There has been a lot of Twitter beefs lately with Drake and Meek Mill or Niki Minaji and Taylor Swift. I literally have no idea what they’re about and don’t care but it got me thinking about some sport beefs. In sports they’re really called rivalries and in the music world they’re called beefs. I tired to think of some of the best rivalries and came up with a pretty good list. I also tried to sprinkle in different sports, so here we go!
Pete Sampras-Andre Agassi:
First up is these two U.S. greats. These two were at the tail end of their careers when I really started watching tennis, so I got to witness a little bit of the rivalry. Sampras and Agassi were the big names in U.S. tennis and battled their whole careers to be known as the best player from the U.S. They battled each other 32 times with Pete winning 20 of those matches. Sampras also had the head to head advantage in Grand Slam finals with a 4-1 record. These two also differed in how they lived and actually played the game of tennis. Sampras was always about business and winning while Agassi was more out there and didn’t always play by the rules. In fact at Wimbledon you can only wear white, and Andre didn’t care for that because he wore some crazy colors, so he decided that Wimbledon could be skipped. He literally just didn’t play a huge major because he couldn’t wear his awesome tennis clothes, amazing right? They also played the game differently in Sampras served and volleyed, while Aggasi was always the aggressive player. He always pushed the tempo and was all about winners. Even though Sampras did have the better of Agassi in head to head, both men rose U.S. tennis to a higher level. They helped the U.S. team win 3 Davis Cups and paved the way for American tennis.
Larry Bird-Magic Johnson:
This rivalry goes back to their college days in the 1979 National Title game. Larry Bird and 33-0 Indiana State took on Magic’s Michigan State. The Sparatns got the better of the undefeated Indiana State that night which meant it was also 1-0 Magic. The rivalry didn’t stop there as they would meet a few more times in the NBA finals. Bird and Magic faced off 3 times in the NBA finals with Magic’s Lakers beating Bird’s Celtics 2 of the 3 times. They were always great match ups and just instant classics that helped brew the great rivalry of the Lakers and Celtics even more. Both of these Hall of Famers shared 6 MVPs and 5 Finals MVPs. It was one of those rivalries that I was very sad to miss.
Tom Brady-Peyton Manning
Boy did I root hard for Peyton Manning every time he faced off against the evil Pats and Tom Brady. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one as the Pats were amidst a dynasty run and Peyton was still without a Super Bowl. The young Brady already had 3 of them damn rings. Through those Patriot Super Bowl runs was a Peytong Manning lead Colts team that kept falling short. Eventually Manning did get his Super Bowl ring, but hasn’t won another, losing to the Saints and Seahawks in the only other Super Bowls he played in. These two will always be mentioned with each other because of the multiple battles they had, with the winner usually headed to a Super Bowl appearance. Brady has 4 rings, 3 SB MVPs in 6 appearances, and 2 NFL MVP awards. Manning has the 1 ring and SB MVP in 3 appearances, along with 5 NFL MVPs. These two QBs have run the AFC and the path for a title for a long time and really changed the position.
Phil Mickelson-Tiger Woods-
Before Tiger Woods life went down the shitter and forgot how to play golf he was the best in the world. He won his first major in 1997 at the Masters and was on top of the golf world for a long time. The guy right behind him many many times was the man they called “Lefty”. At the time Tiger was rising, Phil was the best golfer never to win a major title, until 2004 at the Masters. Ever since that victory the only two names you really heard was Tiger and Phil. Every time there was a golf major coming up they were the first names people talked about, and the favorites. Woods has won 14 majors, and Phil 5 but Tiger’s lasts major was in 2008 and Phil’s had 2 since then(2010,2013). During the late 90’s and pretty much all of the 2000’s these two were golf.
Micky Ward-Arturo Gatti-
I saved the best for last. Ward vs Gatti was a trilogy that no boxing fan could ever forget. Yea I know Ali-Frazier was amazing and they were the better boxers and had great fights but Ward-Gatti were fucking wars. The first one came in May 2002. Mickey Ward had risen from the dead and was a prized fighter again, and his next fight would make his career against Gatti. These two went at it the entire time and Ward got a crucial 9th round knockdown. That knockdown eventually was enough to secure a majority decision to claim victory. This match also won the 2002 Ring Magazine Fight of the Year. Enjoy.
Ward-Gatti 2 got kicked off that November where these two didn’t miss a beat. Gatti got an early 3rd knockdown which was a huge moment in the fight and Gatti seemed to take control after that. He was landing big combos after another and yet Ward took it and came right back at him. Gatti eventually went on to win in a unanimous decision. After the fight Gatti told reporters this, “I used to wonder what would happen if I fought my twin, Now I know.” Enjoy yet again.
Ward-Gatti 3 was the last of them and it went down in 2003. It was the final fight for Micky Ward and he made sure it was a great one. Once again these two went after it all 10 rounds. Gatti was dominating early but then ended up breaking his hand during the fight. He broke somewhere in the 4th round…yup the 4th fucking round and continued to fight all 6 rounds that were left. He did end up getting dropped by Ward in the 6th round though. Lucky for Gatti it was right by the bell so he literally was saved by the bell. These two went back and forth delivering blow after blow. The last round ended like the last two, with these two fighters standing toe to toe going at it untill that bell rang. They both ended up at the hospital after the fight, but Gatti ended up winning and ending this amazing trilogy. This fight also won 2003 Ring Magazine Fight of the Year, and did I mention none of their fights were for a title? Man do I miss these days of boxing.
These are some of the great rivalries the sport has seen. I wasn’t around or watched all of them but thank God for YouTube because watching all those Ward-Gatti clips might have been the best thing I did all week, possible year. Those were truly amazing fights, and for the love of Pete will some one make a movie on those two warriors! I’m getting all jacked up after writing about it and thinking about it. That’s it when I get home I’m fighting my brother. I hope you enjoyed my list of sports rivalries, if you have some of your own make sure to comment down below.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : George