Marciano famously went 49 fights unbeaten before he finally retired. But Walcott was the man who came closest to beating him. In September 1952, Walcott was the champion and put a technical beatdown on Marciano for 12 rounds. He even knocked Marciano down in the first round.
But you could never count Marciano out. His right hand was a piston and he made it count in the 13th round. Walcott was sailing towards a decision win when he made a fatal error. He dropped his hands when Marciano let fly with a vicious right that smashed him into oblivion.
It’s rare that a hyped heavyweight fight exceeds expectations. But that’s exactly what happened in Madison Square Garden when Ali met Frazier with the heavyweight title on the line. It was a war of attrition. Ali took the early rounds as Frazier took punishment to gauge his opponent’s timing. From then on it was all about wearing Ali down and battering him.
But Frazier left the judges in no doubt with one of the most iconic left hooks of all time. He dropped Ali in the fifteenth round. The Ring and lineal champion rose back to his feet, showing tremendous heart. Both men became legends that day. They’d fight two more times in iconic clashes.
This savage war is definitely the greatest heavyweight clash of them all. Ali fought Frazier for the second time in a battle that lasted for a brutal 14 rounds. Everything was at stake in this trilogy fight with the winner taking the bragging rights.
Ali started strong with his jab but then halfway through Frazier put in ferocious work to the body. Towards the end of the fight, Ali regained control, and eventually, the swelling around Frazier’s eye was too much. It definitely shortened both men’s careers. But as far as classic heavyweight fights go, this one was, is, and will be definitive.