There are iconic venues in every sport, from Lords Cricket Ground to the Imola Motor Racing Circuit to the most famous of them all, Wembley Stadium. But the thing about boxing is that a match can take place almost anywhere. A boxing ring is far easier to set up that a football pitch or a Formula One racing circuit, and so sometimes, when one of those all time classic fights takes place, the venue becomes forever associated with that moment in time.
Here are some examples.
The Thrilla in Manila
The third and final showdown between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier took place at the Philippine Coliseum in 1975. At the time, this sports arena was the largest dome in Asia, and it remained so till 2001.
The venue has played host to numerous events over the years, but more than 40 years on, this is the one everyone remembers. The fight is consistently ranked the best in boxing history and mere words cannot do it justice. If you have never got round to seeing it, you can find it online.
Tyson vs Holyfield at the MGM Grand
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1990’s fight between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield really put the MGM Grand on the boxing map. Tyson was badder than ever. He’d just spent three years in prison on a rape conviction, and since his release had obliterated four opponents, needing the sum total of eight rounds to do so. Holyfield looked past his prime, and seemed like another lamb to the slaughter – bookmakers had Tyson as 25-1 favourite.
Yet however many times Tyson hit him – and there were several punishing blows – Holyfield kept coming back, Terminator-style, and in the sixth, it was Tyson who found himself on the canvas. From thereon in, the tables had turned, and the referee brought things to a close as Iron Mike wilted under a hail of punches in the 11th round.
The Rumble in the Jungle
The most famous of them all, and again, it featured Muhammad Ali. The fight was held just months before the thrilla in Manila, in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). It was also famous for being the fight that brought us our first glimpse of legendary promoter Don King, who is still going strong at the age of 86.
In this fight, Ali took on the world heavyweight champion George Foreman, and was declared victorious in the dying seconds of the 8th round. It was a bout in which legends were born, and it all took place in a little-known African city that will always be remembered for hosting one of the fights of the century.