Bantamweight World Champions & Their Championship Fights (118lbs)
Following Memphis Pal Moore’s defeat by Jimmy Wilde on 17 July 1919 at 116lbs all title fights in the weight class settled down at 118lbs. The bantamweight division had been in operation since gloves were introduced at varying weights, but in the last few years had been seen as either 116 or 118lbs, and at this moment Pete Herman was considered to be the best man at 118lbs in the world having beaten Kid Williams at that weight on 9 January 1917. He had gone on to defend that claim against Sammy Sandow, Harry Kabakoff, Jabez ‘Red Head’ White, Dutch Brandt, Harry Coulin, Earl Puryear, Frankie Burns, Young Solberg, Johnny Ertle and Dick Griffin. Strong on the inside and a tough competitor who was both skilful and hit hard, Herman added real quality to the division. With 102 bouts under his belt, made up of 44 wins, nine draws, eight defeats and 41 no-decisions, he had reversed the only stoppage suffered when defeating Burns and had beaten other men such as Johnny Rosner, Eddie Campi, Johnny Eggers (2), Al Shubert, Young Zulu Kid and Roy Moore, all top men. In short, he had mopped up the division.
15 August 1919. Pete Herman nd-l pts 10 Little Jackie Sharkey
Venue: The Auditorium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Walter Houlehan.
Fight Summary: Reported as a title fight at 118lbs, with both men inside the weight according to the Milwaukee Sentinel, the contest itself saw Herman fail to open up until the fifth round after being warned by the referee to provide more action. However, Herman was soon back in his shell, treating it as a sparring session. While Sharkey continually forced the action he lacked the power to harm the champion, being guilty of hitting with the open glove. Even taking that into account, Sharkey influenced most of attending press that he would have been a worthy winner had a decision been given.
19 August 1920. Pete Herman nd-w pts 10 Roy Moore
Venue: Stratton Park, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. Recognition: World.
Fight Summary: The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that Herman (116) retained his title after both men had come to the ring inside 118lbs. With much of the fight being contested at close quarters, Moore (116) hammering away to little effect, it was the champion’s cleverness that prevented any damage being done. Not only that, but Herman also landed some vicious blows, putting blood on Moore’s face in the third, and was deemed by the press to have won seven rounds, with two even. The fight had been moved from Denver when a permit for a 15-rounder had been declined.
The next man up for Herman, the hard-hitting Joe Lynch was a tough competitor with 95 contests under his belt, comprising 28 wins, four draws, two losses and 61 no-decision affairs. Tall for his weight, he had wins over Monte Attell, Eddie O’Keefe, Terry Martin, Memphis Pal Moore, Kid Williams, Dick Loadman, Tommy Noble, Dick Griffin, Kid Regan, Abe Goldstein, Johnny Ritchie and Jackie Sharkey.
22 December 1920. Joe Lynch w pts 15 Pete Herman
Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Patsy Haley.
Fight Summary: Even though he made a good start, Herman (116) was soon pegged back by Lynch (116), who quickly realised that he could hurt the champion with the right hand. He also used his longer reach effectively to take at least ten of the 15 rounds on his way to winning the title by a unanimous points decision. Although neither man took unnecessary risks, Herman was far too negative, boxing mainly in defensive mode and rarely showing his wares at close quarters where he was expected to be at his most effective. This was the first bantamweight title fight held under Walker Law.
28 February 1921. Joe Lynch nd-w pts 10 Young Montreal
Venue: Roller Palace Rink, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Recognition: World.
Fight Summary: With Montreal (118) having no trouble in reaching Lynch (117½) with his left jab, the opening seven rounds were relatively even. However, after the champion floored Montreal for 'eight' in the eighth he walked off with the next two sessions as well as the press decision.
A return with Pete Herman would be next for Lynch. In the seven months since he had lost his title, Herman had twice visited England to beat Jimmy Wilde and Jim Higgins, and in nine contests, of which he lost two to Young Montreal, he listed Willie Spencer, Young Solberg and Frankie Daly among his victims.
25 July 1921. Pete Herman w pts 15 Joe Lynch
Venue: Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Patsy Haley.
Fight Summary: In what was a skilful contest rather than an exciting one, Herman (116 ¾) regained his title when taking all but three of the rounds to fully justify the unanimous decision according to the New York Times. The paper went on to say that Herman fought as though his life depended on the result, Lynch (116¾) seemingly nonplussed as he took a steady, systematic beating. Working the body to drain the champion of his strength before targeting the head enabled Herman to take the sting from his rival’s heavy right hand and to dictate matters. There were no knockdowns, but Lynch was cut on the left eye in the 13th which further hindered his progress.
Booked to meet Roy Moore in a New York title defence on 23 September, Herman made it safely through a warm-up contest against Charles Ledoux before being left without a challenger when Moore pulled out on 12 September, having damaged his right hand. A day later it was announced that the current American flyweight title claimant, Johnny Buff, would be substituting for Moore. The 29-year-old Buff, who had started out in December 1917, had run up 70 contests, comprising 21 wins, one defeat and 48 no-decisions. Having beaten Mike Ertle, Frankie Mason, Frankie Daly (2), Abe Goldstein, Young Zulu Kid, Eddie O’Dowd and Charles Ledoux, he was no pushover.
23 September 1921. Johnny Buff w pts 15 Pete Herman
Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Patsy Haley.
Fight Summary: As the aggressor throughout, despite often rushing in regardless, Buff (113½) shook the harder-hitting Herman (117¾) free of the title when winning the unanimous decision of the judges. Herman, who was cut over the left eye in the second session, must have sensed that he was in danger of losing the championship when staging a fast finish in the final two rounds, but in reality it was too little too late. While neither man was ever in danger of being knocked out, although Buff hit the floor in the fourth before getting up without a count, Herman, who let several opportunities slip through his hands, was a big disappointment.
10 November 1921. Johnny Buff w pts 15 Little Jackie Sharkey
Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Patsy Haley.
Fight Summary: Only seven weeks after winning the title, Buff (114½) proved that he wanted to be seen as a fighting champion when risking his crown against a logical and dangerous opponent such as Sharkey (116½). In winning at least 11 of the 15 rounds to land the unanimous decision, Buff set a steady pace, never relented in his assaults, and generally outworked the weight-weakened Sharkey, whose only answer was to punch back wildly. Sharkey, who was knocked over in the second from a left swing to the jaw, was always competitive but lacked the speed to put his rival on the back foot.
15 December 1921. Johnny Buff nd-l pts 10 Memphis Pal Moore
Venue: National AC, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. Recognition: World.
Fight Summary: Having to win inside the distance if he wanted to land the title, Moore (116½) had the best of the contest, his two-handed swings and uppercuts causing Buff (113½) many problems, but the champion was never at risk from the former title claimant who often slapped and lacked real power. Regardless of whether Buff was in any danger or not, he was made to appear limited as Moore, cut on the head in the seventh round, continued to make life difficult for him with his jumping-and-bobbing-about tactics right up to the final bell.
The former champion, Joe Lynch, would be next for Buff. In the 12 months since he had been shorn of his title, Lynch had won and lost against Terry Martin, won and drawn against Phil O’Dowd, and beaten Patsy Wallace, Patsy Johnson and Jimmy Mendo.
10 July 1922. Joe Lynch w rsc 14 (15) Johnny Buff.
Venue: The Velodrome, Bronx, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Patsy Haley.
Fight Summary: Coming back to regain his old title Lynch (117¼) proved himself still to be a brilliant, brainy boxer with fine judgement, speed, stamina and, last but not least, a powerful puncher. It was his snappy and precise straight left that devoured Buff (113½) round after round and eventually set him up for an inside-the-distance defeat when the referee brought the contest to a halt after his corner threw the towel in after only 0.06 of the 14th had elapsed. At that stage, Buff, who had one-sidedly been beaten and had no chance of winning, was on the floor and doomed to defeat. Immediately following the contest both men were suspended by the NYSAC pending an enquiry into private financial arrangements between the pair. They were absolved of any wrong doing on 2 August.
21 August 1922. Joe Lynch w co 6 (15) Frankie Murray
Venue: Southern AC, Shreveport, Louisiana. Recognition: World. Referee: William Best
Fight Summary: In what was Shreveport’s first ever world title bout, with both men inside 118lbs, it was an exciting affair as both men went for it. Murray, who claimed to be the Canadian champion, was always looking to get one over on Lynch, and in the fourth a wild swing had the champion down for a count of ‘five’. Lynch soon put that behind him, however, before belting Murray to the floor for a count-out in the sixth.
24 November 1922. Joe Lynch w rsc 5 (12) Benny Schwartz
Venue: Memorial Hall, Springfield, Ohio, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Dr S. N. Scott.
Fight Summary: The local papers reported that although a permit had been issued by the boxing commission for the bout to be given world title status, if either fighter was thought to be not giving of his best the contest would be stopped and all gate monies refunded. The papers went on to state that both men were articled to make 118lbs or below. Putting on a championship display, Lynch showed excellent skills in dismantling Schwartz inside the scheduled distance. Apart from the opening session when he took the fight to Lynch, swinging wildly, the challenger was totally outclassed and outgeneralled as he began to be jabbed silly and set-up with body punches. Showing himself to be a master at infighting and distance, Lynch gradually picked up the pace, blasting Schwartz to the canvas with a right to the jaw in the third session before repeating the dose in the fourth. Coming out for the fifth, Schwartz, his left eye closed and lips swollen, looked a sorry state, and he was soon under pressure as Lynch beat him about the body and measured him with left jabs. The end was in sight, and after another right hand had decked Schwartz he was rescued by the referee after clambering to his feet at ‘nine’ in no position to defend himself.
30 November 1922. Joe Lynch nd-w pts 10 Frankie Daly
Venue: Tomlinson’s Hall, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Recognition: World.
Fight Summary: Reported by the Indianapolis Star as a title fight, with both men inside 118lbs the previous day, the champion proceeded to outbox Daly all the way, the championship never being in danger. A very average fighter who was nearly put out in the seventh and tenth rounds, Daly’s main attribute was in absorbing punishment. Apart from shaking up Lynch in the fourth with a right to the jaw he never had a look-in.
22 December 1922. Joe Lynch w pts 15 Midget Smith
Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: William McPartland.
Fight Summary: Jabbed at will and battered from pillar to post throughout, Smith (118), cut on the left eye early, showed himself to be as game as they come when taking his medicine and coming back for more. There was no doubting that Lynch (116¾) deserved the unanimous decision as it had been very one-sided, virtually every round going to the champion, but in the eyes of the crowd he should have finished the challenger off way before the verdict was announced.
Booked to defend his title against Joe Burman on 19 October 1923, Lynch, who withdrew after being supposedly injured in an accident just two days before the contest was due to take place, was decreed by the NYSAC to have forfeited his title. Although Abe Goldstein defeated Joe Burman on 19 October 1923 to win what was thought to be the NYSAC version of the world title, just eight days later it was unclear as to the true extent of Goldstein’s title status after the NYSAC stated that they had redrafted clause V11 to read: “Ring champions who decline to defend their titles in a decision contest within the sixth-month period specified by the revised Walker Law will be suspended until such time they agree to defend”. The announcement followed a meeting with Lynch’s physician on 23 October 1923 and an acceptance that the fighter had indeed been injured and unable to defend his title.
23 January 1924. Joe Lynch nd-w co 2 (10) Paddy Owens
Venue: The Coliseum, El Dorado, Arkansas, USA. Recognition: NBA/Lineal. Referee: Frank Foster.
Fight Summary: According to the El Dorado News-Times, with both men inside the championship weight Lynch’s title was on the line. Lynch (118) obviously had no intention of losing his championship on the road, the fight being short and sweet, and ended with Owens (116) being counted out in the second round having already been decked twice earlier in the session. Lynch’s challenger, who was reported in the local papers as 20-year-old Parky Owens from Boston, was almost certainly Paddy Owens, an experienced 26-year old from the same city.
After the recently reorganised New York State Athletic Commission had voted to wipe the slate clean of all suspensions and penalties imposed prior to 13 February 1924, they announced that Lynch would have to meet Abe Goldstein in his next defence. The more than capable Goldstein had put together 103 contests, comprising 57 wins, seven draws, seven defeats and 32 no-decision affairs. Among the men he had beaten were Mike Dundee, Patsy Wallace, Tommy Murray (2), Frankie Daly (4), Earl Puryear, Frankie Genaro, Wilbur Cohen (2), Danny Edwards (2) and Joe Burman for the NYSAC version of the title.
21 March 1924. Abe Goldstein w pts 15 Joe Lynch
Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jack O’Sullivan.
Fight Summary: In winning the title by a unanimous decision, Goldstein (117) boxed coolly and cleverly against a weight-weakened Lynch (117½), who was forced to take off nearly two pounds on the afternoon of the fight. It was all too much for the listless Lynch as he was outfought all the way, retreating steadily before the jabs and hooks, being on the verge of getting knocked out several times. Clearly at the end of his career, Lynch only won one of his next nine contests before retiring.
5 May 1924. Abe Goldstein nd-w pts 10 Clarence Rosen
Venue: Fair Ground Coliseum, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Harry Ertle.
Fight Summary: Winning the opening eight rounds by a wide margin, the champion displayed much class and a willingness to take the fight to Rosen (116½) before upping it in the last two sessions. With Rosen hitting back the fight took off as Goldstein (117) looked to end matters, and in the tenth he had his man over three times from heavy rights to the jaw. Showing plenty of courage and toughness Rosen made it up on each occasion and was fighting back hard at the final bell. Rosen finished with both eyes cut and swollen, a lump on his forehead, his nose damaged, but pride intact.
16 July 1924. Abe Goldstein w pts 15 Charles Ledoux
Venue: The Velodrome, Bronx, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Ed Purdy.
Fight Summary: Dropped in the eighth and 14th rounds, the badly marked-up challenger showed that he was only a shadow of the once top fighter he was when making such a poor showing and being in distress from the very first round. That Goldstein (116) was unable to put Ledoux (117¾) to sleep upset the crowd, but the Frenchman had only been stopped inside the distance once in 125 previous contests. On realising that it might be a long night it was hardly surprising that Goldstein depended on his boxing to land the unanimous decision.
8 September 1924. Abe Goldstein w pts 15 Tommy Ryan
Venue: Queensboro Stadium, Queens, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Patsy Haley.
Fight Summary: Boxing cautiously for the opening five rounds, Goldstein (116¾), despite being cut on the left eye in the second, got going to batter his way to a one-sided points win over the game Ryan (117), who went down to defeat on all three scorecards. With the challenger concentrating on the body, several times Goldstein had him on the verge of a kayo from right crosses. However, he was unable to find a finisher when often wild in his application.
Goldstein’s next challenger would be Eddie Martin, who despite losing in his second outing had put together 64 contests, comprising 60 wins, two draws and two defeats, and had victories over men like Charley Phil Rosenberg (2), Wilbur Cohen, Midget Smith, Bobby Wolgast and Johnny Curtin.
19 December 1924. Eddie Martin w pts 15 Abe Goldstein
Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Tom Sheridan.
Fight Summary: After 15 rounds of spectacular boxing all three judges voted for the tireless Martin (118), who although looking likely to lose inside the distance on occasion showed great courage and stamina to overcome the speed and defensive skills of Goldstein (117). Following the fight, on 31 December it was reported that the National Boxing Association (NBA) would not recognise Martin, who they saw as a synthetic champion despite him winning the title by right of succession.
Nicknamed ‘Cannonball’, Martin’s first NYSAC recognised defence would be against Charley Phil Rosenberg, who since turning pro in 1921 had an in-and-out record, winning just three of his first ten contests. With 23 wins, seven draws and 15 defeats on his tab, Rosenberg had drawn with Martin over ten rounds earlier in 1924 before running up ten victories, but was not really considered a threat.
20 March 1925. Charley Phil Rosenberg w pts 15 Eddie Martin
Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NY/Lineal. Referee: Patsy Haley.
Fight Summary: Amazingly, Rosenberg (116) took off 39lbs in a few weeks before surprising Martin (117) by winning the unanimous decision. Allowing the champion to make a reasonable start, and having taken a good look at him, Rosenberg pushed on in the fifth, with left jabs to the face and countering hooks to the body opening Martin up. Growing stronger as the fight progressed, the challenger began to control the action completely, and after Martin had run out of ideas there was only going to be one winner.
Although The Ring magazine continued to refer to Rosenberg as a ‘mythical’ champion, on 8 June the IBU followed the NBA in announcing that they recognised him as the title holder and expected him to defend against the best men available.
23 July 1925. Charley Phil Rosenberg w co 4 (15) Eddie Shea
Venue: The Velodrome, Bronx, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Patsy Haley.
Fight Summary: Having appeared to most onlookers as being a savage affair while it lasted, the NYSAC suspended Rosenberg (118) indefinitely and Shea (117¾) for life following rumours that the latter's life had been threatened unless he ‘threw’ the fight. The fight itself saw Shea going after the champion with both hands in the opening two rounds before he was dropped twice in the third, possibly the result of a sustained body attack that weakened him considerably. Although seriously used up, Shea charged out for the fourth, and following a blistering exchange two heavy rights to the jaw sent him crashing. When the count had reached five Shea's corner threw in the towel but was ignored by the referee who continued counting to ‘ten’, the finish coming on the 0.37 mark. Due to a suspicious fluctuation in the betting odds just before the fight many thought that this had been a fix. This was debunked by one newspaperman who reported: “If this was a fake, let us have more of them”. Controversy was never far away where Rosenberg was concerned, and during the proceeding weeks he had once more been forced to drastically reduce in weight, this time by 23lbs.
On 26 October 1926, following the failure to post a forfeit for a forthcoming title defence against Bud Taylor in Chicago, Illinois, the NBA stripped Rosenberg of their version of the championship, naming the latter as champion. Somewhat surprisingly, Rosenberg then forfeited his NY title on the scales in New York when weighing in at 122½lbs for a defence against Bushy Graham. With any number of claimants such as Bud Taylor, Teddy Baldock and Bushy Graham supported in some quarters, it was not until Panama Al Brown, who had won the NYSAC version of the world title when beating Gregorio Vidal on 18 June 1929 and had been recognised as champion by the NBA since 7 October 1929 that my version of the 'world' title was once again in good hands. Prior to putting his titles on the line when meeting Johnny Erickson, the 5’9” Brown had taken part in 75 contests (59 wins, six draws, seven defeats and three no-decision bouts) since turning pro in 1922. As a fast-moving fighter with hand-speed to match he made a difficult target for opponents, and with a solid jab and fair power he had beaten Willie LaMorte, Frankie Ash, Davey Abad, Dominick Petrone, Davey Adelman, Tommy Hughes, Edouard Mascart, Eugene Criqui and Gustave Humery, as well as Kid Francis and Domenico Bernasconi. Erickson, with 25 wins, eight draws, 20 defeats and two no-decision bouts on his record, was a strange choice for Brown’s first defence, having lost his previous eight contests, albeit against top class men.
8 February 1930. Panama Al Brown w disq 4 (15) Johnny Erickson
Venue: Olympia AC, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY. Referee: Jack Dorman.
Fight Summary: Warned for fouling the champion in the first two rounds, Erickson (117) was eventually thrown out by the referee at 2.40 of the fourth of an uneven contest after he landed two heavy left-hand drives to the body, both of which went low. Although Brown (116½), who had used his height-and-reach advantage to great effect, wanted to carry on, the official was having none of it, recognising that Erickson had no chance of winning by fair means.
Not fully recognised in Europe, it was only when Brown signed to meet France’s Eugene Huat that the IBU gave him champion status.
4 October 1930. Panama Al Brown w pts 15 Eugene Huat
Venue: Winter Velodrome, Paris, France. Recognition: World. Referee: Moss Deyong.
Fight Summary: Prior to the tenth round Huat (117¼) had been well outboxed, having failed to put Brown (117½) under enough pressure and allowing him too much room, but for the next two sessions he gave it everything before blowing up and struggling to the final bell. For the ungainly, gangling Brown it was a relatively easy defence, and he proved to be too good for the challenger, often playing a cat and mouse game with him while picking up the points. Despite not being at his best, the decision in Brown’s favour was unanimous.
25 August 1931. Panama Al Brown w pts 15 Pete Sanstol
Venue: The Forum, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: World. Referee: John W. Clinnin.
Fight Summary: Brown (117) once again unified the title on defeating Sanstol (117) by a split decision, but it was close. The press scorecards gave seven rounds to Brown, five to Sanstol, and three even. In the main, Brown used his greater reach, fancy footwork and powerful right hand to get in the ascendancy, while the ‘Blond Bullet’, who finished strongly, bobbed and weaved to get inside where he scored well. According to The Ring Record Book, Brown weighed 119lbs to Sanstol’s 118½, which would have made the contest an over-the-weight affair, but the Montreal Daily Star categorically stated that both men made the official weight. The weights reported are those shown in the New York Times.
27 October 1931. Panama Al Brown w pts 15 Eugene Huat
Venue: The Forum, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: World. Referee: George Rivet.
Fight Summary: Even though he allowed Huat (116¾) to make the running, Brown (117) was never extended in what became too one-sided to be even interesting, the champion consistently holding the former off with his long left-hand lead before cutting loose when the challenger broke through. Towards the end, Brown was treating the contest and Huat as he would a workout, and after virtually winning every round all three judges had no difficulty in finding the decision in his favour.
10 July 1932. Panama Al Brown w pts 15 Kid Francis
Venue: Bullring Circus, Marseilles, France. Recognition: World. Referee: Carlo Lomazzi.
Fight Summary: Showing his usual nonchalance, Brown (117½) easily avoided the challenger’s rushes early on before getting his left hand working. He also brought the right into play, vicious punches crashing on his rival’s jaw. However, Francis (117) remained in the fight, crouching and swaying under Brown’s guard, but the latter’s superiority was such that it was surprising when he began to hold and push. Even when Francis managed to get inside, despite lacking power all Brown could do was to stay out of harm's way before waking up in the seventh round to plaster the former with a variety of punches. Although Francis was game, always coming back for more, Brown’s accuracy and speed was prevalent through to the final bell, the result appearing a formality. Regardless of that, it was declared a no contest after certain members of the audience took away two of the judges' scorecards by force, both of whom had voted for Brown. Justice was finally served when the IBU awarded the unanimous decision to the champion the following day.
19 September 1932. Panama Al Brown w co 1 (15) Emile Pladner
Venue: The Coliseum, Toronto, Canada. Recognition: World. Referee: Lou Marsh.
Fight Summary: Making a fast start and giving Pladner (117) no time to settle, Brown (117½) put the challenger down from a right to the jaw. Back on his feet after taking a count of ‘six’ Pladner was again sent crashing from another heavy right, being counted out at 2.21 of the opening round.
19 March 1933. Panama Al Brown w pts 12 Domenico Bernasconi
Venue: Sports Palace, Milan, Italy. Recognition: World. Referee: Jack Hart.
Fight Summary: Although Brown (117½) was awarded seven rounds to Bernasconi’s three on the judges’ scorecards, with two even, it was not as straightforward as it appeared. In the fourth round, the champion was actually sent to his corner by the referee, who had apparently disqualified him. With the ring announcer not really understanding what had transpired, the secretary of the Italian Boxing Federation jumped into the ring and persuaded Hart to give Brown another chance as the Italians felt that winning the title by disqualification was not what they wanted. After discussions with the judges the fight got underway, and following the unanimous decision there were no protests forthcoming from Bernasconi (117½).
3 July 1933. Panama Al Brown w pts 15 Johnny King
Venue: King’s Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester, England. Recognition: World. Referee: Jack Dare.
Fight Summary: Knocked down in the second, third, fifth, seventh and eighth rounds from heavy counters, King (117¾) looked spent, but in the ninth session he found renewed strength to tear into Brown (117) with a vengeance. Subsequently, it was all King, despite him being momentarily knocked down again in the 11th. From there on all the champion did was to flagrantly hold his man throughout the rest of the contest on his way to an unpopular referee’s decision. There were many who thought that the elongated 5’11” Brown should have been disqualified, but their views fell on deaf ears.
Continuing to remain in Europe, and following the breakdown in negotiations for a proposed February defence against Speedy Dado in Paris, the Californian Boxing Commission eventually ran out of patience with Brown, stating that they would probably recognise the winner of a forthcoming State title fight between Dado and Young Tommy as being the world champion.
19 February 1934. Panama Al Brown w pts 15 Young Perez
Venue: Sports Palace, Paris, France. Recognition: IBU/NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Teodoro Mario.
Fight Summary: Unable to get to the champion, Perez (117) was outclassed, winning just two rounds, while Brown (117) appeared uninterested in a kayo win, merely being content to jab and move through to the final bell in order to collect the judges’ unanimous verdict. Even when Perez did manage to give it a go, especially in the fourth and ninth rounds, Brown quickly got back in charge, scoring plenty of points with monotonous regularity but doing little damage.
With Montreal wanting Brown to meet Sixto Escobar being followed by the news that the NYSAC and NBA would both recognise a fight between the winner and Salica as deciding the title, Brown was now only supported by the IBU.
1 November 1934. Panama Al Brown w co 10 (15) Young Perez
Venue: Belvedere Stadium, Tunis, Tunisia. Recognition: IBU/Lineal. Referee: Mario De Fante.
Fight Summary: As in their first fight, the champion merely adopted his usual tactics of pecking away with both hands at the shorter Perez (116). Still, the end came as a surprise when Perez suddenly went to his corner in the tenth complaining that Brown (116½) had butted him in the liver when to all and sundry it appeared that it was a heavy blow that landed just above the liver. When the referee ordered Perez to continue, the latter refused before being counted out.
The tough, uncompromising Baltasar Sangchilli would be Brown’s next challenger, having recently outpointed the latter in a non-title fight. Bringing to the ring a 77-fight record, which showed 57 wins, ten draws and ten defeats, Sangchilli had marked up wins over men such as Young Perez (2), Victor Ferrand (2) and Kid David.
1 June 1935. Baltasar Sangchilli w pts 15 Panama Al Brown
Venue: The Bullring, Valencia, Spain. Recognition: IBU/Lineal. Referee: Rene Schemann.
Fight Summary: Postponed from the previous week when torrential rain made it impossible for the fighters to start, Brown (117¾) suffered the most from the postponement due to weight-making problems, being only a shadow of his self on the night. Understandably weak, at no stage did the champion look likely to win, spending much of the time spoiling, while Sangchilli (118) fought with great gusto to become Spain’s first ever world champion on receiving the judges’ decision.
On beating Brown but not being accepted by the NBA as champion, Sangchilli was supported by The Ring magazine who saw him as the rightful world champion. Eventually, Sangchilli set sail for America in March 1936 with a view to meeting Sixto Escobar to decide the championship. With Escobar unavailable, Sangchilli won two warm-up fights before being matched against Tony Marino, who had recently shocked Lou Salica (w pts 10 at the Queensboro Stadium, Queens, NYC, New York on 2 June 1936). The brother of Tommy Ryan, a former bantamweight challenger, Marino had a patchy record of 23 wins, two draws and 11 defeats. However, he had beaten Frisco Grande, Joey Ross and Bobby Olivas, and had gone 12 unbeaten after turning pro in 1930. Extremely competitive, Marino would look to outwork Sangchilli.
29 June 1936. Tony Marino w co 14 (15) Baltasar Sangchilli
Venue: Dyckman Oval, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: Lineal.
Fight Summary: Although it was a contest that could not be given title billing as the NYSAC already supported Sixto Escobar as their title holder, it went ahead under championship conditions for the lineal title. Floored for ‘seven’ in the opening session was not the best of starts for Marino (115½), but showing plenty of good movement and ringcraft he kept out of harm’s way until the seventh when he was put through the ropes and cut over the right eye. Despite giving it a real go in the eighth he was dropped twice, the last count being for ‘nine’. Although Marino, behind on the cards, continued to stay in the fight he appeared to have punched himself out until a left hook to the body followed by a solid right to the jaw put Sangchilli (117½) down to be counted out at 1.43 of the 14th round.
Following his win over Sangchilli, the next man up for Marino was Sixto Escobar, who was recognised as champion by the NBA and the NYSAC, having defeated Lou Salica. Despite having a spotty record of 28 wins, two draws and 11 defeats since turning pro in 1930, Escobar had come good when beating men such as Pedro Ruiz, Bobby Leitham (2), Joey Archibald (2), Rodolfo Casanova, Eugene Huat and Pete Sanstol, the last three named for the Montreal version of the title. He had also won and lost to Simon Chavez.
31 August 1936. Sixto Escobar w rsc 13 (15) Tony Marino
Venue: Dyckman Oval, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Billy Cavanagh.
Fight Summary: Dropped five times in the second round from heavy right-hand smashes to the jaw, somehow Marino (115¼) kept going against all odds until the referee pulled him out of the contest during the interval following the 13th, with both of his eyes cut and blood pouring from nose injuries. While Escobar (117½) proved to be a fighting champion with the punch of mule this was the end of Marino’s world title aspirations. Just six fights later, on 30 January 1937, at Ridgewood Grove, Brooklyn, NYC, having collapsed after being beaten over eight rounds by Indian Quintana he died from a cerebral haemorrhage two days later.
13 October 1936. Sixto Escobar w co 1 (15) Indian Quintana
Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Arthur Donovan.
Fight Summary: The fight had hardly started when Escobar (118) landed a terrific right-hander on the challenger’s jaw, a punch that finished the contest there and then. Worryingly, Quintana (117½), who was counted out on the 1.49 mark, was in a coma for over an hour before he came round.
21 February 1937. Sixto Escobar w pts 15 Lou Salica
Venue: Escambron Beach Baseball Park, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Jack Dempsey.
Fight Summary: In what was Puerto Rico’s first world title fight, there was no let-up in the action as both boys went at it from start to finish like gamecocks. Although the unanimous decision favoured Escobar (117½), who suffered an injured right eye, there were no knockdowns, and the challenger, Salica (116¾), was always in the fight. There was never much between them, despite Salica taking the engagement at short notice.
Harry Jeffra, who would be Escobar’s next challenger, was a man who had twice outpointed him over ten rounds in non-title bouts. In 49 fights, Jeffra had won 45, drawn one and lost three, but apart from Lloyd Pine, Ruby Bradley and Escobar he had few well-known opponents on his record.
23 September 1937. Harry Jeffra w pts 15 Sixto Escobar
Venue: Polo Grounds, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Frank Fullam.
Fight Summary: Having already beaten Escobar (117¼) on points twice previously in non-title bouts, Jeffra (116½) used his left hand to perfection, jabbing and moving at speed to win the points while making himself a difficult target. With Escobar continually looking for an opening to land a knockout punch rather than keeping busy, the challenger, who it was thought would be weakened by weight-making, just kept going.
With a return fight against Escobar just around the corner Jeffra took in five non-title bouts in preparation, even losing to Panchito Villa with just seven weeks to go, while Escobar drew with Johnny DeFoe during the same period.
20 February 1938. Sixto Escobar w pts 15 Harry Jeffra
Venue: Escambron Beach Baseball Park, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Johnny McAvoy.
Fight Summary: Learning from his mistakes of their previous fight, from the eighth round onwards Escobar (117¾) forced the action to win the unanimous decision by a wide margin. Prior to then it had been an even contest, but once the challenger tasted victory following the effects of a terrific right-hand blow to Jeffra’s jaw in the eighth the end never looked far away. How Jeffra (117¾) made it to the final bell only he knew as he was dropped for three counts of 'nine', cut up around the right eye, and suffered a double dislocation of the jaw.
During an international boxing convention held in Rome, Italy, which was concluded on 20 April, the IBU agreed to recognise Escobar, not Panama Al Brown who had beaten Baltasar Sangchilli in a so-called title contest, as world champion.
2 April 1939. Sixto Escobar w pts 15 KO Morgan
Venue: Escambron Beach Baseball Park, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: World. Referee: Pablo Albanese.
Fight Summary: Over 15 hectic rounds, Morgan (117¾) proved to be as game as they come. Several times on the verge of being kayoed, especially in the tenth when he seemed all-in under a body attack, Morgan came back strongly to survive. There was no doubt that Escobar (118), who had the challenger down in the eighth, was a worthy winner of the unanimous decision, an analysis of the fight showing him to be a two-to-one victor over his opponent on clean, solid hits.
The Morgan fight virtually signalled the end for Escobar as a top-class fighting machine, losing three of his next four contests, and he eventually relinquished the title on 27 October due to weight-making difficulties following a ten-round points defeat at the hands of the 120lbs Tony Olivera. It was only when the NBA champion, Georgie Pace, defended his title against Lou Salica, who was seen by the NYSAC as their representative, that my version of the 'world' title was again at stake. A former champion, having held Californian, beating Pablo Dano, and NYSAC and NBA versions of the title, defeating Sixto Escobar, Salica had a great jab and was a clever all-round fighter who had a record of 49 wins, ten draws and nine defeats in a career that started in 1932. Prior to the contest, Pace had put together 11 consecutive wins and had been handed the NBA title on 2 November after beating Henry Hook. With a record showing 23 wins and eight defeats, Pace had actually lost seven of his initial 13 bouts.
4 March 1940. Georgie Pace drew 15 Lou Salica
Venue: Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada. Recognition: NBA/NY. Referee: Billy Burke.
Fight Summary: With the veteran Salica swarming two-handedly into the attack, most of the fans thought that he had done enough in what was a hard-fought contest for the vacant title, but all three judges disagreed when making it a draw. While all agreed it had been a close-run thing, those sitting ringside had a different perspective on who won, believing Pace’s telling counters gave him the edge. Having retained his title under the auspices of the NBA, and in an effort to help clear up the title mess, Pace (118) agreed to give Salica (118) a rematch later in the year, this time in New York. Interestingly, for the above contest, The Ring Record Book recorded that Pace came in over the weight at 118¼lbs, while the Toronto Daily Star reported that both men were spot on the championship weight.
With the two men matched in a return, once again the NYSAC, NBA and my version of the 'world' title were on the line. Since the above bout, Salica had drawn with Jackie Callura, while Pace had defeated Pablo Dano and Lawrence Gunn.
24 September 1940. Lou Salica w pts 15 Georgie Pace
Venue: The Coliseum, Bronx, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY. Referee: Eddie Joseph.
Fight Summary: Contesting the vacant title for the second time, the two men were initially wary of each other. However, following a slow start Salica (117½) gradually forged his way to the front over the last third, using steady two-handed body attacks interspersed with sharp rights to the head to decide matters. The counter-punching Pace (117½) had some successes, especially early on, when making Salica miss before picking him off with sharp lefts, but after being generally outworked the split points verdict went against him. There were no knockdowns.
2 December 1940. Lou Salica w rsc 3 (15) Small Montana
Venue: Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada. Recognition: NBA/NY. Referee: Billy Burke.
Fight Summary: Salica (118) soon got down to work, his second right-hand blow to the body flooring Montana (114), who was then decked a further ten times before being rescued by the referee at 1.30 in the third round. Surprisingly, in between the knockdowns the challenger outboxed Salica, making him miss badly. Following a post-fight investigation and X-rays, which showed no sign of fractured or broken ribs, the doctor advised that it was a torn muscle which had caused Montana’s downfall. As far as The Ring magazine was concerned it was only a portion of the title that Salica defended.
13 January 1941. Lou Salica w pts 15 Tommy Forte
Venue: The Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY. Referee: Irving Kutcher.
Scorecards: 7-6-2, 7-7-1, 7-7-1.
Fight Summary: In an exceedingly close contest, Salica (117½), fighting the last six rounds with his left eye closed shut, just about scraped home on a majority decision after a rough ride. Salica’s eye had been initially cut in the fourth, but showing the stuff that champions are made of he came through strongly over the last few rounds to take the play away from Forte (117½) with a furious attack that ultimately paid dividends.
Further to Little Dado ceasing to be seen as the champion by the Californian Boxing Commission following his defeat in the NBA eliminating series to David Kui Kong Young at The Stadium, Honolulu on 4 April 1941, Salica would be defending the world title next time around
25 April 1941. Lou Salica w pts 15 Lou Transparenti
Venue: The Coliseum, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Charlie Baum.
Fight Summary: This was yet another close call for Salica (117¼), who went behind over the first ten rounds before calling up all of his reservoirs of inner strength to come through over the last six sessions to take the unanimous decision. At one stage, the challenger, Transparenti (117¾), looked a certain winner, but having struggled to make the weight for the contest he began to tire rapidly, being all-in at the finish.
16 June 1941. Lou Salica w pts 15 Tommy Forte
Venue: Shibe Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Irving Kutcher.
Scorecards: 7-6-2, 9-6, 9-5-1.
Fight Summary: Defending his title for the fourth time, Salica (117¾) turned back the hard-hitting Forte (117¼) over 15 tough and bitterly fought rounds after all had seemed lost. With his eye closed tight midway during the contest, and behind on points going into the tenth round, he dissuaded the ringside doctor from pulling him out before coming back strongly to take the unanimous decision. In doing so, he went ahead 2-1 in what was the third meeting between the pair.
On 3 August 1942, following a wide ten-round points victory over Salica (119½) at catchweights at The Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii on 3 November 1941, the Hawaiian Territorial Boxing Commission (TBC) decided to recognise David Kui Kong Young (118) as world champion. Eventually, following four non-title contests in 1942 and 14 months without making a defence, Salica finally agreed to put what was left of his championship on the line against Manuel Ortiz. Prior to the agreement, Salica had been in danger of being stripped by the NBA. A pro since 1938, having been the American amateur flyweight champion in 1937, Ortiz was a two-fisted box-fighter and an adept counter puncher. Although he had lost on points 11 times and had drawn twice in 51 contests he had reversed several of them. And he had victories over Jackie Jurich, Panchito Villa, Rush Dalma, Joe Robleto, Carlos Chavez, Lou Transparenti, Tony Olivera, Little Pancho, Kenny Lindsay and Leonardo Lopez since a points defeat at the hands of Salica in 1939.
7 August 1942. Manuel Ortiz w pts 12 Lou Salica
Venue: Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: NBA/Lineal. Referee: Abe Roth.
Fight Summary: In a contest billed for the world title Salica (117) came out looking to impress himself on the challenger, but was soon on the receiving end despite Ortiz (116¼) being cut over the left eye in the opener. Whether it was on the inside or the outside Ortiz was the master, and although some of the rounds may have been close the unanimous decision in favour of the man from Corona, California was more than well deserved. Although recognised as a championship contest by the Californian Boxing Commission and the NBA, as it was not contested over 15 rounds the NYSAC refused to accept it as a title fight, while continuing to recognise the loser.
1 January 1943. Manuel Ortiz w pts 10 Kenny Lindsay
Venue: Civic Auditorium, Portland, Oregon, USA. Recognition: NBA/Lineal. Referee: Ralph Gruman.
Fight Summary: Finally getting a crack at the title, Lindsay (117½) gave Ortiz (117½) all the trouble he could handle in a fight that went to-and-fro. First one man and then the other would take the initiative, but it was the champion who came through with a late flurry over the last couple of rounds to take a unanimous decision.
27 January 1943. Manuel Ortiz w rsc 10 (15) George Freitas
Venue: Municipal Auditorium, Oakland, California, USA. Recognition: NBA/Lineal. Referee: Billy Burke.
Fight Summary: After making a bright start, Freitas (117¾) was outboxed from the third round onwards, Ortiz (117½) scoring with uppercuts, looping lefts, and short stiff rights to both head and body. From the sixth it would be just a matter of time, with the champion concentrating on the body, and after Freitas was cut on the right eye in the tenth the referee pulled him out before the bell starting the 11th.
10 March 1943. Manuel Ortiz w rsc 11 (15) Lou Salica
Venue: Municipal Auditorium, Oakland, California, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Billy Burke.
Fight Summary: Too good for the game Salica (118) for eight of the first ten rounds, Ortiz (117½) gave the challenger no rest, continually working him over. In the 11th, following a burst of body punches, Salica dropped to one knee exhausted, and after regaining his feet at the count of nine he was being pummelled unmercifully until rescued by the referee’s intervention.
By now the NYSAC recognised Ortiz as champion after Salica had failed to defend their version of the title for six months.
28 April 1943. Manuel Ortiz w co 6 (15) Lupe Cordoza
Venue: Will Rogers’ Coliseum, Fort Worth, Texas, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Sully Montgomery.
Fight Summary: Displaying more class and ability than the locals had witnessed in living memory, Ortiz (118) brushed the sad and sorry Cordoza (117) aside after getting on top right from the start. A fighting champion, Ortiz exhibited a classy left hand before a hard right to the body knocked all the stuffing out of Cordoza, who was counted out after 1.07 of the sixth.
26 May 1943. Manuel Ortiz w pts 15 Joe Robleto
Venue: Municipal Auditorium, Long Beach, California, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Benny Whitman.
Fight Summary: Although being credited with ten of the 15 rounds when winning the unanimous decision, it was anything but a walk in the park for Ortiz (118) who just could not put the challenger down. In fact, Robleto (117) forced the contest with Ortiz being content to counter until being cut over his eyes in the eighth. Fearing he might lose his title Ortiz picked up the pace, but it was only in the final couple of rounds that Robleto was totally subdued.
12 July 1943. Manuel Ortiz w rsc 7 (15) Joe Robleto
Venue: Civic Auditorium, Seattle, Washington, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Eddie Pinkman.
Fight Summary: Ortiz (117½) was in no mood to let this one go the distance, quickly getting down to business when looking to subdue Robleto (117) early on in what was a return contest. For three rounds the pair stood toe-to-toe, but following that it was all Ortiz. Having knocked the challenger down twice in the sixth with body blows and after hammering him all over the ring in the seventh the referee called it off on the 1.45 mark.
1 October 1943. Manuel Ortiz w co 4 (15) Leonardo Lopez
Venue: Legion Stadium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Abe Roth.
Fight Summary: Having weighed his man up in a non-title bout earlier, Ortiz (117¾) took the initiative from the opening bell, attacking relentlessly when dishing out punishment with left hooks to head and body, followed by heavy rights to the head. There was no way Lopez (116) could survive this indefinitely, and when a right to the jaw floored him as the third round ended his days were numbered. Coming out for the fourth, the challenger was set upon unmercifully before being counted out on the 2.40 mark, a heavy right to the body doing the damage.
23 November 1943. Manuel Ortiz w pts 15 Benny Goldberg
Venue: Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Mushy Callahan.
Scorecards: 91-73, 88-77, 91½-72½.
Fight Summary: Making his eighth title defence in 1943, Ortiz (117½) took time to get going, possibly because Goldberg (116½) was a counter-punching southpaw who knew his way around a ring at pace. However, in the sixth, the champion put his foot on the pedal to make it his fight from there on, as he ripped in punches to head and body without being able to drop the tough Goldberg. Somehow, the challenger survived to lose the unanimous decision, and despite taking some heavy wallops he would live to fight another day.
14 March 1944. Manuel Ortiz w pts 15 Ernesto Aguilar
Venue: Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Charley Randolph.
Scorecards: 83-82, 89-76, 87-78.
Fight Summary: Ortiz (118) came through one of his toughest defences when opposing the Mexican champion, Aguilar (116½), who stood in front of him all the way, often meeting him punch for punch. Credited with winning nine rounds, the champion paced himself well to get his nose in front but it was a real struggle, the southpaw challenger being cheered to the rafters at the final bell.
4 April 1944. Manuel Ortiz w pts 15 Tony Olivera
Venue: Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Reg Gilmore.
Scorecards: 86½-76½, 91-74, 91-77.
Fight Summary: Although starting slowly against the fast-moving Olivera (117½), the champion soon picked up the pace as he began to punch harder and more forcefully as the contest developed, while the tough Portuguese looked to keep him at bay with the jab. From the sixth round through to the finish Ortiz (117) concentrated on the body, but Olivera survived the attacks to come back with punches of his own before going down on a unanimous decision.
With David Kui Kong Young having lost the TBC version of the title and his conquerer, Rush Dalma, moving to a higher weight Ortiz's NBA/NY defence against Luis Castillo would be recognised as a world championship contest .
12 September 1944. Manuel Ortiz w rsc 4 (12) Luis Castillo
Venue: Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Mushy Callahan.
Fight Summary: A cracking contest while it lasted, Castillo (118) was no respecter of reputations, storming into Ortiz (118) from the opening bell with every intention of finishing it there and then. Following plenty of give-and-take action, the third round saw the champion picking his punches better, especially with the uppercut, and in the fourth a sizzling right hook opened up a dreadful cut on Castillo’s left eye which was so bad that at 2.30 of the round the referee brought the contest to a close.
14 November 1944. Manuel Ortiz w rsc 9 (15) Luis Castillo
Venue: Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Benny Whitman.
Fight Summary: Meeting where they left off Ortiz (117½) and Castillo (117) put on another thriller, the crowd going wild when the former was battered and dropped in the second round. With Ortiz coming out for the third as if nothing had occurred, for the next three sessions it was hammer and tongs all the way before he gained control in the sixth, flooring Castillo heavily and gradually beating him to a pulp. Castillo looked a pathetic sight when he came out for the ninth, his left eye closed and bleeding badly, and when he was dropped by a heavy right to the jaw the referee stopped the fight on the 2.06 mark so that the doctor could treat him immediately.
25 February 1946. Manuel Ortiz w co 13 (15) Luis Castillo
Venue: Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jack Downey.
Fight Summary: This was a thrilling toe-to-toe affair from start to finish. Boxing like a champion Ortiz (117½) had gained control by the fifth round, and using his left hand as a scoring weapon he punished the game Castillo (117½) badly thereafter. Although the fight ended when the challenger was counted out at 1.31 of the 13th following a heavy blow to the stomach, at that point in time, with both eyes swollen shut, he could barely see the punches coming.
25 May 1946. Manuel Ortiz w co 5 (15) Kenny Lindsay
Venue: Legion Stadium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Abe Roth.
Fight Summary: Warming to the task, Ortiz (118) floored Lindsay (117) at the end of the second round. Never letting up, after stalking Lindsay throughout the third and fourth sessions Ortiz quickly put him down for the full count 42 seconds into the fifth.
10 June 1946. Manuel Ortiz w co 11 (15) Jackie Jurich
Venue: Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Toby Irwin.
Fight Summary: Jurich (117¼) began well enough with excellent left-hand leads and footwork carrying him a long way, but he never looked like winning, being put down in the eighth before Ortiz (117½) battered him from pillar to post in the 11th prior to the finish. After knocking the challenger on to the lower rope for a short count Ortiz caught up with the now stationary Jurich, whacking him with a wicked left hook to the body before chopping rights and lefts to the jaw dropped him writhing in agony to be counted out with just two seconds of the round remaining.
On 16 December it was announced that Harold Dade, who was unranked and had been fighting as a featherweight, would be the next man up for Ortiz in three weeks time, having just beaten Joey Dolan (w pts 10 at the Auditorium, Portland, Oregon, USA on 13 December). Although he had lost once in 19 fights, he was a strange choice and brought a furious response from the top-ranked David Kui Kong Young.
6 January 1947. Harold Dade w pts 15 Manuel Ortiz
Venue: Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Billy Burke.
Scorecards: 87½-77½, 86-69, 86½-78½.
Fight Summary: Prior to the fight Dade (117¾) was not even rated in The Ring magazine’s top 100, but he shook the boxing world as a 10-1 underdog when winning the title by a unanimous decision. After losing eight pounds in two weeks, Ortiz (118) was but a shadow of his former self. Tired and worn out, especially in the latter rounds, Ortiz was outpaced and outpunched by the speedy two-handed box-fighter who had been instructed to set a fast pace from the off.
Following a ten-round points win over Speedy Cabanella in an overweight contest, Dade began preparing himself for the return fight with Ortiz, who spent his time making sure that he would be ready.
11 March 1947. Manuel Ortiz w pts 15 Harold Dade
Venue: Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Frankie Van.
Scorecards: 82½-81½, 83-81, 83-81.
Fight Summary: Much better prepared than he was in their previous contest, Ortiz (117½) threw the heavier and more telling punches, while Dade (117½) moved quickly around the ring using a speedy left jab and keeping up a fast pace. Although the champion landed more punches, many of them being mere flicks and counting for little on the scorecards, the judges were all in favour of Ortiz. However, the majority of the fans had it much closer than that. A champion for less than ten weeks, Dade soon moved back among the featherweight ranks, losing to Carlos Chavez for the Californian State title before bowing out in 1955 after failing to reach those dizzy heights again.
30 May 1947. Manuel Ortiz w pts 15 David Kui Kong Young
Venue: The Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii. Recognition: World. Referee: Willie Whittle.
Fight Summary: In what was the first fully recognised world title fight ever to be held on the Islands, Young (116¾) took an early lead but began to tire badly from the ninth, failing to win a round thereafter. The fight was marred by an unintentional foul when Ortiz (118lbs), down from a body punch clutching his groin at the end of the 13th, was given a regulation five-minute rest. Still unwilling to get off his stool at the end of the period, Ortiz was allowed another five minutes. However, after ten minutes of argument and uproar the officials demanded Ortiz to continue, the champion ultimately holding on to win by a split decision.
20 December 1947. Manuel Ortiz w pts 15 Tirso Del Rosario
Venue: Rizal Stadium, Manila, Philippines. Recognition: World. Referee: Willie Whittle.
Fight Summary: When Ortiz weighed in half a pound over the official limit, Del Rosario’s manager waived any forfeit as to allow the title to remain on the line. Down twice in the fourth round from left-rights to the jaw, Del Rosario (117¾), who finished with a badly swollen right cheekbone, looked as though he would be soon out of the fight. Regardless, he pluckily kept going, even fighting back strongly at times to gain the plaudits of the home crowd. For his part, Ortiz (118) was the master throughout, blocking, timing and hitting crisply to well-deserve the referee’s decision.
4 July 1948. Manuel Ortiz w co 8 (15) Memo Valero
Venue: Calafia Bullring, Mexicali, Mexico. Recognition: World.
Fight Summary: Starting slowly in the local bullring, Ortiz (117¾) dropped the opening two rounds before quickly solving the challenger’s style and scoring repeatedly with hard rights from the third onwards. In the fourth, Valero (116¾) was put down for a count of ‘eight’, but survived until the eighth when a right cross dropped him for the full count on the 1.32 mark. Having successfully defended his title close on 20 times Ortiz was beginning to feel the pace, and now weighing well above the weight class when involved in non-title fights it became more and more difficult for him to get down to 118lbs.
1 March 1949. Manuel Ortiz w pts 15 Dado Marino
Venue: The Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii. Recognition: World. Referee: Walter Cho.
Scorecards: 16-3, 13-1, 17-1.
Fight Summary: Even though he had drained himself yet again to make the weight, it was Ortiz (118) who ultimately turned out the stronger after five fairly equal rounds before going on to dominate the second half of the fight, his body punching having a marked effect on Marino (116½). The challenger had his best round in the fifth when he rocked Ortiz, but after that it was only the champion’s lack of power that kept him in the contest. Finishing cut and swollen around the face, Marino struggled through to the final bell to lose unanimously on points.
Following an announcement that Ortiz might retire due to weight-making difficulties, he changed his mind when agreeing to defend against the ninth-ranked Vic Toweel in South Africa. Toweel had turned pro after returning from the 1948 Olympic Games, having been eliminated in the first round, and apart from beating Rowan he had victories over Kalla Persson, Jimmy Webster, Tony Lombard (2) and Jackie Paterson. He had also defended his British Empire title against Fernando Gagnon. With the ability to throw non-stop batteries of punches without tiring, he had won the South African title in just his fourth contest and was on 13 straight wins.
31 May 1950. Vic Toweel w pts 15 Manuel Ortiz
Venue: Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa. Recognition: World. Referee: Willie Corner.
Fight Summary: From a big boxing family, Toweel had put together just 13 fights since turning pro in January 1949, but had won the South African title in his fourth bout and was world rated by November 1949. In one of the most exciting contests ever seen in South Africa, Toweel (116) was much too fast for Ortiz (117), who tried to get inside to sap the challenger’s strength but was effectively kept at bay by stabbing straight lefts and a variety of other blows. After round six the altitude began to get to Ortiz, and although making it to the final bell he barely showed, finishing tired and worn out. Having deservedly won the unanimous decision and the title, Toweel, despite being a light hitter, had proved to be a fighter who could be relied upon to throw punches all night rather like a human cyclone.
2 December 1950. Vic Toweel w rtd 10 (15) Danny O'Sullivan
Venue: Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa. Recognition: World. Referee: Ted Benjamin.
Fight Summary: The game O'Sullivan (117) took 14 counts and touched down on six other occasions before being forced to retire, a record number of knockdowns for any weight class in a world title fight. Bidding to win the title O’Sullivan’s punches merely bounced off Toweel (116½), while the champion’s well-picked blows repeatedly hurt, dazed and cut up the Englishman, who was ultimately retired by his corner at the end of the tenth round after giving his all.
17 November 1951. Vic Toweel w pts 15 Luis Romero
Venue: Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa. Recognition: World. Referee: Willie Smith.
Fight Summary: Although starting aggressively, Romero (117½) was soon being forced back by the strong Toweel (116½), who relentlessly drove his challenger two-fistedly before him round after round. The Spanish southpaw, who was dropped heavily in the final session, was always looking to work the body, having some occasional successes, especially with the left. But in the main he had his hands full just trying to keep Toweel off, the judges’ unanimous decision being a formality.
26 January 1952. Vic Toweel w pts 15 Peter Keenan
Venue: Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa. Recognition: World. Referee: Cyril Baynes.
Fight Summary: Keenan (117½) was expected to be the champion’s stiffest test to date, but he went the same way as the others when losing by a unanimous decision. The little Scot was unable to cope with the aggressive Toweel (116¾), who swarmed all over him from the start while walking through the punches to land blows from every conceivable angle. Cut over the left eye, Keenan was dropped four times, in what was reported as a one-sided battle, but held out until the final bell.
After taking time out to defend his South African featherweight title against Tony Lombard on 24 March, it was announced in early May that Toweel would be defending the title against Jimmy Carruthers, ranked at number two in The Ring magazine, on 4 October in Johannesburg. Meantime, Toweel took in three more non-title bouts, against two Paris-based Frenchmen, Theo Medina and Georges Mousse (2) before preparing for the Australian southpaw who arrived early in order to acclimatise. Unfortunately, only days before the fight was due to take place Toweel was found to be suffering from double vision, being ordered by the doctors that he should rest for a month at least. With the fight now rescheduled, Carruthers, who had already been in South Africa for six weeks, would just have to wait. A quarter-finalist in the 1948 Olympic Games, where he withdrew through injury, Carruthers had an awkward style to fathom, and with a powerful punch in both hands he was undefeated in 14 bouts, having beaten Bluey Wilkins, Elley Bennett, Luis Castillo and Taffy Hancock along the way.
15 November 1952. Jimmy Carruthers w co 1 (15) Vic Toweel
Venue: Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa. Recognition: World. Referee: Willie Smith.
Fight Summary: In one of the sport’s greatest shocks, Australia gained her first fully recognised world champion when Carruthers (116) knocked out Toweel (117¼) inside 139 seconds. Knowing that the champion was having problems making the weight the southpaw Carruthers tore into Toweel from the off, soon putting him down with a tremendous left hook. Somehow managing to rise, Toweel was subjected to a barrage of blows to head and body before sinking to the boards to be counted out.
21 March 1953. Jimmy Carruthers w co 10 (15) Vic Toweel
Venue: Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa. Recognition: World. Referee: Willie Smith.
Fight Summary: The enforced return match again saw Toweel (117½) outclassed, only this time it took Carruthers (118) ten rounds to knock the challenger out. Once a bundle of energy the weight-drained Toweel was unable to bother the Australian, and after round six he was there for the taking, a heavy right-left-right combination eventually putting him down for the count at 0.21 of the tenth.
13 November 1953. Jimmy Carruthers w pts 15 Pappy Gault
Venue: Sports Ground, Sydney, Australia. Recognition: World. Referee: Harry Mack.
Scorecards: 145-106, 150-106, 150-106.
Fight Summary: Taking part in the first world title fight in Australia since Tommy Burns v Jack Johnson in 1908, and using the three-judge scoring system for the first time, Carruthers (117½) won going away against Gault (117¾). Despite being cut over the left eye in the first round, the three-inch taller Carruthers was always in control, his southpaw leads followed up with long lefts to head and body bewildering the challenger who at no time appeared to have a chance of winning.
2 May 1954. Jimmy Carruthers w pts 12 Chamroen Songkitrat
Venue: National Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand. Recognition: World. Referee: Bill Henneberry
Fight Summary: Contested in a downpour, both boxers fought in bare feet in order to get a grip, and twice during the fight electric light bulbs exploded everywhere, showering the fighters with glass. There was little in it after six rounds but by the ninth Carruthers (117¼) was getting on top, his powerful left hooks giving Songkitrat (117¼) plenty to think about. However, cut over the right eye in the tenth the champion began to tire against the hard-punching Thai, being glad to hear the final bell upon which he was awarded the referee’s verdict that equated to a two-round margin. Henneberry, imported from Australia, was the only scoring official in the contest.
Responding to the announcement by Carruthers the day after the fight that he was retiring forthwith, the World Championship Committee eventually selected Robert Cohen and the former Muay Thai champion, Songkitrat, who had a record of six wins, two draws and two defeats since turning over, to contest the vacant world title after a defence of the former’s EBU title (that would have also involved the world championship) against Pierre Cossemyns fell through. The top-ranked Cohen had lost just once in 37 contests, a result that was quickly reversed, and had beaten men such as Theo Medina, Andre Valignat, Marice Sandeyron (2), Jean Sneyers, Jake Tuli, and most recently Mario D’Agata. A two-fisted, hard-hitting fighter, Cohen could also box in a controlled fashion if required.
19 September 1954. Robert Cohen w pts 15 Chamroen Songkitrat
Venue: Rajadamnern Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand. Recognition: World. Referee: Teddy Waltham.
Scorecards: 73½-70½, 73½-72½, 71½-72.
Fight Summary: In a close contest, Cohen (117¼), who finished with a damaged right hand and a cut over the right eye, just about deserved the split decision over the tough Songkitrat (117), having earlier failed to make the weight before being given two hours to get down to the required 118lbs. Showing his class, the French-Algerian scored well to head and body throughout, impressing with his punching power, and breaking the Thai’s nose in the seventh. Having given it his best shot once again Songkitrat had failed to win the title, but he had proved that he was a man to be reckoned with while putting his country on the boxing map.
Cohen forfeited NBA recognition on 23 December when he failed to engage Raton Macias within 90 days of his victory over Songkitrat.
3 September 1955. Robert Cohen drew 15 Willie Toweel
Venue: Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa. Recognition: EBU/NY/Lineal. Referee: Willie Lubbers.
Fight Summary: Down three times in the second round Toweel (117½) looked as though he would be beaten easily, but he came back well with the left jab to dictate the fight until being knocked down again in the tenth. At that point, getting his second wind, Cohen (117½) came back strongly to carry off the latter rounds. With two judges casting the fight even and the other judge giving it to Toweel, Cohen appeared lucky to come away with his title, admitting afterwards that he had fought the greater part of the contest with a fractured right thumb.
Signing up in March 1956 to defend his title against Mario D'Agata in June after the latter had defeated Little Cezar (w pts 10 at the Rizal Stadium, Manila, Philippines on 21 January) in an eliminator, Cohen got back into training at the end of April, having made the decision not to take in warm-up bouts in case of suffering further injuries. At this stage of his career, D’Agata had taken part in 48 contests, winning 42, drawing two and losing four since turning pro in 1950. With a solid defence and good movement he was a difficult man to beat, as Tino Cardinale, Gaetano Annaloro, Gianni Zuddas (2), Emile Chemama, Andre Valignat (2), Bobby Sinn, Billy Peacock and Cezar would testfy. D’Agata, the European champion, was also looking to avenge a narrow points defeat by Cohen two years earlier.
29 June 1956. Mario D'Agata w rtd 6 (15) Robert Cohen
Venue: Olympic Football Stadium, Rome, Italy. Recognition: EBU/NY/Lineal. Referee: Teddy Waltham.
Fight Summary: In command throughout, D’Agata (117¾), a deaf mute, took the fight to the champion, cut him over the left eye in the second, while generally roughing him up on his way to a surprise win. Making himself a difficult target D’Agata also outspeeded and outpunched Cohen (116¼), and it came as no surprise when the champion was knocked down in the sixth round by a left hook. Saved by the bell, the French-Algerian was wisely retired by his corner at the end of the session.
After taking in two non-title bouts after this one, there were high hopes of a deal being reached for D’Agata to meet Raton Macias. Indeed, it was reported at the end of December that arrangements for a D’Agata v Macias fight to take place in Los Angeles, California had almost been concluded, with the Mexican camp agreeing to a return in Rome if Macias won. However, with D’Agata being given the choice of the new French star, Alphonse Halimi, Billy Peacock and Macias, it was announced on 8 February 1957 that Halimi was the opponent, Paris, France the venue, and 1 April the date. Halimi, who was unbeaten in 18 starts and had showed himself to be a smooth operator with solid punching power, had defeated Peacock and Tanny Campo, both international-class fighters, but had yet to be really tested.
1 April 1957. Alphonse Halimi w pts 15 Mario D'Agata
Venue: Sports Palace, Paris, France. Recognition: EBU/NY/Lineal. Referee: Philippe De Becker.
Fight Summary: During the third round the lighting apparatus above the ring burst into flames, the deaf-mute, D'Agata (117½), intimating with great difficulty that he had suffered burns while Halimi (116¼) kept fighting. Following a delay of 15 minutes the fight went ahead, and although the champion's manager protested with great vigour that a no contest be declared he was overruled by the officials in charge. From then on there was only one man in it, the tough D’Agata being outboxed round after round by the skilful Frenchman. With Halimi, who had too much of everything for D’Agata, being barely tested it was no surprise when the referee raised his arm at the final bell.
When D'Agata was matched against the NBA champion, Raton Macias, the vacant world title would be on the line.
6 November 1957. Alphonse Halimi w pts 15 Raton Macias
Venue: Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Mushy Callahan.
Scorecards: 148-141, 147-136, 141-144.
Fight Summary: Settling down quickly, Halimi (117¼) crowded Macias (118) out, giving him no room to work and generally taking the play away from the crowd favourite. At the end of the sixth round, having achieved what he set out to do, Halimi then set about outboxing the NBA champion, Macias, keeping him at bay with an excellent left jab to generally control the contest from thereon in to win the split decision and unify the title.
Having agreed time out with the authorities to tour with the Amar Circus, when Halimi got back into action in October 1958 he eventually accepted an offer to meet the winner of Jose Becerra v Mario D'Agata on 5 February 1959 at the Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles. It should have been Piero Rollo meeting Becerra, the Italian having just taken D'Agata’s European title. However, Rollo, who had broken his right hand, was temporarily out of action, leaving the loser to substitute for him in what was effectively a world title eliminator. Becerra beat D’Agata, who retired at the end of the tenth round, and a match against Halimi was made for May 1959 before being put back for a variety of reasons. After turning pro in 1953, Becerra had won 58 of 64 contests, defeating German Ohm, Manuel Armenteros, Memo Sanchez, Joe Medel (three times), Dwight Hawkins, Gaetano Annaloro, Little Cezar and Billy Peacock, along with D’Agata. A relentless two-handed fighter, Becerra had beaten his last 11 opponents inside the distance.
8 July 1959. Jose Becerra w co 8 (15) Alphonse Halimi
Venue: Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Tommy Hart.
Fight Summary: Defending his title, Halimi (117) made a good start before Becerra (117½) took up the running in round three to make a real fight of it, neither man giving anything away. The pace was terrific and could not be sustained. In the eighth, Becerra hurt Halimi with a hard right, a punch which triggered off two more heavy blows to the head that floored the champion for a count of 'four'. On Halimi getting up Becerra jumped on him, and another left hook followed by a crunching right to the head dropped the Frenchman for the full count on the 2.02 mark.
4 February 1960. Jose Becerra w co 9 (15) Alphonse Halimi
Venue: Municipal Coliseum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Tommy Hart.
Fight Summary: In a return match between the pair, Halimi (117½), the challenger, was out in front with his better boxing before being caught with a great left hook from Becerra (118), which put him flat on his back to be counted out at 0.48 of the ninth round.
23 May 1960. Jose Becerra w pts 15 Kenji Yonekura
Venue: Korakuen Stadium, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: World. Referee: Ramon Berumen.
Scorecards: 147-141, 146-142, 143-148.
Fight Summary: Considerably outreached, Becerra (117½) was consistently caught by lefts and rights to the body, and for long periods he was unable to get to close quarters where he could settle down to work. However, despite being cut on the right eye in the ninth round, the champion chased the retreating Yonekura (117½) around the ring to just about deserve the split decision, if only for his aggression, with one of the judges considering Becerra to have been outboxed.
Becerra announced his retirement immediately after being knocked out inside eight rounds of a non-title bout by his compatriot, Eloy Sanchez, at the Monumental Bullring, Juarez, Mexico on 30 August. The next time there would be a recognised world champion came when the second-ranked Johnny Caldwell, the EBU champion, was matched against the top-rated Eder Jofre, the NBA champion. Caldwell, who was on 25 straight wins, had come to the front when twice beating Alphonse Halimi for the EBU version of the title, but prior to that he was seen as a flyweight. His opponent, Jofre, had been going great guns since turning pro in 1957, having run up 41 wins and three draws. With great reflexes, countering skill and an ability to adapt to whatever was in front of him, Jofre also had dynamite in both hands. Having won the vacant NBA title when beating Eloy Sanchez, he had successfully defended it against Piero Rollo and Ramon Arias, thus adding to his list of previous victims that included Ernesto Miranda, Gianni Zuddas, Danny Kid, Joe Medel, Ricardo Moreno, Billy Peacock and Sadao Yaoita.
18 January 1962. Eder Jofre w rsc 10 (15) Johnny Caldwell
Venue: Ibirapuera Stadium, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Recognition: World. Referee: Willie Pep.
Fight Summary: By becoming the undisputed champion Jofre (117½) proved to be the best man in the division, and although Caldwell (118) boxed well the Brazilian’s power was just too much for him to handle. Put down in the fifth by a heavy body punch it was just a matter of time for Caldwell from then on. After Caldwell had got up in the tenth from another count, following a further burst of solid blows the referee halted the contest when his manager jumped into the ring, the finish being timed at 2.45.
4 May 1962. Eder Jofre w rsc 10 (15) Herman Marques
Venue: Cow Palace, Daly City, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Fred Apostoli.
Fight Summary: Despite putting up a great fight, and being ahead on points coming into the tenth round, with Jofre (117¾) having had no real answer to his accurate jabs Marques (118) decided to go for a quick win before coming unstuck. In the tenth when Marques tried to follow up his early successes he was exposed when a left-right had him down for 'eight'. On rising, the challenger was immediately floored again, and with 45 seconds of the session remaining the referee called it off.
11 September 1962. Eder Jofre w co 6 (15) Joe Medel
Venue: Ibirapuera Stadium, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Recognition: World. Referee: Joaquin Arvas.
Fight Summary: Jofre (117½) soon had the challenger’s measure, quickly finding the range to pepper Medel (117) at will before getting down to business. Floored at the end of the fifth, a right to the jaw decked the Mexican again a round later, and unable to get up he was counted out on the 1.30 mark.
4 April 1963. Eder Jofre w co 3 (15) Katsutoshi Aoki
Venue: Kuramae Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: World. Referee: Antonio Ziravello.
Fight Summary: With Aoki (117¾) going well early on there were no real signs of what was about to happen. However, all that changed in the third round when the challenger was put down heavily from a left hook to the jaw after belting Jofre (118) around the ring while looking to be on the verge of an upset win. Getting up at five, Aoki was a sitting target, being quickly put under the cosh before a crunching left to the body saw him counted out after 2.12 of the session had expired.
18 May 1963. Eder Jofre w rtd 10 (15) Johnny Jamito
Venue: Araneta Coliseum, Manila, Philippines. Recognition: World. Referee: Antonio Ziravello.
Fight Summary: Regardless that he was having increasing difficulty making the weight Jofre (117¾) was too good for Jamito (117½) and after biding his time in the early rounds he opened up in the ninth until sustained bursts of heavy hitting eventually saw the challenger crumble. Rescued by the bell at the end of the tenth session, having been smashed to the floor and looking a sorry sight, Jamito was retired by his corner before the bell rang to start the 11th.
27 November 1964. Eder Jofre w co 7 (15) Bernardo Caraballo
Venue: The Bullring, Bogota, Colombia. Recognition: World. Referee: Barney Ross.
Fight Summary: In putting up a desperate battle against Jofre (117¾), the Colombian challenger, who had won 41 of 43 fights, gave it everything before finally succumbing in the seventh having struggled to make the weight. This was the unbeaten Jofre’s 49th fight, and after connecting with two hard rights and a crashing left to the face Caraballo (117¾) was counted out at 2.50 of the session.
Having lost his world flyweight title, Fighting Harada came back strongly as a bantam to land the number one spot and become Jofre’s next challenger after beating Ray Asis, Oscar Reyes and Katsutoshi Aoki. At this stage of his career he’d had 41 fights, winning 38 and losing three.
18 May 1965. Fighting Harada w pts 15 Eder Jofre
Venue: Aichi Prefectural Gym, Nagoya, Japan. Recognition: World. Referee: Barney Ross.
Scorecards: 71-69, 72-70, 69-72.
Fight Summary: Attacking non-stop, mainly with head punches, the stocky Harada (117¾) created a sensation when outscoring Jofre (118) to win the title and add bantam honours to his world championship achievements at flyweight. Try as he might, Jofre, who made a slow start, could not make an impression on the challenger, being generally outworked. He also was not given the time and room to get most of his big punches off, and when he did Harada took them without flinching.
30 November 1965. Fighting Harada w pts 15 Alan Rudkin
Venue: Martial Arts Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: World. Referee: Ko Toyama.
Scorecards: 74-66, 74-65, 72-70.
Fight Summary: Counted over in the first round despite it really being a slip, Rudkin (117¼) proved to be a game challenger who did well but just could not match the aggressive all-action Harada (117½) in terms of throwing leather. Having had to reduce his weight by some 18 pounds it had been thought that Harada would struggle the longer the fight lasted, but there were never any signs of that happening, Rudkin’s refined straight punches ultimately not being up to the job in hand.
31 May 1966. Fighting Harada w pts 15 Eder Jofre
Venue: Tokyo, Martial Arts Hall, Japan. Recognition: World. Referee: Nicholas Pope.
Scorecards: 69-68, 71-68, 71-69.
Fight Summary: Starting in whirlwind fashion Harada (118) merely carried on where he left off in their previous battle, giving Jofre (116) no time to relax. With his high work-rate, Harada bombarded the former champion without let up to have him swaying and badly cut over the left eye in the latter stages. Outspeeded and outgamed, Jofre was unable to stop his man crowding him to the ropes where most of the damage was done. At the final bell Jofre was exhausted.
3 January 1967. Fighting Harada w pts 15 Joe Medel
Venue: Aichi Prefectural Gym Nagoya, Japan. Recognition: World. Referee: Masao Kato.
Scorecards: 76-67, 73-67, 72-68.
Fight Summary: Never letting up for the entire duration of the bout, Harada (117¾) successfully avenged an earlier defeat at the hands of the challenger, Medel (117¼), when pounding out a unanimous points victory. Although Medel, cut over the right eye and rocked several times, was still dangerous it was the constant attention to his body that slowed him down and eventually made him a stationary target for the champion’s fists.
4 July 1967. Fighting Harada w pts 15 Bernardo Caraballo
Venue: Martial Arts Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: World. Referee: Ko Toyama.
Scorecards: 72-66, 71-68, 72-68.
Fight Summary: Decked in the first round, the challenger, Caraballo (118), who was also cut over the left eye in the fifth, survived the heavy artillery to stay with Harada (118) before being worn down in the latter stages. Harada, who had to take off 36 pounds in three months, was cut over the left eye himself in the eighth but still had enough to keep going.
Although it was felt he had finally outgrown the weight class, Harada’s next opponent would be Lionel Rose, an aborigine who had taken the division by storm during the past 18 months with victories over some of the division’s leading men. With a record showing 27 wins and two losses, Rose was a hurtful puncher despite having only two knockouts to his name, relying on work-rate and a wearing-down process to see off his opponents.
27 February 1968. Lionel Rose w pts 15 Fighting Harada
Venue: Martial Arts Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: World. Referee: Ko Toyama.
Scorecards: 72-71, 72-69, 72-70.
Fight Summary: Once again Harada (117¾) had to lose surplus weight, this time 20 pounds, and it spelt the end for him as a bantam when he went down on points. The hard-hitting Rose (117¾) turned out to be an excellent boxer, who cleverly fought on the back foot to tire the champion out before punishing him in the latter stages.
2 July 1968. Lionel Rose w pts 15 Takao Sakurai
Venue: Martial Arts Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: World. Referee: Nicholas Pope.
Scorecards: 72-71, 72-70, 72-72.
Fight Summary: Shocked by a second-round knockdown Rose (118) bounced back aggressively to take the fight to the southpaw challenger, there being several good exchanges until the later rounds when Sakurai (117½) decided to backpedal and score points off the back foot. There was not a great deal in it, but Rose, who was always going forward, deserved the majority decision for making the fight.
6 December 1968. Lionel Rose w pts 15 Chucho Castillo
Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Dick Young.
Scorecards: 7-6, 7-6, 7-9.
Fight Summary: Keeping his crown on a split decision, Rose (118) cagily boxed his way through the early stages, being one move ahead of his dangerous challenger until heavily floored in the tenth round. From then on, Rose was ultra-careful, while Castillo (117) went all out for victory without success. The verdict was followed by a riot after the mainly Latin crowd thought their man had won on aggression alone.
8 March 1969. Lionel Rose w pts 15 Alan Rudkin
Venue: Kooyong Tennis Courts, Melbourne, Australia. Recognition: World. Referee: Vic Patrick.
Scorecards: 75-60, 70-63, 69-70.
Fight Summary: Despite breaking a finger and severely bruising his wrist in the eighth round, Rose (118) was rarely troubled, his brilliant counter-boxing and all-round skill keeping him out of harm's way as the challenger, Rudkin (118), continually came forward. If the British boy, who proved as game as they come, had possessed a heavier punch he would certainly have been in with a shout.
The next challenger for Rose would be the hard-hitting Ruben Olivares, who was unbeaten in 53 starts with only two men going the distance. The match was made after Olivares stopped Takao Sakurai in the sixth round of a scheduled 12-round eliminator that was recognised by the Californian Boxing Commission. Other men who had been dispatched by Olivares included Salvatore Burruni, Octavio Gomez, Antoine Porcel, Joe Medel, Jose Bisbal and Carlos Zayas.
22 August 1969. Ruben Olivares w rsc 5 (15) Lionel Rose
Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Larry Rozadilla.
Fight Summary: Showing great power, with Olivares (118) having the champion’s number from the opening bell it was not long before he had made his mark, Rose (118) being put down in the second round from a left-right. By this time one could see that the fight would not be going the distance, as the Mexican cleverly mixed his punches up, and in the fifth Rose again hit the deck following a vicious right. On rising, a booming right hand sent him face down, the fight being immediately stopped on the 2.24 mark.
12 December 1969. Ruben Olivares w rsc 2 (15) Alan Rudkin
Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: John Thomas.
Fight Summary: Put down midway through the first round, Rudkin (118) bravely got up to take the fight to Olivares (117½). At the start of the second, Rudkin continued to make the running with partial success before being downed again by the ferocious-punching champion. Somehow he arose, but a left to the ribs followed by two rights to the jaw sent the game Liverpudlian to the floor to be rescued by the referee with 30 seconds remaining on the clock.
18 April 1970. Ruben Olivares w pts 15 Chucho Castillo
Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: George Latka.
Scorecards: 9-4, 10-5, 7-6.
Fight Summary: In what he called the toughest fight of his career, Olivares (117½), floored in the third round, was forced to go the full route for only the third time in 57 outings as Castillo (117½) went with him all the way despite always running second best. Although the challenger came with spirited rally in the 14th he was too far behind to turn things around, but he had proved that Olivares could not knock everyone over.
Mexico’s Castillo earned himself another crack at Olivares when beating Rogelio Lara (w pts 12 at the Inglewood Forum on 14 August) in an eliminating bout, which also carried the vacant North American Boxing Federation (NABF) title. At this point in time, the tough Castillo had put together 40 wins, two draws and nine losses in an up-and-down career.
16 October 1970. Chucho Castillo w rsc 14 (15) Ruben Olivares
Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Dick Young.
Fight Summary: Castillo (118) finally made it to the top of the pile when Olivares (118), who was initially cut over the left eye when accidentally butted in the first, was stopped at 2.37 of the penultimate round. Although the champion dominated most of the action up until the tenth, it was still punch for punch. However, as his eye damage worsened Castillo picked up the pace to score heavily. Eventually, in the 14th, the referee called a halt when it was obvious that Olivares could suffer lasting damage if he continued.
Following a winning warm-up contest for both men, Castillo was signed up by George Parnassus to meet Olivares in what was a third encounter between the pair.
2 April 1971. Ruben Olivares w pts 15 Chucho Castillo
Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: John Thomas.
Scorecards: 9-4, 12-4, 10-3.
Fight Summary: His eye damage from their first fight repaired, Olivares (117) got sweet revenge over his tough rival despite being dumped by a left hook in the sixth round. Once again both men went at it hammer and tongs, but this time around the challenger was better conditioned. Losing the title in his first defence, the tough Castillo (117) was unable to keep Olivares at bay, especially in the latter sessions.
25 October 1971. Ruben Olivares w rsc 14 (15) Kazuyoshi Kanazawa
Venue: Aichi Prefectural Gym, Nagoya, Japan. Recognition: World. Referee: Jay Edson.
Fight Summary: A punishing fight saw Olivares (117¾) retain his title when he put Kanazawa (118) down three times in the 14th round to win on the three-knockdowns-in-a-round ruling, the final knockdown coming at 2.00 of the session. Prior to that both men had given as good as they got, the fight tipping first one way and then the other as each strove for an early finish. Unfortunately for Kanazawa, who several times seemed to be on the verge of a kayo win, his tremendous exertions weakened him and ultimately paved the way for his defeat.
14 December 1971. Ruben Olivares w rtd 11 (15) Jesus Pimentel
Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: John Thomas.
Fight Summary: On the verge of being knocked out in the fourth round, Olivares (118) came back to blast Pimentel (116½) right out of the ring in the sixth, and although the challenger got up at the count of 'eight' the writing was on the wall. By the end of the 11th Pimentel was in a battered and dazed state, having had to take left hooks to head and body and the occasional right to the jaw round after round before being pulled out by his corner to save him from taking further punishment.
Having won the vacant NABF title when beating Rodolfo Martinez (w pts 12 at the Inglewood Forum on 20 January) and successfully defending it at the same venue against Chucho Castillo (w pts 12 on 23 August), Rafael Herrera would be the next challenger for Olivares. The clever Herrera would come to the ring with 49 contests under his belt, having won 41, drawn three and lost five.
19 March 1972. Rafael Herrera w co 8 (15) Ruben Olivares
Venue: City Bullring, Mexico City, Mexico. Recognition: World. Referee: Ray Solis.
Fight Summary: After struggling to make the weight, Olivares (118), who was cut on the right eye in the sixth round, was lethargic by his normal standards, especially when getting his punches off. His defence was also sloppy and leaky. Meanwhile, the unheralded Herrera (118) carried the fight to the champion, and it came as no surprise to those watching when, in the eighth round, he ripped in a left hook-right cross which floored Olivares heavily and saw him counted out at 1.20 of the session.
Herrera’s first defence would be against the fast-moving Enrique Pinder, who brought a record of 33 wins, two draws and four defeats into the contest. Pinder had won the NABF title by defeating Davey Vasquez, repeating the win next time out, and had beaten Nestor Jimenez and Carlos Mendoza to achieve a number three ranking.
29 July 1972. Enrique Pinder w pts 15 Rafael Herrera
Venue: New City Gym, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: World. Referee: Waldemar Schmidt.
Scorecards: 147-142, 147-143, 149-138.
Fight Summary: Boxing a smart, tactical battle, Pinder (118) generally stayed on the outside of the flat-footed Herrera (117¾) to pile up points while keeping away from any close-quarter work where the champion could shine. Although being caught by the occasional heavy blow, in the main Pinder’s agility kept him out of trouble. Despite a last-ditch effort from Herrera, who was cut on the right eye in the 13th, Pinder kept his cool to pick up a well-deserved unanimous decision.
Pinder forfeited WBC recognition on 14 December after failing to defend against the leading challenger, Rodolfo Martinez, within the stipulated period. Romeo Anaya would be next man up for Pinder, having 36 wins (30 inside the distance), one draw and five losses from a 42-fight career. The current Mexican champion had victories over Carlos Mendoza, Nestor Jimenez and Kazuyoshi Kanazawa.
20 January 1973. Romeo Anaya w co 3 (15) Enrique Pinder
Venue: New City Gym, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Roberto Lopez.
Fight Summary: Attacking right from the first gong, Pinder (117½) had seemed to be well on his way to victory over Anaya (118) when he was nailed by a terrific left hook from the challenger in the third round and counted out on the 2.00 mark. In what was a terrific upset, it was hardly surprising that the 16,000-strong crowd were stunned into silence.
28 April 1973. Romeo Anaya w pts 15 Rogelio Lara
Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: John Thomas.
Scorecards: 8-6, 8-6, 6-7.
Fight Summary: Even though he fell behind due to the superior boxing skills of the challenger, Anaya (118) rallied strongly over the last six rounds to just about warrant the split decision. It really was a battle of two halves, with Anaya unable to get to the speedy Lara (117½) before the latter tired and was relentlessly chased down.
18 August 1973. Romeo Anaya w co 3 (15) Enrique Pinder
Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: George Latka.
Fight Summary: Despite being told to stay out of range in the early stages, Pinder (117½) elected to trade with Anaya (118) before paying a big price. Flattened by a solid left hook to the jaw, having been set up with heavy blows to the head with just two seconds of the third remaining, the challenger crashed to the floor. Under different circumstances Pinder might have been given time to recover, but due to Californian rules allowing for the count to continue even if the round had ended he was counted out eight seconds after the bell.
Although the WBA told Anaya that he had to meet the WBC champion, Rafael Herrera, in a unification fight before the year was out, after much debate they allowed him to defend against the unrated Arnold Taylor prior to that. Taylor held both the South African bantam and featherweight titles, and in 39 contests had lost just four times - Dennis Adams, Andries Steyn, John O’Brien and Johnny Famechon, all good fighters doing the trick. On the credit side he had beaten Toro George, Ugo Poli and Evan Armstrong.
3 November 1973. Arnold Taylor w co 14 (15) Romeo Anaya
Venue: Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Stan Christodoulou.
Fight Summary: This was another battle of a long count, but this time it was the challenger who benefited. With his right eye almost closed, Taylor (114), who had been floored three times in the eighth and once in the tenth having earlier downed the champion in the fifth, came back strongly in the 14th to belt Anaya (117¼) to the canvas where he was counted out. Although it was a remarkable comeback for Taylor after he had taken heavy punishment, Anaya should have won the fight in the eighth round had he immediately gone to a neutral corner following one of the knockdowns. With Taylor given an extra six seconds to recover it turned out to be a costly mistake.
Taylor’s first defence would be against Soo-Hwan Hong, the OPBF champion, who had a record of 24 wins, two draws and two defeats. An aggressive fighter, although he had beaten Thanomchit Sukhothai and Berkrerk Chartvanchai the South Korean was still unranked.
3 July 1974. Soo-Hwan Hong w pts 15 Arnold Taylor
Venue: West Ridge Park Tennis Stadium, Durban, South Africa. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Jack Bryant.
Fight Summary: Urged to quit after suffering a terrible beating, Taylor (117) confirmed that he had a difficult time making the weight but would like to carry on as a featherweight. Floored four times, the champion was beaten to the punch time and time again, and how he stayed on his feet was nothing short of miraculous as Hong (118) battered him at will to land the unanimous decision. There has never been a braver fighter than Taylor, who finished virtually unable to see through swollen eyes, before his career was mirror-imaged when the tragic news came through that he had been killed in a motorcycle accident on 22 November 1981.
28 December 1974. Soo-Hwan Hong w pts 15 Fernando Cabanela
Venue: Changchung Gym, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Yusaku Yushida.
Scorecards: 75-70, 73-69, 72-74.
Fight Summary: Just about got the win in a hard-fought contest, Hong (117) was always the aggressor but found Cabanela (117) a difficult man to keep up with, especially when the latter scored with piston-like jabs before making a difficult target. However, indomitably sticking to the task in hand, the second South Korean man in history to win a world title accepted that he had learned a lot from the fight, admitting that the challenger had made life more difficult for him than he had expected.
The big-punching Alfonso Zamora would be Hong’s next challenger, having run up 20 straight wins since turning pro in April 1973, all of them ending inside the distance.
14 March 1975. Alfonso Zamora w co 4 (15) Soo-Hwan Hong
Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: George Latka.
Fight Summary: On his way to becoming the youngest bantam champion in history, Zamora (118), at 20, made a fast start against the counter-punching Hong (118), and although he was gradually getting on top it was still a surprise when he put the champion down in the fourth following a right-left blast. From the moment he hit the deck it was obvious that Hong was not going to make it, being counted out with 23 seconds of the round remaining.
30 August 1975. Alfonso Zamora w rsc 4 (15) Thanomchit Sukhothai
Venue: Convention Centre, Anaheim, Ca, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Dick Young.
Fight Summary: Both men made a slow start before Zamora (117¾) decided to get to work during the second round, backing the challenger against the ropes while landing several combinations. After an accidental butt saw Zamora badly cut on the right eye in the third, fearing the worst he came out in the fourth looking for a quick finish. It did not take long in coming. Having put Sukhothai (117½) down with a left hook, when the Thai got to his feet he was hit with punches from all angles until the referee called it off on the 2.11 mark.
6 December 1975. Alfonso Zamora w co 2 (15) Socrates Batoto
Venue: City Bullring, Mexico City, Mexico. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Ernesto Magana.
Fight Summary: Having taken the first round to solve the challenger’s style, Zamora (118) opened up in the second, looking to explode more combinations to head and body before being surprised by a left to the body which dropped him. On rising, his gander up, Zamora lashed into Batoto (117) with both hands, raining in punches from all directions until the latter dropped to the canvas to remain on one knee as he was counted out with just five seconds of the session remaining.
3 April 1976. Alfonso Zamora w co 2 (15) Eusebio Pedroza
Venue: Calafia Bullring, Mexicali, Mexico. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Octavio Meyran.
Fight Summary: Despite carrying a five-inch-reach advantage into the ring, Pedroza (117¾) was unable to utilise it after the champion attacked him from the opening bell to leave him reeling from a series of left hooks. Although Pedroza made a fast start in the second round, Zamora (117½), seen to be cut on the left side of his face, soon caught up with him, a left hook sending the Panamanian crashing down to be counted out on the 0.73 mark.
10 July 1976. Alfonso Zamora w rsc 3 (15) Gilberto Illueca
Venue: Monumental Bullring, Juarez, Mexico. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Larry Rozadilla.
Fight Summary: Making his fourth defence, Zamora (117½) quickly showed his intent after Illueca (118) had made a good start to win the first round, and by the second he was firing in heavy punches to the Panamanian’s body to slow him down. Round three spelt the finish, rights and lefts to the head dropping Illueca twice before he was rescued by the referee with one minute of the session remaining.
16 October 1976. Alfonso Zamora w rsc 12 (15) Soo-Hwan Hong
Venue: Sunin Gym, Inchon, South Korea. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Octavio Meyran.
Fight Summary: Boxing well for 11 rounds, making full use of his height-and-reach advantages to score accurately with both hands, Hong (117¼) was well in the fight coming into the 12th round before being put under a vicious attack from Zamora (117¾). Although the challenger was apparently badly hurt by a bunch of left hooks to head and body, and not firing back, the referee actually called the fight off with just ten seconds of the round remaining, Hong’s corner feeling that their man should have been given an imposed count instead. After what was an extremely unsatisfactory ending there were calls for an immediate rematch.
Following a long lay-off, Zamora was signed up for a defence in California against Jorge Lujan on 11 November 1977, but having asked for a postponement due to his poor condition and inability to make the weight he was given an extra week to prepare. A patient fighter who could both box and fight, Lujan had a record of 16 wins and two defeats coming into the contest. Having beaten Carlos Rios, Socrates Batoto, John Cajina and Juanito Herrera, Lujan had lost two of his last three to Gilberto Illueca and Jose Cervantes, and was looking to stop the rot.
19 November 1977. Jorge Lujan w rsc 10 (15) Alfonso Zamora
Venue: Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: John Thomas.
Fight Summary: Showing great skill, the counter-punching Lujan (117¾) spent the early rounds letting Zamora (118) unload before setting the champion up for the proverbial finish, which eventually came in the tenth. Although a massive underdog Lujan was always one step ahead of Zamora, who blamed his defeat on weight problems. Thus, it was no surprise when he dropped the latter following a straight right with just nine seconds of the session remaining, the referee calling it off when he could see that Zamora was making no effort to get up. Within days, the Californian State Boxing Commission suspended Zamora indefinitely on hearing that he had an agreement in place for Lujan to next box for his promoter if he lost the title.
18 March 1978. Jorge Lujan w rsc 11 (15) Roberto Rubaldino
Venue: HemisFair Arena, San Antonio, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Sergio Tulio Ley.
Fight Summary: Boxing well for the opening eight rounds, Rubaldino (118) gave the champion plenty to think about with his southpaw stance, even being credited with a first-round knockdown. However, from the ninth session onwards Lujan (117½) came on strongly, landing solid lefts and rights, and after chasing his rival around the ring and dropping him with a right-left-right combination the fight came to an end at 1.01 of the 11th when one of Rubaldino’s corner men jumped into the ring and the referee called a halt to the action.
15 September 1978. Jorge Lujan w pts 15 Alberto Davila
Venue: The Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Carlos Berrocal.
Scorecards: 146-143, 146-143, 146-142.
Fight Summary: Once again boxing on the back foot, Lujan (117¾) had far too much skill for the aggressive, but outreached Davila (117¼), picking up points throughout in a fight that never really looked like ending early. Accepting that he did not need to take risks against the hustling, bustling Davila, the champion was content to merely box his way to victory, always being in control despite the points margin not entirely reflecting that.
8 April 1979. Jorge Lujan w rsc 15 (15) Cleo Garcia
Venue: Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Davy Pearl.
Fight Summary: With little action having occurred at the halfway stage, Lujan (117½) decidedly picked up the pace to put Garcia (118) under a lot more pressure, opening up a cut above the challenger’s right eye in the tenth round. Although the tiring Garcia hit back on occasion, it was no surprise when he was knocked down in the 14th following straight left-right crosses. Coming into the 15th Garcia was noticeably exhausted, and two straight rights floored him again before the referee called it off with 31 seconds of the contest remaining.
6 October 1979. Jorge Lujan w co 15 (15) Roberto Rubaldino
Venue: Villa Real Convention Centre, McAllen, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Carlos Berrocal.
Fight Summary: Hoping to improve on his performance against the champion in their previous contest, Rubaldino (118) made a good start, always looking for the punch that would end the fight. With Rubaldino unable to find a finisher, Lujan (117¾) began to come back in the middle rounds to close the gap. By the 11th Lujan was back in control, his sharp punches causing much concern to the rapidly tiring challenger, and after taking heavy punishment over the next three sessions Rubaldino was counted out with just 13 seconds of the contest remaining following a cracking right to the head that had left him flat on the deck.
2 April 1980. Jorge Lujan w rsc 9 (15) Shuichi Isogami
Venue: Kuramae Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Larry Rozadilla.
Fight Summary: A lopsided affair saw Lujan (118), well in control from the opening bell, using all of his skills to unsettle a nervous challenger who appeared to be out of his depth. By the eighth round Isogami (117¾) was cut over both eyes and could barely see out of his right eye, but was allowed to continue. However, with Lujan all over Isogami like a rash in the ninth, the third man had seen enough, calling a halt with just 15 seconds of the session left.
The fifth-ranked Julian Solis, who was on 20 straight wins since turning pro in 1975, would be the next challenger for Lujan. A clever boxer, he had beaten Livio Nolasco, Gilberto Illueca and Edgar Roman on his rise up the ratings, and had made significant steps since starting out.
29 August 1980. Julian Solis w pts 15 Jorge Lujan
Venue: Convention Hall, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Jimmy Rondeau.
Scorecards: 144-142, 144-143, 144-148.
Fight Summary: Solis (117¾) fought a great fight to beat Lujan (118), scoring with both hands to pile up the points while the champion preferred to look for one shot. After ten rounds had elapsed, Lujan finally got the message that he was losing. From thereon in he took the fight to Solis in determined fashion, but unable to stop his man he just could not do enough to make up the leeway.
Solis’ first defence would be against Jeff Chandler, who had moved up the ratings into fourth place after defeating Andres Hernandez. With 23 wins and one draw to his name since turning pro, Chandler had already proved to be a quality box-fighter.
14 November 1980. Jeff Chandler w rsc 14 (15) Julian Solis
Venue: Jai-Alai Fronton, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Carlos Berrocal.
Fight Summary: Making his first defence, Solis (117½) was floored in the first round, cut over the right eye in the third, and stalked until he was rescued by the referee at 1.05 of the 14th when backed up against the ropes and not hitting back. Clearly up for it, Chandler (118) had been in charge virtually all the way, his left jabs, left hooks and combination punches being too much for Solis to handle. He certainly lived up to the rave notices he had been getting as he fought his way to the top of the pile. Prior to the fight both men were unbeaten.
31 January 1981. Jeff Chandler w pts 15 Jorge Lujan
Venue: Franklin Plaza Hotel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Roberto Ramirez.
Scorecards: 146-142, 146-143, 148-143.
Fight Summary: Looking bigger and stronger than the champion, Lujan (118) dropped his normal style of boxing on the back foot in favour of staying on top of an incredibly light Chandler (113½) and trying to wear him down. Having damaged his right hand early in the fight and resorting to jab-and-move tactics while delivering the occasional heavy shot, Chandler came on strongly in the latter rounds to take the decision in what had been a tedious affair.
5 April 1981. Jeff Chandler drew 15 Eijiro Murata
Venue: Kuramae Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Ernesto Magana.
Scorecards: 145-142, 146-147, 146-146.
Fight Summary: A mandatory defence saw Chandler (115¼) come up against a tough handful in Murata (118), who gave him all the trouble he could handle and more. After feeling the challenger’s power in the opening session, Chandler boxed mainly on the counter, using his reach advantage to good effect while, in the main, nullifying Murata’s aggression. Both men were cut over their right eyes and showed the signs of battle in what was a closely contested bout, Chandler getting a share of the verdict after producing his best work in the closing stages as Murata tired.
25 July 1981. Jeff Chandler w co 7 (15) Julian Solis
Venue: Resorts International Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Tony Perez.
Fight Summary: Working at close quarters, Solis (117¼) made life difficult for the champion, who was never really able to establish his jab-and-move routine, being clutched and closed down at every opportunity. However, by the sixth it was noticeable that Solis was tiring and that Chandler (115¾) was getting to him. Coming out for the seventh Chandler was all business as he chased after Solis, and following some hurtful punches to the challenger’s head he landed a tremendous short right to the jaw that saw the Puerto Rican crash down to be counted out with just two seconds of the round remaining.
10 December 1981. Jeff Chandler w rsc 13 (15) Eijiro Murata
Venue: Sands Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Vincent Rainone.
Fight Summary: After going close in their first encounter, Murata (117¾) was given another shot at Chandler (117¼), only this time the champion was his master in every department. Dropped twice in the 13th after being hit by great right uppercuts, Murata, having got up for the second time, was staggering around on drunken legs when rescued by the referee on the 1.52 mark.
27 March 1982. Jeff Chandler w rsc 6 (15) Johnny Carter
Venue: Civic Centre, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Frank Cappuccino.
Fight Summary: In a meeting between two locals, Chandler (117¾) came out on top after Carter (117), who made an impressive start, elected to trade punches with him. By the sixth round the champion knew he had it in the bag when a heavy left hook put Carter down. Just about making it to his feet before being counted out, the challenger was wobbling about on unsteady legs when another left hook smashed him into the ropes. This time, the referee, having seen enough, brought the action to an end with 32 seconds of the session remaining.
27 October 1982. Jeff Chandler w rsc 9 (15) Miguel Iriarte
Venue: Resorts International Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Joe Cortez.
Fight Summary: Despite not being floored, the game but inept Iriarte (117½), badly cut on the bridge of the nose, was picked apart by Chandler (117¾) who used every punch in the book while basically treating the contest as a sparring session. In the ninth round when Iriarte was belted into the ropes, and was hanging on to save himself from falling, the referee brought matters to a close at 2.20 of the session.
13 March 1983. Jeff Chandler w pts 15 Gaby Canizales
Venue: Resorts International Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Tony Perez.
Scorecards: 148-140, 147-140, 145-141.
Fight Summary: Expected to give the champion all kinds of problems, Canizales (117) found himself being handed a boxing lesson, and although he did explode a few bombs on Chandler (118) they did not have the effect he was hoping for. Realising he did not need to fight at close quarters, Chandler, boxing mainly from the centre of the ring, showed real class in picking his punches while avoiding any dangerous attack.
11 September 1983. Jeff Chandler w rsc 10 (15) Eijiro Murata
Venue: Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Isidro Rodriguez.
Fight Summary: Giving Murata (118) another title shot, Chandler (118) hammered his old rival with every punch in the book, knocking him down in the second and third rounds with heavy rights prior to taking him apart with six rounds to go. Behind on the scorecards, Murata, his right eye badly swollen, was floored three times in the tenth before the referee rescued him on the 1.54 mark.
On 5 November, Chandler was given additional support by the newly formed International Boxing Federation (IBF).
17 December 1983. Jeff Chandler w rsc 7 (15) Oscar Muniz
Venue: Sands Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/Lineal. Referee: Vincent Rainone.
Fight Summary: Gaining revenge for his only pro defeat, a ten-round points loss at the hands of Muniz in Atlantic City on 23 July, Chandler (116¾) got down to business from the opening bell. Although Muniz (117¼) presented obvious problems, after he was cut over the left eye in the second round he became desperate, whacking in punches from all angles in an effort to bring the fight to a close. It was a brave attempt, but the champion merely bided his time before going on to dictate the contest, and when Muniz’ injury worsened in the seventh the referee had seen enough, calling it off 23 seconds into the round.
Even though Chandler was recognised by the IBF as being the rightful champion, unable to project him as their own they nominated Satoshi Shingaki and Elmer Magallano at the end of February 1984 to contest their version of the vacant title despite the latter losing his last four bouts. Richie Sandoval, ranked eighth, and the brother of Alberto, would be the next challenger for Chandler. Unbeaten, with 22 wins to his credit, Sandoval had defeated Harold Petty (2) and Ian Clyde, and was proving to be an aggressive, hard-punching fighter who rarely let an opponent off the hook.
7 April 1984. Richie Sandoval w rsc 15 (15) Jeff Chandler
Venue: Sands Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Arthur Mercante.
Fight Summary: Dominating from the start, Sandoval (118) shook the champion up early on, switching his punches from head to body while keeping him constantly backed up to take control when winning round after round. Coming into the final third of the contest, Sandoval looked a sure bet to become the new champion, and despite a puffed-up left eye he cut loose to floor Chandler (118) with a left hook in the 11th. After almost having Chandler over again in the 14th, when Sandoval cornered him in the 15th the referee leapt in to call a halt to proceedings at 1.20.
22 September 1984. Richie Sandoval w pts 15 Edgar Roman
Venue: Circus Tent, Monte Carlo, Monaco. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Angelo Priami.
Scorecards: 150-138, 149-139, 149-137.
Fight Summary: Taking command early on, Sandoval (118) floored Roman (117½) in the third round with a hard right to the head. He then proceeded to pile up the points, jabbing to head and body, while the challenger fought mostly on the defensive. That was the pattern of the fight, and although Sandoval, who tried to finish his man off summarily on several occasions without success, was cut over the left eye in the fourth it rarely bothered him, the decision being a formality.
15 December 1984. Richie Sandoval w rsc 8 (15) Cardenio Ulloa
Venue: Convention Centre, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Ernest Magana.
Fight Summary: After being badly cut over the left eye in the first round, Sandoval (118) came right back to smash Ulloa (118) to the floor with an overarm right in the second, only to be floored himself by a cracking left hook in the third. Thereafter, the champion picked it up to win the next three sessions, boxing well with lefts and rights finding their mark, before he was again shocked by Ulloa in the seventh when solid body punches slowed him up. However, with his eye bleeding badly and time of the essence, Sandoval raced out in the eighth to land blow after blow on a by now defenceless challenger, who was rescued by the third man on the 2.31 mark.
Gaby Canizales, the brother of Orlando, would be the next man to challenge Sandoval. Ranked at number five, Canizales had already had an unsuccessful crack at Jeff Chandler’s WBA title, but having gone away to learn the lessons he had come back better for it. With 32 wins and two defeats on his record, Kelvin Seabrooks being a notable victim, Canizales was an aggressive battler with a punch who could box well if required.
10 March 1986. Gaby Canizales w rsc 7 (15) Richie Sandoval
Venue: Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Carlos Padilla.
Fight Summary: Unbeaten going into the fight, the weight-weakened Sandoval (117¾) finally came unstuck when he was knocked down five times, once in the first, once in the fifth, and three times in the seventh, by Canizales (116½) before being stopped at 2.27 of that session under the WBA’s three-knockdowns-in-a-round ruling. Occasionally it looked as though the champion would get back into it when boxing behind the jab, but it was not to be. Sandoval spent the night in hospital, having been unconscious for around 15 minutes.
Bernardo Pinango, the 1980 Olympic Games silver medallist, would be the man selected for Canizales’ first defence. Having turned pro in 1981, Pinango had 17 wins, two draws, two defeats and one no contest on his slate, a win over Arnel Arrozal and a draw with Antonio Esparragoza being among his best performances. As you would expect, the unranked Pinango made full use of his long reach, being especially effective with the jab and straight rights.
4 June 1986. Bernardo Pinango w pts 15 Gaby Canizales
Venue: Byrne Meadowlands Arena, East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Joe Cortez.
Scorecards: 147-138, 148-144, 146-142.
Fight Summary: It was hard to believe that this was the same man who defeated Richie Sandoval as Canizales (118), who finished with both eyes badly damaged, went down almost without a struggle against Pinango (118), who came home a comfortable winner. Jabbing and hooking well, the challenger took all that Canizales had to offer before storming to victory, his long-armed punching from both hands being especially effective.
4 October 1986. Bernardo Pinango w rsc 10 (15) Ciro De Leva
Venue: Sports Palace, Turin, Italy. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Stan Christodoulou.
Fight Summary: Both men started slowly, but once Pinango (117¾) went to work in the third round it was clear that De Leva (117¾) was going to have his hands full. And so it proved. Using his advantages in height and reach, the champion started to hand out a boxing lesson before upping the pace and hammering De Leva mercilessly from the fifth onwards. With De Leva's right eye closed, the referee eventually came to his rescue with just one second of the tenth round remaining.
22 November 1986. Bernardo Pinango w co 15 (15) Simon Skosana
Venue: Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Uriel Aquilera.
Fight Summary: Going into the final round there was not much between the two men, both having been down in the seventh, with most fans unclear as to who deserved the decision at that stage. Unfortunately for the courageous Skosana (114¾), badly cut over the left eye in the eighth, he elected to mix it with Pinango (118), who had got away with low blows throughout, and came off worse. After being smashed into the ropes from lefts and rights to the jaw, the ringside doctor examined the challenger before allowing the fight to continue, only for the latter to be laid low by a left hook and counted out on the 2.18 mark.
3 February 1987. Bernardo Pinango w pts 15 Frankie Duarte
Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Hubert Earle.
Scorecards: 142-141, 143-140, 145-140.
Fight Summary: Coming back from a three-year absence due to drug and alcohol abuse, Duarte (117¾) put up a game performance. Having been cut over the right eye in the third and over the left eye in the tenth, Duarte floored Pinango (118) in the 12th and gave him all kinds of problems. The trouble for the champion was that although he gained points through good work in attack and defence he was deducted three points for low blows, which made the contest appear closer than it was.
Due to defend against Takuya Muguruma, Pinango decided to relinquish the WBA title on 15 March, just two weeks before the fight, being replaced by his stablemate, Azael Moran, at short notice. The lineal title was also automatically vacated. The next fight to involve my version of the 'world' title came when the top-rated Raul Perez defended his WBC title against the second-ranked Gaby Canizales on 22 January 1990. Perez had been a pro since 1984 with 45 (28 inside the distance) wins, one technical draw and one defeat on his record, and was known as ‘The Thin One’ at 5’10” tall. Having shown himself to be a hard hitter, stopping 18 of his first 21 opponents, he had won the WBC title when defeating Miguel Lora before successfully defending the belt against Lucio Lopez, Cardenio Ulloa and Diego Avila. A former WBA champion, who had lifted the title from the head of Richie Sandoval, Canizales, who was beaten in his first defence by Pinango, had a record of 45 wins and six defeats.
22 January 1990. Raul Perez w pts 12 Gaby Canizales
Venue: Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Vince Delgado.
Scorecards: 119-109, 116-102, 117-109.
Fight Summary: Yet again enjoying a tremendous reach advantage, Perez (117½) kept the left jab going all night, with Canizales (116¼) having great difficulty in avoiding it. In the final third of the contest the champion smashed in several heavy rights, but still Canizales stayed on his feet. Continuing to be outboxed, Canizales proved there was nothing wrong with his heart when making it to the end without much to show for it.
7 May 1990. Raul Perez w rsc 9 Gerardo Martinez
Venue: Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Henry Elesperu.
Fight Summary: Retaining the title for the fifth time, Perez (117) once again got the left jab working while banging in chopping rights that gradually wore Martinez (118) down. All the challenger could do was to charge in, and during the ninth round when running out of steam and badly swollen on the left side of his face he was put down twice from combination punches before being rescued by the third man on the 2.59 mark.
14 September 1990. Raul Perez drew 12 Jose Valdez
Venue: Sinaloense Bullring, Culiacan, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Carlos Padilla.
Scorecards: 116-115, 112-117, 115-114.
Fight Summary: In a very tight contest the southpaw challenger, Valdez (117¼), proved that he deserved another title shot when running Perez (117¼) close. Both men were guilty of holding, often tying each other up, but Perez, who possessed the better boxing skills, should have kept the challenger at bay more often. The last three rounds contained the most action, Perez attacking the body while Valdez looked to get off combinations.
17 December 1990. Raul Perez w co 8 Candelario Carmona
Venue: The Auditorium, Tijuana, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Guillermo Ayon.
Fight Summary: Cut on the left eye early on, the challenger stayed on the back foot while having no idea as how to back Perez (118) up, thus making it a fairly easy defence for the champion. By the eighth round, Carmona (118) had run out of ideas, and on being dropped more from the accumulation of punches rather than a single shot he was counted out at 2.17 of the session.
Perez’s next challenger would be Greg Richardson, who had a record showing 27 wins and four defeats. Ranked at number eight, the fast and slick Richardson had wins over Felix Marquez, Harold Petty, Alfonso Lopez, Oscar Muniz, Gaby Ganizales, Elly Pical and Eddie Rangel, and although he had lost to Jeff Fenech for the WBC junior featherweight title he was much more at home among the bantams.
25 February 1991. Greg Richardson w pts 12 Raul Perez
Venue: Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Vince Delgado.
Scorecards: 116-112, 115-113, 115-113.
Fight Summary: The 33-year-old Richardson (116½) dominated from start to finish as Perez’s reign fizzled out, continually catching his man with a dazzling array of sharp counters. Looking to dictate on the front foot, Perez (118) failed to nail the American and ended up well beaten.
20 May 1991. Greg Richardson w pts 12 Victor Rabanales
Venue: Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lou Filippo.
Scorecards: 115-111, 117-112, 113-115.
Fight Summary: It was a fight of two halves, the first part being totally dominated by Richardson (118) who used his six-inch-reach advantage to perfection to keep the aggressive Rabanales (117) at bay, and the latter part by the challenger. Having been cut over the right eye following a butt, Richardson was subjected to a non-stop war of attrition as the Mexican got inside and stayed there. Although losing two points for indiscretions, Rabanales looked a good winner according to the fans but not by the men who counted - the judges.
The next challenger for Richardson would be the unranked Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, who had only turned pro in September 1989 and had participated in just seven contests. With six (five inside the distance) wins and a draw against Abraham Torres he had already become a crowd pleaser in Japan, his all-action style coupled to knockout power keeping fans on the edge of their seats.
19 September 1991. Joichiro Tatsuyoshi w rtd 10 Greg Richardson
Venue: Moriguchi City Gym, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tony Perez.
Fight Summary: After a fairly measured start, Tatsuyoshi (117¼) decided to work the body to slow the older man down, and while Richardson (116) came back strongly in the seventh round to batter the challenger to the head he was soon a spent force. When Tatsuyoshi attacked Richardson from head to body in the tenth session, although it seemed that the latter would keel over he somehow made it back to his corner where he was retired at the end of the round.
Sometime after the fight when it was discovered that Tatsuyoshi had suffered a ruptured retina it was widely reported that he would be forced to retire. On that basis, the WBC set up a match between Victor Rabanales and Yong-Hoon Lee to decide the vacant title. However, when it was heard that the doctors were hopeful of Tatsuyoshi returning to action in the not too distant future, Rabanales v Lee was retrospectively recognised as having being for the ‘interim’ title. Contested on 30 March 1992, at the Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA, Rabanales won on a ninth-round technical decision after he had been accidentally cut following a head clash. Rabanales then went on to defend the ‘interim’ title twice more before Tatsuyoshi was fit to box again, defeating Luis Alberto Ocampo (w rsc 4 at the Bullring, Tuxtla, Mexico on 16 May 1992) and Chang-Kyun Oh (w pts 12 at the Great Western Forum on 27 July 1992). With 34 wins, two draws and ten defeats on his record, the tough, hard-working Rabanales had been a pro since August 1983 and had already been beaten by Greg Richardson in an unsuccessful tilt at the title.
17 September 1992. Victor Rabanales w rsc 9 Joichiro Tatsuyoshi
Venue: Castle Hall, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.
Fight Summary: Having come back after surgery to correct an eye problem, Tatsuyoshi (117¼) started quite well before succumbing to body punches and being rescued by the referee after 79 seconds of the ninth round had been clocked. Both men had scored well to the body throughout, but it was Rabanales (117½) who came out on top.
25 January 1993. Victor Rabanales w pts 12 Dadoy Andujar
Venue: Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Rudy Ortega.
Scorecards: 116-113, 117-111, 118-110.
Fight Summary: Knowing only one way to fight, the rugged Rabanales (118), blood streaming from both eyes, ground out a gruelling points victory over the game Andujar (118), who was also decidedly marked up at the finish. It was not pretty to watch, but both men gave it everything and more, and the scoreline was hardly a true reflection of the Filipino’s wonderful efforts.
Rabanales’ next defence would be against Jung-Il Byun, a hard-hitting southpaw who had caused a stir at the 1988 Olympic Games when he refused to leave the ring after losing. Turning pro in February 1990 he had run up eight wins, but as an unranked fighter it was a major surprise when he was given a shot at the title.
28 March 1993. Jung-Il Byun w pts 12 Victor Rabanales
Venue: Hyundai Hotel, Kyongju, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lou Filippo.
Scorecards: 117-112, 115-113, 117-111.
Fight Summary: Despite having limited experience, Byun (117¾), a southpaw, boxed impressively to take the first six rounds when countering the lunging Rabanales (116¾) with accurate punches. Byun then took a breather for two or three rounds as the champion came on strongly. Following that, Byun came back to take over, scoring with big straight lefts as he marched on to victory.
28 May 1993. Jung-Il Byun w pts 12 Josefino Suarez
Venue: Inter-Continental Hotel, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.
Scorecards: 120-104, 120-106, 119-109.
Fight Summary: Looking for a fast start, the southpaw champion dropped Suarez (116¾) with a cracking left in the opening round. However, from then on, although winning handsomely, Byun (117¾) appeared to lack the power to take out the teak-tough, stationary Mexican who absorbed punishment throughout.
When it was clear that Byun would be unable to defend his WBC title due to an injured hand, Joichiro Tatsuyoshi outpointed Victor Rabanales over 12 rounds at the Prefectural Gym, Osaka, Japan on 22 July in a battle to decide the ‘interim’ title, but on Byun's return to the ring it was another Japanese fighter, Yasuei Yakushiji, who challenged him due to Tatsuyoshi being banned by the Japanese Boxing Commission after they became dissatisfied with his eye condition. However, they later relented when making a ‘special ruling’ that he could participate in Japan as long as the contest carried a world title label. The unranked Yakushiji had participated in 22 contests, winning 19, drawing one and losing two, and had put together a winning run of 16, which included 14 inside-the-distance victories. He had also won the Japanese title.
23 December 1993. Yasuei Yakushiji w pts 12 Jung-Il Byun
Venue: Aichi Prefectural Gym, Nagoya, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tony Perez.
Scorecards: 115-113, 116-115, 113-115.
Fight Summary: In a very close contest which was difficult to score, Yakushiji (117½) beat Byun (118) after impressing the judges that his aggressive tactics had overcome the accuracy of the southpaw champion’s blows. There were no knockdowns as the contest swayed first one way and then the other, and following the result the South Korean Boxing Commission made an official protest to the WBC, who, although recognising the decision, agreed that a return was warranted.
16 April 1994. Yasuei Yakushiji w co 10 Josefino Suarez
Venue: Inae Sports Centre, Nagoya, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Carlos Padilla.
Fight Summary: Prior to round six, Yakushiji (117¾) had not really imposed himself on Suarez (116¾), but after gaining control despite suffering a cut over the left eye he steadily piled up the points with the straight right working well in his favour. Meanwhile, the challenger was always dangerous with his attacks to the body. Then having absorbed a solid right to the head in the tenth Yakushiji got down to business in that area himself, dropping Suarez for the full count on the 2.21 mark.
31 July 1994. Yasuei Yakushiji w rsc 11 Jung-Il Byun
Venue: Aichi Prefectural Gym, Nagoya, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lou Filippo.
Fight Summary: In a return match, Yakushiji (117½) belted the southpaw Byun (118) to the canvas on five occasions, once in the first, third and tenth, and twice in the 11th, before the referee stopped the contest on the 52-second mark with the latter on his feet but not fit to continue. Immediately prior to the stoppage, Byun’s corner had thrown in the towel when it had become patently obvious that their man could not carry on much longer. The champion was the bigger puncher of the two, but the challenger also had some success, always being a danger while the fight lasted.
4 December 1994. Yasuei Yakushiji w pts 12 Joichiro Tatsuyoshi
Venue: Rainbow Hall, Nagoya, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.
Scorecards: 116-112, 115-114, 114-114.
Fight Summary: Despite having suffered a pair of detached retinas, Tatsuyoshi (117¼), the ‘interim’ title holder and former undefeated champion, was beaten by Yakushiji (117¾) on a split decision in what was Japan’s ‘Fight of the Year’. Both men made a fast start, jabbing away, before getting to close quarters and letting the punches go until the pace, and wear and tear took effect. Despite being cut near the right eye, Yakushiji came on strongly in the sixth to take control before the challenger, his left eye almost closed, came with a late run to take three of the last four sessions to almost close the gap in what had been a desperate struggle for supremacy.
2 April 1995. Yasuei Yakushiji w pts 12 Cuahtemoc Gomez
Venue: Rainbow Hall, Nagoya, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Frank Cappuccino.
Scorecards: 116-112, 117-111, 114-114.
Fight Summary: Five inches taller than the challenger, Yakushiji (117¾) immediately made his man pay with the jab before opening up in rounds three and four and getting countered with right hands over the top. Following that experience Yakushiji went back to his superior skill in an effort to quell the aggression coming his way, outboxing Gomez (117½) in five of the last eight sessions. Gomez might have done better had he thrown combinations rather than single shots.
Known as ‘The Pocket Rocket’, Wayne McCullough would be Yakushiji’s next challenger. Having won a silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Games, he turned pro in 1993 and was undefeated after 16 contests, with 13 of them ending inside the distance. A two-fisted, all-action fighter, McCullough had beaten Jerome Coffee, Victor Rabanales and Fabrice Benichou, and had a number three ranking.
30 July 1995. Wayne McCullough w pts 12 Yasuei Yakushiji
Venue: Aichi Prefectural Gym, Nagoya, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Joe Cortez.
Scorecards: 118-110, 116-113, 115-116.
Fight Summary: Both men started fast and initially sustained the pace, the jabs and rights over the top from McCullough (117¾) against the long jab of the champion who was determined not to be pushed back. As the fight progressed, however, it was noticeable that Yakushiji (118), despite fighting back, was being forced to concede ground more and more, while the Irishman appeared to be getting stronger as he sailed through the rounds. Only in the latter stages when cut on the right eye did McCullough slow to any degree, but by then he had done more than enough to become the first Briton to win a world title in Japan.
2 December 1995. Wayne McCullough w rsc 8 Johnny Bredahl
Venue: King’s Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.
Fight Summary: Although making a fair start over the first couple of rounds the challenger was soon being hunted down, and once McCullough (117½) found the range in the fifth it was just a matter of time. At that point Bredahl (116¾), who was hardly able to see out of his left eye, was literally running from McCullough who sensed that victory was just around the corner. The contest was eventually called off at 1.55 of the eighth after Bredahl had failed to heed the referee’s earlier warning that he needed to start throwing punches or be turfed out.
30 March 1996. Wayne McCullough w pts 12 Jose Luis Bueno
Venue: Point Depot, Dublin, Ireland. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lou Filippo.
Scorecards: 118-114, 116-112, 113-116.
Fight Summary: While superior work-rate kept the weight-drained McCullough (118) ahead for nine rounds despite suffering damage to an eardrum in the second, Bueno (118) had been getting in to the fight more and more. The Mexican really came on strongly in the latter stages to make it exceedingly close when firing in big right hands. By now tiring rapidly the champion took a lot of heavy shots from Bueno in that period, but showing great resolve he produced a massive effort to take the 12th session and with it the split decision.
McCullough stated that win, lose or draw he was relinquishing the WBC title when challenging Daniel Zaragoza on 11 January 1997 for the WBC junior featherweight crown, and following his defeat the WBC title were also automatically vacated. My version of the 'world' title would next be contested when the top-rated Tim Austin’s tenth defence of the IBF title he had won from Mbulelo Botile on 19 July 1997 would be against the fourth-ranked Rafael Marquez. Having defeated Botile, Austin had successfully defended the title against Paul Lloyd, Andrian Kaspari, Sergio Aguila, Bernardo Mendoza, Arthur Johnson, Jesus Salvador Perez, Steve Dotse, Ratanachai Singwancha and Adan Vargas. A southpaw with 25 wins and a technical draw on his slate, Austin had been a pro since 1993, whereas Marquez had turned to the paid ranks two years later. A compact and solid fighter with a big right hand, Marquez had won 28 (26 inside the distance) contests and lost three, and had beaten Aquiles Guzman, Gerardo Espinoza, Marc Johnson (twice), the second time being an IBF eliminator, and Jorge Otero.
15 February 2003. Rafael Marquez w rsc 8 Tim Austin
Venue: Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Vic Drakulich.
Fight Summary: Although he started reasonably well, Austin (118) grew wary of the hard-hitting Marquez (118), who then surprisingly faded in the fifth through to the seventh as he came under pressure from the champion’s jab. The eighth turned out to be the most exciting round of the fight as both slammed away at each other, and both were hurt before Marquez got the upper hand when a left hook and a right put Austin down. After taking a long count (Austin was officially up at ‘nine’), the latter was being pounded by the wild-swinging Marquez before the referee had seen enough, rescuing him at 1.18 of the round.
4 October 2003. Rafael Marquez w pts 12 Mauricio Pastrana
Venue: Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Jon Schorle.
Scorecards: 118-110, 118-110, 117-111.
Fight Summary: Much too fast for Pastrana (116½), the compact little Marquez (117) kept on top of his rival who mainly stayed on the outside in order to keep out of harm's way. Sent stumbling in the seventh, Pastrana took more heavy blows from the champion in the eighth before giving it all he had in the last two sessions, only to be repeatedly hurt by body shots.
31 January 2004. Rafael Marquez w rsc 2 Pete Frissina
Venue: Dodge Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Raul Caiz Jnr.
Fight Summary: Coming out in aggressive fashion, the challenger initially met Marquez (117¾) blow for blow until a four-punch combination followed by a straight right dumped him. Although dazed he made it to his feet before he was sent sprawling again and saved by the bell. Still intent on fighting his way back into it Frissina (118) continued to plough forward, but Marquez had his number in every department, picking him off with good jabs prior to driving him back against the ropes. With Frissina in real difficulty, the referee stopped it after just 22 seconds of the second round had elapsed.
31 July 2004. Rafael Marquez w rsc 3 Heriberto Ruiz
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Tony Weeks.
Fight Summary: With little happening following two rounds of inaction, and the crowd preparing itself for a long drawn out battle of wits, the contest was suddenly over at 2.11 of the third. It came about after the champion missed with a left hook and was countered by a similar punch from Ruiz (118). However, just as that was landing, Ruiz was himself nailed by a tremendous right uppercut to the jaw from Marquez (118) that dropped him face down on the canvas. Although it was clearly a kayo the referee did not even bother to count, immediately bringing the contest to a conclusion in order that Ruiz could receive attention.
27 November 2004. Rafael Marquez w rtd 8 Mauricio Pastrana
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Robert Byrd.
Fight Summary: Although shaken up by Marquez (118) following a couple of solid blows in the opener, the challenger nearly floored the latter with a cracking right in the third. Unfortunately, Pastrana (117) was cut over the left eye in the same round, but it did not stop his forward march when giving Marquez plenty to think about until it began to become a bit one-sided by the seventh. From there on Marquez’s power-laden blows started to have an effect, and although Pastrana remained upright he was taking a fair amount of punishment before being retired at the end of the eighth, complaining of a damaged left arm.
28 May 2005. Rafael Marquez w pts 12 Ricardo Vargas
Venue: Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Pat Russell.
Scorecards: 118-109, 116-111, 116-111.
Fight Summary: Looking to win quickly, Marquez (116½) was ultimately given a bit of a test against a challenger who was happy to dart in behind the southpaw lead and fire off right-lefts to head and body whenever he saw the opportunity. Although he was taking a fair few punches, Vargas (118) was always coming back with his own brand before taking a breather in the ninth after being cut over the right eye. With Marquez upping the pace in the tenth and 11th rounds Vargas was forced to back off to some degree, and when he was eventually put down in the final session after running into a fusillade of blows most fans thought that was it. But back he came, trading with Marquez right through to the bell to earn the appreciation of the crowd.
5 November 2005. Rafael Marquez w rsc 4 Silence Mabuza
Venue: Caesar’s Palace, Lake Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Norm Budden.
Fight Summary: The fight had barely started when a big left hook dropped Mabuza (118), and although the challenger made it to the end of the round he was still dazed upon returning to his corner. Despite taking some hefty blows from Marquez (118) in the next couple of sessions it looked as though Mabuza was gradually beginning to find his way towards the end of the third, but in the fourth the situation became even more tenuous for the South African after he was cut on the left cheek. Realising it was his last chance Mabuza went toe-to-toe with Marquez, but after being badly cut over the right eye following a fierce exchange the referee, on the advice of the doctor, pulled him out of the fight on the 2.08 mark.
5 August 2006. Rafael Marquez w rtd 9 Silence Mabuza
Venue: Montbleu Resort Casino, Stateline, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Tony Weeks.
Fight Summary: Making his seventh defence, and a return contest, Marquez (118) moved into an early lead before Mabuza (117½) picked it up in the third through to the fifth with solid shots from head to body. Getting back into the swing of things in the sixth, Marquez reverted to type when opening up a cut under Mabuza's left eye in the eighth before battering the latter with incessant left and rights throughout the ninth. The contest ended at the end of the ninth when Mabuza's corner pulled him out.
Marquez vacated the IBF title on 16 March 2007, having become the WBC junior featherweight champion on 3 March 2007. My version of the 'world' title next became available when the WBO’s Fernando Montiel met Hozumi Hasegawa, the WBC champion, in a unification contest on 30 April 2010. Having beaten Veeraphol Sahaprom to lift the WBC title on 16 April 2005, Hasegawa, a hard-hitting southpaw, had successfully defended the belt against Gerardo Martinez, Sahaprom, Genaro Garcia, Simpiwe Vetyeka, Simone Maludrottu, Cristian Faccio, Alejandro Valdez, Vusi Malinga, Nestor Rocha and Alvaro Perez, and sported a record showing 28 wins and two losses. Having been an undefeated WBO flyweight champion and having two spells as the WBO junior bantamweight title holder, Montiel had made one defence of the WBO bantam title he had been handed on 25 April 2009, against Ciso Morales. With a record of 41 wins, two draws, which included one of the technical variety, and two defeats he still had plenty left.
30 April 2010. Fernando Montiel w rsc 4 Hozumi Hasegawa
Venue: Nihon Budokan Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC/WBO. Referee: Laurence Cole.
Fight Summary: This was a battle between the WBC champion, Hasegawa (117¾), and the WBO title holder, Montiel (118), and it was the latter who picked up both belts when stopping his rival on away territory. Up until then it had been a clever contest, with Hasegawa moving in on Montiel with solid southpaw right-lefts, while the three-weight WBO champion used clever movement to avert trouble. After missing badly in the fourth, Hasegawa was caught by a short left hook and, following a similar shot that sent him into the ropes, Montiel quickly unleashed further heavy blows from both hands that sent the Japanese fighter tottering. With Montiel hammering in blow after blow against the defenceless Hasegawa the referee intervened on the 2.59 mark.
17 July 2010. Fernando Montiel w rsc 3 Rafael Concepcion
Venue: Fairground Stockade, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico. Recognition: WBC/WBO. Referee: Robert Byrd.
Fight Summary: Putting both of his championship belts on the line against Concepcion (118), the champion proved yet again how good he was when stopping his man inside three rounds. Montiel (118) had been scheduled to meet Eric Morel, the mandatory challenger, but when the latter pulled out several weeks earlier Concepcion stepped in. Although there was not a lot of activity in the opener within moments of the bell ringing to start the second a solid left hook had Concepcion down, and upon getting up he was again floored by the same punch. Obviously hurt, Concepcion tried to last out the round by holding on to Montiel, only to be deducted a point for the transgression. Into the third, extremely wary of Montiel's left, Concepcion failed to spot the two heavy rights that sent him crashing and saw the referee stop the contest at 1.07 of the session to allow immediate medical attention to be administered.
Montiel’s next defence would be against Nonito Donaire, the former undefeated IBF flyweight champion with 25 wins and one defeat on his record. An aggressive fighter who was always looking to get power punches off, since moving up to 118lbs he had beaten Wladimir Sidorenko to earn himself a number five rating.
19 February 2011. Nonito Donaire w rsc 2 Fernando Montiel
Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC/WBO. Referee: Russell Mora.
Fight Summary: In a battle between the WBC/WBO champion, Montiel (118), and Donaire (118, it was the latter who came out on top when stopping his Mexican opponent in the second round. Having taken some good shots in the opener, and showing no signs of things to come, when Montiel stepped into Donaire in the second and was countered by a cracking left hook that landed to the side of his face he was sent crashing. Somehow managing to make it to his feet immediately prior to the count of 'ten', although Montiel was allowed to continue the moment he was caught again by a left-right the referee stopped the fight with 35 seconds of the session remaining. On winning, Donaire became a two-weight world champion.
22 October 2011. Nonito Donaire w pts 12 Omar Narvaez
Venue: WaMu Theatre, MSG, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBC/WBO. Referee: Benjy Esteves Jnr.
Scorecards: 120-108, 120-108, 120-108.
Fight Summary: Winning every round on the cards against Narvaez (117), his two championship belts on the line, Donaire (116½) was unable to finish the fight early as his little southpaw challenger made life difficult for him by remaining on the back foot throughout. Having hurt Narvaez in the fourth with some solid shots, Donaire was unable to get many more chances again. The veteran of 21 successful world championship defences at fly and junior bantam, Narvaez was always on the move. Even when Donaire landed heavily to the body in the eighth he was warned for going low, something he disagreed with. Following that, there was little action as the contest drew to a close.
It was clear that Donaire was going to move on, and after signing for a fight against Wilfredo Vazquez Jnr for the WBO junior featherweight crown he relinquished all of his titles on 24 November. Less than two months later my version of the 'world' title was on the line again, when the top-ranked Anselmo Moreno, the WBA champion, defended against Vic Darchinyan, rated at number four, on 3 December. Having won the WBA title when defeating Wladimir Sidorenko on 31 May 2008, the lanky Moreno had successfully defended the belt against Cecilio Santos, Rolly Lunas, Sidorenko, Mahyar Monshipour Frederic Patrac, Nehomar Cermeno (twice) and Lorenzo Parra, and in doing so had proved to be a fast, slick counter-punching southpaw. With a record of 31 wins, one draw and a loss early in his career, Moreno still had plenty left in the tank. Up against a two-weight world champion in the 35-year-old Darchinyan (37 wins, one draw and three defeats), who was a tough man to handle, it would not be easy.
3 December 2011. Anselmo Moreno w pts 12 Vic Darchinyan
Venue: Honda Centre, Anaheim, California, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Raul Caiz Jnr.
Scorecards: 116-111, 117-110, 120-107.
Fight Summary: This clash of southpaws saw the champion prevail against the tough Darchinyan (117¾), who had a point deducted in the fourth for rough-house tactics when throwing the Panamanian to the floor. Far too clever for Darchinyan, the fast moving Moreno (118) led his man a merry old dance as he moved in and out with jabs and countering hooks and uppercuts. Despite all of that Darchinyan never stopped trying, body shots being his only real successes, and he was still there at the final bell trying to chase Moreno down.
21 April 2012. Anselmo Moreno w rtd 8 David De La Mora
Venue: Don Haskins’ Centre, El Paso, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.
Fight Summary: Winning virtually every round, the southpaw champion proved to be in a different league to De La Mora (117½). Working the body well, Moreno (117½) had De La Mora down in the second from a right to the head and carried on punishing the latter downstairs until there was not much coming back. Dropped again in the sixth by a left hook to the body, De La Mora struggled on before being retired on his stool at the end of the eighth.
10 August 2013. Anselmo Moreno w pts 12 William Urina
Venue: Megapolis Convention Centre, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Stan Christoloudou.
Scorecards: 118-110, 118-110, 116-112.
Fight Summary: In a match-up between southpaws the champion was superior to Urina (116), who was undone by a great jab and ruthless bodywork despite always being in the fight. Although cut on the right eye from a head butt it did not concern Moreno (117) unduly, and he was virtually in control all the way despite Urina looking to load up with heavy blows. Coming into the fight with a high percentage of stoppages Urina had been expected to run Moreno close, but found the latter far too clever to catch.
22 March 2014. Anselmo Moreno w pts 12 Javier Nicolas Chacon
Venue: Roberto Duran Arena, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Russell Mora.
Scorecards: 117-108, 117-109, 118-108.
Fight Summary: Defending against a tough customer in Chacon (117), the tall southpaw champion used his height and reach well to pick up points despite being forced to take some solid shots in return. The second round was the most dramatic of the fight, Chacon going down twice, firstly from a push-punch and then a left hook as he walked on to it. From thereon in, however, Chacon was always in the fight, and always looking to take Moreno (118) out if he had half a chance. Although he was docked a point in the tenth for going low, it hardly made a difference to Moreno's points tally.
Moreno’s next defence would be against the unrated 30-year-old Juan Carlos Payano, a southpaw who had beaten Luis Maldonado and had two victories over Jhon Alberto Molina. A hard-working, aggressive fighter, Payano had run up 15 straight wins since leaving the amateur ranks in 2010.
26 September 2014. Juan Carlos Payano w tdec 6 Anselmo Moreno
Venue: The Arena, Mesquite, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.
Scorecards: 59-55, 58-56, 58-56.
Fight Summary: Defending for the 13th time, it proved to be an unlucky 13 for Moreno (117½) in this battle of southpaws. On top right from the opening bell, Payano (117½) ruined Moreno's plans, giving him no room in which to work, pressing him at all times, and clinching when he had to. Despite an unintentional head butt causing a bad cut over Payano's right eye in the second it did not stop the latter from winning the opening five rounds. However, when the wound did not respond to treatment the ringside doctor advised the referee to go to the cards at the end of the sixth, which brought about a technical decision in favour of Payano.
2 August 2015. Juan Carlos Payano w pts 12 Rau'shee Warren
Venue: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Frank Santore Jnr.
Scorecards: 113-111, 113-111, 109-115.
Fight Summary: Up against a fellow southpaw, Payano (117½) had a tough time against Warren (117) before eking out a narrow split-decision win. In a difficult fight to score, the judges being unable to agree on seven of the rounds, there were three points deductions, one for Payano in the third and two for Warren in the ninth. Payano made the better start, but it was messy as both men kept coming together. Having hurt Warren in the sixth, Payano was cut over right eye in the same session, and under pressure from the fired-up challenger in the last two sessions the latter was put down in the 12th by a right hook to the head before fighting back hard.
The champion’s next defence would be a return against Warren, due to the latter going close last time around. A former US amateur champion and World Championship gold medallist, the 28-year-old southpaw had participated in 15 bouts as a pro, with 13 wins, one no contest and the loss to Payano on his slate. Having shown impressive speed of both hand and foot, he had also produced power on occasion.
18 June 2016. Rau'shee Warren w pts 12 Juan Carlos Payano
Venue: UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Celestino Ruiz.
Scorecards: 115-113, 115-113, 114-114.
Fight Summary: Following on from their first meeting, Warren (117) got his hands on the title this time around when outscoring the champion by a majority. In a clash of southpaws, it was Warren who pipped Payano (117¼) at the post, the better quality coming from him. There were no knockdowns, but both men took heavy shots in their stride at times. Coming into the 11th it looked as though Payano had done enough, but after Warren struck in that session with two terrific right hooks to head and body that took everything out of the Dominican he was on his way to becoming the first member of the 2012 American Olympic team to win a pro title.
Zhanat Zhakiyanov, the WBA ‘interim’ champion, who had turned pro in 2007, would be the next man to get a crack at Warren. With 26 wins and one defeat on his record, the Kazakh warrior was ready. Having won the European title when beating Karim Guerfi, he had plenty of stamina, allied to strength and determination, despite being on the wrong side of 30.
10 February 2017. Zhanat Zhakiyanov w pts 12 Rau’shee Warren
Venue: Huntington Centre, Toledo, Ohio, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Gary Rosato.
Scorecards: 115-111, 116-110, 111-115.
Fight Summary: Starting like a train, the champion twice hammered Zhakiyanov (116½) to the floor in the opening session, a southpaw left cross and a right hook doing the damage. Not dispirited, Zhakiyanov got to his feet both times and was soon going forward to force Warren (116) onto the back foot. In the third the fight had turned as three punches put Warren down, only for the referee to rule it as a push. From there through to the seventh the harder punches were coming from the Kazakh, before Warren started his fightback in the eighth. Even then Warren made little impression on the challenger, and although the action went back and forth until the final bell it was Zhakiyanov’s work-rate and cleaner punching that swung it his way.
Zhakiyanov’s first defence would be against Ryan Burnett, the former undefeated British champion and current IBF title holder, having overcome Lee Haskins. Defeating Jason Booth among others, he was undefeated in 17 (nine inside the distance) contests. Burnett, who had been an Olympic Games Youth gold medallist in 2010, had already proved that he had both skill and good power to do well at this level.
21 October 2017. Ryan Burnett w pts 12 Zhanat Zhakiyanov
Venue: SSE Arena, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Howard Foster.
Scorecards: 118-110, 116-112, 119-109.
Fight Summary: With the IBF’s Burnett (117½) up against Zhakiyanov (117¼), the WBA champion, the fight was a unification match which also involved my version of the 'world' title. Boxing brilliantly, with jab-and-move tactics working a treat, Burnett went to the front from the start, confusing the 33-year-old Kazakh who almost always came forward in a straight line. Although Zhakiyanov remained dangerous with uppercuts and body shots, Burnett, whose left eye was beginning to close in the eighth, outmanoeuvred his man right through to the final bell.
Burnett relinquished the IBF title on 12 February 2018 in order to defend the WBA crown and not to be held up by a mandatory IBF defence.
31 March 2018. Ryan Burnett w pts 12 Yonfrez Parejo
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Terry O’Connor.
Scorecards: 120-108, 120-108, 116-112.
Fight Summary: Having broken his right hand in the third round, the champion was forced to adopt different tactics to those he had planned for Parejo (117). However, it did not stop Burnett (117¾) from bossing the contest against a tough opponent who had good skills and a solid countering left hook at his disposal. It was speed of movement that confused Parejo, making him miss repeatedly and at the same time inviting him in. In the seventh Burnett suffered a cut on his left eye from a head clash, but he continued to outbox Parejo, who failed to up his work-rate, right through to the final bell.
As an entrant in the World Boxing Super Series, Nonito Donaire, a former three-weight champion, was drawn to meet Ryan Burnett at the quarter-final stage in what would also be a defence of the latter’s WBA title. Although Donaire’s previous contest was a losing one against Carl Frampton for the ‘interim’ WBO 126lbs title, he was confident of being able to drop down to 118lbs without losing his strength. With 38 wins and five losses on his record, he had beaten some good men in a career that started back in 2001.
3 November 2018. Nonito Donaire w rtd 4 Ryan Burnett
Venue: SSE Hydro, Glasgow Scotland. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Howard Foster.
Fight Summary: In what was a quarter-final leg of World Boxing Super Series, as well as a defence of his WBA title, Burnett (117¾) was unfortunate to lose to Donaire (117½) when being forced to retire at the end of the fourth. The champion had started well enough before taking a knee in the fourth after suffering what was thought to be a slipped disc. Somehow making it to the end of the round, Burnett was eventually put on Oxygen and stretchered away to hospital.
27 April 2019. Nonito Donaire w rsc 6 Stephon Young
Venue: Cajun Dome, Lafayette, Louisiana, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Mark Nelson.
Fight Summary: Stepping in at three days notice for the injured Zolani Tete in what was the semi-final leg of the World Boxing Super Series, Young (117¼) found himself up against a champion who was that much stronger and far more experienced. Despite that, the southpaw challenger made things difficult for Donaire (117½) early on when speeding around the ring, but once the latter hurt his man with a left hook in the third the writing was on the wall. By now well on top, even though Young looked resurgent in the sixth the fight was over at 2.37 of that session after Donaire landed a crunching left hook to the jaw that sent the former crashing. Not even bothering to take up the count, the referee decided that the stricken fighter required immediate treatment.
Contesting the final of the World Boxing Super Series, Donaire was due to meet the top-ranked Naoya Inoue, the holder of the IBF belt, on 7 November 2019. Also recognised by The Ring as their champion, and known as ‘The Monster’ due to his prodigious power, Inoue was undefeated in 18 contests that had seen 16 of his opponents beaten inside the distance. And as a three-weight champion who had held both the junior flyweight (WBC) and junior bantamweight (WBO) titles prior to moving up to bantam, he had beaten Juan Carlos Payano and Emmanuel Rodriguez, the IBF champion, to reach the WBSS final.
7 November 2019. Naoya Inoue w pts 12 Nonito Donaire
Venue: Super Arena, Saitama, Japan. Recognition: IBF/WBA/The Ring. Referee: Ernie Sharif.
Scorecards: 116-111, 114-113, 117-109.
Fight Summary: Not given a chance by many, the 36-year-old Donaire (117½) showed that he belonged in the same ring as the big-hitting Inoue (118) when taking his rival the full course and presenting him with plenty of problems. Coming forward while taking Inoue’s best punches, as early as the second round the latter was cut on the right eyelid and was being forced to take some heavy shots. By the middle rounds Donaire had already proved that he could hold a shot as Inoue opened up with both hands on several occasions, and in the ninth it was his turn to rock the man from Japan with a heavy right counter. With blood pouring from the right eye, Inoue came back strongly in the tenth to have Donaire holding on before unleashing a cracking left to the body in the 11th that eventually sent the WBA champion to the deck for a long count. Clearly hurt, Donaire was almost downed again prior to the bell. The final session saw Inoue open up with all guns blazing, but being unable to put his man away in what had been a memorable contest that would long remain in the minds of those who witnessed it.
31 October 2020. Naoya Inoue w rsc 7 Jason Moloney
Venue: MGM Grand Bubble, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/The Ring. Referee: Kenny Bayless.
Fight Summary: Happy to outbox Moloney (117¾) from distance in the opening two sessions, the champion upped his work-rate in the third when starting to land heavy shots that shook the Australian up. In the fifth it seemed to be just a matter of time after Inoue (117½) had hurt Moloney with a right cross, before having the latter down with a left hook in the sixth. It came as no surprise when the champion finished the job in the seventh, a corking right cross having Moloney scrambling desperately to get off the floor until the referee called a halt when the count had reached ‘eight’ at 2.59 of the session.