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Back From The Brink, One Punch Can Change Everything


By Danny Winterbottom

The total domination of one boxer over his opponent can be an absorbing spectacle to watch as he exerts his mastery of the noble art on his hapless foe. However, in boxing one punch can change everything.

Below we take a look at some of the most exciting come from behind victories

In the first of an absorbing trilogy of fights IBF champion Michael Carbajal and WBC boss Humberto Gonzalez produced a thrilling battle of heart, bravery and drama at the Las Vegas Hilton on March 13 1993. Coming into the bout Carbajal, from Arizona, was unbeaten in 30 and Gonzalez, considered by many to be the greatest light flyweight of all time was 37-1 with a high percentage of his wins coming by knockout.

In the early going “Chiquita” came out bombing, hurting Carbajal in the first and dropping him in the second. The gritty IBF champion managed to recover enough to be competitive in rounds three and four, although Gonzalez still gave the impression he was in control of the fight. His superior hand speed and work rate was giving Carbajal fits as he again dropped him in the fifth. The tough Arizona native, having never suffered a defeat, fired back bravely bruising the eye of Humberto. At the start of round seven both men exchanged power shots with the physically stronger Gonzalez backing his man to the ropes as he moved in for the finish, just as Carbajal uncorked a beautifully timed uppercut followed by a short left for good measure sending “Chiquita” crashing heavily to the canvas. Referee Mills Lane reached the count of ten with a second remaining in the round and Carbajal had somehow managed to turn the course of the fight on its head. This exciting brawl raised the profile of the division and in particular that of the winner who secured a $1 million pay day for the rematch where Michael Buffer introduced him as “Pound for pound the best in the world”

Some fights fail to live up to expectations whilst others exceed them in spectacular fashion. In a war of attrition that shocked and thrilled the crowd in equal measures Rogers Mtagwa and Tomas Villa certainly lived up to the hype and more. These two featherweights, lacking in world class skills but majoring in toughness and bravery, excited the crowd at the Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona from the first bell as they discarded boxing for brawling; taking turns to test the chin of the other in some wild exchanges. This fight reminded me why I love boxing; it was edge of your seat stuff.

With faces bruised and noses bloodied the two warriors came out for round nine looking for a way to finish the fight. With a minute left in the round and Mtagwa tiring, Villa landed a brutal right hand followed by another of equal force sending the Tanzanian crashing to the floor. He rose on unsteady legs as the TexMex swung wildly for the finish. Mtagwa bravely saw out the round, teetering back to his corner and slumping on his stool. In the minutes break his corner deliberated over whether to pull him out of the fight but eventually decided to let him see the final round. Everybody expected Villa to bulldoze him in the last but Mtagwa, sensing his last chance, ferociously fought back in ring centre, appearing to surprise Villa with his ability to absorb tremendous punishment and still comeback. Amazingly the Tanzanian, fighting out of Philadelphia, hurt the crowd favourite in the last, dropping him once, twice before referee Burke halted the contest for a staggering, pulsating come back from the brink defeat.


In one of the most anticipated and ultimately controversial fights in boxing history ATG Julio Cesar Chavez faced undefeated hot shot Meldrick Taylor in a light welterweight unification bout entitled “Thunder meets lightning”. Taylor’s lightning had been getting the better of Chavez’s thunder as the contest entered its final round with the Mexican legend in need of a breakthrough, however nobody could envisage the dramatic ending that is still widely debated today. It would later be voted the fight of the year 1990 and later still fight of the decade for the 1990’s.

Throughout the late 80’s most of the attention, especially from the casual fan, was paid to Mike Tyson as he decimated the heavyweight division. However, after Tyson lost to Buster Douglas other highly skilled fighters in other weight classes suddenly found themselves thrust into the spotlight. Taking place only a month after Tyson was humbled in Tokyo this light welterweight mega fight was the first to benefit from the extra exposure as fans around the globe debated and argued who’s style would prevail.

Personality wise the two warriors were polar opposites, Chavez, already a three weight world champion was the epitome of the Mexican “Machismo” style of fighting ignoring his opponent’s attacks to close the distance and use his relentless body assault until they either quit through exhaustion or folded under intense pressure. Taylor on the other hand was a boxing prodigy, blessed with lightning hand and foot speed he won an Olympic gold medal aged just 17 and quickly made his way through the ranks as a professional. Although not a noted puncher Taylor would, if the mood took him, stand and trade with anyone. In this fight that mentality may well have been his downfall. As Taylor waited on his stool to begin the final round, his trainer Lou Duva mistakenly told his charge he needed to win the round to take the fight. Although Taylor had been out landing Chavez three to one, the punches Julio did land had began to take their toll on the Olympian as he came out for the last looking tired and arm weary. A wild left hook attempt from Taylor missed its target sending him to the canvas; the last minute of the fight was all Chavez as he sensed Taylor was done. With his back against the ropes Taylor shipped a huge Chavez bomb, dropping him with barely seconds remaining. He rose to his feet and referee Richard Steele asked him if he wanted to continue, with no answer he waved the contest off with two seconds left. No wonder Taylor’s 2009 autobiography was entitled “Two seconds from glory”.

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