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August 11, 2014
August 11, 2014

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ON this day in 1954 Archie Moore fought Harold Johnson for the fifth time, at Madison Square Garden, New York. The fight was for Moore’s world light-heavyweight title. Archie Moore had won three of the previous four meetings between the pair. All the previous fights had gone the 10-round distance.

  1. FOR the fifth fight there was a rematch clause in the contract. If Johnson won, he would have had to give Moore a rematch within 90 days with a 30-30 purse split. Prior to the fight Moore had been a 2-1 betting favourite, but the odds narrowed to 8-5 by the day of the fight.
  1. TICKET prices for the fight started at $2, and were also sold at $4, $6, $8 and $10. A crowd of 8,327 produced a gross gate of $34,024. With the cost for the TV-radio fee set at $50000.
  1. AT the time of the fight the eight-count knockdown rule was waived during a championship fight, but referee Ruby Goldstein forgot this issuing a count to six before the bell rang when Johnson had dropped Moore in the 10th round, even though Moore had arose at three.
  1. THEN again in the 14th round when Moore dropped Johnson, Johnson arose at six but Goldstein continued his count to eight. “You know how it is,” he said afterwards.” You handle so many fights with the eight-count that you forget.”
  1. MOORE was behind on the two of the three official score cards going into the 14th but the 175-pound champion said he had no doubts about the outcome.
  1. AFTER Johnson rose from the knockdown, Moore swarmed over the swaying challenger until Referee Ruby Goldstein stepped in and stopped the bout. Handing Moore a 14th round technical knockout victory.
  1. MOORE went on to fight and lose to Rocky Marciano and Floyd Patterson for the for the world heavyweight title. Before finally retiring in 1963, after a final knockout win over Mike DiBiase, his 131st knockout victory of his career, which is still a record to this day for most knockout wins.
  1. IN 1990, Archie Moore became a member of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame in Canastota. Finishing his career with an astonishing 185 wins, 23 losses, 11 draws and 1 no contest, with 131 official knockouts. Archie Moore died of heart failure in 1998, four days before his 82nd birthday.
  1. JOHNSON would continue to fight on for another 17 years after winning the world light-heavyweight Title in February 1961 with a ninth round technical knockout win over Jesse Bowdry, in Miami Beach, Florida.
  2. HAROLD JOHNSON ended his career with an impressive 76 wins from 88 fights, with only 11 defeats and 1 no contest. Johnson was also inducted into the International hall of fame in 1993.

August 10, 2014
August 10, 2014

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ON this day in 1963 Dick Tiger defended his world middleweight title against American Gene Fullmer, their third meeting, at the Liberty Stadium, in Ibadan Nigeria, Tiger’s home nation.

  1. HEADING into this fight Fullmer had gained notoriety from his four fights with the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all-time, Sugar Ray Robinson. Fullmer boasted a 2-1-1 record over Robinson winning the first and last meetings between the pair.
  1. TEN months before their third fight, in Candlestick Park, California, Fullmer would defend his world titles against Tiger for the first time. Tiger, who lost the first four fights of his career, all against English opposition, entered the fight with a record of 45-14-2.
  1. IN front of a crowd of 11,600 Tiger beat Fullmer via unanimous decision to capture the world middleweight titles and handed Fullmer only his fifth career defeat.
  1. FOUR months later the rematch took place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and after 15 hard fought blood-drenched rounds Tiger retained his championship when the fight ended in a draw.
  1. A THIRD and final fight was set in Nigeria, on August 10 1963. A crowd of over 35,000 produced a gate of $250,000. Tiger was guaranteed $100,000 and Fullmer $60,000.The rubber match ended after Gene Fullmer retired in his corner in round seven.
  1. THIS would be Fullmer’s final fight; he would end with a career record of 55-6-3. After hanging up his gloves Fullmer appeared in a cameo role in the 1968 film The Devil’s Brigade as a Montana bartender.
  1. TIGER would go on to fight and beat Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Tiger floored Rubin three timess en-route to a unanimous decision, and would retire with a record of 60-19-3 cementing his legacy as one of the greatest fighters to come out of Africa.
  1. TIGER was banned from returning to Nigeria because of his involvement in the Biafran movement, which lead to the Nigerian civil war.
  1. TIGER was appointed CBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, but he returned his insignia as a protest for what he perceived as a lack of support by Great Britain to the Biafran cause.
  2. AFTER retiring Tiger took a job as a security guard at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. While working he felt strong pains in his back. He got tested by doctors and was diagnosed with liver cancer, an illness which would end his life at only 42 years of age on December 14 1971.

August 7, 2014
August 7, 2014

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THIS was the second meeting between Roy Jones Jnr and Montell Griffin. The first took place five months previously on the March 21 1997, at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Going into the first fight Jones had captured the WBC light-heavyweight championship after defeating Mike McCallum. This made Jones a three-division world champion after previously winning titles in the middleweight and super middleweight divisions.

THE first defence of his title would be against Griffin, who just like Jones was undefeated. Griffin entered the first fight off the back of his second victory over James Toney, for the lightly-regarded WBU title.

HEADING into the 9th round of their first bout, Jones was slightly ahead on the scorecards. He caught Griffin with a right hand that staggered the challenger into the ropes. Jones then unloaded with a flurry of punches forcing Griffin to take a knee. Jones then landed a right–left combination knocking Griffin face first into the canvas.

REFEREE Tony Perez then proceeded to count Griffin out. The fight was stopped at the 2:27 mark. Jones, thinking he had won, started to celebrate with his corner. However, Perez then announced he was disqualifying Jones for the illegal shots. It handed Griffin the victory, and Jones his first career defeat.

AFTER the first fight Griffin had expressed a desire to fight against Virgil Hill, who was then the IBF and WBA champion. However, a rematch was made set for August 7, 1997. Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut would be the venue for the rematch, billed as “Unfinished Business”.

GRIFFIN stated that “I’m coming in angry, with a lot of rage.” This bad blood was due to the fact Roy had accused the champion of faking an injury to win the title from Jones. This was a statement that hit a nerve with Griffin. “The man contradicts himself; he makes himself look bad he has problems.”

THE fight however lasted only two minutes and 31 seconds. Jones came out swinging and sent Griffin stumbling into the ropes after just 20 seconds. Referee Arthur Mercante correctly ruled it a knockdown, with only the ropes keeping Griffin up.

AS the first round drew to an end, Griffin threw a jab and Jones answered in devastating fashion. Roy leaped from the floor with a left uppercut-cum-hook which shook Griffin to his foundations knocking him onto the seam of his trunks.

GRIFFIN tried to clamber back to his feet, but fell forward into the ropes as Arthur Mercante reached the count of nine, and waved the fight off.

JONES caught up in the heat of the moment, after avenging his first career defeat, announced that he wanted to save boxing by fighting Evander Holyfield.

August 2, 2014
August 2, 2014

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1. “HE wasn’t much,” remembered Thomas Hearns’ trainer Emanuel Steward about his young protege when asked in 1980 about the beginning of their relationship. “In fact, he was one of worst fighters. He lost three of his first four amateur fights. But he wanted to be a fighter. The other guys would mess around, skip training, but not Thomas. He was totally dedicated.”

2. SO Steward persevered with the lanky young man. Hearns started to get the hang of fighting. Steward realised Hearns fists were laced with dynamite and, after they turned professional, nurtured a destroyer. By August 2 1980, the young welterweight was ready to challenge WBA champion Pipino Cuevas.

3. “I NEVER saw a welterweight hit as hard as this kid,” said promoter Bob Arum after watching Hearns destroy Pedro Rojas. “One punch and Rojas was on queer street. Nobody is going to beat this kid. Nobody is going to stand up to him. He hits better than Ray Robinson did.”

4. STEWARD predicted that his charge would destroy the accomplished Cuevas: “Cuevas could be the toughest fight,” he speculated, “or a very easy fight. I think Cuevas could be kayoed in the first round, because Pipino is too easy to hit, and no one who can be hit that easy can stand up to Thomas Hearns.”

5. FORMER world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, preparing for an ill-fated comeback, also tipped Hearns to triumph. “It will be a great fight in every way, but Hearns will win by knockout or decision because my group is backing him. I don’t back a loser. Really, the only way a smaller man like Cuevas can win is if he holds a big advantage in punching power or hand speed. Although he has hand speed and punching power he doesn’t have an edge over Hearns.”

6. THE prophecies rang true. Hearns – who entered the bring to the ‘Rocky’ theme tune – was frightening as he battered Cuevas into defeat in just two rounds at the Riverside Joe Louis Arena in Detroit in front of 14,000 fans. The promoters hoped the 21,000-seater venue would be full, but there was high unemployment in Detroit following a slump in the car making industry.

7. BUT the noise from the crowd was thunderous, much like Hearns’ punching. Lefts and rights rained all over the 5ft 8ins Cuevas from the opening bell and he was distressed. Never before had he felt punches like that, delivered with accuracy and spite, from a 6ft 1in frame designed for destruction.

8. THE champion barely survived the opening round, and his admirable spirit in the second hastened his fall. He could not land anything without clattering headfirst into the accurate violence Hearns was launching in return. Cuevas staggered all over the ring under the pressure, drunkenly trying to remain upright, swaying untidily to the beat of the challenger’s punches.

9. A VICIOUS right hand ended matters. Cuevas collapsed and it was clear on impact the thrashing was complete. The dazed loser was helped to his stool by his team and he sat on his stool for several minutes while the fog slowly cleared. “Hearns is too tall and long to be a welterweight,” he said when his senses returned.

10. HEARNS would grow out of the division, not before losing a thriller to Sugar Ray Leonard, and win world titles all the way up to light-heavyweight, cementing his reputation as one of the greatest fighters of all-time along the way. And on this night against Cuevas, he proved he was one of the hardest hitters to ever grace the sport of boxing.

July 30, 2014
July 30, 2014

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UNDOUBTEDLY an exceptional fighter, Carlos Monzon reigned as world middleweight champion for seven years, defended his title 14 times, was never knocked out or stopped and only lost three points decisions – all in early part of his career. Monzon had none of the flamboyance of a Sugar Ray Robinson or a Sugar Ray Leonard but nevertheless was a formidable fighting machine. In the ring he was cool under fire, grim-faced and upright, cunning and seemingly one-paced. He overcame his opponents with hard, straight thudding punches, methodically and clinically taking them apart. Outside the ring he had a dark side. He was continuously in trouble with the law for various indiscretions, including punching a photographer, and his short life ended in violence and destruction.

Born in San Javier, Argentina in 1942, the family moved to nearby Santa Fe and settled in the city’s slums. From an early age he learnt the art of survival on the streets and ran wild. He sold newspapers, shined shoes and delivered milk. He regularly got into trouble. He started a riot at a football match and was also arrested for brawling on a bus. His mean and aggressive nature was already evident as a young man and, as with many before him, boxing came to his rescue. Monzon drifted into a gym by way of refuge from the harsh streets. He did well as an amateur winning 73 of his 87 fights and turned professional at the age of 20 because he realised it offered him the chance of a better life. He began building up his remarkable career while not venturing out of Argentina. In seven years campaigning he had over 80 fights winning the Argentinian and South American middleweight titles. He twice beat the capable Jorge Fernandez who had campaigned successfully in the United States, losing a world welterweight title shot against Emile Griffith in 1962. Monzon lost three points decisions, to the experienced Antonio Aguliar in his ninth fight, to Felipe Cambiero (Monzon was reportedly floored three times) and to Alberto Massi in October 1964. He beat all three in subsequent fights. Monzon also fought nine draws in his career. Among the men who held him was Philadelphia’s “Bad” Bennie Briscoe in 1967. Five years later Monzon outscored the hard punching American in a title defence.

Although barely known outside his native Argentina his two wins over Jorge Fernandez and American fighters like Doug Huntley, Charlie Austin and Tom “The Bomb” Bethea gave him a rating in the prestigious “Ring Magazine” and in 1970 he journeyed to Rome to challenge the Italian idol Nino Benvenuti for his world middleweight title. It was his first fight outside his native country and the unknown Monzon was expected to provide a showcase for Benvenuti’s sophisticated style. But the cool Argentinian was a revelation. He methodically wore Benvenuti down with his heavy, correct punches and knocked him out with a crushing right in the 12th round. The Italian demanded a rematch but was summarily dispatched in three rounds in the return in Monte Carlo. Monzon’s 14 successful defences of the title included two wins over five time world champion Emile Griffith. Monzon stopped Griffith in 14 rounds in September 1971 becoming one of only two men to stop Emile in a 112 fight career, the other being the murderous punching Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Then, two years later, Monzon easily beat the dogged Griffith again outscoring him in Monte Carlo. Monzon’s other victims included handsome Frenchman Jean-Claude Bouttier twice, Tom Bogs, Denny Moyer, Tony Mundine, Gratien Tonna, Tony Licata (his only fight in America) and welterweight great Jose Napoles. He finished his career with two close decisions over talented Colombian Rodrigo Valdez. Two months after beating Valdez in Monte Carlo, Monzon announced his retirement from the ring in August 1977. He said: “After the bout I looked in the mirror and said to myself Monzon was never floored. Monzon is a great champion. He must always be remembered as a great champion. So I quit.”

Once he had retired Monzon’s life began to unravel. He had always flouted the law and had frequently been arrested for assault. His first wife shot him and he carried a bullet in his back for the rest of his life. Several of his businesses failed. He tried training fighters, accompanying fellow Argentine Carlos Herrera to London when he lost to Maurice Hope for the WBC light-middleweight title at Wembley Arena in 1980. He began to drink heavily and he was jailed for a month in 1981 for possessing a gun. He had frequent violent rows with is partner Alicia Muniz which often involved the police. On St Valentine’s Day in 1988 another furious row broke out at a party and both Monzon and Alicia fell off the balcony of their apartment in Mar del Plata. Muniz died and Monzon was sentenced to 11 years in prison for her murder. After five years he was released on parole and on January 8th 1995 he and a friend were driving back to Las Flores prison when his car overturned. Both men were killed. Monzon was just 52.

MONZON totally believed in his own legacy. He said, “Sugar Ray Robinson may have been great, but I am greater. Robinson held the title several times, but that’s because he kept losing it. I’ll only hold it once because I’ll never lose. That’s great.”

MONZON’S renowned objectivity was illustrated on the morning of his fight with Roy Dale in Rome in 1973. Informed that his brother had been killed in a gunfight in Argentina the impassive Argentinian just nodded, stepped into the ring and knocked out Dale in five rounds. He then said, “Now we go to the funeral.”

MONZON had nine draws in his career. He avenged each draw in returns with the fighters who held him except for one. In June 1966 Ubaldo Bustos shared the verdict with him over ten rounds in Santa Cruz. Amazingly fellow Argentinian Bustos only had ten fights. He won his pro debut and then lost every other fight except for holding Monzon in his sixth bout. He was knocked out three times.

“MONZON was the complete fighter. He can box, he can hit, he can think and he is game – all the way,” said Angelo Dundee.

July 30, 2014
July 30, 2014

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TEN years ago today, in an arena where Muhammed Ali made his professional debut in Louisville, Kentucky, Britain’s Danny Williams shocked the boxing world, with a fourth-round knockout victory against boxing legend Mike Tyson.

Showing the kind of grit and determination the Brit exhibited against Mark Potter, when winning the British and Commonwealth title fight with only one arm, due to injury, Williams rode an early storm in the Tyson fight, to upset the odds.

Despite being written off, Williams appeared to be confident before the fight. ‘’I really believed that I could beat him. I trained so hard, I believed that he was taking me lightly. Really, I was so confident that I could beat him,” Williams said after the fight.

The confidence of Williams before the contest appeared different to many of Tyson’s previous opponents, who seemed to have lost the fight before it had even begun, due to the self-proclaimed baddest man on the planet’s fearsome reputation. But Williams wasn’t fazed by this: ‘’I was more nervous before my third fight with [Michael] Sprott than I was for Tyson. The reason being, for Sprott, because I’d already stopped him twice I was expected to win, but for Tyson, there was no expectancy at all. Most people thought I’d turn up and get wiped out in one or two rounds.”

Williams, being a 9-1 outsider, took Tyson’s dangerous punches and appeared on the verge of being stopped himself. Williams recalls the ferocious punching power delivered by Iron Mike: ‘’He was really sinking them in. He’s a really, really powerful guy. It’s amazing a guy of that size, that stature, throwing such powerful punches.’’

Williams’ victory over Tyson, a decade ago was even more unpredictable due to the Brixton heavyweight losing in a British title fight, three fights prior to the Tyson clash and, as we reported a decade ago, ‘’…it didn’t seem logical to think a fighter with a history of switching off mentally and who was bounced around by moderate hitter Sinan Samil Sam last year for the European title could overcome his nerves against…the master intimidator.’’

Despite his often frustrating performances on the domestic scene, Williams was eager to leave the British circuit and take on bigger international names. ‘’I’ve been boxing at British level for many years, fighting C class opponents. I’ve always wanted to fight the top Americans. And I had the opportunity against Mike Tyson. And I said I’m going to take it with both hands,’’ said Williams before the fight.

In taking the Tyson fight with both hands, and capitalising on Tyson being a shadow of his former self, showing grit and determination to force the stoppage, Williams managed to temporarily abandon the domestic scene, and was catapulted to world title level in his next fight, suffering an eighth round TKO defeat to then WBC heavyweight champion, Vitali Klitschko.

Despite failing to pick up one of the most prestigious titles in boxing, against Klitschsko, Williams still looks back on his eventful career with fond memories, seeing the Mark Potter and Mike Tyson fights as his proudest moments in the ring.

After the Tyson fight, Williams’ popularity increased, and rather than just go straight home after the fight, he appeared to enjoy the media attention and adulation, appearing on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights. Other TV and sponsorship offers were also said to be coming in.

The former British and Commonwealth champion, and former European and WBC title challenger, has gone on to become a Close Protection Officer, legally carrying a firearm for work purposes. In 2012, Williams retired from boxing, claiming that his new-found profession would keep him busy and take away the temptation to climb back into a ring again, but it wasn’t long before he was back. He has since suffered a string of defeats and a few victories, against mediocre opposition.

At 41, Danny Williams continues to box, unsuccessfully chasing the high that he experienced on that great night in 2004, when beating a ring legend, Mike Tyson, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Julian Jackson

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1. TERRY NORRIS was just 22 when he entered the ring in Atlantic City, situated at the Covention Center, to challenge human bulldozer Julian Jackson for the WBA light-middleweight title on Sunday July 30 1989. The champion was six years older, and came into combat with a record of 37-1 (35) littered with unconsciousness. Jackson, from the Virgin Islands, was desperate to for a ‘big’ fight and already had eyes on the 160lb division – interestingly, the WBC already ranked him as their No.2 middleweight.

2. JACKSON’S lone defeat had come in a two-round thriller three years previously against the excellent Mike McCallum. Ultimately, Jackson paid the price for making mistakes, throwing caution to the wind after hurting the experienced champion early, and being stopped himself. Many felt the chance had come too soon for Jackson, and some felt the same about Norris’ chances in this bout.

3. THE bout was televised in America by ABC, offering Jackson – perhaps the most devastating single hitter in the sport – some rare exposure for his menace.

4. NORRIS boxed smartly in the opening session. He was a tremendous boxer-puncher, who rarely wasted a shot and controlled the distance effortlessly. He shook the Don King-promoted Jackson with a meaty portion of right hands, and swept the round on all three official cards.

5. JACKSON looked relaxed as he entered round two. Relaxed like an assassin who is about to fire a bullet through their unsuspecting target. With Norris retreating to the ropes, Jackson fired a right hand loaded with nastiness. Norris appeared to be out cold before the fall woke him. Gamely he fought the dizziness and clambered to his feet. But the referee, Joe Cortez, waved off the action with Norris in no position to resume.

6. “LET me say he did exactly what we thought he would do,” said Jackson afterwards. “We figured he would want to go the distance and show a lot of lateral movement. We worked on exactly how to solve that.”

7. THE flat-topped slugger demanded respect, and opportunities. “I have been in the shadows too long,” he sneered. “I have been the champion for two years but nobody knows who I am. That doesn’t bother me. My time will come.”

8. ALTHOUGH Jackson starched Herol Graham in his next world title fight – to claim the WBC middleweight strap – his time never did really come. Certainly he will be remembered as one of the biggest punchers in history, but he never did secure that defining fight he craved. By the time he lost twice to Gerald McClellan, in a 1993 thriller and a thrashing the following year, Jackson was past his best.

9. LIKE Jackson after being slayed by McCallum, Norris recovered from this defeat. He went on to craft a brilliant albeit erratic existence as the best light-middleweight of his era. He beat the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard, John Mugabi, and Meldrick Taylor during his three reigns as 154lb champion.

10. SUPPORTING Jackson and Norris in Atlantic City was WBC light-welterweight boss Julio Cesar Chavez, who cruised to 62-0 with an emphatic walloping of the thoroughly over-matched Kenny Vice.