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BLH Classic Fight Night #1 results: Foreman-Lyle, Hearns-Barkley, Vazquez-Gonzalez

Knockouts! Knockouts! Knockouts!

Israel Vazquez v Jhonny Gonzalez Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Thanks to everyone who joined us tonight! I’d consider the idea a true success, and we’ll definitely do more of these in the future. We may even do another one next Thursday, as the current boxing schedule remains pretty empty.

Remember, all of these fights are available on YouTube.

September 16, 2006: Israel Vazquez def. Jhonny Gonzalez by TKO (2:09 of round 10)

This was a really interesting fight to watch again. It’s easy to forget just how in control Jhonny Gonzalez was in the first six rounds. He swept those, at least on my card, and Harold Lederman’s for HBO. Gonzalez, coming up from 118 to 122 for this fight, used his jab and left hook extremely effectively, dropping Vazquez on hooks early in the fourth and late in the sixth. There was a point that the fans booed -- which was pretty ridiculous, but they did it -- because the fight was so one-sided.

But Israel Vazquez was no normal fighter, with great recuperative abilities and heart for days. He came back to put Gonzalez down in the seventh round, and threw a ton of hard shots in the ninth, before dropping Gonzalez again in the 10th. At that point, Gonzalez looked to his corner, who waved the towel, much to the shock and dismay of the HBO commentary team.

Lederman had it 87-81 for Gonzalez at the time of stoppage, but the official scores were 85-83, 85-83, and 86-82. Two of those cards, with the momentum Vazquez had picked up, were well within Israel’s range to win had it gone to the cards. The fight was both a great example of how good and smooth a boxer-puncher Gonzalez could be at his best, and of Vazquez’s indomitable spirit.

June 6, 1988: Iran Barkley def. Thomas Hearns by TKO (2:39 of round 3)

Tommy Hearns was wild to watch. He punched like a truck, but his defense was spotty and his chin was not great. This is a fight where Hearns is really beating Barkley up, and showing why he was the big favorite. Barkley was bleeding outside of both eyes.

And then Barkley caught Hearns. And he caught him hard, with a right hand, which was not known to be his best punch. Hearns went down like a sack of potatoes, and though he got up, he was done, clearly having no real idea where he was. Referee Richard Steele chose to let it continue, though, since Hearns was technically able to stand and take a couple more shots and get knocked through the ropes, at which point Steele had seen enough. Really put his foot down.

January 24, 1976: George Foreman def. Ron Lyle by KO (2:28 of round 5)

The 1976 RING Magazine Fight of the Year, Foreman returning to the ring after a 15 month absence and his loss to Muhammad Ali, surviving a stiff challenge from veteran puncher Ron Lyle, who gave an all-time performance in the pre-fight stare down, too.

Lyle hurt Foreman in the first. And from there, it was just total brutality, an absolute war, a brawl to end all brawls in the heavyweight division. The insanity of round four alone is worth watching. Lyle dropped Foreman twice in the fourth round, but between those knockdowns, Foreman put Lyle on the canvas, too.

This was two monstrous punchers just throwing bombs, neither man backing down, both men hurt repeatedly. It’s a must-see fight. It can’t really be described in words.

March 9, 1993: Kenny Rainford def. Brian Sutherland by TKO (0:56 of round 1)

Swing fight! This was reported by USA Tuesday Night Fights as Sutherland’s pro debut, but he’d actually been knocked out in the first round of his pro debut just 10 days before this. The native of Shelby, North Carolina, claimed to have never lost a street fight. The young man clearly did not belong in the ring. The USA commentators made that plain as day, too. And when Rainford drilled him with a professional right hand, the fight was over in less than a minute.

But this isn’t just a memorably bad sporting event, there’s a story, too. Brian Sutherland is, as we can sometimes forget, a real person. Last month, Sports Illustrated’s Dan Greene did a story on Sutherland, and it’s absolutely worth a read.