HBO’s Legendary Night series was a breath of fresh air for boxing history junkies like me. After it premiered back in 2003, fans cried out for more. As the years wore on, legends began to grow, legacies expanded and classics emerged until finally this week HBO announced that they were resuming production on the Legendary Nights series and were going to be examining one of the most celebrated trilogies of the past decade: Arturo Gatti vs Mickey Ward.
It got me excited, but also got me thinking. Obviously they’re going to be making more after this; they can’t just bring it back for one episode and then say, “Well, see you in ten years.” That’s kind of a d-ck move. But, just in case anyone at HBO is in one of those moods, let me offer these fights and why they would make great additions to the Legendary Nights series.
1) Hopkins vs. Trinidad
On one side, you have “Tito” Trinidad, a boxing superstar who has been steamrolling through divisions and knocking guys out while becoming a national hero in his native Puerto Rico.
On the other side, you have Bernard Hopkins; on the verge of tying the record for most defenses at middleweight and craving the recognition his opponent has. Throw in some controversy surrounding a flag, the tragic events of 9/11 and the now-tradition of Bernard Hopkins coming in against a younger, dangerous opponent and making it look easy to defeat them.
2) De la Hoya vs. Vargas
These days, it’s pretty easy to find Oscar de la Hoya annoying, but back in 2002 and much earlier, Fernando Vargas hated de la Hoya and I think I’m being nice with that description.
They didn’t like each other, felt that they had to send a message to the boxing world by beating the other and that’s what they set out to do. It was a classic grudge match that turned into a classic performance by Oscar de la Hoya.
3) Lewis vs. Klitschko
After sending Mike Tyson into oblivion, where was Lennox Lewis to turn? A late replacement named Vitali Klitschko provided the answer and earned a new reputation by giving Lennox a much tougher fight than expected.
The controversy surrounding the ending and Lewis’ retirement soon afterwards still lingers but the classic back and forth between the two make it an excellent addition to this list.
4) Barrera vs. Morales
Two Mexican superstars, in the same weight class and again, don’t like each other that much. This stuff more or less writes itself.
Plus, I’m not really up to date on the history between these two and would like to see how they view things today. Do they still hate each other? Does each boxer think they won all three bouts? Is there a reason why this should not be on the list?
5) Morales vs. Pacquiao
One was a rising young superstar out of the Philippines with power in both hands. The other was a veteran trying not to get too battered.
Instead, the night took a different twist and started a trilogy that excited fans and help give birth to a modern day legend.
6) Cotto vs. Margarito
Mexico vs Puerto Rico. An undefeated rising superstar, Miguel Cotto, taking on a brawling wild-man looking for the defining victory of his career; Antonio Margarito.
What’s going to be paid a lot of attention is what happened during the fight and after when Margarito was busted putting plaster into his wraps before his next bout with Shane Mosley.
7) Mosley vs. Margarito
Shane Mosley was in a bad place. He had struggled against Ricardo Mayorga and now was taking on the most dangerous man in his division, Antonio Margarito.
Once Margarito’s foul wraps were out of the picture, Mosley turned back the clock and gave the last great performance of his career, reminding fans why they called him ‘Sugar‘.
8) Williams vs. Martinez
You had two of the best Jr. Middleweights meeting at Middleweight. Martinez was a replacement for Kelly Pavlik who had pulled out due to injury. What was expected was a clear Williams victory.
Instead we got toe-to-toe action, back and forth from first to last bell. The only downside to this bout was the scoring of one of the judges.
9) De la Hoya vs. Mayweather
The “Fight To Save Boxing” will be remembered more for launching Floyd Mayweather’s superstar status and for Oscar de la Hoya’s final world championship bout.
In any case, if they could include Bowe/Golota in the first series, I can see them including Oscar and Floyd’s fight in this series.
10) Pacquiao vs. Marquez
The excitement; the knockdowns; the blood; the knockout; the controversies.
I would want this to be an hour long special. All four bouts covered, each side explaining why they thought they won. If there is one series of fights that HBO is sure to include in their new Legendary Night series, this has to be it.