1. Diego Corrales over Jose Luis Castillo May 7, 2005
The most breathtaking sports display I’ve ever seen. For the WBC lightweight title, they delivered brutal exchanges from the opening bell. In the 10th round, Castillo knocked down Corrales twice. But before the bell rang, Corrales trapped Castillo along the ropes and savaged him until the fight was stopped.
2. Evander Holyfield over Mike Tyson June 28, 1997
One of those rare moments when your brain doesn’t believe what your eyes are seeing. In a hotly anticipated heavyweight rematch, Tyson was disqualified in the third round for gnawing off a hunk of Holyfield’s ear and spitting it onto the MGM Grand Garden canvas.
3. Paulie Ayala over Johnny Tapia June 26, 1999
Fan interest was limited, but Ring magazine’s fight of the year broke out. The action was furious from the first bell to the last, with Ayala winning the WBA bantamweight title and handing Tapia his first defeat.
4. Micky Ward over Alfonso Sanchez April 12, 1997
An afterthought on the Oscar De La Hoya-Pernell Whitaker undercard in Las Vegas, Ward was supposed to be cannon fodder for Sanchez, a 16-0 rising star. Ward crumpled Sanchez with a left hook to the liver for a stunning victory. Ward eventually became the subject of a major motion picture, “The Fighter.”
5. Lennox Lewis over Mike Tyson June 8, 2002
The fight wasn’t competitive, but it marked the end of an era. Lewis dominated Tyson, knocking him out in the eighth round. I witnessed Tyson’s demoralizing loss to Danny Williams two years later, but it was Lewis who beat the Baddest Man on the Planet out of Tyson.