Financially and in terms of its global projection, Anthony Joshua’s projected showdown with Tyson Fury threatens to dwarf the all-British super-fights that have come before.
But as a deal is reportedly signed for the eagerly-awaited showdown, the PA news agency recalls some of the biggest fights in the sport’s domestic history.
The ferocious super-middleweight rivals clashed for the first time in Birmingham in November 1990, with Chris Eubank winning by ninth round stoppage. The rematch in front of 42,000 fans at Old Trafford in October 1993 was an instant classic and ended in a controversial draw with both men retaining their respective world titles.
Bullish cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew got his wish of a crack at former world heavyweight champion David Haye in March 2017. After an acrimonious build-up, the bout at London’s O2 Arena fell flat when Haye tore an Achilles tendon, leading his corner to eventually throw in the towel. Bellew dominated the eventual rematch, flooring Haye three times before winning in round five.
The so-called ‘Battle of Britain’ took place at Cardiff Arms Park in October 1993. Lennox Lewis was making the second defence of his WBC title, with Frank Bruno making his third bid for a world crown. Bruno wobbled Lewis in the third round but it proved to be a momentary success as the champion began to dominate and eventually forced referee Mickey Vann’s intervention midway through the seventh round.
Henry Cooper, a veteran of two heroic challenges to Muhammad Ali, met the 21-year-old Joe Bugner at Wembley in May 1971, for Cooper’s British, European and Commonwealth belts. After a hard-fought contest, referee Harry Gibbs awarded Bugner the victory by the slimmest of margins, one quarter of a point. The verdict split the crowd and the wider sporting nation, and infuriated Cooper, who immediately announced his retirement and would refuse to speak to Gibbs for many years.
Carl Froch and George Groves met for the first time in Manchester in November 2013. With no love lost between the pair, Froch claimed a controversial stoppage win in the ninth round, when Groves was well ahead on the scorecards. The ending paved the way for an even more lucrative rematch which took place at Wembley in May 2014. In front of 80,000 fans, Froch stopped Groves via a pair of devastating hooks midway through round eight.