In just a few hours, Showtime Championship Boxing will sign off for the final time, bringing an end to the premium cable era in boxing. 

For roughly three decades, big time boxing was biggest via the platforms afforded on premium cable and their home pay-per-view television arms. HBO had the field to itself until 1986 when Showtime launched what would eventually be the home of Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez in the 1990s and Floyd Mayweather for the closing, and most lucrative, stretch of his career.

There was great action, incredible upsets, memorable interviews, and it’s a brand that will be missed.

In thinking about the finale, airing tonight with a super middleweight main event pitting David Morrell against Sena Agbkeo, it raises the question of the most memorable moments of Showtime Boxing. What are the fights that, put in a time capsule, everyone should see at least once?

It was hard to whittle down to ten, but here goes.

10) Ricardo Lopez SD12 Rosendo Alvarez - November 13, 1998

Lopez, at 105 pounds, was never  a superstar. He was the great fighter writers told the world about because they often saw him on the undercards before television started; the great fighter other fighters watched and admired. Late in his career, more of his fights made air in the United States and he found his rival in Alvarez. Alvarez dropped Lopez in their first fight and was stuck with a technical draw on a cut after seven. They did it again to unify Lopez’s WBC and Alvarez’s WBA belt. Only Lopez could win the titles after Alvarez missed weight by three pounds but the show went on. Battling through a crimson mask, Lopez won a classic and never came close to losing again in a 51-0-1 career.  

9) Floyd Mayweather MD12 Marcos Maidana - May 03, 2014

Mayweather’s move to Showtime changed the balance of power between HBO and Showtime for the last time and this was his most exciting fight during those years. In a fifty-fight unblemished professional career, Mayweather had less than a handful of fights where there was ever any doubt at the end of twelve rounds. People still debate the scoring of his first fight with Jose Luis Castillo. Oscar De La Hoya probably lost eight rounds to Mayweather but had the star power to get one of the three judges cards. This was the other one, and it was a hell of a fight. Maidana’s relentless early attack set the tone of the fight with an aging Mayweather using all his guile to find the holes to eventually slow the attack, holding on to his lineal and WBC thrones and adding Maidana’s WBA title. 

8) Pernell Whitaker D12 Julio Cesar Chavez - September 10, 1993

Between the eras of Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya, this was the premier welterweight superfight in boxing. Some 65,000 fans packed the Alamodome to see Whitaker defend his lineal and WBC welterweight thrones against the lineal and WBC junior welterweight king Chavez. Chavez was listed at 87-0. They were 1-2 in almost every pound-for-pound list. When the night was over, the judges decided there was no winner. The world disagreed and Whitaker, after painting a masterpiece that saw him outfox, outthink, and outfight Chavez, had joined the ranks of the all-time greats. 

7) Jeff Fenech D12 Azumah Nelson - June 28, 1991

Lots of fans look back on the Showtime 1990s relationship with Don King and remember fondly the depth of the pay-per-view cards provided. This classic was the chief support for the rumbling Mike Tyson-Razor Ruddock rematch. Fenech had won titles at bantamweight, junior featherweight, and featherweight. Nelson was the reigning WBC titlist at junior lightweight. For twelve violent rounds, Fenech pressed the attack and largely kept Nelson working off the ropes and out of the corners. In the final round, it appeared Fenech had Nelson almost out and the judges left him wondering if that’s what he needed to win. The draw was wildly controversial, setting up a rematch that gave Nelson his defining win. 

6) Evander Holyfield TKO10 Michael Dokes - March 11, 1989

Ring Magazine named it the best heavyweight fight of the 1980s. They got it right. Before Holyfield became a staple of HBO in the first half of the 1990s, he built himself from cruiserweight to heavyweight largely on Showtime. The Dokes fight was the night he proved he was a real threat to Tyson. Dokes, on the comeback trail, came to win and both men traded bombs. Holyfield was rocked on the night, showing the recuperative powers that would be his hallmark, finally stopping Dokes with a ferocious assault punctuated with a running right hand as Dokes fell into the ropes.  

5) Marvin Hagler KO11 John Mugabi - March 10, 1986

It was the first Showtime main event. Hagler, the middleweight king, was fresh off his career-defining knockout of Tommy Hearns. Mugabi was 25-0 with 25 knockouts. For the first five rounds, it was a savage battle with both men landing wicked bombs and still staying on their feet. At the midway point, Mugabi started to indicate to his corner that he didn’t know if he could go on. They urged him forward as Hagler reminded the world how great he was, finally dropping Mugabi in the eleventh. Mugabi sat up, exhausted, and watched referee MIlls Lane finish the count of ten. He had nothing left to give that night after both men gave everything they had. 

4) Evander Holyfield DQ3 Mike Tyson - June 28, 1997

Yes, the first fight was better and everyone should see it. However, the rematch has always overshadowed it and when we’re talking about a fight everyone should see at least once…how can anyone ignore “The Bite Fight.” George Willis wrote a book about it. Front pages around the world were plastered with it and it was headline news for days afterwards. Mike Tyson wasn’t just boxing famous. He was movie star famous, his face on the cover of gossip magazines and his life explored by every editorial angle imaginable. No boxing fan can say they’ve seen all the big ones without sitting down for these three wild rounds and the post-fight interview with Jim Gray.    

3) Nigel Benn KO10 Gerald McClellan - February 25, 1995

The 80th Anniversary issue of Ring Magazine rated it the greatest super middleweight fight of all time. More than twenty years since the publication, and nearly thirty years since the fight, it still is. Benn was knocked out of the ring in the first round to give the battle a frenzied start. One can still argue about whether Benn was saved by referee Alfred Asaro in that moment, but no one can argue about the heart and will both men left in the ring for the nine rounds that followed. The tragic conclusion left McClellan injured for life in the sort of battle that left both men on the brink. It’s still an uncomfortable fight to revisit but it was undoubtedly a great one.

2) Israel Vazquez SD12 Rafael Marquez - March 01, 2008

They had a fourth fight later to take their rivalry out of the official best trilogies of all time conversation but make no mistake: the first three bouts between Vazquez and Marquez is in the race with any series of three fights ever witnessed. The first fight was good, the second fight (the Ring Magazine Fight of the Year for 2007) was better. The third took them to a whole other stratosphere. It was right on par with the fight that tops this list. Vazquez was on the deck for the first time in the series as both men pushed each other through hell right through until the final round. A dramatic last second knockdown was enough to give Vazquez the win, retaining the lineal and WBC crowns at 122 pounds.

1) Diego Corrales TKO10 Jose Luis Castillo - May 07, 2005 

It was arguably the greatest lightweight title ever filmed, perhaps the greatest fight of the twenty-first century, and easily the 2005 Fight of the Year. Corrales was voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2023. This night is why. Castillo came in with the WBC belt and a claim to the linear throne. Corrales had the WBO title. A perfectly matched contest on paper, this was a war that got better round after round. A study in escalation, they took turns pushing each other farther and farther until all hell broke loose. Corrales was dropped twice in the tenth, spitting his mouthpiece both times to buy time and gambling that referee Tony Weeks wouldn’t halt the action. He gambled wisely, unleashing a memorable final assault that left Castillo helpless on the ropes. 

Words can never do it justice and every fight fan should see it at least twice.  

Many reading will have their own choices and ten could never do it justice. Tonight’s farewell broadcast is sure to have highlights of many, if not all, of these bouts. 

Thanks for the memories.  

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at