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Apr 8, 2016
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No doubt, among combat sports, boxing still lords it over above everyone else when it comes to box office.

According to MMAPayout.com, UFC 196, which saw the franchise's biggest star, Conor McGregor, going head-to-head with Nate Diaz, drew an attendance of 14,697 for a gate of $8.1 million.

Meanwhile, the live gate receipts for Mayweather-Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena earned in excess of $71 million.

How's that for disparity?

Obviously, it is not just about the personalities involved. It is also about the sport, its history to be exact.

See, boxing has long enjoyed popularity around the world with legendary fighters like Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Muhammad Ali, among others, leaving us with great stories that we continue to relive to this day.

It is the same thing with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao—it's all about wanting a bit of that history. The discussion wouldn't be complete without us touching on moments that signaled these modern day gladiators' rise to prominence.

That said, like most good things in life, everything eventually runs it course. Manny has declared his third bout with Timothy Bradley this weekend as most likely his last, and depending on the outcome of his senatorial bid, it seems that his pronouncement might hold true.

In light of the Pambansang Kamao's final bout, we go back to the last time our other boxing heroes stepped into the ring.


IT DIDN'T HAVE TO END LIKE THAT
(Not the most fitting way for a legend to end his career)

Rocky Marciano

Marciano ended his career in 1956 at 31 years old as the only heavyweight champion with a perfect record—49 wins in 49 professional bouts, with 43 knockouts.

His last fight was with Archie Moore in New York on September 21, 1955. It was a magnificent display of a pugilist at the height of his power, with Moore being KO'd in the 9th round.

A few years later, Rocky would die in a plane crash.


Sugar Ray Robinson

At the time the great Sugar Ray fought for the final time in 1965, he was already way past his prime, doing the gig mainly for the money.

Most agree it was quite the sad affair, with Robinson being knocked down by the soft-punching Joey Archer en route to a unanimous decision win.

Archer was surprised himself, noting in interviews afterwards that it was only the second time he had knocked an opponent down in his career.

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Nonetheless, the crowd at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh gave the fallen legend several standing ovations during the bout.

Only a few months later Robinson was already broke, having spent all the money he earned inside the ring.


Muhammad Ali

As good as he is, Ali proved to be stubborn, attempting comeback after comeback even during the twilight of his career.

He last put on his gloves on December 11, 1981 in Nassau, Bahamas against Trevor Berbick, losing in a lackluster 10-round decision.

Before that, he faced Larry Holmes for the World Boxing Council belt, in hopes of winning the heavyweight championship for an unprecedented fourth time. Note that around this time he was already struggling with early signs of Parkinson's disease.

The fight took place on October 2, 1980 in Las Vegas, with Holmes easily dominating Ali.

His trainer, Angelo Dundee, finally stopped the fight in the eleventh. It was the only fight Ali lost via knockout.


Mike Tyson

Already ranked among the greats at a young age, Tyson destroyed every opponent he faced early on in his career.

But fame was something he couldn't handle. None too soon, he was involved in numerous troubles, the worst of which included a prison stint.

Tyson retired from professional boxing in 2006, after being knocked out in consecutive matches against Danny Williams and Kevin McBride.

Although the fight with Williams was pretty sad with the so-called "Baddest Man In the Planet" being knocked out in the fourth, the fight with McBride was worse with Tyson quitting before the start of the seventh.


Sugar Ray Leonard

Considered one of the all-time greats, Leonard had a hard time stepping away from the limelight.

Just like Ali, his career was peppered with comebacks, most of them unnecessary.

He last came out of retirement in October 1996. At the time, he was already 40 years old.

His opponent? 34-year-old Héctor Camacho who, at that point, was considered already a has-been by many.

The encounter took place on March 1, 1997 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Camacho came out confident scoring well, until the fourth round when he opened a cut above Leonard's right eye. In the fifth, the former dropped the latter with a right followed by two left uppercuts. Sugar Ray got up, but it was obvious that he was finished. The referee stopped the fight with Camacho teeing off on a defenseless Leonard who was barely hanging on the ropes.

 ENOUGH IS ENOUGH (There are times when you just don't have it; the mind and heart can but the body cannot)

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Joe Frazier

Nicknamed "Smokin' Joe," the heavyweight champ was known for his durability, punching power, and all-out relentlessness.

He was among the few fighters who gave Ali a hard time in the ring, with the latter going on to claim that fighting Frazier at the famed Thrilla In Manila was the "closest thing to dying that I know of."

Prior to retiring in 1976, he fought George Foreman for the second time. After two knockdowns, the fight was stopped in the fifth.

In 1981, Frazier attempted a comeback against Floyd "Jumbo" Cummings in Chicago, Illinois. It was a painful battle that ended in a draw. Realizing he didn't have it anymore, Frazier retired for good.


Julio Cesar Chávez

Considered the greatest Mexican fighter of all time, Chávez' long and storied career run included 115 fights, with 107 wins (86 by KO).

Note that most of his six losses came late in his career.

His last fight was on September 17, 2005 at the U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona, against virtual unknown Grover Wiley.

Chávez suffered a TKO loss, retiring in his corner before the start of the fifth, claiming to have injured his right hand.

His defeat was avenged two years later by his son, Julio César Chávez, Jr., who knocked Wiley out in the third round of their fight.


Roberto Duran

Duran was another great felled by Héctor Camacho.

The once formidable Panamanian was beaten twice by the Puerto Rican in as many confrontations.

The rematch was unnecessary as it was ugly with lots of clinches and headbutts from both sides. Note however that, at 50, Duran could still box. In fact, some thought he looked even faster than his opponent who was 11 years younger than him. But it was clear the punching power of "Manos de Piedra" (Hands of Stone) was long gone.


Oscar De La Hoya

Undoubtedly the biggest star of the sport before Mayweather came along, De La Hoya ended his career at the hands of our very own Manny Pacquiao.

The showdown happened on December 6, 2008 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Many thought that he would outclass the Filipino, being bigger and more experienced. Alas, it wasn't a walk in the park for the Golden Boy—it was a mugging, with The Pacman throwing speedy combinations that landed consistently.

De La Hoya's corner stopped the fight after the eighth.


GOING OUT IN STYLE (At the least, how we want Pacquiao to be before the final bell rings)

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George Foreman

Big George finally hanged up his boxing gloves in 1997 at the age of 48, with a final record of 76–5, including 68 knockouts.

He was the bad guy of the sport early on, ripping the likes of Frazier. By the time Foreman made his first comeback in 1987, after a decade away from the ring, he surprised the boxing world with his new alter ego as a born-again Christian.

His last fight was against Shannon Briggs in an eliminator bout for the right to face WBC champion Lennox Lewis.

It was a hard fought 12 rounds, in which Foreman consistently rocked Briggs with power punches. It wasn't enough, however, with the latter awarded a points win.


Marvin Hagler

Marvelous Marvin stepped inside the ring for the last time against Sugar Ray Leonard at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on April 6, 1987. It was a match made in heaven, with critics deeming both the best of their era.

Hagler fought aggressively from the get-go but his speedy counterpart always had a ready answer for him. Slipping and sliding, Leonard would evade his opponent for the duration of the fight, once in a while throwing flashy combinations that got the crowd going. The stronger Hagler would land a few good ones on Leonard along the way but it was not enough for the judges, two of whom will award the latter the win.

Hagler would go on to demand a rematch but Leonard chose to retire again. In 1990, Sugar Ray finally offered Hagler a rematch but he declined having settled down as an actor in Italy.

 

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