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September 3, 2018
September 3, 2018
Joe Gans

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1. GOLD prospector Tex Rickard landed in the boomtown of Goldfield, Nevada, and decided he wanted to promote a prize fight. The success of the fight he chose – a world lightweight title fight between Battling Nelson and Joe Gans – provided the platform for Rickard to become the famous promoter of his generation.

2. THE fight was set for the Casino Ampitheatre on September 3 1906, and Rickard’s sense of promotion drew nationwide publicity as he displayed the $34,000 purse in tall stacks of freshly minted $20 gold pieces.

3. GOLDFIELD was transformed for the fight. The quiet Main Street housed a few stables and little else in 1905, but a year later, with the contest invigorating the town, the same street boasted saloons, music halls, and shops.

4. NEWSPAPER reporters flooded to venue to cover the bout, and more than 8,000 fans paid over $90,000 to watch the fight. That gate was the richest in history, and the crowd included US President Teddy Roosevelt’s son, Kermit.

5. GANS worked exceptionally hard to make weight for the contest. In fact, too hard. As a result of his strenuous weight-loss, the Baltimore resident developed tuberculosis shortly after the contest.

6. NELSON’S manager, Billy Nolan, was aware of Gans’ battle with the scales and told the fighter that if he weighed any more than the lightweight limit (then 133lbs) when he entered the ring, the fight would be called off. The demand, that was adhered to, ensured Gans could not replenish his body sufficiently after the weigh-in.

7. NOLAN also engineered another advantage for his fighter as Nelson was paid $22,500 compared to Gans’ $11,000.

8. BUT Gans boxed exceptionally, using speed and accuracy to break down his Danish opponent and counter his bullish advances.

9. GANS broke his hand in the 33rd round, when he landed a shot to Nelson’s temple, but bravely concealed the injury for the remainder of the contest.

10. IT was all over in round 42 when Nelson – a notorious rule breaker – struck with yet another low blow during a clinch after wildly throwing punch after punch in an effort to win. Gans was the victor via disqualification, but Nelson would get his revenge, knocking out Gans twice in 1908.

September 2, 2018
September 2, 2018
Frank Bruno British boxers

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1. EIGHT years before Frank Bruno challenged Oliver McCall for the WBC heavyweight title on September 2 1995, the pair sparred at the Royal Oak Gym in Canning Town. Bruno was rebuilding following a 1986 loss to Tim Witherspoon while the American was largely unknown. “We sparred for about 12 rounds,” Bruno remembered. “He caught me in the eye with his thumb. It was competitive, nice, but I don’t think he liked belly shots. I know he doesn’t, but he’s got a good jab and a lot of people underestimate that. No one got the better of it, but he was complaining when I hit him to the body, or on the border, and he kept saying ‘keep them up’.”

2. AS well as the defeat to Witherspoon, Bruno had also failed in world title bids against Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis. It was Lewis who McCall shocked to win his belt the year before. Since then, McCall had notched one successful defence – a tight points win over the ancient Larry Holmes.

3. MANY felt this was Bruno’s best chance to lift the world crown he desired so much. Including head trainer George Francis, who had worked with Bruno since 1986. “Frank has improved immensely. He watches what he does every night and if he makes a mistake he puts it right the next day… He’s had time to mature. When we started he was very stiff and muscular. He’s still muscular, but he’s more flexible, he bends his knees and is a much better fighter. But I wish I had him when he was 16 or 17, because some habits are hard to break.”

4. NIGEL BENN, preparing for a fight against Daniel Perez on the Wembley undercard, invited Bruno to join him at his Tenerife training base. But the heavyweight declined, explaining: “I can’t run 15 miles a day in high altitude and go and spar the way I do. Benn can’t spar the way I spar. All men are made differently. I couldn’t do it then go to the gym in the afternoon and spar eight rounds. I’m not Superman. Benn can’t train harder than me. I could bet my life on it. I love him. He’s come back from the brink.”

5. BRUNO, alongside promoter Frank Warren, attracted 30,000 fans – many of whom booed Edwin Starr’s rendition of the American anthem – to Wembley Stadium on a chilly evening. Benn despatched Perez in the seventh round and accompanied Bruno on the long walk to the ring, through the fireworks and screaming fans. It was there that McCall made him wait for 15 minutes. The champion emerged with that pained, almost tearful, expression designed to perplex his opponents. There had been rumours that the Amercan had not taken his training seriously, that the fame of being king had interfered with his lifestyle, but he was in fine shape.

6. PREDICTABLY, the hard-punching Briton started fast. He had no trouble connecting with McCall but the first few blasts were met with a smile, until a sweeping right hand wiped the false joy from his face, and the steadiness from his legs, at the end of the session.

7. McCALL had some success, bruising Bruno’s eye as early as the second round, and started to work his way into the contest before the halfway mark of the 12-rounder. By the seventh and eighth rounds it looked like McCall was on the brink of taking definitive control. But the challenger regained momentum in the ninth, his left-right working hard to keep McCall at bay. By the close of the 11th round, though, Bruno – ahead on points – was holding on tight to survive and the crowd prepared for a nervy final three minutes.

8. THE final round was one-sided, as McCall, fighting with urgency absent for most of what came before, fired in menacing shots at his muscle-bound opponent. Some expected Bruno to collapse, like he had done before, but showing all his experience, he held on to the last bell. He was rightly awarded the unanimous decision, two scores of 117-111 and one of 115-113 to send the crowd into euphoric celebration.

Frank Bruno

9. BRUNO was, of course, absolutely delighted. “If I never walk again, get run over or get shot, it’s down in history that I’m heavyweight champion. I don’t want to get cocky, but believe me this belt is a nice thing. I want to show people that with hard work and perseverance you can get what you want out of life… From the first round to the last I knew he wanted to knock me out. That last round was very tough. He came at me like a madman. All I could do was try to survive and I did survive. I look like ET but I’m a winner, a champion.”

10. THE new champion did not enjoy his newfound status for long and he lost the title in March 1996 to the comebacking, rampaging, Mike Tyson. He announced his retirement shortly afterwards. McCall admitted he was struggling with drink and drug dependency, but in 2014, almost 20 years after his loss to Bruno, he was still a useful, albeit no longer world class, professional fighter pushing 50 years old.

September 1, 2018
September 1, 2018
Rocky Marciano

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FOUR years ago, a free-swinging guy named Rocky Graziano warmed the hearts of hard-bitten American fight fans as he slugged his way from New York’s East Side to the championship of the world. Although he is still active today, ex-champ Graziano’s exploits are somewhat overwhelmed by those of another guy named Rocky. Biggest name in the fight game today’s Rocky Marciano, undefeated heavyweight from Brockton, Massachusetts, who recently wrote finis to the comeback of ex-champion Joe Louis.

Right now Rocky is sitting pretty, for, when Joe Walcott gets around to defending his heavyweight title, he’ll find a readymade challenger on his doorstep. With the full backing of the International Boxing Club, Marciano looks a safe bet to slug his way right into the championship.

Rocky’s story has its beginning in Brockton, Mass., where he was born on September 1, 1923, the son of a shoemaker who was invalided out of World War I. His square name is Rocco Francis Marchegiano. Eldest of six children, three of whom are girls, Rocky often got into fights while protecting his younger brethren.


His uncle, determined that young Rocky should be able to handle his fists, hung a punch bag in the cellar and taught the kid the rudiments of boxing. Like most American kids, Rocky loved baseball and football. Although he spent only two years in high school, he made the football team in his freshman year, and, on leaving school, played “semi-pro” football for $10 a game.

Times were hard at home when Rocky left school, and he worked as a dish-washer, shoemaker, truck driver’s mate, in fact any job that was going until at the age of nineteen, he entered the US army in 1943. During his three year’s service, Rocky spent sixteen months bouncing around Europe.

He served with an amphibious unit, transporting supplies across the Channel to Normandy after the invasion. It was the army that really started Rocky Marciano in boxing. In camps around the States, Rocky and his buddies had lots of time to kill, and they used to put on the gloves.


Demobbed in 1946, Rocky went to work with a road gang, and in his spare time kept up his amateur boxing. He still had a yearning to be a baseball star and even got a trial with the Chicago Cubs, as a catcher. However, a sore arm discouraged him and he concentrated on boxing.

In thirty simon-pure bouts, he was beaten only three times. In the Golden Gloves finals he lost to Coley Wallace. In 1948 Rocky turned pro, having his first fight on July 12. He was crude, but the dynamite packed in his fists enabled him to flatten his first 15 opponents, 9 in the first round.

A stumpy little guy named Charley Goldman was instrumental in bringing Rocky to the notice of Al Weill, manager of three former world champions. When Al was appointed matchmaker for Madison Square Garden he turned Marciano over to his stepson Marty Weill and with Goldman training him, Rocky began to move.

In December, 1949, he made his debut in the Garden, scoring two smashing kayos. Carmine Vingo was belted out in the sixth round of a savage brawl, and was rushed to hospital with a brain concussion and suffering from partial paralysis. After hovering at death’s door, Vingo recovered and boxing breathed again.

Last year, Rocky was given his toughest fight yet when Roland La Staza took him to a split decision, a knockdown clinching the verdict for Marciano. This year, the Brockton Bombshell hit pay dirt with the knockout of Rex Layne.

The young Mormon from Utah had beaten Jersey Joe Walcott and Cesar Brion among other stars, but he couldn’t do a thing against Rocky. Twelve thousand fans were in the Garden to see Marciano blast his way to his 31st kayo in 36 starts. Layne took the count in the sixth round.

The way was clear for the big match of the year, Joe Louis v Marciano. Although he was underdog in the betting, Rocky stormed into the old “Brown Bomber” [below] as if he owned him and after flooring Joe in the eighth heat turned loose a vicious onslaught which blasted Louis right out of the Garden ring leaving Rocky the winner. A new star had arrived – with a bang!




Originally printed in Boxing News on November 14, 1951

August 31, 2018
August 31, 2018
Rocky Marciano

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IN September 1952 I was sitting in a Wardour Street pre-view cinema watching Rocky Marciano battering his way to the heavyweight championship of the world in a Philadelphia ring.

The film was three-dimensional, which showed every detail in great clarity of the massacre that started after Jersey Joe Walcott had dropped his challenger for a count in round one and went on until the veteran was put down for the full count in round 13.

Don Cockell was sitting beside me and when the lights went up I asked him what he thought. At that time there wasn’t a thought in his mind that he might one day meet Marciano, but he confirmed the thoughts in my mind when he said:
“Blimey, he gets away with murder.”

Persistent Aggression

Undoubtedly Rocky was one of the roughest, if not the toughest, heavyweight champion of all time. When he surged into action and closed up on an opponent, everything went in and a referee found it difficult to follow the rapid flow of punches that Marciano tossed from both fists and from all angles.

Not a precise hitter, Rocky beat his rivals down by sheer clubbing and persistent aggression. Of his 49 professional bouts only six went the scheduled course, full testimony to his relentless belligerency and the bludgeoning power behind his whirling fists.

He defended his title six times, but only one challenger, Ezzard Charles, stayed the full fifteen rounds and Rocky blasted him out in eight when they had a return fight three months later. His return title bout with Jersey Joe Walcott lasted only 2 min. 25 secs., including the count.

Yet despite being a terror in the ring, Rocky was the mildest man in the world in everyday life. When he visited London last year, he made friends wherever he went, being softly spoken, reserved, almost shy, yet carrying a sense of humour. At the National Sporting Club one Monday evening he received a standing ovation and when being called upon to make a speech, excused his lack of words and offered to give an exhibition with any member who cared to climb into the ring.

Real name Rocco Francis Marchegiano, he was born in Brockton in Massachusetts on September 1, 1923. Apart from bare-fist street scrapping and later as a member of a boys’ club, he did not consider the ring as a means of livelihood until he came to England with the American forces during the war.

Stationed in Cardiff, he got into an argument with an Australian soldier, considerably taller and heavier than him himself, who pushed a big fist into Rocky’s face and sent him staggering. Back came Marciano with such a torrent of blows that his opponent caved in and Rocky had started his fistic career.

His friends, marvelling at the way he had obliterated his opponent, insisted that he entered the Army championships and in due course he went through all the service opposition without defeat.

Back home in Brockton, a local admirer, Gene Caggiano, launched him on a professional career and after scoring 22 wins, nine in the first round, the majority at providence on Rhode Island, wanted desperately to get into the big time and wrote a letter to Al Weill, matchmaker at Madison Square Garden.

Weill was suspicious of anyone he hadn’t seen. He sent rocky a one-way ticket, looked him over, thought he was too small and too gentle, but sent him to Lou Stillman’s gym for a work-out.

He wasn’t impressed, Marciano took too much punishment. But his retaliation was swift and destructive and Weill put him in the hands of a veteran trainer, Charley Goodman, who did his utmost to round off Rocky’s rough edges and transform him into an accomplished fighter.

Goodman never wholly succeeded, but Rocky was both eager and ambitious and went on his winning way until he had moved in among the leading contenders.

Most were inside-the-distance wins, although Roland La Starza took him to a disputed ten rounds decision. In his 39th fight they put him in with Joe Louis, who was making a comeback, and he stopped the old Brown Bomber in eight rounds.

He was now defiantly on the road to a title fight and Weill retired from his matchmaking job and became Rocky’s full-time manager.

One by one the main contenders began to fall before his flying fists. Lee Savold, who had slaughtered Bruce Woodcock, lasted six rounds; Harry Matthews, upstanding box-fighter schooled by Jack Hurley, went out in two.

Final Eliminator

This had been regarded as a final eliminator and on September 23, 1952 Rocky Achieved his heart’s desire and became world champion. Eight months later there was the return one-round fight, then La Starza, who secured a title shot on the strength of his close bout with Marciano, was beaten into a hospital case in eleven rounds.

There was two title defences against Ezzard Charles, former heavyweight champ, in 1954, the first going the full distance [below] and the second ending in round eight. In this fight Rocky received a badly cut nose that took a long time to heal, but in May 1955 he was ready to face Don Cockell in San Francisco.



It was 2 ½ years since our champion had seen Rocky on Celluloid and he was to find that Marciano could still “get away with murder.” It says much for the stocky, plucky Don that he stood up to the best the champion could dish out for nine rounds before the referee called a halt.

There was only one more title defence to come, with Ancient Archie Moore, striving desperately to win after flooring the champion but taking the full count in round 9.

That cleared away all opposition and on April 27, 1956, Rocky astounded the fistic world by announcing his retirement. What’s more, he meant it.

There were many occasions since when his return to the ring was prophesied, but Marciano stuck to guns and despite being offered astronomical purses to meet those who succeeded him, he would not be tempted.

Retired Undefeated

In this he set up a record in being the only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated, not only as champion, but in the whole of his professional career. 49 bouts, 49 wins – a truly great performance.

Gene Tunney retired while still world heavyweight champion, but there was one points decision he lost to Harry Greb earlier in his career. Joe Louis and Jim Jeffries, both retired undefeated as titleholders but each made fatal comebacks. Only Rocky has an unblemished record.

His death, on the eve of his 46th birthday, comes as a great shock to everyone in the Fight Game who knew this pleasant, genial and accomplished man. Since retirement he has been engaged in big business, yet always found time to appear at charity shows and give his services in aid of youth clubs and the like.

It is the boxing tragedy of nearly a quarter of a century.

Rocky Marciano



Most Popular World Champ Since Dempsey by LARRY FRUHLING

ROCKY MARCIANO, former world heavyweight champion who retired from the ring undefeated, died instantly on Sunday night in a light plane crash in Central Iowa.

Marciano, who would have been 46 the following day, and two other men were killed when their single-engine Cessna 172 lost power, struck a tree and crashed into a pasture.

The other victims were identified as Frank Garrell, 28, and Glen Beltz, 37, both of Des Moines, Iowa. Beltz was the pilot.

Jasper county sheriff Darrell Hurley said Garrell and Beltz had flown to Chicago to pick up Marciano for a speaking engagement in Des Moines.

Marciano’s body was trapped in the wreckage of the plane. The bodies of the other two were thrown clear.
“The only thing we can find out so far was that the engine went out and they went down,” said Hurley. The Federal Aviation Administration started an inquiry.

The crash occurred about 1 ½ miles (2.4 kms) from the new Municipal airport in this community 25 miles (40 kms) east of Des Moines.

Part of the wreckage ended up about 200 feet (61 Meters) from a small farm pond. One wing was ripped loose and came to rest 200 feet from the wreckage fuselage. The engine was 20 feet (six Meters) from the main wreckage.
Marciano was a native of Brockton, Massachusetts, A Boston suburb.

One of the most popular boxers since Jack Dempsey ruled as heavyweight king, Marciano compiled a perfect record of 49 victories – 43 of them inside the distance – before retiring as undefeated heavyweight champ on April 27, 1956.

CASSIUS CLAY, deposed heavyweight champion, expressed admiration for rocky “as a nice, humble gentleman.”
“I got to know him while we were filming a computer fight not long ago,” Clay said. “He was so great and so popular, and yet he never showed conceit. He was always so down to earth.”

It’s a tragedy. He was a proper gentleman. Boxing can ill afford to lose men like him – HENRY COOPER, European and empire heavyweight champion.

Rocky’s death was the saddest news I’ve ever heard. Rocky just had a good heart. He put everything he had into his boxing. – JOE LOUIS, Former world heavyweight champion.  

August 30, 2018
August 30, 2018
Joe Louis

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THE ‘Tonypandy Terror’ Tommy Farr, who wasn’t supposed to stand a chance, took everything but the decision from world heavyweight champion Joe Louis that upset expectations by going the full distance of 15 rounds at the Yankee Stadium on August 30, 1937.

Louis had no real problem piling up the points that gave him the unanimous decision of referee Arthur Donovan (13-2 for Louis) and judges Charley Lynch (eight for Louis, four for Farr and three even) and New York’s Billy ‘Kid’ McPartland (a former lightweight who fought Joe Gans and went on to become a well-known referee, he scored it 10-5 in Louis’ favour).

The ‘Brown Bomber’s first defence of the crown he won from the ‘Cinderella Man’ James J Braddock just two months previously found him up against much tougher opposition than anticipated.

24-year-old Farr earned his spot as a world title challenger as he followed up winning the British and Empire heavyweight title from Ben Foord, with victories over German Walter Neusel (via stoppage) and former world champion Max Baer.

The scalps of Neusel and Foord in particular greatly enhanced his reputation, as both opponents had previously seen off British opposition in Farr’s adversary, Jack Petersen.

About 10 million Britons stayed up in the middle of the night to tune in to the radio broadcast of the fight.

Why the Brown Bomber is the greatest

The former child miner not only stunned the experts, who had expected him to be vanquished in quick time (Louis was a 5-1 betting favourite), but thrilled a comparitvely small crowd of nearly 37,000 with the determined fashion in which he carried the fight to the explosive champion.

In the final stages of the fight long, jagged cuts opened under Farr’s eyes. “I couldn’t see him,” said Farr afterwards nursing a broken and swollen finger of his right hand.

“My face looked like a dug-up road after he’d finished with it. I’ve only got to think about Joe Louis and my nose starts bleeding,” he said at the time.

He became only the second man to take Louis to the 15-round distance.


Several legendary former champions at ringside were unimpressed with the fight: Jack Dempsey: “Fifteen years ago, against that sort of fighters, I would have sent Jack Kearns (Dempsey’s manager) out to do the fighting, and I would have stayed in the corner.” Jack Johnson was equally dismissive: “Give me three pork chops and a breath of fresh air, and I’ll challenge ‘em both!”

Louis victim Braddock offered: “I’d like another whack at the championship. If he had fought the same aginst that he did against Farr, Louis may never have taken the title. I may be bad, but not that bad.”

For those interested A Welshman in The Bronx: Tommy Farr vs Joe Louis by Graeme Kent looks at the six week period leading up to the fight.

August 30, 2018
August 30, 2018
Angelo Dundee

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Florida, USA 1964. World heavyweight title

“It was the first Henry Cooper fight that convinced me Muhammad was ready for Sonny Liston because Cooper could punch. Nobody gets up from the shot that put Muhammad down. After that I knew he was mature enough.

“They thought we were both crazy for taking that fight – so much so that they tried to stop the fight with all the hysteria at the weigh in and pull my guy out. That was strictly pre-empted. He practiced it twice beforehand to make it convincing. He convinced the doctor and he convinced everybody.”

Manchester, England 1964. World light-heavyweight title

“A great fight and a great night in Manchester. Willie came back to the corner after the tenth round and he was shaking his head, I screamed at him, “What are you doing you son of a bitch? Why are you screwing around out there?” I called him every name in the book and Reg Gutteridge was at ringside holding his ears! I got Willie so mad he stopped Terry in the next round. Terry never forgave me for that!”

Accra, Ghana 1965. World featherweight title

“That was some night. It was a tough fight for my guy (Ramos) but he won the fight easily. He won the first 10 rounds and then he got tired. They tried to steal it from him though. It was scary out there in Ghana. I got to the hotel after the fight and called the airport – I asked when the first plane out of there was. They said, “Where do you want to go?” I said, “Anywhere!” I ended up in the Canary Islands at 4am. The judges – guys from Mexico and Miami Beach – stayed in Ghana all night. They’re the bravest guys I ever met!”

Las Vegas, USA 1994. WBA, IBF heavyweight titles

“George talked to me about the time I was in Muhammad Ali’s corner when we beat him. Apparently George was about to throw a right hand at Ali and he heard me scream “Don’t play with that sucker!” He said if anybody can affect anyone with that voice I want them in my corner! So I worked with him on the comeback. He used to stand up between rounds because he didn’t want the TV microphones picking up on what we were saying to each other. We knew we were going to beat Moorer and we did.”

Las Vegas, USA 1987. World middleweight title

“Nobody gave us a shot against Hagler. Ray had fought a great fight and surprised everybody. The referee came over to tell us it was the last round so I leapt up and shouted, “That’s right! It’s the last round! New Champ!” Ray had his arms in the air and we knew then. The referee helped me that night. As a trainer, you have to take advantage of these little things and I did as much as I could throughout my career to do things like that.”

August 29, 2018
August 29, 2018
James Toney

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1. OPINION was divided, among the judges and observers, about who won the first encounter between ring wizards Mike McCallum and James Toney on December 13 1991. The officials scored a draw, while plenty watching from ringside and on television made convincing cases for both McCallum and Toney.

2. THAT middleweight showdown was originally intended to be a unification fight with McCallum’s WBA belt and Toney’s IBF strap on the line. But only Toney’s trophy was up for grabs when the Jamaican veteran refused to pay WBA mandatory contender Steve Collins a $50,000 step aside fee.

3. THE important rematch was set for August 29 at the Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada. Despite the importance of the fight, and the quality on offer, the bout was far from a sell-out.

4. McCALLUM dropped his professional demeanour at the pre-fight press conference to highlight the bad blood between the pair. “I’m going to kick your ass just like I did the last time,” he said.

5. THIS would be Toney’s final appearance in the middleweight division, and his gold knee-length shorts hung from a sleek and muscular physique. He would later say he was in the best shape of his career, and his subsequent ascent through the weight classes suggests it was the last time he was in peak physical condition.

6. BOTH men were born to fight and, like in their first fight, exhibited astonishing boxing skill. Few fighters have since made the hardest game look so easy.

7. TONEY kept his chin tucked, his left hand low, and exploded with counter hooks when the slower and older McCallum got close. But the 35-year-old, bidding to become boxing’s oldest active champion, refused to be dominated and repeatedly threw savage shots to his rival’s midsection.

8. AFTER 10 gruelling, close rounds, McCallum’s 81-year-old trainer, Eddie Futch, told him: “It’s very close, Mike. You’ve got to get this one and the next.”

9. BUT McCallum was tired. He sucked back air and willed himself to unleash a fight-winning effort. The rivals exchanged educated bombs, Toney switching from body to head, while McCallum scored with a triple jab. At the end of the penultimate session, both men cuffed each other in a show of mutual respect.

10. AT the end of 12, the right man won, but the scores were a little puzzling. A score of 114-114 was overruled by scores of 117-110 and 118-110 for James Toney. “It’s one thing to lose but not by that far,” said McCallum afterwards. “But 118-110? That’s ridiculous. This was a tough fight but I feel I won.”