Junior Welterweight World Champions & Their Championship Fights (140lbs)

Despite the weight class being kicked off by the NBA in 1923 there was no further support for the new division forthcoming. It was only when the top-ranked Tony Canzoneri defended the NBA title in a return against Jack Kid Berg, rated the number two man, that my version of the ‘world’ title would be involved. Berg had earlier won the NBA title when defeating Mushy Callahan, going on to make successful defences against Joe Glick (2), Fighting Al Delmont, Herman Perlick (2), Buster Brown, Billy Petrolle, Goldie Hess and Billy Wallace before losing the title to Canzoneri. An all-action fighter, nicknamed ‘The Whitechapel Windmill’, Berg came to the ring with 94 wins, five draws and five defeats on his record, while the equally aggressive Canzoneri, a former featherweight champion and current holder of the lightweight and NBA junior welterweight titles, had 79 wins, eight draws, nine defeats and four no-decision contests on his slate. 

 

10 September 1931. Tony Canzoneri w pts 15 Jack Kid Berg

Venue: Polo Grounds, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NBA. Referee: Patsy Haley.

Fight Summary: Down from a Canzoneri (131¾) left hook to the jaw after less than two minutes of fighting Berg (134½) was not expected to last much longer, but despite shipping heavy punishment, mainly to the body, throughout and being twice hit low he bravely remained on his feet to hear the final bell and the unanimous decision that went against him. While the fight had proved that Berg did not have the power to disturb the champion, the low blow delivered in the eighth round appreciably slowed him down, and in any State other than New York, which carried the No-Foul Rule, Canzoneri would have been disqualified. Billed for the world lightweight title, this one was also recognised by the NBA as involving Canzoneri's junior welterweight crown.

 

29 October 1931. Tony Canzoneri w pts 10 Philly Griffin

Venue: The Armoury, Newark, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: NBA. Referee: John Healy.

Fight Summary: Canzoneri (132) was never in danger of losing his title to Griffin (138¾), holding his rival off with long lefts to the body and doing very much as he pleased as he easily evaded the right-hand counters coming his way. Only in the last three rounds did he open up with savage attacks that saw Griffin holding on at every opportunity. The referee’s decision was a formality.

 

20 November 1931. Tony Canzoneri w pts 15 Kid Chocolate

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NBA. Referee: Willie Lewis.

Fight Summary: Billed for the world lightweight championship, the NBA also recognised it as involving their junior welterweight title even though it was contested in New York. Despite the determined efforts of the challenger, Canzoneri (132) came through to win the split decision in what had been a fiercely contested affair and one that could have gone either way. Performing at his very best Chocolate (127½) outboxed the champion for much of the time, his right-hand uppercuts catching Canzoneri as he came in and his silky skills a treat to watch. However, it was the latter’s aggression, gameness and drive that gained him the decision.

 

Canzoneri’s next defence would be against Johnny Jadick, the ninth-ranked lightweight, and a man who had wins over Wilbur Cohen, Al Foreman, Dick Honeyboy Finnegan, Bruce Flowers, Luis Vicentini, King Tut (2), Tommy Grogan, Davey Abad, Tony Herrera and Lew Massey. Having turned pro in 1923, he had developed into a tough opponent for any fighter with world title aspirations while putting together a record of 70 wins, four draws and 17 defeats.

 

18 January 1932. Johnny Jadick w pts 10 Tony Canzoneri

Venue: The Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: NBA. Referee: Leo Houck.

Scorecards: 5-4-1, 5-4-1, 4-3-3.

Fight Summary: As in the case of California, the Pennsylvanian Boxing Commission was not affiliated to the NBA but were happy to recognise Canzoneri v Jadick for the title. Down in the first, Jadick (136½), obviously cautious, came back with the jab, and although occasionally opening up relied on that punch to win him the fight. Canzoneri (132½) was the heavier puncher but was unable to sustain a steady work-rate. Despite flailing away wildly with both hands he did not land enough quality punches to retain the title, Jadick fully deserving the unanimous verdict.

 

18 July 1932. Johnny Jadick w pts 10 Tony Canzoneri

Venue: Baker Bowl, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: NBA. Referee: Joe McGuigan.

Scorecards: 6-3-1, 5-3-2, 2-7-1.

Fight Summary: Although not a member State of the NBA, as in their first contest the Pennsylvanian Boxing Commission were more than happy to accommodate the return as a title fight, and once again it was very close. This time round Canzoneri (133) looked to counter Jadick (135¼), who proved a shade too smart for that tactic, and despite landing the heavier punches the former champion missed his opportunity. In the final round Jadick was floored by a left hook to the jaw, but was up immediately to finish the course, worn out and bloodied but still champion. Canzoneri finished with a bad cut on the right eye, testament to Jadick’s probing jabs.  

 

On 20 September, the NBA decided not to recognise the ‘junior’ divisions in future, although States such as Pennsylvania, California. Illinois and Louisiana, plus Washington, Florida, Missouri and Ohio were happy to support their own champions or contests taking place on home territory. Jadick would next put his title on the line against the hard-hitting Battling Shaw, who had won just two of five contests since beating Joe Ghnouly. A hardy fighter, whose name described him aptly, Shaw would come to the ring with a record showing 58 wins, nine draws, 14 defeats, nine no-decision contests and one no contest.

 

20 February 1933. Battling Shaw w pts 10 Johnny Jadick

Venue: The Coliseum, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Recognition: Louisiana. Referee: Jimmy Moran.

Scorecards: 4-3-3, 4-3-3, 4-4-2.

Fight Summary: Starting well with a great long left jab, Jadick (135) took the fight to Shaw (136) before being forced to defend more and more as the challenger worked at close quarters using effective overarm rights. Although Jadick was cut on the left eye in the sixth and shaken up in the tenth he fought back well, the decision being close enough to have gone either way.

 

The current world lightweight champion, Tony Canzoneri, would be Shaw’s first challenger. Since losing the NBA title to Johnny Jadick and failing in a return bout, Canzoneri had held on to his world lightweight crown, beating Billy Petrolle, and despite dropping a decision to Wesley Ramey immediately prior to his meeting with Shaw he had defeated Billy Townsend and Pete Nebo.

 

21 May 1933. Tony Canzoneri w pts 10 Battling Shaw

Venue: Heinemann Park, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Recognition: Louisiana. Referee: Jimmy Moran.

Fight Summary: Making his first defence, Shaw (136½) was no match for Canzoneri (133) who scored knockdowns in the seventh and eighth rounds to walk off with the unanimous decision. Although Shaw gave Canzoneri a stubborn battle for the first five rounds, after that it was an uphill struggle which he did well to survive.

 

Barney Ross, a box-fighter of the highest order who would be making his first world title challenge, would be next for Canzoneri. Ross, who had 43 wins, two draws, two defeats and one no decision on his record, had beaten men of the calibre of Ray Miller, Battling Battalino, Goldie Hess, Johnny Farr, Billy Petrolle and Joe Ghnouly in recent fights.

 

23 June 1933. Barney Ross w pts 10 Tony Canzoneri

Venue: The Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Recognition: Illinois. Referee: Tommy Gilmore.

Scorecards: 52-48, 53-47, 50-50.

Fight Summary: Despite being outsmarted by Canzoneri (133½) over the first six rounds, and despite carrying two cut eyes coming into the seventh, Ross (134¾) came through admirably to gain a majority decision in what for him was an uphill struggle. Having got off to a good start the champion had peppered Ross with an array of lefts and rights in a seemingly never-ending display of aggression, but gradually the tide turned as the latter stuck to his guns to lash in two-fisted attacks which ultimately cut back the deficit according to the judges. Billed for the world lightweight championship, with the result the Illinois Boxing Commission stated that Ross had also won Canzoneri’s junior welterweight title.

 

26 July 1933. Barney Ross w rsc 6 (12) Johnny Farr

Venue: Convention Hall, Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Recognition: Illinois. Referee: Walter Bates.

Fight Summary: Defending his newly won crown for the first time, Ross (134¾) used Farr (136½) as a punch-bag to win almost without reply. It was Ross all the way as he sent in punishing blows from the start, closing Farr’s right eye as early as the first round and thereafter hitting his man very much as he pleased. At the end of the sixth it came as no surprise when the doctor ordered the referee to call a halt after his examination of Farr had disclosed a broken nose to go with severe facial injuries.

 

12 September 1933. Barney Ross w pts 15 Tony Canzoneri

Venue: Polo Grounds, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: Illinois. Referee: Arthur Donovan.

Scorecards: 9-2-4, 8-4-3, 7-8.

Fight Summary: Although billed for the world lightweight championship, it was recognised by Illinois as also involving Ross' junior welterweight title. As in their previous encounter this was again close. Reporting on the fight, Nat Fleischer, of The Ring magazine, felt that had Canzoneri (133¼) stuck to his boxing instead of going right-hand crazy it would probably have brought him the decision, which again was a split one. However, the left hand of Ross (135) was superb, whether it was the jab or the hook, and it stopped the challenger in his tracks, thus paving the way for victory in a fight that was always going to be closely contested.

 

17 November 1933. Barney Ross w pts 10 Sammy Fuller

Venue: The Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Recognition: Illinois. Referee: Joe McNamara.

Scorecards: 51-49, 53-47, 50-50.

Fight Summary: Even though Ross (135½) appeared to win seven of the ten rounds he boxed with some caution in taking no unnecessary risks, and the majority decision rendered in his favour showed it to be much closer than it seemed. However, despite one judge voting for him, the hard-punching Fuller (139), a man with a lesser title claim, was also a disappointment. And, apart from the fourth round when he fought furiously, he often appeared slow and plodding as his powerful punches failed to hit the target. On reflection, it was difficult to analyse why Ross, who threw a lot of left hooks early on, did not open up more as it was not until the tenth that he really shook Fuller with blows to head and body. Afterwards, Ross claimed that he had looked bad because Fuller refused to lead. With the result, Fuller finally lost his claim to be recognised as the rightful title holder.

 

7 February 1934. Barney Ross w pts 12 Pete Nebo

Venue: Convention Hall, Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Recognition: Illinois.

Fight Summary: The champion showered Nebo (139) with leather throughout, winning ten of the 12 contested rounds to fully deserve the unanimous decision. Not discouraged, Nebo bothered Ross (135½) constantly with left hands, many of the rounds being closely fought as he tried to force his way in using a crouching, weaving style. Winning the fourth and 11th sessions with forceful attacks while getting in smashing head blows were not enough, but Nebo, who was still fighting hard at the final bell, received warm applause for his great efforts.

 

5 March 1934. Barney Ross drew 10 Frankie Klick

Venue: Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California, USA. Recognition: Illinois. Referee: Toby Irwin.

Fight Summary: Notwithstanding the fact that the referee gave a draw, Ross (137½) looked to have defended his title with some ease. While no one would dispute that Klick (138) contested it all the way, Ross, who started to fight viciously in the sixth and had all of the seventh and eighth with two-fisted attacks driving Klick back on his heels, appeared to have been robbed.

 

14 March 1934. Barney Ross w pts 10 Kid Moro

Venue: Municipal Auditorium, Oakland, California, USA. Recognition: Illinois. Referee: Oakland Frankie Burns.

Fight Summary: Little was known about the challenger other than the fact that he was durable, and with Ross (137) forcing the fight most of the way it became merely a workout for the champion. Moro (137) did open up in the fifth, a two-handed attack driving Ross back before hurting his man with a swinging left to the head, but the newly found aggression quickly subsided as the champion used the straight left to advantage. All in all it was an easy night’s work for Ross, despite Moro clinching at every opportunity to escape hurtful body shots and, apart from in the tenth round when he staggered the Filipino with a vicious left to the jaw, he rarely moved out of first gear. It was no surprise when the referee immediately lifted Ross’ arm at the final bell.

 

27 March 1934. Barney Ross w pts 10 Bobby Pacho

Venue: Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: Illinois. Referee: George Blake.

Scorecard: 6-2-2.

Fight Summary: Looking to take the title, Pacho (139½), in great shape, ultimately forced Ross (138½) to revert to clever defensive work in order for him to maintain the slim lead he had built up in the early stages. This was the pattern of the fight despite Pacho’s nose being broken as early as the first round. With Ross cut over the left eye in the fourth, Pacho continued to bore in, flailing away with short chopping overarm rights right through to the final bell, before the referee decided that the title remained with the champion.

 

10 December 1934. Barney Ross w pts 12 Bobby Pacho

Venue: Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Recognition: Illinois. Referee: Matt Brock.

Fight Summary: In front of 11,500 fans, Ross (138) had difficulty in catching Pacho (138¼) cleanly in the early rounds, but in the last three sessions he opened up to have the challenger reeling under heavy blows to head and body while on his way to another successful defence by a unanimous decision.

 

28 January 1935. Barney Ross w pts 10 Frankie Klick

Venue: Municipal Stadium, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: Illinois. Referee: Leo Shea.

Fight Summary: Viewed by a 13,000 crowd, Ross (136) dropped the challenger for ‘eight’ in round two following a heavy right to the jaw. Ross then controlled all the rounds bar the sixth, when Klick (137) fought back strongly, to land the unanimous decision of the judges.

 

9 April 1935. Barney Ross w pts 12 Henry Woods

Venue: Civic Auditorium, Seattle, Washington, USA. Recognition: Illinois. Referee: Tommy McCarthy.

Fight Summary: Having been hammered to the floor by a one-two to the jaw in the third round it appeared that Woods (137¼) had twisted his ankle, but on reaching the count of ‘ten’ the referee demanded the challenger to get to his feet instead of counting him out. Ross (136½) then tried for a kayo before Woods fought a rearguard action to somehow stay in the fight. Following that, Ross started each session slowly, only speeding up when caught, and finished with a burst of action to impress the judges who handed him the unanimous decision.

 

Ross relinquished the Illinois version of the title on 15 April to prepare for a crack at Jimmy McLarnin’s world welterweight crown on 28 May. Although there were a few claimants such as Maxie Berger, Harry Weekly and Tippy Larkin in the next few years, the weight class did not kick off again until the NBA, supported by the NYSAC, decided to reintroduce it in May 1959 when a match was made between Kenny Lane and Carlos Ortiz, the number one and two rated lightweights. Both men were waiting for a crack at the 135lbs champion, Joe Brown, and due to it being supported by the NYSAC and the NBA the contest should be seen as attracting 'world' title status in line with my formula. Both men were skilled performers, and even though Lane, a southpaw, had outscored Ortiz at the end of 1958 the result would not be a formality. Coming to the ring Lane’s record stood at 57 wins and six defeats, while Ortiz had 29 wins, two losses and a no contest on his tab.

 

12 June 1959. Carlos Ortiz w rsc 2 (12) Kenny Lane

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY. Referee: Harry Kessler.

Fight Summary: With Ortiz (139¼) matching the southpaw jabs of Lane (140), there were a number of lively exchanges in the opening session. It was much of the same in the second round before Ortiz dropped Lane for ‘four’ with a left-right combination. Unfortunately, near the end of the session after their heads came together and Lane was left with a badly gashed right eye it was clear that he could not continue with such a deep wound that would ultimately require ten stitches. Thus it came as no surprise during the interval that the fight was called off by the referee on the ringside doctor’s advice. Although Ortiz was also carrying a slight cut on his right eye, having been deemed fit to continue he was announced the winner.

 

By the end of the year when it was clear that for whatever reason the NYSAC had lost interest in the weight class, even Ortiz recognised that it was merely a stepping stone to the lightweight crown.

 

4 February 1960. Carlos Ortiz w co 10 (15) Battling Torres

Venue: The Coliseum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: NBA. Referee: Mushy Callahan.

Fight Summary: Tantalising the 18-year-old challenger with the left jab Ortiz (137) proved what a good fighter he was, taking everything that came his way before opening up in the latter rounds with big punches of his own. Torres (138) put up a good fight, but showed his inexperience when trying to take Ortiz out with everything he threw. Cut over the left eye and battered by fierce rights to the head and hurtful body attacks, Torres was showing evidence in the ninth that he would not be around much longer, and in the tenth a barrage of lefts and rights saw him sink to the canvas to be counted out with just four seconds of the session remaining.

 

15 June 1960. Carlos Ortiz w pts 15 Duilio Loi

Venue: Cow Palace, Daly City, California, USA. Recognition: NBA. Referee: Vern Bybee.

Scorecards: 145-143, 148-146, 143-145.

Fight Summary: Keeping the fight at long range with accurate left jabs, while Loi (140) preferred to bob and weave, the champion found his opponent difficult to tag with big shots due to his crouching style. While the upright Ortiz (137½) looked to land with straight punches, Loi would hook and uppercut to head and body, and at times the action was fast and furious as both men tried to take control. There were no knockdowns recorded, although Ortiz slipped over twice. With the contest slowing appreciably in the latter stages, after Loi took a hard right to the body in the penultimate session he had little left, leaving Ortiz to make sure of the decision in his favour.

 

Having gone close, Loi, a long-term world title contender, would get an immediate return with Ortiz. With 110 contests behind him, and beaten just once by Jorgen Johansen in a European lightweight title challenge, Loi had eventually been crowned as champion, defending the title eight times before becoming the European welterweight boss. A difficult man to tag, since starting out in 1948 Loi’s record read like a veritable Who’s Who, especially on the European front, beating men such as Bruno Bisterzo, Emilio Marconi, Agustin Argote (2), Francis Bonnardel, Ernesto Formenti (2), Bruno Visintin, Jacques Herbillon, Ivor Kid Germain, Mario Trigo, Glen Flanagan, Ray Famechon, Giancarlo Garbelli, Seraphin Ferrer, Orlando Zulueta, Manolo Garcia, Fred Galiana, Sauveur Chiocca, Hoacine Khalfi, Rudi Langer, Idrissa Dione, Felix Chiocca (2), Wallace Bud Smith, Al Nevarez and Conny Rudhof.

 

1 September 1960. Duilio Loi w pts 15 Carlos Ortiz

Venue: San Siro Stadium, Milan, Italy. Recognition: NBA. Referee: Andre Esparraquera.

Scorecards: 74-73, 74-73, 72-72.

Fight Summary: As per their first contest it was closely fought, but this time Loi (139½) had the edge over the champion who was shaken up by a left to the jaw in the fourth and given no room to work. The early rounds had seen both men content to spar for openings before Loi became more effective on the inside and began to box his man off. With the tide beginning to turn in the ninth, when Ortiz (138½) was forced on the defensive by Loi he was blitzed by a hail of left and right hooks that had him rocking. Although Ortiz was still boxing brilliantly at times, especially in the 11th and 13th rounds, Loi was beginning to get on top as he put everything into his attacks, his work over the last two sessions giving him a deserved victory. Further to both men taking in a warm-up contest, they were soon contracted to meet for the third time.

 

10 May 1961. Duilio Loi w pts 15 Carlos Ortiz

Venue: San Siro Stadium, Milan, Italy. Recognition: NBA. Referee: Frank Carter.

Scorecards: 70-67, 74-69, 74-66.

Fight Summary: With 60,000 fans shouting themselves hoarse both men got to work early, but it was not until the sixth round that anything decisive happened. Prior to that, Ortiz (136¾) had generally been on the attack while the champion held the centre of the ring, bobbing and weaving before unloading bursts of punches. In three fights between the pair there had been no knockdowns, but in the sixth Loi (138) had Ortiz over twice, firstly from a right to the jaw and then from a fusillade of blows from both hands. Thereafter, with the contest in Loi’s hands, he gave a master class in footwork and countering as Ortiz, fighting furiously at times, tried to make up the deficit to no avail.

 

21 October 1961. Duilio Loi drew 15 Eddie Perkins

Venue: Sports Palace, Milan, Italy. Recognition: NBA. Referee: Nello Barroveccio.

Scorecards: 70-69, 69-71, 71-71.

Fight Summary: There was little action to talk of during the opening rounds and in the seventh, with the crowd whistling and jeering, despite the referee warning both men to get busy it had little effect. With Perkins (139½) content to stand off and counter while the champion appeared unable to force matters, the contest degenerated into a shambling bore until the final stages when the pair tried to turn things around. Even when Loi (138½) finally went on the attack in the 15th the fans remained unhappy, and although he could not really explain his lethargic display the champion stated that things would be different if there was a return bout.

 

The NBA was reconstituted as the World Boxing Association (WBA) on 20 August 1962, and following their directive for Loi to defend against Perkins on 5 July 1962 the fight was pushed on to September after the latter picked up an injury and Loi defended his European welter title against Fortunato Manca (w pts 15 at the Amsicora Stadium, Cagliari on 15 July) instead. Perkins, a skilful box-fighter with 25 wins and eight defeats on his record since starting out in 1956 deserved his return crack at Loi, having run him extremely close. An improving fighter who learned his lessons well, Perkins had beaten Cecil Shorts, Frankie Ryff, Baby Vasquez (2), Paul Armstead, Larry Boardman, Paolo Rosi, Joey Lopes, Gene Gresham, Carlos Morocho Hernandez and Mauro Vazquez.

 

14 September 1962. Eddie Perkins w pts 15 Duilio Loi

Venue: Vigorelli Stadium, Milan, Italy. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Pierre Verners.

Fight Summary: This time around there were no complaints as Perkins (140), settling down quickly with his left hand being the decisive weapon, fully deserved the unanimous decision in his favour. Every time the champion tried to force the issue he was boxed off by stabbing jabs and solid left hooks to both the head and body, and although not particularly hurt he was forced to give ground in order to regroup. This was the pattern of the fight throughout. Despite Loi (140) having no answer to the speed and accuracy of Perkins’ punches, a return clause would see the pair come together three months later.

 

15 December 1962. Duilio Loi w pts 15 Eddie Perkins

Venue: Sports Palace, Milan, Italy. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Georges Gondre.

Fight Summary: Although he had some difficulty making the weight for this one, with Loi (137¼) showing that he had learned the lessons required to regain his title he was happy to take the fight to Perkins (138½). From the halfway stage through to the final bell it was give and take as both men looked to influence the referee, who was the sole official, and in the 12th Perkins had Loi hanging on from a barrage of solid head blows. Holding on gamely Loi came back strongly to rip in punches to Perkins’ body right through to the end, it being this ability to keep going against the odds that saw him ultimately favoured with the referee’s decision.

 

Loi retired as undefeated champion on 24 January 1963, thus vacating the WBA title. Having been formed on 14 February 1963, at their convention in September 1964 the World Boxing Council (WBC) officially agreed to recognise the junior welterweight class from 1 January 1965, a fair sized majority seeing Eddie Perkins as champion. After defeating Roberto Cruz to win the WBA title, Perkins had successfully defended the belt against Yoshinori Takahashi and Bunny Grant before putting his honours on the line against Carlos Morocho Hernandez. Finally getting a crack at a world title after 42 contests (won 35, drew three, Lost four), the tall, rangy, hard-punching Hernandez had beaten a lot of top men such as Rocky Randell, Baby Vasquez, Davey Moore, Alfredo Urbina (2), Vicente Rivas, Angel Robinson Garcia (2), Len Matthews, Sebastiao Nascimento, Tito Marshall, Doug Vaillant (2), Gene Gresham, Paolo Rosi, Bunny Grant, Joe Brown, Carlos Teo Cruz and Kenny Lane. Beaten by Perkins in 1961, only Lane, Paul Armstead and Jose Napoles had done likewise. By unifying the WBA and WBC titles this contest should also be seen as involving my version of the 'world' title.

 

18 January 1965. Carlos Morocho Hernandez w pts 15 Eddie Perkins

Venue: New Circus Bullring, Caracas, Venezuela. Recognition: WBA/WBC. Referee: Henry Armstrong.

Scorecards: 143-142, 146-143, 129-150.

Fight Summary: Continually making defences on away soil finally proved too much for Perkins (140), who was deemed to have lost the contest after the two Venezuelan judges scored against him despite the referee having him winning by a wide margin on his card. At the halfway stage Perkins seemed well in front, and even though Hernandez (139½) came back with long lefts and rights, especially to the body, the former remained in control. There was no doubt that Hernandez’s driving finish would have influenced the judges to some degree, but following the fight the former three-weight world champion referee claimed that it was the most brazen demonstration of partiality he had ever witnessed.

 

15 May 1965. Carlos Morocho Hernandez w rtd 4 (15) Mario Rossito

Venue: Alejandro Borges Stadium, Maracaibo, Venezuela. Recognition: WBA/WBC.

Fight Summary: Hernandez (134¼) quickly showed his power with two-handed body attacks and cracking left uppercuts making inroads into the challenger’s defences as early as the opening session. Despite being noted for his durability it was soon clear to see that Rossito (137½) was going to be unable to cope with the champion’s speed as he continued to take a battering, and at the end of the third he was badly marked up with his left eye closed and left cheek badly bruised. It came as no surprise when Rossito was retired prior to the fifth getting underway, having taken further severe punishment in the fourth and being on the verge of suffering a knockout.

 

10 July 1965. Carlos Morocho Hernandez w co 3 (15) Percy Hayles

Venue: National Stadium, Kingston, Jamaica. Recognition: WBA/WBC. Referee: Willie Pep.

Fight Summary: Although Hayles (136½) made a bright start in the opening two rounds, it was clear that the big-punching champion was merely biding his time while feeling his way into a contest that was being watched by 17,000 excited fans. That all changed in the third session as Hernandez (137½) finally decided that Hayles was no danger to him and started to let his punches go. Driving Hayles around the ring under a stream of combinations to head and body, Hernandez ended the contest with a smashing left hook that saw the referee count the local out with seven seconds of the round remaining.

 

Having turned down an offer to defend against Napoles, Hernandez then suffered a bad non-title defeat in Panama at the hands of Ismael Laguna (l rsc 8 at the Juan Diaz Stadium, Panama City on 19 February 1966), prior to signing for a defence against the Italian champion, Sandro Lopopolo. A former Olympic silver medallist, the southpaw had lost just twice in 43 pro contests, to Piero Brandi and Juan Albornoz, and had beaten J. D. Ellis, Doug Vaillant and Brandi. He had also drawn five times and had a no contest on his record. However, while there was no doubt that he was a clever, compact box-fighter with a future, Lopopolo, rated ninth in the division by The Ring magazine, appeared fortunate to get a title shot ahead of others, especially the European champion, Albornoz.

 

29 April 1966. Sandro Lopopolo w pts 15 Carlos Morocho Hernandez

Venue: Sports Palace, Rome, Italy. Recognition: WBA/WBC. Referee: Manuel Risoto.

Scorecards: 71-68, 70-67, 69-69.

Fight Summary: Providing plenty of spirit and craftiness, and fighting in front of his own people, Lopopolo (139½) started to show in the second session with quick left-rights to the head after feeling the champion out in the first. He repeated this tactic throughout, but by the fifth Hernandez (139½) was warming to the task with some cracking left-hand smashes to the head prior to cutting Lopopolo over the right eye in the seventh following a volley of lefts. Although Lopopolo was shading things Hernandez always looked dangerous with his power, and in the ninth a stream of left uppercuts had the Italian down on one knee. After chasing Hernandez in the 11th Lopopolo eased off for a round or so to conserve his energy before coming back with long lefts to keep the champion at bay. The final round saw both men fighting hard for supremacy, with Lopopolo getting a second wind and eventually outworking Hernandez who claimed afterwards that the referee had stopped him from fighting.

 

21 October 1966. Sandro Lopopolo w rtd 7 (15) Vicente Rivas

Venue: Sports Palace, Rome, Italy. Recognition: WBA/WBC. Referee: Nello Barroveccio.

Fight Summary: Lopopolo (139¾) hardly covered himself in glory against the 32-year-old Rivas (140), who offered very little in terms of aggression before retiring on his stool at the end of the seventh. Prior to that, the technically correct Lopopolo had finally caught up with Rivas in the sixth, with lefts and rights to the head, but had been unable to make his attacks pay off against the speedy Venezuelan. In explaining his retirement, Rivas, who had beaten Lopopolo on points in a ten-round non-title contest on 3 July, claimed that, having first hurt his right in the fourth, by the seventh the pain was too severe for him to continue.

 

Ordering Lopopolo to defend against Jose Napoles by 20 November or risk being stripped the WBC accepted 21 January 1967, but when Lopopolo then requested a postponement following a tonsillectomy operation on 12 December he was given a final date of 21 February 1967. It was then agreed that he could make a defence against Paul Fujii as long as both men posted a $15,000 bond with the WBC and accepted that whoever won would defend against Napoles next time out. Then, it was announced that Willi Quatuor, the undefeated European champion, would be meeting Napoles in Mexico City on 26 March 1967 to decide the WBC version of the title, but after that fell through when it was realised that the latter could not make the weight it was agreed that Quatuor would be first in line for the winner of a Lopopolo v Fujii contest. Fujii, born in Hawaii but domiciled in Japan where he was known as Takeshi, had run up 25 (20 inside the distance) wins in 27 fights since turning pro in 1964. A solid puncher from both hands he had worked his way up the ratings to become Lopopolo’s leading contender. He also had home advantage. 

 

30 April 1967. Paul Fujii w rsc 2 (15) Sandro Lopopolo

Venue: Kuramae Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBA/WBC. Referee: Jay Edson.

Fight Summary: Boxing away from home proved to be disastrous for the clever champion after he had convincingly won the opening round when concentrating on his fine left jab and excellent footwork. However, that all changed in the second session as Fujii (140), ducking below the left hands coming his way, suddenly crashed in a right hook to the jaw that dropped Lopopolo (139). After just beating the count Lopopolo was forced to take the mandatory ‘eight’ prior to coming under another barrage of blows from either hand. With Lopopolo defenceless up against the ropes, the referee came to his rescue at 2.33 of the session.

With Britain finally recognising the weight class as from 1 October 1967, all world title contests from here on should be seen as truly international. At this moment in time, Fujji should be seen as holding the world title.

 

16 November 1967. Paul Fujii w co 4 (15) Willi Quatuor

Venue: Kuramae Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: World. Referee: Jay Edson.

Fight Summary: Despite entering the ring as a big underdog the southpaw challenger held Fujii (140) on even terms in the opening two rounds, trading punches and giving the man from Japan plenty to think about. Having edged the third, especially after landing a cracking right to the jaw, when Fujii opened up in the fourth Quatuor (139¼) met him all the way, using his right jab effectively. Although flat footed at times, Quatuor was proving more than a match for Fujii until he was hurt by a long right to the jaw which sent him back on the ropes. Almost defenceless at that point, Quatuor took a smashing left hook to the body before dropping for the full count that was completed at 2.30 of the session.

 

The WBC vacated the title on 28 November 1968 after Fujii had failed to make a defence for nearly a year, having suffered injuries in a car accident and then signing to meet Nicolino Locche. This followed the WBA’s failure to approve a match between Fujii and Pedro Adigue, their number three contender. With his chance of a title shot long overdue, Locche had participated in 106 contests since turning pro in 1958, winning 89, drawing 14 and losing two as well as taking part in a no contest. A skilful boxer with great defensive powers, he had beaten Jaime Gine (2), Vicente Derado (3), Joe Brown, Abel Laudonio (2), Sandro Lopopolo, Everaldo Costa Azevedo, L. C. Morgan, Eddie Perkins and Alfredo Urbina (2).

 

12 December 1968. Nicolino Locche w rtd 10 (15) Paul Fujii

Venue: Kuramae Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Nicholas Pope.

Fight Summary: Springing something of a surprise, the experienced challenger quickly got his left jab going to put points in the bank while Fujii (139¾) seemed lethargic and disappointing after being out of the ring for so long. Maintaining his good start, Locche (138½) continued to pull away, mixing up long left hooks to the body and rights and lefts to the head as Fujii rushed him in a desperate attempt to bring him down. Being cut over the right eye in the fourth made Fujii’s job even more difficult. Although he never stopped throwing punches they were often wild, having little effect other than the odd few which landed. After taking the best Fujii could offer Locche opened up in the ninth with hard right and left uppercuts to the jaw, and when the bell rang for the tenth to begin it was clear that the champion had retired, the contest coming to a close after five seconds of the session had elapsed.

 

3 May 1969. Nicolino Locche w pts 15 Carlos Morocho Hernandez

Venue: Luna Park Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Victor Avendano.

Scorecards: 298-290, 298-297, 298-290.

Fight Summary: Over the first five rounds the challenger looked to be in with a chance as he threw some pretty solid punches at Locche (139), but after the mini-storm subsided the latter took over, battering away with straight lefts and rights while scoring heavily on the inside. Although Hernandez (137) made another big charge, this time in the 12th when swinging wildly in a vain attempt to land a kayo, his efforts were negated by Locche who gave it both barrels during the remaining three sessions, firing in solid lefts and rights despite having the fight already in the bag.

 

11 October 1969. Nicolino Locche w pts 15 Joao Henrique

Venue: Luna Park Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Alfonso Araujo.

Scorecards: 296-294, 300-289, 299-296.

Fight Summary: Moving well and landing solid lefts to the face of the challenger, Locche (139¾) was clearly in front during the early rounds as he continued to spear in the punches. This tactic certainly paid dividends when Henrique (138¼) was cut over the right eye during the fourth. With Henrique trying to protect himself from suffering further damage, it was not until the ninth that he took up the offensive as Locche tired. For the next three or four sessions Henrique began to peg back Locche’s lead, battering his rival with powerful lefts and rights, before the latter came alive and took over where he had left off to run out a good winner.

 

16 May 1970. Nicolino Locche w pts 15 Adolph Pruitt

Venue: Luna Park Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Joaquin Arvas.

Scorecards: 149-145, 149-144, 149-141.

Fight Summary: Although the challenger took up the offensive from the opening bell, Locche (139¼) quickly picked it up when coming back with solid lefts as his rival missed with far more than he threw. The pattern of the fight saw Locche ducking under or blocking blows from Pruitt (138) with ease while sending in hurtful punches virtually every round. Miraculously, the American showed little sign of being hurt or even tired despite the tremendous amount of blows he had taken to the head and body throughout, appearing quite fresh at the finish. The unanimous verdict in favour of Locche came as no surprise, but according to Pruitt it was he who landed the harder punches and without him forcing the fight there would have been little action.

 

3 April 1971. Nicolino Locche w pts 15 Domingo Barrera

Venue: Luna Park Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Antonio Guzman.

Scorecards: 147-145, 148-146, 146-148.

Fight Summary: Despite suffering two torn tendons in his left arm during the second round and a bad cut over his right eye in the eighth, the champion battled on bravely to take a split decision over the tough Barrera (138). There was no doubting that Locche (139) was confused by Barrera’s southpaw stance, but luckily for him when the Spaniard began to tire from his exertions by the tenth he was able to land some solid shots. Surprisingly, Barrera came out firing in the 11th in an effort to finish off Locche, but the latter escaped any serious hurt by dint of excellent footwork. Following that, in the 13th and 14th rounds it was the champion who landed the most explosive punches before both men struggled through the final session.

 

11 December 1971. Nicolino Locche w pts 15 Antonio Cervantes

Venue: Luna Park Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Jose Gomez.

Fight Summary: Defending for the first time since suffering a badly injured arm, Locche (139) boxed well on the back foot to beat the younger Cervantes (138), who was kidded out of it for large spells of the contest by the crafty champion. At times, Locche, with his hands by his side, would invite Cervantes on to the attack and counter his rival with head punches, while the latter would appear almost nonplussed. Round after round went this way, and although the challenger finished the fight almost as fresh as when he started he had nothing to show for it as Locche waltzed to victory. All three judges gave Locche every round.

 

Locche’s next challenger would be Alfonso Frazer, a big-puncher who had won 26 and drawn once in 31 contests, with only seven of them going the distance. However, he had also been halted four times. With wins over Antonio Herrera, Jaguar Kakizawa and Jose Isaac Marin, he had a puncher’s chance.

10 March 1972. Alfonso Frazer w pts 15 Nicolino Locche

Venue: New City Gym, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Jesus Celis.

Scorecards: 147-143, 148-141, 149-146.

Fight Summary: Taking the fight to the champion from the start, ‘Peppermint’ Frazer (137) continued his offensive right through to the final bell to run out a clear winner, despite never having been more than ten rounds previously. For Locche (139) it was one defence too many, and although he showed up well with counter attacks in the third and fifth sessions he was hampered by a gash over the right eye sustained in the eighth, an injury Frazer took full advantage of.

 

Frazer’s first defence would be against the unranked Antonio Cervantes, who’d had an earlier crack at Locche without success. Having 58 wins, three draws and nine defeats on his record, Cervantes was a clever all-round fighter, with Rodolfo El Gato Gonzalez and Enrique Jana being among his victims.

 

28 October 1972. Antonio Cervantes w co 10 (15) Alfonso Frazer

Venue: New City Gym, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Waldemar Schmidt.

Fight Summary: In what was viewed a big upset, Cervantes (139), also known as Kid Pambele, took all that the champion could muster before coming back with heavy punches of his own to knock the ‘Peppermint’ out. The contest had got away to a slow start as both men felt each other out, but by the middle rounds Frazer (139½) was just about ahead on the cards, his aggressive work from head to body paying dividends. However, Cervantes was still very much in the contest as Frazer continued to miss with a fair percentage of heavy shots, and following a heavy exchange of blows in the tenth the latter sank to the floor where he was counted out at 1.15 of the session.

 

15 February 1973. Antonio Cervantes w pts 15 Josue Marquez

Venue: Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Luis Sulbaran.

Scorecards: 147-142, 149-145, 142-145.

Fight Summary: Cervantes (140) used his height and reach advantages, coupled with punching power, to good effect when dealing with the elusive Marquez (137) who backed off for much of the time while only fighting in brief spurts. Stalking Marquez throughout Cervantes always looked the likely winner, but found it difficult to catch up with his man. And he was more surprised than hurt in the third round when a short left hook deposited him on the deck. Marquez continued to make life difficult for Cervantes before the latter eventually caught up with him in the final round, blitzing the Puerto Rican, now cut over the left eye, to the deck for the mandatory ‘eight’. Strangely, one of the judges scored Marquez ahead at the finish regardless of the fact that Cervantes seemed a clear winner.

 

17 March 1973. Antonio Cervantes w rtd 9 (15) Nicolino Locche

Venue: Cesar Giron Bullring, Maracay, Venezuela. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Luis Sulbaran.

Fight Summary: Trying to regain his old title, the veteran Locche (140) gave Cervantes (139) very few problems before a bad cut over the left eye, sustained in the third, saw his corner retire him after the ninth round had ended. Taller and faster than Locche the new kid on the block took the fight to the Argentine from the opening bell when pounding him from head to body, especially when getting to close quarters. Although consistently outpunched the game Locche never looked like going down, and when he was pulled out of the fight he had to be physically restrained from continuing.

 

19 May 1973. Antonio Cervantes w rsc 5 (15) Alfonso Frazer

Venue: New City Gym, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Luis Sulbaran.

Fight Summary: Frazer (137½) made a good start when carrying the fight to Cervantes (139½), but by the second round he was really up against it as the champion started to pick him apart. By the third, with Cervantes warming to the task Frazer was floored three times before getting on his bike in order to survive. Floored again in the fourth and then early in the fifth Frazer had no defence against the power-packed punches coming his way, and after being decked twice more the referee came to his rescue at 1.38 of the session.

 

8 September 1973. Antonio Cervantes w rsc 5 (15) Carlos Gimenez

Venue: Campin Coliseum, Bogota, Colombia. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Isaac Herrera.

Fight Summary: Getting into top gear quickly the champion never really gave Gimenez (140) much of a chance to settle, twice dropping the latter with hard rights to the jaw in the third round. Gamely getting to his feet both times Gimenez did well to stay in the fight, but it was Cervantes (139), showing an excellent array of jabs, hooks and uppercuts who dominated. The end for Gimenez came in the fifth when he was again put down by a heavy right to the head, and although he beat the count he was rescued by the referee on the 1.45 mark.

 

5 December 1973. Antonio Cervantes w pts 15 Lion Furuyama

Venue: New City Gym, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Jesus Celis.

Scorecards: 148-140, 147-141, 149-141.

Fight Summary: In a bruising battle Cervantes (139¾) piled up the points as he made good use of his better boxing ability and longer reach, while the challenger looked to move inside to get his punches off. Several times Cervantes was staggered, but it was not until the 14th round that Furuyama (140), despite boxing on with a completely closed right eye and damage to his left, really got to his man when having him in trouble sporadically right through to the final bell. Although Furuyama twice hit the deck, classed as slips they did not affect the scoring.

 

2 March 1974. Antonio Cervantes w co 6 (15) Chang-Kil Lee

Venue: Indian Bullring, Cartagena, Colombia. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Isidro Rodriguez.

Fight Summary: As the aggressor from the outset, and the heavier puncher of the pair, the champion went looking for an early finish, only to find Lee (139) content to use good footwork to stay out of harm's way. However, by the third, Cervantes (140), pressuring his rival and cutting the ring space down, was beginning to have some success. Into the sixth, midway through the session with Lee taking a battering a straight right to the chin dropped him, and although he looked be getting up he failed to do so.

 

27 July 1974. Antonio Cervantes w co 2 (15) Victor Millon Ortiz

Venue: Indian Bullring, Cartagena, Colombia. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Ray Solis.

Fight Summary: Cervantes (139) walked straight into Ortiz (140) firing in solid blows from both hands, and within a minute had dropped the latter for the mandatory ‘eight’ count. With Ortiz all at sea, at 1.35 of the second he was counted out after taking a tremendous left hook to the jaw.

 

26 October 1974. Antonio Cervantes w co 8 (15) Shinichi Kadota

Venue: Nihon University Auditorium, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Luis Sulbaran.

Fight Summary: Dominating from the start, the hard-hitting Cervantes (140) quickly had the challenger in real trouble when dropping him for the mandatory ‘eight’ count in each of the opening five rounds. Despite being cut on the right eye early in the fourth, Kadota (138½) continued to try and force the fight. At times it looked as though he might get lucky, but having got through the sixth and seventh relatively unscathed he ran into a cracker of a right hand in the eighth, only just beating the count. Put down again by another right, Kadota made it to his feet before being smashed to the floor again by a similar punch and counted out on the 1.42 mark.

 

17 May 1975. Antonio Cervantes w pts 15 Esteban De Jesus

Venue: New City Gym, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Isidro Rodriguez.

Scorecards: 148-135, 148-136, 147-138.

Fight Summary: Even though he had been beaten by Roberto Duran in a crack at the lightweight title just over a year earlier, De Jesus (139) was strongly fancied in some quarters to derail the champion. However, Cervantes (139) thought otherwise, forcing the Panamanian to take the mandatory ‘eight’ count when he dropped him with a right hander in the first round. Although De Jesus got back into the fight, rallying well over the next nine rounds, with his stamina flagging in the 11th he was put down again in the 12th. From there on it was all Cervantes, who raced away to a big points win as De Jesus continued to give ground.

 

15 November 1975. Antonio Cervantes w rtd 7 (15) Hector Thompson

Venue: New City Gym, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Isaac Herrera.

Fight Summary: Settling down with a long left jab the champion was soon in control, beginning to open up as the contest progressed to such an extent that Thompson (138¼) was badly hurt by combinations of lefts and rights in the fourth and nearly finished off. Although still gamely trying to get into the fight the Aussie was continually punished, being forced to take an abundance of heavy blows driven in by Cervantes (139¼). This culminated in him sustaining a bad cut over the right eye in the seventh. With Thompson in such bad condition his corner wisely retired him before the eighth could get underway.

 

Cervantes’ next challenger would be Wilfred Benitez, a brilliant young fighter who was already setting the world alight with 25 straight wins since turning pro in 1973.

 

6 March 1976. Wilfred Benitez w pts 15 Antonio Cervantes

Venue: Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Isaac Herrera.

Scorecards: 148-144, 147-142, 145-147.

Fight Summary: Following a cautious opening start when both men had a good look at each other there was little in it before Benitez (138½) took over in the fifth, beating the listless champion to the punch while avoiding the wild blows coming his way. However, when Cervantes (140) began to improve by the ninth, scoring well with solid right hands to the head, he had more success during the next couple of sessions but was unable to drop Benitez. At this point in the fight it was probably even, but with Benitez picking it up from there on as he got back to his boxing he began to pull away to fully deserve the split decision in his favour. A pro since the age of 15, by his victory, Benitez, at 17 years and six months, became the youngest ever fighter to win a world title.

 

31 May 1976. Wilfred Benitez w pts 15 Emiliano Villa

Venue: Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Ismael Quinones-Falu.

Scorecards: 149-137, 148-137, 150-138.

Fight Summary: Operating an accurate left jab, Benitez (139) made a reasonable start to the contest as he stabbed in point scorers to the challenger’s face despite having some difficulty with the Colombian’s southpaw style. By the seventh, with Benitez beginning to score well with the right as well, he took over, apart from a period in the 12th round which saw Villa (139) giving as good as he got in several solid exchanges. Although Benitez peppered Villa, who was cut over the left eye in the 12th, with rights and lefts through to the final bell there were no knockdowns, and while the latter looked to be going down on a number of occasions he hung on to go the distance.

 

16 October 1976. Wilfred Benitez w rsc 3 (15) Tony Petronelli

Venue: Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Ismael Quinones-Falu.

Fight Summary: Keeping the fight at distance and utilising his reach advantage the champion quickly took command. It was towards the end of the second that Benitez (139½) showed he was not going to hang about when he trapped Petronelli (139) in his own corner, crashing in solid head shots immediately prior to the bell. In the third it was more of the same when Benitez opened up with heavy-handed hooks to the head to drop Petronelli. Having surprisingly made it to his feet the Bostonian was again decked, this time by a left-right combination, and the referee called a halt with just 53 seconds on the clock. Benitez forfeited WBA recognition on 28 November for failing to defend against Antonio Cervantes, due to not having enough time to prepare following a car accident.

 

3 August 1977. Wilfred Benitez w rsc 15 (15) Ray Chavez Guerrero

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NY/Lineal. Referee: Arthur Mercante.

Fight Summary: Defending the NYSAC version of the title for the first time, and having had to take off seven pounds on the day of the fight, although Benitez (139½) started well enough with solid jabs and combinations he found Chavez Guerrero (139½) to be a cagey customer with a tight defence who would not be drawn in to a fight. Occasionally Chavez Guerrero would land a sneak punch or two, but after being picked off by counters he was soon back in defensive mode, bobbing and weaving with a high guard. In the final round Benitez at last got the bit between the teeth, and a terrific left hook saw Chavez Guerrero up against the ropes being battered by the hardest blows of the fight before falling over the bottom two strands. Having taken the mandatory ‘eight’ count Chavez Guerrero went back into the fray, but on dropping his hands to his side the referee pulled him out of the contest with just 1.19 remaining.

 

As the number one contender for the world welterweight title, following his win over Randy Shields who was retired at the start of the seventh round at Madison Square Garden on 25 August 1978, Benitez announced that in future he would only fight at the higher poundage. The next time my version of the 'world' title was on the line came when the WBA champion, Antonio Cervantes, was matched against Miguel Montilla on 18 January 1979 in a contest also recognised by the NYSAC. With a record that showed 28 wins, three draws and three defeats, Montilla was unbeaten in his last 18 contests, 16 of them being inside the distance, and had beaten Antonio Amaya, Mike Everett and Ricardo Arredondo along the way. Since losing his titles to Benitez, Cervantes had regained the WBA crown when defeating Carlos Gimenez and had gone on to make successful defences against Adriano Marrero, Tongta Kiatvayupakdi and Norman Sekgapane.

 

18 January 1979. Antonio Cervantes w pts 15 Miguel Montilla

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NY/WBA. Referee: Tony Castellano.

Scorecards: 145-143, 147-142, 143-142.

Fight Summary: Almost back to his best, Cervantes (140) gave a master-class of long-range boxing when meeting Montilla (138), being well in control most of the way. Having had to shed half a pound on the day of the fight it was thought that Cervantes might be weak at the weight, but there was no sign of that as he delivered accurate blows to Montilla’s head in the opener. For his part, Montilla never stopped trying and was always looking to get inside the champion’s defences where he could work the head and body. After the tenth Montilla realised that he was behind and went for broke. Despite nearly going over in the 12th from a cracking left uppercut, Montilla regrouped, but unable to close the deficit enough he was well outboxed in the final round.

 

25 August 1979. Antonio Cervantes w pts 15 Kwang-Min Kim

Venue: Changchung Gym, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Stan Christodoulou.

Scorecards: 149-140, 149-138, 146-147.

Fight Summary: Unleashed after 15 unbeaten fights when matched against the champion, Kim (139½) was very aggressive from the start before he began running into a roadblock that came in the shape of a solid left hand to the head. Still Kim continued to bore-in tossing overarm blows, but with his extra reach Cervantes (139¼) cleverly outboxed the youngster to put points in the bank. After knocking Kim over with a cracking left hook to the jaw in the 11th Cervantes began to feel the pace, and in the 15th he was knocked down by a wild right before making it to his feet and the final bell where victory awaited him.

 

29 March 1980. Antonio Cervantes w rsc 7 (15) Miguel Montilla

Venue: Indian Bullring, Cartagena, Colombia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Waldemar Schmidt.

Fight Summary: In a return match the champion again got the better of Montilla (139½), only this time it was by the short route. Making a studied start, Cervantes (139¼) was soon stabbing the left jab into Montilla’s face as he made full use of his extra reach, and he dominated all the way to drop the latter in the fifth and seventh with cracking left hooks. Although getting up from the second knockdown and with Montilla looking ready to be taken, at 1.28 of the seventh it was all over after the referee called it off.

 

Aaron Pryor, with 24 (22 inside the distance) straight wins since turning pro towards the end of 1976, would be the next man up for Cervantes. An AAU and Golden Gloves national champion before turning over, he was a dynamic fighter who was relentless when chasing down an opponent, as good men such as Norman Goins, Al Ford and Alfonso Frazer had found to their cost.  

 

2 August 1980. Aaron Pryor w co 4 (15) Antonio Cervantes

Venue: Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Larry Rozadilla.

Fight Summary: Sensing that it was going to be his night the challenger tore into a hesitant Cervantes (139½) from the bell, but after doing some good work he was dropped by a short right-hand counter and saw the round out cautiously. In the second Pryor (138½) again came on strongly, and after giving Cervantes a bit of a pounding with lefts and rights a slashing left hook opened up a bad gash over the latter’s right eye. By the end of the third Cervantes appeared exhausted, having tried to fend Pryor off, and at 1.47 of the fourth he was counted out after being dropped by a big overarm right which followed a heavy body attack.

 

22 November 1980. Aaron Pryor w rsc 6 (15) Gaetan Hart

Venue: Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Roberto Ramirez.

Fight Summary: Proving far too good for his challenger Pryor (138½) dropped him twice in the second round, the second time from a crashing overarm right to the head, before settling down with the left jab as the Canadian champion plodded forward. By the fifth it was apparent that the game Hart (138¼) had no real chance of winning as he had neither the firepower nor the movement to worry Pryor. Coming out for the sixth with a vengeance, Pryor soon sent Hart crashing from a right to the jaw, and although the latter got to his feet the referee rescued him on the 51-second mark when he was being punished remorselessly.

 

27 June 1981. Aaron Pryor w rsc 2 (15) Lennox Blackmoore

Venue: Hacienda Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Stan Berg.

Fight Summary: Starting like a tornado, after the champion walked into the taller Blackmoore (139½) throwing punches from both hands the latter barely made it to the end of the opening session, having been dropped twice by left hooks and cut over the right eye. Resuming where he had left off Pryor (140) tore into Blackmoore at the start of the second, soon having him down from a right-left hook combination. Up at ‘eight’, Blackmoore was again under pressure as Pryor took him to the ropes, and following another hefty left hook the referee had seen enough, jumping in to rescue the badly beaten Guyanese after just 58 seconds of the session.

 

14 November 1981. Aaron Pryor w rsc 7 (15) Dujuan Johnson

Venue: Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Jackie Keough.

Fight Summary: No respecter of reputations after winning 17 in a row, Johnson (140) chased down the champion at the opening bell, dropping him with a solid right to the head. With his pride shaken Pryor (139¼) was soon back on his feet firing in punches from both hands, but was hurt again by a left hook before the round was over. It was a different matter thereafter as Pryor found his distance when beginning to put his punches together better while Johnson fired in one at a time and, although he was shaken up on the odd occasion, by the fifth he was taking over. Having hurt Johnson in the previous session, the sixth saw Pryor really going to work. In the seventh it was more of the same as he unleashed a barrage of blows to head and body, which only abated when the referee stopped the fight at 1.49 after the challenger failed to respond.

 

21 March 1982. Aaron Pryor w rsc 12 (15) Miguel Montilla

Venue: Playboy Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Waldemar Schmidt.

Fight Summary: Forced to travel more than ten rounds for the first time in his career, the champion eventually managed to subdue the tough Montilla (139) after 42 seconds of the 12th when the referee came to the latter’s rescue. Pryor (139¾) had been unable to drop Montilla, who was cut over both eyes at the finish, despite racking him with solid punches from both hands and driving him back for long periods. At times it had been nothing more than a punch-up as Montilla stood right in front of Pryor, throwing looping left hooks and right-handers, but unable to take him out of the fight despite hurting him at times it was the Dominican who ultimately gave way.

 

4 July 1982. Aaron Pryor w rsc 6 (15) Akio Kameda

Venue: Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Ernesto Magana.

Fight Summary: Taking a standing ‘eight’ count in the opening session, after being put down by Kameda (139¼), was not in the champion’s script but he quickly rallied to drop his opponent twice in the second and again in the third before setting the tall southpaw up for the finish in round six. Being cut over the right eye following a clash of heads in the fifth merely made Pryor (139½) more determined when coming out for the sixth, and although Kameda was able to stagger up from another couple of knockdowns, with there being no response the referee called it off after 1.13 of the round had elapsed.

 

12 November 1982. Aaron Pryor w rsc 14 (15) Alexis Arguello

Venue: Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Stan Christodoulou.

Fight Summary: Attempting to become a world champion in four different weight divisions proved to be too much for Arguello (138½), who was rescued by the referee after 1.06 of the penultimate round despite not being put down. Prior to the finish there had been no knockdowns, it being closely fought with one judge showing Pryor (140) to be in front by 127-124 at the start of the 14th and another having Arguello ahead by 127-125. With Pryor somehow being able to withstand Arguello’s best punches, which included vicious rights to head and body and any number of other blows, and to come back blasting away proved him to be one of the best the division had seen. Having been severely shaken up by a tremendous right in the 13th many would not have expected Pryor to be still standing let alone going on the attack in the 14th, and with Arguello tottering under a hail of leather he was wisely pulled out.

 

2 April 1983. Aaron Pryor w rsc 3 (15) Sang-Hyun Kim

Venue: Sands Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Carlos Berrocal.

Fight Summary: Although struggling to make the weight, the champion immediately went after Kim (138¾), knocking him from one side of the ring to the other, and it was more of the same in the second round with the latter seemingly unable to fight back other than with wild swings. Having been cut over the right eye by a butt in the second, Pryor (140) was now determined to end matters as he tore into Kim at the start of the third, banging in solid rights and lefts, and with the South Korean not responding the referee was left with no alternative other than to call it off after just 37 seconds.

 

9 September 1983. Aaron Pryor w co 10 (15) Alexis Arguello

Venue: Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Richard Steele.

Fight Summary: Dropped in the first by a crashing right over the top and by a left hook in the fourth, Arguello (139) somehow got through the mayhem to continue, but instead of boxing the champion he continually elected to punch it out with him. When Arguello boxed he did well, but Pryor (140) would not be denied. After taking everything that the former had to throw, which was considerable, he would merely grin and wave his rival in for more. By the tenth there was no doubt that Arguello was weakening from his exertions, and when Pryor charged in and nailed him with a series of sharp punches he’d had enough, sinking to the floor to be counted out with 1.12 of the session remaining. It had been another tremendous fight between the pair, but Pryor had once again proved too tough and too hard-hitting for the legend that was Arguello.

 

Having announced in April that they recognised Pryor as champion, the USBA/I, renamed as the International Boxing Federation (IBF) on 5 November, stated that they would now be supporting the aims of the current USBA champion, Johnny Bumphus. However, on 1 January 1984, they changed their minds, again proclaiming Pryor, who had relinquished the WBA version of the title on 24 November, as their champion. Meanwhile, Pryor, still the holder of my version of the 'world' title, had taken time out and it was only when he returned to training on 17 March 1984 that he accepted the IBF’s offer.

 

22 June 1984. Aaron Pryor w pts 15 Nick Furlano

Venue: Varsity Stadium, Toronto, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Harold Davis.

Scorecards: 146-139, 146-138, 148-140.

Fight Summary: Having been out of the ring for nine months Pryor (139½) came back to defend the IBF title bestowed upon him, quickly having Furlano (140) in trouble when dropping him twice with left hooks in the opening round. To his credit Furlano came back well to make it competitive, showing good movement and the ability to keep away from further trouble. He certainly bothered Pryor at times when unloading his best punches. However, never really hurt, at the end of the day Pryor threw too many punches from all kinds of angles for Furlano to deal with.

 

2 March 1985. Aaron Pryor w pts 15 Gary Hinton

Venue: Sands Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Rudy Battle.

Scorecards: 143-141, 146-139, 141-143.

Fight Summary: Suffering the effects of a long layoff the champion found it tough going against Hinton (140), having to come from behind to beat the Philadelphia southpaw. Right from the off Hinton was able to hit Pryor (140) with right jabs and two-handed hooks, and the latter’s cause was not helped when he was cut on the right temple in the second following a clash of heads. Pryor’s problems continued with his inability to find any rhythm in the early rounds, but in the ninth he began to look more like his old self when he hurt Hinton with a burst of two-handed hitting. Now back in the fight, Pryor belted Hinton with left hooks and right hands in several rounds before catching the latter with a big right in the 14th, which dropped him and effectively sewed up the fight.

 

Pryor forfeited IBF recognition on 31 December due to inactivity. Following that, my version of the 'world' title was next on the line when the top-ranked Julio Cesar Chavez was matched to defend the WBC title on 17 March 1990 against the IBF’s Meldrick Taylor, rated at number two. A former undefeated WBC junior lightweight and WBA/WBC lightweight champion, Chavez had won the WBC junior welter title when beating Roger Mayweather and had made successful defences against Sammy Fuentes and Alberto Cortes. After turning pro in 1980, Chavez had run up 68 straight wins, proving to be a relentless, attacking fighter with a heavy punch in either hand who hardly ever let his man off the hook. His opponent, Taylor, was a former Olympic champion, who had won the IBF title when beating Buddy McGirt before making successful defences against John Meekins and Courtney Hooper. The skilful, speedy Taylor was also undefeated with a record comprising 24 wins and one draw.

 

17 March 1990. Julio Cesar Chavez w rsc 12 Meldrick Taylor

Venue: Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.

Fight Summary: The IBF’s Taylor (139¾) made a great start against the more fancied Chavez (139½), the WBC champion, making him look slow while picking him off with lightning left jabs and bursts of hooks from both hands over the opening six rounds. It was only in the seventh that Chavez began to catch up with Taylor as the pace of the fight slowed, but after a brief bout of slugging the latter got back to his boxing when mixing it up with solid blows. At the start of the 11th Chavez had it all to do, but despite him pressing Taylor all the way, with him having little success things appeared bleak for him as the final session got underway. Well down on the scorecards, Chavez, who knew he had to stop Taylor inside the next three minutes, attacked non-stop before stunning him with a big right and dropping him with a similar blow. Badly shaken and carrying a damaged left eye Taylor made it to his feet at ‘five’, but on reaching the mandatory ‘eight’ when the referee decided that he was unfit to continue the contest was stopped with just two seconds left on the clock. With arguments raging as to whether the referee should have noticed that the end of the round was only moments away, and many calling for an immediate rematch, two fights later Taylor had won the WBA welter title.

 

8 December 1990. Julio Cesar Chavez w rsc 3 Kyung-Duk Ahn

Venue: Convention Centre, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBC. Referee: Tony Perez.

Fight Summary: Working well with the jab to head and body by the end of the first round Chavez (139) had switched his attack downstairs, and with the challenger already looking disconcerted as the punches ripped in it was clear as to which way the fight was heading. Keeping up the pressure Chavez did not disappoint, dropping Ahn (139) with a straight right at the start of the second. Although the South Korean was soon back in the fray he did not know how to cope with the controlled power and aggression of Chavez, being knocked over by a left hook before struggling up and surviving to the bell. Despite giving it his best shot in the third Ahn was quickly under pressure from body blows and after a rib-breaking left hook knocked all the stuffing out of him and sent him down, the referee stopped the fight at 2.14.

 

18 March 1991. Julio Cesar Chavez w rsc 4 John Duplessis

Venue: Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBC. Referee: Carlos Padilla.

Fight Summary: Deciding that he was not going to trade punches with the champion, Duplessis (139) quickly got on his bike while throwing out ineffectual lefts, and after surviving the opening round continued in much the same vein. However, Chavez (139) was not a champion for nothing and he was soon closing the ring space down. With Duplessis now dropping the jab well short before scampering away, just before the end of the second a right-left to the jaw followed by a left hook to the body put him down for ‘four’ after Chavez had been surprised by a solid right to the head. It was more of the same in the third as Duplessis moved at pace, but after he was doubled up by a left hook to the body in the fourth the writing was firmly on the wall. Timing his attack perfectly Chavez pounced, and having driven Duplessis into a corner with a big right to the head a right to the body sent him halfway through the ropes, whereupon the referee called it off. The finish was timed at 2.42.

 

Chavez relinquished the IBF version of the title on 27 April 1991 rather than defend against Rafael Pineda on a Bob Arum promotion.

 

14 September 1991. Julio Cesar Chavez w pts 12 Lonnie Smith

Venue: Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Carlos Padilla.

Scorecards: 118-106, 119-107, 119-109.

Fight Summary: With Smith (140) sprinting non-stop around the ring for round after round, Chavez (140) had great difficulty in catching him, having to be satisfied with the odd occasion when he could get to grips with his challenger. Eventually, in the eighth, Smith began to get some punches off, but it did nothing to stop Chavez's charge. As Smith slowed inevitably he was caught by solid blows, mainly to the body, although in the tenth he showed that he could bang when smashing Chavez with a brutal left hook which would have downed just about anyone else. Thereafter, it was all Chavez as Smith weakened, the latter being severely punished by body punches before the final bell came to his aid.

 

10 April 1992. Julio Cesar Chavez w rsc 5 Angel Hernandez

Venue: City Bullring, Mexico City, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Arthur Mercante.

Fight Summary: Switching from orthodox to southpaw in an effort to confuse Chavez (138¾), the unbeaten Hernandez (139½) made life difficult for the champion for a few rounds before he was eventually ground down. Chavez was out of sorts for much of the contest, having difficulty working Hernandez out, especially when the latter led with his head. However, he finally caught up with his man in the fifth when crashing blow after blow into the by now bloodied Hernandez, who was trapped in a corner. With Chavez in full flow, when a pulverising right to the body left the Puerto Rican in some difficulty the referee jumped in to stop the fight after 1.11 of the round had elapsed.

 

1 August 1992. Julio Cesar Chavez w rsc 4 Frankie Mitchell

Venue: Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Mills Lane.

Fight Summary: Chavez (140) started quickly, while Mitchell (137½) tried to box from both orthodox and southpaw stances before having his gumshield knocked out prior to the end of the opening session. Mitchell, who also wasted a good many punches with a lack of accuracy, began to come apart in the third as Chavez started to unload. Dropped after a barrage of blows thudded home, Mitchell, now on borrowed time, got up but was soon down again after taking punches to head and body prior to fighting back gamely to hear the bell. Now cut over the right eye Mitchell made it to the fourth, but after taking a further beating he was again dropped, this time by a solid right lead, and although getting to his feet after a count of ‘nine’ the referee called it off with 56 seconds on the clock.

 

12 September 1992. Julio Cesar Chavez w pts 12 Hector Camacho

Venue: Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.

Scorecards: 119-110, 117-111, 120-107.

Fight Summary: In an eagerly anticipated contest Chavez (140) was relentless in his pursuit of Camacho (140), who was unable to keep the champion at bay and was pounded incessantly from head to body. Apart from the odd punch that hurt Chavez, the southpaw Camacho just did not have the armoury, ultimately being forced to take whatever came his way. By the ninth, with Camacho’s left eye badly swollen and his right eye also cut it seemed as though he would not make it, but gritting his teeth he somehow got through to the final bell despite lurching around the ring during the final two sessions with both eyes almost closed shut. Derided by the fans for his outlandish showmanship, in defeat Camacho finally proved he was a real fighting man.

 

20 February 1993. Julio Cesar Chavez w rsc 5 Greg Haugen

Venue: Azteca Stadium, Mexico City, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Joe Cortez.

Fight Summary: Fighting in front of his own fans - and not forgetting that there were three other world title bouts on the same bill in Nelson v Ruelas, Norris v Blocker and Nunn v Morgan - Chavez (139½), who was the main reason for the world-record turnout of 136,000 people for a big fight, made a great start. After dropping Haugen (140) on to one knee in the opener, following a hard right to the head, the champion methodically worked the American over for the remainder of the session. Thereafter concentrating on the body, Chavez was happy to belt Haugen around the ring for the next three rounds before deciding to go for the finish in the fifth. Having sent his man into the ropes with solid head blows, Chavez proceeded to keep the punches going from head to body until Haugen was forced to drop to one knee again. Although the latter made it to his feet, he was driven into a corner by a relentless barrage before being belatedly rescued by the referee with 58 seconds of the round remaining.

 

8 May 1993. Julio Cesar Chavez w rsc 6 Terrence Alli

Venue: Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Carlos Padilla.

Fight Summary: Even though the challenger took the fight straight to Chavez (140), peppering him with left jabs and bursts of punches, the latter was soon hammering away with ferocity. For the next four rounds it was much of the same as Chavez dissected Alli (139) a bit at a time, and at the end of the fifth a barrage of head blows left the latter on unsteady legs and ready to go. Starting the sixth fast, Chavez dropped Alli on his back for ‘eight’ with a crunching left hook. And when Alli was back on his feet he was chased down with such viciousness that the referee was forced to stop the contest with just 45 seconds of the session on the clock. There was a certain amount of confusion over the stoppage as the third man had not been as emphatic as he should have been, but the fight was over.

 

18 December 1993. Julio Cesar Chavez w rtd 5 Andy Holligan

Venue: Cuauhtemoc Stadium, Puebla, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Arthur Mercante.

Fight Summary: Wobbled by a solid left hook to the body in the opening minute the challenger must have realised it could only get tougher as Chavez (139¼) started to let the punches go, and when he returned to his corner at the end of the second bleeding above the right eye the reality was stark. However, the third and fourth rounds saw Holligan (140) do relatively well as Chavez took a breather, but towards the end of the fifth the latter got going again. With Chavez unleashing heavy hooks and uppercuts, although the Englishman fired back he was retired at the end of the round, a burst blood vessel in the nose making it too difficult for him to continue.

 

Chavez’s next challenger would be Frankie Randall, a more than capable fighter who carried a fair amount of power. Surprisingly unrated, Randall had run up a record showing 48 wins, one draw and two losses since turning pro in 1983, and had beaten Freddie Pendleton, Sammy Fuentes and Edwin Rosario along the way.

 

29 January 1994. Frankie Randall w pts 12 Julio Cesar Chavez

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.

Scorecards: 114-113, 116-111, 113-114.

Fight Summary: Although Randall (140) was forced to take plenty, especially downstairs, his ability to sustain that along with his movement and tremendous combinations enabled him to stay in a fight that virtually nobody gave him a chance of winning. Not only that, but he gave Chavez (140) more to worry about than any of his previous challengers had managed, things getting even better for Randall in the seventh when the champion had a point deducted for going low. The next few rounds saw both men give and take before the fight was virtually decided in the 11th when Chavez had another point deducted for a further low blow and was then dropped by a right hand to the jaw. Back on his feet Chavez tried to close Randall down, but knowing that the 11th round had been decisive the latter spent the final session avoiding trouble. A rematch was confirmed immediately after the contest.

 

7 May 1994. Julio Cesar Chavez w tdec 8 Frankie Randall

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Mills Lane.

Scorecards: 76-75, 77-74, 75-76.

Fight Summary: Starting well, the champion caught Chavez (140) with fast volleys of head punches, rocking him badly on one occasion, while looking to finish early. Taking time to find his feet, Chavez began to work the body more effectively in the fourth round to get back into the fight. However, it was clear that Chavez was not at his best when he was dominated for much of the fifth, and although coming back well at times there was the general feeling that he might crack under the kind of pressure that Randall (140) was exerting. The eighth saw the pair trading blows, with Randall having the better of the exchanges before an accidental head butt opened a cut over Chavez’s right eye. Immediately turning away, Chavez was seen by the doctor who advised the referee that the fight was over with just three seconds of the session remaining. Following that, the WBC’s ‘accidental head-butt ruling’ came into play. With Randall being deducted a point, Chavez was handed the split decision win after looking a likely loser.

 

17 September 1994. Julio Cesar Chavez w rsc 8 Meldrick Taylor

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Mills Lane.

Fight Summary: Further to their controversial earlier fight both men were unsurprisingly cautious in the early rounds, but after the challenger had two points deducted for misdemeanours, in the third and sixth sessions, Chavez (140) seemed to slip into gear just as his rival began to lose composure. Then, having effectively worked the body, Chavez saw his efforts finally paying off in the eighth as Taylor (140) came apart at the seams. Grasping the opportunity with both hands, Chavez rammed home a couple of straight punches followed by right and left hooks and another left to put Taylor on the deck. Although Taylor was up at ‘six’, the referee rescued him on the 1.41 mark when realising that he was in no position to defend himself.

10 December 1994. Julio Cesar Chavez w rsc 10 Tony Lopez

Venue: Baseball Stadium, Monterrey, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Luis Guzman.

Fight Summary: Although the challenger gave it his best shot and was never floored he was unable to make a dent in Chavez’s armour before being pulled out of the contest by the referee after 1.41 of the tenth round had elapsed. Lopez (139) had only won two rounds at best, and with his left eye almost shut tight and the right eye closing fast and bleeding badly the decision was not a difficult one. Despite Chavez (140) injuring his left shoulder he still had too many punches for the game Lopez. When Lopez complained afterwards that he should have been allowed to carry on it was only what you would have expected from a warrior.

 

8 April 1995. Julio Cesar Chavez w pts 12 Giovanni Parisi

Venue: Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Joe Cortez.

Scorecards: 120-107, 118-109, 118-109.

Fight Summary: When Parisi (139) was floored in the second it looked as though it was going to be an early night, but the challenger got himself up and dusted himself down to lead Chavez (140) a merry dance for the full distance. However, waging a defensive campaign throughout Parisi won only one round on the cards, the third, spending most of the time moving, occasionally turning southpaw while rallying in spurts to make life tedious for Chavez. For his part, Chavez, who was well in front due to his extra work-rate, gave up trying to catch Parisi towards the end, ultimately settling for the points win.

 

16 September 1995. Julio Cesar Chavez w pts 12 David Kamau

Venue: Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Mills Lane.

Scorecards: 117-110, 116-112, 116-114.

Fight Summary: Making good use of his extra reach the challenger often outscored the listless Chavez (140) in the first half of the bout, mainly due to a clash of heads that had seen the latter cut over the left eye in the opening session and boxing warily. The tide turned for Chavez in the eighth when dropping Kamau (140) with a straight left, and in the next three rounds he repeatedly connected with hard punches to head and body before the Kenyan came back in the 12th to land good lefts to the head as he tried to get back in the fight.

 

Oscar De La Hoya, the former undefeated WBO junior lightweight champion, undefeated IBF lightweight champion and current WBO lightweight title holder, would be the next man in line for Chavez following a warm-up win over Darryl Tyson. With a record showing 21 straight wins since turning pro, De La Hoya was looking to become a three-weight world champion.

 

7 June 1996. Oscar De La Hoya w rsc 4 Julio Cesar Chavez

Venue: Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Joe Cortez.

Fight Summary: From the moment Chavez (139) was badly cut over the left eye in the very first minute of the opening round he lost any chance he had of holding on to his titles as De La Hoya (139) swarmed all over him. Half blinded, Chavez (139) continually walked into the current WBO lightweight champion’s lightning-fast punches from both hands, it being only a matter of time when the fight would be stopped. The brilliant De La Hoya just could not miss Chavez, and after 2.37 of the fourth had expired the referee, under instruction from the ringside doctor, called a halt, thus ushering in a future legend of the ring to replace one from the past. Having become a three-weight world champion, De La Hoya relinquished the WBO lightweight title on the result.

 

18 January 1997. Oscar De La Hoya w pts 12 Miguel Angel Gonzalez

Venue: Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Mills Lane.

Scorecards: 117-110, 117-111, 117-109.

Fight Summary: Although he could hardly miss with the left jab, setting Gonzalez (140) up on countless occasions, the champion could not find the punches to put the Mexican hard man away. Twice Gonzalez (140) had points deducted for transgressing the rules, but it would not have made any difference as De La Hoya (140) won almost every round effortlessly. Some of De La Hoya’s work was blinding, the CompuBox stats showing that he landed with 212 of the 319 left jabs he threw.

 

Further to De La Hoya relinquishing his WBC title on winning the WBC welterweight crown on 12 April, when Kostya Tszyu, the WBC champion, met Sharmba Mitchell, the WBA title holder, in a unification battle on 3 February 2001 my version of the 'world' title should also be seen as being on the line. With 25 wins (21 inside the distance), one defeat and one no contest on his record, the hard-hitting, classy Tszyu had taken WBC title from Miguel Angel Gonzalez and had successfully defended it against Ahmed Santos and Julio Cesar Chavez. Having turned pro in 1988, Mitchell, with 47 wins and two losses to his name, had won the WBA title from Khalid Rahilou and beaten off Pedro Saiz, Reggie Green, Elio Ortiz and Felix Flores while defending the belt.

 

3 February 2001. Kostya Tszyu w rtd 7 Sharmba Mitchell

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBC. Referee: Joe Cortez.

Fight Summary: In a battle to unify two of the four main belts, Mitchell (139), the WBA title holder, who carried an injured left knee into the ring, was forced to retire on his stool at the end of the seventh round when the pain and lack of mobility was just too much to bear. Although being docked a point in the fourth for pushing, the WBC’s Tszyu (140) was three rounds ahead on the cards but had failed to put his southpaw opponent away despite having him down for unrecorded knockdowns on several occasions. Prior to the contest, Tszyu was ranked at number one while Mitchell was rated the third best man in the division.

 

23 June 2001. Kostya Tszyu w pts 12 Oktay Urkal

Venue: Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBC. Referee: Frank Cappuccino.

Scorecards: 116-112, 115-113, 116-113.

Fight Summary: Prior to the contest, Tszyu (139½) was expected to walk through Urkal (138½), but unfortunately for the champion the latter had not read the script. Starting how he meant to carry on, Urkal often embarrassed Tszyu with combination punches and quick counters while his awkward style made it difficult for the champion to fathom. Despite Tszyu being the harder puncher and the fresher in the closing stages, unable to pull away from the clever Urkal he had to be satisfied with a relatively close margin of points in his favour.

 

3 November 2001. Kostya Tszyu w rsc 2 Zab Judah

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Jay Nady.

Fight Summary: In a unification battle, having been outboxed by the southpaw Judah (139½) in the opening round, Tszyu (140) picked it up in the second when staying as close as he could to the IBF champion. It was the correct tactic. After nailing Judah with a right to the head Tszyu crashed in another right to put the former down heavily. Although Judah got up quickly and spoke to the referee to say he was okay all of a sudden, with his legs betraying him, he staggered across the ring before collapsing in Tszyu’s corner. Despite there being just one second remaining in the session the referee stopped the fight, thus leaving Tszyu the winner. Extremely upset, Judah lost his head and attacked the third man before being escorted away. The Ring Championship Belt was also on the line in this one.

 

18 May 2002. Kostya Tszyu w pts 12 Ben Tackie

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Jay Nady.

Scorecards: 120-108, 120-108, 119-109.

Fight Summary: As the IBF’s mandatory challenger Tackie (139½) won just one round as he bravely stayed on the front foot while being forced to take anything the champion cared to throw at him. Almost from the opening bell one could see that Tackie would have to get lucky if he wanted to win the title, being too one-dimensional, and while Tszyu (140) had to be careful that he did not get caught the Ghanaian was an easy target.

 

19 January 2003. Kostya Tszyu w rtd 6 Jesse James Leija

Venue: Telstra Dome, Melbourne, Australia. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Malcolm Bulner.

Fight Summary: There was little action in the opening three rounds as both fighters settled, but following a few flurries from Leija (139) the champion began to dictate matters with a controlled left jab paving the way. While Tszyu (139¾) was beginning to go up a few gears in the sixth he appeared not to be looking to finish matters, although he was getting much closer to Leija who was beginning to flounder. The contest came to an abrupt halt during the interval between round six and seven when Leija’s corner decided to retire their man, having realised that he had burst his right eardrum. Tszyu was now being asked by the WBC to defend their title against Gianluca Branco, the mandatory challenger, but having already lined up a return against Sharmba Mitchell and having it put back when suffering an Achilles injury, he felt he was in no position to meet the Italian.

 

On 10 October the WBC announced that Tszyu had been given ‘Emeritus’ status and that his title had been vacated. Increasingly difficult to satisfy all three bodies, Tszyu forfeited the WBA title on 15 June 2004.

 

6 November 2004. Kostya Tszyu w rsc 3 Sharmba Mitchell

Venue: Glendale Arena, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Recognition: IBF/The Ring. Referee: Raul Caiz.

Fight Summary: Tszyu (140) did not waste too much time when going to work on the southpaw ‘interim’ champion, but in cutting the ring down he received a bad vertical gash alongside his left eye initiated by a clash of heads towards the end of the opening round. With Tszyu desperate to get the fight over, after Mitchell (140) strangely stayed on the inside in the second instead of using his speed he was made to pay as big rights drove him back to the ropes before a left hook dropped him for ‘five’. Almost as soon as the third had begun Mitchell had been smashed down by a right through the middle, and following two more knockdowns the referee stopped it with just two seconds of the round remaining.

 

Ricky Hatton would be Tszyu’s next challenger, having beaten Michael Stewart (w rsc 5 at the MEN Arena, Manchester, England on 1 October 2004) in an official IBF eliminator. Since turning pro in 1997, Hatton was unbeaten on 38 straight wins, and had defeated Tony Pep, Freddie Pendleton, Vince Phillips, Aldo Rios, Ben Tackie, Dennis Holbaek Pedersen and Ray Oliveira. A former undefeated British champion, Hatton had proved to be an all-action, hard-hitting fighter who looked to impose himself on an opponent as quickly as possible. 

 

4 June 2005. Ricky Hatton w rtd 11 Kostya Tszyu

Venue: MEN Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: IBF/The Ring. Referee: Dave Parris.

Fight Summary: In one of the great British fight nights Hatton (140) forced the once top-class champion to retire on his stool at the end of the 11th, having beaten him to a standstill. It was a sad end for Tszyu (140), but the challenger had taken everything that was thrown at him before coming on like a train to control the last few rounds. In outboxing and outpunching his rival, Hatton showed many of the qualities that great fighters need.

 

26 November 2005. Ricky Hatton w co 9 Carlos Maussa

Venue: Hallam FM Arena, Sheffield, England. Recognition: IBF/WBA/The Ring. Referee: Mickey Vann.

Fight Summary: In a unification contest, Hatton (139½) took on the WBA champion, Maussa (139¾), and was given no end of trouble before scoring a knockout at 1.10 of the ninth round. Cut over the left eye in the first 20 seconds and over the right eye two rounds later would have been a disaster for most fighters, but not for Hatton who merely gritted his teeth while getting on with the job. The durable and ungainly Maussa continually caused problems, and although Hatton was well up on the cards he was having some difficulty setting the Colombian up. Every time Hatton hurt Maussa the latter would come back strongly, but once the man from Manchester realised towards the end of the eighth that he should not be making the running, the outcome proved positive as he picked out a terrific left hook that dropped Maussa for the full count in the ninth.

 

Having given up the IBF Belt on 29 March 2006 when moving up a division to meet Luis Collazo for the WBA welter crown, Hatton then relinquished the WBA junior welter title on 4 May 2006 when it became clear that he could only boss one division at a time. Regardless, he remained The Ring champion.

 

20 January 2007. Ricky Hatton w pts 12 Juan Urango

Venue: Paris Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/The Ring. Referee: Tony Weeks.

Scorecards: 119-109, 119-109, 119-109.

Fight Summary: Coming back to the 140lbs division to defend The Ring Championship Belt, Hatton (139) took on the IBF champion, Urango (139), a man he looked to defeat in order to get his hands on his old title. Dropping one round at most, Hatton powered his way forward before being forced to take time out in the fifth after Urango went low. From thereon in Hatton boxed more sensibly, banging in solid lefts and rights before clinching as his southpaw opponent tried to move inside. The last few sessions saw plenty of mauling, but it was Hatton's fight.

 

Hatton relinquished the IBF title on 9 February when being told that he had to sign for a defence against the mandatory challenger, Lovemore Ndou, having already agreed to meet Jose Luis Castillo.

 

23 June 2007. Ricky Hatton w co 4 Jose Luis Castillo

Venue: Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Joe Cortez.

Fight Summary: Putting his Ring Championship Belt up for grabs against the tough Castillo (140) seemed to be a tough ask for Hatton (140), but he surprised many when knocking his Mexican opponent out at 2.16 of the fourth. Starting strongly, Hatton dropped Castillo (140) in the opener with a left hook, only for the referee to classify it as a slip. Although Castillo got himself back into the fight in the second and third with strong jabs it was not enough to win the rounds and in the fourth he came undone. With both men trading in that session Castillo was docked a point when going low, but moments later after a left hook to the shoulder lifted the Mexican's guard when Hatton fired in a similar blow to the body he was downed. Never looking likely to rise, Castillo was counted out at 2.16 of the session.

 

24 May 2008. Ricky Hatton w pts 12 Juan Lazcano

Venue: City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester, England. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Howard Foster.

Scorecards: 120-110, 118-110, 120-108.

Fight Summary: With his Ring Championship Belt on the line, Hatton (140) beat Lazcano (139¾) easily enough, but was unable to floor him while being forced to take several hard shots himself. It was not one of the champion's better performances, but he did what he had to. Proving his durability, Lazcano took whatever Hatton threw at him, and despite being badly hurt at times he lasted the course. In the tenth, having been hit by a left hook, Hatton was thrown down before getting back into the fray, banging away to the final bell.

 

22 November 2008. Ricky Hatton w rsc 11 Paul Malignaggi

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Fight Summary: Once again putting his Ring Championship Belt on the line, Hatton (140) was always in control of Malignaggi (139), forcing him into corners and cutting down the ring until there was nowhere to go. Hatton also hit much harder than the clever American, who could never keep him at bay. In the latter stages Malignaggi was showing signs of wear and tear, his left eye cut and the right side of his face swelling up, and in the 11th with Hatton attacking the body the referee called the fight off after 28 seconds of the session on the advice of Malignaggi's corner.

 

Hatton would next defend The Ring Championship Belt against Manny Pacquiao, who had been a champion at flyweight (WBC), junior featherweight (IBF), junior lightweight (WBC) and lightweight (WBC), remaining undefeated for all but the flyweight title. An amazing southpaw, at this moment in time Pacquiao had participated in 53 contests, winning 48, drawing two, one of them being of the technical nature, and losing three.

 

2 May 2009. Manny Pacquiao w rsc 2 Ricky Hatton

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Fight Summary: With his Ring Championship Belt on the line, Hatton (140) took on Pacquiao (138), a southpaw who had successfully come up though the weight divisions since starting out as a junior flyweight back in 1995. Much faster than Hatton, right from the start the Filipino moved in under the punches coming his way to deliver shots of his own, a right hook to the jaw having the Englishman over moments into the fight. Although he got up at 'eight' Hatton looked all at sea, and when Pacquiao tore in again, throwing punch after punch, it ended with another visit to the canvas, this time courtesy of a heavy left. Not a defeatist, Hatton came out for the second and had some success before the referee immediately stopped the contest on the 2.59 mark in order for the doctors to be in attendance after he had been floored by a tremendous left to the jaw. On winning, Pacquiao became a five-weight world champion.

 

To all intents and purposes Pacquiao moved on after beating Miguel Cotto for the WBO welterweight title on 14 November, but continued to be recognised by The Ring magazine until 26 July 2010. Having already unified the IBF and WBC titles, Devon Alexander took over my version of the 'world' title on the day Pacquiao forfeited recognition. Alexander had earlier taken the WBC title off Junior Witter before beating Juan Urango, the IBF champion, to unify the championship. Coming into his defence against Andriy Kotelnyk, Alexander was on 20 straight wins since turning pro in 2004, 13 of them ending inside the distance.

 

7 August 2010. Devon Alexander w pts 12 Andriy Kotelnyk

Venue: Scot Trade Centre, St Louis, Missouri, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBC. Referee: Vic Drakulich.

Scorecards: 116-112, 116-112, 116-112.

Fight Summary: Although the southpaw champion threw more power shots than Kotelnyk (139½), the latter contained him to some degree when defending well and scoring with accurate blows to head and body. The problems for Alexander (139¼) came about after allowing himself to be sucked into a fight when he should have stuck to his boxing. Although Alexander landed fewer punches than Kotelnyk, 202 to 225, despite throwing 1,113 to 763 according to CompuBox, all three judges gave him eight of the contested rounds because many of his shots were more powerful and had more effect. Afterwards, Alexander, who finished with a bad cut over the right eye, stated that he had fought the wrong fight and would improve next time out.

 

Alexander forfeited his IBF Belt on 22 October for not being prepared to make a defence against the number one contender, Kaizer Mabuza. Alexander’s next defence of the WBC title would be against the top-ranked Timothy Bradley, a sharp-punching box-fighter who was unbeaten after 26 contests since turning pro in August 2004. Having won the WBC title when beating Junior Witter and making successful defences against Edner Cherry and Kendall Holt, who brought the WBO title into the fight, Bradley was forced to hand the WBC belt in when unable to agree terms with Alexander. He had then gone on to defend the WBO title against Nate Campbell and Lamont Peterson before finally getting to grips with Alexander.

 

29 January 2011. Timothy Bradley w tdec 10 Devon Alexander

Venue: The Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan, USA. Recognition: WBC/WBO. Referee: Frank Garza.

Scorecards: 97-93, 96-95, 98-93.

Fight Summary: It was the WBO champion, Bradley (139½), who made the better start as the WBC's Alexander (140) took a while to become accustomed to the pace and was forced to assimilate a tremendous left hook to the head. Towards the end of that session a clash of heads left Alexander with a swelling over the right eye, and into the sixth he had to absorb another heavy right hook to the head before fighting back. Having complained of yet another head butt in the ninth, and with his eye damage worsening, the St Louis southpaw came out for the tenth only for another clash of heads to leave him unable to see out of the right eye. Following the ringside doctor's advice, after the referee called for the cards at 1.29 of the session the technical decision went to Bradley, his headwork going unpunished.

 

Bradley forfeited the WBC Belt on 28 July due to inactivity after failing to make a match with Amir Khan and falling out with his promoter.

 

12 November 2011. Timothy Bradley w rsc 8 Joel Casamayor

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Vic Drakulich.

Fight Summary: Despite winning, Bradley (140) found it difficult to impress against a southpaw opponent who was happy to hang on from the opening round. Continuing in this vein, Casamayor (140) was docked a point in the fourth, and in the fifth Bradley had him over from a right to the head before having the Cuban on the floor again in the sixth from what appeared to be more of a push than a punch. Despite getting through the seventh unscathed, after going down following several heavy blows Casamayor was rescued at the count of 'eight' when the referee took note of the towel being waved from his corner. The finish was timed at 2.59 of the eighth.

 

Further to Bradley vacating the WBO junior welter title on 27 June 2012 after winning the WBO welterweight crown, my version of the 'world' title next became available when Danny Garcia, the WBC champion, met Amir Khan, the WBA title holder. Khan had outpointed Andriy Kotelnyk to win the title on 18 July 2009 and had made successful defences against Dmitriy Salita, Paul Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, Paul McCloskey and Zab Judah before losing his belt to Lamont Peterson. However, he had been reinstated by the WBA as champion after Peterson had failed a drug test. The Englishman had 26 wins and two losses on his record, while the hard-punching Garcia was on 23 straight wins after winning the WBC title from Erik Morales.  

 

14 July 2012. Danny Garcia w rsc 4 Amir Khan

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Fight Summary: This was Garcia’s first defence of the WBC title he had won when defeating Erik Morales, who had failed to make the weight while Khan was defending the WBA title that had been handed to him after Lamont Peterson was stripped. With two belts available, The Ring Championship Belt was also up for grabs in this one. Having made a great start when outspeeding Garcia (139) in the opening two rounds and cutting him over the right eye Khan (139) came under pressure in the third when body punches began to hold him up. One such punch that strayed low saw Khan being given time out to recover, but towards the end of the session a cracking left hook had him down and almost out. Trying to fight back in the fourth, Khan was floored following a heavy right before his night came to an end after another big left hook had him down again. Although getting up at the count of 'eight', the referee pulled Khan out of the contest on the 2.28 mark after deciding that he was not in a fit state to carry on.

 

20 October 2012. Danny Garcia w rsc 4 Erik Morales

Venue: Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Benny Esteves Jnr.

Fight Summary: In what was a rematch Garcia (139¾) was far too strong for the shop-worn Morales (139¼), who despite banging in some good shots failed to make an impression on the champion. Having stumbled back to the wrong corner at the end of the third Morales seemed all at sea when coming out for the fourth, and having been smashed to the floor by a heavy left the referee stopped the contest without picking up the count at 1.23 of the session so that the loser could be immediately tended to by the medics and his handlers.

 

27 April 2013. Danny Garcia w pts 12 Zab Judah

Venue: Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Steve Smoger.

Scorecards: 116-111, 114-112, 115-112.

Fight Summary: Starting strongly, Garcia (139¾) took the fight to his southpaw challenger who seemed happy to make him miss without doing much on the offensive side. Badly hurt in the fifth and sixth when hit by heavy right hands, Judah (140) was pushed back as Garcia looked for a finish, and in the eighth he was sent down from a left-right to the head. Having looked out of the fight, Judah came on to win the last three sessions as Garcia tired. The last round saw both men cut from a clash of heads as they tried to find a finishing blow, but although Judah had closed the gap it was not enough.

 

14 September 2013. Danny Garcia w pts 12 Lucas Martin Matthysse

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Tony Weeks.

Scorecards: 115-111, 114-112, 114-112.

Fight Summary: Even though he dropped the opening three rounds on the cards as the hard-hitting Matthysse (140) landed some heavy shots, Garcia (140), with his championship belts on the line, was never far away. There was never much between them, but from the seventh round onwards it was Garcia who began to take over, especially when the ‘interim’ title holder's right eye closed in that session. Becoming one-paced but still dangerous, Matthysse tried to find the punch he was looking for without success, and in the 11th he was belted to the deck after getting caught up in the ropes. The final round saw both men slugging, but at the bell it was Garcia who took the honours despite having a point deducted for a low blow in that session.

 

15 March 2014. Danny Garcia w pts 12 Mauricio Herrera

Venue: Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum, Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Roberto Ramirez.

Scorecards: 116-112, 116-112, 114-114.

Fight Summary: With his championship belts on the line Garcia (139¾) was soon on the front foot when looking to take the play away from Herrera (139¼), but before too long the champion was struggling to deal with the tempo of the fight. Jabbing well to head and body, Herrera made life difficult for Garcia, especially when negating his famed left hook by good movement off the back foot. It was only in the ninth after Garcia's nose had been spread across his face that he kicked on when taking two of the last three rounds to make sure of the majority verdict.

 

Looking to take in another non-title bout, Garcia was forced to relinquish the WBC belt on 11 June 2015 before handing in the WBA belt on 11 September 2015. My version of the 'world' title and The Ring Championship Belt were next up for grabs when Terence Crawford, the WBO champion, was matched against the top-ranked Viktor Postol, who had won the vacant WBC title when defeating Lucas Martin Matthysse last time out. Both men had identical records of 28 straight wins and both were clever, although the second-ranked Crawford, a southpaw, was the heavier puncher of the pair. A former undefeated WBO lightweight champion, Crawford had won the vacant junior welter title when beating Thomas Dulorme and had made successful defences against Dierry Jean and Henry Lundy.

 

23 July 2016. Terence Crawford w pts 12 Viktor Postol

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Tony Weeks.

Scorecards: 118-107, 118-107, 117-108.

Fight Summary: Although the WBC champion, Postol (139½), made a good start when winning two of the opening three rounds in his unification match against Crawford (140), the WBO title holder, by the fourth the latter had begun to stamp his mark on the contest. Having turned southpaw to confuse his man, in the fifth Crawford had Postol over twice, a right hook seeing the latter touch down before a heavy left hand secured the second knockdown. From thereon in it was all Crawford, and even in the 11th when Postol looked like winning the round he lost out when being deducted a point for hitting behind the head.

 

20 May 2017. Terence Crawford w rtd 10 Felix Diaz

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC. New York, USA. Recognition: WBC/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Steve Willis.

Fight Summary: Putting his titles on the line against Diaz (139¼) in a match-up of southpaws, the unbeaten Crawford (139¼) took his winning run to 31 when forcing the Dominican to retire at the end of the tenth round, such had been his supremacy. Despite being a gold medallist at the 2008 Olympic Games, Diaz was not at the same level as Crawford, who bossed him throughout, whether it was fighting or boxing. Although Diaz managed to get home with a few heavy shots they were nothing when compared to those dished out by Crawford. Having boxed on for several rounds with his eyes almost closed, he was finally pulled out of the action when his corner recognised that he was no longer in with a chance.   

 

19 August 2017. Terence Crawford w co 3 Julius Indongo

Venue: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. Recognition: World/The Ring. Referee: Jack Reiss.

Fight Summary: Fighting to unify the world title with all four belts up for grabs, Crawford (140) was far too skilled an operator for his fellow southpaw, Indongo (139), to handle. Entering the ring as the holder of the IBF and WBA belts, it could be seen within minutes of the start that it was going to be a difficult night for Indongo as Crawford moved in with solid blows. After taking his time in the second round Crawford dropped his rival with a left hook to the head and, although Indongo made it to his feet in time, he was lucky that the bell came to his aid. Moving in on Indongo in the third, Crawford eventually sent the Namibian to the floor to be counted out on the 1.38 mark after landing with a left hook-right uppercut to the body.

 

Just 11 days later, on 30 August, Crawford handed in his IBF belt as he felt that taking on the body’s mandatory challenger, Sergey Lipinets, did not fit into his time frame. Further to that, Crawford relinquished the WBO and WBA versions of the title on 26 October after being named by the WBO as Jeff Horn’s mandatory challenger for their welterweight crown. He eventually handed in his WBC belt on 29 January 2018 when signing to meet the latter. My version of the 'world' title would again be on the line when the fourth-ranked Kiryl Relikh defended his WBA title against Regis Prograis, the top-rated man in the division. Relikh, with 23 wins and two losses on his slate, had won the vacant title when beating Rances Barthelemy, prior to successfully defending it against Eduard Troyanovsky, which was also a quarter-final leg of the World Boxing Super Series, while the unbeaten, hard-hitting Prograis, who had defeated Terry Flanagan in his WBSS quarter-final bout, had put together 23 wins since starting out in April 2012, 19 of them coming inside the distance.

 

27 April 2019. Regis Prograis w rsc 6 Kiryl Relikh

Venue: Cajun Dome, Lafayette, Louisiana, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.

Fight Summary: Making his second defence of the WBA title in the semi-final leg of the World Boxing Super Series, Relikh (139¾) came up against an unbeaten southpaw in Prograis (139¾). This was never going to be easy for the WBA champion and it got even more difficult for him when he was badly hurt in the opening session by a left to the body that was followed up by two heavy rights to the head that dropped him for a ‘seven’ count. Although Relikh got through the second and hurt Prograis at the bell to end the third, something for which he was admonished by the referee, he continued to be outboxed. It was clear that by the end of the fifth, Relikh was on a hiding to nothing as he was being given a boxing lesson, and in the sixth his corner signalled to the referee to pull their man out, the finish coming on the 1.36 mark.    

 

In his next contest, which would also be the final of the World Boxing Super Series, the top-ranked Prograis would be putting his WBA title on the line against the IBF title holder and second-ranked Josh Taylor. Since turning pro in July 2015, Taylor had remained undefeated in 15 contests, with 12 of his victories coming inside the distance. The hard-punching Scot had reached the WBSS final after beating Ryan Martin in the quarter-final leg and winning the IBF title from Ivan Baranchyk in the semis.

 

26 October 2019. Josh Taylor w pts 12 Regis Prograis

Venue: O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, England. Recognition: IBF/WBA/The Ring. Referee: Marcus McDonnell.

Scorecards: 117-112, 115-113, 114-114.

Fight Summary: In a battle of well matched southpaws it was Taylor (139¾), the IBF champion, who took the hard-fought majority decision. Regardless of the cards, it was a difficult fight to score with both men giving it everything and more as punches were rammed in both up and down. Although there were no knockdowns, both men finished with plenty of damage, Taylor fighting with a right eye that was leaking blood and closing fast from the fourth onwards, while Prograis (140), the WBA title holder, finished with a broken nose and badly swollen lips. In short it was a brutal no-quarter asked or given affair. Despite Prograis coming on strong to take the last two sessions as Taylor’s eye condition worsened, the tough Scot stayed with his rival until the final bell brought the carnage to an end amid wild applause for both men.

26 September 2020. Josh Taylor w co 1 Apinun Khongsong

Venue: York Hall, Bethnal Green, London, England. Recognition: IBF/WBA/The Ring. Referee: Phil Edwards.

Fight Summary: With his IBF and WBA titles up for grabs as well as The Ring Championship Belt, Taylor (139¼) quickly got into the action against a man who was considered a dangerous opponent prior to the fight. Obviously a puncher, Khongsong (139½) certainly looked dangerous when smashing in a heavy blow to the head, but after 2.41 of the opening session the fight was all over when he was counted out. The finishing blow, a short left hook to the body, came after the southpaw champion had taken his rival to the ropes and ducked under a heavy hook to administer the ‘coup de gras’. A glance at the Thai’s record showed that his 16-fight unbeaten run included contests against several opponents who had lost more than they had won.    

With Taylor defending his IBF/WBA belts against Ramirez, who held the WBC/WBO titles, the winner would be acclaimed as the world champion.

22 May 2021. Josh Taylor w pts 12 Jose Carlos Ramirez

Venue: Virgin Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Kenny Bayless.