Although it lasted for 12 thrilling rounds, this 1990 bout between Mexican hero Julio Cesar Chavez and Philadelphia prodigy Meldrick Taylor is remembered for two seconds. Fast-paced from the start, the bout was Taylor’s early on as he avoided many of Chavez’s blistering blasts and pulled ahead on points with his stick-and-move offense. Yet, towards the final rounds, the tough Mexican began to connect, punishing Taylor with endless shots. By most estimations, Taylor was still winning on paper going into the 12th, but his corner convinced him otherwise, so he attacked Chavez instead of avoiding the dangerous brawler — a serious miscalculation that led the young fighter right into a flurry of brutal punches. Destroyed after rounds of pummeling, Taylor looked dead on his feet, forcing official Richard Steele to stop the bout with only two seconds to go in the final round. Steele’s decision is still debated to this day. The fight’s greatness is not.
5. Aaron Pryor vs. Alexis Arguello — November 12, 1982
Dubbed “The Battle of the Champions “ by promoter Bob Arum, this 1982 dream match pitted the arrogant, boastful Aaron Pryor against the proud, stoic Alexis Arguello in a 15-round slugfest. Dubbed “The Explosive Thin Man,” Arguello was attempting to become the first man to win titles in four different weight classes when he stepped in the ring with the light welterweight Pryor. He came close, too, controlling most of the fight with his dangerous hands, but “The Hawk” came alive in the final rounds, battering Arguello with punches until the fight was stopped in dramatic fashion. A mysterious black bottle that disgraced trainer Panama Lewis handed Pryor in-between rounds threw the fight’s outcome into question, but “The Hawk” would silence his critics by defeating Arguello even more decisively 10 months later.
4. Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman — October 30, 1974
In 1974, George Foreman was hell on earth. A huge, powerful puncher, Foreman made mincemeat out of Joe Frazier and embarrassed Ken Norton in two rounds before it was announced that he would be fighting Muhammad Ali in Zaire in a bout dubbed “The Rumble in the Jungle.” Although he was beloved, Ali was looked at as the underdog going into this title match. Foreman was too big, too powerful. “The Louisville Lip” was ready for his young opponent, though, and using a technique he called the “rope-a-dope,” Ali famously covered himself up against the ropes and let Foreman throw bombs until he wore himself out. By the eighth round, the big man was exhausted and Ali capitalized, delivering a hard right hand that knocked Foreman out and cemented the boxer’s reputation as “The Greatest.”