Stadium status: The 5 best British boxing matches held at football grounds
From Upton Park to Cardiff Arms Park, Antony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko are poised to join this list of classics...
In anticipation of Anthony Joshua's Wembley showdown with Wladimir Klitschko, we have ranked the best fights to have taken place in British football grounds.
Joshua, whose diet and training regime we recently revealed, is the favourite to triumph in front of the record-breaking crowd of 90,000.
From Ali's Highbury visit to the Battle of Britain in Cardiff, this is the list of stadium classics that the IBF World champion will soon join.
5. David Haye v Derek Chisora at Upton Park (2012)
This fight was always going to struggle live up to the circus that preceded it.
A brawl in Germany, both fighters losing their British boxing licenses and face-offs conducted via a metal fence helped build a huge amount of interest in the controversial bout, which was eventually sanctioned by the Luxembourg Boxing Federation.
But the grudge match ultimately proved to be a mismatch, as Haye justified his status as the odds-on favourite in the pre-fight boxing odds.
He outclassed Chisora – who has always been at least a couple of tiers below the top-level fighters – and stopped him with a vicious five-punch combination in the fifth round.
It was one of the more emphatic finishes of the south Londoner’s career, but also his last fight before a chronic shoulder injury ruled him out for four years.
4. Muhammad Ali v Henry Cooper at Highbury (1966)
Highbury’s first and only time hosting a boxing match was also the first heavyweight title fight to be held in Britain in 58 years.
A crowd of 40,000 filled Arsenal’s then-home to watch Ali – making his fourth world title defence – fight Cooper for the second time.
Ali had been floored by the left hand known as ‘Enry’s ‘Ammer in their first meeting at Wembley three years earlier, ultimately winning fortuitously thanks to a cut above Cooper’s eye.
The champion was much more cautious on this occasion, but was down on the scorecards again when another gash resulted in a second TKO defeat for the Englishman.
Cooper would never fight for a world title again, eventually hanging up his gloves nine fights later.
Even in defeat, however, the two spirited performances against the Greatest were the most memorable of his career.
3. Lennox Lewis v Frank Bruno at Cardiff Arms Park (1993)
It is difficult to fathom why the first world heavyweight title fight between two British fighters in history was held in Cardiff.
Particularly as the two boxers involved were both born in London.
That is exactly what happened in 1993, however, when Lewis made his second WBC defence against third-time challenger Bruno.
Again, there was genuine acrimony between the pair, with Bruno questioning Lewis’ Britishness and Lewis calling Bruno an ‘Uncle Tom’.
The fight itself was close and chaotic, with Bruno the constant aggressor and Lewis attempting to control with his trademark jab at range.
Eventually, however, the champion landed a left hook on his opponent’s notoriously dodgy chin, bringing an end to the bout in the seventh round.
2. Nigel Benn v Chris Eubank at Old Trafford (1993)
Arguably British boxing’s greatest rivals, middleweight world champions Benn and Eubank met for the second time in front of 42,000 in Manchester.
The fight – dubbed ‘Judgement Day’ – was a rematch of their 1990 classic, which Eubank won by knockout.
Flamboyant promoter Don King had an agreement in place to sign both the winner and the loser of the huge bout, which was watched by over half a billion people around the world.
But after 12 absorbing rounds the judges ruled the fight a draw, meaning King was the only one to walk away empty-handed.
The American had not accounted for the possibility of a stalemate and, with no contract in place, both champions were free to sign elsewhere.
1. Carl Froch v George Groves at Wembley (2014)
Three factors make for huge, stadium-worthy fights: Rematches, animosity and world titles.
This bout – the biggest in British boxing history with a crowd of 80,000 – had all three.
Froch had the belts, but also plenty to prove after their first meeting, in which the then-36-year-old was knocked down for the first time in his entire career but won thanks to a controversial stoppage.
There was no doubt about the winner of the rematch, however, as Froch landed the punch of his life – a chopping straight right hand that buckled Groves’ knees and ended the fight.
It was a career-capping moment for Froch, and one of the most memorable bouts in British boxing history.
And not just because he constantly brings it up on Sky Sports News.