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October 2, 2014
October 2, 2014
Young-Stribling

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WILLIAM LAWRENCE “YOUNG” STRIBLING JNR had a tragically short life – died aged 28 in a motorcycle accident in his native Georgia – but he contested more fights than any heavyweight in history (289).

Stribling was on his way to hospital to visit his convalescing wife and new born baby when he was struck by a car travelling in the opposite direction.

The car hit Stribling on his motorcycle and the damage to his left leg was so bad that his foot had to be amputated in Macon Hospital a half hour after the accident.

The brave “King of the Canebrakes” sadly succumbed to his injuries after clinging to life for two days.

Twenty-five thousand mourners walked past his coffin in the town’s auditorium and another 10,000 attended the service at Riverside Cemetery.

He was still going strong at the time of the accident, beating Maxie Rosenbloom a month previously in Texas. He amassed an amazing 128 knockouts in his career – a feat bettered only by “Ageless” Archie Moore.

Young-Stribling-Ma-Pa

Managed, promoted and trained by his parents “Ma” and “Pa” Stribling (pictured above), he came up short in his biggest battles – notably to Max Schmeling in his heavyweight title tilt.

September 30, 2014
September 30, 2014
HamedRobinson

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A 21-year-old “Prince” Naseem Hamed taunted, toyed with and took apart a stoic Steve Robinson with aplomb, in front of vociferous Welsh crowd, at Cardiff Arms Park on September 30, 1995.

In every generation there are fighters that zig while the world zags. Rare talents that transcend the sport, capturing fame and fortune doing things that haven’t been done. Naseem Hamed, although yet to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, was of this breed. A leopard-skinned scourge on the featherweight division, with bags of self belief and freakish one-punch power.

In September 1995, the Yorkshireman, who had been swatting bantamweights for fun, was manoeuvred into a mandatory position for the WBO featherweight crown. Welsh world champion, Steve Robinson, would be Hamed’s first fight at feather.

Robinson was a solid fighter, and with seven successive defences to his credit, no paper champion. Pockets of the media made a case for Robinson, heralding his size, power and durability as the answer to challenger’s fluidity.

On paper the odds were stacked against the self-styled prince; fighting a respected champion in his backyard, stepping up in weight and challenging for a world title for the first time. The bookies however, had Hamed a firm favourite to do a number on the “Cinderella Man”.

Hamed exuded self-confidence which would often boil over into distasteful goading of opponents.   In the build-up to his maiden championship showdown, the Sheffield man commissioned a van to curb crawl the streets of Cardiff to deliver a message to the champion.

“I’m the prince. I’m going to be king. Make sure you are there for the coronation. Steve Robinson come out and fight me,” blared a recorded message.

On a wet and windy September night at Cardiff rugby club, the talking was done. Hamed entered Robinson’s 16,000 man stronghold with swagger. Responding to the partisan crowd with extraordinary extravagance and bravado, Hamed delivered his first statement performance.

Robinson, drudging forward with a high guard, attempting to patiently get into range to build pressure on the cocky challenger, was out-fought and out-muscled from the opener. Hamed danced between stances, exhibiting outrageous reflexes, and dispirited Robinson with shots he didn’t see coming. Most attacks coming the over way whistled past the acrobatic challenger into the night air.

In round five, Hamed, who spent much of the first half with a smile on his face, suddenly dropped the histrionics and unloaded a purposeful assault, connecting with three big hooks and an uppercut sending the tired looking champion to the canvas. Robinson did well to get up and hear the bell.

Hamed, looking like he’d barely broken sweat during his spell bounding performance, came out in the eighth and landed a pinpoint left hook, taking the champion’s legs away. The referee had seen enough of the one-way punishment and waved off the contest.

“Prince” Naseem Hamed would retire with a solitary defeat on his record – a points loss to Marco Antonio Barerra. If Hamed had remained as focused as he was in Cardiff, at that stage in his career, he would already be a Hall of Famer.

September 26, 2014
September 26, 2014
Buchanan-Laguna

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  1. THE build-up to the fight – set for September 26 1970 – was marred with political controversy as Laguna was stripped of his WBC lightweight title for failing to defend against their number one contender Mando Ramos. As WBC members, the BBBofC also refused to sanction the fight as a world title bout. Instead, Buchanan fought for the WBA and NYSAC commission titles, neither of which was held in the same distinguished stock as the WBC. It meant that following the win, Buchanan was still not recognised as a world champion in his own controlling body.
  2. LAGUNA was guaranteed to make £25,000 for the fight, whilst the travelling challenger made considerably less at £5,200.
  3. LAGUNA was the 5-2 betting favourite, a preview in Boxing News predicted him to outclass Buchanan with his accuracy, quickness and ability to avoid taking damage.
  4. THE fight took place outdoors at San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn stadium, in Puerto Rico, in sweltering heat that was expected to be a large problem for the Scot. Facing temperatures close to 100 degrees, his corner man and father Thomas Buchanan held a parasol over him to keep him in the shade, whilst also squirting sunscreen down his back.
  5. IN fact, Laguna seemed to be the one to tire more noticeably in the final stages. After increasing the tempo and taking the middle rounds behind a persistent jab – opening two cuts over Buchanan’s eyes- it was the challenger who went on to take over in the championship rounds.
  6. AFTER being hurt in the twelfth as the two traded heavy blows on the ropes, Buchanan took control. Speaking after the fight Buchanan said, “I hit him hard enough several times to put him away, but I just couldn’t finish the job…It was my left jab with the right hand coming over that won it for me. Those sneak right leads I hit him with helped.”
  7. THE small 3,346 crowd were initially behind their Latino fighter, but by the end they were cheering every punch from Buchanan in his bid to grab the upset.
  8. IN the end Buchanan walked away with the split decision. Judges Jose Soto and Pito Lopes scored the bout in his favour at 144-142 and 145-144 respectively, whilst referee Waldermar Schmidt gave Laguna a 145-144 lead. No scorecard could be heavily disputed in what was widely recognised as a close, competitive fight.
  9. EXPECTING a hero’s return as the first British fighter to bring a world title back from abroad since Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis in 1915, Buchanan – more renowned in New York than back home – was met only by his family, with no reporters or jubilant crowd in sight.
  10. THE rematch was scheduled almost exactly a year later. Buchanan again won points, this time by way of unanimous decision, in another entertaining 15-round match up. The loss would be Laguna’s last act in a boxing ring; Buchanan had more big fights to come, continuing to fight for British, European and world titles.

September 25, 2014
September 25, 2014
ForemaninLondon

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TWENTY FOUR years ago today, a very special heavyweight was a performing guest of honour in London.

“I hope the fight goes maybe thirty seconds!”

The above line was quoted, only half-jokingly, by the legendary “Big” George Foreman, who was over in the UK to fight largely unknown Terry Anderson. What made the fight notable, was the fact that it would be the former heavyweight king’s first (and as it turned out, only) professional fight in England.

Well into his improbable comeback – Foreman would challenge heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield in his very next fight after Anderson – the 41-year-old did a fair amount of promoting and hyping the Anderson fight, the 24th fight since his astonishing return. The “30 seconds” line was fired at well-known TV and radio broadcaster Terry Wogan, with Foreman a guest on the mid-week TV show. And, as things turned out, the promotional work Foreman did for the September 25, 1990 fight proved far more entertaining than the bout itself. It also turned out that Foreman’s prediction wasn’t all that far off the mark.

Facing the 30-year-old, 19-3(17), Anderson at The New London Arena, Millwall in the nation’s capitol, Foreman – who was accompanied and co-trained by the equally legendary Archie Moore –  was fully expected to win, even though he was going in with, as Boxing News magazine mentioned, a possibly dangerous hitter. Yes, Anderson had lost his previous fight, to one-time Foreman victim Bobby Crabtree (KO by 5), but the man from Tampa, Florida could bang some. Was George taking a risky fight?

Not at all as things transpired. Coming in at his usual 260-or so pounds, Foreman, welcomed by an enthusiastic sell-out crowd, lumbered into action and, almost as soon as he let loose with a bomb, he got the job done. A swift right hand cracked Anderson on the chin, chopping him down. With just a second left in the very first round, Foreman added another KO victory to his now 70-fight pro career (just 2 losses). Watching the fight live, it looked as though Foreman’s right may have barely grazed Anderson, and some booing broke out.

“They’re booing, but you can’t mess about with a puncher,” said commentator Frank Bruno. For his part, when being interviewed post-fight, Foreman claimed he could still feel the pain in his hand, from where he had cracked Anderson. “The hardest right hand I’ve ever thrown,” George said, somewhat unconvincingly. Anderson was not asked for his take on the disappointing fight.

George hadn’t exactly lit up London with his all too easy win, but he had taken care of business yet again, and he was happy to have done it in Britain.

“You cannot be a heavyweight champion, or a former heavyweight champion, not having fought in London,” he said. “The Marques of Queensbury rules and all of that.”

Foreman’s portfolio was now indeed close to complete. All he would need for that was a title-regaining victory. As his millions of fans know, George didn’t beat Holyfield the following April, but he did finally regain the crown in late 1994, by sensationally knocking out Holyfield’s successor, Michael Moorer.

September 23, 2014
September 23, 2014
Muhammad Ali vs Sonny Liston

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ONCE a feared, seemingly invincible heavyweight terror, the ageing yet still heavy-handed Charles “Sonny” Liston was in action on this day, September 23, in 1969.

At the time of his third round knockout of one Sonny Moore, the former heavyweight king was thought to be aged around 39 (his exact date of birth remains uncertain to this day, although at the time he was thought to be two years younger) and “Old Stone Face” was climbing back up the heavyweight rankings in search of one last title shot.

As things turned out, this would be Liston’s final clean knockout victory and the last in 14-fight winning streak that stretched back to 1967. After despatching the 20-30-2 Moore – who Sonny had previously stopped by a third-round TKO the previous October – Liston would meet contender Leotis Martin for the newly created NABF title. That December, after running out of gas in a fight he was winning, old man Liston was brutally knocked out himself, with a hard right hand to the head leaving him face down on the mat in round nine.

Following that disaster, Liston, 49-4(38), would win one more bout – forcing the cut prone “Bayonne Bleeder” himself, Chuck Wepner to stay on his stool after nine bloody rounds in June of 1970. But his glory days were now a very distant memory. Approximately six months after the Wepner win, Liston’s decomposing body was found in his Vegas apartment. To this day, stories of murder, of a drugs overdose and of possible suicide abound, with no-one apparently knowing for sure how Liston died.

It was a sad end indeed for a man who once ruled the entire world.

September 22, 2014
September 22, 2014
ChrisEubank1990

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ON this day in 1990, for a then 23-0 Chris Eubank, it was a case of first minute, first round, first punch. Going in with 28-year-old Brazilian Reginaldo Dos Santos, a hungry, world title-chasing Eubank scored a devastating highlight reel KO in just 20 seconds.

Dos Santos, who had a decent if not great record of 11-3, had been stopped in his previous fight – in the eighth round by Craig Trotter in Australia – but this was the only time he had been halted as a pro; his other two losses coming via decision. Eubank, who had fellow Brit Nigel Benn firmly in his sights, might have been expecting a few rounds of work at The Royal Albert Hall. Instead, before the TV camera could fully zoom into the centre of the ring, Eubank uncorked a clubbing overhand right that landed flush, sending Dos Santos crashing to the canvas. Managing to reach a sitting position, Dos Santos, his eyes still closed and his arms blindly reaching out, had suffered the ultimate ignominy.

Eubank adopted his by now familiar cross armed pose as he stared emotionless into the camera as he stood in a corner. The WBC Inter-Continental strap had been on the line, but the talking point of this short affair was the super fast KO. Poor Dos Santos literally never knew what hit him.

In his very next fight, 24-year-old Eubank would challenge “The Dark Destroyer” for the WBO middleweight crown, with the betting underdog relieving his bitter rival of the title via an exciting ninth round TKO in a brutal fight. Eubank had well and truly arrived; both on the world stage and, in the U.K, as a crossover star. Fully embracing his status as a ‘love to hate’ figure, the controversial and eccentric Eubank would thrill, exasperate, anger and entertain the British public for a number of years to come.

As for the unfortunate Dos Santos, he would box on for a further twelve bouts, losing his next two outings by 1st-round KO and being beaten in eight of his final dozen fights. Dos Santos did go out a winner though, winning his final four. Sadly, the Brazilian died at the young age of just 34 in 1997.

September 1, 2014
September 1, 2014
Foreman-Roman

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1. GEORGE FOREMAN, fresh off an astonishing and brutal victory over Joe Frazier, made the first defence of his world heavyweight title against unfancied Puerto Rican Jose Roman on September 1, 1973. The bout was set for Nihon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan.

2. THE underdog annoyed Foreman in the build-up, belittling and insulting the champion, while promising to score the upset. The week before the fight he told reporters he would be too quick for the powerful champion, and some observers predicted that Roman’s courage could see him frustrate Foreman and last to the late stages.

3. TEN bells were rung before the fight in memory of Joe Frazier’s manager, Yancey Durham, who had passed away earlier in the week.

4. FOREMAN was led to the ring by a Dixieland band, and two Playboy bunnies presented the fighters with bouquets of flowers. Roman sang along gleefully to his country’s national anthem – a contrast to the cold stare adopted by the favourite.

5. SOME 8,000 fans packed into the Hall to see if Roman’s promises could be fulfilled. But his challenge was a disaster. Lacking the spite of his predictions, the challenger started tentatively and his jabs fell short of the target. Foreman’s desire to punish Roman was evident from the opening bell as he came out blazing.

6. FOREMAN did not stop throwing punches, many were wild and inaccurate but enough landed to bully Roman to the ropes and he collapsed on his backside under the force. Then came the controversy. With Roman on the canvas, Foreman unleashed a right hand that collided with his rival’s face. Roman’s manager Bill Daly and trainer Al Braverman – cotton buds behind his ears and a ragged combover dangling on his head – jumped on to the ring apron to remonstrate with referee Jay Edson.

7. EDSON did not count the incident as a knockdown but did not punish Foreman either. “Foreman hit him as he was going down,” the referee would explain. “By not counting and allowing Roman to get up, in my opinion that was punishment enough for Foreman. It took the play away from him. You cannot stop the momentum of a punch in the middle of a flurry unless you’re a magician. But I gave Roman eight to 10 seconds to recover.”

8. IT was not enough time for the outclassed challenger. Foreman stalked menacingly, and a looping uppercut landed flush that sent Roman down, legally this time. He got to his feet but was dazed and confused when he rose, allowing Foreman to plot the finishing blast. It came via a brutal right to the body. Roman, a crumpled mess, was counted out.

9. ALTHOUGH Roman was not expected to win, his efforts were a disappointment to the fans, some of whom paid £71 for ringside seats. Foreman – paid handsomely with a $1million cheque – was booed by fans as he left the ring. Roman called his conqueror the “dirtiest fighter in the world.” He added: “He should never hit a fellow while he is down. He pushed me down and began to hit me while I complaining to the referee.”

10. FOREMAN’S victory cleared the way for potential bouts with Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton, or a rematch with Frazier. “None of them need to start screaming,” Foreman’s manager Dick Sadler said about the queue of suitors. “We’ll get to all of them in good time.”