HAROLD KNIGHT is, like many other people in the boxing fraternity, saddened at the passing of former super-featherweight champ Rocky Lockridge, who died yesterday following complications relating to a stroke. Rocky, just 60, was a fine fighter and it was in his final world title victory that he won a tough and exciting 15-round decision over Knight.
For Knight, retirement followed soon after suffering his one and only loss, as he unfortunately failed a bran scan as some abnormalities were found. Today, Knight – who of course went on to co-train Lennox Lewis for around 13 years – is proud of his effort against Lockridge and he is also mourning the loss of his old adversary.
Here, Harold speaks with Boxing News:
Q: Rocky Lockridge was a great fighter, and you know that from personal experience of course.
Harold Knight: “Yes he was, he was definitely a great. I learned a lot from that fight; he schooled me I’d say, in those final three rounds especially. Yeah, it was a great learning experience for me but unfortunately, and ironically, the fight we had, that was my last fight. I’ll never forget that fight, it was April of 1988 and it went out on ABC. Rocky told me after that I would become world champion one day but that he couldn’t allow it to have been that night (laughs). But then I failed the EKG brain test and instead I hooked up with Lennox Lewis and the rest is history.”
Q: You had your moments in the Lockridge fight, no doubt. How tough was he?
H.K: “He was definitely the greatest fighter I ever fought and he was the toughest. He fought nothing but 15-round fights back then and he came on strong in those last three rounds. We pretty much went toe-to-toe the whole fight. I did score a knockdown over Rocky in the 11th-round, but it was ruled a slip or a push. But he beat me fair and square and I have nothing but respect for him. In fact, I gave him too much respect in the fight. I had studied him, I’d seen his fights with [Eusebio] Pedroza, who isn’t doing too well right now (the Panamanian is reportedly battling cancer), and with Roger Mayweather, who he knocked out in a round. He was easily the best I faced and he had a great corner with Lou Duva and George Benton working with him.”
Q: When did you last see Rocky?
H.K: “I met him at the Boxing Hall of Fame in New Jersey. He wasn’t doing too well then, I think he’d had a stroke, but we talked and it was great to see him. That was in 2013. I always joked with him when I saw him, telling him how he should have given me the title instead of giving it to Tony Lopez. He lost to Lopez in his next fight after beating me and he just didn’t give it the same effort in that fight. Maybe the rough and tumble nature of our fight took a lot out of Rocky, but I was shocked when Lopez beat him – and then Lopez beat him a second time. I was angry, I was p****d, I really was.”
Q: Retirement was difficult for Rocky. It’s a tough question, but what can be done to help retired fighters such as him?
H.K: “I do hope that some type of severance or pension could be put into place to help retired fighters. I hope in the future the powers that be can really put something together. Rocky, he is one of a thousand, or one of hundreds of thousands. We fighters, we give our soul to this business, we give our blood, sweat and tears. I know fighters can make good money, but the promoters, the managers, they do seem to get the largest chunk of the money. Rocky made good money but unfortunately he blew it, he wasted it doing things he shouldn’t have been doing. I wish we had a PBC or a DAZN back when we were fighting, I really do. I made $75,000 for the fight with Rocky, and I went home with half of that.
“But yes, something should be put in place to help retired fighters. We’re proud people and it’s so tough to ask for help, for a handout. Again, Rocky is far from the only one – Pernell Whitaker I hear is not doing too well financially, Tracy Spann, a good friend of mine, he hasn’t got any money. It’s so hard when the bright lights are no more and a retired fighter has to feed his family, feed himself. I myself, I wish I could do something to help these guys. No-one is to blame [for a fighter losing his money] but at the same time, lots of these guys do need help and they are too proud to ask for it.”
Q: You are of course proud of your fight with Rocky?
H.K: “Yes, but at the same time, I can’t stand to watch it. I’ve watched it maybe six times. It was those last three rounds that got me. I was in great shape and I think the last three rounds wore me out mentally more than anything. It’s crazy, but if that fight had been a 12-rounder like today I’d have been world champion! But Rocky made it to the top and he was a special fighter.”