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They Never Happened

Pic created by Chee, MaxBoxing
Pic created by Chee, MaxBoxing

By Anson Wainwright

For the past few years, the entire boxing world has wanted to see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao meet in what would be a pay-per-view blockbuster grossing tens of millions of dollars. Still, the concept hasn’t quite played out the way we hoped. With Manny Pacquiao‘s recent KO loss at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez, the window of opportunity most certainly appears to have closed. It’s not the only fight we’ve lost over the years. Here are a few other notable clashes that never happened over the past 30 years. We can all speculate on how these fantasy fights would play out; however, we’ve asked Robert Diaz from Golden Boy Promotions, Ron Katz of Star Boxing and Brad Goodman of Top Rank, three experts who make a living by matchmaking, to offer our readers their personal takes on the fights that simply never happened.

Riddick Bowe-V-Lennox Lewis
What Happened?

These two met in the finals of the 1988 Olympics, which Lewis won, stopping Bowe in the second round. Both turned pro and marauded their way to the top of the division, seemingly on a collision course. However when Bowe won the unified heavyweight titles against Evander Holyfield, rather than meet his old nemesis, “Big Daddy” famously threw the WBC title (which he was mandated and had a signed contract to defend against Lewis) into a dust bin rather than fight Lewis. Over the next few years, both traded barbs through the media but unfortunately never met when it mattered most.

What Would Have Happened?

Ron Katz - I like Bowe by KO, punched too hard for Lewis and too game.

Robert Diaz – Wow, that is a hard one and a fight we all waited to see. Both at their best, I like Lewis based on agility and based on comparison vs. same or similar opposition. I see a distance fight that would be like a chess match for the first six rounds with Lewis up four [rounds] to two. A fight breaks out in round seven and that favours Bowe as he roughs Lewis up. Bowe takes seven, eight and nine but fades and Lewis closes the show to win a unanimous decision.

Brad Goodman - I think it would have been very competitive the first half of the fight but Lennox Lewis’ physical strength and his punching power - and basically the key would be his endurance - I think that would prevail him in the second half of the fight.

George Foreman-V-Larry Holmes
What Happened?

Though the same age, Foreman reigned in the early-to-mid-1970s while Holmes was on his way up. Foreman retired in 1977, a year before Holmes became champion. By the time Foreman returned, 10 years later, Holmes had been dethroned. Foreman was to fight many times in the late-1980s whilst Holmes was largely inactive but both fought throughout the early-to-mid-1990s. Finally, when both were 50, a deal was brokered to meet in January 1999 in Houston, only to fall though when neither man was paid the initial agreed fee by promoter Roger Levitt. This was all about timing and, unfortunately, that time never came.

What Would Have Happened?

Ron Katz - Dangerous moments for Larry but too much speed and moved too well. Holmes, decision.

Robert Diaz - Very similar in my eyes to Ali v. Foreman. Larry’s jab would be superb and also will control Foreman’s bombs but the KO will not come. Holmes, unanimous decision.

Brad Goodman - I like Larry Holmes to win an easy decision.

Joe Calzaghe-V-Carl Froch
What Happened?

The window of opportunity for this fight would have been in the late-2000s; however, at this point, Calzaghe was at the tail end of his legendary career, fighting fellow superstars Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. while Froch took every opportunity to call out Calzaghe. At that point, Froch didn’t have the name value for Calzaghe to engage in a battle of Britain. When Froch won the WBC super middleweight title against Jean Pascal in December 2008, Calzaghe had already fought for the final time. For much of that time, there was also the small matter of rival promoters making the fight even less likely.

What Would Have Happened?

Ron Katz - I like Froch by close decision, too much will and tenacity.

Robert Diaz - Very big fight in U.K. for obvious reasons and tremendous atmosphere. Calzaghe too skilled and busy and beats Froch up but doesn’t get a KO because Froch is tough as nails. “Super Joe,” unanimous decision.

Brad Goodman - That’s an interesting one. I would lean towards Joe Calzaghe in a pretty competitive, close, 12-round decision but I’m not saying it with confidence.

Bernard Hopkins-V-James Toney
What Happened?

The press conference would have been legendary; these two would have torn strips off each other. Two old-school fighters who narrowly missed each other, Toney left the middleweight division in 1992 when he could no longer make 160 whilst Hopkins came into his own after winning the IBF title in 1994. Hopkins remained at middleweight until 2006 while, in this time, Toney battled to stay relevant, reinventing himself in the early-2000s when he won a version of the cruiserweight title. The fight was rumored for 2003 but failed to be consummated and we lost one of the very best fights of the decade.

What Would Have Happened?

Ron Katz - Toney by very close decision…he’d be a little busier, a defensive gem of a fight.

Robert Diaz - In their primes, Toney, without a doubt. Past their primes, Hopkins was much better than James. The pre-fight might have been the best ever as the brawls break out at press conferences and the weigh-in is heavily secured.

Brad Goodman - James Toney, decision, outslicks Hopkins. Hopkins is a real smart guy but Toney was a genius.

Mike McCallum-V-“Fab Four”
What Happened?

Mike McCallum was one of the most underrated boxers of modern times. He could never get the top fighters of his era in the ring with him and had to face the best of the next generation when he’d lost a step. His body attack was legendary and even in the twilight of his career, “The Bodysnatcher” still gave even the best a torrid evening. For a multitude of reasons, he could never seem to coax any of boxing’s “Fab Four” into the ring with him. It was always going to be difficult to fight Sugar Ray Leonard because for the majority of the mid-to-late-‘80s, Leonard was either retired or he handpicked fights with one of the other members of the “Fab Four.” By the time McCallum stepped up to middleweight, Hagler had already retired. How’s this for luck? Thomas Hearns’ final title defence at 154 pounds came in September 1984, after which he vacated and stepped up to middleweight a month before McCallum won his world title at light middleweight. In the late-‘80s, they both also appeared at middleweight but the fight lost much of its allure at that point. A fight with Roberto Duran was possible but never consummated throughout the mid-1980s. Despite winning world titles in three weight classes, McCallum could never break away from being too good for his own good and get a genuine “Superfight.” He possessed all the intangibles but was never truly able to gain a breakout win and force his way into something enabling him to be more than just boxing’s best-kept secret.

What Would Have Happened?
Sugar Ray Leonard-V- Mike McCallum

Ron Katz - Leonard by clear decision, too many tools.

Robert Diaz - Leonard always found a way to win, similar to the first Hearns fight. Ray, unanimous decision.

Brad Goodman - Sugar Ray Leonard would obviously be the favourite. McCallum would be in the fight the whole way and it would be very competitive. I would lean towards Sugar Ray Leonard in a very close fight.

Roberto Duran-V-Mike McCallum 

Ron Katz – McCallum, close decision, too big and strong, would discourage Duran.

Robert Diaz – Duran, one of the greatest but styles make fights and McCallum is too big and I don’t see them mixing it up well. McCallum, unanimous decision.

Brad Goodman - McCallum in a hard-fought decision at 154.

Marvin Hagler-V-Mike McCallum

Ron Katz - Hagler by decision, too tenacious, too busy.

Robert Diaz - McCallum dominates Hagler the first five rounds as Hagler is not up for the fight. After the corner notifies him he is down on all cards, he begins a tremendous attack and [McCallum’s] corner stops the fight in 10! Hagler by TKO10.

Brad Goodman – Hagler, a little too physical in a competitive fight. Hagler, maybe late-round stoppage or decision.

Thomas Hearns-V-Mike McCallum

Ron Katz - McCallum by KO, would wear down Tommy and eventually get to him.

Robert Diaz – FIVE-ROUND WORLD WAR only because Hearns comes out to end the fight in one. After a flash knockdown in round five, Hearns slows the pace down in round six to switch to boxer and takes a unanimous decision.

Brad Goodman - Mike McCallum, stoppage, works the body and stop Hearns late.

Felix Trinidad-V-Terry Norris
What Happened?

The two of them were on a scheduled to meet in the summer of 1997 when Trinidad was due to step up to 154 to tackle Norris for the WBC title. However, Norris backed out of the fight and “Tito” took his frustration out on Troy Waters, stopping his overmatched rival in a single round. It would have pitted Norris’ sublime skills against Trinidad’s power in what looked a surefire shootout. Both had visited the canvas on countless occasions prior and that was all but guaranteed again here.

What Would Have Happened?

Ron Katz - I like Terry Norris by KO in a real shootout of two great boxer-punchers, I can see multiple knockdowns by each guy in this fight.

Robert Diaz - Trinidad is dropped in round three and then again in five but as usual, gets up and puts Norris to sleep in round nine.

Brad Goodman - Terry Norris by knockout, could go early.

Floyd Mayweather-V-Antonio Margarito
What Happened?

This fight was ripe for the fall of 2008 after Margarito beat Miguel Cotto; however, at this time, Mayweather had retired (momentarily). When Mayweather returned in the fall of 2009, he beat Juan Manuel Marquez but Margarito had already lost to Shane Mosley. This was a fight many wanted but Mayweather never really showed any interest in. In fairness to him, Margarito was far more risk than reward for much of that time, only really holding any cache after his win over Cotto. Prior to the Cotto win, Margarito lost to Paul Williams in the summer of 2007 and he was never going to get a fight with Mayweather coming off a loss.

What Would Have Happened?

Ron Katz - Mayweather by KO, would bust him up terribly, too much speed and talent.

Robert Diaz - Everyone is expecting a very difficult fight for Floyd. Margarito looks huge at weigh-in and late money makes the fight from five-to-one to a one-and-a-half-to-one. Everyone is expecting a battering as Margarito starts fast and stalks Floyd early but it is a walk in the park for the “Money Man” as he gives angles and plays with the “Tijuana Tornado.” Mayweather, unanimous decision.

Brad Goodman - Floyd Mayweather in a hard-fought decision.

Erik Morales-V-Juan Manuel Marquez
What Happened?

This was the only combination of fights between Manny Pacquiao, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez that failed to take place. Both were promoted by Top Rank a decade ago. At the time, Marquez was thought of as too good for his own good, struggling to break out from the other featherweights and join his better-known contemporaries. Had it happened, it would have pitted arguably the greatest warrior of his generation in “El Terrible” against the smooth boxing of “El Dinamita,” though Marquez was all too happy to also engage in war of attrition that couldn’t fail but to live up to its expectations.

What Would Have Happened?

Ron Katz - Morales by late round KO in a brutal war of attrition.

Robert Diaz - Very difficult after the devastating KO of Pacquiao but what a fight. This, again, a perfect example of the styles making the big difference. We don’t get the war we expected but we do get a very good fight in which Marquez batters Morales to a 12-round unanimous decision.

Brad Goodman - Juan Manuel Marquez in a very close competitive fight.

Juan Manuel Lopez-V-Yuriorkis Gamboa
What Happened?

Both were seemingly on a collision course back in 2009-‘10 when Lopez was wrecking havoc at 122 whilst Gamboa left a trail of destruction at 126. Both even fought on the same cards twice. Top Rank’s Bob Arum said he wanted this to marinate into a bigger fight though this was derailed in 2011 when Lopez lost to Orlando Salido, also losing a rematch earlier last year. It seems Lopez will return at 130 and Gamboa has expressed wishes to also fight in that weight class, so perhaps this one isn’t quite dead in the water yet. That said, much of the earlier lustre has now been lost.

What would have happened?

Ron Katz - Toughie, could “JuanMa” time the speed of Gamboa, I’d have to pick “JuanMa” by mid-round KO.

Robert Diaz - Is a very even fight as both have their flaws and both are fast and explosive. I see a better chin on Gamboa, so my pick is Gamboa by split decision.

Brad Goodman - I would lean to Gamboa by late-round stoppage.

Ricardo Lopez-V-Michael Carbajal
What Happened?

Carbajal and Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez met three times in the early-to-mid-‘90s. Carbajal won their first go-round, a thrill-a-minute, come-from-behind war, but lost two stinky decisions to Gonzalez, who elected to use his considerable boxing nous to see his way home on points. The natural progression would have seen unbeaten Mexican Ricardo Lopez meet both men; however, he shared the same trainer as Gonzalez, a certain Nacho Beristain, so that was always highly unlikely. Carbajal, on the other hand, would have been a very interesting fight for Lopez. Carbajal and Gonzalez earning million-dollar purses would have made this appealing to Lopez though raising that sort of money again for fighters in the second-lowest division would have been almost impossible. Throw in Lopez being promoted by Don King whilst Carbajal (only briefly aligned with King, the nearest we came to seeing these two mighty mites meet was in 1995 when they appeared on the same card), for the most part, worked with Top Rank. Back in those days, these two promotional entities only did business in the very biggest of fights, Oscar De la Hoya-V-Felix Trinidad for instance.

What would have happened?

Ron Katz - I like Ricardo Lopez by late-round stoppage over Carbajal in an all-out brawl.

Robert Diaz - Great fight and a total war. Lopez by unanimous decision.

Brad Goodman - Ricardo Lopez, I thought, was sensational. I thought he would stop Carbajal late.
Questions and or comments can be sent to Anson at and you can follow him at Anson is also a member of The Ring magazine’s ratings panel.
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