Light Heavyweight World Champions & Their Championship Fights (175lbs)

The weight class, which began as such in 1899, finally gained full recognition when the IBU champion, Georges Carpentier, was matched against Battling Levinsky, who was undoubtedly the top man at the weight in America. Carpentier (171½) had rewon the European title on 19 July 1919 when knocking out Dick Smith (174) inside eight rounds at The Circus, Paris, France, but despite his victory, on 5 February 1920 the IBU stated that although they recognised the weight class as far as they were concerned the world title was vacant. With the promoter, Tex Rickard, looking for a way to build Carpentier into a main-line heavyweight attraction and a worthy opponent for Jack Dempsey he hit upon the idea of reviving the light heavyweight class which, was in fact, the ideal weight division for the Frenchman. Having started out in 1908 as a flyweight Carpentier had moved up the weight scale with aplomb, and as a gamester with a big punch who had beaten many heavyweights he would come to the ring with 83 wins, five draws, ten defeats and one no contest under his belt. A popular fighter who had been an aviator in the French Air Force, winning the Croix de Guerre for gallantry, Carpentier was also a great sportsman. Levinsky, who had put together a record comprising 40 wins, 11 draws and seven defeats, along with 174 no-decision contests since turning pro in 1910, had been claiming the title since beating Jack Dillon on 24 October 1916. Looking at his record, it appears that he more often than not put his so-called title on the line in short no-decision fights or when he was heavier than the opposition.

 

12 October 1920. Georges Carpentier nd-w co 4 (12) Battling Levinsky

Venue: International League Park, Jersey City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Harry Ertle.

Fight Summary: Although a points decision could not be rendered it was advertised as a championship battle, thus giving the 175lbs title international status, with Carpentier (170½) being acknowledged as champion after defeating Levinsky (175) conclusively. The fight itself saw the Frenchman darting around Levinsky, stinging him with smart left leads before dropping him with a sizzling right to the jaw in the second round. Mistakenly given 15 seconds to recover, Levinsky was soon down again. Somehow getting through the third session and making Carpentier miss consistently, eventually a series of rapid-fire head shots dropped Levinsky in a heap to be counted out at 1.07 of the fourth.

 

11 May 1922. Georges Carpentier w co 1 (20) Ted Kid Lewis

Venue: Olympia, Kensington, London, England. Recognition: World. Referee: Joe Palmer.

Fight Summary: Being no respecter of reputations Lewis (157) immediately went to work on the body, while Carpentier (175), who was soon cut on the mouth, clinched and looked to find a way to keep the English boy at bay. Still Lewis continued to charge in with both hands pumping out, and Carpentier, looking pained, again sought respite by holding on like a limpet. Following flagrant headwork inside the referee tried to part the men physically, but when Lewis stepped back to complain, with his hands at his side, Carpentier drove in a smashing right to the jaw that sent him to the floor to be counted out on the 2.15 mark. For some considerable time afterwards the subject of whether the winning punch had been legal or not in the light of the referee’s instruction to break brought about much discussion.

 

Carpentier would next defend the title against the wild, hard-hitting Battling Siki, a Senegalese plying his wares in France, who had wins over Rene De Vos, Tom Berry and Harry Reeve (3). In 61 contests, he had 49 wins, three draws and nine defeats since starting out in 1912.

 

24 September 1922. Battling Siki w co 6 (20) Georges Carpentier

Venue: Buffalo Velodrome, Paris, France. Recognition: World. Referee: Henri Bernstein.

Fight Summary: With a supposedly poor opponent in front of him Carpentier (173½) was expected to win without raising a sweat, and after two rounds of outboxing Siki (174) he dropped his man in the third following a cracking right to the jaw. Getting up at ‘seven’, Siki surprised all in attendance when he immediately went for Carpentier, having the champion down for a short count from a wild swing. Although Carpentier looked weakened he again had Siki down in the fourth, but back came the man from Senegal, throwing all manner of punches. From that moment there was only going to be one winner, even though Carpentier somehow managed to make it through to the end of the fifth. Coming out for the sixth with both eyes almost closed, after Carpentier had been bundled to the floor with obvious damage to his left leg, the fight was halted at 1.10 of the session. Having called for Carpentier’s corner to help their man back to the corner, the referee then announced that he had disqualified Siki for tripping. However, this action caused such uproar among the crowd that the decision was overturned by the judges within the hour on the grounds that the timekeeper had already counted Carpentier out before the contest was stopped.

 

The French Federation stripped Siki of the world title on 10 November due to him assaulting Francis Descamps, Carpentier’s manager, a few days earlier. The Federation claimed that they were forced to take that action so as not to allow boxing to be dragged through the mud. Following that, the IBU took similar action against Siki on 12 January 1923, only to rescind the decision on 18th February when naming him among their list of world champions. Siki’s first defence would come against the clever, box-fighting Mike McTigue, who had put 122 contests (55 wins, two draws, nine defeats, two no contests and 54 no-decision affairs) under his belt since starting out in 1914, beating men such as Al Thiel (3), Frank Carbone, Jackie Clark (2), Alex Costica (2), George Robinson, Gus Platts, Buck Crouse (2), Jeff Smith, Young Fisher, Johnny Basham and Harry Reeve. Many of his bouts were of the no-decision variety, but they had helped furnish him with the skills required to operate at the highest level.

 

17 March 1923. Mike McTigue w pts 20 Battling Siki

Venue: Scala Opera House, Dublin, Ireland. Recognition: GB/IBU/NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Jack Smith.

Fight Summary: Siki, the recipient of a ‘dodgy’ decision, should have lost his title recognition on the scales when refusing to weigh in, with McTigue (159lbs) knowing full well he was over the limit. However, the fight went ahead with McTigue content to keep Siki off him by dint of a solid left lead, and apart from the 11th round when the Irishman was cut over the right eye he was in well in command. By the 16th, with Siki extremely tired, McTigue took full advantage when swarming all over the champion, smashing in blow after blow while trying for the knockout. The last three sessions saw McTigue belting Siki all over the ring, and when the referee’s decision in his favour was announced the roof nearly came off.

 

Following the fight the IBU stripped Siki of his European title, despite continuing to recognise him as the world champion until early 1924 and failing to credit McTigue who was seen as the title holder in America and Britain. The IBU, who made the decision to continue to recognise Siki as the world champion because he had not made 175lbs for McTigue, finally ran out of patience with him after he moved to America having failed to defend their version of the championship. Once that decision had been made on 19 November, the IBU stated that they would not accept an American designated world light heavyweight champion until the leading European representative was given a fair crack at the title.

 

2 August 1923. Mike McTigue nd-w pts 12 Tommy Loughran

Venue: Playground Baseball Park, West New York, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/GB/Lineal. Referee: Eddie Dugan.

Fight Summary: In what turned out to be a tame affair McTigue (163½) forced the action almost all of the way, having the best of at least ten rounds, his destructive lefts and rights under the heart being particularly effective. Early on, Loughran (166) appeared content to rely on the left jab and an occasional right cross, but from the fourth onwards he was forced to clinch in order to avoid the knockout that the champion was hell-bent on delivering.

 

4 October 1923. Mike McTigue drew 10 Young Stribling

Venue: The Auditorium, Columbus, Georgia, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/GB/Lineal. Referee: Harry Ertle.

Fight Summary: Following the fight, in which Stribling (165lbs) had appeared to win eight of the ten rounds and had battered and knocked McTigue (162lbs) down in the tenth round, it was claimed that the latter was forced at gunpoint to fight on even though he had suffered a broken hand. Another bone of contention came when the imported referee first called a draw before changing it to a win for Stribling when intimidated by the crowd, which included hooded Ku Klux Klansmen. Afterwards, when safely back home, the referee's explanation of events saw the fight remaining on record as a draw.

 

31 March 1924. Mike McTigue nd-l pts 12 Young Stribling

Venue: 113th Regiment Armoury, Newark, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/GB/Lineal. Referee: Hank Lewis.

Fight Summary: After their previous fiasco Stribling (165) was looking to set the record straight this time around, but although he decked McTigue (166½) with a terrific right cross to the jaw in the tenth round he was unable to keep the champion down. McTigue had been clearly outpointed in every round according to Nat Fleischer, of The Ring magazine, who went on to say “It was a travesty that the champion was able to keep his title as Stribling had been superior in every aspect”. The general feeling was that champions should only be defending their titles in States where decisions could be given.

 

In early October McTigue was suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) for repeatedly ignoring its requests to defend against a legitimate challenger, namely Gene Tunney, having demanded fabulous sums and evaded one issue after another. The Commission stipulated that McTigue, who was thinking of taking on the inexperienced Paul Berlenbach, would have to defend against Tunney first before he could fight in New York again.

 

29 October 1924. Mike McTigue w rtd 6 (12) Frank Carpenter

Venue: Marieville AC, Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Recognition: NBA/GB/Lineal. Referee: Mike Broderick.

Fight Summary: The Providence Evening Bulletin carried adverts showing this to be a billed title bout at 175lbs, with Carpenter in the role of challenger. The paper went on to report that the latter would strive hard to gain the honours. However, it was soon clear that the Freeport man had no right to be in the same ring as McTigue, who did very much as he pleased with him, especially at close quarters. After taking some heavy jolts from the champion’s educated fists Carpenter decided to call it a day at the end of the sixth round.

 

26 December 1924. Mike McTigue nd-w rsc 4 (10) Italian Jimmy King

Venue: City Auditorium, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Recognition: NBA/GB/Lineal. Referee: Jake Abel.

Fight Summary: Billed as a budding young puncher, King (162) was no match for the experienced champion who felt his way around in the first session before letting the punches go in the second, sending in left jabs, right crosses and wicked blows to the ribs. Down twice for counts of 'nine' in the third, hooks and uppercuts doing the damage, King was again at the mercy of McTigue (162) in the fourth as the slaughter continued. He was eventually rescued by the referee on the 1.26 mark after being dropped from a barrage of hooks. With McTigue well inside 175lbs, the Atlanta Constitution reported that the champion was not figuring on losing this one. The paper went on to say that it was common practice for a champion to protect his title by contractually agreeing in advance that if both men were standing at the final bell a draw would be announced.

 

7 January 1925. Mike McTigue nd-l pts 12 Mickey Walker

Venue: 113th Regiment Armoury, Newark, NJ, USA. Recognition: NBA/GB/Lineal. Referee: Hank Lewis.

Fight Summary: After hurting both hands early in the fight, McTigue (160), who outweighed the challenger by a whopping 11¼lbs, was content to assume a defensive role in order to hold on to his title recognition. Although Walker (149¾) carried off at least eight of the 12 rounds, despite shaking McTigue up on a number of occasions, he ultimately had to be satisfied with the newspaper verdict.

 

McTigue was reinstated as champion by the NYSAC on 7 April. With Gene Tunney seemingly preparing for an assault on the heavyweights, McTigue’s first defence in the Empire State would be against Paul Berlenbach. Known as ‘Paralysing Paul’ due to his tremendous punching power, Berlenbach was an open, walk-in fighter who had got his opportunity to challenge for the title after beating the former champion, Battling Siki (w rsc 10 at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York on 13 March), in what was an eliminating contest. An interesting character who had become deaf-mute when contracting scarlet fever as a youngster, Berlenbach had also been a double Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) champion wrestler before turning to boxing. In a record comprising 28 contests, Berlenbach had put together 24 wins, two draws and one loss as well as participating in a no-decision affair. 

 

30 May 1925. Paul Berlenbach w pts 15 Mike McTigue

Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/GB/Lineal. Referee: Ed Purdy.

Fight Summary: Defending for only the third time in a decision fight, McTigue (170½) disappointed against the crude Berlenbach (170½) when allowing the ex-wrestler too much room. Despite hurting Berlenbach with trip-hammer rights to the jaw in the sixth and seventh rounds McTigue was strangely lethargic, while his opponent, with just 27 contests under his belt, came through strongly to land the unanimous decision. From round three through to the fifth McTigue boxed cannily as Berlenbach threatened with heavy blows from both hands, but from the eighth onwards he was unable to muster an offensive, spending much of his time avoiding punches coming his way. The ex-champion finished with a badly cut left eye and the knowledge that he could have done better.

 

13 July 1925. Paul Berlenbach nd-nc 9 (12) Tony Marullo

Venue: Dreamland Park, Newark, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/GB/Lineal. Referee: Harry Lewis.

Fight Summary: Advertised for the championship with no decision to be given if the fighters were still there at the final bell, both men were thrown out of the ring after 53 seconds of the ninth had elapsed. They had been warned several times by the referee that this was a title fight and should be treated as such. The Chief Deputy Boxing Commissioner had also twice spoken to the third man about it but to no avail. That Marullo (166½) was just about leading on points did not count for much, especially as he was unable to take advantage of the crude, lumbering champion constantly falling about on the ropes in front of him. The official line was that Berlenbach (173½) was carrying his rival. Although Berlenbach pointed out that he had broken his right hand in the fourth round he was told in no uncertain terms that there had been nothing going on even prior to that.

 

11 September 1925. Paul Berlenbach w rsc 11 (15) Jimmy Slattery

Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/GB/Lineal. Referee: Patsy Haley.

Fight Summary: Never having gone more than ten rounds previously and having been stopped in the third round by Dave Shade three fights earlier was not the best preparation for the 21-year-old Slattery (161½), despite him being a skilful fighter with a good knockout ratio. However, for nine rounds the young challenger drifted around the ring, hands by his side, seemingly boxing his way to victory against the hard-hitting but sluggish Berlenbach (172), who up until that time had not had much success. Then it happened. In the tenth, Slattery, chinned by a series of heavy lefts, was put down for 'eight' and twice for 'nine' before being saved by the bell. Although coming out for the 11th it was obvious to all that Slattery was a beaten fighter, and after being smashed to the canvas on three more occasions for counts of 'nine' the referee rescued him with 92 seconds of the session remaining.

 

11 December 1925. Paul Berlenbach w pts 15 Jack Delaney

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/GB/Lineal. Referee: Ed Purdy.

Fight Summary: Having already beaten Berlenbach (173½) inside four rounds, Delaney (166) made a solid start before dropping his former victim in the fourth following a crashing right-hand to the jaw. Up at ‘three’, Berlenbach fell over again, obviously dazed, before taking an ‘eight’ count. Strangely, Delaney let the beaten champion off the hook as he failed to go in to finish the job, and from the eighth onwards Berlenbach steadily gained ground to win the majority decision.

 

10 June 1926. Paul Berlenbach w pts 15 Young Stribling

Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/GB/Lineal. Referee: Jim Crowley.

Fight Summary: A disappointing fight saw a listless Berlenbach (174½) hold on to his championship status by a unanimous decision. This was mainly because Stribling (171) did not wish to mix it at close quarters and made very little effort to, being content to escape unscathed. Before the final bell Stribling’s father pleaded with his son to give it one last go, but even that could not goad him into action.

 

Even though they had failed to recognise a world light heavyweight champion since stripping Battling Siki, the members of the IBU voted at their conference in July to accept the winner of the forthcoming Berlenbach v Jack Delaney contest as the supreme title holder. Despite losing to Berlenbach in his previous attempt to win the title, following wins over Mike McTigue (w rsc 4 at Madison Square Garden on 15 March 1926) and Maxie Rosenbloom (w pts 10 at The Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 22 March 1926), Delaney quickly earned himself a return. With 73 fights on the clock, comprising 60 wins, two draws, seven defeats, two no-decisions and two no contests, the sharp-shooting Delaney had also posted victories over George Robinson (2), Steve Choynski, Frank Carbone, Jack McCarron, Lou Bogash, Augie Ratner, Jackie Clark (2), Tommy Loughran, Frank Moody, Tiger Flowers and Johnny Risko.

 

16 July 1926. Jack Delaney w pts 15 Paul Berlenbach

Venue: Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jim Crowley.

Fight Summary: Fighting with a broken left thumb from the second round onwards, Delaney (166½) gained ample revenge for his earlier defeat at the hands of Berlenbach (174½) when being awarded the unanimous decision at the end of a hard-fought contest. Up to the 11th there had been little to choose between them, especially after the challenger had lost the previous four sessions, but from thereon in it was all Delaney as he outscored and outpunched the champion to walk off with the title. In the 13th round it looked as though Berlenbach would be stopped as Delaney cut loose, ripping in vicious uppercuts to the head and solid lefts to head and body, but he kept in the contest by holding on for all he was worth. Although dazed and staggered at times, Berlenbach, by now cut on the left eye, somehow kept going despite taking a constant battering, being almost out on his feet at the final bell.

 

10 December 1926. Jack Delaney w rsc 3 (15) Jamaica Kid

Venue: State Armoury, Waterbury, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Young McAuliffe.

Fight Summary: Having initially weighed in at 180lbs the Jamaica Kid (175) was given nearly three hours to take off five pounds before making the weight, but then failed to land a punch of any significance before being floored six times in the third and stopped at 1.13 of the session. Delaney (172½), on top all the way against the crude Kid, showed himself to be fast on his feet, fast with his hands and deadly accurate with left hooks and solid rights to both head and body.

 

Although the Ring Record Book shows Delaney as having relinquished the title in June 1927, the 9 August edition of Boxing (normally three weeks out of date) reported that Delaney would be relinquishing the championship sometime during the following week in order to fight the Spanish heavyweight, Paulino Uzcudun. Finally, on 10 August, Delaney confirmed that he was relinquishing the title forthwith in a letter to the NYSAC. Further to Delaney moving on, when Tommy Loughran, who had won the NYSAC version of the title when outscoring Mike McTigue on on 7 October 1927, was matched against Jimmy Slattery, the NBA title holder, the world title would also be on the line. Prior to meeting Slattery, the skilful Loughran had run up 102 contests, comprising 47 wins, five draws, seven losses and 43 no-decision affairs. As an excellent counter puncher, who could hit back hard when he had to, he had beaten men of the calibre of Young Fisher, Harry Greb, Ted Moore, Johnny Wilson, Tony Marullo (3), Yale Okun (2), Georges Carpentier, George Manley, Johnny Risko (2), Chuck Wiggins and Young Stribling. His opponent, Slattery, with speed and accuracy to spare, had won the vacant NBA title when outpointing Maxie Rosenloom over ten rounds on 30 August 1927 and was coming to the ring with 88 wins, five defeats and two no-decision contests under his belt since turning pro in November 1921.

 

12 December 1927. Tommy Loughran w pts 15 Jimmy Slattery

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Lou Magnolia.

Fight Summary: In a battle to unify the title both men proved to be top class, and it was probably the eight-pound weight advantage that helped to swing the fight Loughran’s way towards the finishing line. While Slattery (165½) showed great speed, making Loughran (173½) look pedestrian at times, when he was eventually forced to trade as he slowed it was then that the latter came into his own. Although Slattery had outboxed his man at the start, with snapping left hands scoring points, once Loughran’s body shots began to take effect everything changed. Making his run for home Loughran continuously worked the body and smashed in overarm rights to the head, while Slattery tried his best to fight back but was too tired to make an impression. Press reports suggested that Loughran had won eight rounds to Slattery’s five, with two even, on his way to the unanimous decision.

 

6 January 1928. Tommy Loughran w pts 15 Leo Lomski

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jack Denning.

Fight Summary: The challenger, who was known as the ‘Aberdeen Assassin’, quickly proved the moniker was deserved when he smashed Loughran (174½) to the floor with a terrific right to the jaw moments after the fight had started. Somehow Loughran got to his feet at the count of ‘nine’ before being forced to defend as the non-stop Lomski (171) threw leather for fun. As much as Loughran tried to stop all the punches from hitting the target it was impossible, and eventually another right to the jaw sent him down and out in the eyes of most of those in attendance. Luckily for Loughran the bell came to his rescue. Thereafter, Lomski was never given another opportunity as the champion ran for the next few rounds prior to taking up the initiative with accurately placed lefts and rights to well-deserve the unanimous decision in his favour.

 

1 June 1928. Tommy Loughran w pts 15 Pete Latzo

Venue: Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jed Gahan.

Fight Summary: Boxing in front of a 20,000 crowd the champion’s mastery and ring wizardry were too much for Latzo (168), who despite making himself a difficult target as he found a way of sliding under the left lead to score with short-arm blows and roundhouse swings, lacked the ability to make it pay. Although Latzo had a good tenth round, class ultimately told as Loughran (173¾) sailed home to receive the unanimous decision.

 

16 July 1928. Tommy Loughran w pts 10 Pete Latzo

Venue: Abertillery Park, Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Leo Houck.

Fight Summary: On a rain-soaked evening in front of 18,000 people Latzo (167½) plunged in recklessly time and again only to be picked off by the champion’s immaculate left hand. While there was a brief success for Latzo in round four when he connected with a heavy left hook that brought blood from his rival’s right eye, an injury that bled for the remainder of the fight, there was no joy for him when he tried to claim a disqualification in the seventh after being hit on the belt line. Loughran (172½), who had Latzo bleeding from the nose and mouth, landed at will with left jabs, left hooks and right uppercuts to run out an easy winner according to all three judges’ cards.

 

28 March 1929. Tommy Loughran w pts 10 Mickey Walker

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

Scorecards: 8-1-1, 6-2-2, 4-5-1.

Fight Summary: One newspaper report stated that Loughran (173¼) easily thwarted the challenger’s efforts to land a heavy wallop, either by picking off his blows or by clever evasive tactics, to run out a decisive winner after ten rounds. Realistically, it was much closer than that with Walker (165) starting fast and attacking the body, while the champion surprised him with lightning fast left hands to the head. Although Walker’s pressure began to tell in the middle rounds, Loughran came back with fast one-twos as he began to take control of the contest, nailing his hardy rival with sharp right uppercut counters before jabbing his way to the split decision.

 

18 July 1929. Tommy Loughran w pts 15 Jim Braddock

Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Eddie Forbes.

Fight Summary: Giving a master class of boxing at its best, Loughran (174) left no room for doubt as to his superiority over Braddock (170) when winning all but one of the 15 rounds contested. The fight had only just begun when Loughran was gashed over the left eye, but he kept the jab going and boxed his way out of trouble. Although Braddock forced the fight throughout he got nowhere, even with his pet right hand, as Loughran moved first one way and then the other, constantly spearing him with the left while making a difficult target. In the sixth Braddock was cut over the right eye, while Loughran also received a gashed forehead. To be fair to Braddock he never gave up trying, but with Loughran giving him few chances the unanimous decision in his favour was a formality.

 

Loughran relinquished his title on 3 September in order to campaign as a heavyweight. Supported by the NBA, when Maxie Rosenbloom met Jimmy Slattery, the NYSAC champion, the world title would next be at stake on 25 June 1930. Rosenbloom would never satisfy everybody with his style of boxing, always moving, cuffing and making himself a difficult target. Prior to taking on Slattery, a man who had four victories over him, he had put together 138 contests, made up of 94 wins, ten draws, 17 defeats and 17 no-decisions, beating George Courtney, Frank Moody, Dave Shade (2), Lou Scozza, Jamaica Kid, Johnny Wilson (2), Tiger Flowers, Tony Marullo, Pete Latzo, Jack McVey (2), Ted Kid Lewis, Tiger Thomas, Leo Lomski (2), Charley Belanger, Slattery, Joe Skyra, Jim Braddock, Yale Okun and Ace Hudkins. A former NBA champion, Slattery, with 104 wins, eight defeats, three no-decisions and one no contest on his tab, had won the vacant NYSAC version of the title when beating Lou Scozza on 10 February 1930.  

 

25 June 1930. Maxie Rosenbloom w pts 15 Jimmy Slattery

Venue: Bison Stadium, Buffalo, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Patsy Haley.

Fight Summary: In this, the sixth meeting between the pair, and a contest that would unify the title, Rosenbloom (170½) was wise to his rival’s moves as he slapped and cuffed Slattery (166½) around for the full 15 rounds, his speed being a deciding factor. However, although the verdict was split the fact that Rosenbloom barely landed with the knuckle part of the glove caused much dissent among the 15,000 crowd. Interestingly, while two judges voted for Rosenbloom, the referee, who had almost been knocked out by one of the latter’s wild swings, voted for Slattery.

 

22 October 1930. Maxie Rosenbloom w rsc 11 (15) Abie Bain

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Lou Magnolia.

Fight Summary: Defending his title against the promising Bain (171½), the first round saw Rosenbloom (174½) reeling around the ring after being hit by a big left hook to the jaw. Rosenbloom then grabbed hold of his rival and hung on for dear life despite the referee’s efforts to break them. Having made it to the bell, Rosenbloom completely outboxed and outpunched Bain from thereon in before the third man stepped in to rescue the latter, bleeding from a deep cut, at 1.47 of the 11th.

 

5 August 1931. Maxie Rosenbloom w pts 15 Jimmy Slattery

Venue: Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: William McPartland.

Fight Summary: Slapping and cuffing his way through the bout Rosenbloom (171½) met with little resistance from Slattery (170½) despite his title being on the line. He even landed the better quality punches. The longer the contest went the more boring it became, and the unanimous decision in Rosenbloom’s favour was a formality. With four victories over Rosenbloom from a possible six Slattery was expected to do a lot better, but having failed to produce he retired five fights later.

 

At the NBA convention held on 14-16 September, the Association withdrew recognition from Rosenbloom and set up an eliminating series in Chicago, Illinois to find a new champion. The move, generally felt to have been a political one, saw the NBA suffer much ridicule at the hands of The Ring magazine and the press, especially as Rosenbloom had defended against Slattery just six weeks earlier.

 

14 July 1932. Maxie Rosenbloom w pts 15 Lou Scozza

Venue: Bison Stadium, Buffalo, New York, USA. Recognition: NY/Lineal. Referee: Gunboat Smith.

Fight Summary: Piling on the pressure in the first half of the fight Rosenbloom (175) had too much of everything for the plodding Scozza (173), who despite being cuffed and slapped tried his utmost to get to close quarters where he would be more effective. Often Scozza was left floundering as the champion used the ring, and in the seventh he was floored by a looping right to the jaw before jumping up without a count. However, from the 11th Rosenbloom was in trouble as Scozza began to find his mark, the former eventually being dropped by a heavy right to the jaw for ‘nine’ in the 14th. Although shaken up the champion weathered the storm to win by a majority.

 

10 March 1933. Maxie Rosenbloom w pts 15 Adolf Heuser

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

Fight Summary: Making an excellent start the challenger battered Rosenbloom (174) almost groggy in the second when landing a series of left and right hooks to the jaw, and in the sixth he buckled the latter’s knees following a savage left hook to the body. Unfortunately for the stubborn Heuser (172), who had won all but one session prior to the seventh, he began to tire. The tide then turned in the eighth, Rosenbloom slapping in blows at the rate of ten to one as he moved on to take the next five rounds with ease. Although the German rallied to even the last two frames it came as no surprise that Rosenbloom took the unanimous verdict. Bloody but unbowed, Heuser finished with his left eye almost closed, damage to nose and mouth and covered in welts, while Rosenbloom was unmarked.

 

24 March 1933. Maxie Rosenbloom w rsc 4 (15) Bob Godwin

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

Fight Summary: Having received a badly gashed right eye in his fight with Joe Knight that was further damaged in training, necessitating five stitches, Godwin (167¼) was a beaten man from the start. It was soon clear that he should never have been allowed to fight Rosenbloom (174¾). Dropped twice by the champion in the first, after the wound reopened in the second the referee called it off at 1.16 of the fourth. Nat Fleischer, writing in The Ring magazine, stated that Godwin should never have been passed by the doctors, especially as he had appeared at the weigh-in with plaster dressing over both eyes.

 

Further to the NBA title being vacated on the result the Association sent out a questionnaire to its members asking whether Rosenbloom should be recognised, and on receiving an insufficient number of favourable replies decided not to give him their blessing. The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) were among those who felt that Rosenbloom was an unworthy champion, saying that they would not recognise him until he met Jack Petersen. Then, on 22 June, in a further response, the BBBoC wrote to the NBA stating that as Len Harvey was the new British champion, having beaten Eddie Phillips (w pts 15 at Olympia, London on 12 June), he should be seen as a logical challenger instead of Petersen. It is thought that neither the BBBoC nor the IBU, who were removed from the NBA at their September convention, recognised Rosenbloom as champion from thereon in. Despite all the misgivings, the NBA announced at their convention that they would finally recognise Rosenbloom as champion, regardless of the fact that he had twice been beaten by John Henry Lewis on points over ten rounds at the Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California in non-title contests on 10 and 31 July and did not have the full support of their membership.

 

3 November 1933. Maxie Rosenbloom w pts 15 Mickey Walker

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Eddie Forbes.

Scorecards: 11-3-1, 9-6, 4-9-2.

Fight Summary: Even though the New York Times reported earlier that Rosenbloom (173¾) had been warned by the NYSAC that he must discard his open-glove style of slapping, cuffing and mauling he still managed to give one of his unorthodox displays when holding and hitting Walker (173½) on the break, for which he was repeatedly warned by the referee. With respect to the closed glove situation Rosenbloom did at least do his best on that score despite never really hurting Walker, and at times he wound up the right hand rather like a baseball pitcher. Regardless, apart from the ninth round when Walker hurt him with lusty two-fisted blows through to the bell, the cagey Rosenbloom, who finished carrying a cut over the right eye, was generally much too clever for his rival, keeping him off balance and at arm's length for most of the time.

 

15 February 1934. Maxie Rosenbloom drew 15 Joe Knight

Venue: MSG Stadium, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Harry Graham.

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

Fight Summary: Although only ten-rounders were allowed in Florida at the time, the contest went ahead as a billed title fight over 15 rounds after the political ‘okay’ was received. Finding the going tough, as Knight (173), a southpaw forced the fight, Rosenbloom (174) soon resorted to his well-known back-hand slapping and open glove slashing before the referee deducted a point from him in eighth. Despite the champion continuing to crouch low and hit with the open glove he received no further warnings, whereas Knight, who was the cleaner puncher of the pair, appeared to have won at the final bell, especially when Rosenbloom congratulated him on winning before a drawn verdict was announced. Following an investigation by the Miami Boxing Commission the referee was suspended for 30 days, having allowed the champion to continually use illegal blows.

 

After the Miami Boxing Commission stripped Rosenbloom on 12 September for not being able to make a match with Knight they handed the title to the latter, a decision which was rubber-stamped by the authorities representing North Carolina and Georgia. A few days later, on 16 September, Rosenbloom was stripped by the NBA. On 19 July, after Rosenbloom had been instructed by the NYSAC to sign for a defence against either Knight or Bob Olin within 30 days, it was announced that he would meet the latter in New York on 16 August. However, on 2 August it was learned that contracts of the prospective contest had not even been submitted to the NYSAC due to an enquiry in progress which was looking into whether Frank Bachman, Rosenbloom’s manager, was also involved with Olin in a financial capacity. The fight was finally given clearance by the NYSAC on 5 October when it was announced that it would go ahead on 16 November. Olin had hardly set the world alight, but in 61 contests, of which he had won 44, drawn four and lost 13, he had boxed his way to number three in the ratings with two recent wins over Bob Godwin and had beaten fighters such as Joe Banovic, Al Gainer, Willie Bush and Don Petrin along the way. A hurtful puncher, he was clever with good defensive skills and was durable.  

 

16 November 1934. Bob Olin w pts 15 Maxie Rosenbloom

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

Scorecards: 5-8-2, 9-5-1, 8-6-1.

Fight Summary: In what was deemed by most of the press and audience present as a huge miscarriage of justice, Olin (173) beat Rosenbloom (173½) after the two men outside the ring decided in his favour. Prior to the fight Rosenbloom was told that unless he hit with the knuckle part of the glove throughout he would be penalised, and to all intents and purposes the champion did just that. By rights Rosenbloom should have won the decision when picking up at least ten rounds with much superior boxing to that of his foe, who had connected with far fewer blows and was generally outpunched and certainly outmanoeuvred. Although Olin was the aggressor during the first 11 rounds he was well outboxed in at least seven of them, while Rosenbloom swarmed all over his rival in the last four to win going away according to the unbiased Nat Fleischer, writing in The Ring magazine. Fleischer stated that unless the NYSAC acted quickly over the quality of some of their judges there would be no more title fights held in the State as they would have become the laughing stock of boxing.

 

Within a few weeks of the contest the NBA stated that they would be happy to recognise Olin as the champion, but would look to him to meet the winner of a fight between John Henry Lewis and Tony Shucco, won by the former on points over ten rounds at Madison Square Garden on 14 December. Having secured a title shot, Lewis would come to the ring with a record of 48 wins, four draws and six defeats, beating among others, Yale Okun (2), Jim Braddock, Fred Lenhart, Lou Scozza, Maxie Rosenbloom (2), Don Petrin, Emilio Martinez and Olin. However, somewhat surprisingly, he lost to Rosenbloom and Abe Feldman immediately prior to meeting Olin.

 

31 October 1935. John Henry Lewis w pts 15 Bob Olin

Venue: The Arena, St Louis, Missouri, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Walter Heisner.

Fight Summary: In his first defence Olin (175) was unlucky to come up against an outstanding challenger in Lewis (174½), but in losing by a unanimous decision he went down in glorious fashion when fighting against the odds. Taking a severe beating in most of the rounds, Olin manfully stuck to his guns despite being battered from pillar to post at times. Olin’s bravery had the crowd on his side as Lewis eventually grew weary of hitting him, and he even blasted back in the 13th before staggering through the next two sessions to make it to the final bell. Never one to set the pulses racing when winning, in defeat Olin finally got the kudos he deserved.

 

13 March 1936. John Henry Lewis w pts 15 Jock McAvoy

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

Fight Summary: Outreached and carrying a badly injured right hand into the fight, McAvoy (168¼) was well in the running before the novocaine wore off in the middle rounds and forced him to concentrate on defence. Lewis (172¼) was a master at long range, but once the problems of the challenger surfaced he hit his man with all the punches in the book. From thereon in it was only the bobbing and weaving style of the Englishman, coupled with his toughness that kept him upright. Even though the decision was unanimous in favour of Lewis the crowd booed vociferously.

 

For some reason known only to themselves the IBU announced at their congress on 8 August that they would recognise the winner of the forthcoming European title fight between Heinz Lazek and Gustave Roth as world champion.

 

9 November 1936. John Henry Lewis w pts 15 Len Harvey

Venue: The Arena, Wembley, London, England. Recognition: GB/NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Jack Smith.

Fight Summary: For the whole 15 rounds the pair entertained the big crowd with their quality, although it was noticeable that the champion’s fists carried more authority, especially after the Englishman’s right hand went in the third. However, Harvey (172), carrying a damaged left eye, put on a tremendous display of ring-craft to make things difficult for Lewis (173½). And in the last three rounds, fighting as if his life depended on it, he came with a rush in a desperate effort to swing the referee’s decision.

 

3 June 1937. John Henry Lewis w rsc 8 (15) Bob Olin

Venue: The Arena, St Louis, Missouri, USA. Recognition: GB/NBA/NY/Lineal. Referee: Walter Heisner.

Fight Summary: Having kept Olin (174¾) at arm's length during the opening two sessions, Lewis (174) opened up in the third with a vicious body attack. After putting Olin down in the fourth with a cracking right under the heart that fractured a rib, Lewis continued to attack the body from there onwards. Those tactics certainly paid dividends, and at 1.20 of the eighth with the challenger down for the second time in the round the referee stopped the fight.

 

During an international boxing convention held in Rome, Italy, which concluded on 20 April, the IBU agreed to  recognise Lewis in an effort to stand by one universally acknowledged champion, who, in turn, would have to concede to regular defences decided by the new Federation.

 

25 April 1938. John Henry Lewis w co 4 (15) Emilio Martinez

Venue: The Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Britt Gorman.

Fight Summary: Jabbing and moving with great skill, Lewis (174¾) hurt Martinez (174) badly in the opening session before scoring at will with telling lefts and rights in the second and third rounds. In the fourth, Lewis, having set Martinez up with the left, caught him flush with a right to the jaw, a punch that saw the challenger counted out on the 0.54 mark.

 

On 27 July, Lewis was warned that he would forfeit NYSAC recognition under the six-monthly defence ruling after refusing to fight in the ‘Empire City’. He was then given until the end of October to defend in New York. This action, which was followed by Lewis taking the NYSAC to the Supreme Court, resulted in him being granted the right to appeal against the NYSAC’s decision.

 

28 October 1938. John Henry Lewis w pts 15 Al Gainer

Venue: The Arena, New Haven, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: GB/NBA/Lineal. Referee: Dave Fitzgerald.

Fight Summary: Carrying the fight to Gainer (170) from the off Lewis (174) jabbed, hooked and sunk his right repeatedly under the heart to win at least ten of the 15 rounds, according to Nat Fleischer of The Ring magazine. Although the challenger looked to counter most of the time Lewis’ blocking of blows was superb, and when Gainer got through he was unable push on. Gainer’s best rounds were the eighth through to the 11th when he fought viciously to turn the tide, but Lewis came back strongly right through to the end even though he had to take several stiff punches to the jaw before winning the unanimous decision. Prior to the fight there was much controversy after Lewis and Gainer weighed in at 10am instead of 1pm without the press being present. 

 

Following his defeat at the hands of Joe Louis in a crack at the heavyweight title, Lewis went forward to defend against Dave Clark in the latter’s home city on 31 March. However, the fight was prevented from taking place when two doctors failed Lewis regarding his eyesight. At this point, John Roxborough, Clark’s manager, claimed the title on behalf of his charge, while Grippo wrote to the NBA asking them to consider Melio Bettina, the NYSAC title holder, as their champion. Both claims were immediately rebuffed. Nat Fleischer, of The Ring magazine, then attacked the NYSAC for allowing Lewis to fight Joe Louis when it must have been obvious that his eyesight had already failed. It did not stop there, however. With Lewis still claiming the championship, he travelled to England to make a defence against Len Harvey in London, but after the BBBoC doctors inspected his eyesight on arriving he was immediately stopped from fighting in Britain. Prior to that, the NBA had actually implied that Lewis’ eye damage was not as bad as first thought and were still considering him to be their champion. Back in America, Lewis was forced to retire on 19 June 1939 when banned by the NBA from fighting due to failing eyesight. Lewis’ enforced retirement was followed by a match made between the top-rated Bettina and Billy Conn, ranked second. With the vacant NBA and NYSAC titles on the line the contest should be seen as providing a new champion. Conn, who had won 45 and drawn two of 56 since turning pro at 17 four years earlier, had twice beaten the reigning NBA middleweight champion, Solly Krieger, as well as the NYSAC equivalent, Fred Apostoli. Fast on his feet with hand-speed to match, Conn was a box-fighter of the highest order. With 45 wins, two draws and six defeats on his record since October 1934, Bettina had won the vacant NYSAC version of the title when stopping Tiger Jack Fox inside nine rounds on 3 February 1939 and as a clever southpaw would not be an easy man to cast aside.

13 July 1939. Billy Conn w pts 15 Melio Bettina

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

Scorecards: 9-6, 8-7, 10-5. 

Fight Summary: For five rounds Bettina (173¼) more than held his own against the fast moving Conn (170¼), fighting out of a crouch that made for a difficult target while baffling the latter with his southpaw stance. However, by the sixth Conn had worked Bettina out when beginning to get home solidly with the left jab despite being caught at times. Although Conn had to hold on occasionally when Bettina opened up, he was the one who was dictating the contest over the last five sessions, and in the 13th he cut the latter badly on the cheekbone following a cracking left hand. Because the fight was close enough to warrant a return the two men were signed up almost immediately.

 

25 September 1939. Billy Conn w pts 15 Melio Bettina

Venue: Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY. Referee: Red Robinson.

Fight Summary: As in their previous fight, Conn (172¼) was kept at bay for the opening six rounds as the clever Bettina (174½) continually confused him with his southpaw stance. Cut under the left eye the champion began to pick things up in the seventh, and ducking and countering well he began to outbox Bettina for the rest of the contest bar the 13th. In that session it was all Bettina, who took Conn to the ropes to batter away with blows to head and body while generally roughing him up. Although taken out of his stride Conn came back well to shower Bettina with lefts and rights to maintain his lead on all three cards, but despite having the latter badly hurt a couple of times he was unable to floor him.

 

17 November 1939. Billy Conn w pts 15 Gus Lesnevich

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

Scorecards: 8-5-2, 10-5, 9-6.

Fight Summary: Setting out aggressively, banging in blows to the body, Lesnevich (174¾) took the fight to Conn (171½) in the early stages before the latter came back strongly from the fourth round onwards. This was never an easy fight for the champion, with Lesnevich always looking to attack the body, and he was made to fight every inch of the way. However, from the 12th, with both men cut under their left eyes, it was all Conn as he ripped into Lesnevich with hooks, jabs and uppercuts to make sure of the verdict. Despite seemingly lacking a heavy punch, Conn proved once again that he was an excellent boxer who was more than capable of dealing with hard-hitting rivals.

 

5 June 1940. Billy Conn w pts 15 Gus Lesnevich

Venue: Olympia Stadium, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Recognition: NBA/NY. Referee: Sam Hennessey.

Scorecards: 8-5-2, 6-3-6, 7-6-2.

Fight Summary: Taking on Lesnevich (173½) in a return match, Conn (173½) was again made to fight all the way in order to win what would be his last contest at the weight. Showing an excellent range of punches, apart from taking the odd breather Conn outboxed the always dangerous Lesnevich most of the way. Throwing every punch in the book Conn cut Lesnevich over the left eye in the 11th before momentarily dropping him in the final session to run out a clear winner, even though one judge showed just one round between them.

 

At the end of December, the NBA withdrew recognition from Conn in favour of a match between Anton Christoforidis, who had recently beaten Jimmy Bivins (w pts 10 at The Arena, Cleveland, Ohio on 2 December), and Melio Bettina for their version of the vacant title. According to NBA rules, Conn relinquished the light heavyweight title on 16 December, the day he signed to meet Joe Louis for the heavyweight crown. Then, with the likelihood that Conn would remain among the heavyweights, the NYSAC set up an elimination series in which Jimmy Webb, The Ring magazine’s number one rated light heavy, stopped Tommy Tucker in the ninth round of a scheduled 15 at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York on 21 February 1941. Ultimately, it would be a long and fruitless wait for Webb as Conn only vacated the NYSAC version of the title on 3 June 1941. Webb went on to lose his next three fights to Mose Brown, thus putting him out of further contention.  Following the decision by Conn to move on, the NBA champion, Gus  Lesnevich, was matched against Tami Mauriello. With the vacant NYSAC title on the line the contest would also involve my version of the 'world' title. The rugged, hard-hitting Lesnevich, with 51 wins, five draws and seven defeats on his slate, had won the NBA title when outscoring Anton Christoforidis on 22 May 1941, while the tough, pressure fighting Mauriello had suffered just one defeat at the hands of Billy Soose in 33 fights since joining the paid ranks in July 1939. In what would be his first big fight up at light heavy, Mauriello had beaten men of the stature of Erich Seelig, Steve Belloise and Steve Mamakos among the middleweights. Although shown in some record books as being born on 4 January 1920, according to his family he first saw the light of day on 24 May 1923, which would have made him 18 at the time of the fight.

 

26 August 1941. Gus Lesnevich w pts 15 Tami Mauriello

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

Scorecards: 8-7, 8-6-1, 5-10.

Fight Summary: Almost beaten before he started, having been dropped by a tremendous left hook in the second round for a count of ‘nine’, Mauriello (170¾) came right back to give the NBA champion all manner of problems. One judge had him winning by five rounds, which was supported by Nat Fleischer of The Ring magazine, and there was so much all-round confusion when the decision was announced that both men signed up for an immediate return. From the third session Mauriello was very much back in the fight, and apart from the eighth when Lesnevich (175) scored heavily he was the one forcing the action. Leading with conviction Mauriello had the flat-footed Lesnevich, who’d had trouble making the weight, under real pressure in the final four rounds without being able to make it pay.

 

14 November 1941. Gus Lesnevich w pts 15 Tami Mauriello

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

Scorecards: 9-4-2, 9-6, 10-2-3.

Fight Summary: A return fight, this one was nothing like their first encounter with the champion producing his best form to outwit the inexperienced Mauriello (173½) who was well beaten but not disgraced. With straight lefts finding their mark and solid body shots slowing his rival down Lesnevich (173¾) always seemed to be in control, and although Mauriello fought back strongly on occasions he was well beaten. Three times the challenger was almost dropped by powerful blows to head and body, his great conditioning saving him, but while still in the contest he was unable to halt Lesnevich’s forward march.

 

14 May 1946. Gus Lesnevich w rsc 10 (15) Freddie Mills

Venue: The Arena, Harringay, London, England. Recognition: World. Referee: Eugene Henderson.

Fight Summary: In a fight that would be remembered for a long time by all those who saw it, Lesnevich (175) came back from the brink to beat the British champion and unify the title. Dropped four times in the second round, Mills (174) finished the session in a parlous state when having great difficulty in finding his corner. Despite that, Mills came right back in the third with solid blows of his own to have Lesnevich carrying a cut and badly swollen left eye. He then went on to outbox the American champion for the next few rounds and break his nose in the sixth. Lesnevich, though, remained strong, and by the end of the ninth he was having some success before opening up in the tenth to have Mills in real trouble. After Mills went to the canvas three times from rights to the jaw, with just four seconds of the round remaining the referee rescued him halfway through the final count.

 

28 February 1947. Gus Lesnevich w rsc 10 (15) Billy Fox

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

Fight Summary: This was a contest in which an inexperienced challenger, despite being unbeaten and carrying a kayo punch, was unable to finish Lesnevich (174½) off following two powerful rights in the third that had the latter all at sea. Although boxing well to take the fourth, from there onwards Fox (172) was continuously being punished as Lesnevich sent in heavy blows from both hands and denied him any space. At 2.19 of the tenth the contest was over after Fox had got to his feet at ‘eight’, having been floored by a long right to the jaw that followed punch after punch. Failing to realise that the fight was over Lesnevich raced in, and despite not hitting Fox both men went to the floor for the last action of the fight.

 

5 March 1948. Gus Lesnevich w co 1 (15) Billy Fox

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

Fight Summary: Regardless of the fact that Lesnevich (175) was having difficulty making the weight he was still far too good for the hapless Fox (172¼), who had been given a title shot despite having already been beaten by him just over a year earlier. This time round Lesnevich took just 118 seconds to finish Fox off. Dropped three times by clubbing right hands to the jaw, the final knockdown saw Fox counted out after making a big effort to get to his feet in time before toppling over again.

 

Having already had an unsuccessful crack at Lesnevich two years earlier when holding the British version of the world title after defeating Len Harvey, Freddie Mills signed up to meet the American in a return match. Known as ‘fearless Freddie’ due to his penchant for taking on much bigger men than himself, he would come to the ring as the British, British Empire and European champion. A hard hitter, favouring the left hook, Freddie had 75 wins, six draws and 16 defeats on his record and had twice beaten Jock McAvoy on his way to the top.

 

26 July 1948. Freddie Mills w pts 15 Gus Lesnevich

Venue: White City Stadium, Shepherds Bush, London, England. Recognition: World. Referee: Teddy Waltham.

Fight Summary: A return contest that lacked the thrills and sparkle of the first fight saw Mills (171½) take the referee’s decision by a very close margin. Nat Fleischer, of The Ring magazine, felt that Mills had won by a point under the British system of scoring, while stating that had the fight taken place under NYSAC Rules in America the champion would have retained his crown. There was far less action than before, but the two knockdowns that Lesnevich (174¾) suffered in the tenth round and Mills’ fast finish were the deciding factors. Lesnevich was severely handicapped from the opening session onwards after being cut over both eyes, and the extra problems of making the weight ultimately took the sheen off his performance.

 

With Mills contracted to fight South Africa’s Johnny Ralph in November for the right to meet the British and British Empire heavyweight champion, Bruce Woodcock, during the following summer, the NBA set up an eliminating contest between Joey Maxim and Lesnevich to decide his next opponent. Billed for the American title, Maxim outpointed Lesnevich over 15 rounds at The Garden, Cincinnati, Ohio on 23 May 1949, which was followed by the London promoter, Jack Solomons, provisionally booking the winner to meet Mills early in 1950. Having been a pro since 1941, Maxim, who could both box and punch, had run up 88 fights, losing 16 mainly against heavyweights, and had recently lost a 15-round split decision to Ezzard Charles in a heavyweight elimination tournament. With wins over Lee Oma, Nate Bolden (2), Red Burman, Lou Brooks (2), Curtis Sheppard (2), Buddy Scott, Buddy Walker (2), Ralph DeJohn, Phil Muscato (2), Jersey Joe Walcott, Jimmy Webb, Bob Foxworth, Olle Tandberg, Tony Bosnich, Joe Kahut (2), Bob Satterfield, Jimmy Bivins and Pat McCafferty, he was certainly ready.

 

24 January 1950. Joey Maxim w co 10 (15) Freddie Mills

Venue: Exhibition Centre, Earls Court, London, England. Recognition: World. Referee: Andrew Smyth.

Fight Summary: Starting fast, Mills (171½) nearly had his challenger over when landing a heavy overarm right to the jaw in the opening round but was unable to press home the advantage. Although Mills was still dangerous in the second, come the third Maxim (174¼) was beginning to take control, his straight left and knowledge on the inside taking him to the front. With the fight going against him Mills made a final attempt to knock his man out in the eighth, but the American’s speed and extra class saw him through the session. After getting back to business in the ninth, when Maxim began to unload in the tenth a left-right to the chin eventually sent Mills crashing down to be counted out on the 1.54 mark. So hard was the finishing blow that four of Mills’ teeth were embedded in his gum shield.

 

22 August 1951. Joey Maxim w pts 15 Bob Murphy

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

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

Fight Summary: Favoured by many to become the new champion, the hard-punching Murphy (174½) was outboxed in every round bar the opener when he staggered the champion with a long left hook. Stabbing out the left jab almost endlessly into Murphy’s face Maxim (173½) was the master of the situation, and by the eighth the challenger’s right eye was closed shut. Tied up at close range where he was expected to be at his best, although Murphy was on the end of a boxing lesson throughout he never gave up and was never floored.

 

25 June 1952. Joey Maxim w rtd 13 (15) Sugar Ray Robinson

Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Ruby Goldstein.

Fight Summary: Setting a tremendous pace the world middleweight champion was the master of Maxim (173) from the opening bell right up until the 11th round when tiredness took over. Even the referee had to be replaced (by Ray Miller) and then treated after the ninth round, having been exhausted by the heat. It was noticeable in the 11th that Robinson (157½) was suffering when he began to stumble. The next two sessions saw much of the same as Robinson struggled with the heat, and at one stage in the 13th he fell flat on his face after missing with a punch. Miles in front on the cards by dint of accurate left jabs, hooks and right crosses, Robinson was retired on his stool at the end of the 13th, having failed in his attempt to become a three-time world champion at different weights.

 

At the age of 39 and after 161 fights (133 wins, eight draws, 19 defeats and one no contest), and almost 17 years in the ring, Archie Moore would finally get the chance he richly deserved. A crafty fighter with superb ring sense who conserved his energy and had a good shot in either hand, Moore’s victims read like a veritable who’s who of the leading men of the day. They included Sammy Slaughter, Ron Richards (2), Fred Henneberry, Jack Chase (4), Nate Bolden (2), Lloyd Marshall (2), Cocoa Kid, Holman Williams, Colion Chaney, Curtis Sheppard (2), Rusty Payne, Bert Lytell (2), Jimmy Bivins (4), Charley Doc Williams (3), Oakland Billy Smith (3), Leonard Morrow (2), Alabama Kid (2), Bob Satterfield, Harold Johnson (3), Chubby Wright, Jimmy Slade and Clarence Henry. Although Moore beat most of the men who posted wins over him, he had failed to overcome both Ezzard Charles and Eddie Booker on three occasions, while Charley Burley defeated him in the only contest between them.

 

17 December 1952. Archie Moore w pts 15 Joey Maxim

Venue: The Arena, St Louis, Missouri, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Harry Kessler.

Scorecards: 76-74, 82-58, 87-63.

Fight Summary: The number one challenger for several years Moore (172½) finally got his opportunity, taking it with both hands when outscoring the champion by a wide margin. Although the referee’s scorecard was much closer than those of the two judges, apart from the opening six rounds when he was well in the fight Maxim (174½) ran second best from thereon in. It was the body punishment dished out by Moore, especially in the second and tenth rounds that won the fight for him. While there were no knockdowns Maxim was forced to take plenty of punishment, and several times he was on the verge of going down.

 

24 June 1953. Archie Moore w pts 15 Joey Maxim

Venue: Municipal Stadium, Ogden, Utah, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Ray Miller.

Scorecards: 7-6-2, 8-7, 8-5-2. 

Fight Summary: Starting positively in what was a return match Maxim (175) was in front by the eighth round, jabbing and moving well, but from then on to the 13th the champion came back strongly. As Maxim tired from the body assaults he was forced to hang on as Moore (173¾) got himself back in the fight. Realising he needed to win the final two sessions Maxim hurt Moore with a couple of solid blows to the jaw, but it was the latter who stayed on to retain his title by a unanimous, if relatively narrow margin.

 

27 January 1954. Archie Moore w pts 15 Joey Maxim

Venue: Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Cy Gottfried.

Scorecards: 145-137, 148-135, 148-134.

Fight Summary: The third fight between the pair saw the champion exert his authority over Maxim (174¼) when twice dropping him for counts of ‘eight’ in the eighth and ‘seven’ in the 11th. This time round, despite having difficulty in making the weight Moore (175) controlled the fight, wearing Maxim down with solid body blows and bringing up hooks and uppercuts for good measure. Even though Maxim was under the cosh on several occasions, Moore had to be satisfied with a clear points victory. Maxim had given of his best, but it had not been enough.

 

11 August 1954. Archie Moore w rsc 14 (15) Harold Johnson

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

Fight Summary: Right up to the finish the contest had been closely fought with both men boxing well and cleverly negating each other’s work at times. In the tenth round Johnson (172½) had Moore (173) down from a right to the jaw for ‘four’, the champion being angry when the referee counted on to ‘eight’ which was contrary to the rules at the time. Realising he could be behind in the scoring and despite tiring Moore began to go up a gear in the 13th before finally catching up with Johnson in the following session. After feinting Johnson into position, Moore smashed home a left-right-left combination to the jaw to put his challenger on the floor. Although he was up at ‘six’ again the referee counted to ‘eight’ before allowing the contest to continue. But within moments of the resumption when it was clear that Johnson, who was being hammered from head to body without return, was in serious trouble the fight was halted on the 56-second mark.

 

22 June 1955. Archie Moore w co 3 (15) Carl Bobo Olson

Venue: Polo Grounds, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Ruby Goldstein.

Fight Summary: Defending his title against the world middleweight champion, Moore (175) ultimately proved to be too powerful and too good for the naturally lighter man. The opening two rounds saw Olson (170¼) moving around Moore and stabbing out the left jab before banging away inside. But towards the end of the second Moore had started to work the body, and in the third he made his move. Although the session started quietly, with both men probing, on the 1.19 mark Olson had been counted out after taking a solid straight right to the face that was followed by two crunching left hooks to the jaw.

 

5 June 1956. Archie Moore w rsc 10 (15) Yolande Pompey

Venue: The Arena, Harringay, London, England. Recognition: World. Referee: Jack Hart.

Fight Summary: Having taken 32lbs off in just over three weeks it was clear that the champion would have to conserve as much energy as he could, something that would have explained his slow start against Pompey (171¼). By the end of the seventh Pompey was well in front and boxing well, but by the end of the eighth Moore (174½) was beginning to get going. The round ended with him cornering and hurting the challenger. Pompey was now cut on the left eye, and having taken a battering in the ninth he walked back to his corner with his right eye swollen. Moore was soon at work in the tenth. After dropping Pompey for counts of ‘eight’, ‘nine’ and ‘eight’ from heavy rights and lefts to the head, the latter was not fighting back when the referee rescued him with 2.50 on the clock.

 

20 September 1957. Archie Moore w co 7 (15) Tony Anthony

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

Fight Summary: Clearly having difficulty making 175lbs, taking three attempts to do so, when the champion started slowly, with the cross-armed defence that he had become associated with, the opening three rounds saw Anthony (172) jabbing out the left but doing little else. By the fifth Moore (175) had begun to go to work, mixing up the jab with bobbing and weaving on the inside, and in the sixth Anthony shipped plenty of punishment before being on the floor when the bell rang. Although tearing out of his corner showing plenty of fight at the start of the seventh, with Anthony soon on the defensive he was eventually counted out at 2.29 of the session after being dropped by a terrific right to the head.

 

10 December 1958. Archie Moore w co 11 (15) Yvon Durelle

Venue: The Forum, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: World. Referee: Jack Sharkey.

Fight Summary: Having to get off the floor three times in the opening session just a few days short of his 45th birthday, the champion proved once and for all that he should be recognised as one of the sport’s top fighters. With Moore (173¾) making a great recovery several rounds went by until Durelle (172) picked it up again. When Moore was floored again from a right to the head, in the fifth, after getting to his feet at ‘five’ he finally began to assume control from there on. In the seventh it was Durelle's turn to be dropped, a left-right to the jaw doing the damage, and on getting up he was subjected to all manner of punches. From the eighth through to the tenth Durelle had almost become a punch-bag as Moore hit him with everything he had. Saved by the bell at the end of the tenth, having taken an ‘eight’ count, after Durelle came out for the 11th he was soon on the floor again, this time for ‘nine’. Back on his feet, with blood pouring from his nose, Durelle was smashed to the floor by solid lefts and rights to the head and counted out after 49 seconds.

 

12 August 1959. Archie Moore w co 3 (15) Yvon Durelle

Venue: The Forum, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: World. Referee: Jack Sharkey.

Fight Summary: A return match, this time around the champion gave Durelle (173) no real opportunities when boxing in a crab-like fashion and giving the Canadian no room to target. Even then Moore (174¼) was forced to take some heavy blows to get his own shots off, and in the third he went after Durelle with a vengeance. After a tremendous right to the chin had Durelle down for ‘seven’, on getting up he went straight on the attack only to be dropped three more times from heavy rights and lefts, the final knockdown seeing him counted out with eight seconds of the session remaining.

 

Moore forfeited NBA recognition on 25 October 1960, having not made a defence for more than a year.

 

10 June 1961. Archie Moore w pts 15 Giulio Rinaldi

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

Scorecards: 11-3-1, 11-4, 9-5-1.

Fight Summary: Although Rinaldi (173¾) was in the fight for three or four rounds, thereafter floundering and incapable of working his man out, he ended the fight bleeding from both eyes along with nose and mouth injuries. Moore (174½) was a clear winner, but having failed to hurt Rinaldi had the Italian been more adventurous the result might have been different. Once again weight-making problems were blamed on the champion’s sluggish performance and lack of zip in his punches.  

 

Moore forfeited NY/EBU recognition on 9 February 1962 for failing to defend against either Harold Johnson or Doug Jones. At the same time the lineal title automatically became vacant. Although the NBA champion, Harold Johnson, had remained idle while waiting to accommodate Archie Moore, following the NYSAC taking the latter’s title away it was announced that the winner of Johnson v Jones would be recognised by them as the champion. The skilful Johnson, who been around since 1946, had been beaten four times by Moore, twice in world title fights, but had won the vacant NBA title when defeating Jesse Bowdry on 7 February 1961 prior to making successful defences against Von Clay and Eddie Cotton. With a record of 66 wins and eight defeats to his name, including a win over Moore, Johnson had victories over men such as Arturo Godoy, Henry Hall (3), Jimmy Bivins, Bert Lytell, Clarence Henry, Bob Satterfield (2), Nino Valdes, Jimmy Slade (2), Paul Andrews (2), Marty Marshall, Sonny Ray and Eddie Machen. Having turned pro in August 1958, Jones had put together 19 wins and one defeat at the hands of Machen in his previous contest. A good puncher, Jones had beaten Von Clay (3), Carl Bobo Olson and Peter Rademacher.

 

12 May 1962. Harold Johnson w pts 15 Doug Jones

Venue: The Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: David Beloff.

Scorecards: 74-61, 73-64, 71-63.

Fight Summary: In a battle to unify the title, Johnson (171½), the NBA champion, proved a bit too experienced for Jones (171½), his left hand keeping the latter at bay for much of the time. In control from the fifth onwards Johnson made a big effort to stop Jones in the 11th, throwing right after right, but with the latter not budging when the bell rang the pair continued to fight on. Thereafter, Johnson went back to his tried and trusted left jab, outboxing the younger man through to the final bell when bringing him on to punches.

 

23 June 1962. Harold Johnson w pts 15 Gustav Scholz

Venue: Olympic Stadium, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: World. Referee: Ike Powell.

Scorecards: 73-70, 72-64, 72-70.

Fight Summary: Fighting outside America for the first time the champion was up against a very experienced southpaw in Scholz (171), who gave him plenty of trouble in what turned into a gruelling fight. Although Johnson (172½) took an early lead Scholz was never far behind. Having been hurt by a right to the jaw in the sixth, Scholz came back strongly in the tenth with a left-right to the head to stagger his rival. Scholz looked like being stopped in the final session when suffering a badly gashed left eyebrow, but he was allowed to continue to the relief of his camp.

 

Following his win over Scholz the authorities were looking for Johnson’s next defence to be against the number one contender, Mauro Mina. After Mina beat Eddie Cotton (w pts 10 at the National Stadium, Lima, Peru on 18 January 1963), the way was clear for the match to be made. Unfortunately, within a matter of weeks of the announcement that Johnson would be meeting Mina in Nevada on 4 May 1963 it was reported that Mina had an arthritic right hand, as well as a serious eye problem, and was out of the fight. It was then announced that Henry Hank would replace Mina, the date being shifted to 1 June 1963, but before anyone could even hold their breath Hank suffered a fractured cheekbone in training. Following that, Willie Pastrano, having beaten Wayne Thornton (w pts 10 at the Convention Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada on 4 May 1963), was quickly drafted in. Known as ‘Willie the Wisp’ for his movement around the ring, his hand-speed and ability to avoid punches coming his way, Pastrano had turned pro at 16 as a welterweight and had boxed for long periods as a heavyweight. Not even rated when he got the call, Pastrano had won 57 of 76 contests, beating the likes of Jimmy Martinez (2), Jacques Royer-Crecy, Bobby Dykes, Al Andrews, Joey Maxim, Chuck Spieser (2), Paddy Young, Rex Layne, Pat McMurtry, Charley Norkus, John Holman, Dick Richardson, Willi Besmanoff, Brian London (who won their return), Joe Bygraves, Franco Cavicchi, Jerry Luedee, Alonzo Johnson, Sonny Ray, Tom McNeeley and Thornton.

 

1 June 1963. Willie Pastrano w pts 15 Harold Johnson

Venue: Convention Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jim Olivas.

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

Fight Summary: Having spent most of his career fighting heavyweights, with Pastrano (174) making the most of his opportunity the split decision in his favour saw him finally become a champion. For the entire contest Pastrano jabbed and moved while the counter-punching Johnson (173½) failed to take the fight to his challenger. On two occasions, in the fifth and 13th, the harder-punching Johnson had Pastrano at his mercy after landing heavy rights to the jaw, but when he failed to follow up the latter was able to recover. It was the higher work-rate that won the fight for Pastrano, and at the finish he was unmarked while Johnson had a badly swollen nose and damage to his left eye.

 

At the beginning of August when Pastrano refused to meet Henry Hank (now fully fit), the Michigan Boxing Federation decided to hold their own version of the championship, bringing in a leading contender, Eddie Cotton, to face the local man, Hank. Cotton beat Hank, but forfeited Michigan recognition after a ten-round split decision defeat at the hands of Johnny Persol at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York on 21 February 1964.

10 April 1964. Willie Pastrano w rsc 6 (15) Gregorio Peralta

Venue: Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Pete Giarusso.

Fight Summary: In what was a thrilling bout from start to finish the challenger was stopped at the start of the sixth round after sustaining a long gash on the left eyelid that had come about following a long right to the head in the fourth. Peralta (174¾) was aggressive right from the first bell, especially with body punches, but Pastrano (174¾) was always alert and showing much cleverness, scoring well with crisp blows from either hand. With the fifth session being Peralta’s best as he began to slow Pastrano down with solid blows to the body, the Argentine was shocked when the referee waited for the sixth to start before stopping the contest. Nat Fleischer, the editor of The Ring magazine, had Pastrano 3-2 ahead at the finish.

 

30 November 1964. Willie Pastrano w rsc 11 (15) Terry Downes

Venue: King’s Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester, England. Recognition: World. Referee: Andrew Smyth.

Fight Summary: Given an opportunity to contest the title from out of the blue the former middleweight champion, Downes (171), giving it everything was thought to be ahead at the start of the 11th. Always on the front foot and always working despite being puzzled by the movement of Pastrano (174¾), the Englishman kept up the attack. It all went horribly wrong for Downes, however, in the 11th when Pastrano came off his stool quickly to drop him for an ‘eight’ count following a right to the head. Back in action Downes was under immediate pressure, and after being hit with lefts and rights and unable to fight back he was dropped again, at which point the referee stopped the contest. The time of the stoppage was announced as being 1.17.

 

Pastrano’s next challenger would be Jose Torres, who beat the former middleweight champion, Carl Bobo Olson (w co 1 at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York on 27 November), in what was an eliminating contest. Prior to the fight, Teddy Brenner, the Madison Square Garden matchmaker, had announced that the winner would probably meet Pastrano on 1 March 1965, which was ultimately pushed on a few weeks. Beaten by Laszlo Papp in the 1956 Olympic finals, Torres turned pro in 1958 and was soon making an impression, beating Joe Shaw, Al Andrews, Randy Sandy (2), Don Fullmer, Jose Gonzalez, Wilbert McClure, Gomeo Brennan and Olson. As a tough, aggressive fighter with a solid punch in both hands, coming into the fight his record comprised 34 wins, one draw and a single defeat. 

 

30 March 1965. Jose Torres w rsc 9 (15) Willie Pastrano

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

Fight Summary: Taking command right from the start Torres (171¼) hurt Pastrano (174½) with heavy left hooks to the head in the opening two rounds, while continually bemusing him with his bobbing-and-weaving tactics. Pastrano seemed to have no answer to the challenger’s attacks, a left hook to the body putting him down in the sixth for the first time in his career. From there onwards it was just a matter of time, and after damage to his left eye worsened in the eighth Pastrano was stopped at the end of the ninth, seemingly having co-ordination problems.

 

21 May 1966. Jose Torres w pts 15 Wayne Thornton

Venue: Shea Stadium, Queens, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: John LoBianco.

Scorecards: 12-2-1, 10-4-1, 10-4-1.

Fight Summary: Dropped twice in the first round with solid left hooks, the challenger somehow kept going despite being cut over both eyes and subjected to a bombardment of punches from Torres (175) throughout. Badly hurt on several occasions, and looking unlikely to last out the contest, Thornton (174) was warned repeatedly by the referee to stop wrestling and to start fighting. The fight was as one-sided as you could get, and while Thornton managed to last the distance he spent the night in hospital recovering from the battering to the body he had been forced to endure. In the aftermath, Torres claimed that he would have stopped Thornton had he not had blurred vision up until the tenth session.

 

15 August 1966. Jose Torres w pts 15 Eddie Cotton

Venue: Convention Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Nate Morgan.

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

Fight Summary: After taking the opening two rounds when hurting Cotton (173½) with heavy body shots, Torres (173) was outboxed from the fourth to the eighth as the veteran challenger got his left jab going. Cotton also did well with solid rights to the body before tiring and letting Torres back in the fight. Having been deducted a point for going low in the tenth, Cotton came right back to put Torres on the defensive for the next couple of sessions. With two rounds to go Torres at last opened up to make sure of the verdict, but it had been a close call.

 

15 October 1966. Jose Torres w co 2 (15) Chic Calderwood

Venue: Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: World. Referee: Teddy Martin.

Fight Summary: Getting a crack at the title after several years of waiting Calderwood (175) made a reasonable start, as did the champion, and there were no early signs of what was to come. The second round began in much the same fashion, but once Torres (175) had thrown a tremendous right over the top of Calderwood’s guard the fight was over when the latter crashed to the floor to be counted out on the 2.06 mark.

 

Having recently lost his world middleweight title, Dick Tiger was given an immediate crack at Torres. With a record of 53 wins, three draws and 17 defeats, the durable Tiger had already proved himself as a middleweight and was backing himself to do likewise at light heavy.

 

16 December 1966. Dick Tiger w pts 15 Jose Torres

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

Scorecards: 10-5, 8-6, 10-4.

Fight Summary: Right from the opening bell Tiger (167) charged into Torres (175) with both hands banging away, slamming in heavy punches when close up and managing to make Torres miss on any number of occasions. Listless in the middle rounds, Torres started to get going thereafter, but left his finish too late as Tiger pressed on relentlessly to deservedly take the title. After the fight Tiger’s manager was quoted as saying “Tiger is a fighter who will follow instructions. All he had to do was bob and weave under Torres’ best punches and come up with combinations to the body". On winning, Tiger became a two-weight world champion.

 

16 May 1967. Dick Tiger w pts 15 Jose Torres

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Harold Valan.

Scorecards: 8-7, 8-7, 7-8.

Fight Summary: This, a return contest, saw the challenger starting well when scoring with solid blows to the head while Tiger (167) concentrated on the body, and in the third round both men let their punches go and both were staggered. The fight followed a similar pattern as their previous go, but this time around with Torres (167) being more effective it was much closer. Following the decision there was a riot as Torres’ partisan fans began throwing chairs and bottles towards the ring after their man failed to regain the title. Even Torres thought he had won, stating that he would seriously think about retiring.

 

17 November 1967. Dick Tiger w rsc 12 (15) Roger Rouse

Venue: Convention Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jim Olivas.

Fight Summary: For four rounds the challenger held his own but thereafter, when punching with power and authority, Tiger (168¼) took over. By the fifth, with Rouse (174½) failing to use his reach advantage to good effect he was slowing as Tiger’s work on the body was beginning to pay dividends. Having been hurt in the third by a heavy left hook, as the fight went on Rouse took more and more of them. In the ninth he was dropped by a left hook prior to taking another count in the tenth when floored by a right to the jaw following a body attack. Extremely tired in the 11th Rouse made it through the bell, only to be floored in the 12th by a big right and stopped 36 seconds into the session.

 

Tiger’s next defence would be against Bob Foster, who had taken part in 33 contests (29 wins and four defeats) since turning pro in March 1961. A dangerous power-puncher who made good use of his height-and-reach advantages over the majority of opponents, Foster had wins over Henry Hank (2), Andres Antonio Selpa and Eddie Cotton (w co 3 at The Coliseum, Washington DC on 8 May), in what was effectively an eliminator with both men weighing in at 174lbs.

 

24 May 1968. Bob Foster w co 4 (15) Dick Tiger

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Mark Conn.

Fight Summary: Making his third defence Tiger (168) made a great start when moving inside the challenger’s long arms to power in the solid shots to the body, but thereafter he found few opportunities to get close. From that point onwards Foster (173½) dictated matters with his huge reach advantage enabling him to keep Tiger at bay with left jabs, hooks and uppercuts that found their target with alacrity. Tiger was still trying to reach the body in the fourth, but without success, and when Foster evaded one of the champion’s rushes a right uppercut followed by a terrific left sent him down to be counted out on the 2.05 mark.

 

22 January 1969. Bob Foster w rsc 1 (15) Frankie DePaula

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

Fight Summary: This one was all over at 2.17 of the first round after Foster (171½) had enforced the ‘Three Knockdowns in a Round’ ruling. Having been dropped by a left to the head and a right to the body in the opening minute, Foster got up without a count and decked DePaula (173) with a right to the temple. Although DePaula was on his feet almost immediately a battery of blows to head and body had him over again, and he was put down for the final time after being measured by a series of solid left hooks and a right to the head. The unfortunate challenger had just two more fights before being gunned down in a gang fight and dying on 14 September 1970.

 

24 May 1969. Bob Foster w rsc 4 (15) Andy Kendall

Venue: Eastern States Coliseum, West Springfield, Massachusetts, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Bill Connelly.

Fight Summary: Looking to move inside the champion’s long reach from the opening bell Kendall (175) was an easy mark for the long left jab, and in the second round he was cut over the left eye by a cracking uppercut. In the third Kendall charged into Foster (174), having some joy, but after trying the same tactics in the fourth he came unstuck. Angry about being butted several times Foster smashed away at Kendall, who was trapped in a corner, and eventually dropped his man heavily. With Kendall in the process of getting to his feet the referee stopped the fight, the finish being announced as 2.17.

 

4 April 1970. Bob Foster w rsc 4 (15) Roger Rouse

Venue: Adams Fieldhouse, Missoula, Montana, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Lee Sala.

Fight Summary: In control from the start with the left jab paving the way, Foster (174) had too much of everything for his challenger who was under pressure and floored twice in the opening round. When Rouse (173½) received a bad cut over the left eye in the second session before being dropped again, courtesy of a solid right to the head, it was almost the end of the line for him. The third session saw much of the same, and after Rouse was put down for a fourth time, a right to the jaw doing the damage, when the bell rang to start the fourth the referee, under the doctor’s orders, stopped the contest.

 

27 June 1970. Bob Foster w co 10 (15) Mark Tessman

Venue: Civic Centre, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Terry Moore.

Fight Summary: An unknown quantity Tessman (170) began moving away from the champion as early as the first round, and although he occasionally scored with the left jab he was being stalked. Despite Foster (173¾) being in control for much of the time Tessman occasionally surprised him with bouts of activity, especially in the seventh when he moved in and out with stinging punches. Cut over the right eye in the eighth, instead of backing off Tessman began to pick up the fight in the ninth before Foster dropped him heavily with a left hook to the jaw in the tenth. Counted out on the two-minute mark, Tessman had nothing to be ashamed of according to The Ring magazine.

 

Foster eventually forfeited WBA recognition on 9 December for consistently failing to defend his title against top-rated contenders during the last two years.

 

2 March 1971. Bob Foster w co 4 (15) Hal Carroll

Venue: Catholic Youth Centre, Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: WBC/Lineal. Referee: Manny Gelb.

Fight Summary: Coming back after being knocked out by Joe Frazier in an unsuccessful challenge for the heavyweight title Foster (174) quickly imposed himself on Carroll (171½), flooring him three times in the second round before opening up a deep gash on his left eye in the third. Having great difficulty in dealing with Foster’s huge reach advantage Carroll was there to be taken, and following a smashing right cross to the head he was counted out at 2.32 of the fourth.

 

24 April 1971. Bob Foster w pts 15 Ray Anderson

Venue: Curtis Hixon Hall, Tampa, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBC/Lineal. Referee: Lee Sala.

Scorecards: 145-140, 148-139, 149-138.

Fight Summary: Taken the 15-round distance for the first time, although angered by Anderson (172½), the champion appeared content to pace himself despite having several opportunities to drop his man. The pattern of the fight was clear from the start as Anderson moved backwards and Foster (170¼) made no effort to chase him, happy to counter whenever he could. As the fight moved towards the final third Anderson’s speed had diminished following Foster’s ability to rifle in solid left jabs to his body. He had also been cut under the left eye in the ninth. Forced to attack more as he was well behind on points, Anderson came in for a fair amount of punishment before making it to the final bell.

 

30 October 1971. Bob Foster w rsc 8 (15) Tommy Hicks

Venue: Catholic Youth Centre, Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: WBC/Lineal. Referee: Manny Gelb.

Fight Summary: Even though he was pulled out of the contest at 1.04 of the eighth round with a bad cut over the right eye impairing his vision, Hicks (171) maintained his record of never being off his feet in 25 contests. The challenger certainly came to fight, when pressing Foster (174) all the way despite being cut in the second, and at the finish the official scorecards showed him winning two rounds. Unable to knock Hicks out, it was Foster’s trusty left jab that did the damage.

 

16 December 1971. Bob Foster w rsc 3 (15) Brian Kelly

Venue: Fairgrounds Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA. Recognition: WBC/Lineal. Referee: Earle Keel.

Fight Summary: Following a quiet opening round the champion got busy in the second after being caught by a right to the head, the only punch of note that Kelly (175) threw throughout the fight. With a seven-inch-reach advantage and power in both hands, when Foster (174) opened up Kelly had no defence against what was coming his way. Dropped twice in the second and again in the third when a left hook flattened him, Kelly was rescued by the referee at 1.56 of the session, his unbroken run of 22 contests shattered along with any hopes he may have had regarding the championship.

 

7 April 1972. Bob Foster w co 2 (15) Vicente Rondon

Venue: Convention Hall, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Cy Gottfried.

Fight Summary: In a match made to unify the title it was soon clear that Foster (175), the WBC champion, was too good for his WBA counterpart when getting down to business at the opening bell, landing solid left jabs and taking his man to the ropes. From the start Rondon (175) had looked apprehensive. Dropped early in the second by a solid left hook, his nose damaged and bleeding badly, Rondon was given the standing ‘eight’ count before being allowed back into action. From there onwards it would be just a matter of time, and when Foster let the combinations roll followed by two cracking left hooks Rondon crashed down to be counted out with just five seconds of the session remaining.

 

27 June 1972. Bob Foster w co 4 (15) Mike Quarry

Venue: Convention Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Harry Krause.

Fight Summary: Giving it his best shot Quarry (175) gave the champion a few early problems, but by the third round he was being jabbed around the ring on the end of a stiff left jab. Swollen under the right eye Quarry came out for the fourth, gamely taking the fight to Foster (173½), but after being hurt by a heavy right a tremendous left hook to the jaw had him down just as the bell rang to end the session. Flat on his back, Quarry was counted out ten seconds after the round had finished.

 

26 September 1972. Bob Foster w co 14 (15) Chris Finnegan

Venue: The Arena, Wembley, London, England. Recognition: World. Referee: Roland Dakin.

Fight Summary: After being subjected to heavy punches at the start of the contest Finnegan (173¾) came back hard and effectively to give the champion plenty of trouble. The former Olympic champion was right back in the fight, matching Foster (174½) up until the tenth when he was floored by a heavy right to the head and forced to take a count of ‘eight’. Finnegan’s southpaw blows to head and body still bothered Foster, but the latter was getting on top. By the 13th, although Finnegan, now cut around both eyes, was still exchanging blows with Foster he was beginning to wilt under the pressure. And after 55 seconds of the 14th the Englishman was dropped by a vicious right to the jaw and counted out. It had been a valiant attempt, with Finnegan matching the champion blow for blow at times.

 

21 August 1973. Bob Foster w pts 15 Pierre Fourie

Venue: University Arena, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jim Cleary.

Scorecards: 148-120, 149-130, 149-138.

Fight Summary: Despite being cut over the right eye as early as the first round, Fourie (168) stuck to his battle plan of trying to negate the champion’s huge reach advantage by staying as close to him as possible. Although Foster (173) used the jab well Fourie occasionally found a way inside where he could work the body, but for much of the time he was kept at bay. Cut over the left eye in tenth and starting to tire, when Foster began to coast knowing that his challenger lacked the power to damage him his trusty left did the rest.

 

1 December 1973. Bob Foster w pts 15 Pierre Fourie

Venue: Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa. Recognition: World. Referee: Roland Dakin.

Scorecards: 103-99, 103-95, 101-98.

Fight Summary: Giving Foster (174) another tough fight the South African appeared to be ahead at the halfway stage as he covered up well against the left and countered effectively with left hooks to the jaw. However, from the eighth onwards Foster began to score more with heavy right uppercuts, and although Fourie (167) made a great effort in the 11th and 12th the last three sessions saw him struggling to survive. Badly hurt several times towards the end, the challenger was physically sick at the final bell as his exertions caught up with him.

 

17 June 1974. Bob Foster drew 15 Jorge Ahumada

Venue: University Arena, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Jim Cleary.

Scorecards: 148-143, 142-145, 144-144.

Fight Summary: With his punch power seemingly leaving him, Foster (174) came close to losing his title as Ahumada (173½) pressed him throughout. Regardless of the blows coming his way, and there were plenty of them, the outreached Ahumada made the body his target which led to far too much clinching. It was in the 12th that Foster seemed to have his best chance of stopping Ahumada, who had damage to his nose and a left eye that was fast closing, but the Argentine weathered the storm and continued where he left off.

 

Foster relinquished the title on announcing his retirement on 16 September. This was followed by a match made for the vacant WBC title between the top-rated Jorge Ahumada and the number two-ranked John Conteh. The contest should also be seen as involving my version of the 'world' title. Ahumada was a tough operator who had risen to the top of the ratings despite being beaten three times inside the distance by his compatriot, Victor Galindez, and had put together 41 wins, two draws and five defeats since turning pro in 1968. His opponent, Conteh, a box-fighter with a great left hand, was seen as one of the best British fighters produced for a long time. He was also a solid puncher with both hands, having scored 20 inside-the-distance wins from 26 fights, with just one defeat.

 

1 October 1974. John Conteh w pts 15 Jorge Ahumada

Venue: The Arena, Wembley, London, England. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Harry Gibbs.

Scorecard: 147-142.

Fight Summary: Contesting the vacant WBC title, Conteh (174¼) fought an excellent tactical battle to beat Ahumada (174), and although he failed to knock the latter over he was always in the driving seat. It was Conteh’s left that won the fight for him, both in defence and attack, and he had far more variety than did the Argentine who lacked his accuracy. By the two thirds stage Conteh was well in control, showing his total domination from the 12th onwards when driving his rival around the ring. With Conteh punch-picking at this stage he never let up right through to the final bell, the verdict in his favour being a formality.

 

11 March 1975. John Conteh w rsc 5 (15) Lonnie Bennett

Venue: The Arena, Wembley, London, England. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Roland Dakin.

Fight Summary: Boxing quite brilliantly, Conteh (174) began to get on top of the always dangerous Bennett (172½) in the second round after the American had taken the opener. The third and fourth sessions saw both men matching their skills, but it was Conteh who looked the most likely to finish it when buckling Bennett’s legs on a couple of occasions. Storming out for the fifth, Conteh was pounding Bennett with rights and lefts when the latter suddenly pulled away with a badly cut left eye. When it was seen that there was no way Bennett could box on with that injury the referee stopped the fight on the 1.10 mark.

 

9 October 1976. John Conteh w pts 15 Yaqui Lopez

Venue: The Forum, Copenhagen, Denmark. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Rudolf Durst.

Scorecards: 149-145, 149-145, 148-146.

Fight Summary: Boxing well with solid left jabs and hooks constantly slamming into the challenger’s face, Conteh (174¼) showed much of his old form apart from limited use of his twice broken right hand. Although the taller Lopez (173) was always second best and the decision in Conteh’s favour was unanimous the scores were surprisingly close, especially when most experts at ringside gave the Mexican no more than a round or so at best. When caught by long lefts and rights Conteh immediately hit back to take the play away from Lopez, who after being cut over the left eye in the 11th was content to take it easy for the last three sessions.

 

5 March 1977. John Conteh w rsc 3 (15) Len Hutchins

Venue: The Stadium, Liverpool, England. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Sid Nathan.

Fight Summary: Both men started confidently, but before the opening session ended heads accidentally came together leaving the challenger with a badly gashed left eye. The second round saw Conteh (175) at his best, stabbing in solid left jabs followed by heavy rights, and Hutchins (173¾), who was beginning to be taken apart, was unable to match the power. Going after Hutchins with a vengeance in the third, Conteh battered his man with solid blows from both hands before a terrific left hook to the jaw had the American down. Up at around ‘seven’, when it was clear that Hutchins was not fit to fight on the referee wisely terminated the contest after 1.05 of the round had elapsed.

 

Conteh forfeited the WBC version of the title on 21 May when he withdrew from a scheduled defence against Miguel Angel Cuello less than a week before the contest was due to take place. Having beaten Miguel Angel Cuello to win the WBC title that was taken away from John Conteh, the new champion, Mate Parlov, would make his first defence against Conteh. A former top amateur, who was a world champion, and a gold medallist at the Olympic Games and European Games (2), Parlov would bring a 23-fight pro record into his contest with Conteh, comprising 21 wins, one draw and one defeat. Although amateurish at times Parlov was a skilful southpaw who was difficult to pin down, despite coming unstuck when opposed to Matthew Franklin (Matthew Saad Muhammad).     

 

17 June 1978. Mate Parlov w pts 15 John Conteh

Venue: Red Star Stadium, Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Rudy Ortega.

Scorecards: 145-141, 143-140, 141-147.

Fight Summary: Despite coming to the ring with both eyes heavily protected with grease, Parlov (175) was allowed to start the fight after a delay of 20 minutes due to pressure being exerted by the TV executives. At that point the champion still had two layers of covering on his eyes, giving him an unfair advantage from the start. Although Parlov was still amateur regarding technique, often flicking out his southpaw jab rather than landing solidly, it took Conteh (173) a fair time to work him out. With Conteh being cautioned throughout when getting to close quarters, in frustration he butted Parlov in the eighth after opening up a cut on the latter’s right eye. From the tenth onwards, however, Conteh hurt Parlov with all manner of body shots as well as scoring solidly to the head. At the start of the 15th it appeared that Conteh was in total command and although deducted a point for use of the elbow he continued to batter away at Parlov. With the referee scoring it for Conteh by a six-point margin, it seemed incredible that the other two judges leant towards the champion.

 

Parlov would next defend against Marvin Johnson, a fellow southpaw, who had beaten Eddie Owens, Ray Anderson and Tom Bethea. A big puncher, in a record comprising 21 wins and two defeats only Matthew Franklin and Lottie Mwale had got the better of him.

 

2 December 1978. Marvin Johnson w rsc 10 (15) Mate Parlov

Venue: Sports Palace, Marsala, Italy. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Roland Dakin.

Fight Summary: In a battle of southpaws Johnson (175) proved too much for Parlov (174¾), opening up cuts over the champion’s eyes as early as the second round and generally dominating him. Scoring with solid body punches, Johnson had Parlov tired and clinching at every opportunity from the third onwards. It all caught up with Parlov in the ninth when he could barely keep going, and in the tenth he was rescued by the referee on the 2.33 mark having taken two standing counts and unable to defend himself. Parlov’s corner had already indicated that they wanted the fight stopped.

 

Johnson’s next challenger would be Matthew Franklin, a man who had stopped him inside 12 rounds of a battle for the vacant NABF title at the Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 26 July 1977. Since then Franklin had successfully defended three times at the same venue, against Billy Douglas, Richie Kates and Yaqui Lopez, and fully warranted a crack at the championship. The big-hitting Franklin would come to the ring with 23 wins (15 inside the distance) wins, two draws and three losses.

 

22 April 1979. Matthew Franklin (Matthew Saad Muhammad) w rsc 8 (15) Marvin Johnson

Venue: Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: George DeFabis.

Fight Summary: With both men looking for an early finish it was the champion who struck first with southpaw rights and lefts hitting the target in the second round, before Franklin (175) hit back with a burst of punches prior to being wobbled himself. From that moment on both men went head-to-toe, ripping in punches from both hands in an effort to finish early. The fight changed in Franklin’s favour when he almost had Johnson (175) over in the seventh and saved by the bell. Racing out of his corner at the start of the eighth Franklin poured in punch after punch on the stricken Johnson and, even though he was badly cut on the left eye by a stray blow, the referee stopped the fight in his favour on the 2.44 mark after the latter had got to his feet at ‘nine’ following a tremendous right to the jaw. From there on Franklin would be known by his Islamic name of Matthew Saad Muhammad.

 

18 August 1979. Matthew Saad Muhammad w pts 15 John Conteh

Venue: Resorts International Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Carlos Padilla.

Scorecards: 146-142, 144-143, 146-141.

Fight Summary: After boxing well behind the left jab, dictating the fight and making Muhammad (172½) miss, when Conteh (175) was caught by two solid rights in the fifth he looked shaken prior to a head clash that left the champion with a terrible gash on the left eye. Once again Conteh got on top in the sixth, but by the 11th both men were landing with heavy shots, and towards the end of the 12th the Englishman had Muhammad all but beaten when he was lying on the ropes taking heavy punishment from both hands. Inexplicably, Conteh backed off, a decision that ultimately cost him the fight. Well ahead by the 13th, the fight turned again as Conteh was battered throughout the session and dropped twice in the 14th before somehow coming back to hurt Muhammad in the 15th. The scorecards failed to tell the true picture after a tough fight, but the referee’s score on 144-143 was about right.

 

29 March 1980. Matthew Saad Muhammad w rsc 4 (15) John Conteh

Venue: Resorts International Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Octavio Meyran.

Fight Summary: Although not looking his normal self the challenger stayed with Muhammad (175) in the opening three sessions, but in the fourth it all changed when he was dropped heavily by a right-left hook to the head. Put down again a further three times and given the mandatory ‘eight’ counts, when Conteh (175) went to the floor for the fifth time the referee stopped the contest after he had got up at ‘five’, 2.27 into the session. Conteh would have just one more fight, a winning one, before retiring.

 

11 May 1980. Matthew Saad Muhammad w rsc 5 (15) Louis Pergaud

Venue: Metro Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Rudy Ortega.

Fight Summary: Taking control from the opening bell Muhammad (174½) was soon targeting the body with solid blows, and although the challenger landed two solid southpaw lefts to his jaw in the second and third they were shrugged off. Pergaud (174½) began the fourth throwing wild punches from either hand, but having been hurt downstairs at the end of the session he was more than wary at the start of the fifth. Opening up, Muhammad was soon on top of Pergaud, who tried to hold him up with long lefts and rights before being rescued by the referee at 1.19 despite getting to his feet after being dropped by a left hook to the body.

 

13 July 1980. Matthew Saad Muhammad w rsc 14 (15) Yaqui Lopez

Venue: Great Gorge Playboy Hotel, McAfee, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Waldemar Schmidt.

Fight Summary: In what was his fourth attempt to win a title Lopez (173¾) seemed to be in front coming into the ninth, having landed well with both hands and forced the champion back on several occasions. However, this stage of the fight saw Muhammad (174¼) finally get going when sending in unanswered blows to head and body, the pressure paying off for him as the rapidly tiring Lopez began to give ground in the 13th. Coming out fast for the 14th Muhammad waded in to Lopez, and after dropping the latter four times for mandatory ‘eight’ counts the referee came to his rescue with 57 seconds of the round remaining.

 

28 November 1980. Matthew Saad Muhammad w co 4 (15) Lottie Mwale

Venue: Sports Arena, San Diego, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tony Perez.

Fight Summary: Mwale (172½) made a good start when boxing the champion on even terms, but towards the end of the third round after being stunned by a big left hook he somehow survived the two-handed punches coming his way to last out the session. Chasing Mwale down with right and left swings to the body in the fourth, Muhammad (175) eventually found a tremendous left uppercut to the jaw that sent the Commonwealth champion down to be counted out on the 2.25 mark. Afterwards, Muhammad said that the finishing blow was probably the hardest that he had ever thrown.

 

28 February 1981. Matthew Saad Muhammad w rsc 11 (15) Vonzell Johnson

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

Fight Summary: Taking time to settle, Muhammad (174¼) was up against it for the opening five rounds as the 6’4” Johnson (174) confused him when picking up points and moving out of range. The fight changed at the end of the sixth, Johnson going to the floor after what seemed to be a slip and incurring a mandatory ‘eight’ count much to his chagrin. From there onwards the champion picked up the pace, and by the ninth Johnson was getting hit more often and was fast tiring. Cut over the left eye in the tenth Johnson gamely fought on, but after being dropped by a right to the jaw following a steady battery of blows and then being badly hurt by another big right the referee stopped the fight, the finish being timed at 1.13 of the 11th.

 

25 April 1981. Matthew Saad Muhammad w co 9 (15) Murray Sutherland

Venue: Resorts International Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Paul Venti.

Fight Summary: Winning the first four rounds, scoring well with left jabs and follow-up rights, Sutherland (173) took advantage of the champion’s lethargy. That all changed in the sixth when Muhammad (175) finally began to unload, and in the seventh he had Sutherland down for ‘nine’ from a volley of punches and cut over the left eye. Although Sutherland fought back well in the eighth, Muhammad, now on top, dropped the challenger in the ninth with a big right to the jaw. Counted out at 1.16 of the session Sutherland was angry at not being allowed to continue as he had been on his feet at ‘nine’, and despite the New Jersey commissioner and former heavyweight champion, Jersey Joe Walcott, initially thinking that the referee had stopped the fight the result stood.

 

26 September 1981. Matthew Saad Muhammad w rsc 11 (12) Jerry Martin

Venue: Golden Nugget Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Larry Hazzard.

Fight Summary: Regardless that he had forced the fight for the opening two rounds Martin (172½) was badly hurt in the third when the champion opened up with heavy lefts and rights the head, which led to the action going back and forth for several sessions. After taking some heavy shots in the sixth Martin came right back in the seventh to blitz Muhammad (172) almost without response and an early night seemed on the cards. From then on both men exploded punches on each other, Muhammad’s shots appearing to carry more power, and in the 11th two massive rights to the jaw had Martin wobbling. Although Martin was still on his feet the referee called it off after 28 seconds of the session due to the challenger suffering what he called “a concussive period”.

 

Having beaten Mike Rossman and James Scott in his last two fights, and rated at number three by The Ring magazine, Dwight Braxton (Dwight Muhammad Qawi) would be Muhammad’s next challenger. The heavy-handed, two-fisted Braxton had lost just once in 17 contests against Johnny Davis, before gaining revenge at a later date. The fight against Scott, held in Rahway Prison, New Jersey, where the latter was serving time, was made even more interesting by the fact that Braxton had also served a term there.

 

19 December 1981. Dwight Braxton (Dwight Muhammad Qawi) w rsc 10 (15) Matthew Saad Muhammad

Venue: Playboy Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Arthur Mercante.

Fight Summary: After having trouble making the weight the champion was unable to get going, being forced around the ring for round after round as Braxton (174½) battered him with punches from both hands. Never at any stage was Braxton concerned, and although Muhammad (174½) occasionally put some solid punches together it had no real effect on the man in front of him. After suffering bad rounds in the eighth and ninth when he was forced on the ropes and belted without firing much back, Muhammad was finally dropped in the tenth. Despite looking distinctly unsteady Muhammad was allowed to box on, but after Braxton had smashed him into the ropes and blasted away at him the referee finally called it off with six seconds of the session remaining.

 

21 March 1982. Dwight Braxton (Dwight Muhammad Qawi) w rsc 6 (15) Jerry Martin

Venue: Showboat Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Davy Pearl.

Fight Summary: Despite having to shift some excess before making the required weight Braxton (175) was soon into his stride, a right to the head in the first round warning Martin (173½) of what was likely to come. Twice Martin was put down in the second from a succession of heavy blows before returning to his corner with a cut over his right eye. Having somehow managed to get through the third and fourth Martin was under heavy pressure in the next two rounds, and when his gumshield was knocked out in the sixth the referee rescued him with 30 seconds of the session left.

 

7 August 1982. Dwight Braxton (Dwight Muhammad Qawi) w rsc 6 (15) Matthew Saad Muhammad

Venue: The Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Carlos Padilla.

Fight Summary: In a return contest, Braxton (174½) took over from the opening bell whether it was inside or at long range. Badly hurt in the second, Muhammad (175) had his gumshield knocked out in the third as well as being dropped for the mandatory ‘eight’ count following an assortment of heavy blows. Having fought back as best as he could in the next two rounds Muhammad was soon up against it in the sixth as Braxton ploughed forward and when unable to fight back the contest was stopped at 1.23 of the session. From then on Braxton would be known by his Islamic name of Dwight Muhammad Qawi.

 

20 November 1982. Dwight Muhammad Qawi w rsc 11 (15) Eddie Davis

Venue: Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tony Perez.

Fight Summary: Put down in the first round by a right uppercut to the jaw, a dazed Davis (175) beat the count and survived the next two sessions before coming right back at the champion in the fourth. By now cut over the left eye, Davis slugged it out with the squat Qawi (174½) right up to the end of the ninth before the pace told on him. Hammered by punches from both hands in the tenth Davis somehow held up, but in the 11th with Qawi on the attack a big right to the head dropped him. Although he got to his feet in time the referee stopped the fight 28 seconds into the round.

 

Qawi’s next defence would be against Michael Spinks, the 1976 Olympic gold medal winner at middleweight, who had beaten Eddie Mustafa Muhammad to win the WBA title and had made successful defences against Vonzell Johnson, Mustafa Wasajja, Murray Sutherland, Jerry Celestine and Johnny Davis, having previously defeated men such as Murray Sutherland, Yaqui Lopez, Willie Taylor and Marvin Johnson (w co 4 at the International Resorts Centre, Atlantic City, New Jersey on 28 March 1981) in what was effectively an eliminator. With 22 straight wins, 16 of them inside the distance, Spinks had already shown that his left jab could keep opponents at bay prior to him unloading heavy shots to both head and body.

 

18 March 1983. Michael Spinks w pts 15 Dwight Muhammad Qawi

Venue: Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Larry Hazzard.

Scorecards: 144-141, 144-141, 144-140.

Fight Summary: Fighting to unify the title, Spinks (173), the WBA champion, came out on top as he kept his left jab going against the much smaller Qawi (174) despite being dropped in the eighth by a right to the body. Most of those watching thought it was a slip as Qawi was standing on Spinks’ foot before the latter fell down. Qawi was always in the fight as he rumbled forward but never able to get close enough to do any real damage and even in the last two sessions, when he tried to turn the fight his way, Spinks was unruffled. Although the match was made at the WBA's scheduled distance of 15 rounds, as opposed to the WBC's 12, it was fully supported by the latter.

 

Spinks had been seen as the champion by the United States Boxing Association/International (USBA/I) when they were formed in April, but on 5 November after their first ever convention, and now renamed the International Boxing Federation (IBF), they stated that they were recognising Eddie Davis as their title holder.

 

25 November 1983. Michael Spinks w rsc 10 (15) Oscar Rivadeneyra

Venue: Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, Canada. Recognition: WBA/WBC/Lineal. Referee: Joe Cortez.

Fight Summary: Despite being contested under WBA rules with the referee scoring, the WBC still recognised Spinks (173¾) as the world champion. Although badly cut over the left eye in the second round the elusive Rivadeneyra (173¼) managed to stay in the fight, slipping the jab and countering whenever the opportunity presented itself, and gave the ring-rusty Spinks a difficult time up until the finish. Spinks, who was cut over the left eye in the second, eventually caught up with Rivadeneyra in the tenth when dropping him with a right uppercut-left hook to the head. Although Rivadeneyra got back into the fray he was stopped at 1.42 of the session after he had been put down again by another right uppercut. Earlier, in the seventh, Rivadeneyra had suffered a cut over his right eye.

 

25 February 1984. Michael Spinks w pts 12 Eddie Davis

Venue: Resorts International Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Frank Cappuccino.

Scorecards: 119-109, 115-114, 118-111.

Fight Summary: Although the cagey Davis (173½) presented the champion with plenty of problems he lacked the firepower to take the title by storm, ultimately going down on points. In the early rounds Spinks (172) had difficulty with Davis’ movement and was unable to get his punches off properly, but by the sixth he was beginning to find the target. Davis continued to make life tough for Spinks, who had been cut over the left eye in the fourth, and even forced the fight in the last two sessions. However, Spinks, who always landed the better quality punches, well deserved the decision even if it had not been one of his better performances. Prior to the contest the WBC had threatened to strip Spinks if he met the IBF's Davis over the WBA's distance of 15 rounds, stating they had an agreement with the WBA that this defence should be over 12 rounds. Common sense eventually prevailed when the fight went ahead supported by all three bodies.

 

23 February 1985. Michael Spinks w rsc 3 (15) David Sears

Venue: Sands Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Larry Hazzard.

Fight Summary: Sears (173¾) made a bright start, shaking Spinks (170½) up with a left hook in the second round, before being advised by his corner to throw more of the same in the third. That proved to be Sears’ downfall. Up until then Spinks had been pacing himself, and when he countered with a right over the top Sears was down and virtually beaten. Having taken the ‘eight’ count Sears tried to hang on, but with Spinks in full flow when a right to the head had the challenger almost out on his feet the referee made a timely intervention with 1.02 on the clock.

 

6 June 1985. Michael Spinks w rsc 8 (12) Jim MacDonald

Venue: Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: World. Referee: Davy Pearl.

Fight Summary: Outscored in every round the outclassed challenger did well to get beyond the seventh, having been knocked down in the fifth and seventh and carrying a swollen left eye. Although MacDonald (172¼) was taking a beating there was always the chance that he might nail Spinks (175) with one of his big punches as he had already hurt the latter a couple of times. Giving it one last effort MacDonald charged out for the eighth, but Spinks opened up to drop him with a cracking left hook to the jaw. Although MacDonald was up at ‘eight’ the referee called the fight off on the 1.30 mark.

 

After Spinks had won the IBF version of the heavyweight championship from Larry Holmes (w pts 15 at the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas on 21 September), he was stripped of the 175lbs title by the WBC on 10 October under their ruling that no champion could hold titles in more than one division at the same time. That was followed by the WBA vacating the title on 3 November when he showed no interest in defending his 175lbs crown. At a press conference held on 5 November Spinks officially relinquished the WBA, WBC, and IBF titles. My version of the 'world' title was next up for grabs when Virgil Hill, rated the top man in the division, defended his WBA title against the third-ranked Thomas Hearns. Unbeaten after 30 fights, Hill had won the WBA title when beating Leslie Stewart on 5 September 1987 and had successfully defended the belt against Rufino Angulo, Jean-Marie Emebe, Ramzi Hassan, Willie Featherstone, Bobby Czyz, Joe Lasisi, James Kinchen, David Vedder, Tyrone Frazier and Mike Peak. A champion at five different weights, Hearns, who had won 49 (40 inside the distance) fights, drawn one and lost three of 53 contests, had beaten Dennis Andries to win the WBC title on 7 March 1989 before dropping back down to middleweight a few months later. Both men had excellent skills, but Hearns was the more devastating one-punch hitter.

 

3 June 1991. Thomas Hearns w pts 12 Virgil Hill

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

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

Fight Summary: In a battle of left jabs the champion was outscored by Hearns (174), who took the honours and showed that he still had plenty left in the tank. Hill (173) was always in the fight, occasionally slamming in big punches of his own, but despite coming on strong in the latter rounds he lacked the power required to stop Hearns in his tracks. Marked around both eyes at the finish, although Hill gave it his best shot he was unable to stop the five-weight title holder from progressing.

 

Iran Barkley, the former WBA middleweight champion and current IBF super middleweight champion, would be the next man to challenge Hearns. Barkley, who already held a victory over Hearns and had a reputation as a big puncher, would be bringing a record comprising 28 wins and seven defeats. Never afraid to take chances, along with Hearns, Barkley had also beaten Wilford Scypion, James Kinchen, Michael Olajide and Darrin Van Horn, while losing to Robbie Sims, Sumbu Kalambay, Roberto Duran, Michael Nunn and Nigel Benn. 

 

20 March 1992. Iran Barkley w pts 12 Thomas Hearns

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

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

Fight Summary: Having struggled to make the weight probably explained the champion’s disappointing display, but that should not detract from a best-ever performance by Barkley (174). Outboxed for the opening three rounds Barkley suddenly found a thudding left hook to the jaw in the fourth that sent Hearns (174½) down for the mandatory count, and from thereon in he had his nose just about in front. Although Hearns continued to fire in heavy blows, it was Barkley’s work-rate that won the day. Both men finished with swellings over their eyes, and Barkley, carrying a broken left hand, stated afterwards that by staying in close had won him the fight as it took away much of Hearns’ power.

 

Barkley relinquished the WBA version of the light heavyweight title on 10 April to concentrate on defending his IBF super middleweight crown. Further to that, my version of the 'world' title remained vacant for over four years until the top-ranked Henry Maske defended his IBF belt against the WBA champion, Virgil Hill, in a unification battle. Hill was rated at number two by The Ring magazine. Maske, a skilful southpaw, had won the IBF title when beating Charles Williams on 20 March 1993 and had successfully defended it against Anthony Hembrick, David Vedder, Ernesto Magdaleno, Andrea Magi, Iran Barkley, Egerton Marcus, Graciano Rocchigiani (2), Duran Williams and John Scully, while racking up 30 straight wins since turning pro in May 1990 after winning Olympic and world titles as an amateur. In his second term as WBA champion, Hill had regained his old title when defeating Frank Tate on 29 September 1992 and had turned back Adolpho Washington, Fabrice Tiozzo, Segio Merani, Saul Montana, Guy Waters, Tate, Crawford Ashley, Drake Thadzi and Lou Del Valle.

 

23 November 1996. Virgil Hill w pts 12 Henry Maske

Venue: Olympic Hall, Munich, Germany. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Carlos Berrocal.

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

Fight Summary: In a battle to unify two championship belts, it was the WBA champion, Hill (174¾), who was adjudged to have won the split decision after what was generally described as a disappointing contest. Hill made the better start whereas the southpaw IBF champion, Maske (174¼), took time to settle and, although the latter controlled the middle of the ring, too often he allowed himself to be picked off and tied up. Boxing on the back foot and carrying damage to his left eye at the finish, Hill did just enough to be sure of the win despite one of the judges marking him down as having lost by four rounds.

 

Hill’s next opponent would be the former European amateur champion, Dariusz Michalczewski, who had won the WBO title when beating Leeonzer Barber 10 September 1994 and had successfully defended it against Roberto Dominguez Perez, Paul Carlo, Everardo Armento, Phillippe Michel, Asluddin Umarov, Christophe Girard (2) and Garciano Rocchigiani. With 33 (24 inside the distance) wins since turning pro in September 1991, Michalczewski was a hard-punching, aggressive pressure fighter.

 

13 June 1997. Dariusz Michalczewski w pts 12 Virgil Hill

Venue: The Arena, Oberhausen, Germany. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBO. Referee: John Coyle.

Scorecards: 117-112, 116-113, 118-110.

Fight Summary: Fighting for three championship belts, despite the WBO saying that their title was not involved, Michalczewski (174½) took over from the third round onwards as Hill (173¾) began to fade. The American had won the first two rounds, scoring with good left jabs, but once Michalczewski had got into a rhythm there was no stopping him. Cutting off the ring and pushing Hill back he began to control the fight with excellent left jabs and crosses right through to the final bell. Hill, who was cut above the left eye in the fourth, blamed a foot injury on his lack of mobility, while there were those who felt his future lay in a higher weight class.

 

Michalczewski relinquished the IBF title on 16 June after deciding that he was not prepared to defend against their mandatory challenger, William Guthrie, a little over a month after the bout with Hill. He was then stripped of the WBA Championship Belt on 1 July for displaying it along with that of the WBO, an organization it did not recognize.

 

4 October 1997. Dariusz Michalczewski w rtd 7 Nicky Piper

Venue: Stadium Sports Hall, Hannover, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Raul Caiz.

Fight Summary: Dropped twice in the opening session was the worst possible start for Piper (174½), but it did not stop him from displaying indomitable courage to hit back whenever he could. The problem that the challenger had was in keeping Michalczewski (175) at bay long enough to take stock, the latter merely walking through the punches thrown at him. Fighting on bravely, Piper continued to work well at times before being overpowered in the seventh. Having been knocked down by a right to the head Piper got up and defied Michalczewski to drop him again, taking everything coming his way before being retired by his corner during the interval.

 

13 December 1997. Dariusz Michalczewski w rtd 6 Darren Zenner

Venue: Alsterdorfer Sports Hall, Hamburg, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Raul Caiz.

Fight Summary: Even though the champion won every round Zenner (175) was not disgraced, occasionally landing solid rights to the jaw and always trying to stay on the front foot. The problem for Zenner was that Michalczewski (175) was just too good for him, being continuously battered by powerful left jabs that left him off balance. With a cut over the right eye, which was closing rapidly, it was no surprise when Zenner was retired by his corner at the end of the sixth.

 

20 March 1998. Dariusz Michalczewski w rsc 4 Andrea Magi

Venue: Ball Sports Hall, Frankfurt, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Raul Caiz.

Fight Summary: Despite the challenger putting up stiff resistance, even breaking Michalczewski’s nose, after being outgunned all the way an early finish was continually on the cards. It was in the fourth that Michalczewski (174¼) finally found a terrific left hook to send Magi (174¾) crashing, and on realising the latter was not going to get up the referee stopped the fight on the 2.35 mark.

 

19 September 1998.  Dariusz Michalczewski w rsc 8 Mark Prince

Venue: Centrum Arena, Oberhausen, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Rudy Battle.

Fight Summary: Even though he worked hard from the opening bell Prince (173¾) was always up against it as Michalczewski (174¾) picked his punches with care and cut the ring down to size before opening up. Prince had his best rounds in the third and fourth when letting the punches go, but when he was cut over the right eye in the fifth the writing was on the wall. Yet again Michalczewski impressed with his quality, his left jabs and hooks being sharp, accurate and powerful, and he never wasted a punch. Even though the challenger may have held his own in the sixth he was tiring fast, having expended so much energy. When Prince was sent crashing through the ropes on to the ring apron by a terrific left hook in the eighth the referee immediately closed the show with three seconds of the session remaining to allow the medics into the ring. 

 

12 December 1998. Dariusz Michalczewski w rsc 9 Drake Thadzi

Venue: Ball Sports Hall, Frankfurt, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Lou Moret.

Fight Summary: Having taken several rounds to warm up after being hurt in the second by the tough Thadzi (174) the champion eventually got himself going in the fourth. Picking up the pace and timing his punches better Michalczewski (175) began driving Thadzi back with uppercuts and solid jabs, and at 1.45 of the ninth the referee rescued the latter after a cracking right to the head had sent him staggering towards his corner.

 

3 April 1999. Dariusz Michalczewski w rsc 7 Muslim Biarslanov

Venue: Stadium Hall, Bremen, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Michael Ortega.

Fight Summary: Caught early on by his aggressive opponent, Michalczewski (174¼) came back strongly towards the end of the opening session when landing heavily with left hooks and rights over the top. To his credit Biarslanov (174¾) was always in Michalczewski’s face regardless of having to take plenty of stick, and he was cut over the right eye in the fourth before coming right back again. With Biarslanov not giving way, taking heavy blows from both hands as Michalczewski pushed on, it took the referee to bring the contest to a close at 1.41 of the seventh after the challenger had been constantly battered without response.

 

Although remaining the WBO champion, Michalczewski forfeited my version of the 'world' title on 13 June due to him failing to meet a top-five rated opponent for two years. Further to that, the top-ranked Roy Jones, the holder of the IBF, WBA and WBC titles, should be seen as the 'world' champion. Jones had first picked up the WBC light heavy title after Fabrice Tiozzo was stripped on 1 February 1997 due to continued inactivity. On the decision, Jones became a world champion at three different weights, having been an undefeated IBF champion at both middleweight and super middleweight. Quick of hand and foot, with power to spare and superb balance, he would bring 40 wins and one defeat to the ring when defending all three belts against David Telesco. After beating men of the calibre of Jorge Vaca, Jorge Castro, Glenn Wolfe, Bernard Hopkins, Thulani Malinga, Thomas Tate, James Toney, Antoine Byrd, Vinny Pazienza, Tony Thornton and Eric Lucas, the memory of being cheated out of a gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games was all but extinguished. Although losing the title by disqualification to Montell Griffin at the first time of asking, Jones regained his belt by a first-round kayo before adding the WBA title to his list of honours when defeating Lou Del Valle. Further to successfully defending both belts against Richard Frazier, he next added Reggie Johnson’s IBF title to his collection.   

 

 

15 January 2000. Roy Jones w pts 12 David Telesco

Venue: Radio City Music Hall, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC. Referee: Arthur Mercante.

Scorecards: 120-108, 120-108, 120-106.

Fight Summary: While not winning a round on the cards, being on the receiving end throughout, the challenger made it to the final bell mainly due to the fact that Jones (175), who had hurt his left hand prior to the fight, was forced to use it sparingly. That did not stop Jones from using his right, however, and Telesco (175) was forced to show how tough he was when taking many heavy shots to the head without ever looking likely to go down. Telesco finished the fight with damage to both eyes, but for Jones it was little more than a sparring session.

 

13 May 2000. Roy Jones w rsc 11 Richard Hall

Venue: Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC. Referee: Wayne Kelly.

Fight Summary: Never winning a round and shipping far more punches than a fighter should take the southpaw challenger fought an uphill battle from the opening bell as Jones (173½) went into overdrive at times. Down twice in the first from heavy combinations, Hall (174½) bravely stayed with it despite being hurt in virtually every round and unable to live with Jones’ speed. Still there in the 11th, Hall, his face a bloody mess, was finally rescued by the referee at 1.41 of the session after being bombarded and left helpless on the ropes.

 

9 September 2000. Roy Jones w rtd 10 Eric Harding

Venue: The Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC. Referee: Johnny Femia.

Fight Summary: Clearly frustrated by his southpaw challenger, who came to the ring in safety-first mode, Jones (173½) failed to deliver in the early rounds, especially in the second and third as he looked to be countered. However, Jones’ tremendous speed took him to the front from thereon in and apart from the eighth when Harding (173¾) caught him with some solid shots to the head he remained on top. Although Jones won the tenth he was still not at his best against the awkward Harding, but it was still a surprise when the latter decided to retire during the interval, naming a torn muscle in his left arm as the reason for not continuing.

 

24 February 2001. Roy Jones w rtd 10 Derrick Harmon

Venue: Ice Palace, Tampa, Florida, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC. Referee: Frank Santore Jnr.

Fight Summary: With the durable southpaw challenger failing to win a round, by the sixth the contest had become extremely one-sided after he had run out of ideas. Although Harmon (175) continued to go forward whenever he could it was little more than a sparring session for Jones (174), who was picking his punches effortlessly, and at the end of the tenth it was all over. Going back to his corner, when it was clear that Harmon had problems communicating, having sustained damage to his right eardrum, he was retired.

 

28 July 2001. Roy Jones w pts 12 Julio Cesar Gonzalez

Venue: Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC. Referee: Raul Caiz.

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

Fight Summary: Dropped in the opening round by a left hook counter Gonzalez (174¼) did his utmost to get into the fight when on his feet again, but with someone as fast as Jones (173) in front of him he had great difficulty in landing solidly. Although Gonzalez won the second round on the judges’ cards it was more to do with the champion’s lack of effort, and in the fifth another cracking left hook had him down again. For the remainder of the contest Gonzalez proved his toughness when shipping all manner of blows to head and body, but to his credit he took all that Jones could throw at him to stay on to the final bell.

 

2 February 2002. Roy Jones w co 7 Glen Kelly

Venue: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Max Parker Jnr.

Fight Summary: Kelly (174½), who was never in with a chance at any stage of the contest, was eventually counted out at 1.55 of the seventh round after being dropped by a right to the head. Prior to that Jones (172) had hurt his challenger badly in the second, knocked him down with a cracking left hook to the head in the third, and almost had him over again in both the fourth and fifth sessions before dropping him with a left to the body in the sixth.

 

7 September 2002. Roy Jones w rsc 6 Clinton Woods

Venue: Rose Garden Arena, Portland, Oregon, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Jay Nady.

Fight Summary: Outboxed and outpunched in the opening two rounds Woods (174) went after Jones (174¾), only to receive more problems to deal with when badly hurt by a body shot on the bell. The fourth and fifth sessions saw the champion show-boating his skills before going to work with a vengeance in the sixth. Woods, now carrying a cut over his left eye, had very little left at that stage, and after being badly hurt by a big right to the head he was rescued by the referee on the 1.29 mark.

 

Jones forfeited the IBF title on 2 December, having decided to take on John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight title on 1 March 2003. He then relinquished the WBC and WBA 'super' titles on 15 April 2003, having beaten Ruiz.

 

8 November 2003. Roy Jones w pts 12 Antonio Tarver

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

Scorecards: 116-112, 117-111, 114-114.

Fight Summary: Coming into the fight as a four-weight world champion and having recently relinquished the WBA heavyweight title, Jones (175) dropped down a couple of divisions to take on Tarver (175), the WBC champion. Although it was clearly a difficult match-up for Jones, after a tough fight against the dangerous southpaw he won back his WBC title. The contest was a difficult one to score as Jones would send in single shots while Tarver threw punches in clusters. And when one looked at the way the judges saw the action it was clear that they were seeing it differently in most rounds. Jones, who finished the fight with damage to his left eye and tiring badly, probably won the last two sessions, but as far as Tarver was concerned he should have been the winner.

 

Following the closeness of the contest, Tarver was signed up for a return. At this stage of his career the hard-hitting southpaw had lost just twice in 23 fights, and having reversed the defeat by Eric Harding he was looking to do likewise with Jones. A top-class amateur, winning a World Championship gold medal in 1995, as a pro he had  wins over John Williams, Reggie Johnson and Montell Griffin, beating the latter for the vacant IBF and WBC titles prior to handing back both belts in order to take on Jones.

 

15 May 2004. Antonio Tarver w rsc 2 Roy Jones

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

Fight Summary: With both men up for their return, Jones (174) boxed well to take the opening session, but coming in to the second it was clear that the southpaw challenger was relishing the battle ahead. Staying in the middle of the ring Tarver (175) was happy for Jones to come to him, and despite the champion being caught by the left a couple of times he failed to spot the warning signs. Having landed a solid right to the head before following up with a left hook, Jones was dropped heavily by an overarm left counter to the jaw. After just about making it to his feet before the count reached ‘ten’ Jones stumbled over yet again. Although getting to his feet for the second time he was stopped on the 1.41 mark when the referee rightly stated that he was unable to defend himself.

 

Tarver forfeited the WBC title on 8 November due to him looking further afield. Tarver next signed up to meet the dangerous Glen Johnson in a fight that would be recognised by The Ring magazine as being for their version of the 'world' title. An out-and-out warrior, with 41 wins, two draws and nine defeats to his name, Johnson won the vacant IBF title when beating Clinton Woods on 6 February 2004, having drawn their first encounter. After making a successful defence against Roy Jones to set up the meeting with Tarver it came as no surprise when Johnson handed back the IBF belt on 8 November.

 

18 December 2004. Glen Johnson w pts 12 Antonio Tarver

Venue: Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Pat Russell.

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

Fight Summary: Billed for The Ring Championship Belt, even though they said it could not get any better for the 35-year-old Johnson it did. Although the southpaw champion was always looking to unload, with there never being much between them it was Johnson (174¼) who took the verdict, his work-rate being a key factor. Afterwards, Tarver (175) blamed his lack of finishing power on an injury to his left hand early on, while Johnson said that it was his sound defence which enabled his inspired victory. Signed up for a return, both men knew it would be a tough call.

 

18 June 2005. Antonio Tarver w pts 12 Glen Johnson

Venue: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Bill Clancy.

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

Fight Summary: Gaining his revenge, Tarver (173) used his three-inch-reach advantage to better effect this time round as he repeatedly backed the champion up. It was hardly surprising that both men were tiring in the middle rounds, but by then Johnson (173½) was feeling it more than Tarver. With Johnson’s left eye swelling fast, despite giving it one final effort, it was Tarver who produced the better work in the closing stages to warrant the unanimous verdict. 

 

1 October 2005. Antonio Tarver w pts 12 Roy Jones

Venue: St Petersburg Times Forum, Tampa, Florida, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Tommy Kimmons.

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

Fight Summary: Despite not being the fighter of old, plus the fact that his legs occasionally let him down, Jones (173) made the southpaw champion pull out all the stops in order to retain his Ring Championship Belt. There was never much between them other than Tarver (175) doing that little bit more, and in the 11th a right hook to the jaw had Jones in big trouble before he fought back to make it to the bell. Following the contest, while there were many calls for the 36-year-old Jones to quit they fell on deaf ears.

 

The 41-year-old Bernard Hopkins would be Tarver’s next defence, having moved up from middleweight after two defeats at the hands of Jermain Taylor. He had held all four belts at 160lbs as well as the lineal title, and in 52 contests, comprising 46 wins, two draws, one of them being technical, and four defeats, he had proved to be an extremely adept box-fighter who could punch hard with either hand. Throughout his career, Hopkins had been happy to take on and beat the very best, including men of the calibre of Lupe Aquino, Segundo Mercado (2), John David Jackson, Glen Johnson, Andrew Council, Robert Allen (2), Antwun Echols (2), Keith Holmes, Felix Trinidad, William Joppy, Oscar De La Hoya and Howard Eastman. Apart from Taylor only Roy Jones had beaten him.

 

10 June 2006. Bernard Hopkins w pts 12 Antonio Tarver

Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Benjy Esteves Jnr.

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

Fight Summary: With Tarver's Ring Championship Belt at stake, the 41-year-old Hopkins (174) stepped up from middleweight after two losing fights against Jermain Taylor to administer a lesson in boxing skills as his southpaw opponent continually floundered. Dropped in the fifth by a right, Tarver (174) tried to turn things his way in the eighth before tiring as Hopkins dug to the body. Although Tarver, his right eye swelling fast, made a big effort in the 11th he was a spent force in the final session as Hopkins breezed to the unanimous points verdict. On winning, Hopkins became a two-weight world champion.

 

21 July 2007. Bernard Hopkins w pts 12 Ronald Wright

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Robert Byrd.

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

Fight Summary: Happy to defend his prestigious Ring Championship Belt, Hopkins (167) proved to be too clever for the southpaw Wright (167), who ultimately found himself bullied by the battle-hardened champion. Despite being cut over the left eye in the third, Wright had his best rounds in the fourth and fifth with left crosses finding their mark. By the sixth, however, Wright was beginning to tire as Hopkins leaned on him and started to work the body. The final session saw Hopkins unload, a heavy right almost smashing Wright down, but the latter kept going to hear the bell.

 

Further to moving up from super middle, having been the IBF/WBO champion, and with a perfect record of 44 straight wins, Calzaghe would be Hopkins next challenger. All that the skilful, hard-hitting Welsh southpaw wanted at this stage of his career was a chance to meet the best, and Hopkins was certainly in that category.   

 

19 April 2008. Joe Calzaghe w pts 12 Bernard Hopkins

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

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

Fight Summary: Moving up from super middle to take on the holder of The Ring Championship Belt, the unbeaten Calzaghe (173) yet again proved to be a master of his craft when winning the split decision after being knocked down by a left-right for 'three' in the opening session. Although Hopkins (173) landed the heavier shots, Calzaghe did the better work, his southpaw right bemusing the champion at times. In the tenth Hopkins complained of being hit low when going down, and made sure that he got a good rest before resuming. Following the win, Calzaghe was looking forward to making a match with Roy Jones.

 

8 November 2008. Joe Calzaghe w pts 12 Roy Jones

Venue: Madison Square Garden, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Hubert Earle.

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

Fight Summary: Despite being floored for 'six' by a wide right hand in the opening session the southpaw holder of The Ring Championship Belt got up to beat the once great Jones (174½) in some style, his all-round work-rate taking him to the front and keeping him there. It took Calzaghe (174½) a while to read Jones' right hand and left hook combinations, but once he had he was on his way. Being cut on the left eye in the sixth further hindered Jones' chances. However, by this time Calzaghe's speed of foot and hands were making life extremely difficult for Jones, who despite landing some pretty meaty punches found that they had no effect on the champion.

 

When Calzaghe announced his retirement on 5 February 2009, The Ring Championship Belt automatically became vacant. Further to that, when the third-ranked Jean Pascal defended his WBC title against the top-rated Chad Dawson on 14 August 2010 it was supported by The Ring and also involved my version of the 'world' title. Pascal had won the WBC title when outpointing Adrian Diaconu on 19 June 2009 and had made successful defences against Silvio Branco and Diaconu, while running up 25 wins in 26 fights. His opponent, Dawson, a tall southpaw with a solid jab and right cross, had earlier won the WBC title when beating Tomasz Adamek on 3 February 2007. Dawson had then gone on to make successful defences against Jesus Ruiz, Epifanio Mendoza, Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver (2) before handing back the belt on 27 May 2009, and with 29 wins and one no contest under his belt he was no easy touch.

 

14 August 2010. Jean Pascal w tdec 11 Chad Dawson

Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Michael Griffin.

Scorecards: 106-103, 108-101, 106-103.

Fight Summary: In a contest that also attracted the vacant Ring Championship Belt, Pascal (174¼) successfully defended his WBC title against his southpaw challenger by means of a technical decision. Showing great speed, Pascal won the opening three rounds before Dawson (174¼) got going in the fourth with good combinations and a solid jab. At the end of the eighth Pascal was in front, having hurt the WBC ‘interim’ champion on a couple of occasions with heavy hooks, but the latter came back strongly in the ninth as he looked for a stoppage. The next two sessions saw Dawson landing the heavier blows, but when Pascal came in low in the 11th and heads came together the former came off worse, his right eye spouting blood. Although deducted a point for an accidental head butt, it was Pascal who was ahead on the cards after the doctor declared that Dawson was unfit to carry on at 2.07 of the session. 

 

18 December 2010. Jean Pascal drew 12 Bernard Hopkins

Venue: Pepsi Coliseum, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Michael Griffin.

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

Fight Summary: After taking a pounding early on, being knocked down in the first by a right to the head and again in the third by a couple of cracking left hooks, Hopkins (174¾) boxed his way back into the fight when giving the WBC champion all kinds of problems. At the age of 45 Hopkins showed all his mettle and class, even having Pascal (174¾) on the back foot on occasion as he clawed his way back when winning the last three rounds. With two judges making it a draw and another giving it to Hopkins by two rounds, following calls for a return match it was duly made.

 

21 May 2011. Bernard Hopkins w pts 12 Jean Pascal

Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Ian John-Lewis.

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

Fight Summary: Having drawn with the WBC champion and holder of The Ring Championship Belt at the start of the year the 46-year-old Hopkins (175) got the rematch he badly wanted, and this time around stayed on his feet to edge it on all three cards in another close fight. At the same time he broke George Foreman's record as the oldest man to win a world title by 192 days. There was never much between them other than the former world middleweight title holder's class and excellent defensive ability, Pascal (175) always giving it his best despite being outmanoeuvred by the wily old fox. Hurt in the third by a big right to the head, Pascal regrouped and came right back at Hopkins for round after round without a great deal of success. Realising he was down on the cards Pascal came on like a train in the last two sessions, winning them despite being badly hurt in the 11th. However, it was not enough.

 

15 October 2011. Bernard Hopkins tdraw 2 Chad Dawson

Venue: Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Pat Russell.

Fight Summary: Dawson (174¼) made a fair start against the WBC champion, working behind a southpaw right jab, as Hopkins (173½) seemed happy to move around the ring while eyeing his man up. Having upped the pace in the second, Dawson was pushed to the floor unintentionally before Hopkins charged in and ended up on the floor with an injury to his left elbow after what appeared to be a shove from the former. With Hopkins still grounded, at 2.48 of the session the referee stopped the fight and Dawson was announced as the winner and new champion by a stoppage. That was after the referee stated that no foul had been committed. A few days later the WBC overturned the decision, claiming that it was a push by Dawson that caused a separation of the collar bone and shoulder blade and that the result should be seen as a technical draw.

 

28 April 2012. Chad Dawson w pts 12 Bernard Hopkins

Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Eddie Cotton.

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

Fight Summary: In a return match between Hopkins (173½), the WBC champion, and Dawson (174½) that was ordered following the disappointing end to their previous affair the latter made sure he stuck to task in hand this time round, and in doing so won the fight. However, it was still very tactical. In the main it was Dawson picking up points from the outside with the southpaw jab and generally trying to do enough to win the rounds. Cut in the fourth on the left eye from what was ruled to be an accidental head butt, Dawson moved up a gear in the fifth while keeping himself out of trouble as best he could. As the rounds progressed, with Hopkins conserving energy it was a poor fight for the fans, but for Dawson it was a badly needed win even if one of the judges had them level at the finish.

 

Dawson’s first challenger would be Adonis Stevenson, a heavy-handed southpaw with 20 (17 inside the distance) wins and one defeat on his record. The defeat at the hands of Darnell Boone was avenged immediately prior to meeting Dawson. He had also knocked out Jesus Gonzalez in an IBF eliminator and stopped Noe Tulio Gonzalez Alcoba.

 

8 June 2013. Adonis Stevenson w rsc 1 Chad Dawson

Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Michael Griffin.

Fight Summary: Seen as a huge shock by many, the WBC champion was halted inside 1.16 of the opening round by a rampant, hard-hitting Stevenson (174¼). Meeting a fellow southpaw, Dawson (173½) was expected to be too experienced for the Haiti-born puncher, but he was given little time to find his feet before hitting the floor. Both men started cautiously, feeling each other out, before Stevenson smashed home a tremendous overarm left that dropped Dawson heavily. Although getting up at the count of 'seven' it was clear to the referee that Dawson could not continue and the fight was stopped.

 

28 September 2013. Adonis Stevenson w rtd 7 Tavoris Cloud

Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Michael Griffin.

Fight Summary: Making his first defence of the WBC title, Stevenson (173¾) proved that he could also box as well as punch when defeating Cloud (174½). Cut over the left eye in the first Cloud was up against it from the start as Stevenson moved in with heavy southpaw blows, and after feeling the effects of a heavy straight left in the opener he looked to fight on the outside rather than taking too many risks. Stevenson's clever movement made life even more difficult for Cloud, who took a beating in virtually every round before being retired by his corner at the end of the seventh after he had been further gashed.

 

30 November 2013. Adonis Stevenson w rsc 6 Tony Bellew

Venue: The Coliseum, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Michael Griffin.

Fight Summary: Putting up a good fight Bellew (175) held the WBC champion at bay for the opening five rounds when making him miss before moving but was unable to mount any real offensive. Pursuing Bellew hard in the sixth Stevenson (174½) finally caught up with his man, a terrific southpaw straight left to the head dropping the game Englishman. Although up quickly Bellew was unable to get going, and after taking several solid lefts without return the referee pulled him out on the 1.50 mark.

 

24 May 2014. Adonis Stevenson w pts 12 Andrzej Fonfara

Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Frank Garza.

Scorecards: 116-109, 115-110, 115-110.

Fight Summary: Dropped in the first round by a solid southpaw left to the head, Fonfara (174½) got up and fought his way back strongly in the face of the champion's attacks. Winning the fourth by dint of his jab and left hook, Fonfara showed that he had not come to be swept away by Stevenson (173½) despite being subjected to solid blows to the body, one of which dropped him in the fifth. Continuing to show his mettle, Fonfara hurt the tiring Stevenson with a body shot before driving on into the ninth where he floored the champion with a left-right. However, it was Stevenson who quickly regrouped to win the last three sessions as Fonfara faded, having given it his best.

 

19 December 2014. Adonis Stevenson w co 5 Dmitry Sukhotsky

Venue: Pepsi Coliseum, Quebec City, Canada. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Michael Griffin.

Fight Summary: Taking over from the start the champion was soon forcing Sukhotsky (173½) back with the southpaw jab, and in the second round the latter was pushed down after a left to the head had hurt him. By the fifth there was little coming back from Sukhotsky as Stevenson (174½) loaded up, a straight left dropping him before he was floored twice more by vicious lefts. After the third knockdown, Sukhotsky was rescued by the referee with 18 seconds of the session remaining.

 

4 April 2015. Adonis Stevenson w pts 12 Sakio Bika

Venue: Pepsi Coliseum, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Michael Griffin.

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

Fight Summary: Moving up a division and looking to upset Stevenson (174½), the tough challenger made life difficult for his southpaw opponent with his brawling tactics and ability to absorb heavy shots. Having pulled Stevenson to the floor in the fifth as he stumbled, despite being ruled a slip, Bika (174½) was officially dropped in the sixth by a cracker of a left to the head. Following that Bika visibly slowed as the accumulation of blows took their toll, and in the tenth he was dumped by a solid left to the jaw. The final two sessions saw the champion box his way through to the final bell without too much coming his way.

 

11 September 2015. Adonis Stevenson w rsc 3 Tommy Karpency

Venue: Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto, Canada. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Hector Afu.

Fight Summary: After giving it his best shot in the opening session, in a battle of southpaws Karpency (174½) began to buckle under the weight of the champion's punches in the second, a left-right putting him down heavily for a 'nine' count. At the start of the third Stevenson (175) wasted no further time when he marched out with both hands before dropping Karpency with a cracking left, and after 21 seconds had elapsed the fight was over when the referee rescued the latter who was up at 'nine' but in no position to defend himself.

 

Although still recognised as the WBC champion, Stevenson forfeited my version of the 'world' title on 24 November after failing to meet a top-five-rated opponent for over two years. At this moment in time, the top-ranked Sergey Kovalev, the holder of the IBF/WBA and WBO belts, should be seen as the 'world' champion. With 28 wins and one technical draw currently on his tab, the heavy-handed Kovalev had taken the WBO title from Nigel Cleverly on 17 August 2013 and made successful defences against Ismayl Sillakh, Cedric Agnew and Blake Caparello before adding Bernard Hopkins’ IBF and WBA belts to his collection. He then defended all three belts against Pascal and Nadjib Mohammedi before giving Pascal another opportunity.

 

30 January 2016. Sergey Kovalev w rtd 7 Jean Pascal

Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBO. Referee: Michael Griffin.

Fight Summary: Creating a great impression, the champion successfully defended his titles against Pascal (174¼) who was retired at the end of the seventh round following a severe beating. Using a solid left jab to the body to bring Pascal's defences down, as in their previous contest, Kovalev (174½) was merciless when banging in heavy right hands to the head and left hooks to the body. Put down in the first by a stiff left which was called a slip, Pascal was always prepared to throw heavy southpaw rights at Kovalev, but at the end of the third a big right sent him through the ropes for a count. Saved by the bell, Pascal continued to plug away, but after being given one more round by his corner at the start of the seventh and with his right eye swelling they had seen enough.

 

11 July 2016. Sergey Kovalev w pts 12 Isaac Chilemba

Venue: DIVS Sports Palace, Ekaterinburg, Russia. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBO. Referee: Michael Griffin.

Scorecards: 117-110, 118-109, 116-111.

Fight Summary: Taken the distance for only the fourth time in 31 fights, the champion was not at his best in this one as Chilemba (174¾) moved away from the firing line and became a difficult target. It was only Chilemba's lack of power that allowed Kovalev (174½) to get away scot-free, but in the seventh he finally caught up with his Malawi-born opponent. Dropped by a heavy right to the head, although Chilemba made it to the end of the session he was now in survival mode. Having taken a bit of a beating in the eighth, Chilemba somehow managed to make it to the final bell despite looking likely to go at any time.

 

Having left the super middleweight division towards the end of 2015 as a former undefeated WBA/WBC champion, and becoming the fourth-ranked fighter in the light heavies, Andre Ward would be Kovalev’s next challenger. Extremely effective on the front or back foot and lightning quick, Ward, who was unbeaten in 30 contests since turning pro in December 2004, was looking to become a champion at two weights.

 

19 November 2016. Andre Ward w pts 12 Sergey Kovalev

Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBO. Referee: Robert Byrd.

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

Fight Summary: Ward (175) became a two-weight title holder on beating Kovalev (175), who was defending his IBF, WBA and WBO titles. There was never much in this one, especially after the champion had Ward on the floor in the second from a short right and was way in front at the end of the sixth round, having lost just one round on the cards. At that point it looked as though Ward was going to lose his unbeaten record, but showing great character and skill he came right back to win the next six sessions when taking over at close quarters and tightening up his defence. Although Kovalev was dangerous right up until the final bell it was Ward’s better quality that ultimately got him there.   

 

17 June 2017. Andre Ward w rsc 8 Sergey Kovalev

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

Fight Summary: A return match saw Kovalev (175) march into the champion in the opening two rounds, with solid leads paving the way for heavy right hands. By the the third Ward (175) began to circle Kovalev, tying his man up in clinches and looking to work the body. Although Kovalev had a good fifth, it was Ward’s fight from thereon in, and after having plenty of success with body shots he opened up in the eighth. Having hurt Kovalev with a right to the jaw, Ward chased the Russian to the ropes where he continued to bang in blows before the referee had seen enough and halted the contest at 2.29 of the session.

 

Following Ward’s announcement that he was retiring on 21 September, the IBF, WBA and WBO titles were automatically vacated. Further to that, when the top-rated Sergey Kovalev was signed up to defend his WBO title against Eleider Alvarez, ranked at number five, it would also involve my version of the 'world' title. The hard-hitting Kovalev had regained one of his old titles when stopping Vyacheslav Shabranskyy on 25 November 2017 and had successfully defended it against Igor Mikhalkin. His opponent, a former top amateur who turned pro in 2009, Alvarez had run up 23 wins since turning over, beating the likes of Shawn Hawk, Edison Miranda, Isaac Chilemba, Robert Berridge, Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal.

 

4 August 2018. Eleider Alvarez w rsc 7 Sergey Kovalev

Venue: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: David Fields.

Fight Summary: Having beaten Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal in his last two contests, Alvarez (174½) fully warranted a crack at the champion, and although falling behind on the cards he showed that he had plenty going for him when coming back from being constantly under attack to land his own power punches. After hammering Alvarez with some heavy shots in the sixth, Kovalev (174) might have thought that it was business as usual, but in the seventh it all changed. Catching Kovalev with a big right to the head that eventually sent him to the floor in delayed action, after the latter got up, Alvarez bided his time before dropping him again with a left-right combination. On getting up, after another burst of blows sent Kovalev down for the third time, the referee immediately stopped the contest at 2.45 of the session so that the latter could be tended to as soon as possible. With a rematch clause in the contract, the pair would meet again when fit and ready.

 

2 February 2019. Sergey Kovalev w pts 12 Eleider Alvarez

Venue: The Ford Centre, Frisco, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Luis Pabon.

Scorecards: 120-108, 116-112, 116-112.

Fight Summary: Following on from their first joust, this time around it was Kovalev (174) who dominated matters throughout as he did not fade in the second half of the contest as had been predicted and generally had too much of everything for the champion. For round after round, it was Kovalev keeping Alvarez (174¾) at bay with solid left jabs that took the steam out of the latter who seemed unable to get his big right hand going. Not falling into the trap of mixing punches with his hard-hitting opponent was the perfect response from Kovalev, and although Alvarez picked up four rounds on two of the cards he was never really in the running. 

 

24 August 2019. Sergey Kovalev w rsc 11 Anthony Yarde

Venue: Traktor Arena, Chelyabinsk, Russia. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Luis Pabon.

Fight Summary: Making his first defence since regaining the title, Kovalev (174½) picked up the opening four rounds as the big-punching Yarde (173¾), who was undefeated after 18 contests, winning 17 of them inside the distance, failed to get into the action. Finally, Yarde got himself going, and in the eighth after taking a low blow he climbed all over Kovalev while landing heavy rights and lefts that almost had the referee intervening in his favour. One of the judges even made it a 10-8 round despite Kovalev not being floored. However, having overexerted himself it became clear that Yarde had little left after Kovalev picked it up again in the next two sessions, the tenth ending (mistakenly early) with the Englishman an open target for heavy blows. With many disputing that the towel should have been thrown into the ring during the 11th to save Yarde from taking further punishment, eventually the fight came to an end in that round when the latter was dropped by a short left and the referee called it off on the 2.04 mark.       

 

Kovalev’s next defence would be against Saul Alvarez, the current lineal middleweight champion, who had also been a former champion at junior middle. In 55 contests, which included two draws, the only man to have beaten him had been Floyd Mayweather Jnr by a majority decision.

 

2 November 2019. Saul Alvarez w rsc 11 Sergey Kovalev

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

Fight Summary: Following a long delay in their respective dressing rooms due to another televised event overrunning, the fight never really took off until the 11th. For much of the contest the smaller Alvarez (174½) found himself kept at bay as he tried to find a way inside the champion’s guard. Although Alvarez began to get through from the fourth onwards he was still forced to take some heavy shots as Kovalev (175) used his jab to good effect. With Kovalev content to keep Alvarez at arm’s length as best he could, the latter began to find the target more often and coming into the 11th two of the judges had him ahead 96-94, while the third judge had them level at 95-95. It was in the penultimate round that Alvarez struck when he hurt Kovalev with a right to the temple before following up with a cracking left hook and straight right to the jaw that sent the latter crashing defenceless into the ropes. Recognising that the fight was over, the referee immediately dispensed with the count and brought the contest to a halt on the 2.15 mark.

 

Alvarez relinquished the title on 17 December in order to to comply with the WBO ruling that no champion can hold world titles at different weights at the same time. He also relinquished The Ring Championship Belt. Following that, Artur Beterbiev, who held the IBF and WBC titles, should be seen as holding my version of the 'world' title. Rated as the top man in the division, Beterbiev was unbeaten in 15 contests that had all ended inside the distance. His latest victim, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, was ranked immediately behind him.