As Anthony Joshua prepares to face Joseph Parker in his 21st outing, we look at how some of his rivals and former greats fared when they reached the same milestone…
David Haye vs Jean Marc Mormeck (Nov 10, 2007)
A cruiserweight at the time, Haye took up his mandated opportunity to challenge tough Frenchman Mormeck in Paris for the WBA, WBC, The Ring and lineal cruiserweight world titles.
The Londoner produced the performance of his life, climbing off the canvas, to rip the titles away from the much-feared Frenchman. The victory skyrocketed ‘Hayemaker’ to the top of the divisional ranks.
Lennox Lewis vs Mike Dixon (Aug 11, 1992)
Having just retained his British and European titles, adding the Commonwealth belt to his collection, British great Lewis recorded a routine stoppage victory over Mike Dixon in New Jersey.
Ten months later, Lewis would lay claim to the coveted WBC world title.
Tyson Fury vs Steve Cunningham (Apr 20, 2013)
It wasn’t the American debut that Tyson Fury would have quite envisaged when he travelled to New York to take on former two-time cruiserweight champion Cunningham at the Madison Square Garden Theater.
The Manchester heavyweight had a three-stone weight advantage, but it was Cunningham who struck the first vicious blow, sending Fury to the floor with a huge right hand in the second. The towering Brit had to bite down on the gum shield to pull out a plucky seventh-round stoppage.
Mike Tyson vs Mitch Green (May 20, 1986)
Tyson was just 20 for his 21st pro outing, but it was an unfamiliar ending for the fearsome puncher who was taken the scheduled distance for just the second time in his career in a fiery New York derby at Madison Square Garden.
Tyson and Green were involved in a high-profile street fight two years later, by which time Tyson was the undisputed heavyweight champion. Green confronted Tyson in Harlem and ‘Iron Mike’ landed a straight right hand on his rival, completely shutting Green’s left eye.
Joseph Parker vs Alexander Dimitrenko (Oct 1, 2016)
Parker steered himself to a world title shot with a bludgeoning victory over Dimitrenko in Manukau City, New Zealand, although the contest had a bizarre ending in the third round.
Parker had blown away his experienced foe, but the finish came in controversial fashion, a right hand thudding the giant Ukraine opponent while he was on one knee, the unbeaten New Zealander lucky not to be penalised.
Muhammad Ali vs Sonny Liston (May 25, 1965)
The rematch between Ali and Liston, in particular the way it ended after just two minutes and 12 seconds, remains one of the most controversial and confounding, albeit iconic, fights in ring history – one shadowed by Ali’s religious connections and Liston’s reputed ties to organised crime.
Fifteen months earlier, Ali, ‘Cassius Clay’ at the time, “shook up the world” with a seventh-round stoppage of Liston, boxing’s most feared. The rematch saw an Ali flash right-hand plant Liston on the canvas. The former champ returned to his feet only for referee, former heavyweight champ Jersey Joe Walcott, to stop proceedings and declare Ali the winner.
Deontay Wilder vs Marlon Hayes (Feb 25, 2012)
Now 40 fights into his menacing career, Wilder’s scheduled eight-rounder with Hayes seems a long time ago and ‘The Bronze Bomber’, just an emerging prospect at the time, dealt with the 40-year-old in swift and familiar fashion.
Wilder had his man hurt in the fourth with a series of big right hands, but Hayes battled on to hear the bell. In no fit state to continue, the referee mercifully ended proceedings.
The Klitschko brothers…
On August 6, 1998, Wladimir Klitschko would have his first professional fight away from Europe. Dr Steelhammer travelled to Louisiana to take on Carlos Monroe and won convincingly via sixth-round stoppage on his American debut.
One week later, also in his 21st outing, older brother Vitali then headed stateside for the first time and he took little time in dispatching of Jamaican Ricardo Kennedy in Miami, Florida.
Joe Frazier vs Manuel Ramos (Jun 24, 1968)
Having just beaten fellow unbeaten star Buster Mathis in an unofficial world title showdown – due to Muhammad Ali being stripped of his title – Smokin’ Joe, 24, comfortably stopped Mexico’s Ramos in the second period.
Dillian Whyte vs Dereck Chisora (Dec 10, 2016)
Highlights of the Sky Sports fight of the year contender between Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora.
The London rivals settled their bitter feud in 2016 at the Manchester Arena and, after a tumultuous build-up to the showdown, Whyte came through a barnstorming heavyweight clash.
Whyte and Chisora went toe to toe for 12 rounds, trading leather relentlessly, leaving many torn as to who won. The judges returned a split-decision verdict in one of the fights of the year.
Frank Bruno vs Juan Antonio Figueroa (Mar 13, 1984)
Bruno easily dispatched of Argentina’s Figueroa in the first round of his 21st bout, but it would be the final episode of his unbeaten streak as he suffered his first defeat next time out to James Smith.
Joe Louis vs King Levinsky (Aug 7, 1935)
Having just defeated Italy’s revered heavyweight great Primo Carnera, Joe Louis again demonstrated his destructive knockout power with a first-round stoppage of Levinsky. The bout was one of 13 times that Louis boxed in 1935.
Evander Holyfield vs Michael Dokes (Mar 11, 1989)
Holyfield began 1989 meeting former heavyweight champion Michael Dokes and the contest, which Holyfield won via a 10th-round knockout, was one of the best heavyweight bouts out of the 1980s.
George Foreman vs Roger Russell (Jul 20, 1970)
Foreman’s 21st outing came just over a year after he made his professional debut and it was a quick night’s work against Russell, a first-round stoppage finishing proceedings.
Larry Holmes vs Fred Askew (Apr 5, 1976)
The ‘Easton Assassin’ took on Fred Askew in Maryland and extended his unbeaten record via a second-round stoppage. Two years later, he claimed the WBC world title.
Rocky Marciano vs Ted Lowry (Oct 10, 1949)
Well on his way to a record 49-fight unbeaten streak, knockout artist Marciano, ‘the Brockton Blockbuster’, was taken the distance for just the second time in his career by ‘Tiger’ Ted.
Watch Anthony Joshua vs Joseph Parker, live and exclusive from Cardiff, March 31, on Sky Sports Box Office. Book via your Sky remote or online here.