This article will be looking back on some of the biggest unification fights in boxing history. Lets begin with one of the greatest fighters in modern day history.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs Saul Alvarez (WBC and WBA super welterweight titles)
The fight between Floyd “Money” Mayweather, the super WBA champion, and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the WBA unified champion and WBC champion, lands at number 10 because the fight was a letdown. The prefight buildup was focused on how the much bigger Alvarez was going to use size advantage against the smaller but vastly more skilled Mayweather.
That didn’t happen as Alvarez decided he was going to stay on the outside and try to outbox the best boxer of his generation. That didn’t go well for him and although the fight was a majority decision win for Mayweather it wasn’t a close fight. Mayweather did what he always did and used his jab, right hand, and superior speed to beat the slower Alvarez to the punch.
Felix Trinidad vs Oscar De La Hoya (WBC and IBF welterweight titles)
Felix “Tito” Trinidad’s fight against “The Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya was another fight, like Mayweather-Alvarez, was a fight between two undefeated champions that failed to live up to the hype. Trinidad was defending his title for the 15th time, in just his 35th fight, and De La Hoya was defending his title for the 8th time but was already a two weight champion and had unified titles at lightweight.
Fireworks were expected as both fighters had knocked out four of their last five opponents. The first four rounds were tight with Trinidad showing great ring generalship with De La Hoya moved and landed quick flurries. De La Hoya switched tactics in round five and started to sit on his punches and throw harder shots.
De La Hoya believed that he had an insurmountable lead and took his foot off the gas in round nine. Trinidad followed him around the ring and although he wasn’t able to land anything significant he won the rounds on outworking De La Hoya. The decision was a debated majority decision for Trinidad.
Bernard Hopkins vs Oscar De La Hoya (WBC, WBO, WBA, IBF middleweight titles)
De La Hoya didn’t look great in the two fights before a second loss to Shane Mosley and a debatable win over unheralded Felix Sturm. Hopkins on the other hand had knocked out three of his last five opponents, including Felix Trinidad, and was rolling.
This was only the second fight for De La Hoya at middleweight after jumping up two weight classes. Hopkins was the betting favorite and after eight uneventful rounds Hopkins was up on two cards, 79-73 and 78-74 while trailing on the other card 77-75. Hopkins made the scores irrelevant by landing a perfect shot to the live of De La Hoya and stopping him in round nine.
Bernard Hopkins vs Felix Trinidad (IBF, WBA, and WBC middleweight titles)
Hopkins was the man at middleweight since 1995 while Trinidad was the new kid on the block having competed just once at middleweight. Trinidad moved up two weight classes and stopped William Joppy for the WBA middleweight title in five rounds. Hopkins had just unified the IBF and WBC titles in his last fight, a unanimous decision win over Keith Holmes, but Trinidad was a 2 to 1 favorite.
Hopkins only had two losses, one in his first fight, but wasn’t very exciting in dominating one of the marquee classes of boxing. Trinidad on the other hand was undefeated but almost always won explosively. The fight started slowly with both fighters trying to establish their jab. Hopkins landed the first big blow an overhand right at the end of round two.
That punch seemed to settle Hopkins into the fight who took control before Trinidad made some headway in round four by finally landing some power shots. Hopkins responded well and kept going against form by boxing instead of brawling. Trinidad had his best round in round six but couldn’t take control of the fight.
Hopkins controlled the fight before dropping and stopping Trinidad in the 12th and final round.
Erik Morales vs Marco Antonio Barrera I (WBC and WBO super bantamweight titles)
Erik Morales was an undefeated champion and Barrera only had two losses, both to Junior Jones, and one was a disqualification. They had very different backgrounds outside of the ring, which lead to a real resentment between the two, and fought very differently inside of the ring. Morales was a tall talented puncher, while Barrera was a compact boxer that liked to work on the inside.
The styles meshed perfectly and gave fight fans one of the best fights ever. The fight won the 2000 Fight of the Year and Round of the Year, round five, from The Ring Magazine. It was a closely contested fight that saw Barrera land 272 power punches, on a 53% connect rate, and Morales land 290 punches, on a 40% connect rate.
Morales landed more punches overall, 319 to 299, but Barrera landed an incredible 48% of his punches to only 37% for Morales. The fight was close throughout and most people thought that a Morales knockdown in round 12 won the fight for Barrera.
It wasn’t meant to be though at Morales won a hotly debated split decision on scores of 114-113, 115-112 for Morales, and 114-113 for Barrera.
Julio Cesar Chavez vs Meldrick Taylor (WBC and IBF super lightweight titles)
Chavez was 68-0 the pride of Mexico and had won a lot of big fights in his already illustrious career. Taylor had won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics, had won the title from the capable James “Buddy” McGrit, and was undefeated at 24-0-1.
Taylor took control of the fight early against the seemingly invincible Chavez but was taking a lot of punishment while winning the rounds. Chavez kept moving forward and throwing punches even while losing rounds. Taylor’s corner told him he needed to win the round to win the fight and that led to him mixing it up with Chavez when it wasn’t necessary.
He was up on two of the cards 107-102 and 108-101 while trailing on the other card 105-104.
Chavez realised that he needed to do something drastic to win and floored Taylor with just 17 seconds left. Taylor rose to his feet at the count of six but referee Richard Steele stopped the fight with two seconds left.
He asked Taylor if he was okay and when he didn’t respond and looked in his corner Steele stopped the fight. This fight was named the 1990 Fight of the Year by The Ring and many believe that this fight ruined Taylor as a fighter.
Diego Corrales vs Jose Luis Castillo (WBC and WBO lightweight titles)
This fight is one of the greatest if not the great fight of all time regardless of unification or not. Corrales was a tall rangy puncher who loved to mix it up. Castillo was a face first in your chest infighter that never stopped throwing.
The styles meshed perfectly and ebbed and flowed for the entire 10 rounds. The fight could have taken place in a phone booth as both men stood in front of each other and delivered power shots and hard combinations. The faces of both men were battered with Castillo suffering a cut on his left eyebrow and Corrales had swelling on both eyes and a cut.
Castillo finally broke through when he dropped Corrales early in round 10. Corrales spit out his mouthpiece to give himself some more time but it did not prove helpful. He tasted the canvas for a second time and again spit out his mouthpiece. This time a point was taken from him.
Castillo again had Corrales hurt and went in for the kill but caught with a massive left hook. Corrales moved in and finished the fight while behind on all three cards.