Five of Madison Square Garden's Greatest-Ever Fights

Ahead of Anthony Joshua v Jarrell Miller we rank MSG's five best fights
Oddschecker
Mon, February 18, 11:42 AM

Such is the rich sporting history of New York City's Madison Square Garden, that the American venue has become globally regarded as 'the Mecca of Boxing' and 'the World's Most Famous Arena'. With a quick glance back at the historic fights to have been staged there, it's not hard to see why.

 

The Garden has played host to just about every popular form of sport and entertainment since opening its doors way back in 1879, but it's those pulsating fight nights at the arena that really gather the mammoth crowds and sparks an incredible atmosphere into life.

 

From well before the prime days of the iconic Muhammad Ali up to more recent years of pugilism, Madison Square Garden has been the one historic venue that every prizefighter dreams of performing at, with its electric aura and magnificent facilities.

 

Canelo and AJ now amongst MSG luminaries

 

Boxing's current key attraction Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez capped off a personally pleasing 2018 by making his bow at MSG last December, as he ticked another feat off his career bucket list by headlining at the arena just before the holidays.

 

The Mexican superstar dismantled overmatched but plucky British challenger Rocky Fielding inside just three rounds at 'the Mecca', showcasing his ever-growing talents in front of a rapturous and highly demanding crowd in the Big Apple.

 

Reigning unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, owner of the IBF, WBA and WBO straps in the division, will become the next rampantly rising name to make his maiden ring appearance at MSG this summer.

 

Joshua will climb through the ring ropes on June 1 at Madison Square Garden as a best-priced +300 to overcome latest challenger Jarrell Miller by decision and earn a win over 12 rounds in front of a US crowd for the first time in his career.

 

'AJ' follows in the footsteps of many past greats and unquestionable legends to have made the ring walk at this remarkable venue throughout the history of boxing. So, ahead of his debut in the States against 'Big Baby' Miller, here are five of the greatest fights to ever be held at Madison Square Garden.

 

1. Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier I

 

With MSG's next high-profile bout being a heavyweight title showdown, we start our list off in the biggest and most prestigious division with what is perhaps the most famous rivalry in the sport.

 

Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier collided for the first time back in March 8th, 1971, in a clash of true titans that was rightfully dubbed 'the Fight of the Century'.

 

The world came to a standstill when these two heavyweight juggernauts traded leather for the first time in NYC, with the bout going down in history as the most culturally significant of their eventual trilogy.

 

Ali had just returned from a three-year exile after being stripped of the heavyweight crown for draft evasion. Meanwhile, Frazier had claimed the title in his absence and had risen to division dominance. It was the latter who prevailed by unanimous decision after 15 epic rounds, even flooring his rival in the 14th with a devastating and trademark left hook.

 

2. Jake LaMotta vs. Sugar Ray Robinson I

 

From one renowned rivalry to another. Ring legends Jake LaMotta and Sugar Ray Robinson served up a middleweight classic in October 2nd, 1942 at MSG.

 

Robinson had moved up in weight after comfortbaly dominating down at welterweight, rallying to a record of 36-0 in the process.

 

It was the man widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in boxing history that prevailed soundly by decision over ten rounds, with this kickstarting an iconic ring rivalry that produced no less than six total meetings.

 

LaMotta later scored his only win of the series in 1943, subsequently causing a huge shock by handing Robinson his first ever career defeat, but ultimately lost 5-1 overall.

 

3. Joe Louis vs. Rocky Marciano

 

On October 26, 1951, American sensation Joe Louis officially passed the heavyweight torch in his brutal eighth-round knockout loss to Rocky Marciano.

 

Marciano was initially reluctant to take the bout against his idol, who was well past his prime at 37 and badly in need of a payday.

 

'The Brown Bomber' went down twice before the referee halted the onslaught after he was sent crashing through the ropes and onto the ring apron.

 

A sad ending for arguably the greatest heavyweight ever in New York, but 'The Brockton Blockbuster' went on to clinch the title less than a year later and ultimately finish his career undefeated at 49-0.

 

4. Lennox Lewis vs. Evander Holyfield I

 

On March 13, 1999, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield waged war across a heavyweight title unification in front of 21,000 lucky spectators.

 

The bout was unfortunately marred by the controversial decision that followed, with the ringside officials calling the clash a draw, despite Lewis appearing to dictate proceedings throughout.

 

An immediate rematch was ordered eight months later anyway, with Lewis gaining redemption with a decision success in Las Vegas.

 

5. Bernard Hopkins vs. Felix Trinidad

 

This 2001 middleweight unification on September 29 had been postponed two weeks due to the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks in NYC.

 

In what was an obviously emotional night at 'the Mecca', it was Bernard Hopkins that came out on top over Felix Trinidad, dropping then stopping his opponent in the 12th round to become the division's first unified champion since 'Marvelous' Marvin Hagler in 1987.

 

At 36 years of age, it looked like the victorious 'Alien' was nearing the end of his illustrious career but he remarkably fought into his 50s before retiring.

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