Froch vs Groves II – 80,000 at Wembley Stadium, London
If you had not already heard… Carl Froch knocked out his bitter rival George Groves in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium back in 2014. The fight was billed ‘Unfinished Business’ following their first bout just a few months prior, a fight which saw Froch climb off the canvas in the 1st round to controversially stop Groves late on. This huge grudge-match certainly met and perhaps even exceeded expectations, with a far more conclusive result this time around as Froch KO’d Groves brutally in the 8th. It was a great occasion, and something tells me we haven’t heard the last of it just yet.
Louis vs Schmelling II – 80,000 at Yankee Stadium, NYC
The Brown Bomber and the opposing Schmelling met twice, in fights that capsulated the world, partially due to the undertones of political and racial issues that were brewing at the time. Schmelling won the first fight via 12th round stoppage, and would subsequently be the only time Louis was stopped until the great Rocky Marciano KO’d him 15 years later, at a time where Louis was considered a faded champion and Marciano was the young buck. The rematch happened in 1938, and saw Louis avenge his loss with a 1-round destruction of Schmelling just two minutes into the 1st round. The gate receipts drew $1,015,012 and was really a sensational tale of the battle between democracy and fascism at the time, with Louis being an American war representative and Schmelling a representative of Nazi Germany. If you haven’t yet, be sure to read up on the fight and its interesting undertones.
Dempsey vs Carpentier – 90,000 at Boyle’s Thirty Acres, New Jersey
These two warriors met back in 1921 in a fight that was labelled the Fight of the Century by many writers at the time. Dempsey stood at 6ft 1 and Carpentier at 5ft 11, demonstrating a sign of how times have changed when comparing to the physical specimens we witness today. Both men were rocked during the bout, but it was Dempsey (who outweighed his opponent by 20lbs) who landed the more effective shots, knocking his opponent down on numerous occasions, eventually stopping him in the 4th round.
Joshua vs Klitschko – 90,000 at Wembley Stadium, London
It is not the first time that this great stadium has been noted, and rightfully so. Young Anthony Joshua and the ageing yet dangerous former champion Wladimir Klitschko entertained 90,000 at Wembley Stadium in April of 2017, and millions more who watched around the world. This was a true battle for the ages, as momentum swayed back and forth with both men being knocked down. AJ went to hell and back to eventually stop the veteran Ukrainian in the 11th round, following being heavily knocked down early in the fight. It was the fight that cemented AJ’s name at the top of the current crop of heavyweights, and one that will be remembered for decades to come.
Len Harvey vs Jock McAvoy – 90,000 White City Stadium, London
The pair met back in 1939 for the fourth and final time, in a fight that saw an estimated 90,000 people attend the White City Stadium in London to watch these old foes battle it out for the vacant British light-heavyweight title. It was Harvey who eventually triumphed, earning a points victory over his rival despite being knocked down once and taking some serious punishment at times during the fight. At a time where professional boxing was entirely different, Harvey was a great defensive boxer who actually fought at every single weight-class in existence during the time he was active, beginning his career as a 12-year-old Flyweight boxer. Harvey won three of the four times the pair met, with McAvoy taking just the one victory away.
Dmitry Chudinov vs Mehdi Bouadla – 100,000 at Open Air Bike Show, Sevastopol
A fight that hardly made worldwide sporting headlines, this Interim WBA World Middleweight title fight was cleverly shown alongside an open-air motorbike show in Sevastopol, which may have increased the size of the crowd quite significantly. Despite the true numbers still being unclear today, the estimate given to authorities reached 100,000, which places it at fifth in this list of great boxing attendances. Chudinov, who was 13-0-2 at the time, fought the 60th-ranked Mehdi Bouadla, who had previously lost to the crowd-favourite Arthur Abraham. The fight is quite some distance away from the quality of others within this list, but certainly deserves its spot due to the smart marketing strategy used.
Gene Tunney vs Jack Dempsey – 105,000 at Soldier Field, Chicago.
This was the second fight between Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey, and has since been labelled the Long Count Fight due to the apparent delay in the ref’s count when Tunney was knocked down. This was one of the first fights that required the fighter who knocked his opponent down to move to a neutral corner before the count could begin. This could be the reason behind the prolonged count and may even be behind the reason for Dempsey eventually losing the fight. Despite losing, Dempsey still gained huge public support and praise following the fight, one which many people still believe he would have won had the count been delivered accordingly.
Julio Cesar Chavez vs Greg Haugen – 132,000 at Azteca Stadium Mexico City
It is a well-known fact that the Mexicans love their boxing, and back in the 1990s, none other than the great Julio Cesar Chavez was their hero. Chavez met Greg Haugen back in 1993 at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, gathering a huge crowd of over 130,000 people. With the support of his Mexican people, somewhat contrastingly to the career of his son Chavez Jr, the Mexican knocked his opponent down in the 1st round and eventually won via TKO during the 5th.
Tony Zale vs Billy Pryor – 135,000 at Juneau Park, Milwaukee
The estimated 135,000-strong crowd at Juneau Park in Milwaukee were thrilled when Tony Zale and Billy Pryor met back in 1941. The event was free to enter, providing fans with the opportunity to see boxing at the highest level for no charge at all. Zale went on to floor Pryor numerous times before eventually stopping him, thrilling the fans and delivering the all-important KO.
Dmitry Chudinov vs Jorge Navarro – 170,000 at Open Air Bike Show, Volgograd
You guessed it, Dmitry Chudinov and his Russian open-air motorbike shows in are at it again. Chudinov, who was in just his 12th professional fight at the time (and had two draws on his record already), fought during the motorbike show in Volgograd. Despite most attendees being there to witness some motorbikes, it is truly a huge number of people. Chudinov, who has since lost against Chris Eubank Jnr, knocked out Jorge Navarro to gain the WBA International title in front of a crowd that some estimates even place at nearer 200,000. That title happened to have been vacated by the British fan-favourite Martin Murray, who perhaps should have held on to it!
By Cai Bradley – @AstarBoxing