By Matt Christie

25  WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO v Anthony Joshua (2017), round six

JOSHUA, though not regarded as invincible, had never lost nor been floored as a professional heading into his showdown with Klitschko at Wembley Stadium. Joshua dropped Klitschko in round five, celebrated like the fight was won and, shortly thereafter, began to unravel. The collective gasp at ringside when Klitschko decked the darling of the British boxing press will take some forgetting.

 24  TONY GALENTO v Joe Louis (1939), round three

GALENTO was a barrel of a man with a solid dig but had no real business being in the ring with the world heavyweight champion. He gave it everything, wobbling Louis early before being dropped in the second. He returned the favour in the third round to carve his name in history.

23  JOE FRAZIER v Muhammad Ali (1971), round 15

FRAZIER was in charge of the Fight of the Century going into the last round but Ali, the former champion, was still in it. The left hook from Joe in the 15th, that sent Ali crashing, remains one of the most dramatic moments in heavyweight history.

22  BONECRUSHER SMITH v Tim Witherspoon (1986), round one

A SUBSTITUTE for Tony Tubbs, James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith had already been handily outscored by Witherspoon in a previous meeting. Canny and durable, ‘Terrible’ Tim was highly regarded and had stood up to some serious blows from the division’s best. His collapse in round one was one of the biggest upsets of 1986.

21   ROCKY MARCIANO v Jersey Joe Walcott (1951), round 13

MARCIANO was trailing on the cards going into the 13th round and the perception, according to ringside reports of the time, was that Walcott was going to box his way to victory mere minutes later. Then Marciano trapped the world champion on the ropes and uncorked one of the greatest punches of them all.

20  MIKE WEAVER v John Tate (1980), round 15

TATE was being mentioned as Muhammad Ali’s comeback opponent when he boxed the ears off Mike Weaver for 14 rounds. Then he got careless. “The crowd cost Tate the fight,” Weaver said after removing his rival from consciousness with a left hook in the final minute. “He made the mistake of trying to come out and slug with me. He was boxing before that. He was responding to the crowd.”

19  CHUCK WEPNER v Muhammad Ali (1975), round nine

THOUGH replays prove that huge underdog Wepner tripped Ali, when ‘The Greatest’ hit the mat after taking a shot to the body, commentators were stunned and the crowd went ballistic.

18  BERT COOPER v Evander Holyfield (1992), round three

COOPER had, just three days prior, replaced Francesco Damiani (who himself had come in for Mike Tyson) and was a ginormous underdog. Holyfield had never been off his feet, so when he was clearly hurt in round three and stumbled into the ropes – rightly declared a knockdown – it was an amazing moment.

17  JERSEY JOE WALCOTT v Ezzard Charles (1951), round seven

WALCOTT had lost two 15-round decisions to Charles and was widely expected to lose again in fight three. Yet after 36 rounds of picking and poking, Walcott ambled over to Charles and cleaned him out with one brilliant shot from nowhere.

16  RENALDO SNIPES v Larry Holmes (1981), round seven

A PEAK Holmes had spent much of the previous six sessions teaching Snipes a cruel lesson about elite-level heavyweight boxing. In fact, Snipes was so unfancied, there was no betting line on the fight. Then the challenger fired his right hand in the seventh, the unbeaten Holmes collapsed, got up and fell face-first into a turnbuckle.

15  CORRIE SANDERS v Wladimir Klitschko (2003), round one

SANDERS was known for his power but, even so, the fearsome Klitschko was seemingly on his way to taking over the weight class. So, when the South African trapped the favourite on the ropes and sent him careering to the mat in the opening round, it was a quite a sight.

14  MAX SCHMELING v Joe Louis (1936), round four

LOUIS had been feasting on contenders and former champions to such an extent it seemed like only a matter of time before he was king. Schmeling, another former champion, was a 10/1 underdog and a 2/1 shot to even make it as far as the seventh. In round four, after soaking up some early pressure, he decked Louis and all bets were off.

13  OLIVER McCALL v Lennox Lewis (1994), round two

“I WAS trying to catch him with that shot from the opening bell,” said 6/1 underdog McCall after beating Lewis with a stunning right hand in round two. Lennox had not been dropped before but, thanks to McCall, would be accused by some of not being able to take a shot for the rest of his career.

12  STANLEY KETCHEL v Jack Johnson (1909), round 12

WHETHER it’s true or not that the pair had beforehand agreed to make the fight last the scheduled 20 rounds, what is undebatable is the surprise generated when Ketchel, a middleweight, flung his right into Johnson’s face and dropped him suddenly in the 12th.

11  DEONTAY WILDER v Tyson Fury (2018), round 12

PERHAPS it shouldn’t have been a shock when Wilder, one of the hardest hitting of all heavyweights, briefly flattened the comebacking Fury in the last round. But by then, even though he’d gone down in the ninth, Tyson was in such command of the contest that it seemed written in the stars that he was going to box his way to a historic victory.

10  HASIM RAHMAN v Lennox Lewis (2001), round five

LIKE all upsets, there were clues that Rahman – the 20/1 outsider – might be able to topple Lewis, who had been filming Oceans 11 when he should have been training. But the champion was doing a decent job of keeping Rahman at bay for four rounds until the challenger hit the jackpot in South Africa with a rasping right hand in the fifth. After the KO, commentator Larry Merchant said of Lewis: “He just drowned in Oceans 11”.

9  HENRY COOPER v Cassius Clay (1964), round four

CLAY had told everyone he was going to stop Cooper in the fifth round and, before the fourth, one of the American’s managers, William Faversham, shouted at Cassius and told him to get to work. Almost three minutes later, Clay was on the ropes when Cooper fired his left hook and Cassius went down in a heap.

8  GEORGE FOREMAN v Joe Frazier (1973), round one

THAT broadcasting veteran Howard Cosell struggled to contain himself and howled “Down goes Frazier!” not once but three times, should explain the extent of the surprise when Foreman sent the unbeaten champion crashing for the first time in the opening round.

7  MUHAMMAD ALI v George Foreman (1974), round eight

THERE is always something remarkable about the sight of a seemingly invincible man having his cloak of armour removed inside a boxing ring. Though Ali was performing supremely, Foreman going down face-first in the eighth round was stunning – and arguably the most famous moment in heavyweight history.

6  LUIS FIRPO v Jack Dempsey (1923), round one

IT was all going to plan for Dempsey in the first round as he bounced Firpo off the canvas seven times. Then Firpo caught the champion with a right hand that caused Dempsey to tumble out of the ring. “He was staggering like he’d never staggered before,” reported the New York Times.

5  ANDY RUIZ JNR v Anthony Joshua (2019), round three

JOSHUA was widely regarded as the best heavyweight on the planet when he dropped Ruiz in round three inside Madison Square Garden. When Ruiz then got up and whipped Joshua off his feet, writers stopped typing and put their hands to their mouths in utter disbelief.

4  EVANDER HOLYFIELD v Mike Tyson (1996), round six

BY the sixth round, Holyfield had already made a mockery of the long odds against him. Even so, Tyson hitting the mat under the weight of a fierce combination from the supposed no-hoper was the moment it became clear the gignatic upset was unfolding.

3  FRANCIS NGANNOU v Tyson Fury (2023), round three

THIS one is still fresh in the memory and it remains scarcely believable. The unbeaten Fury was expected to toy with Ngannou, 0-0, until he ended up on the floor in round three. It was the moment when the boxing world was also turned on its head.

2  GEORGE FOREMAN v Michael Moorer (1994), round 10

FOREMAN, 45, had done little to merit his shot at champion Moorer, and so it proved during the first nine rounds when the ageing veteran was slow to pull the trigger. But one right hand was all that was required to put Moorer to sleep and make Foreman the oldest heavyweight champion of all time.

1  BUSTER DOUGLAS v Mike Tyson (1990), round 10

BEFORE Douglas came along, the entire world was only familiar with seeing Tyson obliterate all-comers to such an extent he was widely deemed unbeatable. And though Douglas had boxed beautifully, there was still something otherworldly about the vision of Tyson, left eye swollen shut and scrambling for his gumshield, being counted out in the 10th.

James “Buster” Douglas drops “Iron” Mike Tyson