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5 of the greatest boxing bouts in Las Vegas history

Updated April 27, 2023 - 11:53 am

The 136-pound catchweight clash between lightweight standouts Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia was only the most recent megafight in Las Vegas.

With that in mind, here are the five most memorable matches to ever take place here.

5. George Foreman vs. Ron Lyle, Caesars Palace — January 24, 1976

Foreman ended the 15-month layoff that followed his loss to Muhammad Ali with five ferocious rounds against Lyle, who also lost to Ali and attempted that night to regain his place in the heavyweight division.

Both men traded heavy shots, staggering one another throughout the 14 minutes, 28 seconds — and exchanging knockdowns in the fourth round before Lyle knocked Foreman down a second time in its final seconds.

But Foreman regrouped and overwhelmed Lyle in the fifth, cornering him late for an unmitigated assault.

Lyle collapsed and couldn’t beat the 10 count, giving Foreman a knockout victory and the fans in attendance an unforgettable finish.

4. Larry Holmes vs. Ken Norton, Caesars Palace — June 9, 1978

Holmes’ legendary reign atop the heavyweight division would begin with a grueling 15-round split decision over Norton, briefly the WBC’s champion who had a penchant for enduring and doling out punishment.

He ate jabs and uppercuts before aggravating in Holmes a biceps injury, mitigating his effectiveness and seizing control in an effort to defend his heavyweight title.

Both fighters nearly succumbed to insurmountable fatigue, but Holmes summoned the last of his reserves to end the 15th round with a flurry that would secure for him a victory and the frenzy of a capacity crowd.

He would reign as champion until Sept. 21, 1985, when Michael Spinks beat him by unanimous decision at Riviera.

3. Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo, Mandalay Bay Events Center — May 7, 2005

The action-packed styles of Corrales and Castillo figured to make for a fan friendly fight, but what happened in their unified lightweight title bout exceeded even the wildest of expectations.

The two spent the first nine rounds trading shots and momentum.

Then, the 10th round happened.

Within the first 30 seconds, Castillo dropped Corrales with a short left hook that he followed seconds later with another knockdown-inducing combination. But Corrales spit out his mouthpiece to gain an extra few seconds to recover before pouncing on Castillo, whom he impossibly overwhelmed with combinations — forcing referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight in what had become a raucous arena.

2. Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns, Caesars Palace — Sept. 16, 1981

Having established dominance in the welterweight and light middleweight divisions, Leonard returned to 147 pounds to defend his WBC title against Hearns — a fellow pound-for-pound great with the WBA’s iteration of the title.

The two would battle for 14 rounds, bringing the boxer out of Hearns and the puncher out in Leonard in one of the many matchups between two of boxing’s “Four Kings.”

Hearns dominated early and braved a rally from Leonard to seize a sizable edge on the scorecards. But Leonard persevered through a swelled eye to floor Hearns in the 13th round and force a stoppage in the 14th after stunning him with an overhand right and following with a brutal barrage to hand him his first professional loss.

1. Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns, Caesars Palace — April 15, 1985

Known now as “The War,” the duel between Hagler and Hearns featured perhaps the greatest first round in boxing history. Hagler pounced on Hearns in the opening seconds, repeatedly attacking with rights before eating return fire that would effectively cut his forehead.

The frenetic pace slowed in the second round amid fatigue for both fighters, preceding the third and final round in which the cut on Hagler’s head began to bleed profusely.

Facing the possibility of a medically induced stoppage, Hagler activated his aggression and pounced on Hearns the way he did in the first round — staggering him with an overhand right and following with a blow to the chin to send him face first into the canvas.

Try as he may, Hearns couldn’t beat referee Richard Steele’s 10-count — solidifying Hagler’s unified middleweight championship victory.

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