Visitors to the MGM Grand for Saturday’s pay-per-view clash between Gervonta Davis and Frank Martin will see even more decorative boxing memorabilia than usual during fight week – not just in honor of Davis-Martin but in recognition of the fact that Saturday will be the 100th boxing card staged at the property’s Grand Garden Arena. 

The MGM Grand Las Vegas (known informally within the company as “the green building”) opened on December 18, 1993 – the second property in the Strip’s history to be given that moniker. 

(The first MGM Grand opened in 1973 on the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road; badly damaged by fire in 1980, it was renamed Bally’s in 1986 and is now the Horseshoe Las Vegas.)

At the time of its opening, the MGM Grand was the largest hotel in the world (and it remains the largest single hotel building, with 5,124 rooms). Attached to the hotel and casino is the 17,000-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena, which opened with a Barbara Streisand concert on December 31, 1993, and hosted its first boxing card – Frankie Randall vs Julio Cesar Chavez – on January 29, 1994. From then until 2016, the Arena, plus the Mandalay Bay Events Center across the street and the nearby Thomas & Mack Center, were the epicenters of big-time boxing in Las Vegas; although many of the biggest events in town now take place at the T-Mobile Center, the Grand Garden Arena remains a showpiece venue and boasts a history of great fights that is the envy of virtually any other location.

Using a secret, proprietary formula that considers factors such as the bout’s significance and pre-fight hype, the quality of the contest, and its legacy, we have compiled a list of the 20 greatest fights ever to take place in the storied arena. Some were magnificent fights; some were huge events; some were both; others are included because of the events and careers they set in motion.

In part one, we’ll look at fights from number 20 to number 11; on Friday, we’ll reveal the Top 10. But first, the ones that almost made the cut…

Honorable Mentions

Tyson Fury KO7 Deontay Wilder

February 22, 2020

Fury’s KO win was dramatic and impressive, but this second fight in the trilogy was also the most one-sided.

Floyd Mayweather KO4 Victor Ortiz

September 17, 2011

Most notable for the crazy finale, with Ortiz head-butting Mayweather, Mayweather knocking him out while Ortiz tried to apologize after referee Joe Cortez had waved them back together, and Mayweather and HBO’s Larry Merchant getting into a slanging match post-fight.

Bernard Hopkins KO9 Oscar De La Hoya

September 18, 2004

De La Hoya’s attempt to add the lineal middleweight championship to his impressive collection fell short as Hopkins dissected him and dropped him for the count with a body shot.

Shane Mosley W12 Oscar De La Hoya 

September 13, 2003

Mosley emerged a controversial points winner in a close contest that, while enthralling, didn’t quite live up to their first encounter; Mosley later confessed he had been taking BALCO PEDs prior to the fight 

Manny Pacquiao D12 Juan Manuel Marquez

May 8, 2004

The fight that began the epic four-fight series. Pacquiao floored Marquez three times in the first, only for the Mexican to drag himself back into the contest and secure a draw.

Floyd Mayweather W12 Canelo Alvarez

September 14, 2013

This meeting between arguably the top two fighters of their respective generations came too early for a callow Canelo, who was no match for Mayweather’s boxing skills.

Canelo Alvarez KO11 Sergey Kovalev

November 2, 2019

Having started his pro career at 140 pounds, Alvarez became light heavyweight champion when he knocked out the once fearsome Russian.

And now, the first half of the Top 20 …

  1. Manny Pacquiao KO2 Ricky Hatton

May 2, 2009

Before: Hatton had lost to Mayweather in the same arena 18 months earlier, but that didn’t deter the Mancunian’s fans from flocking to Vegas to see their man take on one of the other two giants of their era. Pacquiao, having recently dispatched De La Hoya, was flying high as one of the biggest stars in the sport and moving down to super lightweight for the fight.

During: The contest didn’t last long. At the end of the second round, a perfect southpaw left hand from Pacquiao left Hatton on his back, out cold.

After: Hatton would retire for three years and retired again after losing a comeback fight to Vyacheslav Senchenko in 2012. Pacquiao stopped Miguel Cotto in his next outing and would continue boxing with great success until 2021.

  1. Roy Jones W12 James Toney 

November 18, 1994

IBF super middleweight championship

Before: Toney, the IBF super middleweight champion, was ranked second in the world pound-for-pound by The Ring; Jones, a 1988 Olympian who had won the IBF middleweight belt against Hopkins and made one defense, was third. Both were unbeaten.

During: What was expected to be a skillful and competitive contest turned into a rout. A weight-drained Toney was unable to compete with Jones’ speed and skill, as he was knocked down once en route to a wide unanimous decision defeat that announced Jones to a broader boxing public. 

After: Defeat marked the beginning of a career tailspin for Toney, who all but disappeared from view before emerging as a cruiserweight and heavyweight and scoring victories over Vassily Jirov and Evander Holyfield in 2003. Jones would become recognized as one of the most talented boxers of all time, staying atop or near the top of the pound-for-pound rankings for more than a decade and adding titles at light heavyweight and heavyweight before suffering his own lengthy crash-landing.

  1. Manny Pacquiao KO6 Lehlo Ledwaba

June 23, 2001

IBF junior featherweight title

Before: South Africa’s Ledwaba had held the IBF junior featherweight title for two years, and was preparing for his fifth defense, against Enrique Sanchez. When Sanchez dropped out due to injury, his replacement was Pacquiao, who happened to already be in the U.S. looking for a trainer; the Ledwaba fight would be his first with Freddie Roach. The fight, a support for De La Hoya’s challenge of junior middleweight titlist Javier Castillejo, was expected to be another win for the impressive South African.

During: Pacquaio caught everyone by surprise with his barely controlled ferocity. He decked Ledwaba in the second round and beat him up before claiming a sixth-round stoppage.

After: Ledwaba, a highly regarded champion before the fight, was never the same again. He went 3-4 for the rest of his career and retired in 2006. He died of COVID in 2021. Pacquiao and Roach, meanwhile, were just beginning an epic journey. 

  1. Antonio Margarito KO11 Miguel Cotto

July 26, 2008

WBA welterweight title

Before: Cotto, as exciting in the ring as he was taciturn outside it, had had a hugely successful few years, capturing a 140-pound title before moving to welterweight and claiming a belt there. He had most recently scored back-to-back wins over Zab Judah and Mosley on electric nights at Madison Square Garden. He seemed on the cusp of pound-for-pound greatness, but the rugged Mexican Margarito had other ideas.

During: Cotto started off well, using his calm boxing skill to build a healthy lead on the scorecards. Beginning in the sixth round, however, Margarito began turning the screws and applying increasing amounts of pressure. His right hands and uppercuts began to swell the face of Cotto, who found himself increasingly on the ropes. Finally, in the 11th round, Margarito put Cotto down on one knee; when, after rising, Cotto retreated into a corner and went down on one knee again, his corner stopped the fight.

After: There would be a twist in the tale following Margarito’s next fight, a knockout loss to Mosley. Margarito was suspended for allegedly trying to use tampered hand wraps for that fight, which led to speculation that he may have had loaded gloves for other fights, including against Cotto. Cotto would gain his revenge in a rematch at Madison Square Garden and would go on to become middleweight champion.  

  1. Floyd Mayweather KO10 Diego Corrales

January 20, 2001

WBC junior lightweight title

Before: The two men, both undefeated, the two top men in the 130-pound division – both Las Vegas residents – had been eyeing each other warily and then more loudly as their clash became inevitable. In what would be an ironic twist, Mayweather even taunted Corrales over an impending court case for domestic assault. 

During: A weight-drained Corrales was utterly dominated, as Mayweather deployed sharp defense, fast combinations and sharp counters to break down his rival and drop him five times in under 10 rounds. Corrales was furious at his stepfather-trainer for throwing in the towel, but it was a merciful decision. As great as Mayweather would be over the rest of his career, he may never have been better than he was on this night.

After: Corrales began a 14-month jail sentence shortly after the fight; he returned to take a title at lightweight and won an historically great fight with Jose Luis Castillo. He died in 2007. Mayweather made two more defenses of his 130-pound crown before winning titles from lightweight to junior middleweight in a Hall of Fame career.

  1. Manny Pacquiao TKO8 De La Hoya

December 6, 2008

Before: This all stemmed from a mischievous idea by HBO’s Larry Merchant. What would happen if lightweight star Pacquiao fought junior middleweight De La Hoya in a catchweight clash of the icons? 

The consensus was De La Hoya would have too much for the explosive but smaller Pacquiao – unless it turned out De La Hoya had nothing left. In hindsight, the facial damage he suffered in victory over Steve Forbes in his previous outing was a harbinger.

During: The strain of getting down to 147 left De La Hoya impossibly weakened and unable to resist the power and speed of Pacquiao’s fusillade of punches. Looking every inch a shot fighter, De La Hoya spent most of the night simply trying to defend himself while offering little in return, before his corner withdrew him after eight rounds.

After: De La Hoya swiftly announced his retirement from boxing. Victory caused Pacquiao’s star – already bright following victories over Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera, among others – to glow like a supernova. Knockout wins over Hatton and Cotto would follow in short order.

  1. Marco Antonio Barrera W12 Naseem Hamed

April 7, 2001

Before: The hype around Hamed was huge entering this featherweight championship clash. His extravagant entrances, unorthodox style, propensity for being knocked down and devastating knockout power had earned an exuberant following, even if half of those watching did so in the hope of seeing him lose. Hamed reportedly had been weighing up a shot at either Barrera or Morales; after commentating ringside for HBO during Barrera’s disciplined dissection of Jesus Salud four months previously, Hamed’s trainer Emanuel Steward fretted that, “I think we picked the wrong Mexican”.

During: Barrera proved Steward’s premonition correct with a professional display of focused boxing. He spent all night circling to his left away from Hamed’s southpaw power, popping out a cultured jab and tagging Hamed with sharp rights whenever he placed his chin in range. He even punctuated his night by driving Hamed face first into a ring post, which cost him a point but couldn’t stop him winning a unanimous decision. 

After: Just like that, it was all over for Hamed. Word had been that he was becoming increasingly lackadaisical in his fight preparations, focusing more on his entrances and his purses than on strategy, and when he lost his unbeaten record, he seemingly lost his interest, fighting once more and then retiring. Barrera, considered on the downslope beforehand, fought on for a decade and, like Hamed, is now in the Hall of Fame.

  1. Christy Martin W6 Deidre Gogarty

March 16, 1996

Before: It’s probably fair to say that this was the least anticipated match on this list. Martin had been garnering attention on Don King undercards, however, and there was a growing curiosity factor about the hard-hitting “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” The fight with Ireland’s Gogarty, on the Mike Tyson-Frank Bruno II pay-per-view, was the first opportunity for many to watch her in action.

During: The action-packed, blood-soaked battle, which Martin won by decision over six two-minute rounds, stole the show and launched Martin’s career. 

After: It is not an exaggeration to say that this was the fight that launched women’s boxing, at least on the western side of the Atlantic. Within a month Martin was on the cover of "Sports Illustrated" – a rare enough honor for any boxer in the late 20th century, let alone a female one. She continued to feature on major pay-per-views and be a significant drawing card, eventually retiring in 2012. Soon, other women emerged to keep the flag flying – notably Laila Ali in 1999 – and the addition of women’s boxing to the Olympics took the talent level up further and brought Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor to the pro ranks in 2016.  But it all began with Martin, in her pink outfit streaked with blood, getting her hand raised at the end of this brawl. 

  1. Kostya Tszyu KO2 Zab Judah 

November 3, 2001

WBA/WBC/IBF junior welterweight championship

Before: Judah was undefeated, while Tszyu’s lone pro defeat was more than four years in the rear-view mirror, when these two met to unify their respective 140-pound titles in an eagerly anticipated clash.

During: The battle to unify the junior welterweight crown was a big enough event going in. But its place in history was secured by what transpired – Tszyu knocked Judah down at the end of the second; Judah got up, staggered, and went down again, face-first, prompting referee Jay Nady to stop the fight. Judah, once he recovered his wits, went ballistic, attacking Nady and even throwing a corner stool at him.

After: This would not be the last chaos-infused Judah fight, as mayhem spilled into the ring during his loss to Mayweather four and a half years later. Although Judah would go on to briefly hold the lineal welterweight crown, he would never regain the reputation he had before the loss to Tszyu. Tszyu won three more times before surrendering his crown to Hatton and retiring.

  1. Floyd Mayweather KO 10 Ricky Hatton

December 8, 2007

WBC welterweight championship 

Before: A combination of Hatton’s immense popularity across the pond, and a temporary imbalance in the exchange rate that strongly favored the pound over the dollar, ensured thousands of British fans descended on Sin City, whether or not they had tickets. There were so many, in fact, that there was a fight week rumor that the MGM had run out of beer. “There’s only one Ricky Hatton” rang out repeatedly around the MGM Grand before and during the fight. There was only one problem – Hatton may have been the undefeated 140lbs champion, but his opponent was Mayweather.

During: Hatton attempted to maul Mayweather in close early, but became increasingly frustrated by and fixated on referee Joe Cortez breaking up clinches earlier than he wanted. Mayweather, as was his wont, absorbed the attempted punishment until he had figured Hatton out, then took over. A check hook sent Hatton staggering into the ring post and down in the 10th, and a follow-up flurry prompted the stoppage. And still his fans kept singing.

After: Hatton returned to the MGM to defeat Paulie Malignaggi and to lose by a violent knockout to Pacquiao. He remains an immensely popular figure in the U.K. and was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame. Mayweather, also in the Hall, kept on winning before retiring with a record of 50-0.

Kieran Mulvaney has written, broadcast and recorded podcasts about boxing for HBO, Showtime, ESPN and Reuters, among other outlets. He also writes regularly for National Geographic, has written several books on the Arctic and Antarctic, and is at his happiest hanging out with wild polar bears. His website is