Boxing comebacks

Last Updated: 21/11/12 4:37pm

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With Ricky Hatton set to return to the boxing world against Vyacheslav Senchenko at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night, we look back at some famous comebacks.

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Sugar Ray Robinson - 1955

Title defeat to Joey Maxim in 1952 prompted Sugar Ray to try a career in show business, specifically tap dancing. With the switch proving less profitable than he had hoped, the two-weight champion returned to capture the world middleweight crown with a victory over Bobo Olson in his comeback year. Robinson relinquished the title to Gene Fullmer two years later as his career was littered with a mixture of wins and defeats thereafter. That said, the 198-fight veteran earned a place in the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1967.

Muhammad Ali - 1970

After refusing his call-up for national service in 1967, Ali was stripped of his boxing licence and world heavyweight titles and spent three years out of the ring. He returned in 1970 and, despite a first professional loss at the hands of Joe Frazier, went on to create history and become the first three-time world heavyweight champion, delivering many golden memories for boxing fans around the world.

George Foreman - 1987

Arguably the greatest comeback of all-time was made by 'Big George' Foreman in 1987. After a 10-year absence during which he became a born-again Christian, the then 38-year-old Foreman was back in the ring. Journeyman Steve Zuoski was the first in a line of 24 victories, most of which were routine wins against less established boxers. His remarkable run of form earned him a title bout against Evander Holyfield, fighting for the WBC, WBA and IBF world titles. Despite a valiant display, at the age of 42, Foreman was defeated by way of unanimous decision. Despite that defeat, Foreman continued and, at 45, knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th round to win the WBA and IBF versions of the heavyweight title. He was stripped of both belts within a year for refusing to face his mandatory challengers and retired again in 1997 with a 76-5 record. He remains the oldest man to hold a version of the heavyweight world title.

Sugar Ray Leonard - 1987

Just over 25 years ago saw one of the greatest sporting stories unfold inside Caeser's Palace, Las Vegas. After being diagnosed with a detached retina in 1982, Sugar Ray Leonard fought just once more before a showdown with Marvin Hagler was arranged. Hagler started as overwhelming favourite due to Sugar Ray's condition, however logic was thrown out of the window as the underdog claimed a points' victory which has been disputed to this very day. Feeling robbed, Hagler walked away from the sport, while Sugar Ray went on (retiring twice more) before eventually calling time as a 40-year-old in 1997.

Barry McGuigan - 1988

Many boxing fans believe the 'Clones Cyclone' retired too early when he called time on his career as a 28-year-old in 1989, but he in fact walked away from the ring two years earlier after a famous points defeat to Stevie Cruz in Las Vegas - a loss which saw him relinquish his WBA featherweight title. McGuigan and Cruz traded blow after blow in a 15-round epic in the Texas heat, only for the American to come through via a narrow points decision. McGuigan was admitted to hospital after the defeat due to dehydration and he retired shortly after. With a record of 29-1, McGuigan made his comeback in 1988, beating former world title challengers Nicky Perez and Francisco Tomas Da Cruz as well as contender Julio Cesar Miranda. But, it was to be no famous return as WBC and WBA super featherweight challenger Jim McDonnell put him into permanent retirement by inflicting a heavy cut on the Irishman, who was forced to retire in round four.

Mike Tyson - 1995

'Iron Mike' was convicted of rape in 1992 and served a three-year prison sentence as a result. Tyson converted to Islam and returned to the ring in 1995. The Brooklyn boxer landed the heavyweight title with a third-round stoppage of Frank Bruno in Las Vegas and defended it in style against Bruce Seldon before losing his two fights against Evander Holyfield. He was never to regain the belt.

Evander Holyfield - 2006

A career which spanned over a quarter of a century (and who would bet against it continuing?), Holyfield's comebacks over the years have yielded mixed results. His career appeared over in 2003 when James Toney stopped the then 42-year-old in the ninth round and a third consecutive loss at the hands of Larry Donald prompted the New York State Athletic Commission to ban him from boxing in 2005. Holyfield maintained that the losses were due to a shoulder injury and not due to his advancing years. In 2006, aged 45, 'The Real Deal' competed in his first professional bout in two years against Jeremy Bates. He went on to win another three fights on the bounce before losing to Sultan Ibragimov and Nikolai Valuev. Despite his two defeats, his next fight was a title shot for the lightly-regarded WBF heavyweight title against Francois Botha, some 18 months after his contest with Valuev, and this time he prevailed with an eighth-round knockout. Rumours of a reunion with Mike Tyson continue to linger. Let's hope it never materialises...

Oscar De La Hoya - 2006

One of the most popular boxers of all-time, De La Hoya, walked away from boxing for just under two years from 2004-2006 after failing to defend his WBO middleweight title against Bernard Hopkins. Some good old fashioned 'trash-talking' from Ricardo Mayorga prompted De La Hoya to return to the ring, but many were questioning whether 'Golden Boy' was good enough for the fight, given his two-year absence from the sport. However, he spectacularly silenced any doubters by putting Mayorga in the floor less than one minute into the fight before winning inside six rounds. A blockbuster showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jnr was next on the agenda, however De La Hoya was to suffer a split-decision defeat at the MGM Grand. A unanimous points victory over Steve Forbes followed, but De La Hoya hung up his gloves for good after a eighth round technical knockout at the hands of Manny Pacquiao.

And two who didn't make it back...
Rocky Marciano

Regarded as one of the heaviest punchers of all-time, 'The Brockton Blockbuster' retired content with his 49-0 record which spanned from 1947-55. Marciano claimed the world heavyweight title with a thrilling stoppage over Jersey Joe Walcott in 1952 and successfully defended the belt on five occasions, proving he was the best of his era.

Lennox Lewis

Despite many offers to return, three-time WBC heavyweight champion Lewis has resisted temptation to ensure he too bowed out at the top. Back-to-back victories over Mike Tyson and Vitali Klitschko is not a bad way to leave the heavyweight division....

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