Lomachenko v Rigondeaux Adds to Garden Legend
Madison Square Garden, in the heart of the city that never sleeps, has delivered all sorts of sporting spectacles to fans over the past 50 years, although it’s probably most famous for legendary boxing matches.
The December 9 bout between Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux, two fighters with a brace of Olympic gold medals apiece, forms the next link in a chain of legendary fights that go back through the Garden’s previous incarnations, before the latest complex opened in Midtown Manhattan in 1968.
Epic Bouts in Tapestry of Boxing Greats
The hype was to be expected: Ukraine’s Lomachenko had nine wins and seven KOs from 10 fights going into the bout against the Cuban, and as an amateur took gold at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Rigondeaux, who took Olympic gold in 2000 and 2004, went into the Garden bout undefeated in 18 pro bouts, with 17 wins, 11 KOs and one no contest.
The venue is no stranger to fights that generate huge attention: in the first half of the 1940s, it hosted two of the five bouts between Jake LaMotta and Sugar Ray Robinson. Robinson was at the height of his prowess, with the Raging Bull an up-and-comer who would win the world middleweight title only in 1949.
Robinson won both their fights at the Garden, and 3-2 overall in all five bouts. LaMotta presented him with the first loss of his career in Detroit, Michigan, however, and both of their New York bouts produced some epic boxing.
Marciano Takes the Crown from Louis
Perhaps the most famous mid-20th century fight at the Garden was Rocky Marciano versus Joe Louis in 1951. Marciano was the up-and-comer who knocked out his ageing idol and ended the legendary Brown Bomber’s career.
Marciano was 28 at the time, and Louis 37: a nine-year age-gap, similar to the eight years between 29-year-old Lomachenko and 37-year-old Rigondeaux.
Iconic Muhammad Ali-Frazier Fights
Muhammad Ali benefited from another big age gap: he was 22 when he first beat Sonny Liston in Florida in 1964, with Liston, whose exact date of birth wasn’t recorded, around 10 years older. The two met again in 1965 in Maine, with Ali winning both fights.
Ali’s most memorable matches at the Garden were his two fights against Joe Frazier in 1971 and 1974. Frazier handed him his first professional defeat in 1971, but the irrepressible motor-mouth came back to win by unanimous decision at their 1974 rematch.
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