Sugar Ray to Tyson: HBO behind boxing’s greatest moments
8th December 2018

HBO will end its 45-year run of broadcasting live boxing on Saturday with a Boxing After Dark triple-header from the StubHub Arena in Carson, Calif.

Cecilia Braekhus faces Aleksandra Magdziak-Lopes in the main event, while Juan Francisco Estrada takes on Victor Mendez and two-time Olympic gold-medal winner Claressa Shields meets Femke Hermans. Here’s a quick look at 10 memorable moments in HBO’s boxing history:

Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs. Sugar Ray Leonard: The debate continues over who won this fight in the outdoor arena at Caesars Palace on April 6, 1987. Shown initially on closed circuit and later on HBO, Leonard ended a three-year retirement to challenge Hagler, the middleweight champion. Hagler was a 6-to-1 favorite, but Leonard used his boxing skills and foot movement to stay out of danger. He stole rounds with late flurries just as the bell sounded and eventually earned a controversial split-decision victory.

Buster Douglas upsets Mike Tyson: One of the biggest, if not the biggest, upset in sports history took place on Feb. 11, 1990, when Douglas, a 42-to-1 underdog, knocked out undefeated and undisputed heavyweight champion Tyson in the 11th round in Tokyo. Douglas’ mother Lula Pearl had died 23 days before the fight, fueling Douglas with fearless motivation. Tyson knocked down Douglas in the eighth round, but the challenger got up and dominated the champion in the 11th. It was Tyson’s first defeat after 37 victories.

Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield trilogy: On Nov. 13, 1992, Bowe challenged Holyfield for the undisputed heavyweight championship. It was the first of three sensational fights between the two. Bowe won a unanimous decision in the first fight, highlighted by a sensational 10th round in which both fighters staggered each other throughout the round. Holyfield gained revenge in the rematch Nov. 6, 1993, winning by majority decision in a fight marred by the “Fan Man” incident, in which a parachutist crashed into the outdoor ring at Caesars Palace. Bowe took the rubber match on Nov. 4, 1995, with an eighth-round TKO.

George Foreman regains heavyweight title: On Nov. 5, 1994, Foreman, 45, became the oldest man to win the heavyweight championship when he knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th round at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. At age 45, Foreman also became the first to regain a world title 20 years after losing it — to Muhammad Ali in “The Rumble in the Jungle.” Foreman also became the first heavyweight champion to win the title by defeating someone 19 years younger.

Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad: It was billed as “The Fight of the Millennium” and wound up being the highest-grossing non-heavyweight fight at the time with 1.4 million buys. Both were unbeaten welterweights when they met on Sept. 18, 1999. De La Hoya, the gold medalist from East Los Angeles, was promoted by Bob Arum, while Trinidad, the pride of Puerto Rico, was promoted by Arum’s rival, Don King. De La Hoya used his boxing skills early in the fight to take what he presumed was a big lead on the scorecards. Inexplicably, he spent the last four rounds being elusive. In the end Trinidad rallied for a majority decision.

Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward trilogy: Or shall we say, “Thrillogy,” as The Post reported. Gatti and Ward met for three legendary bouts. Ward won the first by majority decision on May 18, 2002. The damage inflicted sent both fighters to the trauma center. Gatti won an equally brutal rematch by unanimous decision on Nov. 23 of that year, and a bloody rubber match by decision on June 7, 2003.

Roy Jones captures heavyweight crown: It had been more than 100 years since a middleweight champion had moved up to capture a heavyweight title before Jones defeated John Ruiz on March 1, 2003, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Ruiz had become the WBA heavyweight champion in 2001 after defeating Evander Holyfield, while Jones was the reigning light heavyweight champion. Ruiz, raw and awkward, was no match for skilled Jones, who won a unanimous decision.

24/7 De La Hoya/Floyd Mayweather: HBO launched the ground-breaking series to promote the May 2007 fight between De La Hoya and Mayweather. The four-part reality series followed the boxers’ preparation for the mega-fight, with the Mayweather family and their relationships gaining most of the attention. The series helped the fight become the richest in boxing history at the time, with more than $130 million in revenue. Mayweather won a split decision, and the 24/7 series changed the way how big fights were promoted.

Manny Pacquiao vs. De La Hoya: It was the end of one era and the beginning of another when Pacquiao and De La Hoya met on Dec. 6, 2008. De La Hoya had accumulated 10 world titles in six different weight divisions, but looked finished against the faster, more determined Pacquiao, who won by TKO in the eighth round. The fight generated 1.25 million pay-per-view buys and made Pacquiao a global star. De La Hoya announced his retirement after the bout.

Larry Merchant vs. Mayweather: While conducting a post-fight interview with a cantankerous Mayweather after his knockout of Victor Ortiz on Sept. 17, 2011, HBO broadcaster Larry Merchant told the undefeated boxer, “I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your ass.” It was one of the many memorable moments in the history of HBO broadcasts.

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