Lightweight World Champions & Their Championship Fights (135lbs)

Although the weight class had been operating at differing weights since the early days of boxing with gloves, it was only when Freddie Welsh, recognised in Great Britain and the British Empire as champion, met the American and IBU recognised Willie Ritchie that 135lbs was seen as the championship weight on both sides of the Atlantic. Having turned pro in America in 1905, prior to meeting Ritchie the brilliant box-fighting Welsh had run up 58 wins, six draws, three defeats and 42 no-decision contests. He had beaten men such as Young Joseph (2), Abe Attell, Ray Bronson, Johnny Summers, Jim Driscoll, Ritchie, Matty Baldwin, Matt Wells, Hughie Mehegan, Dick Hyland and Leach Cross among many other top quality fighters. Less experienced than Welsh despite turning pro only a year later, Ritchie had a known record showing 21 wins, 11 draws, six defeats and ten no-decision fights. A skilful fighter with a dig, Ritchie had come to prominence when beating Ad Wolgast for the 133lbs title on 28 November 1912, and had successfully defended his claim against Mexican Joe Rivers (134lbs), Leach Cross (135lbs), Ad Wolgast (135lbs), Harlem Tommy Murphy (135lbs) and Charley White (135lbs).   

 

7 July 1914. Freddie Welsh w pts 20 Willie Ritchie

Venue: Olympia, Kensington, London, England. Recognition: World. Referee: Eugene Corri.

Fight Summary: After both men were announced as being inside 135lbs, Welsh (134½) showed early as his wonderful left hand picked out Ritchie (134¾) time and again, while the latter was always looking to get to close quarters. Realising he was behind coming into the latter stages of the contest the American went all out, looking to win inside the distance, but it was not to be as Welsh, his defence impeccable, hung on to his lead tenaciously to earn the referee’s decision. According to the May 1940 edition of The Ring magazine, the referee had both men on 81½ points coming into the 20th round before giving Welsh the decision by one point at the final bell. This contest finally unified the weight class.

 

2 November 1914. Freddie Welsh nd-w rtd 8 (10) Ad Wolgast

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Billy Roche.

Fight Summary:  In a contest made at 135lbs, with both men inside the weight at the 3pm weigh-in, the ringside scales had Welsh scaling 136lbs and Wolgast at 135½. Earlier, Welsh had claimed that in Europe championship contestants were asked to make 135lbs eight hours prior to the contest, while the Frawley Law, regulating boxing in New York, called for a ringside weigh-in. He went on to say that as the champion he would determine the time of the weigh-in not anyone else. Apart from the second round when Wolgast was able to work on the inside with both hands, with Welsh controlling the fight the challenger’s right eye was bleeding badly by the fourth after he had been continually speared by stiff left jabs. It got worse. Unable to match Welsh’s superb footwork Wolgast was often left floundering, and at the end of the eighth, in which he was given a merciless drubbing, he was retired having broken his right arm in the previous round.

 

2 December 1914. Freddie Welsh nd-l pts 10 Joe Shugrue

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Billy Roche.

Fight Summary: Billed for the title, and calling for both men to make 135lbs at the 3pm weigh-in, it was a fast bout that never looked likely to end inside the distance despite Shugrue (133½) forcing the action most of the way. Although the challenger gave his man very little space to work in, for the title to change hands it was up to Shugrue to make things happen, and although getting in some heavy shots he was unable to move his rival, Welsh (133½) being content to clinch, trade jabs and play safe through to the bell.

 

9 February 1915. Freddie Welsh nd-l pts 10 Joe Shugrue

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Billy Roche.

Fight Summary:  After both men were inside 135lbs at the 3pm weigh-in, as per the articles of agreement, their ringside weights showed Welsh to be 135½lbs to Shugrue's 135. Although Shugrue did most of the forcing, without ever being able to land a telling punch it became a boring, uninteresting contest. In the main Welsh (135) was content to defend, and when he did occasionally open up he seemed more concerned in preserving his hands.

 

25 February 1915. Freddie Welsh nd-w pts 10 Charley White

Venue: Brewery City Auditorium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: George Duffy.

Fight Summary:  Although a no-decision contest, with both men inside the weight class limit it involved the championship and would see the left jab and all-round skills of Welsh (135) pitted against the left hook and aggression of the Liverpool-born White (134). As it turned out, Welsh again showed himself to be a past master of the sweet science, his cleverness, movement and covering up making life extremely difficult for the hard-hitting White, who was accorded just two rounds by the press - the first and fifth, with two even - and it was only the champion’s lack of power that allowed him to survive.

 

11 March 1915. Freddie Welsh nd-l pts 10 Willie Ritchie

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Billy Roche.

Fight Summary: Made at 135lbs with a 3pm weigh-in, after both men made that weight it carried a fair amount of risk for Welsh, especially as Ritchie (135) systematically outpointed him round after round. Boxing well within himself, Welsh (134½) made sure that Ritchie failed to put him down or influence the referee in terms of a stoppage. Incidentally, the ringside weights showed Welsh to weigh 135¾lbs to Ritchie’s 135½.

 

9 April 1915. Freddie Welsh nd-w pts 10 Billy Wagner

Venue: The Coliseum, Toledo, Ohio, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Matt Hinkel.

Fight Summary: Articled at the championship weight and adhered to, Welsh (134½) was deemed by the majority of the press to have taken the ten-round decision over Wagner (133). Regardless of that, the Chicago Tribune reporter reckoned Wagner won five rounds to the champion’s two, with three even, even though Welsh made the fight throughout.

 

3 July 1915. Freddie Welsh nd-drew 10 Charley White

Venue: Brighton Beach Race Track Arena, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Billy Roche.

Fight Summary: Contracted for a 3pm weigh-in at 135lbs, both men were inside and weighed in again at ringside, Welsh making 136 lbs to White’s 133½. Although White was given the press decision, more for the fact that he forced the fight than anything else, he was unable to do any real damage to Welsh with his famed left hook even though the champion tired in the latter rounds. The general consensus of the ringsiders was that Welsh, who used the left jab and good footwork to keep away from danger, won four rounds to White’s five, with the press evenly divided.

 

1 January 1916. Freddie Welsh nd-w pts 10 Frank Whitney

Venue: Casino Skating Rink, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Billy Roche.

Fight Summary: Made at 135lbs, and advertised for the championship, both men were inside that at the 3pm weigh-in. At ringside their weights were announced as Welsh being 136½lbs to Whitney’s 137. Not as fit as he might have been, Welsh only did enough to keep himself out of trouble while piling up points with lightning jabs, crosses and hooks, whereas Whitney threw harder punches but was less accurate.

 

21 March 1916. Freddie Welsh nd-w pts 10 Phil Bloom

Venue: Broadway SC, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World.

Fight Summary: The ringside weigh-in saw Welsh scaling 137½lbs, but having already made 135lbs at 3pm for Bloom (133½) he started as he meant to carry on when cleverly outboxing his rival in the opening four rounds. Not to be outdone though, the aggressive Bloom made the running in the next four sessions, Welsh (135) forced to hold on in the eighth after being hurt by a solid right to the jaw. Although Bloom had to score an inside-the-distance win if he wanted to become champion Welsh gave him no further opportunities, making sure of the press decision when again showing all the skills of a champion.

 

24 March 1916. Freddie Welsh nd-w rtd 6 (10) Frank Whitney

Venue: Harlem SC, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World.

Fight Summary: Having both made 135lbs at the 3pm weigh-in, Welsh scaled 137lbs to Whitney’s 138 immediately prior to the contest getting underway. The champion was the aggressor from the start, taking the fight to Whitney at all times, and by the fourth round the latter’s eyes were closing fast. He was also carrying a bad nose bleed. Piling on the pressure Welsh continued to score with both hands, before Whitney, who was virtually unable to see at the end of the fifth, was retired at the start of the sixth.

 

31 March 1916. Freddie Welsh nd-l pts 10 Benny Leonard

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Billy Roche.

Fight Summary: Billed for the title, despite Welsh weighing at 136½lbs ringside to Leonard’s 132 both men had earlier made the required 135lbs at 3pm. Forcing the fighting from the first bell Leonard showed great speed of hand and foot, rocking the champion several times with left and right smashes to the jaw. Having cut Leonard’s left eye in the fifth, Welsh, who won only one round according to press reports, began to show up better despite his main concern being to protect himself from a stoppage defeat.

 

28 July 1916. Freddie Welsh nd-w pts 10 Benny Leonard

Venue: Washington Park Arena, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Billy Roche.

Fight Summary:  Regardless of the fact that the weights reported for Welsh at ringside varied between 134¼ and 135¼lbs against Leonard’s 132½, both men had successfully weighed inside the contracted 135lbs at 3pm. With seven of the eight major New York papers giving the decision to Welsh, who had got himself into fine condition for this one, it was a far cry from their previous fight. While Leonard forced the contest in the opening few rounds, landing forcefully with the left jab, Welsh opened up in the sixth with left and right hooks to the body. Towards the end as both men tired there was more clinching than earlier, but it had been a good exhibition of boxing at its best.

 

4 September 1916. Freddie Welsh w pts 20 Charley White

Venue: The Arena, Colorado Springs, Colorado USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Billy Roche.

Fight Summary: Despite the referee’s decision being unpopular, Welsh generally outboxed the Liverpool-born White, who was always dangerous, especially with his famed left hook. Needless to say, it was the champion’s left hand, coupled with a wonderful defence, which paved the way to victory, while White, cut over the left eye and forced to face the sun as Welsh continually backed into it, never gave up trying. Both men were announced as being within the required 135lbs.

 

17 April 1917. Freddie Welsh nd-w pts 12 Battling Nelson

Venue: Future AC, St Louis, Missouri, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Edward W. Smith.

Fight Summary: The Chicago Tribune reported that Welsh (135) retained his title with a clear-cut win over the former champion Nelson (132) who, despite being on the receiving end of the champion’s punches, never stopped coming forward. Gliding away from punches while not being hit solidly more than half a dozen times, Welsh, also showing punishing power with the left jab, was the master when it came to infighting.

 

1 May 1917. Freddie Welsh nd-l pts 10 Johnny Kilbane

Venue: The Casino, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Billy Joh.

Fight Summary: Made at 135lbs, although Welsh scaled 139lbs at ringside he had already made the weight at the 3pm weigh-in while the 122lbs champion, Kilbane, had plenty to spare. Kilbane was accorded the press verdict by nine rounds to one, but he lacked the power to damage Welsh whose defence again proved practically impregnable. The fight was relatively exciting because the crowd were willing Kilbane to knock Welsh out, but he landed less than half a dozen powerful blows on Welsh all night and only rarely did he ever look like getting to the champion.

 

Given another crack at Welsh, Benny Leonard was already on his way to becoming a great favourite with the fight public while showing all the attributes one needed to make a great fighter. Exhibiting speed, excellent ring-craft and presence, good punching ability with either hand and the ability to pace a fight, Leonard’s known record showed that in 113 contests he had put together 32 wins and four losses. He had also participated in 77 no-decision affairs, winning 52 of them according to the press.

 

28 May 1917. Benny Leonard nd-w rsc 9 (10) Freddie Welsh

Venue: The Casino, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: William McPartland.

Fight Summary: It was generally recognised when a champion fought in a no-decision contest (as regulated under the Frawley Law in New York between 1911 and 1917) that the only way he could lose his title was by failing to last the distance in a fight that was made at the championship weight. In this case, however, Leonard (133), who came in two pounds inside the class limit at the ringside weigh-in, claimed the title on his victory, despite Welsh (136¾) arguing that it had been articled as an over-the-weight contest and that the referee had no right to stop it when he did. While Welsh received scant backing and decided to retire, Leonard, supported by the press, was quickly accepted as the new champion by the American public. The fight itself saw Leonard in control most of the way as Welsh fought defensively, but in the ninth round Leonard cut loose, dropping the champion three times from big right hands to bring about the stoppage on the 1.15 mark.

 

21 September 1917. Benny Leonard nd-w rtd 1 (10) Leo Johnson

Venue: Harlem SC, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: William McPartland.

Fight Summary: With both men inside 133lbs, this ten-rounder carried a real title opportunity for a man claiming to be the ‘black’ champion, but it was all over for him after one minute, 59 seconds when his manager threw the towel in. Right from the opening bell Johnson (129½) was pummelled around the ring before Leonard (133) really got down to business with powerful lefts and rights to both head and body that left his man virtually senseless, lying across the bottom rope.

 

5 December 1917. Benny Leonard nd-w co 8 (10) Gene Delmont

Venue: The Auditorium, St Paul, Minnesota, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Edward W. Smith.

Fight Summary: Made at 135lbs with a 3pm weigh-in, according to the Milwaukee Free Press Leonard (134) chopped Delmont (130) up for seven rounds before backing the challenger into a corner in the eighth and laying him low with a heavy left to the pit of the stomach.

 

25 September 1920. Benny Leonard nd-w pts 10 Pal Moran

Venue: Twin Cities SC Arena, East Chicago, Indiana, USA. Recognition: World.

Fight Summary: In a match made at the championship weight of 135lbs, Leonard (135) hit the outclassed Moran (130) with every punch in the book, round after round, without ever being able to floor his challenger. With Moran, cut on the nose and mouth, absorbing all of Leonard’s blows it was apparent that the champion had decided not to look for the kayo in order to concentrate on handing out a boxing lesson.

 

26 November 1920. Benny Leonard w rsc 14 (15) Joe Welling

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Johnny Haukaup.

Fight Summary: This was the first time a world title fight had been contested under Walker Law (once again legalising professional boxing in New York state) in New York, with the NYSAC requiring both men to be inside 135lbs at 2pm. Looking likely to last the limit, the tough, game and aggressive Welling (135) gave Leonard (134) all the trouble he could handle for 12 rounds before the champion’s class and power began to tell in the 13th. After sustaining a fearful battering, during which he was dropped four times and cracked his head on a ring platform when punched through the ropes, Welling was on the deck when the round ended prior to being pushed out for the 14th. In trouble from the start, and dropped twice, he was staggering around almost senseless when the referee came to his rescue on the 1.07 mark.

 

14 January 1921. Benny Leonard w rsc 6 (15) Richie Mitchell

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Johnny Haukaup.

Fight Summary: Making a fast start Leonard (134) had Mitchell (134) down and in a bad way three times in the opening round, a left hook and two rights to the jaw being the final blows. That was before Mitchell caught the champion coming in for the kill to drop him with a right to the head, blood leaking from his left eye. Having recovered, Leonard took his time against a dangerous foe until he had further weakened him, and in the sixth he had the daring Mitchell down three more times, the referee rescuing the game challenger at 1.55 of the session when he was ready to fall again.

 

6 June 1921. Benny Leonard nd-w pts 12 Rocky Kansas

Venue: Newark Ballpark, Harrison, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Danny Sullivan.

Fight Summary: With both men inside the required 135lbs at the 3pm weigh-in, the title was on the line despite the ringside weights showing Leonard to weigh 136lbs to Kansas’ 134. Most reports stated that the hard-hitting Kansas lost a good opportunity, but realistically he was not in the champion’s class, and was outboxed in most of the rounds. Although Leonard took a few swings early on, when he got going he was able to reach Kansas with jabs and hooks to the head almost as he pleased, but he disappointed the 30,000 crowd by boxing defensively and holding too much. Only in the last two sessions did he look near his best when he cut loose, but unable to drop Kansas he had to be content with the press decision.

 

10 February 1922. Benny Leonard w pts 15 Rocky Kansas

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: William McPartland.

Fight Summary: Putting up a great fight against the brilliant Leonard (134½), the game challenger won five rounds and shared the tenth before being outscored unanimously. Having made a slow start Leonard simply battered his way to victory, and in the 11th round he smashed Kansas (135) to the floor with a heavy left hook to the jaw. Although Kansas somehow made it up at ‘nine’ Leonard toyed with him, shaking him up time and again prior to the final bell.

 

27 July 1922. Benny Leonard nd-w pts 12 Lew Tendler

Venue: Boyle’s Thirty Acres, Jersey City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Harry Ertle.

Fight Summary: Billed as a title fight, Tendler (134¼) let the opportunity of becoming champion slip from his grasp when on the verge of victory he let Leonard (135) off the hook. For seven rounds, Leonard, who had been cut on the forehead in the first, found Tendler’s southpaw style difficult to fathom. It got worse for Leonard in the eighth when he was in trouble and holding on for dear life after being hit with some big punches. Following that, due to Tendler easing off Leonard got back into his routine to be awarded the press decision.

 

23 July 1923. Benny Leonard w pts 15 Lew Tendler

Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Andy Griffin.

Fight Summary: Although both men were announced as being inside 135lbs, Leonard weighing 134lbs to Tendler's 133, the weigh-in was a private affair with newspapermen excluded and it was several years later before it transpired that the two men had weighed 137½lbs and 138, respectively. However, with both fighters accepting the situation it was regarded as a title fight, merely proving that Leonard and Tendler, a southpaw, were both having difficulty making the weight in what was to be the champion’s final defence. The fight itself saw Leonard eliminate his greatest rival when he received the unanimous verdict at the end of what had been a thrilling bout despite no knockdowns and no blood. It was only Tendler’s experience and ability to ship punishment that enabled him to get through the last three rounds when he was at the champion’s mercy, especially from the right uppercut, and when the final bell came he was almost out on his feet.

 

After a cracked thumb forced a fight against Mickey Walker to be cancelled, Leonard sat out the next few months reflecting on his future before relinquishing his title and announcing his retirement on 15 January 1925. This was followed by an elimination series held in New York, which was won by Jimmy Goodrich, who beat Stanislaus Loayza in the final, but it was only when he met Rocky Kansas in a contest that was recognised by the NYSAC, NBA and Great Britain that the winner should be accorded 'world' title status in line with my formula. At the NBA Convention that ended on 20 October 1925, the membership agreed to recognise Goodrich (61 wins, 14 draws, 12 defeats and 50 no-decision affairs) as champion, thus falling into line with other American boxing authorities. Coming into the fight, and having participated in 160 bouts comprising 62 wins, six draws, nine defeats and 83 no-decision affairs since turning pro in 1911, the stocky Kansas had a reputation of being a determined infighter who never knew when he was beaten. 

 

7 December 1925. Rocky Kansas w pts 15 Jimmy Goodrich

Venue: Broadway Auditorium, Buffalo, New York, USA. Recognition: NY/NBA/GB. Referee: Jim Crowley.

Fight Summary: Kansas (132), who saw himself as the heir apparent to Benny Leonard, had been unavailable to enter the elimination tournament, and despite his win over Goodrich (134) Tex Rickard’s end of year ratings, published in The Ring magazine, listed both Sammy Mandell and Sid Terris above him. Regardless of that, he proved a more than worthy challenger in carrying off nine of the 15 rounds as he outjabbed Goodrich at range while two-fistedly attacking his body at close quarters to win a unanimous decision. To his credit, Goodrich, cut over the right eye in the fifth, came back to win the last two rounds.

 

Returning from a fight-tour, having met Joe Tiplitz and Pal Moran in non-title bouts, the NYSAC ordered Kansas to defend his title by 7 June 1926. With The Ring magazine going on to say that he would probably accept a match against Terris in New York it was something of a surprise when he chose to meet Sammy Mandell on away territory. Hugh Shannon, writing in the magazine, stated that if Kansas were to win and wished to box under the auspices of the NYSAC again he would have to meet Terris. Coming into the fight, Mandell had run up a record that read 43 wins, five draws, four defeats, one no contest and 48 no-decision affairs. Fast and slippery with excellent defensive skills, although Mandell could also strike hard he was better known for his speed and movement around the ring.

 

3 July 1926. Sammy Mandell w pts 10 Rocky Kansas

Venue: Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Recognition: NY/NBA/GB. Referee: Phil Collins.

Fight Summary: In what was the first legalised championship fight in Chicago for 25 years, Mandell (135) started fast, landing hard lefts and rights to the champion’s head before settling into a countering routine, while picking his punches as those of Kansas (135) dropped short. Even in the clinches, which was one of his strong points, Kansas was hammered with heavy blows to the body, and amidst wild celebrations 30,000 fans roared Mandell to the final bell and the referee’s decision.

 

Following their annual convention the IBU finally agreed to recognise Mandell as champion as from 4 August.

 

16 July 1927. Sammy Mandell w pts 10 Phil McGraw

Venue: University Arena, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Elmer McClelland.

Fight Summary: The New York Times stated that prior to Mandell’s successful defence this was the first time a title fight had come to Detroit since the days of Harry Forbes, the former bantamweight champion. Emerging without a scratch from an extremely one-sided contest, Mandell (135) had stunned McGraw (132½) in the first round before popping in long lefts to the challenger’s head round after round. Although McGraw never gave up tearing in, whenever he got close enough to Mandell he was skilfully blocked. McGraw was almost finished off in the seventh, but somehow kept going gamely, constantly being brought up short with jabs and hooks. At the final bell it was hardly a surprise when the referee held up Mandell’s arm.

 

21 May 1928. Sammy Mandell w pts 15 Jimmy McLarnin

Venue: Polo Grounds, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Lou Magnolia.

Fight Summary: Fighting like a true champion Mandell (135) turned back the courageous challenge coming in from McLarnin (135), who gave it everything he had when attacking the former from bell to bell. However, it was Mandell’s brilliant left hand that retained the championship, via a unanimous decision, as it snaked out endlessly to pick up points while keeping McLarnin off balance. McLarnin, who finished with his left eye closed after winning the last three sessions, was out of distance more often than not but would come again.

 

2 August 1929. Sammy Mandell w pts 10 Tony Canzoneri

Venue: The Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Dave Perry.

Scorecards: 6-2-2, 6-3-1, 2-4-4.

Fight Summary: After having Mandell (135) on the verge of being kayoed in the second round, when Canzoneri (132½) was unable to take advantage of the situation the champion held on to win by a split decision, the referee voting for his opponent. It was only his outstanding ring generalship and superb condition that kept Mandell in the contest as the youngster, carrying a patch over his right eye to protect a cut received a few weeks earlier, strove to win by the short route. It was quite possibly the champion’s finest moment despite it being a close call.

 

Although the NYSAC were earlier favouring Jack Kid Berg as the most logical opponent for Mandell, once Al Singer (135) had outpointed the 131lbs Ignacio Fernandez over ten rounds at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York on 23 May 1930 a day or so later it was announced that the match with Mandell would be going ahead in New York with the full backing of the authority. Singer, who had been a pro for only three years, had put together a 59-fight record, comprising 51 wins, two draws and six defeats, while showing good punching power to go with classy boxing.

 

17 July 1930. Al Singer w co 1 (15) Sammy Mandell

Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Arthur Donovan.

Fight Summary: This was one of the most sensational fights in the division’s history, Singer (133½) blasting the crown from the head of Mandell (134½) after just 106 seconds, having put him down four times before the full count was administered. It was no secret that Mandell had paid the price for making the weight one time too many, the situation being summed up by Dr Walker, the NYSAC doctor, who said: “There goes a good champion who has dried himself out so thoroughly that there does not seem to be an ounce of water in his system”.

 

The first challenger for Singer came in the shape of Tony Canzoneri, a veteran of 92 contests who was still only 22. He was also a former world featherweight champion. In short, he was a viable challenger despite losing his previous contest to Billy Petrolle, and a man who could both box and fight. Coming to the ring, Canzoneri sported 73 wins, eight draws, eight defeats and three no-decision contests on his record.

 

14 November 1930. Tony Canzoneri w co 1 (15) Al Singer

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Johnny McAvoy.

Fight Summary: Having won the title on a first-round knockout, Singer lost it in the same fashion in what was a record time for the division. Since winning the title Singer had taken part in two catchweight contests, one them being a third-round kayo loss at the hands of Jimmy McLarnin, but he was still favoured to turn back Canzoneri (132). However, two left hooks and a right-hander to the head saw Singer (134) counted out after just 66 seconds of fighting, his ability to shake off moderate punches after the McLarnin defeat seemingly zero. Just ten contests later he had retired.

 

26 January 1931. Tony Canzoneri nd-w pts 10 Johnny Farr

Venue: The Coliseum, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jack Dempsey.

Fight Summary: Billed as a no-decision title fight, the champion got off to a fair start, winning the first four rounds before Farr (132¼), who proved to have a good defence, came back to rock him with hard overarm rights and left hooks to the head. According to press reports, Canzoneri (132) appeared to have won five rounds with three even.

 

24 April 1931. Tony Canzoneri w co 3 (10) Jack Kid Berg

Venue: The Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Phil Collins.

Fight Summary: After a fairly even couple of rounds as both men warmed to the task, Berg (134¼) decided to give it a go in the third, landing to head and body to drive Canzoneri (132) before him until he walked into a countering right cross. Falling flat on his face, the challenger made every effort to rise but was counted out on the 2.23 mark.

 

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

Venue: Polo Grounds, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. 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. This one also involved Canzoneri's NBA junior welterweight title.

 

20 November 1931. Tony Canzoneri w pts 15 Kid Chocolate

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

Fight Summary:  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. This one was also seen by the NBA as involving Canzoneri's junior welter title.

 

4 November 1932. Tony Canzoneri w pts 15 Billy Petrolle

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Gunboat Smith.

Fight Summary: Although Petrolle (134½) found it difficult to make the weight for Canzoneri (132) that should not detract from the latter’s performance, which was superb. For the first 11 rounds the challenger was in with a chance, but the last five sessions all belonged to Canzoneri who outboxed and outslugged the slugger to well earn the unanimous verdict. Trading punches with the ever-dangerous Petrolle showed the champion’s fearlessness, the fight being recognised as one of his best.

 

Regardless of being elevated to the number one spot in The Ring magazine ratings after beating Canzoneri in a non-title fight on 20 April 1933, Wesley Ramey was overlooked in favour of Barney Ross as the next challenger. To add salt into the wound, by the time Ross took on the champion Ramey had already lost his top ranking after being defeated by Tony Herrera. Bringing to the ring a 48-fight record, comprising 43 wins, two draws, two defeats and one no-decision contest, Ross had already proved to be a clever fighter who hardly ever missed a scoring opportunity and had a good chin to match.

 

23 June 1933. Barney Ross w pts 10 Tony Canzoneri

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

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

Fight Summary: Even though he was outsmarted by Canzoneri (133½) over the first six rounds and was suffering with 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.

 

12 September 1933. Barney Ross w pts 15 Tony Canzoneri

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

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

Fight Summary: 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. Ross' junior welter title, recognised by Illinois, was also on the line in this one. Further defences of his 140lbs title came against Sammy Fuller (w pts 10 at The Stadium, Chicago, Illinois on 17 November), Pete Nebo (w pts 12 at the Convention Hall, Kansas City, Missouri on 7 February 1934), Frankie Klick (drew 10 at the Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California on 5 March 1934), Kid Moro (w pts 10 at the Municipal Auditorium, Oakland, California on 14 March 1934), Bobby Pacho (w pts 10 at the Olympic Auditorium, Oakland, California on 27 March 1934 and w pts 12 at the Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio on 10 December 1934), Frankie Klick (w pts 10 at the Municipal Stadium, Miami, Florida on 28 January 1935) and Henry Woods (w pts 12 at the Civic Auditorium, Seattle, Washington on 9 April 1935).

 

When Ross relinquished his junior welter honours, along with his lightweight title, on 15 April 1935 after being suspended for failing to defend against the number one challenger, Lou Ambers, the New York State Athletic Commission immediately stepped in and matched the latter, who had outpointed Sammy Fuller in a 15-round eliminator at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan on 1 March 1935, with the former champion, Canzoneri. A clever and aggressive fighter known as 'The Herkimer Hurricane', Ambers had lost just once in 51 contests, to Steve Halaiko, while having wins over Frankie Wallace, Cocoa Kid, Young Joe Firpo, Johnny Jadick, Roger Bernard, Tony Herrera and Harry Dublinsky. Since losing to Ross, Canzoneri had run up 16 fights, beating Frankie Klick (2), Kid Chocolate, Cecil Payne, Cleto Locatelli (2), Pete Nebo, Baby Arizmendi, Eddie Ran, Honeyboy Hughes, Leo Rodak and Eddie Zivic, while losing to Dublinsky and Chuck Woods, who were both beaten in return matches.

10 May 1935. Tony Canzoneri w pts 15 Lou Ambers

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Arthur Donovan.

Fight Summary: Contested to decide the title that was left vacant when Barney Ross gave it up rather than struggling to make the weight, Canzoneri (133) was returned as the winner on all three scorecards. The former champion put up another great display of guts and ability to turn back a younger man who had been an outstanding favourite to win. Floored twice in the third round and again in the 15th Ambers (133¾) received a boxing lesson from the two-fisted Canzoneri, who realised it was his last chance of the big time.

 

4 October 1935. Tony Canzoneri w pts 15 Al Roth

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Arthur Donovan.

Fight Summary: In a bruising battle that saw neither man coming out of it unscathed, Roth (133½) fought on pluckily after being dropped in the third round and outclassed through to the tenth. Bravely, Roth staged a furious rally during the 12th, 13th and 14th sessions before Canzoneri (133½) took control again to land the unanimous decision. The verdict was never in doubt, the champion having too much of everything for the game Roth, who walked away without damaging his career.

 

Taking time out before coming back towards the end of January 1936, and with the NYSAC looking to find Canzoneri’s next title challenger, they set up two semi-final eliminators between Leonard Del Genio versus Wesley Ramey and Lou Ambers versus Pedro Montanez. Del Genio beat Ramey (w pts 10 at St Nicholas Arena, Manhattan, NYC on 30 March 1936), but as a stablemate of Canzoneri’s he decided not to push on, while Montanez pulled out. Before the elimination series took place Ramey was a big favourite to beat Del Genio, who had been the number two contender, and it was expected to be either him or Montanez who would be in the opposite corner to the champion. Ambers, having already been beaten by Canzoneri and Montanez was not a great draw, but the NYSAC and the champion had to stand on the result. With a 66-fight record, comprising 59 wins, five draws and two defeats, the aggressive Ambers was quietly confident despite losing to Canzoneri in their previous title fight.

 

3 September 1936. Lou Ambers w pts 15 Tony Canzoneri

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Arthur Donovan.

Scorecards: 12-3, 9-6, 10-5.

Fight Summary: Gaining revenge for his previous defeat at the hands of Canzoneri (135) not only brought Ambers (134½) the title he cherished by a unanimous decision, but also showed up the fact that the once great champion was nearing the end of the road. In short, Canzoneri was a shadow of his former self, and when the challenger circled him to the right and jabbed him silly his only response was to throw punches that missed wildly. He also had points deducted for low blows. Both men finished the fight cut over their left eyes, testament to some of the punches that got through, but it was the youthful elusiveness of Ambers and his better work that won the day.

 

7 May 1937. Lou Ambers w pts 15 Tony Canzoneri

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Arthur Donovan.

Scorecards: 12-2-1, 13-2, 15-0.

Fight Summary: Another hard struggle for supremacy, this being the third fight between the pair, saw Ambers (135) retain his title on all three scorecards regardless of not producing his best form. For Canzoneri (135), though, despite showing flashes of his former brilliance it was his last crack at the big time before retiring just over two years later. Although the scorecards showed Ambers winning most of the rounds, his better boxing certainly catching the eye, the decision was still greeted by boos and whistling.

 

23 September 1937. Lou Ambers w pts 15 Pedro Montanez

Venue: Polo Grounds, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: John Marto.

Fight Summary: Satisfied in coasting to victory over the extremely disappointing Montanez (135), the clever Ambers (134½) was chided afterwards for not trying to take the challenger out, having boxed on the back foot all night to clock up the points. Ambers’ valid argument afterwards was why take risks if he did not have to. Unable to fathom Ambers out, which was somewhat surprising as he already held a win over the champion, Montanez was continuously warned for hitting and holding, the majority decision not being disputed.

 

Given six months leeway before having to make another defence, Ambers was hoping to get in two fights during 1938 before taking on Henry Armstrong, the featherweight champion. Then came the announcement that Armstrong would challenge Barney Ross for the welterweight title on 31 May 1938 at the MSG Bowl, Queens, NYC, with the winner to fight Ambers within 60 days. According to the agreements made between the three champions, if Ross won he would be defending the welter crown against Ambers, but if Armstrong were to be victorious it would be Ambers’ lightweight title only that would be at stake. Following his victory over Ross the match was made for 17 August 1938, with Armstrong bringing a record of 91 wins, 11 defeats and six draws into the ring on the night.

 

17 August 1938. Henry Armstrong w pts 15 Lou Ambers

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Billy Cavanagh.

Scorecards: 8-6-1, 7-6-2, 7-8.

Fight Summary: Starting off at a whirlwind pace Armstrong (134) backed Ambers (134¼) against the ropes for most of the action, battering the body with great effect despite receiving three cautions for low blows, and had the champion down from a crunching right to the jaw in the fifth round and again in the sixth. That Ambers fought back gamely to give Armstrong more trouble than he had been forced to take on board previously was rewarded on one of the judges’ scorecards, his efforts being highlighted in the 13th session when he stormed into the challenger, whipping in savage blows to force his rival back. However, with the men tiring that was the final spell of mass excitement, both being glad to hear the final bell when it came. On winning, Armstrong possessed the proud record of becoming the only man in ring history to hold three world titles simultaneously, having become champion at 126, 147 and 135lbs in that order. Armstrong relinquished the featherweight title in November.

 

16 March 1939. Henry Armstrong w co 1 (15) Lew Feldman

Venue: Municipal Auditorium, St Louis, Missouri, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Walter Heisner.

Fight Summary: Billed and reported as a fight that involved Armstrong’s light and welterweight titles, the champion started well with sharp left jabs before getting down to business to floor Feldman (134) for a count of ‘nine’ after less than two minutes of action. There was no coming back from that, and with Feldman back on his feet Armstrong (135) piled in with powerful rights and lefts to leave the former on the deck to be counted out with just 2.12 on the clock.

 

With a return agreement in place, Armstrong was contracted to defend the lightweight title against Lou Ambers. The former champion, Ambers, had won nine out of nine, beating top men such as Steve Halaiko, Tommy Cross, Frankie Wallace, Paul Junior (2) and Baby Arizmendi since his defeat at the hands of Armstrong, while the latter had defended his welterweight title seven times against the cream of the division.

 

22 August 1939. Lou Ambers w pts 15 Henry Armstrong

Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Arthur Donovan.

Scorecards: 8-7, 8-7, 11-3-1.

Fight Summary: With Armstrong (135) penalised five rounds for low blows, Ambers (134½) regained his title when given the unanimous decision. However, one should not take away from him the fact that he had fought a smart and tricky battle that at times saw the champion miss with punch after punch. While Armstrong was predictably all action, Ambers also fought savagely, even looking on occasion as though he might knock his man out. The only certain thing to come out of the fight was that neither man could take on board many more battles like that, especially Armstrong who appeared to be not the fighting man he once was.

 

Ambers forfeited NBA recognition on 25 March 1940 after he failed to sign for a defence against Davey Day. Day had outscored Sammy Angott over 12 rounds of an NBA eliminator at The Stadium, Chicago, Illinois on 8 December, but instead of taking him on Ambers was matched against the unranked Lew Jenkins, who had knocked out Tippy Larkin inside a round at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC on 8 March 1940 to win a NYSAC eliminator. The somewhat wild, heavy-handed Jenkins had participated in 63 contests, winning 44, drawing four and losing 15, but was not expected to worry Ambers unduly.

 

10 May 1940. Lew Jenkins w rsc 3 (15) Lou Ambers

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

Fight Summary:  Unleashing non-stop aggression from the opening bell Jenkins (132) set out his stall with lefts and rights all crashing in on their target, the unfortunate Ambers (134½) being unable to avoid them. Knocked down twice, in the first and second rounds Ambers merely had time for defence, and in the third session Jenkins rushed out of his corner to quickly belt him through the ropes for yet another count. Getting up bleary-eyed the end was nigh for the champion. Put down again from a two-fisted barrage and taking a 'nine' count before rising, Ambers was being hit at will by Jenkins before the referee came to his rescue on the 1.29 mark.

 

22 November 1940. Lew Jenkins w rsc 2 (15) Pete Lello

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

Fight Summary:  Following a slow start by the champion’s standards, possibly because Lello had knocked him out inside seven rounds some 18 months earlier, the fight never took off until the second round. Put down four times from all manner of punches, Lello (131¾), on unsteady legs and seriously at risk, was rescued by the referee with 23 seconds of the session remaining as Jenkins (134½) was menacingly looking to take him out.

 

Jenkins’ next opponent would be the NBA champion, Sammy Angott. A solid all-round fighter who never knew when he was beaten, Angott had won the vacant NBA title when beating Davey Day, and was coming into the fight with 64 wins, five draws and 16 losses on his record.  

 

19 December 1941. Sammy Angott w pts 15 Lew Jenkins

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Arthur Susskind.

Scorecards: 13-2, 13-2, 13-2.

Fight Summary: Having only won three of his last six non-title contests, Jenkins (133) was a huge disappointment as he went down tamely by a unanimous decision against the NBA champion, Angott (133½), who was scarcely any better in what was described as the division’s worst ever title fight by The Ring magazine. It appeared that Jenkins had made his mind up not to fight, for whatever reason, as he continuously went through a grab-and-hold routine. Meanwhile, Angott, who would earn the nickname of ‘The Clutch’, closed Jenkins down, making it difficult for him to get his punches off as he stayed at close quarters to work on the inside.

 

15 May 1942. Sammy Angott w pts 15 Allie Stolz

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Frank Fullam.

Scorecards: 8-6, 8-6, 5-9.

Fight Summary: In a close fight according to the judges’ cards, the cagey Angott (134½) just about warranted the split decision over Stolz (133). This, despite Stolz landing the cleaner punches and scoring the only knockdown of the fight, a cracking right to the jaw that deposited the champion on his back for a 'nine' count in the third round. At the post mortem the insiders felt that had Stolz, who had two points deducted for low blows and paced himself poorly, been better advised the title was his for the taking.

 

Angott relinquished the world title on 14 November when retiring (later rescinded) due to an injured hand. Further to that, the next time my version of the 'world' title became available was when the NYSAC and Pennsylvania supported a match for the title between Beau Jack and Bob Montgomery. Having won the NYSAC version of the title when knocking out Tippy Larkin in the third round on 18 December 1942, the all-action Jack had participated in 62 bouts, winning 53, drawing two and losing six, while beating men such as Al Roth, Bobby Poison Ivy, Chester Rico, Terry Young, Allie Stolz, Tippy Larkin, Fritzie Zivic (2) and Henry Armstrong since starting out in 1939. In what would be his first defence, he would be meeting the hard-hitting Montgomery who had taken part in 59 contests, winning 50, drawing three and losing six. Montgomery, who would come to be known as ‘The Bobcat’, had beaten Norman Quarles, Julie Kogon (2), Lew Jenkins, Slugger White, Davey Day, Jimmy Garrison, Joey Peralta, Bobby Ruffin, Maxie Shapiro, Chester Rico and Lulu Costantino on his march up the ratings.

 

21 May 1943. Bob Montgomery w pts 15 Beau Jack

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

Scorecards: 9-6, 10-5, 10-3-2.

Fight Summary: Badly wobbled and almost out of the fight after being hit by several crunching right-hand uppercuts in the first session, Montgomery (134) came through the crisis well. Although Jack (135) continued to press, by the 11th he was almost out of gas, his left eye cut and having just been dropped by a peach of a left hook. Regardless, Jack somehow managed to keep going to the final bell to lose the unanimous decision. It had been an uphill struggle for Jack from the sixth, the round from which Montgomery had virtually assumed control, his two-fisted attacks carrying the champion before him.

 

Despite losing to Bobby Ruffin, after beating Maxie Starr and Johnny Hutchinson the top-ranked Jack was already lined up to meet Montgomery, rated as number two, in a return match. Since their previous fight, Montgomery had won four non-title bouts, which included wins over Fritzie Zivic and Petey Scalzo.

 

19 November 1943. Beau Jack w pts 15 Bob Montgomery

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

Scorecards: 10-4-1, 10-5, 7-6-2.

Fight Summary: Few would have given Jack (132¾) a chance after their first fight, but he surprised Montgomery (133¾) by a change of tactics that was based on speed and use of the bolo punch (named after the knife action for cutting down vegetation in the Philippines and could. be termed as a wide, swinging uppercut). Both men gave it everything they had, and although the action was devoid of any science it was hugely entertaining with first one then the other looking to end the fight early as both connected with big punches. Ultimately, it was Jack who carried off the unanimous decision and the title, having managed to keep up the electric pace before tiring and happy to hear the final bell.

 

With a return contract in place, Jack and Montgomery would meet for the third time. Since their previous go neither man had laid up and rested, Jack drawing with Sammy Angott and beating Lulu Costantino and Maxie Berger, while Montgomery had defeated Joey Peralta and Ike Williams before losing to Al Bummy Davis.

 

3 March 1944. Bob Montgomery w pts 15 Beau Jack

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

Scorecards: 8-6-1, 8-6-1, 7-8.

Fight Summary: Being beaten in a round by Al Bummy Davis just two weeks earlier was hardly the right preparation for Montgomery (135) to regain the titles from Jack (134), but regain them he did when taking the split decision at the end of 15 hard-fought rounds. Anything but a thriller this time round, with far too much clutching, it came down to Jack’s quantity as opposed to Montgomery’s quality and power in deciding as to who won. Following two more non-title bouts, including a defeat by Jack (l pts 10 at Madison Square Garden on 4 August), Montgomery was called up by the US Army before being discharged as a corporal early in 1946. Although ‘The Bobcat’ had a few fights during this period, with managerial problems and the need to be properly prepared he would not be ready to defend the title until June 1946.

 

28 June 1946. Bob Montgomery w co 13 (15) Allie Stolz

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NY/Pennsylvania. Referee: Ruby Goldstein.

Fight Summary: Despite Stolz (132½) showing great skill, especially in slipping punches, he lacked the durability required to survive the heavy blows being tossed by the champion and took counts in the second and fifth sessions. After Montgomery (134¾) had points deducted for two low blows in the sixth, Stolz showed great heart and no little ability to get into the 11th round where he took two early counts. With the crowd right behind him, Stolz, making punches miss by inches, somehow made it to the bell. It could not last. Having been dumped again in the 12th, Stolz gamely proceeded to the 13th before he was counted out with six seconds of the round remaining following a tremendous right to the jaw.

 

26 November 1946. Bob Montgomery w co 8 (15) Wesley Mouzon

Venue: Convention Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: NY/Pennsylvania. Referee: Charley Daggert.

Fight Summary: After being knocked out inside two rounds by the 19-year-old Mouzon (132¾) in a non-title fight three months earlier the champion had plenty to prove, and this time he warmed up in the dressing room for fear of being taken out early. Setting a blistering pace, Mouzon took the first three rounds with solid jabs and hooks before Montgomery (135) began to see the fruits of his relentless work on the body in the fourth. Subsequently, with ‘The Bobcat’ bobbing and weaving his way to close quarters Mouzon’s fate was sealed, the infighting ultimately deciding the result. In the eighth, having crowded the lanky Mouzon into a corner and ripped in heavy blows to the body Montgomery shifted his attack upstairs. The contest was ended when a series of lefts and rights followed by a left hook saw Mouzon hanging across the bottom rope before being counted out at 2.18 of the session.

 

Montgomery’s next defence would be against the NBA champion, Ike Williams, in a fight where the winner would receive world-wide recognition as world champion. The speedy, hard-hitting Williams had become the NBA champion when beating Juan Zurita on 18 April 1945 and had gone on to make successful defences against Enrique Bolanos and Ronnie James. Having also beaten the likes of Willie Roache, Gene Burton (2), Bill Speary, Jimmy Hatcher (2), Joey Peralta, Slugger White, Sammy Angott (2), Cleo Shans, Julie Kogon, Freddie Dawson, Lulu Costantino, Dave Castilloux, Willie Joyce, Maxie Berger Nick Moran, Johnny Bratton, Eddie Giosa (2), Bobby Ruffin and Tippy Larkin, in 97 contests Williams had won 83, drawn four and lost ten. He was also looking to avenge a 12-round non-title kayo loss at the hands of Montgomery on 25 January 1944.

 

4 August 1947. Ike Williams w co 6 (15) Bob Montgomery

Venue: Municipal Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Charley Daggert.

Fight Summary: Looking to unify the championship, the NBA champion, Williams (133¾), cut over the left eye in the second, had the better of all the rounds leading up to the finish as he jabbed the crouching Montgomery (133¾) with regularity. While Montgomery, who was recognised as the title holder in New York and Pennsylvania, concentrated on the midsection, Williams gave a master class of box-fighting against a highly dangerous opponent. Halfway through the sixth Williams picked up the fight with a vengeance when dropping Montgomery for ‘nine’ with a sledge-hammer right, it being a miracle that the latter was still in the contest. Back on his feet but unable to defend himself properly, Montgomery was subjected to all manner of blows before sinking to the canvas where he was counted out in the act of rising on the 2.37 mark.

 

25 May 1948. Ike Williams w pts 15 Enrique Bolanos

Venue: Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Charles Randolph.

Scorecards: 88½-76½, 85½-79½, 82-83.

Fight Summary: Stalking Bolanos (134) throughout, the champion, who was looking to repeat an earlier victory over his rival, found him more durable than before. Although Williams (135) outfought Bolanos over the opening four rounds the man from Los Angeles came back with solid hooks to head and body to win four of the next five sessions prior to the battle taking a decided turn in the former’s favour in the tenth. From here to the final bell Williams made all the running despite desperate resistance from Bolanos. Almost knocked out in the 13th, and cut over the left eye in the 14th, Bolanos never gave up hope of winning before going down on a split decision.

 

12 July 1948. Ike Williams w rsc 6 (15) Beau Jack

Venue: Shibe Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Charley Daggert.

Fight Summary: Defending the title for the second time in a year, Williams (134) allowed Jack (134) to make all the early running while being content to counter and look for openings. Towards the end of the fifth Williams caught Jack with a tremendous left hook. With Jack disorientated, Williams punched away freely until the latter, on regaining his senses, fought back furiously. Coming out for the sixth with a view to finishing Jack off Williams let go another vicious left hook to the jaw before raining in a hail of blows without return, and with just 33 seconds on the clock the referee made a timely stoppage in order to rescue a badly beaten fighter. The film of this fight shows that Williams twice beckoned the referee in before the decision was eventually made as Jack was beginning to slip towards the canvas.

 

23 September 1948. Ike Williams w co 10 (15) Jesse Flores

Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Mark Conn.

Fight Summary: Despite being rated the number two challenger for the title with just three losses in 50 contests, Flores (134¾) was unable to offer much of a threat to Williams (134¾), being content to box on the back foot. Finally catching up with his rival Williams dropped him twice in the fifth and eighth rounds before Flores, trying to avoid the punches coming his way, took a count of ‘three’ after slipping over in the ninth. In the tenth it was all over at 2.04 of the session after the elusive Flores was felled by a right to the jaw and counted out after being set up with jabs and a tremendous left hook to the body.

 

21 July 1949. Ike Williams w rsc 4 (15) Enrique Bolanos

Venue: Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jack Dempsey.

Fight Summary: Taking on Williams (135) for the third time having gone close previously, as early as the opening session it could be clearly seen that the champion intended to finish the job quickly. Although badly hurt in the second and third rounds, Bolanos (133), his left eye swollen, still kept giving it his best shot. However, his punches had no effect whatsoever on Williams until crashing rights to the jaw and left hooks to head and body in the fourth dropped him in a dazed state. Having got up at ‘eight’ Bolanos was quickly set about by Williams, who hammered in lefts and rights, and at 2.40 the referee rescued him immediately prior to his corner throwing in the towel.

 

5 December 1949. Ike Williams w pts 15 Freddie Dawson

Venue: Convention Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Charley Daggert.

Scorecards: 8-7, 8-7, 9-6.

Fight Summary: Boxing cautiously for the opening six rounds, with the challenger making a difficult target for Williams (135) when the pair came to close quarters there was far too much mauling and holding. However, in the seventh at least Dawson (134) began to throw a few more punches, especially the left jab, but all the aggression was still with the champion. Although Dawson had the better of it in the eighth, after he picked up a deep gash on the left cheekbone when heads came together the ninth session, it reverted into a mauling affair. The final third of the contest, apart from the 14th, saw Dawson edging it as the jaded Williams tired, but failing to put in sufficient work needed to take the decision he really had only himself to blame.

 

Come the end of March 1951, Frankie Palermo, Williams’ manager, informed the NBA that his fighter would be defending against Jimmy Carter in May, whereupon the Association suspended the champion for employing elusive tactics in electing to fight a man whom they failed to recognise as a worthy challenger. On 23 May, the Californian Boxing Commission also suspended Williams who was scheduled to defend against Aragon on 19 June, for going through with the Carter fight ahead of meeting the latter. Despite losing two of his last three Carter had a record of 51 wins, seven draws and 11 defeats, beating men of the calibre of Phil Burton, Archie Whitewater, Mario Trigo, Wallace Bud Smith and Percy Bassett, and drawing with Sandy Saddler.

 

25 May 1951. Jimmy Carter w rsc 14 (15) Ike Williams

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

Fight Summary: Fighting above expectation, and in what was a huge shock to the public, the unfancied Carter (133) blasted Williams (135) to defeat at 2.49 of the 14th round when the referee decided that the latter was in no condition to defend himself properly. The fight had proceeded with a lack of incident for the opening four rounds before Carter put Williams down for ‘five’ with a long right hand to the head. He was then dropped again in the fifth by heavy rights to the head. Thereafter, Williams was a beaten man, and although he was put down again in the tenth he somehow stumbled along to the 14th when the fight eventually came to an end after he had arisen, almost senseless, from another bad knockdown. Announced as being 135lbs, Williams had been unable to make that weight at the 2pm weigh-in, leaving the NYSAC to exercise its discretion in letting the fight go ahead. Having had to remove 20lbs fairly quickly left Williams in a weakened state, which would go some way to explaining his lacklustre performance, and after losing his next two contests, to Don Williams and Gil Turner, his career was all but over at the highest level. Following the result the NBA quickly gave Carter their blessing when recognising him as champion on 4 July after he had agreed to defend against a top-three opponent.

 

14 November 1951. Jimmy Carter w pts 15 Art Aragon

Venue: Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Mushy Callahan.

Scorecards: 88-77, 88-77, 88½-76½.

Fight Summary: The challenger made a reasonable start, but by the fourth round Carter (134¼) had begun to put his punches together better prior to having his rival over with a left hook in the sixth. Although coming back strongly from the knockdown Aragon (134¼) was eventually drawn in to close-quarter action where he was second best, and in a torrid 12th session he was forced to defend himself against a torrent of blows until Carter temporarily tired and the pace dropped. At that point, with Aragon, the Californian ‘Golden Boy’, having very little left the 13th saw him take another battering, his head being rocked back and forth before he managed to struggle through to the final bell to hear the unanimous verdict go against him. Both men finished with facial damage, Aragon being cut over the right eye with his left eye almost closed, while Carter carried a cut left eye from the sixth round.

 

1 April 1952. Jimmy Carter w pts 15 Lauro Salas

Venue: Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Abe Roth.

Scorecards: 87-78, 84½-80½, 86½-81½.

Fight Summary: Returning to California for another defence of his title, Carter (134) began slowly before jolting Salas (131) with short uppercuts and hooks in the third round, only to be forced to ship some solid rights to the head in the fourth. After having some further success in the fifth, Salas was given a lesson in the following seven sessions as Carter ripped into him with stiff, jolting jabs and belting left hooks and uppercuts. Despite all of that Salas began to come back in the 13th, and in the 15th he became a fighting demon when smashing Carter to the deck for ‘three’ with a heavy right and punching it out with the champion until the final bell. While Salas made a big play of it at the finish, the unanimous decision in Carter’s favour would have come as no surprise to those who understood the art of judging.

 

Having given Carter a run for his money in his previous contest, Salas was given another crack at the champion. Ranked at number six in The Ring magazine ratings, Salas was a fighter with limitless energy who seemed to get stronger the longer a fight went on. Despite losing 24 times in 83 contests, he had wins over top men such as Bobby Dykes, Buddy Jacklich, Manuel Ortiz (2), Jock Leslie (2), Dave Gallardo, Rudy Garcia, Carlos Chavez, Fabela Chavez and Jackie Blair.

 

14 May 1952. Lauro Salas w pts 15 Jimmy Carter

Venue: Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Frankie Van.

Scorecards: 84-81, 83½-81½, 82-83.

Fight Summary: Just six weeks later Carter (134) again defended his title against Salas (131) in California, but this time came away minus his crown. Attacking strongly from the start, Salas had a big second round when staggering the champion with heavy rights to the head before the two of them went toe-to-toe right up to the 11th when the Mexican got his second wind. The last four sessions saw Salas, cut over the left eye in the ninth, swinging away almost non-stop as Carter, who had been the more cautious of the pair, tried desperately to match him punch for punch without too much success. The real turning point came after Carter’s left eye went in the 13th and a cracking overarm right buckled his legs in the 14th, leaving him with too much to do in the last round.

 

15 October 1952. Jimmy Carter w pts 15 Lauro Salas

Venue: The Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Frank Gilmer.

Scorecards: 81-69, 84-66, 82-68.

Fight Summary: In recapturing the title from Salas (132) five months after losing it Carter (135) showed that he had learned the lessons of the previous fights. Setting up a rapid pace from the opening bell while maintaining his supremacy throughout he carried off all but three of the 15 rounds. Despite being hit often, Salas, badly cut over the right eye, never wavered in his efforts to retain the title, often changing his stance in an effort to confuse Carter. When Salas swarmed all over Carter in the 11th and 12th, having paced himself well the latter soon got back to stabbing the left hand into his rival’s face and controlling the rest of the action.

 

24 April 1953. Jimmy Carter w rsc 4 (15) Tommy Collins

Venue: The Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Tommy Rawson.

Fight Summary: Following two rounds of skilful boxing it was ominous that Carter (134¼) was merely sizing up Collins (133¾), and in the third when he began to blast home punches from both hands to head and body the latter was sent crashing seven times in all before being allowed to answer the bell to start the fourth in a helpless state. With his left eye badly damaged and hardly able to stand, Collins bravely stepped up to the plate until having been relentlessly chopped down a further three more times the referee brought the fight to a halt on the 2.28 mark. He was already counting over Collins for the tenth time when the latter’s seconds jumped into the ring, it being their action that caused the count to stop when it did.

 

12 June 1953. Jimmy Carter w rsc 13 (15) George Araujo

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Al Berl.

Fight Summary: Although most of the early rounds belonged to Araujo (132½) by virtue of jabs and combinations delivered at lightning pace, once Carter (135) decided that he had stalked the challenger methodically for long enough and began to open up it was clear that 15 rounds would not be required. By the sixth Araujo was being slowed down by solid jabs and blows to the body as Carter, cut over the right eye, picked up the pace. And in the ninth he had no option but to stand his ground more, being twice dropped for his pains. Having been almost knocked out Araujo somehow managed make it to the tenth before hopping his way out of danger for the next three sessions, but in the 13th after going punch for punch with Carter he was dropped by a cracking right counter to the head. From the moment Araujo hit the deck it was obvious that he would not make it, the referee wisely calling it off at 2.16 of the round to allow him immediate medical treatment.

 

11 November 1953. Jimmy Carter w co 5 (15) Armand Savoie

Venue: The Forum, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: World. Referee: Tom Sullivan.

Fight Summary: Faster than the champion in the first round Savoie (134) was also on the offensive in the second with left hooks and rights to head and body before the champion got going in the fourth. In what was a session full of furious exchanges, both Carter (133½) and Savoie were cut over their left eyes with the former getting on top prior to the bell. Barely wasting a moment in the fifth Carter took the fight to Savoie, and after a burst of body punches he feinted the Canadian on to a cracking right to the jaw that culminated in the latter crashing to the floor to be counted out after just 59 seconds.

 

Carter’s next defence would be against Paddy DeMarco, a veteran with 80 contests under his belt since turning pro in 1945. However, he had won only five of his last 12 fights. With many thinking that his best days were behind him, a ten-round points win over Ralph Dupas at the Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana on 2 January 1954 projected him from ninth to fourth in The Ring magazine ratings. Known as ‘The Billygoat’ because of his tear-in, head-down style, DeMarco had beaten Terry Young (2), Humberto Sierra (2), Billy Graham, Teddy Davis, Eddie Giosa, Arthur King, Sandy Saddler (2), Enrique Bolanos, Eddie Chavez, Johnny Gonsalves, Henry Davis (2) and Savoie.

 

5 March 1954. Paddy DeMarco w pts 15 Jimmy Carter

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Ruby Goldstein.

Scorecards: 7-5-3, 9-5-1, 9-6.

Fight Summary: Bustling around from the first to last bell, DeMarco (135), playing on the champion’s lack of aggression, was able to get under the left lead to bang away with both hands to the body throughout. Strangely, Carter (135), who used his right sparingly, seemed to have no answer to DeMarco’s constant attacks, especially after he suffered a badly gashed left eye in the sixth. It was noticeable that when Carter occasionally cut loose in the last third of the fight he seemed to have no effect on DeMarco, and although he picked up a few rounds on the cards his attacks quickly petered out. The final session saw both men go head-to-head as Carter desperately tried to pull the fight out of the fire, but as the 15th ended it was DeMarco who had the champion covering up in his own corner surely realising his title had gone. With a 90-day return contract in place, Carter would get the opportunity to regain his title.

 

17 November 1954. Jimmy Carter w rsc 15 (15) Paddy DeMarco

Venue: Cow Palace, Daly City, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Ray Flores.

Fight Summary: Yet again Carter (135) confounded his critics when he regained the championship to become the first man to hold the same title three times. Although DeMarco (134½) made a good start, being in front after four rounds, when Carter started to connect with several heavy rights in the fifth the champion’s left eye was cut. The next two or three rounds were relatively even, but in the ninth a left to the jaw put DeMarco down for ‘five’. Back on his feet there seemed to be little snap left in DeMarco's punches. It was now all Carter, who this time around was concentrating on the body, and while DeMarco gave it everything he had by the end of the 11th the writing was on the wall. By the 13th the champion was taking a real pounding, and in the 14th he was dropped again by a cracking left hook to the jaw only to be saved by the bell. After staggering out for the 15th DeMarco was rescued on the 14-second mark when the referee, having seen enough, called a halt.

 

Taking in three non-title bouts against Bobby Woods, Tony DeMarco and Orlando Zulueta, the last of which he lost, Carter immediately offered his victor a shot at the crown on 9 July 1955. Unfortunately for Zulueta, six days later Carter withdrew his offer after an announcement was made that he would be fighting Wallace Bud Smith on 1 June, which was eventually pushed on. Smith, who was rated at number four in The Ring magazine, having turned pro in 1948 after representing America in the Olympic Games, had won 29 and drawn six of 48 bouts, with many of his 13 losses coming against heavier men. Among those who had tasted defeat against Smith were Tommy Campbell, Teddy Davis, Frank Flannery, Zulueta (2), Johnny Williams, Arthur King and Arthur Persley.

 

29 June 1955. Wallace Bud Smith w pts 15 Jimmy Carter

Venue: The Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Mel Manning.

Scorecards: 147-140, 145-144, 143-144.

Fight Summary: A four-to-one underdog, Smith (134) relentlessly hunted down the champion from the opening bell and despite losing several of the earlier rounds came on strongly to hand Carter (134¼) what was probably his worst ever beating. With Carter’s ripping body attacks versus Smith’s slashing left hooks being the order of the day the last three rounds would decide the winner, and it was then that the latter came through stronger to take the decision. In what was a bloody affair, regardless of a lack of knockdowns, at the final bell Carter required 15 stitches, nine over his left eye and six over the right, while Smith needed three on his left optic.

 

19 October 1955. Wallace Bud Smith w pts 15 Jimmy Carter

Venue: The Gardens, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Tony Warndorf.

Scorecards: 145-143, 143-139, 143-139.

Fight Summary: Getting off to a flying start Smith (135) was determined to keep his nose in front of the man he took the title from, the contest developing into a bruising affair after Carter (135) was cut over the right eye in the third. The fight followed a similar pattern to their previous epic, with Smith whacking away with the left hook while Carter concentrated on working well at close quarters. In both the ninth and 13th rounds Carter had Smith going from his vaunted right hand, but somehow the latter weathered the storms until they died down to come back strongly in the remaining two sessions to retain his title.

 

Following three consecutive defeats in 1956 by Larry Boardman, Tony DeMarco and Joe Brown (l pts 10 at the Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, Texas on 2 May), Smith would next defend his title against the latter who at the time of his victory was unrated. Brown had been a pro since 1941, having started his career with a first-round kayo defeat, and had finally got his opportunity after 109 contests, comprising 77 wins, ten draws, 19 defeats, one no contest and two contests where the results were unknown and were possibly no-decision affairs. A crafty, stand-up boxer with an excellent jab and stiff punching power, Brown had been in and out of the rankings down the years, beating top men such as Carter, Melvin Bartholomew (2), Danny Webb, Arthur King, Arthur Persley (2), Luther Rawlings, Danny Womber, Jack Hassen, Baby Ortiz, Teddy Davis, Lester Felton, Virgil Akins (2), Tommy Campbell, Isaac Logart and Federico Plummer, and despite losing 19 contests he had proved to have staying power.

 

24 August 1956. Joe Brown w pts 15 Wallace Bud Smith

Venue: Municipal Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Ronald Brown.

Scorecards: 9-3-3, 12-3, 6-7-2.

Fight Summary: Although many thought that the 31-year-old Brown, or ‘Old Bones’ as he was known, was past his best even though he had previously defeated the champion on points in a non-title bout, he could not be ignored any more. It was all Brown (133) in the early rounds, despite breaking his right hand in the second, as he jabbed his way into a clear lead, and it was not until the 12th that Smith (134½) showed when a belated rally pushed the challenger back for a couple of sessions. Unfortunately for Smith it was this new-found aggression that ultimately let him down as he walked on to Brown’s two-fisted counters, taking counts of ‘seven’ and ‘nine’ in the 14th. Saved by the bell after the second knockdown the unsteady Smith somehow managed to make it to the end of the fight, hanging on desperately at every opportunity if only to preserve some pride. The fight was expertly summed up by Nat Fleischer of The Ring magazine, who said: “Although Smith never let up in his efforts to catch Brown, he was baffled by the latter’s backward movements, his bobbing and weaving and straight lefts to the face and failed to land effectively”. Fleischer, reacting to those who thought that Smith should have retained his title on aggression alone, was correct in his assertion that scoring punches win fights not anything else.

 

13 February 1957. Joe Brown w rsc 10 (15) Wallace Bud Smith

Venue: Miami Beach Auditorium, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jimmy Pearless.

Fight Summary: Dancing in and out and scoring at will with both hands, especially with the left jab, Brown (134¾) gave his challenger a boxing lesson throughout, his supremacy being so great that one official failed to give Smith (134) a round. Although Smith was the aggressor he ran into cul-de-sacs, and when he really opened up in a bid to save the fight, in the eighth, he came off worse, thereafter taking a lot of punishment. By now outclassed, Smith, his left eye almost closed, cut on the right eye and bleeding badly from the mouth, was allowed to start the tenth after being punished in the ninth. But he was soon put under siege by a rampant Brown. Having slipped over and seemingly unable to stem the flow of punches being tossed at him Smith was pulled out of the fight by the referee following the bell to end the tenth.

 

19 June 1957. Joe Brown w rsc 15 (15) Orlando Zulueta

Venue: The Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Ray Keech.

Fight Summary: Making his second defence, Brown (134¼) began to take over from the halfway stage when his punches seemed to have more effect on the clever Zulueta (133¾) than before. Prior to then the contest had been fairly level, with the Cuban possibly ahead, but by the end of the 11th Brown, carrying a cut over the left eye, had pulled away. The 12th round saw Zulueta taking a bit of a hiding as Brown cut loose with both hands, and in the 13th a cracking right hook to the head dropped the challenger for ‘nine’. Although Zulueta somehow survived the 14th, with Brown again on the rampage in the final session he was put down for ‘eight’. Having got up glassy-eyed, the referee rescued Zulueta with just 21 seconds remaining.

 

4 December 1957. Joe Brown w rsc 11 (15) Joey Lopes

Venue: The Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Joey White.

Fight Summary: Until the end of the sixth round the contest had been an interesting one without really igniting, with Brown (133½) boxing well on the back foot and content to peck away with the left jab while the challenger looked to get his punches off. That all changed in the seventh when Brown sped out of his corner to floor Lopes (133½), now carrying cuts over both eyes, with a cracking right to the jaw. Although the Portuguese-born Lopes was up at ‘four’ and immediately back into the fight his blows appeared to lack any real force, and by the end of the tenth he was being battered with lefts and rights to the head. So bewildered was Lopes that he actually sat down in Brown’s corner at the bell. Lopes should have been retired at that point, but having been allowed to come out for the 11th he was soon in trouble again. And after being put down twice with heavy rights and not fighting back the referee came to his rescue on the 1.50 mark.

 

7 May 1958. Joe Brown w rsc 8 (15) Ralph Dupas

Venue: Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, Texas, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jimmy Webb.

Fight Summary: It is interesting to note that because both Brown (134) and his ‘white’ challenger hailed from New Orleans, due to the inter-racial law within Louisiana at the time the fight had to be contested in another State. Taking up the offensive from the start while maintaining an excellent defence, by the fourth round Brown got his right hand going and from there on there was only one man in it as Dupas (134) began to wilt. By the seventh the clever Dupas appeared ready to be taken, and in the eighth Brown really opened up with both hands before letting go a terrific right to the jaw which dropped the challenger heavily. Although Dupas was counted out by the ‘counter’, the referee had actually stopped the count at ‘nine’ because Brown had failed to go to a neutral corner, and with the dazed fighter back on his feet he allowed the action to continue. Not requiring too much initiative Brown immediately went to work to drop Dupas for two further counts, both of ‘eight’, first with a left hook and then with a two-handed assault, before the referee decided that, at 2.21, the latter had taken enough punishment for one night.

 

23 July 1958. Joe Brown w pts 15 Kenny Lane

Venue: Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, Texas, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Ernie Taylor.

Scorecards: 143-142, 144-143, 145-141.

Fight Summary: Confusing the champion with his awkward southpaw style, Lane (134¼) made Brown (134¼) work hard and allowed him no openings for the right hand in what became a hard, tactical battle. Although significantly outreached, Lane was quick to counter with the right, but in the tenth the contest turned as the former, cut over right eye in the ninth, was forced to take a variety of blows as he came under a heavy attack. That was undoubtedly Brown’s best round despite Lane remaining upright and continuing to fight back. Cut over the left eye in the 14th, Brown put in a grandstand finish in the final session to carry off the decision in what had been a tough one.

 

11 February 1959. Joe Brown w pts 15 Johnny Busso

Venue: Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, Texas, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jimmy Webb.

Scorecards: 148-131, 147-138, 149-140.

Fight Summary: Having gained a non-title win over the champion the previous November Busso (135) was expected to go close, but this time round he was well beaten. Quickly getting on top, Brown (134) outboxed his rival for long periods, and in the ninth put him down for ‘five’ with a left-right to the head doing the damage. Although game, Busso failed to pace himself over the distance, finishing the contest badly marked up, while Brown took few chances as he scored effectively throughout.

 

3 June 1959. Joe Brown w rsc 8 (15) Paolo Rosi

Venue: Uline Arena, Washington DC, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Charley Reynolds.

Fight Summary: With Rosi (134) forcing the action in virtually every round the champion was content to box on the back foot for long periods, using countering lefts and rights, but he was caught far too often for a man with his ability. In the third, Rosi was hurt by a crashing right to the head and was cut over the left eye as Brown (132) upped his work-rate. While Rosi seemed unperturbed, Brown was content to circle away, sending in the occasional heavy right to the head as the former pursued him while hooking with both hands. The eighth saw Brown finally take the fight to Rosi, a right cross severely gashing the latter over the eye, and with the champion punching away throughout the session to worsen the injuries it was apparent that the fight was almost over. It therefore came as no surprise during the interval when Rosi was pulled out on the advice of the ringside doctors.

.

2 December 1959. Joe Brown w rtd 5 (15) Dave Charnley

Venue: Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, Texas, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jimmy Webb.

Fight Summary: Further to four rounds of very little action, Charnley (133¾) being picked off by stiff left hands whenever he closed in, the fifth saw him upping the pace in an effort to get to the champion. With Brown (134) also starting to open up it looked as though the fight might take off, but after Charnley caught his man with a good southpaw right hook and followed up there was a resounding clash of heads which left the former dazed and badly cut at the end of the round. Asked by the referee during the interval whether he could repair the damage, Charnley’s manager pulled him out.

 

28 October 1960. Joe Brown w pts 15 Cisco Andrade

Venue: Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Lee Grossman.

Scorecards: 12-3, 13-3, 14-1.

Fight Summary: It seemed all too easy for the champion as he made Andrade (133½) appear like a novice at times, but the latter had beaten some good men and was not going to fold despite being badly hurt on occasion. Cut over the right eye early on as Brown (134½) jabbed away with the left, Andrade scored well in the seventh and eighth before the former regained supremacy. Thereafter, it was one-way traffic as Brown jabbed and hooked at will to head and body while the 30-year-old Andrade merely hung in to go the distance.

 

18 April 1961. Joe Brown w pts 15 Dave Charnley

Venue: Exhibition Centre, Earls Court, London, England. Recognition: World. Referee: Tommy Little.

Fight Summary: A far different outcome to their previous contest, this time Charnley (133¾) ran the champion close, and to those sitting at a distance it looked like he had done enough. Forcing matters all the way against Brown (134) the Englishman made the fight with the former content to box on the back foot while scoring with left and right-hand counters. Both men got through with solid blows during the fight, with Brown looking to be the heavier puncher of the pair, but Charnley would never be denied, continually walking in to unload his hooks. Round after round, Charnley, who finished up with damage to both eyes, made the running, but with Brown always getting through with scoring punches the referee had no hesitation in holding his hand up at the final bell.

 

28 October 1961. Joe Brown w pts 15 Bert Somodio

Venue: Araneta Coliseum, Manila, Philippines. Recognition: World. Referee: Arch Hindman.

Scorecards: 72-62, 71-65, 72-66.

Fight Summary: Despite making a good start and doing well during the opening four rounds, Somodio (135) soon found out that Brown (135) had bided his time while having a good look at him. Opening up in the fifth, Brown momentarily dropped Somodio before shaking him up in the seventh and cutting his left eye. Keeping on top with clever tactics, having dropped Somodio for ‘nine’ in the 11th with a right-left to the jaw, for the remaining sessions Brown expertly countered the challenger as he tried to make a grandstand finish. Somodio had done his best, but went down by a wide margin on the scorecards.

 

Following his win over Somodio it was announced that Brown would defend his title against Carlos Ortiz, who had been chasing him for several years. Ortiz had gone pro early in 1955 and had run up 29 wins from 32 bouts before operating in the newly structured junior welterweight division as the NBA champion while waiting for Brown to put up his title. Having lost the junior title to Duilio Loi on 10 May, wins over Doug Vaillant (w pts 10 at The Auditorium, Miami, Florida on 2 September) and Paolo Rosi (w pts 10 at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York on 18 November) made it impossible for Brown to avoid Ortiz any longer.

 

21 April 1962. Carlos Ortiz w pts 15 Joe Brown

Venue: Convention Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Frankie Van.

Scorecards: 74-60, 74-58, 74-66.

Fight Summary: The champion’s title reign came to an end as he was outclassed and beaten in every department by a younger man, while looking very much a 35-year-old who had finally run out of time. Ramming in left jab after left jab and keeping right on top of his rival, having cut Brown (134¾) over the left eye in the opening session Ortiz (134¾) was one step ahead throughout. Dumped on the seat of his pants in the 12th Brown was almost through, but somehow kept going to make it to the final bell and the crowning of a new champion.

 

3 December 1962. Carlos Ortiz w co 5 (15) Teruo Kosaka

Venue: Kuramae Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: World. Referee: James Wilson.

Fight Summary: Taking the initiative from the opening bell and scoring well with hard left jabs to the body, Ortiz (134¾) maintained his momentum to drop the oncoming challenger with a left hook to the jaw for ‘seven’ in the second round. Still Kosaka (133) kept coming, and still Ortiz measured him with body blows. Then, in the fifth, with Kosaka trying to make a fight of it a terrific right uppercut to the chin following a two-fisted barrage dropped him heavily to be counted out with 28 seconds of the session remaining.

 

7 March 1963. Carlos Ortiz w rsc 13 (15) Doug Vaillant

Venue: Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: World. Referee: Peter Pantaleo.

Fight Summary: Having been dropped by a left hook for ‘three’ in the opening session, Vaillant (134) came back to make a fight of it for the next five rounds before the champion picked it up to force his rival to retreat. Several times Vaillant was warned for low blows, but they did not discourage Ortiz (134½) who continued to force the action as the former weakened. The 12th round was the beginning of the end as Vaillant was battered by body punches and dropped twice before being saved by the bell. Coming out for the 13th, Vaillant, cut over the left eye and under pressure from sustained head and body attacks, was reeling on the ropes when rescued by the referee after 49 seconds had elapsed. Ortiz forfeited recognition in Michigan in July for failing to defend against the number one contender, Kenny Lane.

 

15 February 1964. Carlos Ortiz w rsc 14 (15) Flash Elorde

Venue: Rizal Memorial Coliseum, Manila, Philippines. Recognition: WBA/WBC/Lineal. Referee: James Wilson.

Fight Summary: In what was a good fight, Ortiz (135), who was cut on the right eye in the second round, kept in front with a sound left jab while working the body at every opportunity. With Elorde (135) matching the champion for jabs, by the ninth it was a tactical battle that had him still in with a chance. However, in the tenth Ortiz began to force the fight, and in the 13th he caught the onrushing Elorde solidly with head and body punches which seemed to knock all the stuffing out of the Filipino warrior. Accelerating his efforts in the 14th, Ortiz drove Elorde to the ropes where he was being relentlessly pounded before the referee came to his rescue on the 1.14 mark.

 

11 April 1964. Carlos Ortiz w pts 15 Kenny Lane

Venue: Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: World. Referee: Peter Pantaleo.

Scorecards: 144-141, 147-143, 148-144.

Fight Summary: Finally coming together with one victory apiece Ortiz (135) successfully defended his title against Lane (135), using hooks to head and body to break down the tight southpaw defences of the latter. There were no official knockdowns, although Lane was down without a count in the 14th after a left hook had dumped him, and twice more Ortiz had his man in trouble without being able to find a finisher. Both men were cut over their right eyes, Lane in the seventh and Ortiz in the 11th, but neither injury determined the way the fight went.

 

Although it was reported that Bill Daly, Ortiz’s manager, had virtually agreed terms for a title defence against Johnny Bizzarro in late September, which neatly coincided with the defence every six-month regulation, no more was heard of it. More surprising was the fact that Ortiz failed to be pressured by the commissions. There were also rumours that Ortiz’s next defence would be against Dave Charnley, but that amounted to nothing either. He did manage, however, to get in a non-title fight against Dick Divola on 14 December, which lasted just 127 seconds and was hardly the right preparation for a reported championship defence against Ismael Laguna in Panama City on 20 February 1965. Unfortunately, it had to be rescheduled when Ortiz went down with an intestinal infection on the eve of the fight. Laguna, still only 21, had arrived at a title shot after 40 contests in a three-year career in which there were just two losses.

 

10 April 1965. Ismael Laguna w pts 15 Carlos Ortiz

Venue: Anoche Stadium, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: World. Referee: Jersey Joe Walcott.

Scorecards: 143-132, 149-137, 145-145.

Fight Summary: Showing terrific speed, Laguna (132) quickly asserted himself over Ortiz (134¾) as he moved in with snappy lefts to confuse the champion while never allowing him the time to get his punches off. Cut under the left eye in the fifth, although Ortiz came back to take the seventh and eighth rounds as Laguna took a breather from thereon in he found that he was often hitting fresh air as the latter accelerated. While there was no doubting that Ortiz had struggled to make the weight due to an earlier illness, the manner in which Laguna boxed his way to victory was a major shock to the boxing world. Although there was no return fight agreement in place, following a win over Raul Soriano and a draw with Nicolino Locche in non-title bouts Laguna was happy to take on Ortiz in Puerto Rico.

 

13 November 1965. Carlos Ortiz w pts 15 Ismael Laguna

Venue: Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: World. Referee: Rocky Marciano.

Scorecards: 148-143, 145-143, 145-138.

Fight Summary: Following their last fight when the champion appeared lethargic, this time around he never gave Laguna (133) a chance to settle by constantly taking the fight to him and staying one step ahead. Getting off to a great start Ortiz (135) took the opening three sessions before Laguna did well with the jab in the fifth to get back into the fight, but by the eighth the former had taken over. After left hooks and right crosses had almost finished Laguna off in the 12th and 13th rounds, Ortiz cruised through to the final bell confident that he had done enough.

 

20 June 1966. Carlos Ortiz w rsc 12 (15) Johnny Bizzarro

Venue: Civic Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Buck McTiernan.

Fight Summary: Having chased Bizzarro (133¾) throughout the first eleven rounds without any success whatsoever, Ortiz (135) eventually caught up with his elusive challenger in the 12th when he finally ran out of steam. The fast-moving Bizzarro certainly set Ortiz many problems as he bobbed and weaved his way through the early sessions, but after opening up a cut over the champion’s right eye in the eighth he gave up on his tactical plan in a bid to work on the damage. This proved to be Bizzarro’s undoing when Ortiz finally got to grips with him in the 12th, and a barrage of blows followed by a left hook to the body dropped the challenger for the mandatory ‘eight’ count. Back on his feet and standing with his hands at his side, unable to defend himself, Bizzarro was rescued by the referee with 31 seconds of the session remaining.

 

22 October 1966. Carlos Ortiz w rsc 5 (15) Sugar Ramos

Venue: City Bullring, Mexico City, Mexico. Recognition: World. Referee: Billy Conn.

Fight Summary: After taking command in the first round Ortiz (134¾) was knocked down by a right to the jaw in the second, but when quickly back on his feet the challenger was unable to follow up his advantage. In the third and fourth, Ortiz, concentrating on the body, also worked on damage to Ramos’ left eye, the eye being virtually closed by the end of the fourth. At that point the referee came close to stopping the contest before allowing Ramos (134¾) out for the fifth. Charging out of his corner in an effort to turn the fight around Ramos gave it everything, but with the injury worsening the referee finally called a halt on the 1.45 mark. After the fight was stopped a riot broke out among the crowd, and the WBC executive, in overruling the referee, ordered Ortiz to return to the ring immediately. This was refused.

 

Further to that, the WBC vacated the title two days later and ordered a rematch. Meanwhile, the rest of the boxing world continued to recognise Ortiz as the champion, accepting the decision in his favour.

 

28 November 1966. Carlos Ortiz w co 14 (15) Flash Elorde

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Jimmy Devlin.

Fight Summary: For 13 soporific rounds Ortiz (135) seemed content to allow the slow-moving southpaw challenger to paw away with the jab while he remained in control without having to go through the gears. Prior to the 14th Ortiz used sharp lefts and rights to soften Elorde (134½) up as he belted him to the ropes, while maintaining a pace that suited him after experiencing weight-making problems yet again. However, the 14th saw a change of tactics as Ortiz came out with a view to finishing the fight, and after chasing Elorde down a cracking left hook to the jaw saw the latter counted out with 59 seconds of the session left.

 

1 July 1967. Carlos Ortiz w rsc 4 (15) Sugar Ramos

Venue: Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: World. Referee: Zack Clayton.

Fight Summary: With this being the long-awaited rematch, Ortiz (135) did not hang around as he took the initiative from the start, knocking the challenger down in the second and scoring almost at will in the third round. In the fourth, having forced Ramos (132¾) to take a mandatory ‘eight’ count following a right to the head, Ortiz set about his rival to batter him without reply before the referee finally called the fight off after 1.18 of the session had elapsed.

 

16 August 1967. Carlos Ortiz w pts 15 Ismael Laguna

Venue: Shea Stadium, Queens, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Arthur Mercante.

Scorecards: 10-4-1, 11-3-1, 10-4-1.

Fight Summary: Dominating much of the fight despite being cut over both eyes, Ortiz (135) showed his experience by only fighting when he had to while countering to perfection. When Laguna (135) did come forward he was often discouraged by hooks and uppercuts, almost being floored on several occasions. The last five rounds saw Ortiz going all out for the kayo, but the fast-moving Laguna, holding when he had to, avoided all of his efforts and deservedly made it to the final bell.

 

At the end of January 1968 it was reported that Ortiz’s manager had reached a tentative agreement for a defence against Carlos Teo Cruz in Santo Domingo on 24 February, but this was debunked by the champion who stated that he would not be risking his title until May. Cruz’s manager then appealed to the WBC and NYSAC to prod Ortiz, who had passed the every six-month defence regulation, into signing up to meet his man. Further to that, a few weeks later a championship match was contracted and set for Santo Domingo sometime in June. Cruz had been a pro since 1959, winning just 19 of his first 31 contests, but had come good in losing just once in his last 18 outings, to Frankie Narvaez, while beating men such as Vicente Derado (2), Jaime Valladares, Bunny Grant and Narvaez.

 

29 June 1968. Carlos Teo Cruz w pts 15 Carlos Ortiz

Venue: Quisqueye Stadium, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Recognition: World. Referee: Zack Clayton.

Scorecards: 145-142, 146-121, 130-131.

Fight Summary: Floored for an ‘eight’ count in the opening round after taking a hard right to the jaw, the champion fought back strongly at times but was unable to stem the aggression coming his way. Although Cruz (134½) was cut over the left eye in the fourth, an injury which bothered him throughout, it did not stop him from taking the title from the 31-year-old Ortiz (135) who was a shadow of his former self as he struggled to keep in the fight.

 

27 September 1968. Carlos Teo Cruz w pts 15 Mando Ramos

Venue: Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Lee Grossman.

Scorecards: 7-6, 7-6, 9-6.

Fight Summary: Swarming all over Ramos (135), who was cut over the left eye in the third, the champion gained himself a big advantage during the first five rounds as he caught his rival time after time with overarm rights to the head. By the sixth, though, Ramos started to find his way with long left jabs holding off Cruz (135) who was boxing out of a crouch. Following a fairly even spell, Cruz was cut over the left eye in the 13th, an injury that encouraged Ramos to land repeatedly with wild swings as he looked to take advantage of the situation. However, calling on all of his reserves and skill, Cruz steadied the boat in the last session to just about earn the decision.

 

Tough and game, and ranked at number four by The Ring magazine, Mando Ramos would be Cruz’s next challenger, having run the champion extremely close in his previous challenge. Not yet 20, Ramos had won 24 of 27 contests and beaten Ray Echevarria, Frankie Crawford and Hiroshi Kobayashi, and was viewed as a real comer.

 

18 February 1969. Mando Ramos w rsc 11 (15) Carlos Teo Cruz

Venue: Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: John Thomas.

Fight Summary: Although confused by the champion’s crouching tactics in the earlier rounds, once Ramos (134½) got into his stride in the fifth and began to put his reach advantage to good use he began to gain in confidence. Not one for giving up lightly, Cruz (135) came on strong in the sixth and seventh with solid rights to the head hurting Ramos, but in the eighth after sustaining a severe cut over the left eye he seemed to lose all his rhythm. Thereafter, Ramos took over with jabs and two-fisted attacks until the referee rescued Cruz, who was bleeding badly, at 2.41 of the 11th.

 

4 October 1969. Mando Ramos w rsc 6 (15) Yoshiaki Numata

Venue: Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Lee Grossman.

Fight Summary: With the challenger proving most elusive in the opening four rounds as he darted in and out before Ramos (134½) could catch him, it looked to be a difficult night for the champion. Although the punches failed to hurt Ramos they scored points and confused him. In the fifth Ramos finally caught up with Numata (134), and following a cracking left to the body he dropped the latter twice with heavy rights to the head. Coming out for the sixth, although Numata seemed to have recovered Ramos eventually dropped him again with another right for ‘eight’. Back in action, when a further right decked Numata the referee had seen enough, halting the action with 40 seconds of the session left.

 

The former world champion, Ismael Laguna, would be the next man up for Ramos. Since losing his title to Carlos Ortiz, Laguna had participated in 15 contests, winning all but one which was reversed immediately, and numbering men such as Paul Armstead, Ray Adigun, Frankie Narvaez, Victor Melendez, Lloyd Marshall and Maurice Tavant among his victims. Laguna would be coming to the ring with 61 wins, one draw and six defeats under his belt.

 

3 March 1970. Ismael Laguna w rtd 9 (15) Mando Ramos

Venue: Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Lee Grossman.

Fight Summary: Cut over the left eye as early as the first round the champion tried hard to get inside but was constantly beaten to the punch by Laguna (135), who continued to rack up points with his jab throughout. The eye damage was so bad that it had to be checked regularly during the intervals, and when Ramos (134½) was cut over the right eye in the ninth and unable to see the punches coming his corner pulled him out at the end of the session.

 

6 June 1970. Ismael Laguna w rsc 13 (15) Guts Ishimatsu

Venue: New City Gym, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: World. Referee: Juval Horta.

Fight Summary: Proving both durable and combative, Ishimatsu (135) gave it his best shot but was outboxed by a champion who decided that the left hand was the perfect weapon to deal with the man from Japan. Although Ishimatsu, cut on the nose in the third, came on strongly with rights and lefts to head and body in the fourth, Laguna (135) was quickly back in control as the injury worsened. The fight was halted with just 15 seconds of the 13th remaining when it was clear to the referee that the gory Ishimatsu was unable to defend himself against the steady stream of punches coming his way.

 

Laguna forfeited the WBC version of the title on 15 September for failing to give Mando Ramos a return. Instead of meeting Ramos, the Panamanian signed up to meet Ken Buchanan. The Scot, who had only lost one of 37 contests, had an excellent jab, good movement and power, and had benefited hugely from sparring hundreds of rounds with Wales’ former WBC featherweight champion, Howard Winstone.

 

26 September 1970. Ken Buchanan w pts 15 Ismael Laguna

Venue: Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Waldemar Schmidt.

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

Fight Summary: Boxing abroad without the permission of the BBBoC, Buchanan (134) started strongly to win three of the opening four rounds before the champion came back to cut him over the left eye in the fifth. Boxing brilliantly, jabbing Laguna (134½) with the left and crossing the right, Buchanan almost had his man over on several occasions but could not quite pull it off. The fight then evened out with Laguna continuing to peck away with the left, before Buchanan picked it up again in the latter sessions to storm home. At the final bell it was agreed that while Laguna threw more punches than Buchanan, the latter’s blows were harder and packed more authority.

Backed by the BBBoC and the WBC, Buchanan went forward to meet Mando Ramos in a fight that would be recognised universally. Unfortunately, Ramos withdrew after being injured and was replaced by Ruben Navarro, a Mexican who was rated at number three in the world, at just three days’ notice. A two-fisted fighter with a penchant for working the body, Navarro had beaten Ray Adigun, Hiroshi Kobayashi, Ely Yares, Jimmy Robertson, Raul Rojas and Arturo Lomeli to achieve his ranking.

 

12 February 1971. Ken Buchanan w pts 15 Ruben Navarro

Venue: Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Arthur Mercante.

Scorecards: 9-2, 9-4, 9-4.

Fight Summary: Overcoming a shaky start when he suffered a body pounding, Buchanan (134½) came back strongly with the left jab and solid rights over the top to gradually take the play away from his rival. By the sixth Buchanan was setting Navarro (135) up with scintillating left hands, and although the latter was always dangerous with his body shots, being well in the fight until the 11th, at that point the champion took over.

 

Buchanan forfeited the WBC version of the title on 25 June due to a contractual dispute.

 

13 September 1971. Ken Buchanan w pts 15 Ismael Laguna

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Jimmy Devlin.

Scorecards: 9-6, 10-5, 8-6-1.

Fight Summary: Fighting with a badly swollen left eye from the third round, Buchanan (133½) showed championship spirit as he overcame the problem to gradually get on top of a challenger who had visibly slowed by the fifth. Buchanan was outpunching Laguna (135) at the rate of three to one by the eighth, and although the latter was still well in the fight he was losing it. Unfortunately for Buchanan, in the 12th his left eye was further damaged when it was badly gashed, an injury that required 12 stitches after the fight. However, he gritted his teeth and despite worries that it might be stopped he drove on to extend his lead further.

 

Having taken in a couple of non-title fights, Buchanan’s next challenger would be the 21-year-old Roberto Duran, an aggressive, hammer-fisted fighter from Panama. Unbeaten on 28 straight, with 24 wins inside the distance, Duran had beaten Ernesto Marcel, Lloyd Marshall, Hiroshi Kobayashi and Angel Robinson Garcia, and was the division’s outstanding newcomer.

 

26 June 1972. Roberto Duran w rsc 13 (15) Ken Buchanan

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: John LoBianco.

Fight Summary:  Attacking the stylish champion relentlessly, Duran (132¼) dropped him for the mandatory ‘eight’ after just 20 seconds before continuing in the same vein for round after round. For Buchanan (133½), who had far more skill than his opponent, it was difficult for him to control the fight, and with his left eye half shut he drifted further and further behind. Coming back strongly from the eighth, however, Buchanan began to get the jab going but was more often than not forced to fight Duran off rather than fight to instructions. In the 13th it was noticeable that the contest was slipping away from Buchanan, and after the bell had rung to end the round, with both men still fighting, he was dropped by a body blow. At that point the referee stopped the fight to save the champion from taking further punishment, saying he had seen no low blows. Following that, the arguments raged on as to whether Duran should have been disqualified, especially after Buchanan had been hospitalised with a swollen groin and bruised kidneys.

 

20 January 1973. Roberto Duran w co 5 (15) Jimmy Robertson

Venue: New City Gym, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Vivian Steward.

Fight Summary: Even though Robertson (135) was game and tough he was not good enough to extend the champion, being pressured from the start with body punches that were driven in almost endlessly. In the fifth, with Robertson cut on the left eye and bleeding from the nose, a left-right combination from Duran (135) saw the American crash to the floor to be counted out five seconds after the bell to end the round.

 

2 June 1973. Roberto Duran w rsc 8 (15) Hector Thompson

Venue: New City Gym, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Nicasio Drake.

Fight Summary: Never really in the hunt, despite forcing the champion’s left eye to swell up in the sixth following a good right-hand delivery, the smart-boxing Thompson (135) found it tough going, being dropped in the third and cut up in the eighth. At that point, Duran (134½) really set about the Australian, and on downing his man again the referee called it off without taking up the count, the finish being timed at 2.15.

 

8 September 1973. Roberto Duran w rsc 10 (15) Guts Ishimatsu

Venue: New City Gym, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Nicasio Drake.

Fight Summary: Dominating the fight throughout, the champion never stopped his remorseless forward march as he battered Ishimatsu (135) two-fistedly for most of the rounds. While there was only going to be one winner, Ishimatsu did not come to lie down, cutting Duran (133½) badly over the left eye in the third, an injury that forced the latter to up the tempo even more. By the eighth, Ishimatsu, who was cut over the left eye, was beginning to give way under relentless pressure, being dropped twice in the ninth and three times in the tenth before the referee called it off to rescue him with 50 seconds of the session remaining.

 

16 March 1974. Roberto Duran w co 11 (15) Esteban De Jesus

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

Fight Summary: Outpointed by De Jesus (134½) in a non-title contest in November 1972 on paper this appeared to be the champion’s toughest defence, and it certainly looked that way when he was dropped in the opening session for the mandatory ‘eight’ following an exchange of blows. Although De Jesus was giving Duran (134½) all kinds of problems, the latter rallied and began to take over as the Puerto Rican weakened due to being forced to lose 15lbs to make the weight. Down in the seventh, De Jesus tried to fight back, but rapidly coming apart he was counted out on his haunches in the 11th on the 1.11 mark after being dropped by a combination of head blows.

 

21 December 1974. Roberto Duran w rsc 1 (15) Masataka Takayama

Venue: Zapote Bullring, San Jose, Costa Rica. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Julio Cesar Paris.

Fight Summary: Attacking furiously from the opening bell, Duran (134¾) almost immediately dropped Takayama (133¾) with a solid left to the jaw. After getting back on his feet and being knocked down twice more, the dazed Japanese challenger was rescued by the referee who stopped the fight on the 1.40 mark.

 

2 March 1975. Roberto Duran w co 14 (15) Ray Lampkin

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

Fight Summary: Off his stool quickly the champion got away well, but by the fifth Lampkin (133½) was still in the fight, and with a mixture of courage and classy boxing he ignored the warning signs when beginning to trade on equal terms. In the eighth it was clear that Lampkin was suffering from the searing heat as quick combinations from Duran (134½) caught him with his hands down on several occasions. Cut on the right eye in the tenth, a round later when Lampkin’s right eye closed the end was in sight as Duran made the run for home. With Lampkin fading fast, he was counted out 39 seconds into the 14th after a left hook to the body and a right to the head had sent him to the floor. He was worryingly unconscious for almost an hour before being given full medical clearance five days later.

 

20 December 1975. Roberto Duran w co 15 (15) Leoncio Ortiz

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

Fight Summary:  The unheralded Ortiz (133½) proved a hard man for the champion to stop, being more than able to stand up to everything thrown at him for almost 15 rounds. There was only ever going to be one winner and that was Duran (135), who was always in control as he overpowered the southpaw Ortiz throughout. Seemingly impervious to punishment, Ortiz took the best that Duran could offer for round after round, but just when it looked as though the fight would go to the judges the effects of a right uppercut saw him counted out with 21 seconds of the fight remaining.

 

23 May 1976. Roberto Duran w co 14 (15) Lou Bizzarro

Venue: County Fieldhouse, Erie, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Waldemar Schmidt.

Fight Summary: Having won a hard non-title fight against Saoul Mamby just 18 days earlier, the champion forced the pace against the fleet-footed Bizzarro (134), who used all of the ring but landed very few punches of any consequence apart from in the ninth when finding the target with a couple of decent left hooks. In the tenth Duran (133¼) finally caught up with Bizzarro, dropping him for the mandatory ‘eight’ with a right-left-right, before the latter came back well in the 11th. With Bizzarro again on the run through the 12th and 13th Duran sensed it was time to go in the 14th, forcing the challenger to take a standing count before dropping him with a left hook. Up at ‘eight’, but badly hurt, Bizzarro was dropped again, this time by a right to the jaw prior to being counted out on the 2.59 mark.

 

15 October 1976. Roberto Duran w co 1 (15) Alvaro Rojas

Venue: The Sportatorium, Hollywood, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Carlos Berrocal.

Fight Summary: Getting his second title opportunity inside a year, Rojas (135) started positively enough with a few lefts and rights only for the champion to walk straight through them to get his punches off. On this night Duran (134½) was in irresistible form, and after working the body Rojas became a sitting target before a thunderous right to the jaw sent him crashing face down to be counted out after just 137 seconds of the first round.

 

29 January 1977. Roberto Duran w co 13 (15) Vilomar Fernandez

Venue: Fontainebleau Hotel Indoor Tennis Court, Miami Beach, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Servio Ley.

Fight Summary: Boxing sensibly and moving well the challenger held up Duran (133) for seven rounds by keeping him off balance while darting in with lefts and rights. But as Fernandez (134¼) slowed Duran’s body blows began to have their effect by the eighth, and in the 13th the Dominican looked to be a spent force. It was then that Duran made his move, and two cracking body blows followed by a left hook to the jaw sank Fernandez, who was counted out at 2.10 of the session.

With a match against Esteban De Jesus mooted for the summer, Duran was signed up for a defence against Josue Marquez in San Juan, Puerto Rico on 17 March before being forced to withdraw when taken ill. Back with a non-title win over Javier Muniz, the De Jesus fight was put on hold when the Puerto Rican made another defence of his WBC title in June. This was followed by Duran signing up to defend against Edwin Viruet on 17 September with the promise of the De Jesus fight next time out.

 

17 September 1977. Roberto Duran w pts 15 Edwin Viruet

Venue: The Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: WBA/Lineal. Referee: Isidro Rodriguez.

Scorecards: 73-68, 73-65, 71-65.

Fight Summary: This was yet another fight for Duran (134½) in which he had to chase an elusive challenger, but although forced to travel the distance for the first time in a title defence at no time did he ever look likely to lose. Viruet (135), who had already taken Duran the full ten rounds in an earlier non-title bout, certainly made life difficult for the latter, tying him up while using skilful and evasive tactics. Duran was cut over the left eye in the 12th, the session in which he came closest to removing Viruet with a cracker of a right hand, but it gave him no trouble as he cruised to a points win.

 

21 January 1978. Roberto Duran w rsc 12 (15) Esteban De Jesus

Venue: Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Buddy Basilico.

Fight Summary: In a contest to decide an undisputed champion, and one that had been long awaited, De Jesus (134) took the first two or three rounds before Duran (134½) turned it into a war of attrition prior to taking over completely from the sixth onwards. Although De Jesus was still dangerous, with his punches becoming more and more ineffectual as he tired, by the end of the 11th Duran seemed to be in command. Racing out for the 12th, after Duran quickly dropped De Jesus with a right to the jaw for the mandatory ‘eight’ on getting back into action the latter was forced to take a barrage of blows before a heavy right to the jaw put him down again. Having reached ‘eight’, the referee called the count off with 28 seconds of the session remaining to allow De Jesus immediate medical attention.

 

After Duran relinquished the world title on 3 February 1979 due to increasing weight problems, and with the world title becoming a rarity from thereon in, my version of the 'world' title would only become available when Jim Watt, rated at number one, defended his WBC belt against Alexis Arguello. Having won the title when beating Alfredo Pitalua, Watt had successfully defended against Robert Vasquez, Charlie Nash, Howard Davis and Sean O’Grady. A smooth southpaw with a solid jab and good defensive skills, Watt had 38 wins and seven losses on his slate. His opponent, Arguello, rated at number three according to Boxing News, had previously been the undefeated WBA featherweight champion and undefeated WBC junior lightweight champion. The skilful, heavy-handed Nicaraguan had participated in 71 contests, of which he had won 66 and lost five.

 

20 June 1981. Alexis Arguello w pts 15 Jim Watt

Venue: The Arena, Wembley, London, England. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Arthur Mercante.

Scorecards: 147-143, 147-143, 147-137.

Fight Summary: Despite producing his excellent ring-craft as normal, Watt (134¾) found himself up against an outstanding challenger in the incredibly tall, hard-hitting Arguello (134½), being dropped by a long left to the jaw in the seventh. Following the knockdown, Watt continued boxing well behind the southpaw jab but it was the power of Arguello that was winning the day. Although the gallant Watt was always in the fight, taking Arguello’s best shots and coming back with his own, it was the extra reach of the latter that allowed him to fire in heavy right and left hands from range that did the damage. The decision was a formality. This result saw Arguello become a world champion at three different weights.

 

3 October 1981. Alexis Arguello w rsc 14 (15) Ray Mancini

Venue: Bally’s Park Place Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tony Perez.

Fight Summary:  Defending for the first time the much taller Arguello (135) began by probing as Mancini (134½) looked to get inside, and as the fight progressed, although the latter had his successes, he was always heavily countered for his pains. Regardless, Mancini continued to come on like a train, doing well in the fifth and sixth before Arguello began to dominate with the jab. Despite being under pressure for much of the time Mancini continued to bore in, having a good tenth until Arguello began to hand out a real beating with countless lefts and rights smashing through his defences. Finally, Mancini was dropped by a couple of left hooks followed by a right and was left hanging over the bottom strand prior to the fight being ended by the referee at 1.36 of the 14th.

 

21 November 1981. Alexis Arguello w co 7 (15) Roberto Elizondo

Venue: Showboat Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Joey Curtis.

Fight Summary: For the opening three rounds the challenger gave Arguello (135) plenty to think about as he worked the body and traded punches without a thought, but in the fourth it was a different story when he was sent to the floor from a flurry of blows for the first time in his career. It was in the fifth that Arguello began to work well with the left hook and right cross, and while the game Elizondo (133¾) continued to throw punches, mainly in desperation, the end was in sight. After unleashing a cracking right to the head that put Elizondo down for the mandatory ‘eight’ in the seventh, when the latter was eventually given the command to box on he was immediately set upon. With Arguello at his best, a left to the body followed by a right uppercut sent Elizondo down to be counted out seven seconds after the round had ended.

13 February 1982. Alexis Arguello w rsc 6 (15) James Busceme

Venue: Civic Centre, Beaumont, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Octavio Meyran.

Fight Summary: Starting with southpaw jabs, ‘Bubba’ Busceme (135) initially proved an awkward target for Arguello (135) while plugging away gamely, but by the end of the fifth the champion decided to step up the pace. He had rocked Busceme, who was beginning to slow, several times earlier, and into the next session after a period of inactivity he suddenly unleashed a terrific left hook to the jaw which had the latter stumbling. Sensing this was it, Arguello cut loose. Although Busceme somehow stayed on his feet, a left uppercut followed by a cracking right to the head spun him into the ropes at which point the referee intervened. The finish was timed at 2.35 of the sixth.

 

22 May 1982. Alexis Arguello w co 5 (15) Andy Ganigan

Venue: Aladdin Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Carlos Padilla.

Fight Summary: Making a shocking start, Arguello (133¾), caught completely cold, was dropped by a left hook in the opening session prior to being in even more trouble before the bell rang. It looked like being a major upset, but after boxing his way out of further embarrassment the champion went on to floor Ganigan (135) in the third only for the latter to come roaring back with heavy rights and lefts which left him badly stunned. But like all great fighters when they are hurt, Arguello sensibly boxed his way back again prior to unloading a right-left to the head which smashed Ganigan to the floor, where he was counted out nine seconds after the bell to end round five.

 

Having already challenged for the WBA junior welterweight title, Arguello relinquished the WBC version of the lightweight title on 15 February 1983. The next time my version of the 'world' title was on the line came on 1 June 1984 when the top-rated Ray Mancini defended his WBA title against Livingstone Bramble, rated fourth. Mancini, who had won the WBA title when beating Arturo Frias, had made successful defences against Ernesto Espana, Deuk-Koo Kim, Orlando Romero and Bobby Chacon, and had won 29 of his 30 pro contests, losing only to Alexis Arguello. With his favoured left hook, he had only travelled the distance six times, while in 22 contests to date Bramble had recorded 20 wins, one draw and one defeat at the hands of Arguello, and had beaten Kenny Bogner, James Busceme and Gaetan Hart.

 

1 June 1984. Livingstone Bramble w rsc 14 (15) Ray Mancini

Venue: War Memorial Coliseum, Buffalo, New York, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Marty Denkin.

Fight Summary: Cut over the right eye from a clash of heads in the opening round, the champion fought with some urgency as he looked to take Bramble (134½) out, but the latter showed great flexibility as a switch-hitter while boxing with much assurance to land solid counters. Picking it up in the seventh Bramble hurt Mancini (135), and by the ninth he was beginning to take over. In the 11th and 12th there was some respite for Mancini, by now cut over the left eye, as he went on the outside with left jabs before Bramble came back with heavy punches, a left hand almost dropping his man in the 13th. Coming out for the penultimate session Mancini had virtually nothing left, and when Bramble knocked the final resistance out of him with a two-handed attack the referee came to his rescue after 53 seconds had elapsed.

 

16 February 1985. Livingstone Bramble w pts 15 Ray Mancini

Venue: Lawlor Events Centre, Reno, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Mills Lane.

Scorecards: 143-142, 143-142, 144-143.

Fight Summary: Making his first defence, Bramble (133¾) got off to a fine start when he opened up a cut over the challenger’s right eye in the first round following a burst of orthodox jabs to the head. Although Bramble was dictating the fight Mancini (135) was always dangerous, especially during a spell in the sixth when the former was staggered and dazed by solid head punches. However, by the seventh Bramble was controlling matters once again, and in the eighth Mancini picked up another cut, this time over the left eye. Thereafter, despite Mancini giving it everything he had, Bramble appeared to be several steps ahead despite the judges’ cards showing only a round in it at the finish.

 

16 February 1986. Livingstone Bramble w rsc 13 (15) Tyrone Crawley

Venue: MGM Grand, Reno, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Joey Curtis.

Fight Summary: Marching forward from the start, Bramble (135) soon had Crawley (134¾) in trouble when a right to the chin put him down in the second round, but the challenger was never outclassed, often hitting back hard. Both men switched occasionally, and while Crawley showed his hand-speed, especially in flurries, by the tenth he seemed to have run out of ideas. Having been expected to box off the back foot and surprising many by his change of tactics, Crawley was still going quite well until the 13th when Bramble landed a solid right following a series of body blows. Put down heavily, although Crawley beat the count he went down again soon afterwards from another right to the head, whereupon the referee intervened with three seconds of the session remaining.

 

Bramble’s next defence would be against Edwin Rosario, who had previously held the WBC title after beating Jose Luis Ramirez before losing the return. In between he made successful defences against Roberto Elizondo and Howard Davis. Extremely heavy handed, Rosario had won 28 of 30 contests, with 24 of his victims not being around at the final bell.

 

26 September 1986. Edwin Rosario w co 2 (15) Livingstone Bramble

Venue: Abel Holtz Tennis Stadium, Miami Beach, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Carlos Padilla.

Fight Summary:  Following an even first round, both men jabbing and holding high guards, the second session saw the challenger backing Bramble (135) up from the start before sending him staggering after letting loose with two-fisted attacks. With Rosario (135) now in full cry, Bramble was forced against the ropes where he was badly hurt by a cracking left uppercut, and after a further barrage of blows had weakened him he was counted out on the 2.28 mark, having been dropped by a heavy right to the head.

 

11 August 1987. Edwin Rosario w co 8 (15) Juan Nazario

Venue: University of Illinois Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Recognition: WBA Referee: Carlos Berrocal.

Fight Summary: Instead of the using his skills and southpaw jab, the challenger went blindly after Rosario (134¾) from the opening bell until being ultimately made to pay. After a tough start Rosario began to make his move in the fourth when driving in rights to head and body before landing a cracking left uppercut that took a lot out of Nazario (134½). Cut over both eyes in the fifth, Nazario began to be rocked by everything coming his way, and in the eighth a left hook dropped him on to his knees where he was counted out after 2.43 of the session.

 

Rosario’s next challenge would come from Julio Cesar Chavez, the current WBC world junior lightweight champion, who was on 56 straight wins since turning pro in 1980. Having defended that title nine times he was stepping up due to increasing weight problems.

 

21 November 1987. Julio Cesar Chavez w rsc 11 (12) Edwin Rosario

Venue: Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Richard Steele.

Fight Summary: Strong and tireless, right from the opening bell the challenger walked through Rosario (135) as if he was not there, and even when he was hit he merely came back with something better to dishearten the champion. From the fifth round onwards it was all Chavez (134¾), even though Rosario was fighting back, and it was the left hook to the body that was gradually draining all of the champion’s resistance. In the tenth when Rosario’s left eye began to close it looked as though the fight was nearing its end, but somehow he got through the round before coming out to face his tormentor for the 11th. However, there was no respite, Rosario being hammered around the ring non-stop by Chavez. The finish, timed at 2.36, came when the referee acted when Rosario's corner threw in the towel after his gumshield had been knocked out. On winning, and having become a two-weight world champion, Chavez immediately handed back his WBC junior lightweight belt to concentrate on his new title.

 

16 April 1988. Julio Cesar Chavez w rsc 6 Rodolfo Aguilar

Venue: Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Richard Steele.

Fight Summary: After flooring the southpaw challenger for ‘three’ with a solid right to the head in the first round, Chavez (135), who had earlier been cut over the left eye following a clash of heads, looked to finish it quickly. But despite a lot of pressing by the champion, with the tall Aguilar (134½) proving to be both fast and difficult to tag by the end of the fourth Chavez was distinctly frustrated. In the fifth, however, Aguilar began to fall apart when hurt by a left-right. Having made it into the sixth, Aguilar was dropped by a right to the jaw before being stopped on the 1.13 mark after he had got up at ‘four’ and been deemed by the referee as unfit to continue.

 

29 October 1988. Julio Cesar Chavez w tdec 11 Jose Luis Ramirez

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

Scorecards: 95-93, 96-94, 98-91.

Fight Summary: Chavez (135), the WBA champion, came out on top when he was adjudged to have won by a technical decision after the fight was stopped on the doctor’s advice due to the WBC’s Ramirez (134) suffering a cut on the scalp following an accidental clash of heads in the 11th. Prior to that Ramirez had maybe won a couple of rounds on sheer aggression, but in the main he had received a steady battering. Although never floored many thought that it was just a matter of time. Upon going to the cards under WBC Rules, the judges were told to deduct a point from Chavez’s score after the referee felt that he was responsible for the accident, but there was still amazement when two of the judges made the latter the winner by just two rounds.

 

Chavez relinquished the WBA/WBC versions of the title on becoming WBC junior welterweight champion on 13 May 1989. Further to Chavez moving on, when Pernell Whitaker was matched to defend his IBF title against Jose Luis Ramirez the all-southpaw contest would also involve the vacant WBC and my version of the 'world' title. A gold medallist from the 1984 Olympic Games, the skilful Whitaker, who had beaten Greg Haugen for the IBF title and had made a successful defence against Louie Lomeli, was looking to avenge the only loss on his 19-fight record. His opponent, Ramirez, had participated in 109 contests, losing just seven, and had twice been the WBC champion, first winning the title when beating Edwin Rosario before losing the belt Hector Camacho. His next term as champion was halted by Chavez after he had defeated Terrence Alli and made successful defences against Cornelius Boza-Edwards and Whitaker. 

 

20 August 1989. Pernell Whitaker w pts 12 Jose Luis Ramirez

Venue: The Scope, Norfolk, Virginia, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBC. Referee: Chris Wollesen.

Scorecards: 117-111, 120-109, 120-108.

Fight Summary: On Julio Cesar Chavez handing back the WBC Championship Belt, the IBF’s Whitaker (134¾) was matched against Ramirez (134) to decide the vacant WBC as well. Giving a masterful display of boxing against his fellow southpaw, Whitaker dominated the fight with a brilliant right jab and speedy combinations before pulling away to leave Ramirez punching shadows. At times Whitaker was almost punch perfect, while the dogged Mexican continued to come forward, doing better in the eighth, ninth and 12th rounds as the former tired. It was a master-class performance by Whitaker against the resilient Ramirez, and one that marked him among the best at the weight for a long time.

 

3 February 1990. Pernell Whitaker w pts 12 Freddie Pendleton

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

Scorecards: 116-112, 116-112, 117-113.

Fight Summary: While piling up the points with lightning quick southpaw jabs and lefts before slipping away, the champion always had to be alert to the damage Pendleton (135) could do if he connected with the right hand. Chasing Whitaker (134) throughout, despite scoring with the occasional left Pendleton was always looking to get in solid rights, and in the second and 11th rounds he shook his rival up with such punches. Not one to hang around and wait Whitaker was soon on his bike, even controlling the fight at close quarters by the 12th, but it had been a lot closer than many expected.

 

19 May 1990. Pernell Whitaker w pts 12 Azumah Nelson

Venue: Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBC. Referee: Mills Lane.

Scorecards: 116-114, 115-113, 116-111.

Fight Summary: Establishing the way the fight would go right from the opening bell, the champion sent in long southpaw jabs and moved away before Nelson (134) could get his punches off. Whitaker then counter-punched with great accuracy as the Ghanaian stormed forward. It was a case of Nelson chasing shadows for much of the time, apart from a body shot in the sixth which caused Whitaker (135) a fair bit of discomfort, but he was always dangerous and always in the fight as the scorecards suggested.

 

11 August 1990. Pernell Whitaker w co 1 Juan Nazario

Venue: Caesar’s Palace, Lake Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC. Referee: Mills Lane.

Fight Summary:  Making his normal cautious start, Whitaker (135) showed plenty of movement as he sized Nazario (135) up until getting into his stride towards the end of the opening round. Nobody was prepared for what came next. As Whitaker and Nazario exchanged southpaw jabs, the former smashed in a left over the top which saw the WBA champion crumple to the floor almost in delayed action to be counted out with one second of the session remaining.

 

23 February 1991. Pernell Whitaker w pts 12 Anthony Jones

Venue: Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC. Referee: Mills Lane.

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

Fight Summary: Despite breaking his left hand in the ninth round the champion was still far too good for Jones (135), who came in at eight days’ notice for Tracy Spann and put up spirited resistance. Showing excellent hand-speed, Whitaker (135) was soon in control as he whipped in and out with the southpaw jab while beginning to plant his feet more as Jones shifted from orthodox to southpaw. By the middle of the fight Whitaker was starting to let the punches go as Jones tired, but following the hand injury he went back to his jab-and-move routine as the challenger tried his utmost to get to him. Even with one hand Whitaker was too good, and in the closing seconds he caught Jones with a combination of blows prior to the final bell coming to the latter’s aid.

 

27 July 1991. Pernell Whitaker w pts 12 Policarpo Diaz

Venue: The Scope, Norfolk, Virginia, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC. Referee: Al Rothenberg.

Scorecards: 120-107, 119-107, 119-108.

Fight Summary: With Diaz (133¾) throwing wild punches off the wrong foot and from funny angles, although the champion was certainly confused for a few rounds by the fifth he was firmly in control when punishing the Spaniard with both hands. There was no doubting Diaz’s toughness as he not only stood up to the punches coming his way but endured three fractured ribs, a damaged liver and a dislocated finger on his right hand before the fight was over. In the final session Diaz was still dangerous, especially with his head, and he twice butted Whitaker (135) and threw him down before the bell brought matters to a halt.

 

5 October 1991. Pernell Whitaker w pts 12 Jorge Paez

Venue: Sparks Convention Centre, Reno, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC. Referee: Mills Lane.

Scorecards: 115-112, 115-111, 116-110.

Fight Summary: Whitaker (135) made a tentative start as Paez (135) swung his punches in wildly towards the target without any real conviction while having trouble getting inside. With the fight still not taking off by the fourth Paez was hitting and holding in an effort to close down the jab, although it did seem as though Whitaker was getting closer as he landed solidly with a right-left in the next session. Gashed over the right eye following a clash of heads in the sixth it looked as though that might be it for Paez, but the gritty little Mexican kept on coming and with the champion unable to put him away it went to the cards.

 

It was thought that Whitaker had relinquished his three titles in January, but he was still recognised as champion by the IBF until 7 February, the WBC until 14 April and the WBA until 22 May 1992. When the top-ranked Miguel Angel Gonzalez was matched to defend his WBC title against the fourth-ranked Leavander Johnson on 6 August 1994 my version of the 'world' title would also be up for grabs. Coming to the ring with 22 wins and a draw to his name, Johnson would be taking on a WBC champion who was at the top of his game. Since winning the vacant title when defeating Wilfrido Rocha, the hard-hitting Gonzalez had successfully defended it against Darryl Tyson, Hector Lopez, David Sample, Rocha and Jean-Baptiste Mendy, and was unbeaten after 33 (27 inside the distance) contests.

 

6 August 1994. Miguel Angel Gonzalez w rsc 8 Leavander Johnson

Venue: The Bullring, Juarez, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Mickey Vann.

Fight Summary: Both men made a good start, with the smart challenger switching from side to side and actually landing the best punch of the opening round, a solid right uppercut that dropped Gonzalez (134) even though the referee thought it was a slip. It was probably Gonzalez’s toughest defence, Johnson (132½) matching him all the way, but by the end of the seventh the balance of power was shifting as the former’s punches began to take effect. Although Johnson was still jabbing well in the eighth, Gonzalez kept countering heavily. When Gonzalez eventually opened up with non-stop lefts and rights to the head the American was left faltering badly on the ropes. With Johnson not fighting back, the referee called it off with 55 seconds of the session remaining.

 

13 December 1994. Miguel Angel Gonzalez w rtd 5 Calvin Grove

Venue: Tingley Coliseum, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Joe Cortez.

Fight Summary: Moving up a weight class to challenge Gonzalez (134½), the veteran Grove (133½) soon found that he did not have the power or the speed to operate at this level. Forced to trade punches as Gonzalez closed him down Grove just could not hurt the champion, and in the third he was penalised a point after the former was cut over left eye following a head clash. With Gonzalez accelerating through the fourth, cracking in solid hooks to head and body, after the retreating Grove had his nose broken and was experiencing breathing difficulties he was retired on his stool at the end of the fifth.

 

25 April 1995. Miguel Angel Gonzalez w pts 12 Ricardo Silva

Venue: Civic Centre, South Padre Island, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jerry McKenzie.

Scorecards: 118-110, 118-110, 119-109.

Fight Summary: On the back foot from the opening bell the tall southpaw challenger made an awkward target for Gonzalez (134½), but despite connecting with rights and lefts to the head the latter was unable to drop his rival. Meanwhile, Silva (132½) kept Gonzalez off balance with long jabs and messed him about whenever they closed. Although Gonzalez was well in front he did not really know how to handle the crafty Argentine, who kept popping up with hard punches before flitting away, and he grew more frustrated the longer the contest went. There was no doubt as to who won, but Gonzalez’s reputation took a battering in the process.

 

2 June 1995. Miguel Angel Gonzalez w pts 12 Marty Jakubowski

Venue: Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Mickey Vann.

Scorecards: 119-108, 118-108, 119-107.

Fight Summary: Although the challenger proved to be a good boxer he was no match for the hard-hitting Gonzalez (135), who cruised to an easy points win. To be fair to Jakubowski (134¼), despite being in over his head he lasted the distance well, especially after being dropped in the eighth following a double left jab and a right to the head. Stunned again in the 11th, Jakubowski gamely stuck to his task but he had no answer to the right uppercuts and left hooks that constantly reminded him of the huge gulf in class and power between the pair.

 

19 August 1995. Miguel Angel Gonzalez w pts 12 Lamar Murphy

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Mitch Halpern.

Scorecards: 117-109, 114-112, 114-114.

Fight Summary: Gonzalez (135) just about retained his title after being deducted two points for low blows in the second and sixth rounds and finding Murphy (135) to be an extremely tough obstacle in his path for most of the fight. While Gonzalez concentrated on the body, for much of the time the unsung Murphy was the busiest of the pair, impressing with his strong finish to many of the rounds. Murphy, who suffered a badly swollen left eye, occasionally confused the champion when switching to southpaw and thumping away, and was always firing back after being hurt. However, Gonzalez picked his punches better.

 

It came as no surprise when Gonzalez relinquished the WBC version of the title on 10 February 1996 due to weight-making problems. At the same time my version of the 'world' title also became vacant, where it remained until the top-ranked Philip Holiday was matched to defend his IBF title against Shane Mosley, rated at number five, on 2 August 1997. Having won the vacant IBF title when beating Miguel Julio, Holiday had successfully defended his new belt against Rocky Martinez, John Lark, Jeff Fenech, Joel Diaz, Ivan Robinson and Pete Taliaferro, and was unbeaten after 31 contests. A former American amateur champion, the skilful Mosley, who was unbeaten as a pro in 23 contests, was expected to go all the way.

 

2 August 1997. Shane Mosley w pts 12 Philip Holiday

Venue: Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Steve Smoger.

Scorecards: 116-113, 117-111, 115-114.

Fight Summary: In what was a poor fight the limited champion was unable to deal with Mosley (134½), who for all the hype hardly showed himself to be a future great as he arm-punched, held his head high and generally looked to be out of sorts. For his part, Holiday (134¾) missed far too much, blaming it on Mosley being a runner, while the latter claimed to have been dehydrated which meant that he had to conserve his energy. There were flashes of Mosley’s fantastic hand-speed, but he should have made it count more against a man he outreached by six inches.

 

25 November 1997. Shane Mosley w rsc 11 Manuel Gomez

Venue: County Coliseum, El Paso, Texas, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Barry Yeats.

Fight Summary: Making his first defence, Mosley (133½) could not get going in the early rounds, boxing in fits and starts until opening up in the fourth to drop Gomez (132) with a left-right immediately before the bell. After punishing Gomez with some cracking rights in the next two sessions Mosley seemed to take his foot off the pedal prior to picking it up again in the ninth. With Mosley cooling again it looked like it might go the distance, but in the 11th after he dropped Gomez heavily with a right that landed bang on the jaw the referee, not even bothering to count, called it off on the 1.25 mark so that the latter could be tended to.

 

6 February 1998. Shane Mosley w rsc 8 Demetrio Ceballos

Venue: Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Eddie Cotton.

Fight Summary: Despite having a four-inch-reach advantage the champion failed to take advantage of it in the early stages as he looked to take Ceballos (135) out with right hands, but by the third he had got the jab going. Thereafter, with Ceballos still coming forward while taking a steady battering from both hands, it was amazing that he was still in the contest. However, once Mosley concentrated on the body the end was never far away, and in the eighth after being docked a point he literally battered Ceballos to a standstill. With 26 seconds of the session remaining, following a non-stop assault that left Ceballos slowly stumbling to the floor, the referee brought the contest to an end.

 

9 May 1998. Shane Mosley w rsc 8 John John Molina

Venue: Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Eddie Johnson.

Fight Summary: Following a cautious start, with both men warming to the task it was noticeable that Molina (135) was already trying to keep at close quarters in order to nullify the champion’s massive seven-inch-reach advantage. By the fourth Mosley (135) was working well to the body, but with Molina less effective as he tried to keep on the outside in the seventh his head was almost being used as target practice. Although Molina was trading hard in the eighth it was to be his last hurrah, and when Mosley fired back with venom the challenger was so badly battered that, with 33 seconds of the session remaining, the referee rescued him before he came to any further harm.

 

27 June 1998. Shane Mosley w rsc 5 Wilfrido Ruiz

Venue: Apollo Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Rudy Battle.

Fight Summary:  Showing speed, power and good movement right from the off the champion blitzed his way to victory over the wonderfully game Ruiz (134½), who took everything coming his way and still tried to fight back. Booming head shots ripped into Ruiz from all angles as Mosley (134¾) showed off his vast repertoire of punches, but having failed to take his rival out he resorted to working on the body in the fourth, a tactic which immediately took effect. With Mosley picking up where he left off it came as no surprise when Ruiz was   hammered to the canvas by a left hook and two body blows followed by a straight right to the head. Immediately called off by the third man so that Ruiz could receive attention, the finish was timed at 2.32.

 

22 September 1998. Shane Mosley w rsc 5 Eduardo Morales

Venue: MSG Theatre, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Arthur Mercante Jnr.

Fight Summary: Always in control, apart from when he was stung by a left hook in the first, the champion started well with the left jab and the occasional right before slamming punches into Morales (134), one of which dropped him on one knee for a count of ‘six’ in the third. Patiently waiting another opportunity, Mosley (135) dictated the fourth prior to stepping up a gear in the fifth to floor Morales with a solid right to the head. On getting up Morales was quickly pinned in a corner as Mosley rained in punches, and with nothing coming back the referee pulled the Argentine out on the 2.03 mark to save him from taking further punishment.

 

14 November 1998. Shane Mosley w rtd 9 Jesse James Leija

Venue: Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Eddie Cotton.

Fight Summary: Producing blinding hand-speed when working from head to body the champion was far too good for Leija (135), battering him endlessly at times before eventually putting him down in the sixth. Following that, Mosley (135), still picking his shots with precision, was beginning to plant his feet more as he looked for a finishing blow. Then, after taking a further pounding in the eighth, Leija was dropped again. It would have made sense to have rescued Leija at that point, but bravely coming out for the ninth he was forced to take another beating, especially to the body, and was put down twice more before being retired by his corner at the end of the round.

 

9 January 1999. Shane Mosley w co 7 Golden Johnson

Venue: Civic Centre, Pensacola, Florida, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Tommy Kimmons.

Fight Summary: Getting better and better, the champion almost toyed with Johnson (135), who at times must have thought he was in the ring with two men such was Mosley’s blurring hand-speed and switching ability. The third round saw the first of four knockdowns when scintillating left hooks to the body from Mosley (134¾) dropped Johnson for the mandatory ‘eight’ before he was put down again shortly afterwards by a right to the head and another scorching left hook to the body. The next three sessions saw more of the same as Johnson gamely stayed upright, but in the seventh, having been trapped on the ropes, a cracking right to the head toppled him. Stumbling back into the action Johnson was attacked by Mosley, firing from both hands, and eventually a crunching left hook to the body deposited him on the canvas where he was counted out on one knee with a second of the seventh remaining.

 

17 April 1999. Shane Mosley w rtd 8 John Brown

Venue: Fantasy Springs Hotel & Casino, Indio, California, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Pat Russell.

Fight Summary: With Brown (134¼) charging into the much taller champion in an effort to work inside, when Mosley (134½) recognised that this was not his kind of fight he began to bring his punches up. By the fourth Mosley was banging in rights to the head, and while Brown took them well his face was showing signs of damage. Still Brown was not ready to go, but he was gradually being ground down. And in the eighth he was blasted to head and body with lefts and rights before the bell came to his rescue. Although Brown had not been floored, when his corner realised that he had nothing left he was pulled out of the fight during the interval.

 

Mosley relinquished the IBF version of the title on 31 May due to weight-making problems. Further to that, when the top-ranked Stevie Johnston was contracted to defend his WBC title against the number two man, Angel Manfredy, it would also involve my version of the 'world' title. Having initially taken the WBC title from Jean-Baptiste Mendy, Johnston had made successful defences against Hiroyuki Sakamoto, Saul Duran and George Scott before losing the belt to Cesar Bazan. However, he had regained the title from Bazan and defended it against Aldo Rios before putting it on the line against Manfredy. A strong southpaw, Johnston had only lost once (to Bazan) in 28 outings, while Manfredy came into the fight with 28 wins, a technical draw, three losses and one no contest on his record.

 

14 August 1999. Stevie Johnston w pts 12 Angel Manfredy

Venue: Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Frank Cappuccino.

Scorecards: 116-112, 118-111, 116-112.

Fight Summary: Coming back to form after one or two indifferent displays the southpaw champion quickly assumed control when getting his right jab going after Manfredy (135) had made the body his target. Getting off first and backing the jab up with straight lefts seemed to be the way forward for Johnston (135), but by the third Manfredy was also having some success as his body shots began to land more frequently. Following Johnston’s right eye swelling up and bleeding in the fourth, when Manfredy stepped up his attacks to the body the contest swung one way and then the other until the former picked it up again in the ninth. Apart from the final session, that was the last time Manfredy would get a proper look in despite the odd flurries as Johnston bounced and boxed his way to the verdict.

 

29 November 1999. Stevie Johnston w pts 12 Billy Schwer

Venue: The Arena, Wembley, London, England. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Larry O’Connell.

Scorecards: 118-110, 118-110, 118-110.

Fight Summary: Banged up badly, his nose and left eye severely damaged, Schwer (134¾) gave it his best shot but was unable to step up a gear against the excellent southpaw champion, who just had too much of everything on the night. Schwer made a good start when pumping left jabs into Johnston’s face, but before too long the American was moving ahead as his right jabs and solid lefts generally found their mark, and even when he was cut over the right eye in the seventh there was no panic. Showing great spirit and durability Schwer fought on looking for any opportunity, while Johnston (133¼) picked his punches from head to body as he moved on to his fourth successful defence. Following the fight it was announced that Johnston had failed the post-fight drugs test, but he escaped any form of censure due to the BBBoC and the WBC having different drug-testing protocol.

17 March 2000. Stevie Johnston w rsc 2 Julio Alvarez

Venue: Magness Arena, Denver, Colorado, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Vic Drakulich.

Fight Summary: Starting to find the challenger with the southpaw jab right from the opening bell, Johnston (134½) was soon slamming in left crosses to good effect before suffering a gash over the left eye, which looked like it could curtail his progress. Although Johnston was still outpunching Alvarez (135), when the latter came out for the second he was intent on taking advantage of his good fortune. However, time was not on his side. After Johnston began firing away with both hands, having detonated a left cross-right hook on Alvarez’s jaw, with the Mexican lurching along the ropes from the effects of further solid blows the referee jumped in to his rescue. The finish was timed at 2.35 of the second.

 

Mexico’s Jose Luis Castillo would be Johnston’s next challenger, but was not expected to be a threat despite only three of his 44 fights (40 wins, four defeats) going the distance. Having been stopped four times, his detractors thought he was too open to become a world champion.

 

17 June 2000. Jose Luis Castillo w pts 12 Stevie Johnston

Venue: Bicycle Casino, Bell Gardens, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Chuck Hassett.

Scorecards: 115-113, 116-111, 114-114.

Fight Summary: Quickly into his stride, Johnston (135) picked the challenger off with southpaw jabs before drawing him on to countering uppercuts in the opening two rounds, and this looked to be the pattern of the fight until he decided to go head-to-head in the third. A close-quarter battle certainly suited Castillo (135) more than it did Johnston, the Mexican warrior coming more and more into the reckoning as both men ripped in punches to head and body. There was no let-up in the last three sessions, two of which went to Castillo who had fought at the same pace throughout, and at the final bell both of Johnston’s eyes were almost swollen tight in what had been a war of attrition. There were no knockdowns, but it had been tough.

 

15 September 2000. Jose Luis Castillo drew 12 Stevie Johnston

Venue: Pepsi Arena, Denver, Colorado, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.

Scorecards: 114-114, 114-114, 114-115.

Fight Summary: Initially the result was given as a win for Johnston (135), but on reading the cards again when a mathematical error was discovered a draw was announced. It had been another gruelling fight between the pair, with Johnston favouring long southpaw jabs and crosses while Castillo (134) concentrated on left hooks to the body. Johnston, who finished with a badly swollen right eye, had come into the contest knowing that his best chance lay in boxing at range, but the fact that he had slowed appreciably and that Castillo had reach on him meant him boxing at close quarters for long periods. At the end of the ninth, with Johnston flagging, it was the Mexican’s surge over the last three rounds that ultimately gave him a share of the decision.

 

20 January 2001. Jose Luis Castillo w rsc 6 Cesar Bazan

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

Fight Summary: Starting reasonably well the lanky challenger took the opening two rounds with his left jab paving the way for right hands before Castillo (135), concentrating on the body, began to close him down in the third. Despite Bazan (134½) hurting him with rights over the top Castillo was getting closer, and in the fifth a terrific left hook dropped his fellow Mexican for ‘seven’. Back in action, Bazan blazed away to see the round out, only to be dropped heavily in the sixth by a left uppercut which followed two cracking rights to the head. Staggering up at ‘eight’ Bazan was given no time to settle, being driven around the ring until the referee stepped in to call a halt to proceedings with six seconds of the session remaining.

 

16 June 2001. Jose Luis Castillo w rsc 1 Seung-Ho Yuh

Venue: Centre of Multiple Uses, Hermosillo, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jay Nady.

Fight Summary: Straight into action, Castillo (134½) almost immediately dropped the unfortunate Yuh (133) with a cracking left hook to the body. He then proceeded to dump his challenger twice more, the final time seeing the referee call it off on the 1.53 mark without taking up the count.

 

Castillo’s next challenger would be in the shape of the highly skilled Floyd Mayweather Jnr, the WBC world junior lightweight champion. It was difficult to bet against Mayweather, who was unbeaten in 27 fights and had always found a way to deal with an opponent, whether he was a boxer or a fighter. The Ring Championship Belt would also be at stake.

 

20 April 2002. Floyd Mayweather Jnr w pts 12 Jose Luis Castillo

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Vic Drakulich.

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

Fight Summary: In what seemed to be daylight robbery to the impartial fans, Castillo (134½) was deemed to have lost his title to Mayweather (134) after pressing throughout and firing in the greater volume of authoritative punches on the punch stats. Standing taller than his challenger, Castillo started with solid left jabs before moving in with both hands as Mayweather (134) bounded around, hitting off the back foot and pulling away in amateurish fashion. Cut over the left eye following a head clash in the second, Mayweather became even more cautious as he darted in and out with the jab, although according to the judges he had won the opening five rounds despite being under constant pressure. After landing solidly in the sixth and seventh sessions, Castillo then had a point deducted in the eighth for hitting on the break. When Mayweather also lost a point in the tenth for elbowing it looked as though Castillo was getting to him, but the American hung in desperately to see out the remainder of the contest. After becoming a two-weight world champion on winning, Mayweather relinquished his WBC junior lightweight title to remain at lightweight.

 

7 December 2002. Floyd Mayweather Jnr w pts 12 Jose Luis Castillo

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

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

Fight Summary: The return fight between the pair saw Mayweather (134) make a reasonable start as the challenger threw plenty of leather but was inaccurate. Although Castillo (135) picked it up in the fourth and fifth rounds, sending in some good uppercuts and left hooks, he began to be outboxed as Mayweather carefully selected his punches while staying out of harm’s way. Meanwhile, Castillo, still seeking a brawl, tried to coax Mayweather into one only to be outjabbed and then outworked from round eight through to the 11th, before the latter took his foot off the pedal to cruise through the final session.

 

19 April 2003. Floyd Mayweather Jnr w pts 12 Victoriano Sosa

Venue: Selland Arena, Fresno, California, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Raul Caiz.

Scorecards: 118-110, 119-109, 118-110.

Fight Summary: Fighting in mainly defensive mode the WBC champion never allowed Sosa (134) close enough to do any real damage as he doubled up the jab and looked to counter and dig in occasional damaging blows to head and body. As the fight progressed, Sosa (134), showing good hand-speed, was always dangerous with the right, while Mayweather had to have his wits about him at all times. It was when Sosa tired that Mayweather took over, winning the last five rounds, but he could never relax against a dangerous opponent who was trying right to the end.

 

1 November 2003. Floyd Mayweather Jnr w rsc 7 Phillip Ndou

Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Frank Garza.

Fight Summary: The first round saw the champion making the running before Ndou (134½) came on strong in the second as he applied good pressure with the jab and worked the body well. In the third Mayweather (135) picked up the pace when he hurt Ndou with right hands to the head and left hooks to the body, the momentum continuing into the fourth. Despite being nailed by a cracking right hand to the jaw and being taken apart in the fifth, Ndou walked through the punches to get his own blows off before Mayweather’s fists flailed back at the end of the session. Although Ndou came through the sixth a lot had been taken out of him, and after a battery of rights to the head had put him down for the mandatory count in the seventh upon getting up he reeled into the ropes where he was stopped by the referee on the 1.08 mark.

 

Mayweather relinquished the WBC title when he moved up a division after defeating DeMarcus Corley (w pts 12 at the Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey on 22 May 2004) in a WBC junior welterweight championship eliminator. Further to that, Jose Luis Castillo, the number two rated man, and the top-ranked Juan Lazcano were matched to find a new WBC champion. The contest would also involve my version of the 'world' title and The Ring Championship Belt. With 49 wins, one draw and six losses, Castillo would be a tough nut to crack for Lazcano, who came to the ring with 33 wins, one draw and two losses on his slate.

 

5 June 2004. Jose Luis Castillo w pts 12 Juan Lazcano

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

Scorecards: 115-113, 116-112, 117-111.

Fight Summary: Contesting the belts vacated by Floyd Mayweather Jnr, Castillo (134½) outscored Lazcano (135) at the end of 12 tough rounds. There were no knockdowns, but it was hard, with both men giving it their best shot, before the judges decided that the higher work-rate of Castillo warranted victory. Although Lazcano got in some heavy blows from either hand to take rounds five, six and seven, and showed faster hand-speed, it was the effective work on the inside by Castillo, especially over the last five sessions, that swung it for him.

 

4 December 2004. Jose Luis Castillo w pts 12 Joel Casamayor

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Vic Drakulich.

Scorecards: 116-112, 113-115, 117-111.

Fight Summary: After controlling the first couple of rounds by making the champion miss before countering with left hands, Casamayor (135) was gradually drawn into a battle, becoming less effective as the fight progressed. By the sixth there was no doubt that Castillo (134½) was beginning to get on top, having upped the pace and attacked the body with solid rights and left hooks. Casamayor, however, was still slipping punches and countering well to make it close, especially in the ninth, but he began to fade over the final three sessions as Castillo went for broke, smashing in blows to head and body to finish like a train.

 

5 March 2005. Jose Luis Castillo w rsc 10 Julio Diaz

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Richard Steele.

Fight Summary: Getting away slowly, the champion initially allowed the taller Diaz (134½) to take control with the jab as he looked to get inside where he could do maximum damage. Eventually, with Castillo (135) getting closer by the fourth round he was landing heavy left hooks to head and body, and when Diaz tried switching to southpaw he was met by straight rights for his pains. Unfortunately, head clashes in the fourth and eighth saw Diaz cut over both eyes. It then became desperate for him in the ninth when his left eye was virtually closed shut, especially with Castillo whacking in body punches on the blind side. Although trying to stay with Castillo in the tenth, Diaz was eventually rescued by the referee on the 2.23 mark after being dropped twice, firstly by a solid left hook and secondly when he walked into a right uppercut.

 

Castillo’s next defence would be against the heavy-handed Diego Corrales, the former undefeated IBF and current WBO junior lightweight champion. Having lost just two of his 41 contests to date, to Floyd Mayweather Jnr and Joel Casamayor, Corrales had avenged his defeat at the hands of the latter in his most recent contest and would be difficult to overcome.

 

7 May 2005. Diego Corrales w rsc 10 Jose Luis Castillo

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Tony Weeks.

Fight Summary: In a battle for three belts, the WBO's Corrales (135) and Castillo (135), the WBC champion, put on one of the most exciting fights of the generation as first one man then the other got on top as punches rained in from all angles. Both men were stunned on occasion, but both kept at it. In the fourth Castillo was cut on the left eye, while Corrales’ left eye began to close in the seventh. Still, both carried on as if there was no tomorrow. At the start of the tenth it seemed impossible that Corrales could continue for much longer, and when he was sent crashing by a left hook it looked all but over. Spitting out his gumshield brought Corrales some time, but when he was knocked over by another volley of left hooks immediately after getting up he spat out his mouthpiece again. Even though he was deducted a point, Corrales had just received an invaluable breather. This became clear when he began firing back to such an extent that it was Castillo who gave way. With Corrales now having the bit between the teeth, after firing in punch after punch on a by now defenceless Castillo, who was propped up by the ropes with his hands by his side, the referee called it off at 2.06 of the session.

 

On 8 October, at the Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, the rematch between the pair went ahead without the WBC and WBO titles being on the line after Castillo came in above the weight. Although Corrales was knocked out in the fourth round he remained the champion. After a rematch made for 4 February 2006 had to be cancelled in January due to Corrales suffering a broken rib in training, he forfeited the WBO version of the title on 1 February 2006 when pursuing Castillo rather than honouring his mandatory requirements. Following this, Corrales was scheduled to meet Joel Casamayor in a defence of his WBC title in Las Vegas on 7 October 2006. In two previous fights against Casamayor, a southpaw, Corrales had lost the first one but had evened up the score the second time round. The 1992 Olympic Games champion and former WBA junior lightweight title holder, Casamayor, had won 34 of 37 contests since turning pro in 1996, beating Julio Gervacio, Antonio Hernandez, David Santos, Radford Beasley, Roberto Garcia, Edwin Santana, Nate Campbell, Corrales, Daniel Seda and Lamont Pearson, while losing to Acelino Freitas, Corrales and Castillo.

 

7 October 2006. Joel Casamayor w pts 12 Diego Corrales

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

Scorecards: 115-112, 116-111, 113-114.

Fight Summary: The fight went ahead for the vacant WBC title with only Casamayor able to win it after the champion, Corrales (139), came in over the weight and forfeited his title honours. Both men started slowly and things only hotted up after the fifth round when Casamayor (135) was counted over from what appeared to be a stumble. The sixth saw the southpaw, Casamayor, come out of his shell somewhat before an accidental butt cut Corrales over the left eye. Although both fighters were going better, from thereon in it was Casamayor who just about kept his nose in front to land the split decision. On winning, Casamayor became a two-weight world champion. Casamayor was stripped following the announcement that he would be meeting the WBO champion, Acelino Freitas, a fight that never happened. Still recognised by The Ring magazine as the top man at the weight, in May Casamayor was announced as being the WBC ‘interim’ champion.

 

10 November 2007. Joel Casamayor w pts 12 Jose Armando Santa Cruz

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Steve Smoger.

Scorecards: 114-113, 114-113, 113-114.

Fight Summary: This was a contest in which Casamayor (134) put his Ring Championship Belt and WBC 'interim' title up for grabs after being out of the ring for 13 months. Having been dropped in the opening session Casamayor's performance was not great as he struggled to beat Santa Cruz (134¾), who gave him all kinds of problems. With Santa Cruz forcing matters every round was close, but after turning southpaw in an effort to match his opponent's stance in round six he threw away many of his advantages, being caught by countering lefts far too often. Even then the crowd were angry that Santa Cruz had not been returned the winner, in a fight which could have gone either way, as he had made it against the often negative Casamayor. Casamayor was stripped of the WBC 'interim' title immediately prior to meeting Michael Katsidis for the latter's WBO 'interim' crown on 23 March 2008, instead of giving Santa Cruz a mandated rematch.

 

22 March 2008. Joel Casamayor w rsc 10 Michael Katsidis

Venue: Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, Cabazon, California, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Jon Schorle.

Fight Summary: In a contest that was billed for the WBO ‘interim’ title held by Katsidis (133¾), the southpaw Cuban also threw his Ring Championship Belt into the mix for good measure. Making a bad start Katsidis twice found himself on the floor in the opening session as Casamayor (134¼) let fly, a straight left and then a right-left putting him down. Fighting his way back, Katsidis hurt Casamayor badly in the fourth with lefts and rights to the head before dropping the latter with a flurry of blows in the sixth. Surprisingly, Casamayor came on strongly in the seventh as Katsidis faltered, and kept it going through to the ninth despite being deducted a point for going low in that session. With Katsidis cut and swollen around both eyes, Casamayor picked it up in the tenth when catching the oncoming Aussie with a countering left that put him on the floor. Although up at 'three', the dazed Katsidis was being battered incessantly when the referee came to his rescue with just 30 seconds of the round gone.  

 

Casamayor forfeited the WBO 'interim' title in July when refusing to go through with a return match with Katsidis. Further to that, Casamayor decided to defend his Ring Championship Belt against Juan Manuel Marquez, a box-fighter of the highest order. Marquez had participated in 53 contests, winning 48, drawing once and losing four times, and was open to fight anyone put in front of him.

 

13 September 2008. Juan Manuel Marquez w rsc 11 Joel Casamayor

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

Fight Summary: Taking time out to size each other up the fight did not get going until Casamayor (135), The Ring champion, was cut over the right eye in the fifth. From thereon in life got difficult for the Cuban southpaw as Marquez (135) kept the punches going, up and down, with less and less coming back. Although Casamayor landed heavily at times Marquez always came back harder and faster, and although the Cuban was landing his fair share in the 11th a left and a right hook dropped him. Getting up quickly, Casamayor was an open target for a flurry of blows that were topped off by a short right to the jaw that dropped him and led to the referee calling the fight off at 2.55 of the session. Marquez became a world champion at three different weights on winning, having been the undefeated IBF/WBA featherweight champion and WBC junior lightweight champion.

 

28 February 2009. Juan Manuel Marquez w rsc 9 Juan Diaz

Venue: Toyota Centre, Houston, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Rafael Ramos.

Fight Summary: With the vacant WBA and WBO titles thrown in for good measure, the holder of The Ring Championship Belt, Marquez (134¼), took on another former champion in Diaz (134½). Seen by many as a tremendous fight it was Diaz who set the pace to start with, but before too long both men were mixing it up with punches going in to head and body. Despite being cut over the right eye in the fifth, Marquez was beginning to get into his stride and picking his punches better. However, it was pulsating stuff, and in the seventh it was Diaz who had to regroup. The eighth saw Diaz suffer a bad cut on the right eye, and while still fighting hard he had to put up with constant visits from the doctor. Although Diaz was still dangerous it was Marquez who turned the fight in his favour when dropping his rival in the ninth following a barrage of left-rights. After Diaz got up he was then downed heavily by a cracking right uppercut that brought about an immediate intervention by the referee at 2.40 of the session.

 

31 July 2010. Juan Manuel Marquez w pts 12 Juan Diaz

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Vic Drakulich.

Scorecards: 116-112, 118-110, 117-111.

Fight Summary: In a return fight the champion once again put paid to the title hopes harboured by Diaz (135), this time being forced to travel the full route. There were no knockdowns, but both men threw some heavy blows in passing. Although being shaded in virtually every round Diaz occasionally caught Marquez (133½), but apart from almost closing the latter's right eye in the seventh he was unable to build on it. By the ninth Marquez was tiring, and while Diaz came on to win the remaining sessions he did little damage prior to being on the wrong end of a unanimous decision.

 

27 November 2010. Juan Manuel Marquez w rsc 9 Michael Katsidis

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

Fight Summary: Happy to put his championship belts on the line, Marquez (134) ultimately had too much class and power for the tough Katsidis (135), who had shocked the champion in the third when dropping him with a left hook. Regrouping, Marquez was soon coming back at Katsidis, slamming away at the body and belting in uppercuts for good measure. Although Katsidis was carrying damage, he was still capable of getting to Marquez, especially with the left hook. However, in the ninth, with Katsidis taking a steady beating, the referee came to his aid at 2.14 of the session before more damage was done.

 

Marquez was stripped of his WBA title on 5 January 2012 for not meeting a mandatory challenger for more than 18 months. However, he continued to be seen by The Ring magazine until 14 April 2012. My version of the 'world' title next became available when the top-ranked Terence Crawford was contracted to defend his WBO title against Fernando Beltran, rated at number two, on 29 November 2014. Beltran, with 29 wins, one draw and six defeats on his record, had been extremely unlucky when given a draw against the then WBO champion, Ricky Burns, but was now getting the opportunity to put things right when given a crack at Crawford. A brilliant southpaw, Crawford, who had beaten Burns for the WBO title and had made a successful defence against Yuriorkis Gamboa prior to meeting Beltran, came to the ring with 24 straight wins to his name.

 

29 November 2014. Terence Crawford w pts 12 Raymundo Beltran

Venue: Century Link Centre, Omaha, Nebraska, USA. Recognition: WBO/The Ring. Referee: Mark Nelson.

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

Fight Summary: In a contest for the vacant Ring Championship Belt, the WBO champion, Crawford (135), won virtually every round when dominating Beltran (134¾) with his fast hands and footwork leading the way. It was not that Beltran fought below his normal form as on occasion he landed solidly and used the ring well, but he was up against a switch-hitting stylist who knew his every move. Ending the fight with a badly swollen cheek, Beltran praised Crawford's timing and counter-punching skills as being too much for him to handle.

 

Crawford handed in his WBO title and Ring Championship Belt on 24 March 2015 in order to move up to 140lbs and challenge for the vacant WBO title at that weight on 18 April 2015. The next time my version of the 'world' title would be up for grabs came when Anthony Crolla, the division’s number three man, was matched to defend his WBA title against Jorge Linares, ranked at number one. Linares had previously been an undefeated WBC featherweight champion, a WBA junior lightweight title holder and an undefeated WBC lightweight champion who was given 'champion in recess' status on 7 June 2016 after he had been put out of action for several months due to a fractured right hand suffered in training. He had won the WBC title when beating Javier Prieto and had made successful defences against Kevin Mitchell and Ivan Cano. While this was Linares’ first fight back after almost a year away from the ring, Crolla had been active, winning the WBA title when beating Darleys Perez and defending it against Ismael Barroso. Both men were skilful operators, Crolla with 31 wins, two draws, one technical draw and four losses under his belt and Linares sporting 40 wins and three defeats since starting out in 2002.

 

24 September 2016. Jorge Linares w pts 12 Anthony Crolla

Venue: The Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: WBA/The Ring. Referee: Terry O'Connor.

Scorecards: 115-114, 115-113, 117-111.

Fight Summary: Recognised as a fight for the purists, Linares (134¼), a former three-weight world title holder, took over Crolla’s WBA title in a fight that was always going to be a close battle between quality practitioners. There was never that much in it, but Linares seemed to be one step ahead when landing the better shots and conserving his energy. Having looked like he might have been getting on top, Crolla (134¼) was forced to use all of his ringcraft to get through the sixth after being dazed by a crashing right to the chin. Not only did Crolla come back strongly, but had he won the final session he would have held on to his belt.

 

25 March 2017. Jorge Linares w pts 12 Anthony Crolla

Venue: The Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: WBA/The Ring. Referee: Howard Foster.

Scorecards: 118-109, 118-109, 118-109.

Fight Summary: A return match between this pairing saw the champion outscore Crolla (134¼) yet again, only this time it was a bigger margin of defeat for the latter than before. With each round coming and going, Crolla went further behind as Linares (134¼) put on a master class of box-fighting, and in the sixth the Englishman was cut over the left eye before being dropped by a long left uppercut in the seventh. Crolla was not done for, however, and over the next couple of sessions he fought back magnificently in an effort to turn the tide. With Linares coming back strongly to win the last three rounds, Crolla was not helped by a rib injury suffered in the fourth.  

 

23 September 2017. Jorge Linares w pts 12 Luke Campbell

Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBA/The Ring. Referee: Jack Reiss.

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

Fight Summary: Challenging Linares (134¼) in America ultimately proved a step too far for the 2012 Olympic gold medallist, but there was never a lot in it. Working behind a long southpaw jab, Campbell (134¾) started well enough before being cut under the right eye and dropped by a cluster of combinations that were followed by a solid right to the jaw in the second round. From then on Campbell came back strongly to be leading at the end of the tenth in a contest in which both men paraded the skills. Unfortunately for Campbell, the champion made up any lost ground in the final two sessions to just about warrant victory. The CompuBox stats had Campbell, who also suffered double vision from the second round onwards, landing just one punch more than Linares throughout the fight. 

 

27 January 2018. Jorge Linares w pts 12 Mercito Gesta

Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBA/The Ring. Referee: Jack Reiss.

Scorecards: 118-110, 118-110, 117-111.

Fight Summary: Having fallen short in a title attempt back in 2012, Gesta (134¾) was hoping for better this time around but was up against an excellent champion in Linares (135). Although the southpaw challenger started well enough, by the third round Linares was beginning to get warmed up, banging in combinations to both head and body. With Linares winning round after round it was difficult for Gesta to get any kind of foothold in the contest, and while he tried everything he knew it was never enough.

 

Linares’ next defence would be against Vasyl Lomachenko, an extremely talented box-fighting southpaw who had been an undefeated WBO title holder at feather and was the current WBO junior lightweight champion. After a brilliant amateur career which saw him win two Olympic gold medals, Lomachenko unsuccessfully challenged Orlando Salido for his WBO featherweight title in his second pro fight. However, since then he had won nine consecutive world championship bouts.

 

12 May 2018. Vasyl Lomachenko w rsc 10 Jorge Linares

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Mahattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBA/The Ring. Referee: Ricky Gonzalez.

Fight Summary: Stepping in to the ring as the current WBO junior lightweight champion, a title he would vacate on winning, Lomachenko (134½) once again proved how good he was in what was just his 12th fight. Up against a very good champion in Linares (134½), the southpaw from Ukraine seemed to be in control even though the former made a good start with jab. However, in rounds three to five after Linares took a bit of a battering as Lomachenko put together good combinations to both head and body, he came back near the end of the sixth with a straight right that decked the latter for the first time in his career. From thereon in both men were firing shots off but in the tenth the weary Linares was dropped by a left hook to the body and although he managed to get up the referee deemed him not to be in a position to carry on, stopping the fight at 2.08 of the session. On winning, Lomachenko became a world champion at three different weights in less time than had been accomplished by anyone else.

 

8 December 2018. Vasyl Lomachenko w pts 12 Jose Pedraza

Venue: Madison Square Garden Theatre, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Harvey Dock.

Scorecards: 117-109, 117-109, 119-107.

Fight Summary: With his WBA title on the line, Lomachenko (134½) took on the WBO’s Pedraza (134¼) in a unification battle. Coming back from seven months out of the ring after shoulder surgery the Ukrainian southpaw took a round or two to shake off the rust but, once he did, his straight lefts and uppercuts became the telling punches of the fight; Pedraza only showing in the second, fifth and tenth. In the 11th it was almost all over for Pedraza as he was hit with all but the kitchen sink, a cluster of uppercuts to the head and then a right-left to head and body sending the latter down for two counts. Although the final session was timid compared to the 11th, it was Lomachenko all the way. 

 

12 April 2019. Vasyl Lomachenko w rsc 4 Anthony Crolla

Venue: Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Jack Reiss.

Fight Summary: Having come back well in three winning fights after losing his WBA title to Jorge Linares, Crolla (134¾) was no match for the southpaw champion from the Ukraine, who as a three-weight champion already looks set to become one of the world’s great fighters. Following an opening round where both men felt the other out, Lomachenko (134½) finished the second well on top as he consistently found holes in Crolla’s defence. Stepping it up in the third, Lomachenko began to put Crolla under real pressure and following a terrific straight left, followed by a solid left hook that had the latter badly hurt, it appeared that the referee had stopped the fight, only to administer a standing count immediately prior to the bell. The end was now in sight, and after Lomachenko had smashed in a heavy right hand to Crolla’s head the latter was sent face-down to the canvas. There was no way that Crolla was getting up from that, and the referee quickly stopped the count after 58 seconds of the fourth.

 

Lomachenko’s next defence would be against Britain’s Luke Campbell and would also involve the WBC title that had been vacated by Mikey Garcia on 25 April 2019.

 

31 August 2019. Vasyl Lomachenko w pts 12 Luke Campbell

Venue: O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, England. Recognition: WBA/WBC/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Victor Loughlin.

Scorecards: 119-108, 119-108, 118-109.

Fight Summary: In a contest for three of the four belts and The Ring Championship Belt, and in a battle of former Olympic champions and southpaws, Lomachenko (134½) ultimately proved to be too good for his challenger despite being forced to go the distance. The brave Campbell (134¼) was always in there looking for ways and means to get his hands on the title, but unfortunately the brilliant Lomachenko was in the main one step ahead of him. Cheered to the rafters throughout, Campbell proved his worth at this level when making Lomachenko fight every step of the way, and even when he was floored and hurt by solid combinations to head and body in the 11th he came right back to finish the fight on his feet. The general feeling was that had it been anyone else other than Lomachenko, Campbell would have won the title, so well did he perform.

 

From 24 October onwards, the WBC would refer to Lomachenko as being their ‘franchise’ champion.

 

17 October 2020. Teofimo Lopez w pts 12 Vasyl Lomachenko

Venue: MGM Grand Bubble, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Russell Mora.

Scorecards: 119-109, 117-111, 116-112.

Fight Summary: In a fight between Lomachenko, the holder of the WBA, WBO and WBC belts, and the IBF’s Lopez, the full world title would be on the line after the WBC agreed to recognise the latter as their ‘franchise’ title holder if he was victorious. In what was a huge shock to many, Lopez (135), who came to the ring with 15 (12 inside the distance) wins on his record, went to the front early on and took the opening seven rounds as Lomachenko (135) appeared way out of sorts. It took until round eight for the Ukranian southpaw to start throwing leather, but by then it was far too late even though he picked up three of the last five sessions on the cards. To add to his woes, Lomachenko picked up a bad cut over the right eye in the 12th. Lomachenko’s Ring Championship Belt was also at stake.   

27 November 2021. George Kambosos w pts 12 Teofimo Lopez

Venue: Madison Square Garden Theatre, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Harvey Dock.

Scorecards: 115-112, 115-111, 113-114.

 

This fight should be considered as involving the WBC Franchise title which takes precedence over the WBC title as far as I am concerned.