As all boxing fans know, there is more to a great night of great boxing than what happens in the ring. The atmosphere and venue both play a crucial role in making a special fight and we are lucky enough to have many iconic boxing theatres in which to watch the biggest stars in the sport go head to head.
Below are five of the greatest boxing venues in history, some of which are still regularly used to host the biggest fights in boxing today.
Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden is known as the ‘home of boxing’ and with very good reason. This world famous arena in New York is over 100 years old and has seen legendary boxers including Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in action, with the fight between the latter being arguably the most revered of all contests to take place here.
The arena itself has a capacity of just over 20,000 and the circular shape and unique, cable-supported ceiling make for an intimate and electric atmosphere.
From one great American city to another, Las Vegas – the home of the MGM Grand. Known by many as the ‘Mecca of Boxing’ the MGM Grand has seen some of the greatest fights in the history of the sport. Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield and the meetings between Floyd Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao immediately spring to mind.
With a capacity of close to 17,000, the MGM Grand makes up part of the MGM Grand Resort, offering plenty of things for boxing fans to do outside of fight night.
Thomas and Mack Centre
Another iconic venue in Las Vegas, the Thomas and Mack Centre is located on the campus of the University of Nevada. Evander Holyfield vs Lennox Lewis is one of the biggest fights to have taken place at this venue but other world class boxers have also graced the ring here, including George Foreman, Roy Jones Jr, Joe Calzaghe and Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez.
With a capacity of 19,500 for boxing events, it holds more fans then the MGM Grand and it has recently enjoyed a renovation which included the installation of new visual equipment in the arena.
Away from boxing, the Thomas and Mack Centre is regularly used to host other sporting events such as basketball and arena football matches.
These days, Las Vegas is quite rightfully considered as the best city in the world in terms of places to regularly watch live combat sports. It’s a city with numerous iconic venues, including the two mentioned above as well as Caesars Palace. If you were fortunate enough to follow boxing throughout the 1980’s you will have great memories of this venue thanks to great fights including Sugar Ray Leonard vs Thomas Hearns, Larry Holmes vs Muhammad Ali and Riddick Bowe vs Evander Holyfield.
A luxury hotel and casino complex, Caesars Palace has hosted fights both indoors and outdoors and was labelled by the New Yorker as the ‘Home of Champions’ having successfully staged many top level boxing events over the years.
Nowadays, Caesars Palace plays a much less important role in world boxing since the likes of the MGM Grand and Madison Square Garden established themselves as being the go-to venues for the biggest events.
But the remains no doubt that Caesars Palace is one of the most iconic venues in the history of the sport
Smart Araneta Coliseum
Last but not least, we head from the United States to Asia and the Philippines and the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Perhaps best known for the 1970 boxing match dubbed the ‘Thriller in Manila’ between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier the Smart Araneta Coliseum has also staged several of Philippine legend, Manny Pacquiao’s fights.
The iconic Smart Araneta Coliseum was home to the largest dome in Asia between 1960 and 2001 and has one of the biggest clear span domes in the world. The coliseum boasts a total capacity of just under 16,000.
Largest Ever Attendance for a Boxing Match
There are many remarkable boxing venues that remain integral to the history, and future, of the sport – above are just five of them. Another venue worth mentioning is the Estadio Azteca in Mexico city which holds the record for the largest ever paying attendance for a boxing match.
On 20th February 1993, 132,274 spectators witnessed Julio Cesar Chavez defeat American fighter Greg Haughan in front of his home crowd, retaining the WBC Light Welterweight Title in the process and setting an attendance world record at the same time. Not a bad day’s work for the Mexican legend.
The Estadio Azteca is Mexico’s largest sporting venue and whilst it is famous amongst many boxing fans for being the host of the most well attended fight in history, fans of English football will probably remember it more for being where Maradona notoriously scored the ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the quarter final of the 1986 World Cup.
These days, the Estadio Azteca Stadium has an official capacity of 87,523 – which would put it quite far down the list of the biggest stadiums in the world, according to this recent article by Betway.
Although when looking at the biggest venues in the world as per one-off sporting events for different sports, the Estadio Aztec rightfully holds the number one spot for boxing.