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The Biggest Boxing Scandals

/ January 15, 2021
The Biggest Boxing Scandals

Boxing has never exactly been the most sedate of sports, so it pretty much goes without saying that it would also be host to plenty of controversy.

While the sport may have become safer and - many feel - more sophisticated in recent decades, it has long been a vicious sport (although boxing betting is very popular), with no shortage of competitors eager to get ahead by often highly immoral means. Many of the other scandals to have hit boxing have related to activities outside the ring, with many boxers' lifestyles attracting no shortage of excitable tabloid column inches.

If you haven't read the ultimate guide to boxing betting, you're in for an interesting read. Below are just some of the worst scandals to have ever hit boxing.

10. Amir Khan gets naughty on tape  

It emerged in January this year that a long-rumoured sex tape of the former unified light-welterweight world champion had been leaked online. The footage, showing the Bolton native performing a sex act on himself while in conversation with a female model on Skype, was reported to have been made just weeks after his marriage to Faryal Makhdoom in 2013.

The leak did not exactly come at a great time for the Muslim boxer, with Faryal having already been at loggerheads with her husband's family over what they deemed her "unacceptable" dress code.

9. Muhammad Ali's inauspicious linkup with Harold Smith

Smith become a familiar name on the professional boxing scene in the early '80s, ploughing millions of dollars into promotions that stood no chance of success (if you want to avoid this, check out our boxing betting tips). The deals that he offered to fighters and managers seemed unjustifiable, but that was no barrier to an association with Ali, who joined forces with Smith for a company known as Muhammad Ali Professional Sports.

But questions persisted as to where Smith was getting his money. Gradually, the truth came out - Smith went missing, followed by the discovery of the theft of $21.3m from Wells Fargo National Bank. Eventually, Smith and partner (and former Wells Fargo staffer) Ben Lewis were arrested and sentenced to jail - the former for 10 years, and the latter for five.

8. Antonio Margarito gets his just desserts

All seemed to be going well for Antonio Margarito as his bout with Shane Mosley loomed in January 2009. He had just come off an inspiring TKO of the previously undefeated Miguel Cotto, but everything started unravelling - quite literally - when Mosley's trainer Naazim Richardson noticed a powdery white substance in Margarito's gloves.

The officials were duly informed, and suspicion turned to scandal when it emerged that the substance in question was plaster of Paris, a powder that would turn hard when wet. Margarito paid the price in more ways than one, being brutally knocked out by Mosley and banned from boxing for a year.

7. The tragic death of Ernie Schaaf

The very last thing that anyone ever wants to see in boxing is a death as a result of clashes in the ring - but of course, the sport is scarred with such deeply tragic incidents, not least of which was the case of Ernie Schaaf, a true boxing legend of all time.

In his first encounter with Max Baer in 1930, Schaaf had easily outpointed the future heavyweight world champion. Their second meeting in 1932, however, would prove ill-fated. Schaaf was knocked senseless two seconds before the final bell, but it took several minutes for him to be revived.

He subsequently complained of headaches that some believed to be a sign of brain damage, and after suffering a knockout loss against the huge Primo Carnera, fell into a coma. He died on Valentine's Day 1933, aged 24.

6. Don King and The Ring magazine

The controversial promoter with the 'distinctive' hair has perhaps done well to earn himself only one spot in this ranking. It concerns the plan that he hatched in 1976 to start the United States Boxing Championships - a grand-sounding competition to be sure, but one that turned out to have a suspicious dearth of quality fighters.

King drummed up publicity and validation for the competition's entrants by purchasing the rankings of the declining Ring magazine and selling the idea of the tournament to ABC. However, the network became worried when it was revealed that at least eleven of the competition's participants had falsified records.

Matters then went from bad to worse, as one of the tournament's fighters admitted that many of the bouts were rigged to favour fighters who had contracts with King. ABC duly pulled the plug on the competition.  

5. Leon Spinks becomes the world heavyweight champion

The St. Louis native had only racked up seven wins and one draw in his professional boxing career when he found himself up against a declining Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight title in 1978. To the shock of everyone, he emerged victorious via split decision after 15 rounds, in the process claiming the WBA, WBC, The Ring and lineal heavyweight titles.

Alas, Spinks' 15 minutes of fame were pretty much brought to an end later that year when he lost the rematch, having already been stripped of his WBC title for refusing to defend it against Ken Norton.

4. The triple tragedy of Ray Mancini vs Duk Koo Kim

In November 1982, a 21-year-old Ray Mancini faced 27-year-old South Korean challenger Duk Koo Kim. The title bout at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas was televised live on CBS Sports, with Mancini eventually winning by TKO in the 14th round.

However, moments after the conclusion of the fight, Duk Koo Kim collapsed and fell into a coma. He had suffered a subdural hematoma on his brain, and died four days later. The tragedy drove Mancini into a deep depression, Kim's mother committed suicide three months after the fight and the bout's referee, Richard Green, killed himself in July 1983.

Such a black event in boxing history led to the WBC taking steps to shorten its title bouts to a maximum of 12 rounds, with the WBA, WBO and IBF all following suit before the end of the 1980s.

3. Evander Holyfield loses a chunk of his ear

The reputation of the man they called 'The Warrior' and 'The Real Deal' for head-butting opponents quite literally came back to bite him in a bout with Mike Tyson that has gone down as one of the most bizarre fights in boxing history. 

It was in the third round of the June 1997 fight that its defining incident occurred, Tyson biting Holyfield on one of his ears. Tyson was almost disqualified for that, but when the fight recommenced, he did it again - this time tearing off a section of his opponent's ear and spitting it out onto the canvas.

It's fair to say that on this particular occasion, Tyson did get himself disqualified.

The Biggest Boxing Scandals

2. Luis Resto's illegal pads end undefeated fighter's career

When Billy Collins Jr. met Luis Resto for a bout at New York's Madison Square Garden in June 1983, the former was an undefeated junior middleweight prospect, and the latter a light-punching journeyman. Yet Collins took a heavy beating, to such an extent that he suffered a torn iris and permanently blurred vision.

However, it later emerged that Resto had only been able to afflict such horrendous injuries by soaking his hand wraps in plaster of Paris - meaning that when they hardened, he was effectively fighting his opponent with rocks. Collins was left unable to box again, and on March 1984, committed suicide by crashing his car into a culvert near his home.   

1. The Phantom Punch

There is surely no more talked-about incident in boxing history than what has become known as the 'phantom punch'. The 1965 bout was an eagerly anticipated rematch, following the pair's first encounter the year earlier, when Liston quit after six rounds with a hurt shoulder.

Many suspected that Liston only did that to gain the opportunity of a lucrative second fight against Ali, and with their next encounter ending in the first round, questions were asked as to whether Ali's apparent knockout punch really was so, or whether Liston had thrown another fight.  

With Liston dying of a heroin overdose five years later - many wondering whether it was the work of his mob ties - the debate about the notorious punch has continued to rumble on to this day.  

Boxing, as you can see from these scandals, has been a frequently dark and unpredictable sport through the years. Get involved in boxing betting with the help of the reviews and ratings provided by Top 10 Sports Betting, and you will be able to get even closer to this ever-notorious and fascinating sport.



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