From Joshua to Corbett: the 10 best British world heavyweight title fights

Kevin Mitchell
Tommy Farr lands a right on Joe Louis during their title fight in September 1937, Frank Bruno shows off his WBC heavyweight title belt in September 1995 and David Haye evades a punch from Russia’s Nikolai Valuev during their title fight which Haye took on points in 2009. Composite: Bettmann/Getty Images; Action Images; Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

1) Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko, 29 April 2017

There is an argument to put this at the very top, a choice sweetened, perhaps, by currency. But it was some effort for a 19-fight novice champion to get off the floor and devastate a former champion (who boxed his best in years) in one late round. Magnificent.

2) Tyson Fury v Wladimir Klitschko, 28 November 2015

Another great win fresh in the memory. It sits second because Klitschko was complacent that night, and looked finished, but Fury made him look so. A quirky, masterful piece of boxing and a breakthrough fight for one of boxing’s enigmas.

3) Lennox Lewis v Evander Holyfield, 13 March 1999

The fight was officially a draw but it was morally a win for Lewis, who boxed superbly at Madison Square Garden and was denied the verdict by some very dubious judging.

WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis’ trainer Emanuel Steward sees what the New York Post has to say about Lewis’ fight against IBF and WBA champion Evander Holyfield. Photograph: Teddy Blackburn/Reuters

4) Lennox Lewis v Evander Holyfield, 13 November 1999

Lewis’s victory in the Las Vegas rematch, eight months after their first meeting, was vindication for the British fighter but, strangely, not as good a performance.

5) Lennox Lewis v Vitali Klitschko, 21 June 2003

In his farewell fight Lewis was drawn into a bloody battle with Wladimir’s elder brother, with some saying he was fortunate to win on a cuts stoppage. We will never know how it would have panned out but for the unkind cut, but it was a terrific battle while it lasted.

6) Lennox Lewis v Mike Tyson, 8 June 2002

Lewis figures in a few of these because he was dominant in his later years and, to be honest, it was a shell of Tyson that he dispatched. Still, he did it clinically and with little mercy.

Lennox Lewis hits Mike Tyson with a right hook in the 8th round. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

7) Frank Bruno v Oliver McCall, 2 September 1995

The brief high-point of Bruno’s career arrived at Wembley Stadium, in front of 23,000 rather than 90,000 fans, and he strained all the way to the end to see off the Atomic Bull, to be a champion at last at his fourth attempt. Fully deserved. Within six months, he would surrender the title to Tyson in Las Vegas.

8) David Haye v Nikolai Valuev, 7 December 2009

This was one of the weirdest world title fights of all time, in any division. Hardly a worthwhile punch was thrown or taken but Haye stuck brilliantly to his strategy of disengagement to see off an opponent who resembled a giant tower block more than a fighter.

9) Bob Fitzsimmons v James J Corbett, 17 March 1897

We go back into the mists of time for this one, relying on the history books for the significance of the win and the performance. And by all those accounts it was some achievement by Ruby Rob, who prepared by sparring with his wife – not something that would pass muster now.

Bob Fitzsimmons, right, looks on as he knocks out Jim Corbett in the 14th round to win their world heavyweight championship fight on March 17,1897 in Carson City, Nevada. Photograph: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images

10) Tommy Farr v Joe Louis, 30 August 1937

Another British fight of legend, a losing effort and a brave one by the Welshman, who produced the performance of his life to scare the man who many still regard as the best heavyweight of all time.

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