The “rematch clause” is a well-known term in boxing’s language. Before a punch is thrown a safety net is put in place for one fighter, usually dubbed the “A-Side”, which allows them a second bite at the cherry should they lose.

This normally applies to fights of great importance where one or more of the world belts are on the line. Sivenathi Nontshinga was one recipient of a rematch clause prior to defending his IBF light-flyweight strap in Monte Carlo three months ago. The supremely confident South African was widely expected to win but was humbled by challenger Adrian Curiel in just two rounds.

To win his belt back Nontshinga must not only overturn a second-round knockout defeat but do so on Curiel’s home turf in Mexico on Friday night (February 16).

History shows that bouncing back in the next fight after such a shattering defeat can be achieved. Boxing News presents five examples of rematches where the beaten man didn’t have long to wait to right the result.


Floyd Patterson vs. Ingemar Johansson

Fight 1: June 26, 1959 – Johansson wins by third-round TKO.

Fight 2: June 20, 1960 – Patterson wins by fifth-round KO.

Ingemar Johannson weighed 14lbs more than Floyd Patterson when the European heavyweight champion took on the world champion at Yankee Stadium in June 1959. It mattered little to observers who believed Patterson would successfully defend his title for a fifth time. Patterson let it be known beforehand he had never seen Johannson fight.

The Swede went on to floor Patterson seven times in round three before referee Ruby Goldstein stopped the fight. “Toonder and Lightning”, the various names for Johansson’s right hand, had most certainly struck.

One year later and this time Johannson was the favourite. The usually placid Patterson sought revenge and had a dislike for the new champ. This time the mighty right hand of Johannson would not work to its fullest effect. And in round two it whacked Patterson who staggered but shook it off, showing resilience and determination.

History was against Patterson, who hoped to become the first man in history to regain the heavyweight title; something that Bob Fitzsimmons, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis and more failed to do before him. But Patterson, who weighed eight pounds more for the rematch, was a changed fighter after experiencing the embarrassment of losing to Johansson. In the fifth he cracked the champ’s jaw with a right hand and followed up with a leaping left hook which put Johansson on the floor. Cut and bloodied, the Swede recovered only to be met with more left hooks before the final one, one of the greatest punches ever thrown by Patterson, met Johannson’s face and sent him crashing with his head thudding off the canvas. Referee Arthur Mecante counted the champion out at 1.51 of round five.

Patterson completed the comeback in March 1961, beating Johansson by sixth round knockout. During their unexpected trilogy the two men visited the canvas 12 times between them.


Lennox Lewis vs. Hasim Rahman

Fight 1: April 22, 2001 – Rahman wins by fifth-round KO.

Fight 2: November 17, 2001 – Lewis wins by fourth-round KO.

After spending time in Las Vegas filming scenes for a part in the Ocean’s Eleven remake, Lennox Lewis got back to his real job as a real boxer when he put his WBC and IBF heavyweight belts on the line against the unfancied Hasim Rahman in South Africa.

British fans were delighted to be given the chance to watch Lewis on free-to-air television with the fight shown live on the BBC. Lewis’s preparations were affected by jetlag, arriving in South Africa later than required and overlooking Rahman, who entered the fight with losses to wrecking ball David Tua and Oleg Maskaev.

Against Lewis, he made the most of his shot and shocked the world by knocking the champion out in the fifth round. Seven months later, Lewis was back in Vegas, but this time starring in his own sequel. The build-up turned sour with growing animosity between the pair which resulted in a brawl between the two big lumps on ESPN.

Lewis was a different animal in the rematch. The challenger was laser-focused on getting his belts back and shutting up Rahman. And in the fourth-round Lewis delivered a devastating one-two which ended Rahman’s short reign. Beating his chest in celebration, it was revenge and redemption for Lewis.


Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez

Fight 1: March 3, 2007 – Marquez wins after Vazquez retires in round seven.

Fight 2: August 4, 2007 – Vazquez wins by sixth-round TKO.

Seventeen years ago, one of the greatest boxing rivalries kicked off at the Home Depot Centre in Carson. Vazquez was defending his WBC super-bantamweight strap for the third time and was in fine form having out-gunned Jhonny Gonzalez six month earlier.

Marquez, Juan Manuel’s brother, was finally moving up in weight after a lengthy stay at bantamweight. Both he and Vazquez were at their peak but in the opening round the nose of Vasquez had been punctured by his opponent who then rocked him with a right hand later on. The tide turned in round three when Marquez, who was getting the better of exchanges, found himself on the floor from a left hook. However, Vazquez’s nose issue almost cost him the fight in the fifth when he turned his back. At the end of the seventh the fight was over due to the injury. A Mexican never wants to go out like that.

Fans only had to wait eight months for the rematch. The first round felt like an entire fight in three minutes. The exchanges became more frequent, and if one man was forced back by a shot he would step right back into the fire for more. Despite a cut on his nose and swelling around his eyes, Vazquez would not stop.

If you blinked, you would miss something. The punches continued throughout. Both men bloodied, the brutality never ceased; it was stirring but career shortening. More drama came in the fifth when Vazquez was on the deck but referee Jose Guadalupe correctly ruled it a slip. Marquez was then lit up by a three-punch combination which put him down in the sixth. A torrent of shots followed before the fight was stopped with over a minute to go. One superlative wouldn’t do the fight justice.

The trilogy arrived in March 2008 – another barnburner which Vazquez won by split decision – before an unnecessary fourth installment, in which a now damaged Vazquez was knocked out in the third round, came two years later.


Sergey Kovalev vs. Eleider Alvarez

Fight 1: August 4, 2018

Fight 2: February 2, 2019

After back-to-back defeats against Andre Ward, the reputation of Sergey Kovalev was damaged. “Krusher” had been a destructive force who happened to run into a modern great.

By beating up Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and Igor Mikhalin, the Russian got back into the swing of things before defending his WBO light-heavyweight strap against challenger Eleider “Storm” Alvarez.

The Colombian swept into Atlantic City in no doubt he would beat the man he described as “the best in the division”, a pop at Adonis Stevenson who Alvarez had been waiting three years as WBC mandatory challenger to face.

Alvarez announced his arrival at the top table in spectacular fashion. The 6ft underdog utilised his effective jab, moved well, and showed no effect from his opponent’s body shots. Kovalev looked to be in control and winning until a long right hand had him down in round seven. Alvarez repeated the feat on two more occasions, signalling a new force at 175lbs and perhaps the beginning of the end for Kovalev.

Six months later, Kovalev quietened everybody by displaying his underrated boxing abilities to boss Alvarez, who carried nowhere near the threat from their first bout. The challenger picked his shots, snapping Alvarez’s head back throughout with a variety of punches, and proved once again why he was one of the best in the world by winning 120-108 and 116-112 (twice) on all three scorecards.


Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz

Fight 1: June 1, 2019 – Ruiz wins by seventh-round TKO.

Fight 2: December 7, 2019 – Joshua wins by unanimous decision.

Anthony Joshua’s attempt to conquer America could not have gone more wrong.

Original opponent Jarrell Miller was pulled after testing positive for a banned substance and then Andy Ruiz, all fast hands and podgy frame, was drafted in as Joshua’s opponent for his U.S debut at Madison Square Garden. A foregone conclusion soon turned into a living nightmare. Ruiz punched with the heavier-handed Joshua and recovered from a third-round knockdown to blitz AJ, putting him on the deck four times. It was a seismic upset which added to the rich boxing history of The Garden.

Speculation over what went wrong in Joshua’s preparations and the image of a man clearly not looking right in the ring pre-fight would not go away. He had no choice but to take a rematch.

To banish the demons, he would have to do so in Saudi Arabia, long before anyone in boxing started saying “His Excellency”, to get his three belts back. Ruiz had been enjoying life as a champion – maybe a little too much. In their rematch the Californian barely laid a glove on Joshua, who used solid fundamentals and ring craft to box his way to a wide points win.


Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara

Fight 1: February 18, 2023 – Lara wins by seventh-round TKO.

Fight 2: May 27, 2023 – Wood wins by unanimous decision.

Wood strolled into the Nottingham Arena 12 months ago feeling 10-feet tall and riding the wave of a three-fight run which included an impressive win over Can Xu and an epic battle against Michael Conlan.

Next up was the crude but effective Mauricio Lara, who had battered Josh Warrington in 2021. Wood could have given up his WBA featherweight belt, but he wasn’t about to let down his Nottingham faithful. He and Lara went toe-to-toe and chose to find out who punched the hardest. Wood’s trainer, Ben Davison, showed smarts and compassion, saving Wood for another day after his man was dropped in round seven.

No-one would have blamed Wood if he chose an alternative route when resuming his career, but he wasn’t having any of that. Instead, he wanted more of Lara, and it turned out to be the right move. Lara ended his own WBA reign on the scales the day before, leaving him stripped of his belt.

The worry now was how big would Lara be on the night and how much had the Battle of Nottingham three months earlier taken out of Wood. But fear not. The Brit, fighting this time in Manchester, used ring smarts to comfortably beat an ineffective Lara, who was a shadow of the man once deemed unstoppable. Mexico doesn’t often lose to Britain in a boxing ring so this one was to be savoured.