The 10 greatest ever Boxing Monthly covers
Andrew Harrison counts down the 10 greatest ever covers in Boxing Monthly's proud 26-year history. From Hopkins to Hamed to the heavyweights and more. We rewind the last quarter of the century to remember the moments that mattered as the pages turned in boxing history. Every cover is a poignant snapshot in the chronology of the sport we love and evokes the highs and lows, rises and falls of a generation of fighters great and good. Harrison describes young cover star Hamed as "visibly seething with the ambition that would eventually consume him – which served as most people’s initial handshake with a mercurial nineteen-year-old who would help to define the 90s. Chris Bevan’s pic personified the enfant terrible of British boxing: the leopard-skin shorts; the ‘I told you so’ glower and the first hint of a sneer flickering across his lips. Timeless."
10. Bernard Hopkins – October 2014
A nod to the classic Kelly Pavlik vs Jermain Taylor promotional poster (both former opponents of Hopkins coincidentally), this cleverly executed cover celebrated 49-year-old Bernard Hopkins’ ability to endure. Ahead of his high-risk match with Russian bone-breaker Sergey Kovalev, Editor Graham Houston described Hopkins as “a marvel of the ring, a unique fighter whose like surely will never be seen again.”
9. Oscar De la Hoya & Floyd Mayweather – April 2007
Two of the sport’s biggest stars over the past twenty five years combined for a memorable image and a record-breaking fight. A changing of the guard, Oscar is depicted as the elder statesman - serious yet pensive; Floyd appeared flash, brash and utterly confident. Even a superfluous snap of Ireland’s Bernard Dunne couldn’t dent the design’s overall impact (the Dubliner drowning, fortunately, in Mayweather’s busy tracksuit). Graham Houston, as is so often the case, called it perfectly in his preview.
8. John Murray – July 2010
Chris Bevan’s dramatic image of Levenshulme lightweight John Murray achieves every publisher’s dream in virtually punching its way off stockist’s shelves. Steve Lillis visited Joe Gallagher’s gym in Manchester to catch up with a frustrated pressure-fighter Murray who would go on to engage in stirring encounters with the likes of Kevin Mitchell, Brandon Rios and Anthony Crolla, without ever quite managing to live up to the questions posed on the cover.
7. Bert Cooper & Evander Holyfield – January 1992
The second action shot to make the list features (then) heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield ploughing into pugnacious 32-to-1 underdog Bert Cooper during the closing stages of a tumultuous championship fight in Atlanta. Former Joe Frazier protégé Cooper almost sprang a monumental upset in the third round before Holyfield roared back gallantly to restore order, leaving Eric Bottjer to open his report with: “The heavyweight crown is still perched atop Evander Holyfield’s head, but it’s precariously tipped to one side.”
6. Riddick Bowe – December 1992
Bowe had fought the fight of his life to dethrone heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield in Vegas. Free from clutter (aside from a play on Nike’s “Bo Knows” advertising slogan from 1989), the poignant cover shot is allowed to speak for itself. It was the fulfilment of a dream; the highpoint of a young man’s life that, almost inevitably, would spiral out of control.
5. Lennox Lewis – November 1994
The freeze-frame of Lennox Lewis falling from grace – his face a mixture of bewilderment and indignation – signified not only the end of Lewis’s first title reign at the hands of Oliver McCall, it also encapsulated the general mood of Lewis’s supporters, who’d been left floored by the result. Glyn Leach carried out the autopsy on a watershed moment for British boxing.
4. Razor Ruddock & Mike Tyson – August 1991
Action-shots have afforded BM some iconic covers down the years; however, this remains the best of them. As Canadian powerhouse Ruddock doubled Tyson over with a howitzer-like left to his beltline, the magazine pondered whether the once imperious American (who’d thumped out a gruelling repeat victory over Ruddock that summer) was already over the hill at just twenty five. A visceral image that evokes scenes from ancient mythology, the headline is a classic.
3. Naseem Hamed – January 1994
Photographer Chris Bevan’s cover shot of Hamed – visibly seething with the ambition that would eventually consume him – served as most people’s initial handshake with a mercurial nineteen-year-old who would help to define the 90s. Bevan’s pic personified the enfant terrible of British boxing: the leopard-skin shorts; the ‘I told you so’ glower and the first hint of a sneer flickering across his lips. Timeless.
2. Lennox Lewis – September 1993
Glyn Leach had the cover story: a big fight preview of the historic heavyweight title clash between Londoners Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno, which would unfold on a cold night in Cardiff. Apart from the pleasing design aesthetic, the image - Lewis juxtaposed against a Union Jack – symbolised Lennox’s ongoing battle for acceptance from a British public that respected him, yet loved “True Brit” Bruno.
1. Mike Tyson - December 1995
Tyson remains the undisputed champion of front covers – BM’s most enduring and bankable star throughout its 26-year lifespan. Something of a retread of the mag’s maiden issue – a stark chiaroscuro portrait of boxing’s ultimate ogre – this memorable design boasts an improved composition allied to an almost too-perfect main cover line. This remains the benchmark – a truly iconic cover that captured Tyson’s mystique.