Muhammad Ali's record-breaking boxing career helped him transcend the sporting arena and become one of the planet's most recognisable icons.

The three-time world heavyweight champion was not only a master in the ring, but also a strong advocate for human rights and racial equality in the United States.

Ali's great fights against the likes of Joe Frazier and George Foreman draw emotion and passions from fans and commentators alike, but the numbers behind his career are equally as impressive.

On the fourth anniversary of his death, we run down some of the stand-out facts and figures of Ali's greatness.

91.8 per cent - Ali's win rate, having emerged victorious in 56 of his 61 professional fights. Three of his five defeats came in his final four bouts.

37 - Ali won 37 fights by way of knockout. He suffered just one stoppage defeat - to Larry Holmes in his penultimate matchup in 1980.

3 - Victory over Leon Spinks in 1978 made him the first three-time world heavyweight champion. Only Evander Holyfield has since surpassed Ali's mark, earning heavyweight glory on four occasions.

548 - The number of professional rounds Ali fought in his career.

1,315 - Ali did not fight for over three years (1,315 days to be exact) over his refusal to be drafted for the Vietnam War. Ali was 25 at the time of his exile starting, robbing him of some of the peak years of his career.

31 - Defeat to Joe Frazier in 'The Fight of the Century' at Madison Square garden in 1971 was Ali's first professional loss after 31 consecutive wins.

12 - Ali fought in 12 different countries, across four continents. Need a sign of how times have changed? Floyd Mayweather Jr fought all 50 of his pro bouts in the United States - and 26 of them in Las Vegas.

37 - Ali graced the cover of Sports Illustrated no fewer than 37 times. Only Michael Jordan tops him with 50 appearances.

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them," according to the famous Shakespearean quote.

Muhammad Ali chose to brashly thrust greatness upon himself and then spent a lifetime living up to it.

It was the annotation to most of the three-time world heavyweight champion's towering exploits in the boxing ring.

"I'm the greatest thing that ever lived. I don't have a mark on my face and I upset Sonny Liston, and I just turned twenty-two years old," the exuberant new king of boxing's glamour division said after his stunning triumph at Miami Beach Convention Center in 1964. "I must be the greatest. I shook up the world!"

A decade on and the other side of a three-and-a-half-year boxing exile that robbed the man born Cassius Marcellus Clay of a chunk of his prime, he was similarly unsparing when addressing the doubters, having knocked out George Foreman in the eighth round of the Rumble in the Jungle.

"I told you today I'm still the greatest of all time," he growled down the camera. "Never again make me the underdog until I'm about 50 years old.

"I told you I'm the real champion of the world. All of my critics crawl! All you suckers bow!"

In purely boxing terms, those suckers still disagree slightly. The imperious Sugar Ray Robinson tends to edge Ali in all-time polls, such as ESPN.com's 50 Greatest Fighters in History from 2007.

But if Robinson is the man for the pugilistic purists, it is Ali who breaks out to the wider sports fan – a transcendent figure who continued to represent the celebrated glory of boxing's compelling brutality, while showing the bleak consequences of its inherent darkness through his long and dignified battle with Parkinson's disease.

You might not know football, but you will recognise Pele. Golf might bore you, but you will know the entertainment supplied by Tiger Woods. Even if basketball is not your sport, Michael Jordan will not have passed you by. You may loathe the spectacle of two men punching each other, but you will know Muhammad Ali.

A key ingredient for the transcendent sporting great is an irresistible narrative. Ali might not dominate boxing through sheer weight of statistics as, for example, Don Bradman does in cricket; in terms of narrative, he outdoes them all.

Pele and Brazil were kicked and fouled to an early exit at the 1966 World Cup before earning dazzling redemption with a third winners' medal at Mexico 1970.

Woods emerged from a prolonged fallow period, featuring debilitating injuries and revelations over his private life, to win a 15th major at the 2019 Masters. Even Jordan interrupted his mastery of the court to toil dutifully in minor league baseball.

Ali's wilderness years were of an infinitely more serious and therefore resonant nature – denied licenses to box in the United States for rejecting military service on the grounds of his religious beliefs and the fact he "ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. No Viet Cong ever called me n*****".

By 1971, when the US Supreme Court unanimously overturned a conviction on charges of draft evasion, Ali was much more than a lion-hearted boxer who would rail against declining skills with success and unfathomable bravery to twice more regain the heavyweight title.

He was a proud Muslim, peace campaigner and black American who stood defiantly against the venomous abuse and discrimination such designations drew. Inside and outside the ring he was an unbowed inspiration. On this fourth anniversary of his death, those deeds arguably shine brighter than ever amid the lamentable gloom of our present moment.

Any attempted beatification of Ali should take into account his mercilessly nasty humiliation of Joe Frazier around their epic contests. He was no saint.

However, he was a hostage negotiator - helping to secure the release of 15 US hostages in Iraq before the first Gulf War, the man who lit the 1996 Olympic cauldron in a moment of unforgettable poignancy, a recipient of the presidential medal and countless millenial "greatest sportsman" gongs.

Sport is never stronger than when its heroes are embedded in the popular consciousness. Everyone knew of Muhammad Ali's brilliance and beliefs, with each as unflinching as the other, and of his successes and struggles.

Greatest or not, he was an irreplaceable one-off.

Sporting great and global icon Muhammad Ali died four years ago on June 3.

Here we take a look back at some of the most memorable moments of the boxing legend's career.


CLAY-LISTON I

Ali – then known as Cassius Clay – went into his first clash with Sonny Liston as the huge underdog, with the defending WBA and WBC heavyweight champion having picked up two emphatic first-round victories over Floyd Patterson. However, Liston failed to emerge from his corner for the beginning of the seventh round, handing Ali victory. The bout, as well as the re-match won by Ali, was dogged by allegations of fixing, although the claims were never substantiated.

THE FIGHT OF THE CENTURY

Ali had won 31 fights on the bounce by the time he came to face Joe Frazier for the first time in 1971. Ali, having been stripped of his titles and served a three-and-a-half-year ban for rejecting military service, was looking to win back the titles he had been forced to vacate prior to his suspension. However, it was Frazier who eventually emerged as victor by unanimous decision, dropping Ali with a crunching left hook in the 15th and final.


RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE

Victory over Frazier in a non-title rematch was the ideal morale-booster for Ali ahead of a showdown with feared champion George Foreman in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). Foreman had beaten Frazier in 1973 and successfully defended his belts in subsequent fights against Jose Roman and the Ali-conquering Ken Norton, heading to Africa as favourite. However, Ali employed what became known as his rope-a-dope tactic of leaning on the ropes, allowing Foreman to punch himself out and directing straight punches at his opponent's face. The approach worked, as Ali stopped an exhausted Foreman in the eighth.


THRILLER IN MANILA

The third and final bout between Ali and Frazier lived up to and beyond the promise of the earlier two, delivering a brutal and at times horrifying classic for the ages. Frazier's team spent the build-up warning against the underhand tactics they felt Ali used to emerge victorious in their second meeting. However, it was the champion who eventually came out on top, battered but victorious after 14 savage rounds.

THREE-TIME CHAMPION

There remains a strong argument that Ali should have disappeared off into the sunset after that final Frazier epic, but on he went. By the time he lost his crown to Leon Spinks – the 1976 light-heavyweight Olympic champion but a seven-fight novice as a professional – he was a shadow of his former self. Nevertheless, Ali retained enough wily ring smarts to win their 1978 rematch in New Orleans, becoming the first fighter in history to reign as heavyweight champion three times.

Real Madrid have made a habit of European success down the years, winning the ultimate prize more times than any other club, and in 2017 they did what no one else could.

But June 3, 2016 will be remembered by many for contrasting reasons, as Muhammad Ali – one of the greatest athletes ever – died, leaving the sporting world in despair.

This day is also notable for South African cricket, and specifically an historic captaincy announcement.

We take a look at the major sporting events to have happened on this day through the years.

2017 – Los Blancos continue their European reign

When Real Madrid and Juventus went head-to-head in Cardiff for the 2017 Champions League final, the omens appeared to be in favour of the Old Lady – no team had ever defended their title in the competition.

But Madrid are no ordinary club and history was theirs in Wales, as they became the first club to retain the Champions League.

Although Mario Mandzukic cancelled out Cristiano Ronaldo's well-taken 20th-minute opener with an outrageous over-the-shoulder volley, Madrid romped to a 4-1 victory in the second half.

Casemiro's deflected long-range effort put them back in front, Ronaldo turned in from close range to increase the deficit and Marco Asensio finished Juve off after brilliant work from Marcelo – they would go on to win the competition for a third successive season the following year.

2016 – Sport loses an icon

Arguably the most iconic boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali, died exactly four years ago.

His achievements in the ring were plentiful, Ali's most famous victories came in the Thrilla in Manila (1975) against Joe Frazier, and the Rumble in the Jungle (1974), in which he stunningly defeated George Foreman. The latter attracted an estimated one billion TV viewers.

Ali was renowned for his charisma, showmanship and quick wit, while he also wrote poetry and enjoyed success as a musician.

However, his impact as an activist is what he is best remembered for by many. Ali was stripped of his heavyweight titles after refusing to be drafted to the Vietnam War in 1966 and spent over three years away from the ring as he fought his conviction for draft evasion, which was overturned in 1971. His stance saw him grow into an inspirational figure in the civil rights movement.

He succumbed to Parkinson's syndrome in 2016, 32 years after making his diagnosis public. He continues to be regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated athletes in history.

2014 – An historic appointment for South African cricket

With Graeme Smith recently retiring from international cricket, in June 2014 South Africa made an historic appointment for his replacement as Test captain.

Batsman Hashim Amla got the nod despite many suspecting AB de Villiers – Smith's deputy – to have been the leading candidate for the role.

Durban-born Amla, who is of Indian descent, became South Africa's first non-white permanent Test captain in the process.

Amla retired from all forms of international cricket in August last year following the Cricket World Cup.

1999 – Malone named NBA MVP again

After a stellar 1998-99 season, Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz claimed the Maurice Podoloff trophy as he was named NBA MVP.

It was the second time he claimed the prize, making him – at that point – only the ninth player in NBA history to win it more than once, having also been a standout star two years earlier.

In 1998-99, which had a shortened calendar due to a lockout, Malone averaged 23.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists as the Jazz went 37-13, but the San Antonio Spurs ended the season victorious.

It is 55 years since Muhammad Ali controversially won his rematch with Sonny Liston, while Liverpool sensationally floored Milan on this day in 2005.

Ali retained his heavyweight title with a first-round knockout but there were doubts over whether Liston should have been counted out.

Liverpool picked themselves up off the canvas to pull off a stunning comeback and beat Milan to win a dramatic Champions League final a decade and a half ago.

LeBron James broke one of Michael Jordan's records more recently on May 25 and Bayern Munich were crowned champions of Europe at German rivals Borussia Dortmund's expense in 2013.

1965 - Liston contentiously counted out

Liston was on a revenge mission after Ali, or Cassius Clay as he was then known when they fought for the first time, defied the odds to dethrone him in Miami Beach in February 1964.

Yet the rematch was over soon after it started, proving to be a massive anti-climax for a small crowd at the unlikely venue of Central Maine Civic Center, Lewiston, Maine.

Liston went down when he was caught by a right hand from the champion in the opening round and referee Jersey Joe Walcott attempted to get Ali back into his corner as the challenger lay on the deck.

Although Liston rose to continue fighting, Walcott quickly stopped the fight after consulting the timekeeper, with the verdict that the former champion had not got back to his feet in time.

 

2005 - The 'Miracle of Istanbul'

Liverpool hauled themselves off the ropes to conjure up the most unlikely of victories at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul 15 years ago.

Milan were favourites to be crowned champions of Europe for a seventh time and lived up to that billing when they cruised into a 3-0 lead in a one-sided first half, Hernan Crespo scoring twice after Paolo Maldini's early opener.

Liverpool roared back after the break, though, with Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso on target in the space of six minutes to bring them level.

Milan did not know what had hit them and they endured the agony of losing on penalties, Jerzy Dudek saving from Andriy Shevchenko to give Liverpool a 3-2 shoot-out victory after looking down and out at half-time.

 

2013 - Robben downs Dortmund

There was also drama at Wembley when Bayern beat Dortmund in the first all-German Champions League final.

Bayern stunned their Bundesliga rivals by snatching a 2-1 victory with just over a minute of normal time remaining, Arjen Robben the hero.

Mario Mandzukic put the Bavarian giants in front on the hour-mark, but Ilkay Gundogan levelled from the penalty spot eight minutes later.

Winger Robben settled it with extra time looming, though, nipping in with a sharp turn of foot and slotting past Roman Weidenfeller to end Bayern's 12-year wait for European glory. 

 

2017 - LeBron moves past Jordan's playoff record

James has been the man for the big occasion so many times during his illustrious career and he made history on this day three years ago.

The superstar became the all-time leading scorer in the NBA playoffs as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 135-102 in the Eastern Conference finals.

That victory moved the Cavaliers into the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year, with James also able to celebrate moving past Jordan's playoff points tally of 5,987.

James surpassed that mark in his 212th post-season game, 11 years after his first.

Even the legendary Muhammad Ali would have struggled against a "huge guy" like WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, says Bob Arum, who has managed both men.

In a star-studded promoting career, Top Rank's Arum helped bring Ali to Highbury Stadium in 1966, where he defeated British great Henry Cooper in a rematch from their first bout three years previously.

Arum has also been promoting Fury in the United States and the 'Gypsy King' ascended back to the top of the heavyweight division with a phenomenal victory over Deontay Wilder earlier this year.

The promoter also helped forge George Foreman's path to becoming the oldest ever heavyweight champion at the age of 45 in 1994 after he had spent 10 years away from the ring earlier in his career.

In an interview with Sky Sports, the 88-year-old Arum discussed the biggest names he has promoted and pondered what would have happened if Ali and Fury had ever mixed it in the ring.

"I look at Ali, I look at Foreman when he won the title when he was 45, I look at Fury," Arum said.

"How would Ali have done with Fury? That's a question I wrestle with.

"The Ali before the three-and-a-half years out was absolutely superb. Nobody could touch him, he was so fast.

"Ali was 6ft 3ins and the guys he fought were about the same size. How would he do against a 6ft 9in-guy who is an incredible boxer with great footwork?

"I grew up with basketball in New York and the center was barely 6ft 6ins. A guard was 5ft 10ins. Now LeBron James is as quick as any guard but he's 6ft 10in. Imagine LeBron playing against the small guys of my era. It would be a joke, he would score 60 points every game.

"I can't see Ali competing with a 6ft 9in-guy like Fury. We had big guys in the old days but they were slow, lumbering. They were jokes who couldn't fight, they were just big. It's all changing. Look at Fury, Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder. They are huge guys.

"But maybe if Ali was in this era he would be 6ft 6ins instead of 6ft 3ins because of the nutrition. Everything has changed."

Tyson Fury's achievements, both inside and outside the ring, put him in the same bracket as the great Muhammad Ali, according to trainer Ben Davison.

Earlier this year, Fury outclassed Deontay Wilder in their Las Vegas rematch to become the new WBC world heavyweight champion.

It marked the culmination of a stunning turnaround for Fury, who dethroned the great Wladimir Klitschko to win the WBA, WBO and IBF belts back in November 2015.

Following that sensational triumph, Fury spent two and a half years away from the sport, during which time he battled well-documented issues with his mental health.

Davison used to work with Fury and says the way he has fought through his problems will leave a lasting legacy.

He told talkSPORT: "Tyson has gone away and he has beaten Wladimir Klitschko while he was on his dominant run – away.

"He then went and beat Wilder, he then went and dominated and stopped Wilder the second time.

"I know some people will say Tyson didn't win that first fight, difference of opinions whatever, that is my opinion.

"And he went away and stopped Wilder and I don't think there is anybody that has got a resume close to Tyson Fury's.

"I had a good chat with Tyson [on Saturday] just to say to him: 'Look, for what he has achieved in the ring, you have got to think about what he has achieved outside of the ring'.

"He has inspired thousands of people along the way and people won't like comparing him – while he is current – to the likes of Muhammad Ali.

"Tyson Fury will be spoken about for many, many, many years to come - and probably in eras when we are long gone."

It is exactly 35 years since Wrestlemania I took place and never has the mantra 'the show must go on' been more apt than in the world of WWE.

While the globe has been ground to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic, Vince McMahon's global sports entertainment behemoth has continued with its weekly television shows Raw and Smackdown filmed in the absence of live audiences at the company's performance center.

Indeed, WWE's flagship event Wrestlemania is going ahead in the same fashion despite the breakout of COVID-19, which curtailed hosting the show at the original location of the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Fan favourites including John Cena, Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Charlotte Flair, Edge, Randy Orton and Bill Goldberg are scheduled to appear on a bumper card shown over Saturday and Sunday this weekend.

But there will also be the presence of former NFL star Rob Gronkowski, who is slated to serve as host of Wrestlemania 36.

The ex-New England Patriots tight end – who helped his buddy Mojo Rawley win the 'Andre the Giant Battle Royal' during the Wrestlemania 33 pre-show – is not the first athlete to show up in WWE. Here we take a look at some others.

WAYNE ROONEY

England and Manchester United's record goalscorer had a run-in with Wade Barrett during a November 2015 edition of Monday Night Raw.

Preston fan Barrett, incensed by what he felt was a dive by Rooney in an FA Cup tie between his team and United nine months prior, said the now Derby County midfielder embarrasses his son "every time you step on a football pitch". Rooney retaliated with a slap.

RONDA ROUSEY

"Ronda's gonna kill ya..." was the chant emanating around Levi's Stadium as the fearsome Ronda Rousey stepped between the ropes at Wrestlemania 31.

Accompanied by WWE great Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, now a worldwide movie star, UFC icon Rousey was involved in a spat with the legendary Triple H and his wife Stephanie McMahon.

Three years later, Rousey partnered Olympic gold medallist Kurt Angle to defeat 'The Game' and 'The Billion Dollar Princess'. In January 2018, she became an in-ring regular and won Raw's women's title, which she dropped to Lynch a year ago.

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL

Better known for slam dunks, former Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal got in a choke slam at Wrestlemania 32.

The four-time NBA champion had a stare down with the Big Show, before the two combined to slam the 'Big Red Machine' Kane.

RICKY HATTON

Ricky Hatton earned hordes of fans throughout a brilliant boxing career.

In November 2009, 'The Hitman' stepped into a different kind of ring to host an episode of Raw from Sheffield Arena.

Hatton even donned the gloves to land a knockout punch on Chavo Guerrero Jr., with whom he had feuded on the evening.

FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has beaten them all in the boxing ring, as his 50-0 record proves.

But it was a true case of David vs Goliath when Mayweather, approximately 5'7" and 150lbs, came up against the 7'2", 500lb giant The Big Show at Wrestlemania 24.

Despite the notable size advantage, Big Show was distracted by a member of Mayweather's entourage hitting him with a chair and 'Money' delivered a telling blow, albeit while wearing brass knuckles, to knock out his huge opponent.

PETE ROSE

Pete Rose is a legend of the baseball world, holding MLB's all-time hits record and winning the World Series on three occasions.

Rose was part of the 1970s Cincinnati Reds team that earned the nickname 'The Big Red Machine'.

But his run in with WWE's own 'Big Red Machine' Kane during the late 1990s and 2000 have become the thing of wrestling folklore.

On one such occasion at Wrestlemania 15, Rose was disguised as a chicken and earned a beatdown from Kane, including his devastating tombstone finishing manoeuvre.

MIKE TYSON

'Iron' Mike Tyson is no stranger to a WWE ring.

'The Baddest Man on the Planet' had an infamous showdown with 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, one of the all-time greats in WWE, on an episode of Raw and had seemingly sided with one of the company's most famous stables D-Generation X before one of its members Shawn Michaels faced Austin at Wrestlemania 14.

However, during the event Tyson showed his true allegiance, counting the pin for Austin and clocking Michaels. Some 12 years later, Tyson buried the hatchet with his DX foes, unveiling a shirt with their logo on and knocking out Chris Jericho during a Raw segment.

MUHAMMAD ALI

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee - did you know this boxing legend starred in WWE?

Okay, sure, back then it was known as WWF when Ali was one of the guest referees at the first Wrestlemania at New York's Madison Square Garden for the main event between 'Hollywood' Hulk Hogan and A-Team star Mr. T versus 'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Orndorff and 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper.

BROCK LESNAR

Few men strike fear in their opponents quite like Brock Lesnar, who is as well known for his two stints in WWE as he is for being a former UFC heavyweight champion.

Lesnar is a multi-time champion in the organisation and will defend his WWE title against Drew McIntyre this weekend.

TYSON FURY

'The Gypsy King' recently crowned his own personal road to recovery by knocking out Deontay Wilder to become the WBC heavyweight champion.

The big-talking Briton warmed up for that bout by enjoying a short run in WWE, feuding with 'The Monster Among Men' Braun Strowman, which resulted in Fury in earning a count-out win over his huge opponent at WWE's Crown Jewel pay-per-view last October.

Deontay Wilder has vowed to deliver "a devastating knockout" against Tyson Fury that would see him surpass the record he shares with his idol Muhammad Ali.

Going into Saturday's bout with Fury in Las Vegas, the American has defended his WBC heavyweight title on 10 occasions since winning it against Bermane Stiverne more than five years ago. 

That puts Wilder level with his inspiration, Ali, who made 10 consecutive defences of the same belt, as well as the WBA crown, before losing the titles to Leon Spinks in 1978.

Wilder insists he will convincingly handle Fury – with whom he shared a dramatic draw in December 2018 – to claim the outright record, and then promised to make the run even more spectacular.

"It will be an amazing feeling, my 11th consecutive defence," Wilder said to BBC 5 Live Boxing.

"It was a basic plan for me to get into boxing, become a journeyman and make a few dollars for my daughter.

"I never thought about being heavyweight champion of the world and being tied with my idol Ali.

"Once I've beaten Fury with a devastating knockout, I will go on even further to break the record and do more amazing things."

Despite his five-year reign and a stellar record of 42 wins, one draw and zero defeats with 41 knockouts, the 34-year-old feels it is only with this Fury rematch that he has finally achieved superstar recognition.

Wilder added: "It's been tough being here in America when your sport is not top of the podium.

"One of my guys described this as like a Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao fight because of all the calls coming in for tickets.

"It made me feel good – but I have to keep my head, stay focused and deliver on Saturday. 

"This is what I have always wanted and my moment in time has come. 

"It took a long time. I can smile and say I will not disappoint come Saturday night."

UFC president Dana White has compared Conor McGregor to boxing greats Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard after the Irishman made his return to the Octagon.

McGregor needed just 40 seconds to defeat Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone in Las Vegas on Saturday, as the 31-year-old marked his comeback after 15 months away from the Octagon in style.

And White believes McGregor has now reached the same level as stardom as icons such as Ali, Tyson and Leonard.

"[Conor] is such a huge superstar. I put him up there with Tyson, Leonard," White told a media conference.

"All of them," he added when asked if McGregor could be compared to Ali, considered to be the greatest fighter in boxing history.

"He's got the biggest pay-per-view in pay-per-view history. How many of the top 10 does he have? I don't even know. He's one of the biggest stars out there.

"A lot of the times coming in his career he's been doubted for his talent and he proves everybody wrong every time."

White was also asked how much McGregor was worth to UFC, with a figure of $2billion suggested by a reporter.

"Two billion dollars? Sounds like a good number, I'll take that," White joked. "I don't know what he's worth to the company but it's big.

"You couldn't go anywhere without seeing this fight and knowing that this fight was on. All the people came out and watched the fight.

"This is one of those fights that people who normally don't buy [do] buy, right? So, the number is always massive.

"Then Conor comes out and does what he did tonight. You can't put a number on that. It's massive and it's global. The whole world was watching tonight."

McGregor's previous fight came in October 2018, when he was defeated by Khabib Nurmagomedov.

In his own post-fight news conference, McGregor outlined his intention to go up against the Russian once more, and White is eager to make a rematch happen.

"We're at a place right now where Conor was saying that, going into the Khabib fight, he had lots of personal stuff," said White.

"Some stuff [was] self-inflicted. He had injuries. He had all these things going on. He has been obsessed with getting that rematch because he knows that he wasn't 100 per cent right.

"We're looking at like Ali-Foreman, Ali-Frazier. This is a massive fight with global appeal. It's the fight you make, it's the fight that makes sense. It's for the 155-pound title.

"It's huge for Khabib’s legacy, too. If he beat McGregor, then he beats Tony Ferguson, then he beats McGregor again, I mean, this is how this kid, when he retires, he's 30-something and, oh, he's beaten all of the best."

Revenge or repeat? This week, Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua will become the latest men to answer one of heavyweight boxing's most historically captivating questions.

Joshua sensationally lost his IBF, WBA and WBO titles at Madison Square Garden, as well as his unbeaten record, to late replacement Ruiz back in June.

The flabby but quick-fisted Mexican climbed off the canvas to cause an almighty upset, stopping his opponent in the seventh round. It was a result few expected and one that sent shockwaves through the boxing world.

The pair will reconvene in the unfamiliar surroundings of the purpose-built Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia on Saturday and the stakes could not be higher.

Joshua has taken a risk in going straight back in with a man who shattered his aura and scuppered any short-term plans for a unification fight with Deontay Wilder – the WBC champion who recently tackled his own rematch against Luis Ortiz in emphatic style.

History suggests, however, that the Englishman is right to try and exorcise the demons. Here, Omnisport looks back at some other famous heavyweights who opted for an immediate rematch.

 

Joe Louis v Jersey Joe Walcott – Jun 25, 1948 (New York)

Louis was the longest-reigning heavyweight champion of the world at the time of his first meeting with Walcott, a former sparring partner for 'the Brown Bomber' who had started out at middleweight. What unfolded at Madison Square Garden was not the mismatch expected, though, as the huge underdog appeared to have pulled off the mother of all upsets. Having attempted to leave the ring before the verdict was announced, expecting to hear he had lost, Louis was apologetic after getting a generous decision victory.

'The Brown Bomber' gave Walcott an immediate rematch – but the judges had no need to get involved second time around. A tepid fight came to life in the 11th round when a big right hand paved the way for Louis to win by knockout. The champion initially retired after the bout, though he was back in the ring just over two years later.

 

Muhammad Ali v Leon Spinks - September 15, 1978 (New Orleans)

Olympic gold medallist Spinks was a 10-1 underdog when he came out on the right side of a split-decision in his first meeting with Ali in just his eighth pro fight. 'The Greatest' was anything but down the stretch, admitting afterwards that he had used the wrong tactics. Spinks, meanwhile, said: "I'm the latest, but he's the greatest" after becoming the new WBA and WBC champion.

Having lost in Las Vegas in February, Ali moved the venue to New Orleans for the return seven months later. Spinks had been stripped of one of the titles and his corner was chaos. He was outmanoeuvred by the old man, with Ali winning by a landslide on the scorecards to become the first man to be crowned heavyweight world champions on three separate occasions. It was meant to be his last fight, but instead only ended up being his final victory.

 

Evander Holyfield v Mike Tyson – June 28, 1997 (Las Vegas)

Holyfield v Tyson was a long time in the making. Finally, with Iron Mike holding the WBA belt, they met at the MGM Grand in 1997. They did not disappoint either, Tyson producing a fast start but unable to find a way to truly hurt his foe. As each round passed, Holyfield assumed control, eventually stopping his fellow American with a flurry of punches in the 11th to reign as a world champion in the division for a third time.

They signed up to do it all again seventh months later at the same venue, Tyson stunning the world by biting his rival not once but twice in the third round. The first offence was to Holyfield's right ear, resulting in an obvious injury for all to see. Following a two-point deduction for taking a piece of flesh, Tyson did it again – this time to the left ear – when the action eventually resumed. Referee Mills Lane, who had replaced Mitch Halpern following a complaint from Tyson's camp, disqualified the disgraced challenger.

 

Riddick Bowe v Andrew Golota - December 14, 1996 (Atlantic City)

The first clash between Bowe and Golota was eventful, to say the least. Golota was undoubtedly the better of the two in the ring but unwilling to abide by the rules. Already deducted points in the fourth and sixth rounds for low blows, two more in the seventh saw the bout called off by referee Wayne Kelly. That was not the end of the fighting, though, as things quickly turned ugly between the two different camps, while there were also scuffles among members of the crowd inside Madison Square Garden.

Bowe insisted afterwards he would not fight Golota again, yet the pair were back in opposite corners just five months later, this time in Atlantic City. The controversial Pole was once again disqualified for punches below the belt when ahead on the scorecards. "I can't defend him," said Lou Duva, Golota's co-trainer. "I wish I could. I can't explain it."

 

Lennox Lewis v Hasim Rahman - November 17, 2001 (Las Vegas)

Lewis can relate to Joshua's situation. He was the IBF and WBC champion who had Tyson in his sights - Rahman was nothing more than a stepping stone, a hurdle to clear before moving on to bigger and better (meaning more lucrative) things. Instead, the American caught out his rival in a fight held at altitude in Gauteng, South Africa, in April 2001. Lewis had come in heavier than usual having trained in Las Vegas to allow him to make a cameo appearance in Ocean's 11.

The less-than-perfect preparation saw him sunk by a right hand that laid Lewis out on the canvas. Second time around, however, he made sure not to make the same mistakes. The return later the same year was brutally swift, Lewis regaining his belts with a fourth-round stoppage that never looked in doubt from the opening bell. "I told you that punch was a lucky punch in South Africa. I had too many attributes for him," he said in the immediate aftermath.

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