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Muhammad Ali vs. Joe FrazierAli-Frazier is synonymous with boxing rivalries. They met three times, the first two going the 15-round distance in brutal fashion while the third was only stopped after Frazier's corner would not let him go out for the final round. Frazier's victory in the first bout was Ali's first career loss, one Ali would avenge in the second fight. The third fight, the "Thrilla in Manila", was one of those rare fights that actually exceeded the hype and gave Ali the victory in the rubber match between these two legends.
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Magic Johnson vs. Larry BirdThis one started in college, when Bird's Indiana State Sycamores met Magic's Michigan State Spartans in the 1979 NCAA title game. As fate would have it, Bird and Magic would land on the two most storied franchises in the NBA, the Celtics and Lakers. The rivalry continued to flourish with Bird's Celtics claiming three NBA titles while Magic's Lakers won five. Johnson and the Lakers took two of the three head-to-head finals matchups.
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John McEnroe vs. Bjorn BorgMcEnroe appears twice on this list as much due to his bad boy emotional persona as his dominant tennis play. Borg was McEnroe's opposite in temperiment but his equal in skill, as the two split their 14 head to head meetings at 7 apiece. This rivalry was cut short by Borg's surprising decision to retire at age 26, but before that McEnroe managed to end Borg's streak of 5 straight Wimbledon titles with a victory in the 1981 final. This snapped Borg's 41 match winning streak and avenged McEnroe's loss in the '80 final, which Borg won in a 8-6 final set after a 18-16 fourth set.
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Wilt Chamberlain vs. Bill RussellProbably the best "big man" rivalry in basketball history. Russell's Celtics won 11 titles while Wilt managed just 1 with the Lakers, but the two dominated an era of basketball history. Russell was known as a great shot-blocker and rebounder, while Chamberlain was perhaps the leagues best offensive player. All of this combined to form a legendary matchup for the ages whenever the two met.
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Chris Evert vs. Martina NavratilovaEvert and Navratilova dominated the women's tennis scene in the 70's and 80's, and met an amazing 80 times with Navratilova holding a slight 43-37 edge. 60 of their 80 meetings were in tournament finals and 14 were Grand Slam events. Though the two battled fiercely, they were friends who even teamed together as partners to win the 1975 French Open and 1976 Wimbledon doubles titles.
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