Five of the Best Fights in Boston Sports History

Larry Bird vs. Dr. J, Jason Varitek vs. A-Rod, and more.

During Monday night's Celtics-Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, Kevin Garnett allegedly made a crack about Carmelo Anthony’s wife tasting like Honey Nut Cheerios. Anthony was so incensed that he reportedly attempted to take it off the court and confront Garnett outside the Boston locker room and by the Celtics bus. “It’s certain things you just don’t say to men,” Anthony later told reporters. “I felt like we crossed the line. But we’re both at an understanding right now.”

Alas, the fight never happened. But Boston athletes do have a long, illustrious history of brawling. Here are a few of the most memorable scraps. Obviously, this is a subjective list. If you don’t like it, we’ll be waiting by the bus.

Pedro Martinez vs. The World

Who in the late 1990s and early 2000s didn’t want to fight Pedro Martinez? The Don Zimmer incident from 2003 is probably the most memorable Pedro confrontation, but one from three years prior was even more stunning. On August 29, 2000, he drilled Tampa’s Gerald Williams (the game’s first batter), who took a few steps toward first base before charging the mound. That touched off a brawl, which led to the ejection of eight Devil Rays players. Oh, and that night, Martinez took a no-hitter into the bottom of the ninth inning and struck out 13.

“I don’t really care. I’ve achieved enough,” Martinez told reporters after the Red Sox won 8-0. “I’ve had enough achievement in my career. A no-hitter is not what’s going to dictate what kind of pitcher I am. I think my career is more interesting than one game.”

He’s the best.

Stan Jonathan vs. Pierre Bouchard

David Singer, who runs, personally recommended this one: On May 28, 1978, during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, Stan Jonathan obliterated Montreal Canadien Pierre Bouchard. The diminutive Bruins winger, an accomplished pugilist in his day, landed a series of furious punches before the significantly bigger Bouchard dropped to the ice. How bad was it? If you watch the video, you can hear the play-by-play announcer exclaim, “And we have blood all over the ice inside the blue line!”

Larry Bird vs. Julius Erving

In his Book of Basketball, Bill Simmons said this fight, which as a kid he watched in person at the Boston Garden, on January 9, 1984, was “like Santa Claus throwing down with the Easter Bunny.” The brawl gave us this amazing photo of Larry Bird and Dr. J choking each other. Also, on the telecast, you can hear Tommy Heinsohn trying to blame everything on referee Dick Bavetta.

Will McDonough vs. Raymond Clayborn

A reporter beat up an NFL player? Really? It happened on September 9, 1979, after the Patriots blew out the Jets. In 2008, Bruce Allen over at Boston Sports Media Watch revisited the incident:

After the game, [cornerback Raymond] Clayborn was snapping at writers and bumping into them on purpose. Legendary writer Will McDonough of The Boston Globe took exception, saying “Hey, Ray, there’s no need to do that.”

Clayborn reacted by jabbing his finger in McDonough’s face, poking him in the eye. McDonough then punched him twice, knocking him into a laundry cart and taking down a number of people with him.

The story immediately went into legend, with some accounts stating that McDonough had knocked Clayborn “out cold” with a single punch, and others describing more of a scuffle between the two.

According to Mark Jurkowitz’s 1994 profile of the late McDonough, the Globie “cold-cocked” Clayborn “with a three-punch combo after the player threatened to ‘bury’ the journalist.”

Jason Varitek vs. Alex Rodriguez

On July 24, 2004, the afternoon Jason Varitek punched Alex Rodriguez in the face, I was in my car listening to the Red Sox-Yankees game on the radio. Bronson Arroyo hit A-Rod with a pitch, and I remember announcer Joe Castiglione’s voice getting higher and higher. I can’t find the call, but I recall him saying something like, “They’re in a fight!” I got to at TV just in time to see Boston win on Bill Mueller’s walk-off home run.