In the world of professional wrestling, they would call a real fight a “shoot” and a scripted one a “work.” Hence, they would call MMA or boxing a “shoot” sport. 

However, the most controversial decisions in boxing history tend to walk a fine line between a shoot and a work.

Trinidad vs. De La Hoya

Oscar De La Hoya was one of the most recognizable names in boxing in the late 90s. His spats drew large numbers on the PPV scene, so it was important for De La Hoya to continue to mow through his opponents. 

In a 1999 battle against Tito Trinidad, the “Golden Boy” dominated the first nine rounds. Thinking he could coast to a decision victory, De La Hoya pumped the brakes, disengaging with Trinidad for the final three rounds. 

It was a colossal misstep on De La Hoya’s part, as Trinidad won by majority decision 115-113, 115-114, 114-114.

Whitaker vs. Cesar Chavez

Before De La Hoya, Julio Cesar Chavez was the most prominent Mexican pugilist in the world. After his bout with Pernell Whitaker, Chavez hadn’t lost a fight, making him must-see TV. 

Whitaker didn’t care about Chavez’s unblemished record, throwing precise combination punches that kept Chavez off-balance throughout the fight. 

It was obvious to anyone viewing the match that Whitaker would be responsible for the one loss on Chavez’s record. Yet, the judges scored fight a draw at 115-113, 115-115, 115-115. 

Lewis vs. Holyfield

If you want action in your fights, lightweight squabbles are your ticket. But an intriguing heavyweight division is where boxing makes its money. 

A few years removed from when Mike Tyson went full Hannibal Lecter on his ear, Evander Holyfield squared off against Lennox Lewis. 

These two mastodons were the biggest names in the sport, so there was a ton of hype before the bell rang. 

Lewis asserted himself with his jab, battering Holyfield for most of the fight, but the judges scored it a split-decision draw at 113-116, 115-113, and 115-115. Eight months later, they had a rematch, and Lewis got the uncontested win. 

Leonard vs. Hagler

Two of the better fighters in EA Sports’ Fight Night video games were the two that had one of the most contentious finishes in boxing. 

“Sugar” Ray Leonard and “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler had a donnybrook that Leonard dominated early, but Hagler returned with a vengeance. After sticking Leonard with heavy blows, Hagler appeared to come back to win the fight. 

Although Leonard’s two judges thought differently, favoring Leonard on their scorecards with a split-decision victory at 113-115, 115-113, and a head-scratching 118-110 score.

Bradley vs. Pacquiao

When boxing fans got their Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight in 2015, it didn’t have the same juice as a fight would have had five years ago because of Manny’s ridiculous loss to Timothy Bradley in 2012. 

When we’ve said these other fights appeared one way but scored another, they can barely hold a candle to Bradley’s split-decision win over the Filipino legend. 

Everyone thought Pacman won the fight, so it makes you question if the judges that scored it 115-113 for Bradley even knew the rules of boxing or if they received money under the table.

The sport may claim its outcomes are organic, but the most controversial decisions in boxing history prove that it can be puzzling sometimes. 


Low price, available in multiple styles and colors!