SPORTbible took to Twitter to ask fans to share wild boxing facts from the long-standing history of the sport.
We also scoured the internet and turned to platforms like Reddit to find other facts that left fans raising their eyebrows in complete astonishment at what they read.
SPORTbible narrowed the list down to the top 20, so without further ado, here are the 20 best facts that sound fake but they turned out to be true (in no particular order, FYI).
Okay, Twitter. What wild boxing facts sound really fake, but are actually true? 🤔🥊— SPORTbible (@sportbible) January 6, 2022
1. ‘Jake Paul Won ESPN Ringside Knockout Of The Year’
Arguably the most polarising figure to enter the boxing world over the last 10 years -- well, aside from older brother Logan Paul (0-1-0) -- Jake Paul (5-0-0) still remains undefeated in his boxing career. Paul has not only managed to put butts in seats for his lucrative fights, but he has also waged a war of words with the likes of UFC president Dana White, MMA star Jorge Masvidal (35-15-0) and former Love Island star Tommy Fury (7-0-0).
Paul’s last outing in the squared circle came in a rematch against Tyron Woodley (0-2-0), following Fury’s withdrawal from their super-fight due to a bacterial chest infection and broken rib. The 25-year-old YouTuber-turned-boxer fought through a nasty cut and eventually landed a clean -- and devastating -- right hook to knock out Woodley in the sixth round of their rematch at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. Paul’s sensational KO victory in December 2021 earned him a place in ESPN Ringside’s Twitter readers’ poll for Knockout of the Year. The American star scooped the award after 68,248 votes were cast, with Paul vs Woodley taking home a whopping 56 per cent of the vote.
ESPN Ringside Awards Voting 🏆— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) December 28, 2021
What is your Knockout of the Year?
Fact credit: Twitter user @mikehodt
2. ‘Andrew Flintoff Is Still Unbeaten’
Yup, this one is wild! Andrew Flintoff (1-0-0) decided to pursue a short-lived boxing venture after his cricket career, but he only fought once inside the squared circle. The 44-year-old England fan favourite made his professional boxing debut at heavyweight against American Richard Dawson (6-3-2) in 2012. Flintoff, who retired from cricket in 2010, was knocked down by his opponent’s short left early in the second round. However, the 2005 Ashes hero rallied back in the four-round fight and went on to secure his victory on points.
Flintoff was 39-38 ahead on referee Phil Edwards’ scorecard at the Manchester Arena, but it proved to be his one and only outing in his then-fledgling boxing career. Only one month after his November 2012 clash, reports emerged that the former England cricket captain tore his shoulder ligament and would require surgery. But hey, at least Flintoff walked away undefeated like Floyd Mayweather (50-0-0) and Rocky Marciano (49-0-0) -- albeit nowhere near in the same league when it comes to boxing legacies.
Fact credit: Twitter user @ryanmcfc85
3. ‘Floyd Mayweather Has A Longer Reach Than Mike Tyson’
Neither Floyd Mayweather nor Mike Tyson (50-6-0 (2)) were known for being the tallest of fighters, but Money having a longer reach than Iron Mike doesn’t seem right at face value. It is 100 per cent true, though. Mayweather is roughly 5’8” (173cm) and has a reach of 72in (183cm), while Tyson is believed to be 5’10” (178cm) and has a reach of 71in (180cm). The Baddest Man on the Planet might be the taller of the two men, but Mayweather takes home the bragging rights when it comes to reach.
Fact credit: Reddit user bigfatpup
4. ‘Manny Pacquiao Is The One And Only Eight-Division World Champion’
Manny Pacquiao (62-8-2) called it time on an illustrious boxing career in September 2021, with the Filipino sensation fully focused on his political career. The 43-year-old boxing legend has forever etched his name in the sport’s decorated history books, which is only reinforced by his status as boxing’s only eight-division world champion.
The Philippines senator, who has thrown his hat in the ring for his country’s 2022 presidential elections, won an incredible twelve major world titles in a formidable fighting career. His world title wins across eight divisions earned him a place in the Guinness World Records, too. Whether it’s flyweight, featherweight or welterweight, Pacquiao has been a champion. What could be the icing on the cake for Pacquiao? Well, the former prized fighter also holds the distinguished accolade of being the only boxer to hold world championships across four different decades. Pacquiao is one of a kind.
Fact credit: unknown Reddit user
5. ‘All Five Of George Foreman’s Sons Are Named After Him’
George Foreman (76-5-0) is widely revered for his legendary boxing career -- not to mention his iconic George Foreman Grills -- but all of his sons share one thing in common: you guessed it, they’re all called George! Let us introduce all five of them: George Jr (Little George), George III (Monk), George IV (Big Wheel), George V (Red) and George VI (Little Joey).
That sure is a lot of Georges, right? Foreman has 12 children in total, seven of which are daughters. So, the burning question is why did Big George name all five of his sons after him? Speaking on his official website, the 73-year-old boxing legend said: “I named all my sons George Edward Foreman so they would always have something in common. I say to them, ‘If one of us goes up, then we all go up together. And if one goes down, we all go down together!’”
Fact credit: Reddit user happybuffalowing
6. ‘Muhammad Ali Went On A Sex Ban Before A Huge Fight, Saying It Made Him Unbeatable In The Ring’
The verdict is still out on this one, but it is believed that the legendary Muhammad Ali (56-5-0) would not have sex for at ‘least six weeks’ in the build up to one of his boxing fights. It is suggested that not getting it on between the sheets can build testosterone and enhance aggression, helping to bring out a peak performance in combat sports.
It’s not uncommon to see different sports stars put a sex ban in place ahead of a huge fight. In fact, WBC champion Tyson Fury (31-0-1) claimed that he would refuse to have sex while in training camp leading up to his epic thriller with Deontay Wilder (42-2-1) in their trilogy fight. Not everyone would share Ali or Fury’s viewpoint, though. UFC legend Ronda Rousey (12-2-0) claimed that she would have as “much sex as possible” ahead of one of her MMA fights.
Fact credit: unknown user
7. ‘Someone Who Holds A 0-1 Record Featured In The Second Highest-Grossing Boxing Fight Of All Time’
UFC superstar Conor McGregor (0-1-0) collided with boxing legend Floyd Mayweather in one of the most hotly anticipated -- and lucrative -- super-fights of all time. The 33-year-old Irishman managed to last 10 rounds against his rival, but Mayweather stopped McGregor to secure a TKO win at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Mayweather notched up his unblemished 50-0 record before retiring from boxing in 2017.
According to DAZN, Mayweather vs McGregor brought in a staggering £325m. Mayweather walked away with not only bragging rights on the night, but he also earned a rewarding £223.5m purse. McGregor also secured a hefty £70m payday from the blockbuster crossover fight. The only bout to bring in more money was none other than the long-awaited 2015 showdown between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, which produced an eye-watering £391.7m.
Fact credit: Twitter user @ryandouganqa
8. ‘Mike Tyson Once Tried To Fight A Silverback Gorilla’
Gorilla vs Mike Tyson? We almost had it. For someone who is known as the Baddest Man on the Planet, it shouldn’t shock many to learn that Tyson wanted to live up to his iconic reputation. When he wasn’t striking fear into the heart of the heavyweight division in the 1980s, Tyson decided to visit the zoo with then-partner Robin Givens.
Tyson and Givens’ visit to the zoo turned out to be one hell of an eventful day after Iron Mike spotted one gorilla picking on the other primates in the enclosure. And the 55-year-old American superstar was prepared to pay the zookeeper a hefty $10,000 to open the cage and allow him to punch the gorilla. Tyson later admitted that the zookeeper “declined” his offer (wonder why, eh?), but whether you’re a man or an animal, there’s a lesson to be learnt: don’t bully anyone in front of Tyson. Well, don’t bully anyone in general. Period.
Fact credit: Twitter user @TCOMC_ED
9. ‘Larry Holmes Was Once Only One Win Away From Having A 49-0 Record Like Rocky Marciano’
Larry Holmes (69-6-0), who is one of Floyd Mayweather’s top five boxers of all time, fell short of a huge milestone. The Easton Assassin had stopped both Muhammad Ali and the hard-hitting Earnie Shavers (74-14-1) and picked up points wins over Ken Norton (42-7-1) and Trevor Berbick (49-11-1) en route to becoming 48-0. However, Holmes failed to move alongside Rocky Marciano with an unblemished 49-0 record, as boxing legend Michael Spinks (31-1-0) beat him by unanimous decision after 15 rounds in their 1985 title fight. Close, but no cigar, Mr Holmes.
Fact credit: Reddit user williepep1960
10. ‘Carl Froch Knocked Out George Groves In Front Of 80,000 People At Wembley Stadium’
Did you know Carl Froch (33-2-0) knocked out George Groves (28-4-0) in the eighth round at Wembley in front of 80,000 fans? Neither did we! Oh, Carl, you’ll never be able to live down that Floyd Mayweather interview.
On This Day! ⏮ @Carl_Froch v @StGeorgeGroves 2— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) May 31, 2020
6 years ago today Froch and Groves met in their highly anticipated rematch at Wembley stadium in front of 80,000 fans 🔥
📺 Watch the full fight here: https://t.co/quQR2knnzG pic.twitter.com/rB9M12TulX
Fact credit: Reddit user peppercorns666
11. ‘Shawn Porter Beat Oleksandr Usyk In The Amateurs’
Oleksandr Usyk (19-0-0) dismissed any doubts over his ability to compete with the big boys in the heavyweight division with his sensational win over Anthony Joshua (24-2-0). While the unified heavyweight champion remains undefeated in his professional career, he also boasted an incredible 335-15-0 amateur record. However, one of his defeats in the amateurs came at the hands of none other than former two-time welterweight champion Shawn Porter (31-4-1).
Porter, who retired from boxing after his defeat to Terence Crawford (38-0-0) in November 2021, admitted he forgot that he had beaten Usyk until his dad brought up the 35-year-old Ukrainian. “In 2006, he fought at 165lbs [11st 13lbs],” he told Sky Sports. “He fought in the 2012 Olympic Games at heavyweight [equivalent to cruiserweight in pro boxing]. My dad said: ‘You recognise this name? Remember fighting this kid?’ I said no. He said: ‘He’s the Ukrainian that you beat in Chicago.’ I said: ‘What! He’s fighting at heavyweight now?”
Fact credit: Reddit user mattro36
12. ‘A Bear And A Man Fought In An Official Boxing Match -- And The Bear Won!’
Gorilla vs Mike Tyson might not have happened, but bear vs man most certainly did! In one of the most ludicrous-sounding facts of all time, former boxer Gus Waldorf went into a head-to-head showdown with a bear in 1949. The fight took place in a caged ring, with the bear wearing a customised muzzle and its claws covered with, you guessed it, boxing gloves (we’re not making this up at all, honestly!).
Well, the bear actually won the professional boxing bout. Mark Hill wrote for Cracked in 2011 that Waldorf has become so “distinguished that this picture [crouching in the ring in front of the bear] is literally all he’s known for.” Ouch… As for the bear, despite being handicapped for the fight -- presuming its approach would be very different under normal circumstances -- we’re assuming it retired undefeated a la Freddie Flintoff.
Fact credit: Twitter user @Shaggy_Ahern
13. ‘Mike Tyson Had Gonorrhoea During His WBC Championship Fight With Trevor Berbick’
Mike Tyson made history by becoming the youngest boxer to hold a heavyweight title with his sensational victory over Trevor Berbick (49-11-1) in 1986. It’s a record he still holds to this date, but Iron Mike was dealing with another issue during his second-round TKO win in Las Vegas: an STI. In his 2013 autobiography, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, he admitted: “I looked at my underpants a day before the fight and I noticed a discharge. I had the clap. I didn’t know if I had contracted it from a prostitute or a filthy young lady.”
Fact credit: Reddit user KillaKOman
14. ‘Vitali Klitschko Was Never Knocked Down In His Whole Boxing Career, Whether Amateur Or Pro. His Only Two Defeats Were Fights Stopped Due To Injury’
A boxing titan who ruled over the heavyweight division with younger brother Wladimir Klitschko (64-5-0) in the famed ‘Klitschko era,’ Vitali Klitschko (45-2-0) very much lived up to his nickname of Dr Ironfist in the squared circle. The 50-year-old Ukrainian, who is now the mayor of Kyiv, never tasted the canvas in his amateur and professional career. Klitschko’s destructive punching power saw 41 of his opponents knocked out in his 45 pro fights.
The former WBO and WBC champion only suffered two pro defeats, too, with injury leading to the stoppage of both bouts. Klitschko’s first pro defeat came in 2000 in his failed WBO title defence against Chris Byrd (41-5-1). Despite leading Byrd on the scorecards (88-83, 88-83 and 89-82), Dr Ironfist sustained a torn rotator cuff and was forced to retire from the fight after nine rounds. Fast-forward three years later and boxing legend Lennox Lewis (41-2-1) secured a TKO win over Klitschko. Staged at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the super-fight came to an end after six rounds due to a nasty cut above Klitschko’s left eye.
Fact credit: Reddit user haroldtitus425
15. ‘Mike Tyson Failed To Make The US Boxing Team For The 1984 Summer Olympics -- But Evander Holyfield Did’
Mike Tyson’s legendary exploits in his professional career are still widely revered, but Iron Mike was unable to make his mark at the 1984 Summer Olympics. It wasn’t for a lack of trying but Team USA at the Summer Olympics was stacked. Tyson was invited to the US Olympic trials in Texas and came up against Henry Tillman (28-3-2), but he failed to beat his opponent and punch his ticket to Los Angeles 1984.
The Baddest Man on the Planet was offered a second shot to make the US’ boxing team a month after his initial failure. However, he fell short once again at Caesars Palace and a sobbing Tyson was comforted by legendary former trainer Cus D’Amato. To his credit, Tillman went on to secure a gold medal for the USA at the Summer Olympics. So, how stacked was Team USA’s boxing roster? It featured the likes of Pernell Whitaker (40-4-1 (1)), Mark Breland (35-3-1), Evander Holyfield (44-10-2 (1)) and, of course, Tillman. No hard feelings, Mike, it was a tough crowd of competition.
Fact credit: Reddit user haroldtitus425
16. ‘Sugar Ray Robinson Once Backed Out Of A Fight After A Dream Where He Killed His Opponent. He Was Later Convinced To Fight And Killed His Opponent’
In one of the more spine-chilling facts, the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson (174-19-6 (2)) had a dream where he killed his opponent with a single left hook ahead of his 1947 title fight with Jimmy Doyle (42-7-3). The boxing legend, unsurprisingly, was shaken by his harrowing dream and claimed he couldn’t fight Doyle. However, the promoters enlisted the services of a Catholic priest to reassure Robinson over his vivid dream.
Robinson went into the fight in Cleveland, Ohio, and, in a surreal moment, landed a devastating left hook in the eighth round on Doyle. Doyle was knocked unconscious and was taken out of the ring on a stretcher, but he died the next day in hospital due to a severe head injury.
Fact credit: Reddit user Shagrrotten
17. ‘Sir Henry Cooper Had An Identical Twin Brother Who Was An Accomplished Boxer’
Indeed, Sir Henry Cooper (40-14-1) did have an identical twin brother! George Cooper (6-4-0), much like his brother, also took up boxing and fought in 10 professional fights, with five of his six wins coming by way of knockout. Sure, he didn’t achieve the same dizzying heights of success as his brother, but it’s believed that George cut easily -- much like Henry, to be fair. George passed away in 2010 at the age of 76.
Fact credit: Twitter user @ForgotToDuck
18. ‘Mike Tyson And Riddick Bowe Attended The Same School Together’
Mike Tyson was carving through his opponents from the mid-1980s like a red-hot knife cutting through butter until his shock defeat to Buster Douglas (38-6-1 (1)) in 1990. Iron Mike bounced back in the early 1990s, but Riddick Bowe (43-1-0 (1)) arrived on the professional scene in 1989 and, much like Tyson, was steamrolling his opponents in the heavyweight division.
Tyson and Bowe never crossed paths inside the squared circle, but they went to school together and were in the same sixth-grade class. The two boxing legends weren’t close, with Bowe later suggesting they never fought because Tyson knew that he would be “trouble for him.” Speaking to Tru School Sports in 2016, Bowe said: “Well, I think because, you know, Mike and I went to the same school, we grew up together […]. Not to say Mike was scared of me or anything like that, I just think that he knows with me being a big guy, good left hand, I would have been a lot of trouble for him.”
Fact credit: Reddit user jimbo-slice93
19. ‘Andrew Lewis Quit From A Title Fight While Winning Because He Needed To Take A S**t’
Andrew Lewis (23-4-2) managed only four defeats in his professional career, with one of those losses coming at the hands of his own bowels. Six Heads competed in a trilogy of fights with Denny Dalton (16-12-1), with their initial 2005 title fight ending in a draw. However, Lewis took a defeat in their 2006 rematch after he was forced to retire because he needed to take a s**t. Judges’ scorecards had the fight 55-58, 56-57 and 55-58 in favour of Lewis, with the former boxer blaming his stomach problems on his pre-fight milkshake.
Lewis bounced back 12 months after his defeat to Dalton and beat his rival in their third fight, but the second encounter won’t be forgotten any time soon due to its really bizarre finish.
Fact credit: Reddit user italarican
20. ‘Floyd Mayweather Showed His Winning Mentality By Demanding His Plane Overtake Ricky Hatton’s And Arrive In New York First’
Ricky Hatton (45-3-0) was one of the 50 opponents who failed to crack the enigma that is Floyd Mayweather. The Hitman held an unblemished 43-0 record before stepping into the ring with Mayweather, but Hatton was the one who saw his undefeated status come to an end in 2007.
Ahead of their super-fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Hatton recalled his first-hand experience of witnessing Mayweather’s winning mentality when the boxing legend wanted his plane to overtake the 43-year-old Stockport-born star’s plane. “A few minutes into the journey, we’re chatting away, having a drink when the pilot gestures to me to come forward,” Hatton told The Sun in 2015. “‘Hey, Ricky, listen to this idiot.’ He turns on the speaker and over the radio I hear Floyd arguing with the pilot of his plane behind: ‘I'm not letting that motherf****r get there before me, f*****g overtake them’ ‘We can’t do that, Sir.’ ‘Overtake that motherf****r -- I’m the champ. I’ve got to get to New York first. I’ll pay whatever you want.’
Fact credit: unknown user
Featured Image Credit: Jake Paul's Instagram/PA