Boxing's biggest fights in recent times as AJ and Fury agree to meet

From Mike Tyson’s infamous rematch with Holyfield to Mayweather and Pacquiao’s £435m Fight of the Century and Canelo and Golovkin’s first dust-up… as Joshua and Fury finally agree to meet, here are the most anticipated contests in the last 30 years

  • Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua have finally signed a deal to fight this summer
  • Their heavyweight clash is one of the most hugely anticipated fights of all time
  • Sportsmail look back at some of boxing’s biggest fights in the last 30 years 

Boxing’s biggest bonanza is finally signed and sealed.

The news we’d all been waiting for, that Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua have put pen to paper to meet this summer for the first of two heavyweight blockbusters, came through earlier this week and was greeted with relief and unprecedented levels of excitement.

The British rivals have been on a collision course for years and now the world will finally get to witness them do battle for heavyweight supremacy.

As two giants of the sport prepare to meet, Sportsmail takes a look back through the history books to pick out some of the biggest and most anticipated fights of the past 30 years.

Anthony Joshua (left) and Tyson Fury (right) have now signed a two-fight blockbuster deal

This will come as no surprise that Mayweather vs Pacquiao is first up on this list.

Easily the most anticipated fight in recent memory, Mayweather vs Pacquiao had folks drooling over the prospect of them sharing a ring for the best part of a decade, only to leave them dissatisfied and underwhelmed when they eventually did in 2015. 

Mayweather and Pacquiao were superstars in their own right and their polarising personalities, past achievements and styles of fighting only added more intrigue to the narrative.

The problem was, there was more bark than bite. Understandably dubbed the Fight of the Century, the glitz, glam and razzmatazz of the build-up was regrettably not reflected by the action inside the ring as Mayweather coasted to a unanimous points win.

Despite failing to live up to the billing, the fight was watched by 50million pairs of eyes worldwide and generated $600million – the highest grossing fight of all time.

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao was easily boxing’s biggest fight of the 21st century

Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield II, June 1997

At this point, there were still millions of romantics around the world holding onto the hope that the Mike Tyson of old would resurface.

Perhaps the most beloved and watched heavyweight of his time, Tyson always drew in a huge crowd. Every time he fought, it was a big deal. It wouldn’t matter if he was fighting Muhammad Ali or the garbageman. 

Holyfield’s brilliance had dazzled, bewitched and stunned Tyson to the point of near unconsciousness in their first encounter seven months earlier, but with ‘Iron Mike’ hellbent on getting revenge, the rematch attracted even more interest.    

Of course, what would go on to happen would shock the boxing world, with Tyson infamously losing by disqualification for biting a chunk out of Holyfield’s ear.

Mike Tyson shocked the world by getting disqualified for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear

Lennox Lewis vs Mike Tyson, June 2002

This was another one of those fights that unfortunately came long after its sell-by date. 

Not that that impacted the numbers. At the time this fight generated a record amount of revenue and pay-per-view buys.   

If appetites weren’t whet already for this heavyweight clash, Lewis and Tyson’s press conference brawl had the casuals on tenterhooks and dreaming of a brawl for the ages.

Tyson was a shell of his former glory by this point, though, and no match for the taller and rangier Lewis.

After eight one-sided rounds, Lewis closed the show in merciless fashion with a brutal right hand to seal his place in history forever.

Lennox Lewis produced a devastating knockout of Tyson in their massive heavyweight fight

Floyd Mayweather vs Canelo Alvarez, September 2013 

Floyd Mayweather was the king of boxing in 2013 while the immensely popular Canelo was being touted as his natural successor.

The talk would prove to be right.

Canelo is now easily the sport’s biggest global star, but it was a case of too much, too soon when he fought the great Mayweather eight years ago.  

The Mexican struggled all night to get to grips with Mayweather’s evasive and slick defensive skills – as so many have – and rarely managed to pin his man down and land anything cleanly. 

Mayweather was always in control of the fight and after 12 rounds of watchable action, was awarded a majority decision victory. 

The fight broke several of boxing’s revenue records and was a valuable lesson for Canelo, who has not been defeated since.

Mayweather won the battle of the global stars by outpointing Canelo Alvarez in 2013

Golovkin vs Canelo I, September 2017

For so long, this felt like a fight that may slip through the cracks.

But thankfully these two middleweight giants agreed to face off for all the world titles at 160lbs in September 2017. 

The build-up to this fight felt like the sport’s biggest event since Mayweather vs Pacquiao, such was the traction it gained.

This was a genuine 50-50 fight between two mega stars and they didn’t fail to deliver in the ring. A fascinating and brutal 12-round affair ended in a contentious draw – a verdict which still divides opinion today.

Canelo would edge out his rival in the rematch in another classic – a decision which was also seen as controversial – and the boxing world has not had its fill of seeing these two trade off as its got its fingers crossed for a trilogy fight this year.

Boxing fans were thrilled when middleweight kingpins Canelo and Golovkin finally fought

Juan Manuel Marquez vs Pacquiao IV, December 2012 

When Marquez and Pacquiao shared the ring, a right war was always guaranteed. Up until this point, though, Marquez had not gotten the rub of the green. In their three previous fights, Pacquiao had claimed two controversial points wins and a draw.

In their third fight, fans felt so strongly that Marquez had won that they booed when the decision was handed to Pacquiao in Las Vegas.

With Marquez approaching the back end of his career, this was going to be his final chance to right the wrongs of the past and get one over Pacquiao.

Billed as the Fight of the Decade, fans were enraptured by the prospect of seeing these two warriors do battle for one last time… and weren’t disappointed.

After six pulsating rounds, Marquez produced a beautifully-timed devastating right hand on the bell to knock out Pacquiao and claim victory. It did over 1.15 million PPV buys and was named the Fight of the Year and Knockout of the Year by Ring Magazine.

They do say revenge is a dish best served cold.

Millions tuned in to see Juan Manuel Marquez get revenge against Pacquiao in their last fight

Wladimir Klitschko vs Anthony Joshua, April 2017

Anthony Joshua was the young up-and-comer set to dominate the heavyweights while Wladimir Klitschko had reigned over the division as unified champion for close to a decade.

Klitschko had recently been dethroned by Tyson Fury, but there were still concerns he may have too much nous and no-how for Joshua, who had only had 18 professional fights by this point.

Because of Joshua’s promotion and brand, this was viewed as a much bigger fight than Klitschko’s with Fury and attracted a massive audience across the globe.

Although the Ukrainian had already had a brilliant career that will see him earn a spot in boxing’s Hall of Fame, this was seen as his one and only legacy fight against a real superstar.  

Joshua would validate his reputation as the new heavyweight king by stopping Klitschko in the 11th round of an epic war at Wembley in front of 90,000 fans – one of the biggest attendances at a fight of all-time. The fight would also set a domestic record, with 1.532 million PPV buys, exceeding the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.

Joshua’s win over Wladimir Klitschko was the biggest heavyweight fight in the last decade


  • James Toney vs Roy Jones Jr
  • Ricky Hatton vs Floyd Mayweather
  • Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev
  • Diego Corrales vs Jose Luis Castillo II
  • Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Trinidad  
  • Joe Calzaghe vs Bernard Hopkins
  • Erik Morales vs Marc Antonio Barrera II
  • Oscar De La Hoya vs Floyd Mayweather
  • Evander Holyfield vs Riddick Bowe II 
  • Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury
  • David Haye vs Wladimir Klitschko
  • Pernell Whitaker vs Oscar De La Hoya
  • Nigel Benn vs Chris Eubank II
  • Micky Ward vs Arturo Gatti III
  • Marc Antonio Barrera vs Prince Nasem Hamed
  • Carl Froch vs George Groves II
  • Shane Mosley vs Ronald Wright
  • Miguel Cotto vs Floyd Mayweather
  • Evander Holyfield vs George Foreman

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