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Boxing

Boxers who fought as amateurs, then rematched as professionals including Anthony Joshua vs Dillian Whyte and Mike Tyson

FROM Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali to Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, a host of big-name boxers have fought an opponent as amateurs only to take them on in the ring as a pro years later.

Check out the long list of epic rematches, below…

Joshua beat Whyte as a pro but lost their amateur encounter years earlier

DILLIAN WHYTE vs ANTHONY JOSHUA

In 2009 ex-kickboxer Whyte was struggling to get his first amateur boxing opponent until he was offered a 4-0 prospect from Watford, called Anthony Joshua.

Brixton’s Whyte grabbed the fight with both hands and the two Londoner’s slugged it out upstairs at the Boston Dome pub in Tufnell Park.

One knockdown was scored against AJ, Whyte still insists there should have been two and the decision went to the Body Snatcher.

Six years later and Joshua was the Olympic golden boy while Whyte had served a doping ban and was billed as Dillian The Villain.

A brilliant British title battle ensued, with the 2012 icon getting wobbled by his left-hook kryptonite in round two.

Joshua beat Whyte via TKO in their pro fight in 2015

Whyte beat Joshua as an amateur in 2009 – three years before AJ’s Olympic heroics

But Joshua rallied and showed a better engine and more refined technique to blash his foe out in the seventh.

In January 2019 the rubber match almost happened when AJ needed an April dance partner for a Wembley fight.

But Whyte turned down £4million and a shot at the three titles citing a lack of preparation time.

Compulsive cheat Jarrell Miller got the shot and blew it, handing it to some tubby no-hoper called Andy Ruiz Jr to play stand-in.

You know the rest…

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RYAN GARCIA vs DEVIN HANEY

Haney reckons he’s beaten Garcia in all six of their fights – but officials results say it’s 3-3

The score is allegedly 3-3 between the American lightweight pair who both claim to be the future of boxing.

Devin ‘The Dream’ claims he should have been awarded all six wins after wayward judging in half of the bouts.

But Haney is still happy to build the potential barnstormer, he said: “None of the fights were easy.

“Ryan’s always been good, so that’s why I’m not surprised at the noise he’s making.

“I always say that he’s good. I’ve always said that, because I know his skillset, his crazy amateur experience, a crazy amount of national titles. I knew one day he would be big.”

Garcia has enjoyed the biggest break-out success thanks to the KO win over 2012 Olympic winner Luke Campbell in January.

But Haney was emailed a world title by the WBC in 2019 when the cash-loving sanctioning body saw a chance to promote him from interim champ.

MIKE TYSON vs HENRY TILLMAN

Tyson bounced back from two amateur defeats to Tillman with a crushing pro win

Tillman had previously beaten Tyson twice as an amateur in 1984

In 1984 Tillman beat Tyson twice with vests and headguards in the build-up to home Olympics in LA but results were deemed controversial.

A 17-year-old Tyson floored the 23-year-old in the first fight but lost a decision.

In the second, Tyson was again the constant aggressor but Tillman was sent to the Games where, to his credit, he did grab gold.

Tillman never had the chin for the pro game though and had four losses on his record before he rematched Tyson in 1990.

It was Tyson’s first fight back after the sickening 42-1 loss to Buster Douglas and violent retribution was grabbed inside three minutes.

LENNOX LEWIS vs RIDDICK BOWE

Lewis beat Rowe as an amateur in the 1988 Olympics to win gold

This mouthwatering UK vs USA heavyweight war is perhaps the most hotly debated pro fight that never happened.

The London-born Canada-raised Lewis beat Bowe to 1988 Seoul Olympic gold with a second-round stoppage, following two standing-eight counts.

Big Daddy recovered perfectly though and became the undisputed champ in 1992 with a unanimous decision over Evander Holyfield.

But when the WBC called for Bowe to face their mandatory challenger, the 22-0 prospect Lennox Lewis, he replied by literally binning his iconic green and gold belt.

Lewis picked it up and reigned until his shock loss to Oliver McCall in 1994.

Bowe, whose toughest opponent was always his appetite, then lost a 1993 rematch with Real Deal Holyfield.

And the fact the two never did settle their differences in a genuine sporting tragedy.

GEORGE GROVES vs JAMES DEGALE

Groves and DeGale have a long history after forging a rivalry born in West London

This spiteful West London rivalry is still simmering along bitterly today.

Born in the same Hammersmith hospital just two years apart, elder southpaw DeGale and orthodox Chelsea fan Groves climbed the ranks at the brilliant Dale Youth gym.

For the most part, the pair were kept away from each other and friendly rivalry never materialised.

In October 2006 the pair finally clashed with Groves, who had already boxed earlier in the day, stunning DeGale into his first domestic loss in three years.

Two years later though, DeGale went to the Beijing Olympics and won middleweight gold.

The super-slick ace was expected to glide to a world title but boldly chose to defend his British super-middle title against Commonwealth champ Groves in just his 11th fight.

Bloodied Groves earned the majority decision during their May 2011 clash

Groves had only had one more pro bout but was again considered the underdog.

In May 2011 the pair went hammer and tongs in a sublime battle that ended with Groves earning a majority decision.

The bad blood didn’t end there, though. Groves had to wait six years and suffer three losses before he became a world champion, at the fourth time of asking in 2017.

DeGale rebuilt and beat him to it in 2015 and took great pleasure in reminding his old gym-mate.

Groves retired in 2018 and DeGale followed the following year – both shadows of their old glorious selves.

Nobody needs the third fight but it would be nice to see them kiss and make up, for old time’s sake.

MUHAMMAD ALI vs JIMMY ELLIS

Muhammad Ali was too strong for hometown pal Jimmy Ellis

Ellis was from the very same town as the Louisville Lip, born two years earlier, and only went down to the gym to follow in Cassius Clay’s footsteps after spotting him on a local TV show.

The relationship developed from gym mates, to sparring partners, and then amateur rivals – where they drew 1-1.

Clay, as he was then known, won gold as a light-heavy at the 1960 Olympics, a year before Ellis turned pro as a 6ft middleweight.

Early hometown losses seemed to mark Ellis out as a nearly man but an 11-fight win streak up at heavyweight earned him the WBA crown in 1968.

Joe Frazier ended that short reign in 1971 and defended against Ali in the ‘72 Fight of the Century.

So when Ali needed a comeback fight to recover from the Frazier defeat, he turned to his old pal Jimmy.

Ellis started well but Ali took control in the fourth and dished out a pasting that the referee stopped in the 12th.

JOSH WARRINGTON vs KID GALAHAD

Warrington beat Galahad at both the amateur and professional level

In March 2019 these two British featherweights went to war in and outside of the ring.

Leeds icon Warrington was the IBF champ, who relished reminding the world of his Sheffield rival’s doping ban and his two amateur triumphs before the Yorkshire pair turned pro.

The Elland Road icon roared: “We’ve known him for years, I beat him twice as an amateur and used him for sparring. He was never this character.

“If he’s trying to use a different persona it’s not working because his fanbase is tiny, no f***er knows who he is and he’s only getting exposure because he is fighting me.”

The result was a clumsy and awkward affair that Warrington won on a controversial split decision.

The IBF kept Galahad right at the top of their rankings and a rematch was a strong possibility before Warrington was stunned by unknown Mexican Maurico Lara in February.

Galahad, to his credit, refused interview requests and the chance to gloat over his fallen rival.

JOE FRAZIER vs BUSTER MATHIS

Mathis beat Frazier as amateurs ahead of the 1964 Olympics but lost the pro bout

The American heavyweights went toe-to-toe for three nail biting rounds to decide who went to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Frazier looked half the size of his chubby rival and was outpointed when his pressure style was counterpunched too often.

But Mathis was injured so Smokin’ Joe went instead and won gold, despite breaking his thumb in the semis.

Frazier was too fit and strong by the time their pro clash came around for the belt Muhammad Ali had vacated and won by KO.

MARK BRELAND vs DARRYL ANTHONY

Breland, pictured here training Deontay Wilder, was one of America’s top amateurs

Long before he earned the sympathy of the boxing community as the assistant trainer who was pathetically blamed for throwing in the towel for Deontay Wilder, Breland was one of America’s finest ever amateurs.

The gangly superstar racked up a record of 110-1, bagging five New York Golden Gloves titles, two world championships and 1984 welterweight Olympic gold. 

His only loss came in a close decision to Darryl Anthony.

But in his 11th pro fight he got the revenge assignment against a man five years his senior and pulverised him inside three rounds.

TYSON FURY vs MICHAEL HUNTER

Fury beat Hunter as an amateur but the American is convinced the judging was biased

In November 2006 six amateur British fighters took on six American rivals at the Cafe Royal in London.

Top of the bill was 18-year-old Fury vs Las Vegas’ Michael Hunter, also 18, in a heavyweight clash.

The judges scored the fight 2-1 to the 6ft 9in home fighter and Fury insists he spanked the visitor.

But Hunter – now one fight away from an IBF mandatory shot at AJ – claims the scoring was skewed toward the hosts after Team USA scored two stoppage wins at the start of the card and the officials wanted to level the scores.

The contested story could get revisited if the two are forced to rerun it in the pros.

Hunter lost to Fury as six Brits took on six Americans one on card in 2006

Fury later lost out on a place at the 2008 Olympics to nemesis David Price and addressed their rivalry in his book.

He said: “I would eventually have 31 wins from 35 bouts…

“I would say that only one of those defeats was genuine – when I lost to my fellow British boxer David Price in the north-west final of the ABA seniors competition in Manchester in 2006.”

The pair never met in the pro ranks but it did lead to one of the funniest ringside interviews in British boxing history.

SHAWN PORTER vs OLEKSANDR USYK

Usyk lost to Porter in an amateur middleweight clash in 2006 but with five stone now separating the pair they may never fight in the pro ranks

The fun one that got away.

Sadly we are never going to see this old grudge match settled but the undisputed cruiserweight king and heavyweight contender did LOSE to 5ft 7in ex-welterweight king.

In 2006, the pair clashed as amateur middleweights and Porter got his hand raised.

The clash was in Chicago but Porter promises he did not get a home decision.

Showtime Shawn went on to win the 10st 7lbs IBF crown in 2013 before Kell Brook put on a masterclass to grab it from him in a year later.

Usyk won gold at the 2012 Olympic up at heavyweight – Anthony Joshua triumphed at super-heavy – and then won all the 14st 4lbs belts in 2018 before moving up.

The Ukraine genius weighed in at a career heaviest 15st 7lbs for the points win over Derek Chisora in October, meaning five stone currently separates him and Porter.

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