The result of a boxing match can be decided by a number of different factors; knock-outs, unanimous points decisions, disqualifications or a referee's call to stop the fight. With there being no exact science as to how a boxing match is actually scored, it's no surprise that over the years the sport has witnessed a fair share of controversial, opinion-dividing and err, ear-biting moments. From too-close-to-call fights to ridiculous refereeing decisions, we really have seen it all. So, without further ado, here's our list of the most controversial boxing fights in history!
7. Floyd Mayweather vs. Jose Luis Castillo (2002)
Fairly early into what went on to be an unbeaten career, Floyd "Money" Mayweather was involved in a disputable points decision in his fight against Jose Luis Castillo that, of course, went Mayweather's way. Despite Castillo landing a series of punches to the body that left Mayweather looking vulnerable under attack, the judges saw the undefeated champ as the better fighter on the night and awarded him the victory by a large points margin. Later in interview, Mayweather claimed that he took a blow to his hands and the injury limited his ability to land certain punches. This may or may not have been a tactic employed by Castillo, but following this fight , other boxers including Oscar Dela Hoya and Ricky Hatton also targeted Mayweather's hands - and it even won them one or two rounds.
6. Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez (2004)
The fierce rivalry that emerged between these two fighters all started with this 12 round showdown in 2004. The fight certainly didn't disappoint, with Pacquiao knocking Marquez down three times in the first round. Despite this setback, Marquez held his own and the fight finished a draw. The controversy with this one lies with the astounding scoring made by one of the judges. Instead of scoring the first round 7-10 in favour of Pacquiao, the judge incorrectly gave the score of 6-10. Bear in mind, this is the first round we're talking about; when the "Pacman" made his opponent hit the floor three times. As you can imagine, Pacquiao wasn't best pleased with that one. Wrong call, Mr judge!
5. Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Trinidad (1999)
This became widely known as one of the biggest boxing matchups of the late 90s, early 2000s. Both undefeated at the time, the two fighters were billed as the best boxers on the planet - making of course, for a fantastic battle in the ring. The fight lasted the full 12 rounds; and for the first 9 of those, Dela Hoya dominated Trinidad. He looked sure to take the victory, but eased off in the last 3 by dancing around the ring. When it came to the all important points decision, Trinidad was declared the winner by a somewhat controversial majority decision. De La Hoya's late antics meant that he landed very few punches, although the majority of observers still felt that De La Hoya had won the fight.
4. Timothy Bradley vs Manny Pacquiao (2012)
Another controversial fight featuring the Pacman - there's been a quite a few over the years. In this contest, the 34-year-old Filipino slugger clearly out-boxed his opponent, Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao was in the form of his life at the time, with a total of 54 wins and 38 KOs. It seemed the match between Bradley and himself was only going to go one way, but to everyone's surprise, the incompetent judges awarded Bradley a split decision win, and the WBO welterweight title to go with it. The guy that many boxing experts had tipped to be the boxer who could actually go on to beat Mayweather, had just been beaten - and it came as a shock to everyone. The WBO even requested for a panel of judges to review the fight, who instead claimed that Pacquiao had in fact out-boxed and outscored Bradley. Fortunately for the Pacman, he was able to get his revenge by beating Bradley via a unanimous points decision in their rematch in April 2014.
3. Park Si Hun vs Roy Jones Jr (1988)
This fight arguably became one of the most controversial moments in Olympic history. 19-year-old prospect Roy Jones Jr completely dominated Park Si Hun in their gold medal championship tie. In one of the most one-sided contents the event has ever witnessed, Jones appeared to completely dominate the South-Korean; so much so that even the commentators were quoted saying “Park Si-Hun is taking a thrashing.” Once the fight had concluded, pundits claimed that Roy Jones Jr had “severely outclassed his opponent”, and with almost everyone convinced that Jones would take the victory, the judges threw their metaphorical curveball and, incredibly, awarded Park Si-Hun a 3-2 win on points. This result seemed inconceivable to many, especially considering that over the course of the three rounds, Jones landed a total of 86 punches, whilst Park only landed 32. This of course raised suspicion, and it was later discovered that the officials dined with the judges the night prior to the fight. The words "match" and "fixing", certainly come to mind here.
2. Lenox Lewis vs Evander Holyfield I (1999)
This shaped up to be a true battle of the heavyweights, with Lewis owning the WBC heavyweight title and Holyfield holding the WBA and IBF belts. Many boxing fans were left disappointed when the much-anticipated title clash amounted to nothing more than a draw. But was this decision correct? We don't think so. Lewis dominated the fight, landing a total of 348 punches. Compare this to Holyfield's 130, and there's only one clear winner, surely? The judges strangely didn't share this opinion - especially Eugenia Williams, who even scored the fight in favour of Holyfield. It wasn't just the amount of punches Lewis made, it was the sheer control he had over his opponent; he endured very little punishment and also managed stagger Holyfield on several occasions. After the fight, Emanuel Steward, Lewis' trainer, claimed that the match "wasn't even close" and it's decisions like these that are "killing boxing". Fortunately for Lewis, he got to put things right by convincingly beating Holyfield in the rematch.
1. Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield II (1996)
This one simply has to take the number one spot. The infamous "bite fight" was a contest between boxing legend Mike Tyson (45-2, 39 KOs) and Evander Holyfield (33-3, 24 KOs) for the WBA Heavyweight Championship. The two had fought before in Las Vegas, seven months prior to this matchup; with Holyfield taking the victory after knocking Tyson down in the sixth. For Tyson, this was all about revenge.
Holyfield came out the blocks faster and used a series of well-executed hooks and jabs to take the opening two rounds. Into the third round, Tyson was beginning to look scrappy and desperate and continued to take hits from Holyfield. Hothead Tyson completely lost his cool after a head-butt (which the referee saw as accidental) from Holyfield gashed his right eye. From this moment on, Tyson’s interest in regaining the WBA crown quickly diminished, and it became apparent that his focus switched to purely hurting his opponent. In retaliation, Tyson barbarically bit on both of Holyfield's ears. Ouch. Tyson was of course, disqualified, in what was arguably the ugliest fight in the history of boxing.
Holyfield's post-fight quote read: "It doesn't show no courage to foul and get out of the fight. Fear causes people to do the easy thing, the quickest thing."
Tyson, on the other hand, stated that "He butted me in the second round, and he looked at me and butted me again. No one deducted points. This is my career. What am I supposed to do? He got a little cut on his ear and he quit."