Boxing’s greatest revenge missions saw Tyson Fury, Canelo Alvarez and Anthony Joshua hit back and Sugar Ray Leonard inflict humiliation
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Boxing’s greatest revenge missions saw Tyson Fury, Canelo Alvarez and Anthony Joshua hit back and Sugar Ray Leonard inflict humiliation

Nov 15, 2023

Tyson Fury, Manny Pacquiao, Canelo Alvarez and Carl Froch have all completed spectacular revenge missions in rematches.

Boxing wisdom on rematches is usually that the original winner repeats the trick (often in easier style than they did the first time around).

There have been some cracking rematches in recent history

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There have been some cracking rematches in recent historyCredit: AFP or licensors

However, that is not always the case, with some getting their revenge by brutal KO, in an all-out war or via total humiliation.

talkSPORT.com gives you a rundown on 10 fighters who suffered an unwanted outcome in their first meeting, but hit the jackpot by defeating their opponent in a rematch.

10. Joshua vs Ruiz 2

A tediously one-sided fight, but for Anthony Joshua revenge was a dish best served by shoving his jab into Andy Ruiz’s face. Earlier in 2019, the Mexican-American had stepped in as a late replacement and caused a huge upset, flooring AJ four times and stopping him.

However, all that an overweight, undertrained Ruiz was able to show in the rematch was a solid jaw. Joshua bounced long-range missiles off the champion’s chin as he dominated over 12 rounds. 

“The first time was so nice, I had to do it twice,” chuckled Joshua after regaining his world titles. There was never real ill-feeling between the pair, but for Joshua avenging his first career defeat was bigger than Ruiz’s room service bill.

9. Froch vs Kessler 2

‘Volcanic ash cloud’. Yes, Carl Froch broke out one or two excuses after his tough, 12-round defeat by Mikkel Kessler in Denmark in 2010. Including Iceland’s erupting volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, causing havoc with Froch’s travel plans.

But ‘The Cobra’ could not have hidden behind travel-related mishaps if he’d lost to Kessler in their second bout, three years later at a packed London O2 Arena.

In another all-action fight, Froch got his battle-hardened nose in front and kept it there, winning a unanimous decision. There was great respect between the two warriors post-fight, which you couldn’t quite say about Carl and his next opponent: George Groves.

Froch is a former super-middleweight world champion, who had epic battles in the ring

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Froch is a former super-middleweight world champion, who had epic battles in the ringCredit: Getty Images – Getty

8. Pacquiao vs Morales 2

The starting point of the peak Manny Pacquiao era. The ‘Pac Man’ was a one-trick pony relying on his ferocious workrate and dynamite left hand until he was stopped in his tracks by Erik Morales, who beat him by close decision in a 2005 war.

After his first defeat on US soil, the Filipino finally began to listen to trainer Freddie Roach and became a smarter, two-handed fighting machine. He proved that by stopping Morales in 10 rounds in a 2006 rematch, then scoring a one-sided KO3 in the rubber match.

The victories over ‘El Terrible’ lit the touchpaper on Pacquiao’s prime years with wins over Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley all following.

7. Fury vs Wilder 2

Not revenge for a defeat, but for a controversial draw: a contest Tyson Fury would have won had he not been knocked down hard in round 12, before miraculously getting up. For the rematch, Fury made brash claims about taking the fight to the explosive Deontay Wilder.

Most people dismissed it as mind games. But Fury was true to his word, pressing forward, using his size and punishing ‘The Bronze Bomber’. Their third fight, another Fury KO win, was more exciting – but fight two was sweet vengeance as Fury out-punched the puncher in style.

Fury punished Wilder in their second fight and the American's camp threw in the towel in the seventh round

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Fury punished Wilder in their second fight and the American’s camp threw in the towel in the seventh roundCredit: Getty Images – Getty

6. Holyfield vs Bowe 2

Best remembered for the entrance of someone who wasn’t even in the fight, when ‘Fan Man’ descended from the skies and crashed into the ring (only to be beaten unconscious by Riddick Bowe’s concerned cornermen).

Lost in that chaos was the fact that a 1993 fight marketed as ‘Repeat or Revenge’ ended in the latter for Evander Holyfield as he outworked the bigger, younger Bowe to reclaim the world heavyweight titles he’d lost a year earlier.

Holyfield had many amazing triumphs, from unifying the cruiserweight belts to stunning Mike Tyson. But handing Bowe his only pro defeat might be the greatest one-off win ‘The Real Deal’ ever achieved.

5. Alvarez vs Golovkin 2

Canelo Alvarez drew his first fight with Gennady Golovkin but was stung by two moral defeats. Firstly, most observers believed ‘Triple G’ was robbed of a decision win; secondly that Alvarez had boxed off the back foot in a very ‘non-Mexican’ style.

The bad blood between the pair was worse for their rematch, fuelled by Canelo failing a drug test for clenbuterol, reportedly from tainted meat. Yet in the ring, Alvarez fought a different fight from the original, standing his ground, trading shots with the fearsome Kazakh.

Canelo’s win was still debatable – it was so close it could have gone either way – but it was a fight of tremendous skill and action. In handing Golovkin a first defeat, Alvarez scored what will likely go down as his greatest victory.

Canelo and Golovkin have met three times in the ring, with the first fight ending in a draw and the Mexican winning the rematch before sealing the trilogy

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Canelo and Golovkin have met three times in the ring, with the first fight ending in a draw and the Mexican winning the rematch before sealing the trilogyCredit: Getty Images – Getty

4. Marquez vs Pacquiao 4

You don’t usually get to fight four of a rivalry when one boxer hasn’t won any of the first three, but Manny Pacquio vs Juan Manuel Marquez is unique. Marquez survived three first-round knockdowns to draw fight one, lost a very close decision in fight two, then got robbed in fight three.

Number four was actually the most thrilling of them all. The 2012 slugfest saw both men hurt, then ended with a brutal one-punch KO that left Pacquiao face first on the canvas.

Some fans raised eyebrows at the fact that a shredded, 39-year-old Marquez was suddenly able to badly hurt Pacquio, having failed to do so in any of the first three fights. But ‘JMM’ deserved at least one win over his nemesis – and he got in devastating fashion.

After 42 rounds in the ring over four fights, Marquez ended his rivalry with Pacquiao

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After 42 rounds in the ring over four fights, Marquez ended his rivalry with PacquiaoCredit: Getty

3. Lewis vs Rahman 2

Lennox Lewis had a perfect record in rematches, avenging his defeat by Oliver McCall, then later beating Holyfield on points after a controversial draw. But his triumph over Hasim Rahman was his best: a booming KO against an opponent he loathed.

Rahman pulled off a huge upset by stopping a poorly prepared Lewis in South Africa in 2001. The build up to their rematch was marred by court cases and a scuffle in an ESPN TV studio. In the ring it was one-way traffic.

Lewis dominated early, then sent a decoy left to distract Rahman – followed by a heat-seeking right hand which left the American flat out. The KO came in round four, one quicker than Rahman’s KO5, and Lennox had regained his world titles and earned ultimate revenge.

2. Louis vs Schmeling 2

Boxing’s most politically loaded fight. Germany’s Max Schmeling had upset rising star Joe Louis in 1936 and, even after the American became heavyweight world champion a year later, he said he would not feel like the true champ until he beat Schmeling.

The rematch was on the eve of World War II in 1938, so the story became whether the German could defeat the black American Louis. It was devastatingly one-sided: Louis crushed Schmeling in two minutes, leaving him with cracked bones in his back.

In truth, Schmeling was no Nazi – he risked his life to save two Jewish children in the 1930s and, in retirement, he and Louis became good friends. But in terms of overturning a defeat, Louis produced the most violently decisive outcome imaginable. 

Leonard, an iconic figure of the 1980s during an era that saw himself, Hagler, Duran and Thomas Hearns branded the Four Kings, beat his rival in their rematch

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Leonard, an iconic figure of the 1980s during an era that saw himself, Hagler, Duran and Thomas Hearns branded the Four Kings, beat his rival in their rematchCredit: Getty – Contributor

1. Leonard vs Duran 2

What’s even more devastating than KOing a ferocious rival? Just one thing: humiliating them to such an extent that they turn around and quit mid-fight.

Sugar Ray Leonard’s first career defeat by Roberto Duran came after the Panamanian icon had insulted his wife, threatened his family and wound Leonard up so much that he went toe-to-toe in the ring. The result: a classic welterweight scrap and a points win for Duran.

For the 1980 rematch, Leonard used his slick footwork and skills to frustrate Duran. Then he started adding insult to expertise: showboating, doing the Ali shuffle, winding up a punch in exaggerated style then popping Duran with the other hand.

Duran could endure pressure and pain, but not embarrassment. At the end of round eight, he uttered the words this fight would become famous for ‘no mas‘ (no more) and turned away. Sugar Ray had avenged his loss in the sweetest way imaginable.


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