45. Bruce Curry Vs Monroe Brooks
April 7, 1978
Los Angeles, CA
Venue: Olympic Auditorium
Bruce Curry and Monroe Brooks were best friends turned bitter enemies. They were once roommates. Not a single soul close to Curry or Brooks would reveal the nature of their feud. On April 7, 1978 they stepped into the ring and their personal animosity toward each other was the perfect recipe for one of the greatest fights in the history of the Super Lightweight division.
Coming into the fight, Brooks had knocked out his last five opponents. Curry, on the other hand, had lost two very questionable decisions to one of the greatest Puerto Rican and defensive fighters of all-time, Wilfred Benitez. This was a huge crossroads fight for the two combatants. Not only was personal pride on the line, but so was Brooks’ North American Boxing Federation Super Lightweight title and a possible shot at a world title.
Round one saw Brooks come out bombing away with both fists. Curry remained calm and boxed a brilliant first round, winning the round with a stiff jab and precision counterpunching. Round two saw a bit of the same until Brooks ran into a left hook by Curry, knocking him down. Brooks was briefly hurt but that didn’t stop him from again going after Curry. Curry staggered Brooks twice more with right crosses before the end of the round. Round three was almost a carbon copy of round one with Curry continuing his dominance. In round four, Brooks hurt Curry with his own left hook which caused swelling and blood over Curry’s right eye. Round five saw Brooks out-punch Curry in a great round of furious, toe-to-toe action. By the end of round six, Curry had regained control of the fight as Brooks was beginning to fatigue.
Rounds seven and eight saw more slugging between the two. It was Curry who kept the upper hand because of his superior boxing skills. Brooks was a tremendous puncher, but his punches were wide and looping. Curry’s punches were sharper and much more concise. This was clearly shown in round nine, as both fighters threw left hooks at the same time. Brooks’ was coming from left field. Curry’s hook was short and landed perfectly as Brooks walked into it. Brooks went down like he was shot by a cannon — a spectacular ending to a spectacular fight.
Brooks would get knocked out later that year in eight rounds by the legendary Roberto Duran and would retire in 1983. In 1979, Curry would get knocked out in six rounds by the legendary Thomas Hearns. He finally received a WBC Super Lightweight title opportunity against defending champion Leroy Haley on May 18, 1983, winning the title by decision. He would lose the title eight months later in a one-sided beating to Billy Costello. A few days later, Curry went to his gym and attempted to shoot his own trainer, Jesse Reid. For that almost fatal episode, Curry was found innocent of all charges by reason of insanity. He spent approximately one year in an insane asylum before he was released back into society. Curry would fight one more time before retiring in 1986.
44. Carmen Basilio Vs Johnny Saxton II
September 12, 1956
Venue: War Memorial Auditorium
On March 14, 1956 one of the worst decisions in boxing history occurred. World Welterweight Champion Carmen Basilio’s title was stolen via a 15-round decision against Johnny Saxton. Saxton ran for 15 rounds and for being such a great sprinter, he was awarded the decision and title. It was the second time Saxton won the title by shady means. Saxton was managed by Frankie Palermo, who along with fellow mobster Frankie Carbo ran boxing until Palermo went to prison in 1961 for his shady dealings while controlling boxing. Basilio refused to have his career controlled by the mob and henceforth, he was robbed of his title. Six months later, Basilio would gain his revenge.
The rematch started off with fireworks. Saxton completely abandoned his style and stood inside with Basilio. The first three rounds were as great as any I’d ever seen. Three rounds of action packed brutality. Saxton didn’t have the firepower to engage in such a fight. While he landed as much as he took, the punishment was not the same. Not one time did he hurt Basilio. Basilio was killing Saxton to the body and head. In round four, Basilio hurt Saxton with a four-punch combination, and at that point it was just a matter of time before the fight would end. After four rounds, Saxton had a busted lip and his left eye was beginning to swell badly. After a one-sided fifth round in favor of Basilio, Saxton began moving in the sixth round and might’ve won that round. It would be his last significant moment in the fight.
Rounds seven and eight saw Saxton continually moving but to no avail. Basilio was breaking him down with a textbook display of body punching. In the ninth round, Basilio staggered Saxton with a vicious left hook to the body, right cross to the head combination. After several debilitating shots to Saxton’s body, referee Al Berl stopped the fight. Basilio got his revenge and regained his title. Five months later, Basilio destroyed Saxton in two rounds. Saxton was never the same after these two beatings. He would lose three of his next four fights before retiring at the age of 28. Basilio would move up to 160 pounds and engage in classic encounters with Sugar Ray Robinson and Gene Fullmer, further solidifying him as one of the greatest action fighters of all-time.
43. Somsak Sithchatchawal Vs Mahyar Monshipour
March 18, 2006
Venue: Palais des sports Marcel-Cerdan
Only hardcore boxing fans saw or heard about the fight between between Frenchman WBA Super Bantamweight Champion Mahyar Monshipour and challenger from Thailand Somsak Sithchatchal. It was one of the most savage fights I’ve ever seen. Back in the spring of 2010, on one of the boxing web site forums I frequently visited, someone posted about how this was the greatest fight they’d ever seen. I immediately searched and downloaded this fight. Although it wasn’t the greatest fight I ever saw, it might’ve the most ferocious fight in terms of pure action that I ever saw. It was like Gatti-Ward on crack. Pure savagery and drama from the opening bell.
As soon as referee John Coyle called for the action to begin in round one, both men came forward punching. Sithchatchawal landed several consecutive left uppercuts which stunned and knocked Monshipour down less than a minute into the fight. Monshipour was badly hurt and Sitchatchawal bombarded him with several more thudding uppercuts. Late in the round, Monshipour came back and landed some very telling blows of his own and was able to survive one of the all time great first rounds.
Round two began once again with Sithchatchawal landing several left uppercuts while both men stood toe-to-toe. Monshipour in turn landed several tremendous hooks to Sithchatchawal‘s ribcage. The rest of the round saw both fighters land numerous bone shattering hooks to each other’s body. Ninety percent of the third round was spent in a single corner of the ring as Monshipour dominated the round, out-landing Sithchatchawal. The fourth round saw Sithchatchawal, who was a lanky southpaw, actually attempt to box and move for most of the round and he controlled the action. Both men looked visibly tired going back to their respective corners at the end of the round.
Round five was another clinic in incredible body punching. Sithchatchawal bent down and landed over 50 hooks to the hometown champion’s body. Monshipour returned with many body shots of his own, but he was severely outlanded in another round of pugilistic brutality. Rounds six through eight each had the same ongoing theme as Sithchatchawal would land at will to Monshipour‘s head and body an ungodly amount of punishment. Then the Frenchman would come back and despite taking such a beating, find a way to land right back. After eight rounds, I couldn’t see how Monshipour was still standing. The best from both fighters had yet to come.
Sithcatchawal came roaring out his corner for round nine and for the first half of the round he beat the living hell out of Monshipour. It must’ve been the fact that the Frenchman was motivated by his hometown as he was absorbing an inhuman amount of punishment. The Thai challenger punched himself out and for the last minute of the round, the French champion came storming back. The beginning of the next round saw the champion continue his momentum as the challenger was completely exhausted. With the French crowd cheering him on, Monshipour had Sithcatchawal trapped in the ropes. Unfortunately, Monshipour, while landing at will, had absolutely no snap left on his punches and he was equally as fatigued. Monshipour walked into a spectacular left cross that severely hurt him. Sithcatchawal jumped on him and once again landed several uppercuts before referee Doyle finally stopped one of the most savage fights in boxing history.
Monshipour retired from the sport and made a comeback two and a half years later and won three out of five fights before finally retiring for good. Sithcatchawal lost his title in his very first defense. He only lost two of his next 18 fights, but never received another title opportunity before he too retired.
42. Jose Luis Ramirez VS Edwin Rosario II
November 3, 1984
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Venue: Hiram Bithorn Stadium
As an adolescent, my relationship with my father was at times very turbulent. However, the times we were closest occurred in front of the television while watching sports. Especially when it came to our love of boxing. Every fighter he followed, I in turn followed. We were always on the same page when it came to our favorite fighters. One of them was our fellow Puerto Rican, Edwin Rosario.
Rosario had a similar style to Wilfredo Gomez. He was a boxer-puncher whose style depended on who his opponent was. He won the vacant WBC World Lightweight title on May 1, 1983 by defeating Jose Luis Ramirez by 12-round decision. It was the toughest fight of the 20-year-old Rosario’s career. He was having his way with the Mexican warrior for the first half of the fight. The second half of the fight belonged to Ramirez as Rosario was severely fatigued for the last three rounds. The rematch took place 18 months later. My father and I stood in front of his newly purchased color television in our living room. It was the first fight I ever saw in color. I can remember the entire fight like it was yesterday.
Twenty seconds into the fight, Rosario dropped Ramirez with his signature right cross. I jumped for joy but my father quickly calmed me down. It was too early to celebrate. The rest of round one saw Rosario batter Ramirez with several combinations. Ramirez was your stereotypical Mexican warrior. He had a chin of granite and a heart of steel. In the second round, Rosario knocked Ramirez down again with a six-punch combination. This time my father jumped up and he was sure we were about to see a knockout. So did the entire stadium as on television you could hear the Puerto Rican fans in unison chant their hero’s nickname; “CHAPO! CHAPO!” Ramirez barely survived the round.
Ramirez was a southpaw. The right cross had always been the key to beating a southpaw. Conversely, the key for a southpaw to beat a conventional fighter is to successfully land left crosses. During the middle of the third round, Ramirez turned the fight around by staggering Rosario with a perfectly timed left cross. Ramirez battered Rosario for the remainder of the round. Now, there was silence both in the arena and in my living room. Then came the finish. Rosario began round four by moving and trying to box Ramirez from the outside. Rosario’s weakness was moving backward as he was not as effective. Late in the round, Ramirez caught Rosario up against the ropes and stunned him again with another left cross. Ramirez landed over 20 unanswered punches, resulting in Rosario being out on his feet and his face buried in the corner. Referee Steve Crosson had no choice but to stop the fight. Ramirez was the new WBC Lightweight Champion. My father destroyed the remote control by throwing it against the wall. I went into my room and started doing my homework. Needless to say, we were highly disappointed.
Ramirez would lose the title in his first defense against another Puerto Rican great, Hector Camacho. He would win the Lightweight title two more times before retiring with a wonderful record of 102 wins and nine losses. Rosario would get a title opportunity against Camacho in June of 1986. My father and I attended that fight. I will chronicle in detail that incredible fight later on in this series.
41. Alexis Argüello VS Alfredo Escalera I
January 28, 1978
Bayamón, Puerto Rico
Venue: Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium
My father described Alexis Argüello as a godlike figure. The first time I got to see him fight was on that same black and white television I saw Monzón six months prior. He was challenging the Puerto Rican WBC Super Featherweight Champion Alfredo Escalera in our native Puerto Rico. My father thought Escalera had a chance because he was as tall as Argüello (5’10”) and he had speed and power. He also told me not to get my hopes up because Argüello was one of the greatest fighters he ever saw. It would take a Herculean effort by Escalera to defeat the powerful Nicaraguan. It was a Herculean battle.
Round one saw Escalera box beautifully and outland Argüello. Argüello was a notorious slow starter. It usually took him three or four rounds to warm up. By round two, Argüello seemed already warmed up as he knocked down the Puerto Rican Champion early in the round with a quick left hook. He then landed several bombs the rest of the round. Rounds three and four saw the tempo of the fight be raised to a very high level. Arguello landed the more damaging blows and he opened up huge gashes over both of Escalera’s eyes.
Escalera began round five by moving more like he did in the opening stanza. Over the next six rounds, Argüello responded by exhibiting incredible ring generalship. He used his bartering ram of a jab to negate Escalera’s movement. He totally frustrated the hometown favorite by landing that jab at will followed by the occasional left hook and right cross. By the end of round 10, Escalera’s eyes and lips were badly swollen. My father was highly impressed at the boxing ability Argüello was displaying. Even though I was upset that Escalera was being taken to school by a better fighter, I realized that Argüello was something special.
Escalera changed his strategy and began pressuring Argüello in round 11. Argüello stayed calm and outboxed Escalera. The 12th round saw Escalera seriously hurt Argüello for the first time in the fight with a wicked right cross. As soon as Argüello’s knees buckled, my father and I jumped up in excitement as we knew Escalera needed a knockout to win. Escalera opened up a cut below Argüello’s right eye and now both men were bleeding. Escalera was unable to finish off Argüello before the round would end. Midway through the 13th round, Argüello was back in control and landed a left hook that practically ripped Escalera’s upper lip off. Referee Arthur Mercante called timeout and brought the doctor in to check on Escalera. Mercante and the doctor rightfully called a halt to the fight and Argüello was the new champion. Amazingly, the Puerto Rican fans didn’t riot. Instead, they gave both fighters a standing ovation. Argüello was a beautiful man both inside and outside the ring. He was a consummate gentleman and the fans, even after he defeated their hometown hero, would treat him with the upmost respect and admiration.
A year later, both men fought in an incredible rematch that I will detail in full later on.