There are first-round knockouts, unanimous decisions, disqualifications and even highway robberies. The outcome of a boxing match can be determined by an incompetent judge or a dimwitted fighter who eliminates himself. Controversial decisions are often met with an outburst of upset fans making accusations of collusion. Extensive debate is expected to follow any result that was originally too close to call, and boxing is no exception. Here are five of boxing’s most controversial endings in the last 30 years.
1. Meldrick Taylor – Julio Cesar Chavez (March 17, 1990)
In a bout billed “Thunder Meets Lightning,” the 24-year-old Taylor (24-0-1, 14 KOs) used his quickness and elusiveness to build a sizable lead on the scorecards over the 28-year-old Chavez (68-0, 55 KOs). Unfortunately for Meldrick “The Kid” Taylor, Chavez landed far more effective blows, and Taylor endured an obscene amount of punishment. Chavez relentlessly pursued Taylor and badly defaced Philadelphia’s gold medalist.
With The Kid in dire condition, Chavez cracked Taylor with a powerful right that dropped the youngster in the scrap’s waning moments. Although he was in a daze, Taylor somehow regained his footing only to have referee Richard Steele mercifully halt the bloodbath at 2 minutes, 58 seconds of the final frame.
“Meldrick suffered a facial fracture, he was urinating pure blood, his face was grotesquely swollen,” said Dr. Flip Homansky, who examined Taylor after the fight. “This was a kid who was truly beaten up to the face, the body, and the brain.”
Richard Steele protected Meldrick Taylor and Julio Cesar Chavez remained undefeated on St. Patrick’s Day at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas.
2. Mike Tyson – Evander Holyfield II (June 28, 1997)
Roughly eight months after suffering an 11th round TKO, the 31-year-old Tyson (45-2, 39 KOs) was determined to abuse the 35-year-old Holyfield (33-3, 24 KOs) and avenge his defeat. Prior to “The Sound and the Fury,” Tyson’s former trainer, Teddy Atlas, made an intriguing prediction:
“(Tyson) will try to get lucky, naturally,” said Atlas, who pulled a firearm on Iron Mike in 1981. “But if he can’t land a knockout punch early, he’s going to try to disqualify himself, either by elbowing, or throwing a low blow, butting or biting.”
Holyfield used an array of hooks and jabs to win the first two rounds. Of greater consequence, Holyfield gashed Tyson’s right eye with a headbutt that referee Mills Lane deemed accidental. An infuriated Tyson, no longer interested in regaining the WBA crown, sought retaliation, and barbarically chomped on both of Holyfield’s ears in the third.
“Referee Mills Lane has disqualified Mike Tyson for biting Evander Holyfield on both of his ears,” read public address announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr.
As countless brawls erupted throughout the MGM Grand Garden Arena, it was evident that Mike Tyson caused one of Sin City’s ugliest evenings.
3. Timothy Bradley – Manny Pacquiao I (June 9, 2012)
The 34-year-old Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) displayed elite footwork, launched precise punches from all angles, and easily outdid the 29-year-old Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs). Curiously, incompetent judges thought otherwise and handed Bradley a split decision win and the WBO welterweight belt. The WBO subsequently commissioned a panel of five judges to review the contest. Unsurprisingly, the WBO’s reinforcements declared that Pacquiao had indeed universally outscored Bradley.
Pacquiao formally earned a unanimous decision triumph over Bradley in their rematch nearly two years later in April 2014.
4. Lennox Lewis – Evander Holyfield I (March 13, 1999)
The 34-year-old Lewis (34-1-1) landed 348 punches, and the 37-year-old Holyfield (36-3-1) landed 130 punches. Lewis also staggered Holyfield on several occasions and absorbed virtually no punishment. Regardless, the mismatch was called a draw by counts of 116-113 for Lewis, 115-113 for Holyfield, and 115-115.
”It wasn’t even close,” said Emanuel Steward, Lewis’s trainer. “This is what is killing boxing.”
Although ”it wasn’t even close,” a duo of nitwits allowed Evander Holyfield to escape Madison Square Garden with his belts intact.
5. Riddick Bowe – Andrew Golota I (July 11, 1996)
The 28-year-old Golota (28-0), a native of Poland, brutalized the 27-year-old Bowe (38-1) at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Oddly, rather than seeking a knockout, the 6-foot-4, 243-pound Golota focused on Bowe’s groin. After intentionally striking the 6-foot-5, 252-pound Bowe in the nether region on four occasions, referee Wayne Kelly disqualified Golota. Violence immediately exploded following the stoppage.
Long a malevolent soul, Andrew Golota was responsible for instigating one of Gotham’s most frightening incidents of the ’90s.