From the skill and style of featherweights to the bruising strength of the heavyweights, no sport can the pounding thrill of boxing. It's even better live where you can see the power of each punch along with thousands of other fans. Boxing tickets for big events are hard to come by, so move quickly if you find some.
Combat sports have existed for thousands of years, but boxing as we know it was invented in London in 1867, when the Marquess of Queensbury drafted a set of championship rules and defined basic weight categories. The sport was illegal in all states except Nevada, where the first championship fights were held.
Boxing was the biggest sport in the United States in the 1920s, thanks to the sport's first true superstar, Jack Dempsey. The golden age of the heavyweights lasted well into the '60s, with stars like Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and Sonny Liston. The biggest name in the history of boxing, and possibly in the history of sport, was Muhammad Ali, who dominated the sport from 1964 to 1979. Ali's fights against Joe Frazier and George Foreman are legendary in the sport, with the "Rumble in the Jungle" against Foreman the subject of the movie When We Were Kings.
Boxing in the modern age
Recently there has been less focus on heavyweights in favor of other weight categories. Arguably the most famous boxer of this decade, Manny Pacquiao seduced the world with his fast feet and powerful hands. Pacquiao, now a politician in his native Philippines, is only the third boxer to ever win titles in three weight categories -- flyweight, welterweight and featherweight.
Middleweight belts are also heavily contested, with Kazakh fighter Gennady Golovkin having unified several belts including the WBC, IBF and WBO titles. Saul Alvarez of Mexico and Billy Joe Saunders from Britain have also recently held titles in this weight class.
The heavyweight class is still the subject of much attention, of course. Recent years have seen this dominated by the stunningly powerful British fighter Tyson Fury. Like Muhammad Ali before him, Fury is a controversial figure due to his interviews outside of the ring, but there can be no doubting his explosive power once he pulls his gloves on. Other fighters want his crown though, like USA heavyweight Deontay Wilder.
Boxing governing bodies
There are four governing bodies in the world of boxing, each of which oversee a number of events and titles: the World Boxing Organization (WBO), the World Boxing Council (WBC), the World Boxing Association (WBA) and the International Boxing Federation (IBF). There are also national amateur and professional organizations in each country, as well as numerous local organizations.