Boxing fights held in open air stadiums have provided some of the most memorable moments in the sport’s history. These outdoor events allow for larger crowds and a unique atmosphere that cannot be replicated in an indoor arena. Here are some of the most iconic boxing fights held in open air stadiums.
1. Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman – “The Rumble in the Jungle” (1974)
This fight, held in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), saw Ali use his “rope-a-dope” technique to tire out Foreman and win by knockout in the eighth round. The Rumble in the Jungle is legendary, and the environment was a big part.
2. Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier III – “The Thrilla in Manila” (1975)
The fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier III, also known as the “Thrilla in Manila,” took place on October 1, 1975, at the Araneta Coliseum in Manila, Philippines. The fight was the third and final meeting between the two boxing legends, with Ali winning by TKO in the 14th round after a grueling battle. The fight is considered one of the greatest boxing matches of all time.
3. Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran I, Olympic Stadium, Montreal (1980)
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The first encounter between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran in Montreal on June 20, 1980, was an iconic boxing match that would go down in history. The bout, known as the “Brawl in Montreal,” saw Duran defeat Leonard in a 15-round decision, claiming the WBC welterweight title. Despite Leonard’s attempts to lure Duran into a brawl, the Panamanian fighter kept his cool and won the fight with his technical prowess. However, the two boxers would meet again later that year in a rematch that would have a different outcome.
4. Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Greg Haugen – Estadio Azteca (1993)
The fight between Julio Cesar Chavez and Greg Haugen took place on February 20, 1993, in Mexico City. Chavez, the legend with many boxing records to his name, was defending his WBC super lightweight title. He dominated the fight, winning by TKO in the fifth round. The fight broke the world record for the largest attendance at a boxing match, with over 130,000 fans in attendance.
5. Manny Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey – Cowboys Stadium (2010)
The fight between Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey took place on March 13, 2010, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Pacquiao successfully defended his WBO welterweight title, winning by unanimous decision after 12 rounds. The fight drew a crowd of over 50,000 fans, making it one of the largest boxing events in history.
6. Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Joey Maxim – Yankee Stadium (1952)
The fight between Sugar Ray Robinson and Joey Maxim took place on June 25, 1952, at Yankee Stadium in New York City. The bout was for Robinson’s world light heavyweight title, with Maxim winning by unanimous decision after Robinson retired in the 13th round due to heat exhaustion. The fight is remembered for the extreme temperatures, with the ring reportedly reaching over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Canelo Alvarez vs. James Kirkland – Minute Maid Park (2015)
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The fight between Canelo Alvarez and James Kirkland took place on May 9, 2015, at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. Alvarez won by TKO in the third round, delivering a devastating knockout punch to Kirkland. The fight drew a crowd of over 31,000 fans, making it one of the largest boxing events held in a baseball stadium.
8. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling II – Yankee Stadium (1938)
The fight between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling took place on June 22, 1938, at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Always a hotbed for baseball with MLB picks, it was one of the first big open-air bouts. The highly anticipated rematch saw Louis, seeking revenge for his previous defeat to Schmeling, win by TKO in the first round. The fight remains one of the most iconic moments in boxing history.
9. Jack Dempsey vs. Luis Firpo – Polo Grounds (1923)
The fight between Jack Dempsey and Luis Firpo took place on September 14, 1923, at the Polo Grounds in New York City. The fight, dubbed the “Battle of the Century,” saw Dempsey retain his heavyweight title after a thrilling back-and-forth brawl, winning by KO in the second round. The fight drew a crowd of over 80,000 fans.
10. Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko – Wembley Stadium (2017)
The fight between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko took place on April 29, 2017, at Wembley Stadium in London. The highly anticipated bout saw Joshua successfully defend his IBF heavyweight title and win the vacant WBA and IBO titles after knocking out Klitschko in the 11th round. The fight drew a record-breaking crowd of over 90,000 fans.
11. Sonny Liston vs. Floyd Patterson I – Comiskey Park (1962)
The fight between Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson took place on September 25, 1962, at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Liston won by TKO in the first round, becoming the heavyweight champion of the world. The fight is notable for Liston’s dominant performance and Patterson’s inability to mount any significant offense.
These fights and others like them have provided some of the most memorable moments in boxing history. The unique atmosphere of an open air stadium, with thousands of fans cheering on their favorite fighters, adds an extra element of excitement to these already thrilling events.