Tennis Prose



Tennis Greats Who Attended Boxing Matches

By Scoop Malinowski

Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi had their first date at the Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Trinidad world welterweight title fight Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in 1999.

Jimmy Connors and Ilie Nastase both sat ringside at the Muhammad Ali vs Ken Norton III world heavyweight title fight at Yankee Stadium on September 28, 1976. Connors had won the 1976 US Open a couple of weeks earlier by beating Bjorn Borg in the final.

John McEnroe sat in the front row next to Larry Holmes at the Sugar Ray Leonard vs Thomas “Hitman” Hearns world welterweight title fight on Wednesday September 16, 1981 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. McEnroe had won the 1981 US Open the three days before the fight in New York.

Caroline Wozniacki was just eleven years old when she attended the Brian Nielsen vs Mike Tyson fight in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2001.

Lleyton Hewitt and his son Cruz attended the Tim Tszyu super welterweight fight in Australia vs Bowyn Morgan in December 2020.

Boris Becker was ringside with his wife Lilly for the 2010 world heavyweight championship fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Samuel Peter in Frankfurt. He also attended Wladimir Klitschko vs David Haye in Hamburg in 2011 and brother Vitali Klitschko’s WBC heavyweight title defense vs Dereck Chisora in Munich in 2012.

Guillermo Vilas once told me during a US Open interview that he saw many live boxing matches and world title fights: “I go to Las Vegas whenever I can. The biggest match I saw was [Julio Cesar] Chavez against ‘The Surgeon’ (Frankie Randall).  But because there’s seldom a big fight when I’m in Vegas, I go to the Showboat. They have these small fights. I go to every match.”

Vilas also saw the great heavyweight boxer from Argentina, Oscar Bonavena fight live. “Ringo” had pro fights against Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier… “My father took me to see [Oscar] Bonavena fight. I was impressed because I bought some gloves and I realized how much it hurt [to punch]. You have to get used to the pain.”

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