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Biggest Upsets in Boxing History

Updated on August 22, 2016

UnderDogs in Boxing

Big George Foreman is the oldest heavyweight champion in boxing history and he also won a Gold Medal in the 1968 Olympics.
Big George Foreman is the oldest heavyweight champion in boxing history and he also won a Gold Medal in the 1968 Olympics.
James" Buster" Douglas beat Mike Tyson in the biggest upset in boxing history. He lost the championship in his first defense when Evander Holyfield knocked out Buster in three rounds.
James" Buster" Douglas beat Mike Tyson in the biggest upset in boxing history. He lost the championship in his first defense when Evander Holyfield knocked out Buster in three rounds. | Source
Roy Jones got starched by Glen Johnson after being dominated the entire bout first.
Roy Jones got starched by Glen Johnson after being dominated the entire bout first. | Source
Hasim Rahman shocked the world when he knocked out reigning champion Lennox Lewis in 5 rounds.
Hasim Rahman shocked the world when he knocked out reigning champion Lennox Lewis in 5 rounds. | Source

Under Dogs

1. James Buster Douglas K.O. 10 Mike Tyson: Tyson was the undefeated Champion and Buster Douglas had a few losses and struggled with top challengers. No matter, the 42-1 underdog gave Iron Mike a boxing lesson for 7 rounds. In the 8th Tyson landed a desperation right uppercut to floor Douglas for 9. In the 10th Douglas shocked Tyson and the world and knocked out the swollen eyed champion with a four punch combination. The most shocking part of this match was that it was not even close. Buster dominated a bout that he was supposed to be destroyed in. Tyson looked baffled and confused and Douglas landed his jab and right hand at will. A masterful performance from a motivated Buster Douglas.

2. Cassius Clay K.O. 8 Sonny Liston: Cassius AKA Muhammad Ali was supposed to be crushed by the Champion who beat Floyd Patterson in one round for the crown and then demolished Patterson in one round in a rematch. Liston was baffled from the start as Ali danced and flashed stinging combinations to Sonny's face for 6 punishing rounds. When the bell rang for the 7th Sonny quit on his stool with a bruised face and bruised ego as Ali did the Ali shuffle in ring center. A seemingly corrupt bout as Ali got something is his eye in the 5th round and wiped blindly at his eyes for one bad round. Clay wins championship, changes name to Muhammad Ali and the legend begins.

3. Jimmy Braddock won in 15 rounds over Max Baer: Braddock had over 20 losses on his record when he was given a shot at the Heavyweight Title. Braddock gave the undertrained Baer a boxing lesson, landing jabs and combinations at will. Braddock won at least ten rounds and shocked the world and took the belt. It was such a shocking loss because Braddock has lost many times to lesser boxers than Baer. Max Baer was known for having crushing power but he rarely landed more than one punch at a time.

4. George Foreman K.O. 10 Michael Moorer: Foreman lost his previous match and at 45 was looking old but Moorer on the other hand was the unbeaten Heavyweight champ, who just beat Evander Holyfield. Foreman lost 9 rounds and looked horrible but in the 10th Big George dropped Moorer for the count with a huge right hand. Foreman then dropped to his knees in a corner of the ring and prayed. It was already an upset but the fact that Foreman was losing every round before the ending made it all the more special.

5. Glen Johnson K.O. 9 Roy Jones: Jones was a ten year pound for pound boxer who was supposed to beat Johnson in a tune up fight. Wrong. Glen pounded on Roy Jones for 8 rounds and then knocked him out cold for several minutes with a right hand to the temple in the 9th round. Johnson won the upset of the year award. Jones only fired off shots here and there and Glen Johnson put everything he had into punches to the body and head.

6. Muhammad Ali K.O. 8 George Foreman: Ali struggled to lose and win bouts against Ken Norton and Joe Frazier while Big George destroyed both of those guys in 2 rounds each. Stats do not matter to The Greatest who went in as an 8-1 underdog and won the majority of the early rounds and knocked George Foreman out while dancing backwards. Ali got caught with some shots but he leaned on the ropes and deflected the majority of the big blows.

7. Randy Turpin won in 15 over Sugar Ray Robinson: Robinson was a special talent so any time he lost a match while in his prime it was a total shock. Turpin done England proud by beating Sugar Ray to the punch time and time and again and out jabbing him consistently to win a close decision and the title. Robinson won the rematch by knockout but his night was Turpin's.

8. Max Schmeling K.O.12 Joe Louis: Louis was undefeated and already an uncrowned champion after destroying several contenders. Max beat joe to the punch and counterd his jab all night until lowering the boom with several hard right hooks to finish the brown bomber in 12. Louis took a steady pounding in the last few rounds until he could not take any more.

9. Frankie Randall w12 Julio Cesar Chavez: Sure, Chavez was showing some wear and tear but still he was 89-0-1 going in against the older Randal. The Surgeon began to operate. The fight was close with Chavez banging to the body and Randall landing to the head and body in combination. Randall sealed the deal by being not only the first to beat Chavez but the first to floor him too.

10.Hasim Rahman K.O. 5 Lennox Lewis: Rahman had recently had a string of uninspired fights and therefore Lewis, the dominant champ was installed as a 20-1 favorite. For 4 rounds it was close but in the 5th Rahman launched a huge right hand and it hit Lewis and he was out on the way to the canvas.

How Old Was He?


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Muhammad Ali Shocks Sonny Liston

Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, pulled off the upset by beating Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship.
Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, pulled off the upset by beating Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship. | Source

Location of Buster Douglas vs. Mike Tyson

Buster Douglas Knocks Out Mike Tyson

Boxer Rankings

Cast your vote for Muhammad Ali

Ali VS Foreman

The Rumble in The Jungle

Ali had the whole country of Africa cheering him on to defeat Big George. Foreman was the favorite to win by odds makers but it didn't go as planned. The bout was close for the first six rounds but then Ali started teeing off on a fatigued Foreman and in the eighth round Ali ended the fight.

© 2012 Buster Johnson

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    • S.Graveson profile image

      S.Graveson 4 years ago from Cumbria, UK

      Wonjongkam losing to Jaro earlier this year is still a shock to me...though Pongsaklek has since lost again and it seems like that's that for him :(

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