19/02/2012 - 17.08.31


Six infamous pre-fight boxing brawls

In the wake of the Chisora-Haye dust-up, here are half a dozen other incidents, from a car park drop-kick to a TV show set-to.

Mike Tyson shouts at reporters after a brawl broke out with Lennox Lewis in New York in 2002

Mike Tyson shouts at reporters after a brawl broke out with Lennox Lewis in New York in 2002.  Photograph: Don Emmert/EPA

1) Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis (2002)

The pair stood on two spotlit podiums in the run-up to their WBC heavyweight title fight when Tyson chose to walk across, gesticulate with and punch one of Lewis's security and then have the Briton clatter a right down on him. After the melee, in which the WBC president Jose Sulaiman was knocked unconscious, Tyson walked to the front of the stage and repeatedly grabbed his crotch. "It was Lennox's bodyguard who panicked and shoved me," claimed Tyson. "I was here to promote the fight, not be intimidated. I will never be intimidated by anyone, and Lennox will pay in April." He didn't. A recovered Sulaiman later said: "Today's events are but one of the very many instances that have recently taken place that degrade boxing. It would be discriminatory to single out Mike Tyson because many other boxers have behaved similarly at other press conferences." He wasn't wrong.

2) Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick (1991)

After Holmes beat Tim Anderson in Hollywood's Diplomat Hotel, he and Berbick shared unpleasantries at the post-fight press conference. "If he wants to street fight I'll break every rib in his body," said Berbick, before the pair's parking-lot scuffle ended with Holmes running off a car and drop-kicking his rival.

3) Herbie Hide and Michael Bentt (1994)

The WBO heavyweight title brawl at the Den had this set-to outside London's Sheraton Park Hotel as a starter two months earlier, Bentt throwing blows at the challenger before the pair were separated. "He turned round and whacked me," said Hide. "I went in a puddle, but it was a fall more than the force of the blow." . "You don't get anything for fighting outside the ring, but he compromised my manhood," replied Bentt. "No man is going to lay his hands on me. I don't regret it, I'm a man first and a boxer second." Hide gained his revenge in the ring.

4) Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier (1974)

The famous feud between the two spilled over on Howard Cosell's ABC show, Frazier responding to Ali's repeated pre-match goads that he was "ugly and ignorant". "Why you call me ignorant … how am I ignorant?" asked Frazier, before Ali grabbed him and the pair wrestled on the floor.

5) Mark Kaylor and Errol Christie (1985)

The Bonfire Night final eliminator for the British middleweight title, amid a backdrop of simmering tension on the streets of Britain, was ignited in the run-up by one brawl outside the Stakis Regency Casino in London and then another at the final press conference. There were calls for the fight to be banned on the grounds that it was too racially charged, before home fighter Kaylor triumphed over his Coventry opponent. (For more on the fight, read here.)

6) Bernard Hopkins and Felix Trinidad (2001)

Touring to promote the undisputed middleweight title fight with Puerto Rican favourite Trinidad, Hopkins ripped a flag from his opponent's hand during one stop in New York. "I don't apologise for anything I do," said Hopkins. "I think before I do anything, and I would do it again if I had to. Whatever Trinidad thinks, I don't care. But the fight has started now. It's already on. This is war, and at war I don't have respect for Trinidad or his country." Unwisely, Hopkins repeated the trick at another publicity stop in Puerto Rico, swiftly escaping the subsequent near-riot, but the Executioner ultimately prevailed at Madison Square Garden.