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For serious fight fans, no sport is nearly as transcendent as boxing.

The contrasts of combat are vivid and visceral. Bloody yet beautiful. Balletic and ballistic.

This is a game you don’t play  ̶  with no teammates to blame when things go wrong, where defeat might mean separation from your senses.

When you’re facing a battle in business or life at large, the vaults of boxing history pack an inspirational punch.

So box clever with these seven life lessons from famous fights  ̶  seconds out!

1.  Never give up. Castillo v Corrales (2005)

When WBO champion Diego Corrales met WBC champion José Luis Castillo for their unification bout in Las Vegas on May 7th, 2005, rounds one through nine were characterised by vicious close quarter combat, American Corrales choosing to go toe to toe with the Mexican infighter.

Then soon after the start of the 10th, Castillo floored Corrales twice in quick succession, with the latter taking an eight and nine count respectively. Castillo moved in for the kill, but Corrales had other ideas.

Digging deep and never giving up, he caught Castillo flush with a fantastic right hand, then trapped him on the ropes with a flurry of punches that had him out on his feet. Ref Tony Weeks intervened to stop the fight and one of the most dramatic turnarounds in boxing history was complete.

Watch Corrales turn the tables here

2.  Brains beat brawn. Ali vs Foreman (1974)

Some fans feared for Ali’s life when the 32 year old stepped into the ring in Kinshasa, Zaire, for his 1974 tilt at 25 year old George Foreman’s World Heavyweight title.

With good reason. Foreman was a human wrecking ball who only the previous year had brutally dismantled The Lousville Lip’s fiercest foe Joe Frazier inside two rounds.

However, ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ didn’t transpire as expected for the young champ, with Ali deploying his famous ‘rope-a-dope’ tactics to lean back into the ring ropes and allow Foreman to punch himself out, before administering a crushing coup de grace in round eight.

By taking Foreman into deep water and drowning him, Ali proved that, in the right conditions, brains can beat brawn.

Watch Ali beat Big George

3.  Tragedy can fuel triumph. Tyson vs Douglas (1990)

James ‘Buster’ Douglas was a 42-1 underdog when he took on ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson for the undisputed World Heavyweight Championship in Tokyo in 1990.

An ill-prepared Tyson struggled with Douglas from the start, with the taller challenger managing to keep Tyson on the outside with his longer reach and straight punches. Tyson floored Douglas in the eighth round, only for Douglas to come back strong in the 9th and wobble the bamboozled Brooklynite.

Boxing’s biggest upset was completed in round 10, when Douglas caught Tyson with a crushing right uppercut and followed up with a fast combo that closed the show.

Ringside pundits noticed from the start that, unlike Tyson’s previous opponents, Douglas didn’t appear to be intimidated. In fact, just weeks before the fight, his mother had died of a stroke aged 46. She had been ill for some time but told anyone who would listen that she knew Buster would win  ̶  his will forged in the fires of personal tragedy, Douglas feared no man than fateful night.

Watch Buster mangle Mike

4.  Refuse to lose. Hagler Vs Hearns (1985)

When shaven-skulled switch-hitter ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler fought Thomas ‘Hit Man’ Hearns for the World Middleweight Championship at Ceasar’s Palace in 1985, Hagler had been the undisputed champ for five years. Meanwhile, the tall, rangy Hearns had won world titles from welterweight through to Junior Middleweight before this attempt to capture Hagler’s strap.

There were no formalities in the most memorable first round in fistic history, as both combatants unloaded power punches from the bell in a breath-taking display of skill and savagery which left Hagler spurting blood from a wound in his forehead.

Hearns caused claret to cascade again in round two, slicing Hagler under his right eye, with referee Richard Steele warning the champion he would stop the fight in Hearns’ favour if the wounds worsened and impaired his vision.

With everything on the line, Hagler showed a champion’s heart in the third, and refused to lose by exploding a right hook on Hearns’ head and skipping across the ring to finish him off with a fantastic three punch combination. The match had been billed as ‘The Fight’ but was instantly renamed ‘The War’.

Watch The War here

5.  Will beats skill. Robinson vs LaMotta II (1943)

Many boxing aficionados believe that, pound for pound, Sugar Ray Robinson was the best fighter who ever drew breath.

And given his 200-173-19 (109 KO) record against the cream of boxing’s 40s/50s Golden Era opponents, and world titles from welterweight through to middleweight, it’s hard to argue.

But sometimes will beats skill. And one fighter who gave him as much as he could handle during a thrilling six fight series was ‘Bronx Bull’ Jake LaMotta, who famously quipped he ‘fought Sugar Ray so many times it’s a wonder I didn’t get diabetes’. The iconic rivalry was immortalised in celluloid in Raging Bull and Robinson beat LaMotta in five out of six meetings.

However, La Motta handed Robinson his first pro defeat in their second meeting on 5th February 1943 in Detroit, with Robinson taking a commanding lead in the fight’s first half before LaMotta started to come on strong in the home stretch. In the eighth round, La Motta caught Robinson with a brilliant body and head combo that sent him through the ropes in front of his hometown Motor City crowd.

The bell saved Ray, but the onslaught continued for the final two rounds, with LaMotta sealing a famous victory which, although it wasn’t contested for a world title, might still be his most accomplished.

Bronx Bull highlights right here

6.  Fight to your strengths. Ray Leonard vs Duran II (1980)

Styles make fights. So when Sugar Ray Leonard lined up to contest the World Welterweight Championship against Roberto ‘Hands of Stone’ Duran in June 1980, boxing purists looked forward to a classic boxer vs brawler contest.

The ‘Brawl in Montreal’ didn’t go Ray’s way  ̶  instead of using his polished skills and ring generalship to dominate Duran, he went toe to toe with the Panamanian slugger for 15 thrilling rounds and was handed a unanimous defeat.

Leonard didn’t make the same mistake in the November 1980 rematch. He moved fluidly from the start, peppering Duran with jabs, snapping his head back with swift combinations, catching him with crisp counters and spinning away whenever he seemed cornered.

By round seven it seemed that Duran could barely lay a glove on his opponent and Ray began to showboat, embarrassing Duran by windmilling his right hand and catching him unawares with the left. Round 8 was more of the same, until the unthinkable happened  ̶  the macho man from El Chorrillo turned his back on Leonard before the bell, saying ‘no más’ (‘no more’). Leonard was the winner by TKO and it took Duran years to regain his warrior reputation. By fighting to his strengths, Leonard had outfoxed and outboxed his man.

See Sugar Ray’s sweet victory

7.  One trick isn’t enough. Fury vs Wilder II (2020)

Despite Tyson Fury’s fabulous technical skills, when he faced one-punch knockout artist and WBC World Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder in their first fight in December 2018, many fans feared he would end the fight on the canvas. Fury ended up outboxing Wilder for long stretches of the bout, despite being floored in the ninth round and again, more heavily, in the 12th and final round, when Wilder was already celebrating victory when he turned around bewildered to watch the Gypsy King rise to beat the count and grab a split draw on the scorecards.

Their rematch in 2020 was a different affair, with Fury successfully avoiding Wilder’s famed right hand, then outboxing and outgunning the champion, who was floored twice before his corner threw in the towel in round seven.

Wilder’s excuses since have ranged from his elaborate ring walk costume being too heavy and wearing him out, to Fury having weights in his gloves. The truth is, although Wilder has a punch that could floor a horse, he was exposed as a one trick pony against Fury’s sublime skillset.

Watch Fury feast on Wilder

That’s the final bell on your septet of smashing life lessons from boxing’s hall of fame  ̶  whatever your goal, keep your guard up and come out swinging!

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