Pacquiao-Marquez will have to be close and breathtaking if the trilogy is to be considered a great one, but I doubt it will surpass other great trilogies of the past. Of course, if Marquez wins, all bets are off.
A Tapestry of Other Trilogies
Floyd Patterson vs. Ingemar Johansson (1959/1960/1961) provided everything a great heavyweight trilogy should provide and then some. This was back when the heavyweight championship really meant something. Patterson’s leaping left hook knockout of Ingo in the second fight is still very scary to witness. It was a foot-twitcher and that’s as frightening as it gets. If knockdowns are your thing, there were 13 in all during this trio of ebb and flow slugfests.
With Riddick Bowe vs. Evander Holyfield (1992/1993/1995), we even got the James "Fan Man" Miller in addition to three bruising fights.
Muhammad Ali v. Joe Frazier (1971/1974/1975) carried with it social implications and Ali’s hateful trash talk. But what they did in the ring cost each combatant dearly and would link their names forever. The buildup to these fights was extraordinary — virtually epic.
Another lesser known one in South Africa had some interesting drama and social implications as well and warrants mention.It involved "Dancing Shoes" Morake vs. Brian Mitchell. Morake died from injuries suffered in the last of four bouts, but he wa
Another that featured uncommon savagery (in three different countries no less) was the hard-fought fights between Jeff Harding and Dennis Andries (1989/1990/1991).
Daniel Zaragoza and Paul Banke battled for the WBC Super Bantamweight Title in 1989, 1990 and 1991, with Zaragoza winning two of the three by decision, while Banke got his win by 9th round TKO. All three bouts were held at The Great Western Forum.
And who can forget the breathtaking trilogy between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales? Humberto "Chiquita" Gonzalez and Michael Carbajal put on a great series in the 1990s. Of more recent vintage, Arturo Gatti and Irish Micky Ward displayed what happens when two fighters forget about defense and their own well being and leave it all in the ring.
The first three Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez fights were non-stop thrillers (2007-2008). They were fought consecutively, and each was for the junior featherweight championship. But before these guys were through with each other, they would be badly damaged. Marquez endured brutal punishment in his three prior fights against Vazquez, but in the end and "Once and For All" he was the last man standing.
Back in the day when boxers fought close to 100 fight or more, any number of greats participated in multiple fights including Ezzard Charles, Sugar Ray Robinson, Gene Fullmer, Kid Gavilan,Lloyd Marshall, etc.
My Favorite: Graziano vs. Zale
My Favorite: Graziano vs. Zale
A case can be made for each of the above being considered as the greatest trilogy in boxing history and I’m not savvy enough to rank them. But my own pick for number one is Rocky Graziano (Thomas Rocco Barbella) vs. Tony Zale (Anthony Florian Zaleski). It had everything. Post-war drama, a rubber match, the Chicago vs. New York big city ingredient, unabashed ethnic pride, and the fact that all three fights ended via KO or stoppage. The first match was in 1946. The second was in 1947, and the third in 1948 (a period of just 21 months). We wept when Graziano lost and celebrated when he won. Ethnic pride was greater than city pride back then. The fights were not only dramatic but uncommonly brutal. The KO of Graziano in the third fight was just as scary as Ingo being sent to Nordic Dreamland in the second fight with Patterson. There probably will never be a more savage and damaging three-fight series in boxing.