Boxing in Las Vegas

Boxing in Las Vegas Sport is big business and so really it was a natural fit for Las Vegas to become home and host to some of the most iconic sporting events there has been. While interestingly Vegas didn’t have a pro sports team until the NFLs Raiders move in 2020, baseball and the like have long since been a feature of the local area. NASCAR and hockey are also present in the area too. It’s boxing in Las Vegas though that has delivered us many a moment that still lives long in the memory, and match-ups featuring some of the best boxers of all time, such as Muhammad Ali and Marvin Hagler.

In fact if we go through the decades there are title fights and rivalries that are remembered to this day. Who can forget Gerry Cooney vs. Larry Holmes in 1982; Thomas Hearns vs. Marvin Hagler in 1985; Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015.

In the late 40s to 50’s boxing became big on TV screens across the nation, with boxing shows reaching many millions of Americans. This all took place courtesy of Friday fights at Madison Square Garden, New York. Ironically though, the national spotlight snuffed out boxing on a local level and for a time the sport fell out of favour.

Boxing’s fresh start came in Las Vegas. Home to the rat pack and various live shows, Vegas already had a feel to it that was a good fit for big time boxing. Light heavyweight Archie Moore was to take on Nino Valdes for the chance of a title fight against Rocky Marciano and though not a roaring success it was the beginnings of what would eventually be.

In 1960 the Las Vegas Convention Center opened and it was the perfect setting for live sport. Before long it was in full flow with memorable encounters such as Sonny Liston’s rematch with Floyd Patterson taking place there. It wasn’t until the 70s though when Caesar’s Palace began hosting bouts that interest reached its height. George Foreman took on Ron Lyle, and it was named fight of the year and the rest is history!

It was 1980, when Don King brought us a fight between Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes that the crowds and cash went to the next level. The event followed by Sugar Ray Leonard drawing in a 23,000 crowd when he took on Tommy Hearns, cemented in place the idea of Vegas (and venues such as MGM Grand – which hosted multiple Mike Tyson fights – in addition to Caesars) as the premier setting for boxing and this has remained the case to this day.

Muhammad Ali – Caesars Palace

Muhammad Ali - Caesars Palace

Iconic Vegas Hotel Casinos

Iconic Vegas Hotel Casinos Sands

Famed for its ties with the rat pack (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis jnr, Dean Martin etc) the Sands Hotel is steeped in Vegas history. For a period of decades, the words Vegas and Sands went hand in hand. Memorable performances from those from the rat pack era took place here. Sadly in the 90s changing times and mega resorts meant that the Sands was no more. It was replaced by the Venetian and Palazzo. Despite this, it still holds legendary status in the annals of Vegas history.

Sahara

The Sahara was another regular ‘haunt’ for the Rat Pack, and sadly has become the latest iconic hotel to close in recent years. It will live on in some form though, as instead of being demolished it’s undergoing a refurbishment and will, or indeed has, become SLS Las Vegas. Back in its day, in the 50s and 60s, the Sahara was a big celebrity hangout.

Dunes

Starting as a low rise hotel in the 50s before being transformed in the 60s and 70s with the addition of towers, Dunes was one of the more memorable and indeed notorious hotels in Las Vegas. It was thought to have ties to the mafia. Brought down in the 90s to make way for the Bellagio, its now another memory of Vegas past.

 

Not all iconic hotels and casinos are now a thing of the past. Just look at Caesars Palace as an example. It was founded in 1966 and is still going strong today. The home of high rollers, hotel rooms and huge sporting events, it shows that some venues can stand the test of time.

Iconic Elvis (Las Vegas, 1956)

Iconic Elvis (Las Vegas, 1956)