On Monday, a swath of North America (including, weather permitting, anyone standing in this writer’s backyard) will bear witness to a total solar eclipse, only the 11th in the United States over the last 100 years and the first since 1932 to be visible over more than a small sliver of the continent.

Alas, there’s a pretty strong likelihood that, before the day is over, emergency rooms along the eclipse’s path will see an influx of patients who have, hopefully temporarily, blinded themselves by looking directly at the Sun despite all the warnings and entreaties not to do so. In the interests of never missing an opportunity to shoehorn a boxing article onto the flimsiest of real-world hooks, both the eclipse and its dangers brought to mind the realization that, as much as boxing is a sport of immense bravery and skill and all those who step between the ropes deserve praise, there have been over the years a great many fights that plenty of fans either made a point of not looking at or soon regretted watching and have actively chosen not to revisit.

Those kinds of fights, while mercifully few in the grand scheme of things, can probably be grouped into three categories: the mad (those that were farcical or deeply unpleasant affairs from beginning to end), the bad (when, for whatever reason or reasons, the fight was unexpectedly and exceptionally tedious), and the sad (fights that should never have been made, that saw a once great boxer pummeled, or that resulted in injury or even loss of life).

Every fight fan will have his or her own lists, but the following are some that come to one writer’s mind:

The Mad

A personal choice, but I swerved Adrien Broner’s defeat of Paulie Malignaggi in 2013 because the build-up was so repugnantly misogynistic. Malignaggi said that Broner was so ugly he didn’t know what it was like to “get regular p*ssy, weekend p*ssy and you don’t pay for none of it. It just comes to you. That’s the life I live.” Broner retorted with a claim that he was sleeping with Malignaggi’s ex-girlfriend, who had told him that Malignaggi had hit her but that he was so bereft of punching power he didn’t hurt her. (Hilarious, amirite?). And Malignaggi in turn claimed that she liked to be hit during sex and anyway, he was just her “side piece.” At the time, I had been covering boxing for 10 years and wasn’t sure if I would be doing so for much longer; this was the pre-fight build-up that made me seriously contemplate hanging up my ringside reporter’s notebook for good.

I didn’t, of course (although I didn’t have to cover Broner again, at least), but four years later I missed one of the most financially lucrative and heavily hyped bouts in modern history, partly for similar reasons of taste, partly because the whole thing was obviously not a genuine contest – and partly because I was busy.

When Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor entered the ring at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in August 2017, I was about 300 miles away in Carson, California, sitting ringside as Miguel Cotto beat up a game Yoshihiro Kamegai over 12 rounds. I was very much in the minority, but I was working for HBO (which aired Cotto-Kamegai) and honestly, I was grateful for the excuse. What had begun as a spiky back-and-forth at the start of the media tour soon degenerated into a foul-mouthed procession of unimaginative insults, a far from edifying build-up for a fight with so many eyeballs fixed upon it. (Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for some snappy pre-fight insults if they’re pointed and witty; Muhammad Ali could do it, even if he occasionally strayed into the overly cruel, and Mayweather could pull it off pretty well sometimes, too. A lot of fighters couldn’t, and can’t.) Besides, despite the hugely successful hype, this was never a genuine contest; Mayweather was one of the greatest boxers of all time and McGregor… wasn’t. (I did eventually watch a short highlights package while squinting, but the only surprising thing was that Mayweather decided to carry McGregor as long as he did.)

The Bad

This is inherently unfair, in a way, because many, many fights, especially those on small shows or buried deep on undercards, can be tough to watch. Any that are likely to be included on lists like this happen to be those that had a greater number of people watching them.

Still, those who are paid larger amounts of money for fights of greater significance are perhaps expected to put on a better shows than inexperienced undercard boxers; alas, it doesn’t always work out that way.

If ever there were a time when I might have wished I had burned my retinas by staring at the Sun, it was when I was at Madison Square Garden in 2004 as John Ruiz and Fres Oquendo sort of tangled in a heavyweight borefest. This might actually have been the worst fight I watched from ringside; the booing started early and continued until Ruiz scored a stoppage in the 11th with almost the first exchange of the evening.

I missed Chris Byrd vs DaVarryl Williamson the following year, but if any fight crops up frequently on fans’ “worst” lists, it was this one. Much of the blame lay with Williamson who, given a shot at a heavyweight belt, seemed deeply reluctant to engage. 

I have still never seen that one. Nor have I seen the rematch between Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones; their first meeting, when both were young and on the rise, was dull enough, and the rematch, with Hopkins an old fighter and Jones a shot one, always felt like it had come far, far too late. And so, by all accounts, it proved. 

I don’t know how I missed the most recent example of a fight that proved duller than watching paint dry; I assume I was feeling too old and decrepit to stay up and resolved to watch it in the morning. And then, when I caught the result, I resolved to miss it forever and always. That “fight,” if it can be so described, was the recent horror show between Shakur Stevenson and Edwin De Los Santos. Stevenson, an immensely talented boxer with a high upside, will likely be forgiven this awful night: De Los Santos may not be quite so fortunate.

The Sad

Boxing can be cruel and brutal and it can result in tragedy. It does so far less often than one might imagine, but even once is too much.

Fortunately, I haven’t ever been ringside for a fight that ended in a fatality, but I was present when Mike Perez beat Magomed Abdusalomov over 10 rounds at Madison Square Garden in 2013. And honestly, in the moment, I didn’t have any sense of a tragedy unfolding. I am pretty sure I started writing in my notes at some point that I’d be more than OK with the fight being stopped, but I felt at the time that I’d seen worse beatings. 

I probably wouldn’t have ever thought to watch that one again, but once the extent of  Abdusalomov's injuries became clear, it was permanently removed from the rotation anyway.

Same with Prichard Colon’s 2015 loss to Terrell Williams; Colon took a number of rabbit punches in that fight and slumped to a stoppage defeat before collapsing in the dressing room and suffering brain damage. Colon was an exciting young prospect, and had reached out to me early in his career; he would regularly DM me with career updates. Immediately after his loss, which I watched on TV, I sent him a note – which, of course, he would never answer. Needless to say, I have no desire ever to watch that fight again. 

I have never seen even a second of Muhammad Ali’s losses to Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick, disgraceful affairs that should never have been permitted; nor have I ever seen the infamous battle between Ray Mancini and Duk-Koo Kim. And yet, I have watched Nigel Benn-Gerald McClellan a couple of times. I never claimed not to be a hypocrite.

I took a high-minded decision to avoid George Foreman-Michael Moorer, convinced that Moorer would brutalize the old man. Foreman, of course, flipped the script, and so I have watched at least parts of it plenty of times since. Besides, now that I’m 56, 45 – which was Foreman’s age at the time – no longer seems quite so ancient.

The nature of boxing is that it will continue to throw up bad fights, boring fights, inexcusable fights, and fights of questionable integrity, fights to test the commitment of even the most dedicated fan. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about Jake Paul-Mike Tyson (yes, it will most likely be an exhibition, but Tyson is about to turn 58), and I’m conflicted over Devin Haney vs Ryan Garcia, given what appears to be something of a breakdown by Garcia.

Like a total solar eclipse, a great fight can be a sight to behold, a moment to remember and cherish. But there are plenty of times when the desire to avert the eyes is strong – and they come along far more often than every few decades.