Historically, boxing and controversy have gone hand-in-hand. From day one, the sport has had ties to organised crime, its fair share of shady characters and questionable refereeing decisions. Boxing has never been short of drama, both in and out of the ring. The most infamous controversies in the sport have created headlines around the world, only reinforcing the stereotype that boxing is a breeding ground for bad behaviour. So, here are the greatest controversies in boxing history.
1. Mike Tyson's Ear Bite
One of the greatest - and most feared - heavyweight's of all time, Mike Tyson, seemed to court controversy. The 'Baddest Man on the Planet' was involved in many infamous moments both in and out of the ring, but arguably the most unforgettable was his encounter with Evander Holyfield, in June 1997. After taking several Holyfield headbutts in the early rounds, Iron Mike lost his cool, and, leaning in for a clinch in the 3rd round, took a chunk out of his opponent's ear, spitting it out onto the canvas. Holyfield remonstrated with the referee, who deducted two points from Tyson. However, when the bout resumed, Tyson returned for a second helping and the fight was stopped, Iron Mike disqualified. The former heavyweight world champion faced further punishment - he was fined $3 million and banned from the ring for a year.
2. Ali VS. Liston 1965
The rematch between Muhammed Ali and Sonny Liston in 1965 is one of the most bizarre and hotly-debated bouts in boxing history. Ali (fighting then under his birth name Cassius Clay) had shocked the world with a stunning defeat of Liston the year before, and their rematch was one of the most highly anticipated events in sports. Sonny Liston, however, seemed to have made premeditated plans to end the spectacle early. A 'phantom punch' from Ali in the first round sent Liston to the canvas, who fell comically again as he attempted to get up, the referee reluctantly calling an end to the fight as the count passed 10. There are numerous theories as to why Liston went down - mob ties, death threats, supposed assassination attempts on Ali, the list goes on. Either way, 25 May 1965 was one of boxing's great controversies.
3. Antonio Margarito's Handwraps
In 2008, Mexican welterweight Antonio Margarito shocked the boxing world when he stopped the undefeated Puerto Rican superstar, Miguel Cotto, in the 11th round of their bout. Margarito's impressive victory earned him a matchup with Shane Mosely early the following year, but Moseley's eagle-eyed trainer, Naazim Richardson, noticed that Margarito's hand wraps had some unusual white powdery substance on them. This substance turned out to be similar to plaster of Paris, which would harden when moistened with sweat. The Mexican was told to re-wrap his hands and was duly knocked out by Moseley in the 9th round.
4. The Dempsey VS. Tunney 'Long Count'
In 1927, 105,000 fight fans were present at Chicago's Soldier Field to witness one of the most controversial refereeing decisions in boxing history. After losing his heavyweight crown to Gene Tunney the year before, Jack Dempsey was keen to avenge the defeat. This fight featured a new rule that stated a fighter must return to a neutral corner after knocking down his opponent, or the referee won't start the count. Dempsey did the hard part, knocking down Tunney for the first time in his career, but failed to retreat to a neutral corner for several seconds. When the referee finally started the count, Tunney rose in the nick of time and went on to floor Dempsey in the next round, eventually retaining his title by decision.