Most Memorable Rounds in Boxing History: Round 3

August 16, 2011

The DSH continues its series on the greatest rounds in boxing history by presenting the most memorable Round 3 in boxing history.  Again, all the nominees were top-notch, but ultimately one truly unique round was declared the winner.

Most Notable 3rd Round in Boxing History

(A) Sugar Ray Robinson v. Rocky Graziano (April 16, 1952) - Robinson is knocked down after an exchange with Graziano early in the round.  Sugar Ray gets up and starts taking control of the round before delivering a brutal straight right hand that knocks Graziano, and his mouthpiece, out.

(B) Ingemar Johansson vs. Floyd Patterson I (June 26, 1959) - Patterson is knocked down seven times as Johansson takes the Heavyweight Title to Sweden.

(C) Muhammad Ali v. Cleveland Williams (November 16, 1966) - Perhaps the greatest performance of "The Greatest."  Ali was in top form with this flashy knockout win in defense of his title.

(D) Evander Holyfield v. Mike Tyson II (June 28, 1997) - The rematch that ended in chaos.  Tyson goes vampire and bites Holyfield's ear...twice!

The winner?  D.

Johannson's knockout of Floyd Patterson was arguably the most historically noteworthy of the nominees, as it took the Heavyweight title away from an American boxer.  However, Patterson was never remotely in the round after being rocked and knocked down by Johannson right hand early in the round.  In fact, Johannson's subsequent  six knockdown of Patterson were not aesthetically pleasing and actually a bit sloppy.  Also, Patterson was largely out of it after the initial knockdown, reducing the competitive drama of the round.
Both Robinson's and Ali's knockouts were beautiful to behold. 

A punch/push from Hall of Famer Rocky Graziano knocked an off-balance Robinson down early in Round 3.  As Robinson rose off the canvas, Graziano moved in for the kill.   But Robinson used his jab effectively and began to land straight right hands behind it.  Sugar Ray followed this up with some big left hooks to begin taking control of the round.  Finally, Robinson landed a huge right hand just as Graziano was gearing up to throw his own right.  The force of the blow knocked Graziano down and against the ropes.  It also sent his mouthpiece flying.  Graziano couldn't recover in time.

Ali's performance against Cleveland Williams was perhaps the classic performance from Ali's career before he was banned from fighting for 3 years.  After knocking Williams down several times in the second round, Ali closed the show in Round 3.  Ali danced around the ring and did the famous Ali Shuffle twice - while landing picture perfect combinations to the hapless Williams.  No heavyweight has come close to fighting with the same kind of speed, hand or foot, or style as "The Greatest."

I would not argue with anyone who picked B or C, but....

Holyfield v. Tyson II provided the most memorable Round 3 in boxing history.  This is the case where the controversy of the round does make it that memorable.  True, it was not beautiful boxing or classic greatness from either of these two Hall of Fame fighters.   It was sheer spectacle. 

Tyson essentially went crazy after suffering a cut in the second round from a Holyfield headbutt.  After losing the first two rounds, Iron Mike came out aggressively in the third, but shortly thereafter he bit off a chunk of Holyfield's ear during a clinch.  Holyfield leaped up in pain, and people began entering the ring.  Referee Mills Lane restored order and let the round continue after deducting two points from Tyson. 

However, just when it looked like things were getting really interesting, Tyson shockingly bit Holyfield again!  Lane didn't see the second bite and the round continued as Holyfield and Tyson tried to slug it out.  When the round was over, Tyson was disqualified.

Years later many have debated how that fight ended.  Was this the moment when Tyson officially went over the edge?  Was he justified in complaining about Holyfield's headbutts?  Did Tyson just lose control or was he actually looking for away to get out of the fight?

But the test of the round's signficance is the simple fact that nobody who saw Tyson bite Holyfield will forget where they were the night it happened.

Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for

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