Roberto Duran vs Davey Moore
A classic example of a false world champion being fast tracked into elite level when he doesn't really belong there. Despite holding the title, no one really believed Moore would be a match for the wily Duran but the chasm in class was so big it was frightening.
Add to that completely inept officials and you have an absolute recipe for disaster, which it was. Duran handed out a beating so brutal that Moore's watching mother and girlfriend at ringside fainted watching it. It should have been stopped and the fact that it didn't was the probable cause for tragedy a few years later. From the early rounds Moore was a human bullseye for Duran to take pot shots at. Although mercifully Moore's corner threw in the towel in round eight, psychologically he never got over it and after his retirement was tragically killed when his own car rolled over him in his driveway. It's a fight that's still a difficult watch today. The lost look in Moore's eyes in fact is absolutely harrowing.
Luis Resto vs Billy Collins Jr
Incredibly a fight that was on the same bill as the above but ended up being even more sinister. Rising irish fighter Billy Collins was pitted against a fighter he was expected to walk over in the form of Luis Resto. What no one realised however was that Resto had the assistance of Satan in his corner in the form of twisted trainer Panama Lewis.
As the rounds unfolded no one could quite understand how the unfancied Resto was pummeling Collins or how much damage was being inflicted on his face. It was only when the contest ended and the irish boxers father and trainer touched Resto's hands did the penny drop. Panama Lewis had in fact removed padding from Resto's pads to make his punches more severe. The result was that Collins had been hit with shots that the boxer complained were like a rock being slammed in his face every round. Such was the damage that the tragic Collins never fought again and died in an automobile accident a short while later.
Lewis and Resto meanwhile were jailed for their part in the disgrace. Such in fact is the dishonour around Lewis that decades later upon hearing he had taken part in an opponents training camp, Amir Khan threatened to have him forcibly removed if he came anywhere near the Arena they were fighting in.
Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier
By the time of their third fight, the self proclaimed 'Thrilla in Manila' both Ali and Frazier had already written themselves in boxing folklore with two classic tear ups where absolutely no quarter was given.
With the score at one win apiece, they could of been excused for trying to turn their final contest into a cagey affair but such was the dislike between the two that they decided to slug it out on the night like psychopathic cavemen.
The early rounds belonged to Ali but slowly but surely Frazier began to maul his way into a contest that he refused to concede to his rival. By the twilight rounds it became a battle of wills that was more like the clubbing of rocks than a boxing match.
With both fighters physical health being threatened, Frazier's trainer Eddie Futch decided to pull his man out at the end of the fourteenth round. What he didn't know was that Ali was about to quit on his stool too. 'I felt as though if I went one more round I would die in there' he would later say.
Barry McGuigan vs Steve Cruz
When McGuigan took a title defence against the unfancied Steve Cruz, he didn't bank on it playing out like it was being fought on one of Dante's six circles of hell.
Under the blistering daytime sun in Nevada, the Irish boxer ran out of steam by the middle rounds and was forced into a harrowing battle of survival against a boxer who was much more conditioned than he was.
That McGuigan eventually lost the decision was only a subplot. It was really about base level survival and was arguably the only top level fight you'll ever see where a boxer is hallucinating with dehydration and terrified with what is unfolding before him. That fear was palpable. Mcguigan thought he was going to die in there.
Marvin Hagler vs Thomas Hearns
Even now, 30 years after the Hagler vs Hearns fight its almost impossible to believe it actually panned out like it did.
Two world class fighters who were a mixture of brute power and sublime style came together on a night in Las Vegas and decided not only to throw away the blueprint for what should occur between the ropes of a boxing match but also in many ways completely dismiss it.
Their ballet of violence was the key. Pure and ferocious like in the frame of a baroque painting. For eight incredible minutes the world stood still watching it. By the end Hagler prevailed of course but as much as people talk of how exciting it was, the sheer brutality of the contest has never been surpassed. You'll never see a UFC fight as ferocious as Hagler vs Hearns, nor a street fight. It stands alone in its absolute menace.
Dennis Andries vs Jeff Harding
A great clash of almost medieval combat and macho pride would be the best way to describe a bruising trilogy between two of the hardest and most durable fighters ever to step into a modern boxing ring.
What Australia's Jeff Harding and Britain's Dennis Andries lacked in style they made up for in sheer granite toughness. Over three fights they literally punched each other into a bloody standstill and would probably still be going now if the bell hadn't sounded.
Andries would shade their rivalry 2-1, but it was their first encounter which really burns into the memory as one of the most brutal of modern times. Harding would show iron will in that one, taking a hammering of bare knuckle standards throughout the fight only to somehow turn it round at the end with a stunning comeback.
It may not have been pretty for the purists but that was hardly the point. It was a perfect Polaroid of tough the fight game can be and how sometimes the sheer will to win can drag you through the gates of hell to succeed.
Joe Calzaghe vs Chris Eubank
A fight that surprisingly gets few mentions in the annals of British boxing, but is undoubtedly as primal a top level fight as you're ever likely to see.
The contender Calzaghe was then starting out at the elite level of the middleweight division and beginning an ascent that would see him rise to the very top of the fight game. In the opposite corner however was the granite tough Eubank, a man who had mixed it with the very best and was well known as being an unmoveable object when it came to title fights.
After a whirlwind start by the Welshman, where he scored a first round knockdown, it seemed the old guard was being removed by the new with consummate ease. Calzaghe however went off too fast and ran out of steam. He was then forced into a bruising and brutal slugfest that forced him to go so deep that it would leave a mental impression on him throughout his career. Calzaghe won but he would never forget it. 'Chris Eubank took me to hell and back,' he would later say. 'It was the hardest fight I ever had in my career.'