Five of the biggest boxing upsets in history

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In contact sport there will also be a chance for the underdog. Be it by a fluke punch or narrow decision, boxing has delivered its fair share of upsets over the years. 
In our attempt to identify the five biggest upsets in the sport's history, Betway combed through decades of boxing bouts dating as far back as 1935 while there is also space on our list for a fight which shocked the world just last year: 

5. Hasim Rahman vs. Lennox Lewis (April 2001) 

Lennox Lewis was subject to two major upsets during his illustrious career. First falling to 25-5 Oliver McCall in 1994 and then to Hasim Rahman in 2001.

For Lewis the fight was seen as a steppingstone towards a big money showdown against Mike Tyson later that year, but his American opponent had other ideas. Rahman knocked out an underprepared Lewis in the fifth round to claim the WBC, IBF, IBO, and lineal heavyweight titles at Carnival City in South Africa.

The Englishman got his revenge a few months later and defeated Tyson and Vitali Klitschko in the final two bouts of his professional career before hanging up his gloves in 2003.

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4. Corrie Sanders vs. Wladimir Klitschko (March 2003) 

Klitschko had won 16 bouts in succession before stepping into the ring to face Sanders four years after his first ever loss as a professional boxer. 
The Ukrainian had completed five successful defences of his WBO heavyweight title in build-up to his clash against the South African in front of a largely pro-Klitschko crowd in Germany. Sanders, who had only fought twice in the two years heading into the fight, knocked his opponent to the ground after just two rounds to claim an unlikely victory. 
Vitali would claim revenge for the Klitschko family a year later and while Wladimir would go on a rampage soon after to hold the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO, The Ring and lineal heavyweight titles all at once, he'd finally call time on his career following successive defeats to Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. 
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3. Andy Ruiz Jr vs. Anthony Joshua (June 2019) 

Ruiz was seen as a mere steppingstone for the all conquering Joshua heading into their fight at Madison Square Garden last year, but against all odds the British boxer would fall to his first professional defeat.

Joshua was initially set to face Jarrell Miller but he was denied his chance at the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles after testing positive for a banned substance. In step Ruiz, who stunned the world with a seventh round TKO of the champ to remind us all not to judge a book by its cover. 
Joshua would get his revenge in a tightly fought rematch just a few months later, but potential big money shots at heavyweight rivals Fury and Deontay Wilder were duly postponed. 

2. James J. Braddock vs. Max Baer (June 1935)

If there is a motion picture based on your story you bet it will be right up there amongst the biggest boxing upsets in the history of the sport. 
In 1935, James J. Braddock's victory over Max Baer gave berth to the 2005 classic Cinderella Man. Following defeat to Tommy Loughran in 1929 Braddock looked past his best and a decline in form painted a grim picture for his boxing future. He even gave up the sport during the Great Depression to provide for his family, but six years after that loss he'd win the  NBA, NYSAC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles in one of the great underdog stories. 
Favourite Max Baer headed into the fight on a 14-0 run stretching four years, but Braddock would claim victory on unanimous decision following 15 brutal rounds. 

1. James "Buster" Douglas vs. Mike Tyson (February 1990) 

Undoubtedly, the biggest upset in boxing history to date came in February 1990 when a seemingly unstoppable Tyson fell to defeat in Tokyo, Japan. 
"Iron Mike" was considered unbeatable and with a record of 37-0 heading into his bout against "Buster" bookies gave the challenger almost no chance. No challenger had taken Tyson beyond the fifth round since 1987 and having claimed the WBA, WBC, IBF, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles on his way to the top of the mountain the champion and knockout machine was tipped for another easy win. 
That all played into Douglas' favour for the biggest upset boxing has ever seen and spurred on by the memory of his mother who had died just 23 days earlier, he dominated the fight from the onset and eventually claimed a 10th round KO win. 
Douglas would fall to defeat in his very next fight against Evander Holyfield and although he never managed to reach the heights of that faithful night ever again, he will forever be remembered for one of the biggest upsets boxing has ever seen.   

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Published: 05/14/2020