I had a chat tonight with a good friend of mine, who really knows his boxing. We were discussing Hagler/Leonard, and we disagree wholeheartedly on who won. We moved swiftly on, and were talking about Leonard/Hearns 1, when my friend asserted that this was the single best fight he has ever seen. He said the whole big-fight atmosphere that preceded it, the relevance both contemporary and historical, the action in the ring, the drama, the qualityof both guys really contributed to what he would have as his #1 fight ever.
This is (maybe) not to be confused with 'favourite' fight ever, or maybe the two are intrinsically linked, but the comment got me wondering: what is the best fight I've ever seen?
Now, because I'm relatively young, I missed out on the historical context of Holmes/Cooney, for example, and I wasn't there for Ali's career, so I have to judge on what I've seen on video. In other words, while my friend has experienced the buildup to a lot of great fights, I only know what I see in documentaries, or read, combined with the video of the in-ring action itself. I threw a couple of other fights at him to see how they fared on his Big Fight Abacus, and he threw them all back as being Quite Simply Not As Good as the first Leonard/Hearns fight.
Some I named were Ali/Frazier 3, Morales/Barrera 1, Hagler/Hearns (which even I, as a massive advocate of this fight as being on the Required Reading list for anybody who wants to watch great fights, have to admit might suffer due to its brevity), and Cotto/Margarito. He said that while all these fights had something, they all lacked an intangible and maybe unquantifiable quality that made Leonard/Hearns 1 his #1.
So I thought I'd ask, because I'm really curious about this and there are loads that I probably should have thrown at him but didn't: What is the best fight you've ever seen? This could be your favourite, but I'm not sure it really means just that; this question (the way I mean it anyway) could possibly be rephrased as something like: if you were trying to convert a casual boxing fan into a hardcore one, and you were going to show them one fight that would best suit the purpose, which would it be? Or, if you like, disregard this meaning, and select your own definition of 'best'. I'm happy either way. I'd just like to canvas opinion, really. It's been bugging me all night.