As a fan of the sport I think the one thing I enjoy the most is the rivalry and hatred created by two fighters and the reason for this is simple! It creates a much more exciting and scintillating fight. As we are approaching November my attention is on the highly anticipated rematch between Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly. I’m most probably gonna write a post about the fight specifically as we start to approach fight week but the topic I want to discuss today is the great grudge matches of boxing.
Grudge matches are something the public want to see, as viewers we love to see emotion and it allows 2 fighters to settle the score which for any promoter is a dream come true. The amount of money that can be generated through these bouts are astronomical as seen by the scale of the event that was hosted when Froch fought Groves in their rematch.
In British boxing when we touch on the subject of rivalry we always bring up Eubank and Benn and rightfully so because the animosity between the two was genuine. The media build up was memorable and with them signing the contract on national television this was something that had not occurred before. People tend to forget that it wasn’t just fight but the whole build up and experience that made this fight memorable. So the build up to fights certainly reach fever pitch therefore attracting public attention.
Personally Eubank and Benn was my favourite but you’d assume most people hailing from the UK would say that, but I will admit although it is a favourite it is by no means the best. Majority will agree that Ali vs Fraizier would be the best, the trilogy of fights they had have been embedded into the history of the sport with Ali winning 2 of the 3 fights. The recurring theme here is that the personal emotion invested by two fighters created these wars but like fine wine as time went on this rivalry grew to become tasty to the public and it certainly did capture their imagination. The most notable fight of all the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ was something I have watched multiple times and could still not get over. The blows that were dealt sickened the audience as these punches were being thrown with evil intent. After the fight Frazier’s trainer Eddie Futch had told him ‘No one will forget what you did here today’ and rightfully so, there was no shame in losing and on that day the sport of boxing won.
When remembering these brilliant fights they all seem to stem from a heated rivalry, the most entertaining fights are not necessarily the prettiest. The fights that fill out venues are the ones in which two warriors engage in a brutal war and we only seem to get this when the fighters become emotionally involved. Look at the past generations and there have been an abundance of grudge matches and rivalries which I feel has been missing recently. There is reason to be optimistic and it’s not all doom and gloom especially in the UK as we start to see a growing group of fighters in the middleweight division make their mark eventually leading their paths to collide. This is something we can all look forward to in England but for now I’m just going to get excited about the 22nd of November as I believe it will be the start of something very special in boxing, the return of the grudge match.