In light of Gervonta Davis’ recent arrest just weeks before he was scheduled to fight, we have decided to look back in history at 10 times boxers have went on to fight after being arrested. This list includes the likes of Mike Tyson, Gervonta Davis and of course Bernard Hopkins.
It’s safe to say that boxing has had it’s fair share of controversial moments throughout history. Dodgy decisions, people’s ears getting bitten during a fight or even someone landing in the ring on a parachute during a bout are just a few examples of how crazy the sport of boxing can be.
With that all being said, we have decided to dive deep into the history books to compile a list of ten times boxers fought after being arrested.
10 Times Boxers Fought After An Arrest
Without further ado, here are ten examples of times professional boxers fought, despite being under arrest…
The most recent of the ten names on this list. Gervonta Davis was arrested on Tuesday 27th December in Florida and jailed on a domestic violence charge of battery causing bodily harm, according to Broward County Sheriff’s Office records.
The 27-0 (25 KO’s) lightweight boxing superstar was scheduled to fight on the 7th January in the main event at the Capital One Arena in Washington, but these charges and Davis’ subsequent arrest put the fight in jeopardy. As of today, the fight is still going ahead this coming weekend.
This isn’t the first time that ‘Tank’ has been accused of domestic abuse and has been arrested. Back in February 2020, the Baltimore man “was observed battering his former girlfriend,” according to police in Coral Gables, Florida. Before the latest accusations, Davis was facing two misdemeanour battery charges for these incidents we have outlined.
It’s safe to say that Davis is one of the hottest properties in world boxing and is must-see in the ring. However, it is apparent that his actions outside the ring leave a lot to be desired.
At one stage, before his two fights with Muhammad Ali, Sonny Liston was widely recognised as the ‘baddest man on the planet’.
Liston features on this list as it is well documented that he was a notorious criminal as a young man in the St. Louis area. In total, Liston was arrested on 19 different occasions. These crimes range from assaulting a police officer to to armed robbery.
The pinnacle of Liston’s boxing career were after his ferocious knockouts of the previous heavyweight champion of the world, Floyd Patterson. Liston won the World Heavyweight Title in 1962, which was 12 years after he was convicted of two counts of armed robbery.
Liston was released from prison on parole two years later, but continued his involvement in crime where he assaulted police officers in 1956 and 1958 before fleeing to Philadelphia. The former world heavyweight champion is one of the highest profile names on this list. He clearly had a lot of issues outside the ring, but inside the ring he was a complete savage and at one stage was indeed the ‘baddest man on the planet’.
He beat Floyd Patterson up twice, fought Muhammad Ali twice, albeit losing both. But outside of the ring, Liston got up to his fair share of mischief, that is for sure.
Diego Corrales boasted a 33-0 record in boxing before he ran into Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2001 in what turned out to be his last fight for two years.
Shortly following the first loss of his career to Mayweather, Corrales (40-5, 33 KOs) was charged with abusing his pregnant wife, Maria. The former super-featherweight and lightweight world champion served 14 months behind bars after agreeing to a plea bargain.
On his return to boxing after his stint in jail, Corrales rose up the lightweight rankings before eventually winning a world title in a second weight division after beating Acelino Freitas by 10th round KO in August 2004.
After being put in jail, Corrales continued to box and was involved in some incredible bouts. He traded a pair of memorable fights with Cuban legend Joel Casamayor, as well as winning one of the greatest battles in the history of boxing in his first fight against Jose Luis Castillo in 2005.
Everyone knows of the trials and tribulations of Mike Tyson. Despite being one of the best heavyweights in history, he has a troubled life outside of the ring and was caught on the wrong side of the law on more than one occasion.
‘Iron Mike’ was convicted of raping an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant in Indianapolis in 1992. He was sentenced to six years in state prison, but was paroled after three years and continued his boxing career shortly after.
When Tyson was released from prison, he went on to win the WBC World heavyweight Title after beating Frank Bruno inside three rounds in 1996. Tyson had some huge fights after his release from prison, including bouts with the likes of Evander Holyfield, Andrew Golota, Peter McNeeley and Lennox Lewis.
James Scott was a quite remarkable American boxer, but he was also a convicted murderer. Whilst incarcerated in Rahway State Prison in New Jersey, the light-heavyweight contender moved to number two in the WBA Light Heavyweight rankings.
What makes Scott a unique addition to this list is that he actually fought and continued his boxing career whilst behind bars. He has 22 fights in his professional boxing career, of which exactly half of them were contested whilst he was in prison.
From the age of 13, Scott spent the majority of his life in prison. He continued to earn money as a boxer behind bars after connecting with boxing promoter Murad Muhammad. In fact, Scott’s fight with the WBA number one contender Eddie Gregory was televised live on HBO, despite the bout being in Rahway State Prison.
Quite a remarkable story and a worthy name on this list.
Pernell Whitaker is widely regarded as one of the best boxers to have ever lived. However, his slippery, intelligent, technically perfect style inside the ring was a complete contrast to his lack of discipline outside of the ropes.
In the words of Bert Sugar, Whitaker was “an artist” in the boxing ring. Outside of it, ‘Sweet Pea’ had a lot of trouble with substance abuse, particularly cocaine. In 1998 following a fight with Andrey Pestryaev, Whitaker tested positive for cocaine and was made to enter rehab.
He was forced to spent a night in jail for possession of cocaine, which he was later charged for again in 2002 after entering a courthouse whilst carrying a packet of cocaine in his possession. Although it was only a short period of time Whitaker spent behind bars for his first offense, it still counts.
Whitaker did box after this but suffered two losses to end his career.
Bernard Hopkins is one of the biggest names in the sport of boxing over the past few decades. He made a record 20 defense of his middleweight world title and also holds the record for becoming the oldest man to become a world champion, aged 46.
However, Hopkins was a troubled teen growing up in Philadelphia in a rough neighbourhood. At the age of just 17, Hopkins was sentenced to 18 years in Graterford State Penitentiary for nine felonies, including armed robbery. He was released after five years in 1988 and went on to have an incredibly successful boxing career.
Hopkins completely turned his life around and made the most of his opportunities after coming out of prison. Imagine Hopkins had to serve the full 18 years behind bars. Would he ever have got into boxing and gone on to have the success he seemingly did? Who knows.
Thankfully for boxing fans he did and what an utterly brilliant fighter he turned out to be.
Dwight Muhammad Qawi
Dwight Muhammad Qawi is the next name on our list of boxers who continued to fight after being arrested. Qawi was convicted of armed robbery in the 1970s and was sentenced to five years in Rahway State Prison. Whilst behind bars, Qawi learnt how to box and was released in 1978.
At the age of 25, Dwight Muhammad Qawi began training at Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia before turning professional. Qawi was a swarming force of destruction during the 1980s, winning titles at both light-heavyweight and cruiserweight.
He shared incredibly barbaric bouts with both Matthew Saad Muhammad and Evander Holyfield. The fight with Holyfield is still to this day regarded as one of the greatest fights in the history of the cruiserweight division in boxing.
Tony Ayala Jr
Next on our list is none other than Tony Ayala Jr. In 1983, Ayala burglarized the home of his neighbour, a young schoolteacher, and sexually assaulted her. At the time of his arrest, Ayala Jr was scheduled to fight Davey Moore for the world title at junior middleweight.
Instead, the American was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Like a lot of the boxers on this list, Ayala Jr served his sentence term at Rahway State Prison as well as Trenton State Prison before his eventual release in 1999. Ayala served 16 years behind bars, before resuming his boxing career shortly after his release.
After he was paroled from prison and began boxing again, Ayala won six high-profile fights, all by knockout. It was clear to see that the many years behind bars hadn’t detracted from his boxing skills.
Floyd Mayweather Jr
Last but not least on this list of boxers who continued to fight after being arrest is one of the greatest boxers of all time, Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Mayweather retired from professional boxing with an unblemished record of 50-0, winning world titles in four different weight divisions. However, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Mayweather, who had his fair share of controversies outside of the ring too.
In 2012, Floyd Mayweather Jr reported to a Las Vegas County jail to begin serving a 90-day sentence on charges of domestic violence for attacking his ex-girlfriend, Josey Harris. ‘Money’ spent two months behind bars for his actions but continued to have an exceptional boxing career after his release.
Fights with Manny Pacquiao, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Marcos Maidana ere still huge spectacles, all which came after Mayweather’s short stint behind bars.
As is evident in any number of other practices, genius is often accompanied by mania. It must be that there is a reason why the two are such frequent dance partners in the sport of boxing.
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