JIMMY ANDERSON, who has died aged 79, is in the record books as Britain’s first champion at super-featherweight (then called junior-lightweight).
Anderson won the inaugural title bout at the weight in February 1968, flooring and halting previously unbeaten Jimmy Revie in nine rounds at the Albert Hall. Revie’s clever southpaw boxing seemed to take him to an early lead – but, like so many, he simply couldn’t keep Anderson off. (Jimmy’s win gave manager Terry Lawless his first British champion – and Terry had to wait a whole hour to get his second! In the next fight on the bill, West Ham’s Ralph Charles outpointed reigning champion Johnny Cooke to take the welterweight title.)
Anderson was a tremendous puncher (Terry Lawless told me that working on the pads with him was “murder”), with 24 of his 27 wins coming inside the distance. The record also shows one draw and nine losses – four by disqualification. Lawless maintained Jimmy wasn’t a dirty fighter, but somewhat careless – one writer described him as throwing punches “like an enraged octopus.”
One person to get a disqualification win over Anderson was Colin Lake, the champion being given his marching orders for kidney-punching in the sixth round of their non-title bout at York Hall. That earned Colin a quick return, with the title at stake – but this time Anderson made no mistake, coming through via seventh-round stoppage. Having already made one successful defence – a points win over old rival Brian Cartwright – Jimmy became the proud owner of a Lonsdale Belt.
All three of Anderson’s British title bouts were staged at the Albert Hall, where his exciting, all-action style made him a big favourite. Years later, promoter Mike Barrett told me he had great memories of him. In fact, all but two of Jimmy’s 37 bouts took place in London.
The fight that really brought Jimmy to the public notice was his tussle with Johnny Mantle for the vacant Southern Area featherweight title at Manor Place Baths, in October 1966. There was a good house, even though the fight was being shown on live TV – both had won on the previous month’s Wembley show, when former world heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson KOd Britain’s Henry Cooper in four rounds. Anderson had halted capable veteran Brian Cartwright in five rounds – officially on a badly-cut eye, but Cartwright had been floored in the opening round and simply hadn’t been able to contain Anderson’s explosive punching.
Anderson vs Mantle promised to be a cracker – and it was. Like Jimmy Revie, Mantle made a decent start with his better boxing, but just couldn’t cope with Anderson’s non-stop pressure. A great battle ended in Anderson’s favour in the seventh.
Anderson became Southern Area champion, and British champion – but couldn’t progress beyond that. He never got a shot at an international title, though he met two reigning world champions in non-title bouts. Howard Winstone and Johnny Famechon both beat Jimmy over 10 rounds, without argument – but Jimmy had the satisfaction of flooring Winstone heavily in the opener, and breaking Famechon’s jaw.
But Jimmy was rated in the world’s Top 10 in some quarters, and his team (and his fans) had high hopes of him. But an October 1969 10-rounder against American Bill Whittenburg ended, disappointingly, in a draw, and Jimmy faded off the scene.
He came back in January 1971, scoring a dramatic second-round KO over American Bobby Joe Hughes – and the following month he was back at the Albert Hall to meet Southern Area lightweight champion (and former British title challenger) Brian Hudson.
This non-title 10-rounder proved one of the best British fights of the year, with both on the floor and badly cut. (Star referee Harry Gibbs, in a 1974 interview with Boxing News, described as “the most exciting fight I’ve had.”) It ended, sensationally, with just one second left in the sixth round – Hudson pulled out a perfect left hook to put Anderson down, and, although he was up at nine, Gibbs took a close look at the bad cut over his left eye and signalled the finish. It was Jimmy’s last fight.
The BBBofC abolished the junior-lightweight division, though they would later reinstate it as super-featherweight. And for a long time that division seemed jinxed – champion after champion would lose the British title at the first defence. Jimmy, as noted, won a Lonsdale Belt outright.
But what he’ll most be remembered for is the excitement he almost invariably generated. His non-stop pressuring, and explosive punching, made him a huge favourite with the fans. Those of us who were lucky enough to have seen him, including me, will never forget him.