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Today In Boxing History: Featuring Mike Tyson, Matthew Saad Muhammad and Miguel Cotto

Seamus Raftery takes a look back at some of the most memorable occurrences that have happened in boxing on this date, the 26th of July.

I occasionally like to take a look at the archives to see what occurred in boxing on a particular day. Today, that practice led me to discover that July 26th has a rich history of providing boxing fans with excitement.

Let’s take a look back at some of the tremendous action to take place on this date down through the years.

July 26th 1977

On this day in 1977 Matthew Franklin and Marvin Johnson engaged in a truly titanic battle for the NABF light-heavyweight title at the infamously gritty Spectrum, in Philadelphia.

In their rundown of the 100 greatest fights in boxing history the UK publication, Boxing News, slotted this scrap in at number 24.

Coming into the fight Johnson was undefeated as a professional with 15 wins under his belt. Franklin had a more modest looking ledger, having already suffered 3 defeats in a 20 fight career that also featured 2 draws. The Philadelphia slugger had, however, been matched much tougher than his opponent, having already faced future light-heavyweight champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. A number of the blemishes on his record were also controversial.

It is a mind blowing display of heart from both men, in a fight packed with action and drama.

Each man would go on the hold versions of the world title, in fact, when they fought for a second time two years later the WBC light-heavyweight crown was up for grabs.

It would be Franklin, though, that would go on to have the greater impact and legacy.

He changed his name to Matthew Saad Muhammad shortly after this bout and became known as one of the sports greatest action fighters. Mind boggling resiliency was Muhammad’s trademark, as he often took inhumane punishment before rallying to claim victory.

It is hard to imagine, but fights like the one above were a regular occurrence for the fantastic Philly fighter. In fact, another one of his bouts, with Yaqui Lopez, ranked even higher on Boxing News’ aforementioned list, coming in at number 14.

Muhammad died last year at the age of 59, but fights like this mean that he will never be forgotten by boxing fans.

July 26th 1986

This was Mike Tyson at his vicious and thrilling best.

The youngster who was treading an inevitable path to the heavyweight championship of the world had only turned 20 a few weeks prior to this bout with Marvis Frazier.

In reality he was still just a kid, but inside those ropes he not only looked like a man – he looked like THE man.

The fact that Frazier was the son of heavyweight great Smokin’ Joe Frazier meant that this complete mismatch was given a fair amount of attention and hype, but once the bell sounded it became painfully, and terrifyingly apparent that Frazier was playing the role of lamb to the slaughter.

It lasted a mere 30 seconds, but what a captivating half minute it was.

Skip to the 2:40 mark for the beginning of the savagery.

July 26th 2008

“That is a modern boxing classic!”

Those were the words that HBO commentator, Max Kellerman, used to describe this fight in it’s immediate aftermath. It was an accurate assessment.

The build up to this encounter really captured the imagination of the hardcore boxing fans. Everybody who knew the sport was certain that this match-up couldn’t fail to deliver action, excitement and drama. On top of the fact that it was a meeting of two of the world’s best welterweights, both of whom had entertaining styles, it was also another chapter in one of the sport’s great rivalry’s.

It was Mexico vs Puerto Rico, and in boxing that means everything.

The intensely passionate nature of the fans and the rivalry promised to add an extra emotional element to an already scorching hot showdown, and so it proved.

This is one of my favourite fights of all-time.

The intriguing tale of Miguel Cotto vs Antonio Margarito didn’t end that night, however.

Prior to his next fight, against Shane Mosley, Margarito was found to have substance akin to plaster of paris on his wraps. Margarito would lose the fight to Mosley, casting (forgive the pun) a shadow over the legitimacy of his entire career.

Many speculate that Margarito used this same ploy in his fight with Cotto, giving him an edge, and turning this “fight” into a near criminal assault in retrospect. It is an unfortunate footnote to a bout that otherwise deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the greatest battles in the sports rich history.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.