Lamont Peterson’s win over Amir Khan last Saturday was an exciting fight tinged with controversy, making it the latest big bout in the 140-pound division to provide plenty of thrills and plenty to chew over in the aftermath. Here’s a short list of some of the division’s other modern classics:
Aaron Pryor TKO14 Alexis Arguello
Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida. November 12, 1982
In a fight so good that it was later dubbed the Fight of the Decade, unbeaten Pryor defended his WBA 140-pound belt against lightweight champ Arguello. The two men threw a combined 238 punches in the first round alone, and each took turns to be on top. Arguello was behind on two of the three scorecards after 13, but appeared to have momentum; in between rounds, Pryor trainer Panama Lewis told his cutman to “Give me the bottle, the one I mixed.” What was in that bottle has never been determined conclusively, but the next round Pryor launched a furious attack that stopped Arguello for the win. Ten months later, Pryor stopped Arguello again, this time in 10.
Julio Cesar Chavez TKO12 Meldrick Taylor
Las Vegas Hilton, Las Vegas, Nevada. March 17, 1990
Both men were undefeated and each held a 140-pound belt when they clashed in Sin City. Taylor took the early points lead, tattooing Chavez with punches and outlanding him with his blinding hand speed. But Chavez was landing with more authority; if Taylor was winning the battle, Chavez was winning the war. In the waning moments of the final round, Chavez, trailing on the scorecards, knocked Taylor down heavily. The American made it his feet, but was unresponsive to referee Richard Steele’s commands, and Steele waved it off with two seconds remaining.
Kostya Tszyu TKO2 Zab Judah
MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada. November 3 2001
This marks another meeting between rival beltholders, and another one that ended in drama. In the first round, Judah’s superior hand speed threatened to overwhelm Tszyu, but in the second, the Russian’s firepower started to catch up to the flashy American. Near the end of the round, Tszyu landed a right hand that knocked Judah down. Judah stood up, looked at referee Jay Nady, then staggered forward and sideways and hit the canvas again, prompting Nady to call a halt. A furious Judah attacked Nady and threw a corner stool across the ring, earning him a fine and a license revocation from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Marcos Maidana TKO6 Victor Ortiz
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California. June 27 2009
This was intended as a showcase for the hard-hitting, fast-rising Ortiz, and it appeared that would be the case when the American knocked down Argentina’s Maidana with a flurry of powerful punches midway through the first. But Maidana rose to his feet and promptly flattened the onrushing Ortiz with a powerful right hand. Ortiz survived and, in round 2, knocked down Maidana twice more. But Maidana kept coming, closing Ortiz’s left eye and overwhelming him with pressure. Ortiz stumbled to the canvas in the sixth in the face of a Maidana onslaught, prompting the referee to step in – a decision to which Ortiz acquiesced too easily for the taste of some fans.
Are there any fights would you add to this list? What fights in the 140-pound division would you like to see come together in 2012? Answer in the comments below.