) and American champion John L. Sullivan (Sullivan, John L.) were both presented with belts to commemorate their championships; Cribb's belt is thought to have been the first such awarded to a fighter. These early trophies were unique to the fighter; for instance, Cribb's belt was made of lion skin and decorated with a silver buckle, while Sullivan's featured a plate of gold encrusted with diamonds. In 1909 the Lonsdale Belt was first presented to the British champion in each weight division, and this prize still represents the pinnacle of British boxing. Until the 1920s, however, belts were not automatically given to a fighter who won a world championship within his weight division but often were awarded only if his fans could raise the money to buy an expensive trophy.

      Nat Fleischer (Fleischer, Nat), Ring magazine's founder, changed this in 1926 when he began awarding belts to the world champion in each weight division in boxing, and for the next 50 years these belts were one of the greatest prizes to be gained in the sport. The Ring belts are individualized with the name and photo of the boxer and become his property. By the late 1980s the major sanctioning bodies that governed much of boxing (the International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Council, and World Boxing Association) were each awarding their own belts to their champions. Given the proliferation of champions because of the number of sanctioning groups and the increasing number of weight divisions, in the 1980s Ring magazine stopped its practice of awarding a belt to each champion and instead awarded belts to only undisputed champions—that is, to fighters who have unified the title (won the title belonging to all three sanctioning bodies), to the boxer Ring names Fighter of the Year, and to the boxer Ring names the best “pound-for-pound” fighter. (For information on title unification, see BTW: Title unification in boxing.) The belts awarded by the sanctioning groups remain with the fighter even when his status changes. When a boxer loses his championship status in a title match, it may appear that he loses the belt, given that the winner of the match is given his belt and appears in the ring wearing it. The belt, however, is returned to the former champion after the fight, and a new belt is given to the current champion.

      Fleischer was also responsible for introducing a Hall of Fame to boxing. In 1954 Ring magazine began inducting boxers into its “Hall” (there was not an actual geographic location such as exists for baseball in Cooperstown, New York). This “paper” Hall of Fame was changed in 1989 when the International Boxing Hall of Fame was opened in Canastota, New York; with this development, Ring magazine stopped its inductions. (When Encyclopædia Britannica lists the date of a boxer's induction into the Boxing Hall of Fame, it refers to the Ring magazine induction unless otherwise noted.)

      The awards given out annually by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) are also among the most prestigious in boxing. Since 1938 the organization has designated a Fighter of the Year. Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Evander Holyfield have been so honoured three times. Other BWAA awards are given annually for the Manager of the Year and the Trainer of the Year, and there are honours for excellence in broadcasting and boxing journalism as well as a special BWAA award for “long and meritorious service to boxing.”

International boxing
      Professional boxing was once largely a British-American rivalry, although many other nations had their own self-defense or martial arts sports. In the 20th century, however, boxing under the Queensberry rules became truly international. This can be traced to two factors: the globalization of culture in general and the advent of satellite technology that allowed major fights to be seen in and transmitted from all parts of the world. In 1999 there were 116 professional fights designated as world championship bouts by the three major sanctioning organizations. Sixty-nine of these bouts were contested in the United States, 19 in Europe, 19 in Asia, 8 in Latin America, and 3 in Africa.

Continental Europe
      During the 1880s professional boxing moved from England to continental Europe, and by 1906 European champions were being crowned. The first continental European boxer to become a national hero was Georges Carpentier (Carpentier, Georges) of France, who won the light-heavyweight championship in 1920 and lost the following year to Jack Dempsey (Dempsey, Jack) in a bid to become heavyweight champion of the world.

      Over time continental Europe produced three fighters who captured the world heavyweight crown: Max Schmeling (Schmeling, Max) of Germany, who won the title by disqualification against Jack Sharkey (Sharkey, Jack) in 1930; Primo Carnera (Carnera, Primo) of Italy, who knocked out Sharkey in 1933; and Ingemar Johansson (Johansson, Ingemar) of Sweden, who captured the championship with a knockout of Floyd Patterson (Patterson, Floyd) in 1959. Other great continental European fighters include middleweight champions Marcel Cerdan (Cerdan, Marcel), who was born in Algeria but campaigned in France and won the championship in 1948 by knocking out Tony Zale (Zale, Tony), and Nino Benvenuti (Benvenuti, Nino) of Italy, who won the title by decision from Emile Griffith (Griffith, Emile) in 1967.

      British sailors are generally credited with having introduced boxing to Latin America when their ships visited ports in Argentina en route to the Straits of Magellan. The first recorded bout on the mainland occurred in 1903 between combatants identified as Paddy McCarthy and Abelardo Robassio. Thereafter British seamen organized local tournaments, and the first official boxing federation was founded in Chile in 1912. Heavyweight champion Jack Johnson (Johnson, Jack) fought two exhibitions in Buenos Aires in December 1914 and one more the following month before losing his title to Jess Willard (Willard, Jess) in Cuba on April 5, 1915. Thereafter the sport proliferated.

      Luis Angel Firpo (Firpo, Luis) of Argentina, known as the “Wild Bull of the Pampas,” was the first native Latin American to mount a challenge for the heavyweight crown. In 1923 he was defeated in two rounds by Jack Dempsey (Dempsey, Jack) in a classic brawl in which Firpo was knocked down nine times and Dempsey twice.

      Among the greatest world champions from Latin America are Pascual Pérez and Carlos Monzón (Monzon, Carlos) of Argentina; Eder Jofre (Jofre, Eder) of Brazil; Roberto Durán (Durán, Roberto), Panama Al Brown, and Eusebio Pedroza of Panama; Antonio Cervantes (Kid Pambelé) of Colombia; Ruben Olivares (Olivares, Ruben), Carlos Zarate, Salvador Sanchez, and Julio César Chávez (Chávez, Julio César) of Mexico; Wilfredo Benítez, José Torres, Carlos Ortiz, Wilfredo Gómez, and Félix Trinidad of Puerto Rico; and Kid Gavilan, Kid Chocolate (Chocolate, Kid), Luis Rodríguez, and José Napoles of Cuba. With the advent of communist rule in Cuba in 1959, professional boxing was banned there. However, Cuba has since become the world's preeminent nation in amateur boxing, in part because its best boxers fight as amateurs throughout their career rather than moving to the professional ranks.

      U.S. boxers of Latin American descent have also made their mark in the sport; some notable fighters include Manuel Ortiz, Oscar De La Hoya, and Fernando Vargas. On March 3, 2000, John (“the Quiet Man”) Ruiz became the first Hispanic to hold a world heavyweight title when he defeated Evander Holyfield for the World Boxing Association belt.

      Boxing reached Asia in the early 1900s and, once established, became extremely popular. The first Asian to win a world championship was flyweight Pancho Villa (Villa, Pancho) of the Philippines in 1923. Villa's countryman Flash Elorde reigned as world junior-lightweight champion from 1960 through 1967. The high point of professional boxing in the Philippines came on October 1, 1975, when, in a bout referred to as the “Thrilla in Manila,” Muhammad Ali (Ali, Muhammad) defeated Joe Frazier (Frazier, Joe) in Quezon City.

      Korean (Korea) boxing began with the founding of the boxing organization Yugakkwŏntugurakbu in 1912, when Korea was still under Japanese colonial rule. However, it was the Korean Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) that was instrumental in developing and promoting boxing as an amateur sport. Korean boxing developed rapidly, and soon pugilists such as Sŏ Chŏng-kwon, Hwang Ŭl-su, and Yi Kyu-hwan began to dominate at national boxing contests in Japan. Korean boxing was then banned by the Japanese government in the mid 1930s as an “activity inimical to Japanese interest.”

      After World War II and the expulsion of the Japanese, Korean boxing regained its competitive edge despite the Korean War and the division of the peninsula. South and North Korean boxers earned some 20 Olympic medals during the last half of the 20th century, and South Korea saw its first world champion in Kim Ki-su, who defeated Nino Benvenuti (Benvenuti, Nino) in a WBA junior-middleweight title match in 1966. Since then the nation has produced some 43 world champions, including Hong Su-hwan, Jang Chŏng-gu, and Yu Myŏng-wu.

      Western boxing arrived in Japan in the 1920s but became popular in the 1960s and '70s with such prominent fighters as Masahiko (“Fighting”) Harada. Boxing is a popular televised sport in Japan, and it is controlled by a few powerful gyms with close links to television networks. Once a fighter has turned professional, the gym for which he fights manages his career, and, unless he is traded, he will fight for that gym for the remainder of his career.

      In Thailand, international-style (Queensberry) boxing and the traditional martial art of Thai boxing (Muay Thai) are both featured at many boxing events. This fusion has its roots in the 1930s, when Queensberry boxing first reached Thailand and began influencing the native sport. Soon Muay Thai matches were held in a ring and fought under time limitations. Muay Thai programs often feature eight fights, the last of which is international-style boxing. The other fights of the evening feature Thai boxing, in which the fighters are allowed to use their feet, knees, and elbows in addition to gloved fists. (Wrestling or judo moves are not allowed, however.) There is a large ritual element in Thai boxing programs that includes music, prayers, and amulets worn by the fighters. Two boxers who were champions in Muay Thai and went on to become champions in international-style boxing are Khaosai Galaxy (Galaxy, Khaosai) and Samart Payakaroon.

      In China, Western boxing, as it was known in contradistinction to the Chinese martial art of chung-kuo chuan (“Chinese fist”), was introduced in the late 1920s. The sport grew until it was banned by Chairman Mao Zedong in 1959 as being too dangerous for athletes. In 1979 Muhammad Ali (Ali, Muhammad) made his first of three visits to China as a goodwill ambassador for boxing, conferring with communist leader Deng Xiaoping. These visits and overtures by amateur boxing officials led to the resumption of boxing in China in 1986. China sent boxers to the 2000 Olympics at Sydney, and professional matches featuring fighters from Europe and the United States have been held in China. By the early 21st century professional boxing was allowed for both Chinese men and women.

      In the late 1800s, as boxing evolved from bare-knuckle fighting to the Queensberry rules, Australia was in the forefront of innovation. A fighter-turned-trainer named Billy Palmer began teaching new defensive techniques to boxers. Peter Jackson (Jackson, Peter) of the West Indies, who fought a 61-round draw with heavyweight champion James Corbett (Corbett, James J.) in 1891, and Bob Fitzsimmons (Fitzsimmons, Robert) of England, who bested Corbett for the crown in 1897, both traveled to Australia to hone their skills.

      Albert Griffiths, who fought under the ring name Young Griffo, captured the world featherweight title in 1890, which made him Australia's first native-born world champion. The most famous fight to occur on Australian soil was held in Sydney on December 26, 1908, when Jack Johnson (Johnson, Jack) knocked out Tommy Burns (Burns, Tommy) in 14 rounds to become boxing's first black heavyweight champion.

      The first African to win a world championship was Louis Phal (better known as “Battling Siki”) of Senegal, who knocked out Georges Carpentier in Paris in 1922 to capture the world light-heavyweight crown. Six months later Siki lost his title on a controversial decision to Mike McTigue, an Irishman, in Dublin on St. Patrick's Day. It would be four decades before another African—middleweight and light-heavyweight champion Richard Ihetu of Nigeria (who fought as “Dick Tiger”)—rose to world prominence.

      Meanwhile, there was little administrative framework for professional boxing in Africa until 1973, when representatives of nine African nations created the African Boxing Union. One year later, on October 30, 1974, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman did battle for the heavyweight championship in Kinshasa, Zaire. Ali defeated Foreman on an eighth-round knockout to regain the title in a bout of legendary proportions promoted as the “Rumble in the Jungle.”

Women in boxing
      Women did not compete in boxing (or most other sports) in ancient times. In the modern era women boxers were often a novelty, competing in contests staged in London during the 1700s. The 1904 Olympics featured women's boxing but only as a display event. Not until the 1970s did women begin to train seriously for the ring and to fight, although they had a difficult time getting matches and gaining acceptance by the boxing establishment. The fitness movement of the 1980s, however, helped to make boxing more accessible to women. Gender discrimination suits have also facilitated the rise of women's boxing, especially in the United States. Lawsuits against such organizations as USA Boxing and the Golden Gloves Tournament, in which women sued to have the right to compete in amateur matches, opened doors of opportunity for women athletes, regardless of the outcome of the individual suits. By 1993 USA Boxing had sanctioned women's amateur boxing, and the AIBA followed in 1994. In the 1990s women were also sanctioned to box in Canada and in numerous European nations—including Russia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Hungary—and the Golden Gloves organization opened its tournament to women. In amateur boxing, women follow the rules of men's boxing with a few exceptions—the rounds are shorter, and women wear breast protectors, with groin protection being optional.

      Professional boxing has been equally difficult for female fighters. Promoters such as Bob Arum and Don King began promoting female boxers in the 1990s, but there was a continuing problem in that the skill level of most women boxers has been far below that expected of professionals. The daughters of famous fighters—including Laila Ali (Muhammad Ali), Jacqui Frazier-Lyde (Joe Frazier), and Irichelle Durán (Roberto Durán)—have participated in the sport, overshadowing the few accomplished female boxers such as Lucia Rijker and Christy Martin in publicity and purses. It remains to be seen whether women's professional boxing can progress to anything more than a curiosity.

      Bouts between men and women have been less frequent and have spurred far more controversy than those between women. A male-female match was sanctioned in the United States in 1999 by the state of Washington's Department of Licensing for boxing.

Thomas Hauser Jeffrey Thomas Sammons Ed.

Rules, organizations, techniques, and styles

Professional organizations
      World professional boxing has no one controlling body that is universally recognized. This situation had its origins in the United States in 1920 when two organizations were established: the National Boxing Association, a private body, and the New York State Athletic Commission, a state agency. Divided control led to competing organizations' sometimes recognizing different boxers as world champions at the same time. In Europe the ruling body was the International Boxing Union, which in 1948 became the European Boxing Union. Several attempts were subsequently made to induce all major professional boxing organizations to agree to the formation of one international ruling body, but to little avail. In the early 1960s the World Boxing Council (WBC) was formed, and the National Boxing Association changed its name to the World Boxing Association (WBA). The International Boxing Federation (IBF) was established in 1983, which added to an already convoluted situation. Since the 1980s it has been common for most weight divisions to have three so-called world champions, and this has considerably diluted the championship class in boxing.

      The lack of one unified governing body has also seriously hampered attempts to reform boxing. The sport's chaotic organization makes it nearly impossible to implement safety measures, such as requiring stringent qualifications for ringside physicians, or to alter systemic problems that lead to corruption (bribery), such as the practice of permitting those who are promoting a fight to manage one or both of the boxers appearing in that fight. If a promoter or fighter is banned from fighting in one jurisdiction, the fact that the fight can be moved to another venue, which is ruled by a different group, makes avoidance of regulations easy.

Weight divisions
      During the 19th and again at the beginning of the 20th century, the popularity of boxing brought about the formation of weight divisions other than the heavyweight class to eliminate the handicap of smaller contestants' having to concede excessive weight to their opponents. Some of these weight divisions originated in the United States, others in Great Britain.

      There were traditionally eight weight divisions in men's boxing. More divisions were added until professional governing bodies now recognize a total of 17 weight classes. The upper limits of these classes are delimited as follows:
● strawweight, 105 pounds (48 kg)
● junior flyweight, 108 pounds (49 kg)
● flyweight, 112 pounds (51kg)
● junior bantamweight, 115 pounds (52 kg)
● bantamweight, 118 pounds (53.5 kg)
● junior featherweight, 122 pounds (55 kg)
● featherweight, 126 pounds (57 kg)
● junior lightweight, 130 pounds (59 kg)
● lightweight, 135 pounds (61 kg)
● junior welterweight, 140 pounds (63.5 kg)
● welterweight, 147 pounds (67 kg)
● junior middleweight, 154 pounds (70 kg)
● middleweight, 160 pounds (72.5 kg)
● super middleweight, 168 pounds (76 kg)
● light heavyweight, 175 pounds (79 kg)
● cruiserweight, 190 pounds (86 kg)
● heavyweight, unlimited

      In all world and national title fights, weight limits must be strictly observed, although fighters are often allowed by contract to weigh-in the day before a fight. If a boxer is over the limit, he is normally given a short time in which to make the stipulated weight. If he still fails, the bout usually proceeds, but if the overweight fighter wins the bout, the title for which he was fighting is declared vacant.

      In Olympic-style amateur boxing the weight divisions for men are:
● light flyweight, not more than 106 pounds (48 kg)
● flyweight, 112 pounds (51 kg)
● bantamweight, 119 pounds (54 kg)
● featherweight, 125 pounds (57 kg)
● lightweight, 132 pounds (60 kg)
● light welterweight, 141 pounds (64 kg)
● welterweight, 152 pounds (69 kg)
● middleweight, 165 pounds (75 kg)
● light heavyweight, 178 pounds (81 kg)
● heavyweight, 201 pounds (91 kg)
● super heavyweight (any weight over 201 pounds)

      There is no universal agreement on weight divisions within women's boxing, whether professional or amateur.

Ring, rules, and equipment
 Because there is no universally accepted world ruling body for professional boxing, each country has its own set of rules, and in the United States there are different rules in different states. Generally bouts take place in a “ring” that is 18 to 22 feet (5.5 to 6.7 metres) square and surrounded by four strands of rope. Professional bouts may be scheduled to last from 4 to 12 rounds of three minutes' duration, though two-minute rounds are commonly used in women's bouts and in some bouts held in Great Britain. Since the late 1920s, professional championship bouts traditionally lasted 15 rounds, but by the late 1980s the WBC, WBA, and IBF championships were all being scheduled for 12 rounds.

      A referee is stationed inside the ring with the boxers and regulates the bout. In some jurisdictions the referee scores the contest along with two judges outside the ring. In most jurisdictions, however, the referee does not participate in the judging, and three ringside officials score the bout. The officials award points to each boxer for each round, and a boxer must win on two of the three scorecards to earn a decision victory. In Olympic bouts five judges score the fight electronically by pushing a button whenever a punch is believed to have landed on a boxer. No punch is registered as a hit unless at least three judges press their buttons within a second of each other. Padded gloves, ranging from 8 to 10 ounces (227 to 283 grams) in weight, are worn by the boxers.

      A bout ends in a knockout when a boxer is knocked down and cannot get up by the count of 10. A fight can be stopped by a technical knockout (TKO) when a boxer is deemed by the referee (and sometimes the ringside physician) to be unable to defend himself properly, when a boxer is deemed to have sustained a serious injury, or when a boxer or his seconds decide he should not continue. A bout may also end in a decision when the bout has gone the scheduled number of rounds and the scoring officials decide the winner. Several conditions can cause a bout to end in a draw: all three judges awarding identical scores to both contestants results in a draw, as does two of three judges awarding opponents identical scores, regardless of the third judge's score; further, two of the three judges giving the decision to opposing contestants and the third judge's scorecard being evenly divided between the opponents leads to a draw. In a “no contest” the bout is declared a nullity because of a premature and inconclusive end, such as one of the participants being unable to continue owing to a cut caused by an accidental clash of heads early in the fight. A bout may also end in disqualification.

      The rules governing amateur boxing are similar in the United States, Great Britain, and continental Europe but differ substantially from those governing professional boxing. Amateur bouts are normally three rounds in duration, and the boxers wear protective headgear. Olympic bouts changed from three rounds of three minutes to four rounds of two minutes for the Games at Sydney in 2000. The referee only supervises the boxing, while three to five ringside judges score the bout. The rules are also more stringently enforced in amateur boxing, and disqualification is more common than in professional boxing.

      An effective offense depends on the ability to throw punches quickly and to place them strategically so as to penetrate the opponent's guard. Defensive tactics include parrying or warding off punches with one's upraised arms and gloves, moving the head evasively up and down (“bobbing”) and side to side (“weaving”), and bending or twisting one's head and upper body out of the blow's path. Footwork is important to both offense and defense. The two generally recognized stances are “orthodox” and “southpaw.” The former has the left hand and the left foot forward, the latter the right hand and the right foot forward—the foot or hand that is forward is known as the lead. Boxers using orthodox stances ordinarily are right-handed and rely on that hand for power, using the left hand to jab and hook; the converse is true of southpaw boxers, who are usually left-handed. In either stance the lead hand is extended forward in front of the body and the other hand is held near the chin for protection, the chin is tucked into the chest, and the shoulders are hunched. There are individual variations.

    There are four basic punches: the jab, hook, uppercut, and straight right (straight left for a southpaw), which is sometimes referred to as a “cross.” All other punches are modifications of these basic punches. The jab, whether thrown from an orthodox or a southpaw stance, is a straight punch delivered with the lead hand, which moves directly out from the shoulder. The hook, also thrown with the lead hand, is a short lateral movement of arm and fist, with elbow bent and wrist twisted inward at the moment of impact. The uppercut is an upward blow delivered from the direction of the toes with either hand. The straight right or left is thrown at shoulder level with the back hand, usually as a follow-up to a jab from the other hand.

 In bare-knuckle fighting the emphasis was on the power of the punch, since bouts usually ended only when one contestant could not continue. The hands were held in front of the body in no particular position, and footwork was practically nonexistent. With the advent of padded gloves and contests decided on points, boxing skills and footwork became more important. James J. Corbett was the first modern heavyweight to concentrate on technique. Ten years after Corbett lost the title, heavyweight champion Jack Johnson (Johnson, Jack) showed that he too could box as well as punch. The heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey (Dempsey, Jack) enjoyed tremendous popularity because he was an aggressive fighter with an explosive assault. Dempsey fought from a crouch, bobbing and weaving to leave as little of himself exposed as possible. The heavyweight champion Joe Louis (Louis, Joe) perfected the “stalking” style, a method of patiently pursuing his opponent until he came within range to deliver damaging blows.

      Until Muhammad Ali (Ali, Muhammad), heavyweights were not expected to move quickly. At his peak, however, Ali was the fastest and arguably the most skillful heavyweight champion of all time. He danced around the ring with his arms sometimes dangling at his side, his legs ready to take him into punching range or out of harm's way at will. Although Ali did not possess a devastating punch, his hand speed was extraordinary, and he dominated many fights by delivering rapid sequences of blows. Though style remains a matter of individual choice, swift lateral movement, good defensive head movement, combination punching, and effective counterpunching have, to a large degree, become the most important aspects of modern boxing technique.

Ron Olver Nigel Collins Ed.

Boxing in art, literature, and film
      For such a brutal trade, boxing has attracted more than its share of artists and writers. Of course, it may be more accurate to say that it is boxing's seminaked display of aggression that accounts for its appeal. If all life is ultimately a Darwinian struggle for survival, then boxing at least has the virtue of being open about it. Boxing is also said to foster the “manly” virtues of discipline and fortitude. According to the duke of Wellington (Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, 1st duke of, marquess of Douro, marquess of Wellington, earl of Wellington, Viscount Wellington of Talavera and of Wellington, Baron Douro or Wellesley), boxing “tends to produce and keep up that natural undaunted bravery and intrepidity which has enabled our armies to conquer in many a hard-fought battle.” Whatever its psychological hold, the sport has always inspired wonder and admiration, as well as repugnance, moving the artist to pick up pen, brush, chisel, or camera.

      One of the earliest depictions of boxers appears on a Minoan vase (pottery) from Crete c. 1500 BC. Almost 800 years later Homer recounted a boxing match in the 23rd book of the Iliad (see above (boxing)), and, in a neat bit of parallelism, the sport became part of the 23rd Olympiad in 688 BC. Later Plato referred to boxing in the Republic and the dialogue Gorgias; Virgil, echoing Homer, included a boxing match in the Aeneid (see above (boxing)). Pindar composed poems for Olympic champions, as in the Olympian ode written for Diagoras of Rhodes excerpted here:

But, Father Zeus, you who rule over the ridges of Atabyrium, grant honor to the hymn ordained in praise of an Olympian victor, and to the man who has found excellence as a boxer, and grant to him honoured grace in the eyes of both citizens and strangers. For he walks a straight course on a road that hates arrogance, knowing clearly the sound prophetic wisdom of his good ancestors.

 Greek (ancient Greek civilization) and Roman (ancient Rome) art frequently depict boxing. Greek vases portray many different types of blows and postures and often show blood pouring from a boxer's nose and cuts on his face. The life-size seated boxer (dating to the 1st century BC) now in the Roman National Museum in Rome wears superbly detailed sharp thongs on his hands, and his battered face, broken nose, and cauliflower ears show the effects of such fighting. The brutal and sinister forms of the Roman caestus (glove) frequently appear in small bronzes and in Roman mosaics.

      After boxing died out with the gladiatorial games in the 5th century AD, it naturally disappeared from the literary (literature) and artistic canvas. When the sport resurfaced in 17th-century England, artists and writers soon gravitated to it. William Hogarth (Hogarth, William) painted the first British champion, James Figg (Figg, James), and Alexander Pope (Pope, Alexander) and Jonathan Swift (Swift, Jonathan) attended Figg's exhibitions in London. Early in the next century, Lord Byron (Byron, George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron) and John Keats (Keats, John) professed themselves admirers of the sport, while William Hazlitt (Hazlitt, William)'s essay The Fight (1821) made it legitimate material for men of letters. In 1812 a London journalist, Pierce Egan (Egan, Pierce, The Elder), wrote a history of British boxing, Boxiana, whose highly stylized prose very likely influenced a young reader by the name of Charles Dickens (Dickens, Charles). Both Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray (Thackeray, William Makepeace) attended the famous fight between the American John C. Heenan and the British champion Tom Sayers in 1860, and Thackeray wrote a rather silly but endearing poem about it, A Lay of Ancient London. George Bernard Shaw (Shaw, George Bernard) devoted a novel to boxing, Cashel Byron's Profession (1883), which became the play The Admirable Bashville (1903). Arthur Conan Doyle (Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur) not only made sure that Sherlock Holmes was a good amateur pugilist, he also wrote a half dozen stories about boxers under the title The Croxley Master and Other Tales of the Ring and Camp (1910). Even the poet laureate John Masefield (Masefield, John) devoted some stanzas to boxing in The Everlasting Mercy (1911). Here a boxer's seconds (a second assists or supports a boxer or duelist) try to ensure that their fighter will be ready for his next round:

They drove (a dodge that never fails)
A pin beneath my finger nails.
They poured what seemed a running beck
Of cold spring water down my neck;
Jim with a lancet quick as flies
Lowered the swelling round my eyes.
They sluiced my legs and fanned my face
Through all that blessed minute's grace;
They gave my calves a thorough kneading,
They salved my cuts and stopped the bleeding.
A gulp of liquor dulled the pain,
And then the flasks clinked again.

      Americans resisted boxing until the end of the 19th century, but, once the sport had gained a foothold, men who wrote about boxing often seemed as plentiful as fighters themselves. Among them were Jack London (London, Jack), Dashiell Hammet (Hammett, Dashiell), H.C. Witwer, Nelson Algren (Algren, Nelson), Ernest Hemingway (Hemingway, Ernest), Ring Lardner (Lardner, Ring), James T. Farrell (Farrell, James T.), Clifford Odets (Odets, Clifford), Irwin Shaw (Shaw, Irwin), Budd Schulberg (Schulberg, Budd), and Norman Mailer (Mailer, Norman).

      In fact, it is likely that more literary writing, as opposed to pure journalism, has been spent on boxing than on any other sport, and, indeed, on rare occasions, gifted journalists have blurred the line between literary writing and sportswriting. A.J. Liebling's reportage in The Sweet Science (1956), for example, appeals both to writers and sports fans, and Heywood Broun (Broun, Heywood)'s newspaper column “The Orthodox Champion” (1922) managed to both celebrate and poke fun at the way boxing and literature are often conjoined. To understand why writers, especially male writers (though not exclusively, Joyce Carol Oates (Oates, Joyce Carol) being an exception), are drawn to the sport, it is enough to know that boxers, more than any other athlete, throw into relief the writer's own sedentary and introspective profession. Bluntly put: one writes, the other fights. The boxer engages in a visible struggle, with a designated opponent, whose outcome is usually (though not always) resoundingly clear, while the writer's struggle is always with himself, and success is hardly the product of a unanimous decision. Moreover, if the writer frets that his own experience is somehow less vital or real than that of the man of action, boxing can symbolize this insecurity.

 Given boxers' well-developed physiques and the visceral reality of physical combat, such men and the profession they engage in are a natural subject for painters and photographers. The French painter Théodore Géricault (Géricault, Théodore) and the English painter John Constable (Constable, John) portrayed boxers, while such well-known Regency caricaturists as Thomas Rowlandson (Rowlandson, Thomas) and Robert and George Cruikshank (Cruikshank, George) trained their jaundiced eyes on the London Prize Ring. American George Bellows (Bellows, George Wesley) vividly portrayed boxing matches in Stag at Sharkey's (1909) and Both Members of This Club (1909). Bellows's 1924 lithograph of Luis Firpo knocking Jack Dempsey out of the ring is perhaps the most famous of all boxing scenes. Other American painters of boxing include Thomas Eakins (Eakins, Thomas) and James Chapin, both of whom ably rendered the movement, power, and grace of men boxing, as well as the fatigue and pathos that often attends the aftermath.

      These same dramatic qualities appealed to filmmakers. In fact, the very first motion picture using “actors” was a boxing exhibition filmed by Thomas Edison (Edison, Thomas Alva) on June 16, 1894, using the Edison Kinetoscope. And in 1897, the championship fight between Gentleman Jim Corbett (Corbett, James J.) and Bob Fitzsimmons (Fitzsimmons, Robert) became the first sporting event to be captured on film. The power of such films was attested to when interstate commerce in footage of Jack Johnson (Johnson, Jack) beating Jim Jeffries (Jeffries, James Jackson) (July 4, 1910) was prohibited by federal law. (The fact that Johnson was an African American and Jim Jeffries a white boxer had more than a little to do with it.) Johnson's life would eventually be the subject of another boxing film, The Great White Hope (1970, adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Howard Sackler). As for fictional movies about boxers, they outnumber all other sports films. Although most early fight films followed a set pattern of a poor boy who battles his way out of the slums only to fall prey to women and gangsters, their popularity really depended on the built-in tension in every boxing match. Not only is there danger with every punch thrown, there is anxiety in who shall prevail; and when two boxers represent different constituencies of class, ethnicity, or nationality, a championship fight becomes all the more significant.

      A short list of notable fight films includes Rouben Mamoulian's Golden Boy (1939); Robert Rossen's Body and Soul (1947), about an ambitious Jewish fighter's rise from poverty; Robert Wise's The Set-Up (1949) and Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956); Mark Robson's Champion (1949), loosely based on Ring Lardner's short story of the same name, and The Harder They Fall (1956), inspired by the rise and fall of Primo Carnera; Kurt Newman's The Ring (1952), about a young Mexican American's fight for respect in and out of the ring; Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962, adapted from Rod Serling's Playhouse 90 production of 1956); John Huston's Fat City (1972), which captured the unglamorous world of small-time boxers; Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980), based upon the life of the fighter Jake La Motta; Sakamoto Junji's Dotsuitaru nen (1989, Knockout), based upon the autobiography of young welterweight Akai Hidekazu, who suffers brain damage from boxing but eventually returns to the ring (Akai plays himself in this film); the five popular but highly artificial Rocky movies (1976–90), which tell the story of a decent man who fights for a living; Kitano Takeshi's Kidzu ritān (1996, Kids Return), about two Japanese teen bullies who take up boxing and learn about life in the process; Katya Bankowsky's Shadow Boxers (1999), a documentary featuring Lucia Rijker; Karyn Kusama's Girlfight (2000), an award-winning film about female pugilists; and Clint Eastwood (Eastwood, Clint)'s Million Dollar Baby (2004), a drama that focuses on the relationship between a female boxer and her aging trainer. In books or in film, the climactic match often means salvation or redemption—a time-tested formula hard to resist.

Arthur Krystal Michael Poliakoff

Additional Reading
Michael B. Poliakoff, Combat Sports in the Ancient World (1987), contains a history of very early boxing. Harry Mullan, The Illustrated History of Boxing (1987), is a comprehensive history of professional boxing. Bohun Lynch, The Prize Ring: Illustrated by Reproductions of Old Prints, Several Oil Paintings, and of the Famous Byron Screen (1925), traces the history of the sport from the bare-knuckle period; and Harry Carpenter, Boxing: A Pictorial History (1975, reissued as Boxing, an Illustrated History, 1982), focuses mainly on the professional sport. See also Nat Fleischer, The Heavyweight Championship: An Informal History of Heavyweight Boxing from 1719 to the Present Day, rev. ed. (1961); Elliot Gorn, The Manly Art: Bare-Knuckle Prizefighting in America (1989); and Jeffrey T. Sammons, Beyond the Ring: The Role of Boxing in American Society (1988). Thomas Hauser, The Black Lights: Inside the World of Professional Boxing (1985), provides an in-depth look at the sport and business of modern professional boxing. Current biographies of major figures in the sport include Thomas Hauser, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times (1991); Mark Kram, Ghosts of Manila: The Fateful Blood Feud Between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier (2001); Nick Tosches, The Devil and Sonny Liston (2000); and Jack Newfield, Only in America: The Life and Crimes of Don King (1995). For comprehensive statistics, see The Boxing Record Book (annual); The Ring Boxing Almanac and Book of Facts (annual); and the British publication Boxing News Annual.For information on the history of boxing in the arts, see Robert A. Hartley, History and Bibliography of Boxing Books: Collectors Guide to the History of Pugilism (1989); William D. Cox (ed.), Boxing in Art and Literature (1935); and Arthur Krystal, “Ifs, Ands, Butts: The Literary Sensibility at Ringside,” Harper's Magazine: 63–67 (June 1987).Ron Olver Nigel Collins Thomas Hauser

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Universalium. 2010.

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