Boxing is one of the most popular sports in the world. There’s huge appeal in seeing two guys – and now girls, with the formation of women’s boxing events – try to knock each other’s heads off. But there’s far more to it than that. It’s a sweet science, very tactical, and that’s what the purists love. But there are lots of people out there who have nothing positive to say about the sport, people who deem boxing to be barbaric. They are, for all extents and purposes, right in their views. Simplify boxing, and it is essentially two people in a ring trying to knock each other out and inflict serious damage upon their opponent so they’re the only one who remains standing. Look at it like that, and you can see where those people are coming from.
But even these people, boxing haters, the naysayers, can’t escape the hype of a big fight. When these fights occur, pretty much everyone tunes in. In these fights, the boxing itself is pretty dull, very tactical, it’s not going to be a brawl or a street fight, not in professional boxing anyway. But people watch anyway, because it’s the atmosphere that draws them in. A major fight is a serious event; fighters know this and want to create a spectacle. So, if the night’s not going to be remembered for any amazing feats in the ring, it certainly is because of the whole atmosphere, and this tends to reach a fever pitch during an awesome ring entrance. Choreographing an epic entrance is well worth it. It’s a show in itself, it’s like theatre, it’s what many people, years after the fight night, would remember about the occasion. An amazing ring entrance can also be used to psych out opponents. A select few boxers have been pros at it. These are 15 of the craziest – in different ways – but memorable boxing ring entrances of all time.
15. Mike Tyson vs Frans Botha
Mike Tyson’s not the type of guy to come to the ring dancing, doing flips over the top rope, wearing all sorts of crazy attire. He’s never been that type of person, and so you’ve never seen him with a huge smile plastered across his face, being a jovial guy, as others on this list were. Mike has said he’s very nervous before fights, and you can see this, because he doesn’t want to mess about on his way to the ring. But once in the ring, he’s like a god – his own words – and very few can touch him.
Mike’s ring entrances are seriously intense. He’s ready to inflict some damage, and he’s a really menacing, imposing figure as he strides to the ring with his entourage. This fight, Mike vs Botha, stands out. It took place in 1999, and it was Mike’s return to action after serving a ban for his antics against Evander Holyfield two years previously. Mike couldn’t wait to get it on, and walked out to one of the most intimidating, coolest entrances of all time. It was that music, DMX’s “Where My Dogs At,” that just seemed like it was made for Mike. Frans must have been quaking in his boots, and half the battle was done before Mike had set foot in the ring.
14. Prince Naseem Hamed vs Paul Ingle
Ok, so former British boxer, Prince Naseem Hamed, features quite a number of times on this list. He just had to, because his entrances have probably been the most memorable in British boxing – boxing full stop – history. The guy was a showman, he became a boxer to impress, to wow the fans, to give people a time they won’t forget. He was showy in the ring, but hugely entertaining. Before even stepping foot in the ring, you could turn up expecting to see something special. His ring entrances were lavish, thoroughly entertaining affairs, although having said that, plenty of people loathed him because of them. Against Paul Ingle, the Prince decided that one Prince wasn’t enough, so he called upon three lookalikes to help him out. Then, the real Prince, arrives in a car, mic on, and starts calling out to the crowd as if choreographing a dance scene, telling them to get jiggy with it and dance with him. Believe it or not, this was one of his tamer ring entrances.
13. Ricky Hatton v Jose Luis Castillo
A decade ago, Ricky “the Hitman” Hatton was killing it in the ring. He was regarded to be one of the best fighters on the planet and was one of those who was ruling supreme in the welterweight division. He was unbeaten when he took on José Luis Castillo in Las Vegas, and nobody was expecting him to slip up against the Mexican. So, being supremely confident, Ricky decided to have some fun with his ring entrance. There were tons of British fans who had come out in droves to support him. But Ricky decided he’d appeal to the Mexican fan base who’d made the trip down. Castillo was a Mexican legend at the time and the Mexican fans were obviously supporting their countryman. That’s why they were a little puzzled when Ricky came out sporting a blue sombrero and mosaic-style robe. He wasn’t taking the piss, he was showing the Mexican fans respect, and when they realized this, it was reciprocated and they began to do the same, which was apparent at the end of the fight when Ricky beat their man and received a standing ovation from everybody in the Thomas & Mack Center in Nevada that night.
12. Vitali Klitschko vs Odlanier Solis
The Klitschko brothers dominated the heavyweight division for around a decade. They were untouchable, a pair of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. But despite their accomplishments and their unbelievable records, they never really got the love from the boxing world that they deserved. That’s because their fighting style, although very effective, wasn’t all that spectacular. But one thing boxing fans are guaranteed to get when they come to a Klitschko fight, is one awesome atmosphere and one hell of a flashy ring entrance. This ring entrance, when elder brother Vitali fought Odlanier Solis, was one of his and their best. It was expertly choreographed. The lights went out, except for a single door. Cue the spine-tingling music. Vitali began walking up a spiral staircase, delivering messages to his opponent. Then the music changes, reaches a crescendo, and Vitali appears through the smoke to begin his ring walk. Anyone who watched that entrance, must have gotten goosebumps, and people still do watching that back.
11. Usman Ahmed vs Ashley Sexton
Most of people and ring entrances that have found a place on this list have done so because their entrances were just spectacular. This one was spectacular alright, but spectacularly awful. It was just ridiculous, one of the worst, most cringeworthy entrances boxing has ever seen. Those who saw it were cracking up, bent over in stitches, it was that hilarious. Usman though, thought the crowd was having a whale of a time. He thought the entrance had had its desired effect, and amped them up. He hugely misread the situation. Even members of his own entourage were seriously struggling to keep a straight face. The security guards accompanying him to the ring were cracking up. Usman walked to the ring with Punjabi music blaring in the background. That’s not why people were laughing. They were laughing because of Usman’s dancing. His dance moves, bopping, whatever you want to call those hilarious moves, were just way over the top, but he continued dancing right until he got in the ring. Usman’s career as a boxer ended up being a flop, but that godawful ring entrance is something he’ll always be remembered for.
10. Mike Tyson vs Lennox Lewis
This entrance was memorable for both the ring walk and the occasion, the sheer spectacle of it all. Again, much like the first entry on this list, when Mike fought Frans Both, Mike strode out of the locker room with his entourage with some seriously intimidating music blaring out in the background – again, DMX, which seemed to be a favorite of Mike’s and his team. Actually, I say strode out, but he didn’t do so purposefully. In pretty much all of his other fights, he walked to the ring in intimidating fashion, with a menacing look on his face. Not this time. This entrance is noteworthy because it was one of the few times in his life where Mike’s looked seriously vulnerable, really timid, as if he was getting ready to take a beating, not dish it out.
Perhaps that had something to do with the fact that in the five years leading up to the fight, due to all of his troubles, he’d only fought 19 rounds, and was about to face one of the best fighters around. Then there was a farce in the middle of the ring walk, where an official stopped Mike and his entourage, saying only six people were allowed with him in the ring, not the massive crew Mike had with him. They eventually sorted it all out, and Mike resumed his ring walk, looking petrified the entire time, like he wanted to be anywhere else but there that night.
9. Wladimir Klitschko vs David Haye
The fight between Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye was massive, one of the biggest fights in boxing history. The build-up had been immense, and that was all due to Haye, a guy who’s a pro at trash talking and getting people interested. But some of his antics in the lead-up to that fight were just below the belt, extremely disrespectful to the Klitschko family. But it was all for the hype, and David certainly did his bit. On fight night itself, David’s entrance wasn’t anything special. But Klitschko, fighting in front of his home fans, put on a spectacular show. It was a proper theatre production, another spine-tingling bit of choreography from the Klitschkos and their team.
Wladamir’s signature entrance song was the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Can’t Stop” as always. Blast that out in a packed arena in Hamburg, and you can imagine the type of response it’ll get. Then the theatre production they put on backstage must have taken as much preparation as the fight itself. Then, when the message had been delivered, fireworks took off all around the Imtech Arena, the lights came on and illuminated the path for Klitschko to come to the ring and greet his fans.
8. Roy Jones Jr vs Clinton Woods
Roy Jones Jr. was the original entertainer, a guy that pretty much everyone, non-boxing fans included, would pay good money to come and watch. His antics in the ring and his cocky attitude meant people couldn’t take their eyes of his fights. It also meant that quite a few fighters wanted to knock his head off.
But Roy backed everything he did up, and that’s why people loved him. He did his business in the ring, but one thing that was missing, until his fight against Clinton Woods, was an epic ring entrance to complete the show. See that entrance, and you’d think you’d turned up at Broadway, or at some West End Musical of some sort, not a fight. It started off with some super hot girls dressed in white, dancing on a platform. It was a pretty sensual song, which meant it was a sexy dance routine, and that brought the crowd to a roaring applause. Then Roy Jones got lifted up onto the stage, wearing a mic, and the crowd went wild. He then proceeded to rap, yes rap. He went through a full song, with the sexy dancers below him doing their thing, and once he’d shown the world his rapping repertoire, he then strode to the ring, still rapping, accompanied by those dancers. The entire entrance lasted around five minutes, and it definitely kicked off the night in splendid fashion.
7. Prince Naseem Hamed vs Daniel Alicea
In Prince Naseem Hamed’s fight in 1996 against Puerto Rican boxer Daniel Alicea, it was as if he wanted people to believe he was a real prince. In fact, he probably made himself believe it too after such an elaborate entrance. He was going for this Arabian Prince theme, and many would say that he pulled it off superbly. It started off with a couple of bikini-clad women, who emerged from the smoke and began sprinkling rose petals on the floor. Then, from the smoke, came the Prince. But the Prince doesn’t walk; he let the paupers carry him. They carried him on a golden palanquin, so the Prince could look over his subjects. It was a seriously elaborate introduction, but by that time people had learned not to expect anything less from Naz. The Arab Sheik look drew plenty of criticism, because of the racial stereotype, but Naz didn’t care. The Prince does what the Prince wants to do.
6. Prince Naseem Hamed vs Wayne McCullough
Was this just harmless Halloween fun, or something that was put together by Naz and the choreography team in extremely poor taste? That’s what the British commentary team said about Naz’s ring entrance in Atlantic City against Northern Irishman Wayne McCullough in 1998. But most of those in attendance, those watching, didn’t know what the big deal was, and just took it for what it was, one hell of a ring entrance. For some reason, the British commentary team were trying to stir up controversy, and were making a big deal about nothing, and were made to look like utter idiots.
The set for this ring entrance was designed based on a Halloween theme. There were graves and skulls, and then Michael Jackson’s famous “Thriller song” started playing and Naz emerged from the smoke to rapturous applause. He strode to the ring, knocking over a tombstone, uppercutting a skull, and then proceeded to demolish McCullough to cap off a memorable night for the fans.
5. Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Carlos Baldomir
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is undoubtedly one of the greatest fighters who’s ever lived. To go your entire career unbeaten takes some doing, is a feat not many have accomplished. Right from the start Mayweather knew he was good, better than the rest. Supremely confident, Mayweather knew how to get the job done, and he was super cocky about it. That meant he was targeted by tons of people. But all the criticism just rolled off his back for the man known as “Money Mayweather.” His ring entrance in his match against Carlos Baldomir just showed what he thought of himself, even those many years ago. Dressed in a gold suit of armor, resembling a Roman warrior, Mayweather was carried to the ring at Mandalay Bay, flanked by some gorgeous women who were there to worship the ground he stood on. In a way, it was kind of like the Prince Naseem Hamed vs Daniel Alicea fight, but Floyd went all out and was far more elaborate with his costume.
4. Prince Naseem Hamed vs Kevin Kelley
Prince Naz didn’t just put together elaborate ring entrances for the entertainment value; he did so to psych out his opponents, and boy did it work. It certainly had that effect on Kevin Kelley. Kelley and his team knew about the entrance beforehand. In fact, Naz and his team had a scheduled 20-minute entrance, so Kelley new he was going to be waiting around for quite some time. Even though, at the orders of the broadcasters, the entrance was cut to 10 minutes, this was too much for Kelley and his team, who were going mad in the ring, waiting for Naz to finish his shenanigans.
This entrance started with Naz dancing behind a screen. The silhouette was visible, and suddenly Naz burst through, carrying on dancing on his way to the ring. The theatrics of it all were unbelievable, but a bit too long and drawn out for many people’s liking. He then proceeded to do a front flip over the top rope, ending up right in front of his opponent, which only things worse
3. Nigel Benn vs Steve Collins
“The Celtic Warrior” Steve Collins is arguably one of the best fighters of all time. It’s therefore pretty remarkable that not a whole lot of people have a clue who he is. Throughout his years in the ring, he beat some pretty big names, and retired with a record that’s mightily impressive. One of those big names he fought and conquered was Nigel Benn. Benn was someone who was much-loved throughout the world, and adored by the British public. Their fight was memorable because of the atmosphere in the NYNEX Arena, Manchester. Things had been simmering, and it reached its boiling point that night. It was one of the biggest domestic fights of all time at that point, and the crowd contributed to making it a rip-roaring occasion. Benn’s entrance helped get the crowd going too. He entered to the chimes of Big Ben – one of those iconic British attractions for those of you who aren’t aware of it – there were green lasers, and then the reggae music started, which was Benn’s cue to emerge from the shadows.
2. Chris Eubank vs Steve Collins
Benn’s elaborate ring entrance got the crowd into it, but didn’t have an effect on his opponent, Steve Collins, who emerged from that bout victorious. Chris Eubank’s fight with Collins had the same kind of pattern about it. Chris, ever the showman, did just that, and put on a treat for the crowds. He entered to some regal music, music that seemed to be made for Chris. But forget about the music – that only served to add to the grandeur of the event. Chris Eubank entered the ring on a motorcycle, a beautiful 1975 Harley Davidson Shovelhead, which for those of you who know your bikes, will probably get you salivating – it’s one hell of a machine. After stepping off that beast of a machine, the posing and posturing started. He wanted the world to take him in, marvel at one of best boxers around. They did just that, and it marked the start of a wonderful night of entertainment.
1. Prince Naseem Hamed vs Vuyani Bungu
The royalty of boxing features on this list yet again, and it could only be him at the helm of this list of the sport’s most crazy but memorable ring entrances. It was actually his last big production entrance. Naz and the team announced it beforehand, so people knew it was going to be his most epic, one of his biggest ring entrances. It didn’t fail to deliver. The crowd went wild when his name was announced, and everyone started looking in the direction of the corridor from the changing rooms. But they had to cast their eyes up a bit, because the Prince didn’t just walk to the ring. Nope. He flew to the ring on a magic carpet. It was a touch of Arabian nights, a touch of Aladdin, and boy did everyone just love it. It truly was amazing, as was that customary flip over the front rope to cap off one of the best ring entrances of all time.
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