man standing and walking going on boxing ring surrounded with people

Boxing is one of the most popular sports in the world. In a few sports, we see competitors set out to knock out their opponents, and this provides for compelling viewing. 

The sport, however, isn’t without its controversy. Throughout boxing’s history, there have been controversial moments that have shocked the world, moments people still discuss today.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at three of boxing’s most controversial incidents. But first, let’s take a look at the sport as a whole and how it works.

A brief guide to boxing

The history of boxing stretches all the way back to Ancient Greece, where athletes met in the shadow of Mount Olympus to fight it out for glory. It’s been an Olympic sport ever since, but it’s also one that professional athletes compete in to claim world championship titles in a range of different weight divisions.

Matches are fought in three-minute rounds, sometimes stretching over 12 rounds — particularly in professional boxing. 

The aim of the game is simple — defeat your opponent either by force by knocking them out or forcing them to concede or by defeating them on points that are awarded for technical blows. 

Betting and boxing

Boxing fights, especially title clashes, draw in huge crowds. Naturally, some of those fans want to place a bet on the outcome. That may be a straight-up choice on who will win, the method of victory, or unique bets such as one boxer to be knocked out in a certain round. 

NJ sports betting sites offer all these types of bets, and so do many other sportsbooks too. It’s always worth having a look around different sites to see who’s offering the best odds.

Now that we know more about the sport let’s look at some of boxing’s most controversial moments. 

Mike Tyson bites Evander Holyfield’s ear off

The 1997 fight between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson will forever be known as The Bite Fight. At stake was the WBA Heavyweight Championship. 

Under the glittering lights of the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the two went at it, with Holyfield dominating the early rounds. 

In the third round, Tyson came out of his corner without his mouthpiece. He reinserted it, and the match resumed. However, with forty seconds remaining in the third, Holyfield pushed Tyson into a corner. 

Tyson dodged a blow, his head above Holyfield’s shoulder, and bit down hard. He stepped away and spat out a chunk of Holyfield’s ear. 

Despite the injury, the match went on and was only stopped when Tyson tried to bite Holyfield’s other ear. Tyson was disqualified, and the match went down as one of the most bizarre and controversial in boxing history. 

Manny Pacquiao defeated by Timothy Bradley

The 2012 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley was billed as the “Perfect Storm.” The WBO welterweight title was the prize, and the fight was again held in Las Vegas.

Despite the hype, Pacquiao was the strong favorite. And the early rounds went in his favor too. By the end of the fifth round, a stunned Bradley was visibly hurt and nearly went down, but in the sixth round, Bradley got a second wind. 

The pair went hell for leather at each other as the fight drew to a close. It was decided on points, and the referees controversially gave the fight to Bradley, 2-1. The crowd booed the decision. The judges’ competence was questioned. 

Pacquiao accepted defeat with grace. He later got his revenge, defeating Bradley in two subsequent fights to both reclaim and defend his title. 

Lennox Lewis robbed of victory against Evander Holyfield

Lennox Lewis was one of Britain’s best fighters, and in March 1999, the WBC titleholder faced Evander Holyfield in a 12-round clash to become the undisputed heavyweight champion. 

Many boxing fans look back at the fight as one of Lewis’s best performances. He landed heavy blows and danced around his opponent’s attacks. Holyfield, in contrast, was sluggish and only landed the odd blow. 

Despite that, the judges came to a curious decision. Judge Stanley Christodoulou gave the fight to Lewis 116-113. Larry O’Connell, a British judge, scored it 115-115. Most controversially of all was Eugenia Williams’s verdict of 115-113 Holyfield. The fight ended in a draw. 

Later, Williams was accused of links to Holyfield’s promoter, Don King. She appeared before a federal grand jury and never worked in boxing again. 

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