Best Ever Canada Boxing Fights

Best ever Canada boxing fights

From Muhammad Ali to Roberto Duran, Canada has hosted some incredible boxing bouts over the years. Our list of top Canadian boxers might not be as deep as other nations, but we have hosted some incredible nights. Most of these have taken place at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, or at one of two venues in Montreal. In this article, we look back at five in particular that are arguably the best ever Canada boxing fights, starting with Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran and “Sugar” Ray Leonard.


Roberto Duran vs Sugar Ray Leonard I

Olympic Stadium, Montreal

June 20, 1980

One of the biggest boxing events to take place in our nation and certainly a contender to top our list of best ever Canada boxing fights was the Roberto Duran vs. Sugar Ray Leonard fight No. 1, held in Montreal in 1980. Leonard was the WBC Welterweight champion with an undefeated record of 27-0. His opponent, Duran, gave up the Undisputed Lightweight championship title in 1979 in order to move up to Welterweight, where he had immediate success, including unanimous decision wins over Carlos Palomino and Zeferino Gonzales.

In front of a crowd of over 46,000 spectators, Duran and Leonard went toe to toe for 15 rounds. Curiously, Leonard appeared to adopt Duran’s fighting style for the match, which included intense close quarter fighting and with flat feet, but he could not quite keep up.

Duran landed a powerful left hook in Round 2 that shook Leonard for the rest of the round. Halfway through the fight, Leonard changed course and leaned more on his boxing skills, and fared better. But when the bell rang at the end of the 15th, it was Duran whose hand was raised for the unanimous decision win.

Muhammad Ali vs George Chuvalo

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto

Mach 29, 1966

The greatest boxing match to happen in Canada was the Muhammad Ali vs. George Chuvalo fight in 1966. Boxing was coming out of a period of intense scrutiny over fixed matches and mob interference, and Canadian boxer George Chuvalo appeared to be the antidote for that. He was known for his unwavering workmanship and dedication to the sport.

Chuvalo earned the Canadian heavyweight title in 1958 when he knocked out James Parker in the first round. At this point in Chuvalo’s career, no one had ever knocked him out and he had a reputation for being able to withstand a great deal of punishment.

When Chuvalo and Ali faced off in 1966, Chuvalo was four years older than Ali and nearing the end of his career. Ali’s superior boxing skills were evident as the rounds progressed and it was clear that if they went the distance, Ali would win on points. Chuvalo needed to finish Ali with a knockout to get the win, prompting him to attack with wild ferocity in the 14th round as he absorbed body blows from his opponent. In the 15th round, Chuvalo gave everything he had: four back-to-back shots to the jaw then a fifth to the head, but still, Ali remained conscious and held on to his title as the final round came to an end.

Floyd Patterson vs. Tom McNeeley

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto

December 4, 1961

Near the end of his reign as world Heavyweight champion, Floyd Patterson got to add to his knockout tally when he faced Tom McNeeley at Maple Leaf Gardens. Patterson entered the ring as the superior boxer; he was 37-2 since he started in 1952. McNeeley was coming off of a third-round TKO win against Kitione Lave, but was more of a brawler.

Despite McNeeley’s manager’s claims that his boxer would come out strong, Patterson took control from the start and maintained it throughout. He dropped McNeeley a total of eight times (seven officially, and one missed) and all but one time, McNeeley got back on his feet and resumed fighting. In the later rounds, McNeeley began to return with more vicious determination, and at one point, he took Patterson off guard with a headlong rush. His persistence came to an end 2 minutes and 51 seconds into the fourth round, when Patterson knocked him out for good, retaining his three heavyweight titles in the process.

Archie Moore vs. Yvon Durelle I

The Forum, Montreal

December 10, 1958

Archie Moore didn’t get any breaks in his ascent to becoming a world champion. He had to put in 150 professional fights to get his Lightweight title challenge at the age of 36. In 15 rounds, he took the belt from Joey Maxim, who was coming off of a win over Sugar Ray Robinson. By the time Moore was matched up with New Brunswick boxer Yvon Durelle, he had the respect of the world, and Durelle was considered to be more fodder for the champion.

But the power of Yvon “The Fighting Fisherman” Durelle took Moore by surprise in the opening round, when he hooked Moore’s jaw and sent him flying to the canvas. Moore barely beat the count as he hobbled back onto his feet only to be hunted around the ring by Durelle.

Moore managed to recover and came back strong in the second round, but it didn’t last. Both boxers traded shots evenly in the fourth and then Durelle came down strong in the fifth, knocking Moore to the canvas for the fourth time. By round six, however, Moore took control of the fight and took it home, retaining his title as world champion.

George Foreman vs “Five”

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto

April 25, 1975

After having his pride wounded during his first career loss (a loss to Muhammad Ali in Zaire in 1974), George Foreman went to Toronto with the aim of showing off his boxing prowess. The idea of the event was to pit him against five men in a single night. Each man would get three rounds against Foreman, but unfortunately, those men were significantly lighter (30 to 40 pounds) than him. This boxing spectacle was not official and is categorized as an exhibition match on Foreman’s record, though the sheer audacity of the event means it has to feature on our list of best ever Canada boxing fights.

Ali provided colour commentary for the event alongside broadcaster, Howard Cosell. He amped up his trash talk to Foreman, and the crowds eventually turned on Foreman too and began to throw bottles towards the ring. Foreman still raised his arms triumphantly after finishing off the last tomato can, but he must have realised that his plan was failing. Fortunately for Foreman, the sideshow did not have long-lasting negative effects on his career, as he bounced back with an incredible comeback that saw him regain the heavyweight world title at the ripe age of 45.