For the non-boxing fan it’s probably hard to imagine having to inject controversy into a sport that revolves around grown men beating the absolute crap out of each other, but as boxing fans know, ain’t no scandal like a boxing scandal because a boxing scandal often involves the mob. Here’s a look at some of the most infamous scandals in the history of boxing fights.
The Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston Rematch
In 1965 the boxing world was still reeling from the 1964 Muhammad Ali victory over reigning champion Sonny Liston. When the inevitable rematch was announced in 1965, many boxing fans saw it as Liston’s opportunity to put the boxing world back in order and show Ali who the world’s greatest boxer truly was. As any boxing fan is aware, that’s not how it went down. Muhammad Ali scored a first-round knock-out, thumping Liston with a hard right-hander in the final seconds of the round. Liston went down, the ref waved off the fight, and boxing fans are still claiming, 50 years later, that Liston threw the fight to appease his mob ties. It’s even speculated that Liston’s fatal heroin overdose five years later was the work of the mob.
Muhammad Ali Loses his Boxing License
Not all of the crazy stuff that’s gone down in boxing even happened during actual boxing fights. One of the wackiest incidents in boxing history occurred on April 28, 1967 when Muhammad Ali was arrested for refusing to join the Vietnam War when he was drafted. Ali was against the Vietnam War for religious reasons, reportedly saying “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong.” Upon his arrest, Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title. Upon his conviction of draft evasion, Ali was banned from boxing for three years.
Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield
Do we need to go into what happened here? Even your grandma could probably tell you in excruciating detail what went down during the bout between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. But just in case she can’t, here’s a recap. It’s 1996. The Tyson-Holyfield match-up is basically the Mayweather-Pacquiao tussle of 19 years ago, the biggest ticket going. It’s the third round. Tyson complains to the referee that Holyfield has been head-butting him. The ref disagrees and refuses to call it.
Tyson decides he’s had enough of Holyfield’s head and bites him on the ear, taking a chunk out of it and spitting it on the floor. The referee deducts a whopping two points from Tyson. The fight continues. Tyson – having not learned his lesson from losing those two points – bites Holyfield’s other ear and is, at long last, disqualified. Tyson is fined $3 million. Late-night talk show hosts make jokes about the incident for the next 12 years.