WITHERSPOON - THE CASE OF "TERRIBLE"
In my opinion one of the most under rated heavyweights
over the last thirty years has been “Terrible” Tim
Witherspoon. He was a two time world champion and a solid
contender for close to two decades. This man DESERVES some
Tim, a native of the great fight city of Philadelphia
turned pro in 1979. He won his first fifteen fights beating
the likes of Marvin Stinson, Alonzo Ratliff and Renaldo
Snipes. This led to a 1983 title shot against the respected
champion Larry Holmes. Larry walked away with a highly
controversial decision win. Despite the loss the “Terrible”
one had arrived.
Tim rebounded outscoring Jumbo Cummings and blasting out
James “Quick” Tillis in one for the NABF title. In 1984
Witherspoon was matched with the talented Greg Page for the
vacant WBC title. On this night Tim would outscore Page to
win his first title. In his first defense Tim was out jabbed
and out boxed by the speedy Pinklon Thomas. “Pinky” put on a
class performance that night.
Witherspoon came back in 1985 to halt tough Mark Wills
and score a highlight reel KO over James Broad. Tim then
outpointed James “Bonecrusher” Smith. This led to a shot at
the WBA title against fast handed Tony Tubbs. In 1986 Tim
won the heavyweight title for a second time with a decision
over Tubbs. He then defended it with a sensational come from
behind KO of England’s heralded Frank Bruno. In Tim’s next
defense, the walls came tumblin’ down. He met “Bonecrusher”
again. This was a man he had defeated handily the first time
around. This time Tim was caught cold and dropped three
times in the first round. His title was gone. He would never
again get a well deserved chance to reclaim it.
In 1987 he halted Mark Wills again. This time in the 1st. He
then outscored prospect Mike Williams. In 1989 Tim scored a
stunning one round KO over Anders Eklund who resembled a
blond tree being felled. Witherspoon was back in business.
In 1990 he halted dangerous Jeff Sims. Then he outfought
Jose Ribalta and defeated the flashy Carl “The Truth”
Williams for the USBA title. In 1991 he took out Art Tucker
in three. To his credit, Tim ducked no one.
In 1992 Witherspoon beat rugged James Pritchard. Tim was
then upset by the spoiler Everett “Big Foot” Martin. In 1996
he outscored Alfred Cole and bombed out Jorge Luis Gonzalez.
Next Tim would lose a war to tough as nails Ray Mercer. From
this point on Tim’s career was up and down. He took out Levi
Billips in one. He then dropped verdicts to Larry Donald,
Jimmy Thunder and Andrew Golota. In 1999 he was halted by
Brian Nielsen and Greg Page. His career appeared to be over.
Tim made one last charge in 2000. He drew with Mike Sedillo.
He then halted David Bostice in one. He upset Elieser
Castillo but dropped a points call to Monte Barrettt. Tim
then gave us one last highlight clip KO dropping Darroll
Wilson. In 2002 the aging Witherspoon was savaged in five
rounds by Lou Savarese. In 2003 Tim dropped a decision to
Brian Nix and called it quits.
Tim never received a chance to win the title for a third
time. There are a variety of reasons but that is a story in
itself. I do believe though that an in shape and focused Tim
Witherspoon would have given a prime Mike Tyson all he could
CAREER SHORT OF PAUL PENDER
courtesy of the Boxing Glove
Pender was a clever and gritty boxer with good technical
skills, and an excellent jab. Never a ‘crowd-pleaser’ Pender
has not usually got the credit he deserves for his ring
Born in Brookline,
Massachusetts, on June 20, 1930. Pender turned professional
in 1949, and made a promising start to his career by winning
his first 21 contests. However, by the early 1950s he was
struggling with a hand injury, which would later turn out to
be an undiagnosed broken hand. At one point Pender had over
20 x-rays yet, the reason for his hand pain could not be
From late 1951 to
late 1958 Pender fought only seven times, and had two
periods where he did not fight for over two years. During
this time, Pender had retired a number of times, due to a
mixture of hand and managerial problems. In 1953 he joined
the United States Marine Corps, but he had to leave because
of the troubles with his hands. He then joined the Brookline
fire department and became a firefighter. By November 1958,
having been out of the ring for almost two years, Pender
returned having had several operations on his troublesome
right hand. The hand was much improved, but Pender would
still be dogged by hand problems for the rest of his career
From November 1958
to December 1959, Pender had 9 fights and won them all. On
January 22, 1960, Pender was given a shot at World
middleweight champion Sugar Ray Robinson, and pulled off the
upset of the year when he won a narrow 15-round point’s
decision over Robinson, winning the World middleweight title
in the process.
Pender parries a jab of Sugar Ray
Robinson in 1960.
Pender made 3 successful defenses of his world title,
out-pointing Robinson again in another close match, making
him the first man to beat Robinson twice, then stopping
Terry Downes in 7 rounds on cuts, before going on to
out-point Carmen Basilo. Then on July 11, 1961, while making
the 4th defense of his title, Pender was stopped after 10
rounds, losing his world title, when he retired on his stool
between rounds. Nine months later, on April 7, 1962, Pender
regained the World middleweight championship after he beat
Downes on points. This would prove to be the last fight of
Pender’s career, after fights with Gene Fullmer and Dick
Tiger fell through, and with the world boxing organizations
threatening to strip him of recognition for failing to
defend his world title, Pender announced his retirement on
May 7, 1963, with a final record of 40(20koes)-6-2.
After retirement, Pender would hold several jobs; a security
officer and was employed as a recreation coordinator at to
correctional facility. Pender died on January 12, 2003,
after spending several years at the VA hospital in Bedford,
The CASE OF . . .
THE RUGGED --- BILLY "DYNAMITE" DOUGL
He will always be remembered as " Buster's Dad" but Billy
Douglas was quite a fighter in his own right. Billy was born
in 1940 and turned pro in 1967 just three days before his
27th birthday. There was no fanfare for this native of
Columbus, Ohio. He started at the bottom and fought his way
into the rankings. In 1969 he took out the talented Luis
Vinales in one round. He would then be stopped himself by
Douglas began to make some serious noise in 1970. He
stopped former Olympian Wilbert McClure. He then outscored
tough Willie Warren, drew with Don Fullmer and won a
decision over Tom "The Bomb" Bethea. Billy suffered a couple
of setbacks in 1971 dropping ten round dukes to the slick
Bunny Sterling and the always capable Jose Gonzalez. Douglas
got right back on track in 1972 with kayos over Billy Lloyd,
Carlos Marks, Al Quinney and Marion Conner. Billy's nickname
wasn't "Dynamite" for no reason.
Douglas continued his surge into 1973 stopping the
respected Nate Collins. Billy was then matched with
Philadelphia's Bennie Briscoe for the NABF middleweight
title. At the time Briscoe was one of the best middleweights
in the world and "Bad" Bennie halted Bill in round eight.
Later that year Douglas lost a decision in South Africa to
Elijah Makathini. In 1974 Douglas lost to another top notch
Philly fighter being on the short end of a points verdict to
Willie "The Worm" Monroe. Then in a crazy promotional stunt
Douglas was matched with Danny Brewer in a fight that was
advertised as being for the world's junior light heavyweight
title. The weight limit was 167. Brewer exited in round two
Douglas now began to campaign as a light heavyweight. In
1976 he won a disputed, razor close decision over Pedro
Soto. He then lost a rematch to Bethea. Bill was halted by
Lonnie Bennett but then he knocked out Angel Oquendo.
Douglas was awarded the chance of a lifetime when he got a
non title fight with WBA light heavyweight king Victor
Galindez. Bill went the distance but the rugged champion won
on points. In 1977 Douglas met Matthew Saad Muhammad ( Matt
Franklin ) in Philadelphia for the NABF light heavyweight
title. In a true "Philly War", Saad got off the canvas to
stop Bill in round six. Douglas then returned to
Philadelphia but was defeated inside the distance by Marvin
Johnson. Bill was quite popular in Philly. The Johnson fight
was his tenth appearance there.
In 1979 Douglas lost a decision to rising prospect Pablo
Ramos. In 1980 Bill was finished as a legitimate contender
when he lost to Jerry "The Bull" Martin. Bill had one more
kayo victory and then packed it in. In 58 professional bouts
against some of the toughest fighters in the world Douglas
posted a fine 41-16-1 record. He scored 31 knockouts. He met
three world champions and five others who challenged for the
title. Bill Douglas should be remembered for much more then
just being Buster's dad.
"CANDY SLIM" MERRITT
He began his career in 1964 but it was not until 1973
that he crashed into the heavyweight ratings. In between
were periods of inactivity and a multitude of meaningless
bouts. He was a murderous, punching prospect that no worthy
opponent wanted to chance his career against. By the time
he got his “shot” at the big time, he was 21-1 with 16
kayos. He scored seven 1st round
kayos and eight 2ndround
stoppages. Yet up to this point his claim to fame was being
a Muhammad Ali sparring partner. It is a shame that today
very few remember Jeff “Candy Slim’ Merritt. True, his
tenure as a mainstream contender was less than a year but oh
what a reputation he had. Many at that time considered him
the hardest puncher in the heavyweight division, bar none.
Although Jeff had one bout in 1964 his career really
began in 1968. In 1969 Jeff established himself as a
legitimate prospect with decision wins over Ray Williams,
Roger Russell and Henry Clark. Finally on September 10th,
1973, Jeff stepped into the ring to face former W.B.A.
heavyweight champion Ernie Terrell. “Big” Ernie had held
the W.B.A. title from 1965 to 1967 before losing a
unification fight with Ali. He then lost to Thad Spencer in
the W.B.A. eight-man elimination tourney and followed
that with a loss to Manuel Ramos. A kayo victory over Jose
Luis Garcia propelled Ernie back in to the Top Ten ratings.
Despite a very controversial loss to Chuck Wepner, Ernie was
still ranked when he faced Merritt. Less then one round
later Ernie was a retired ex-champion as Jeff destroyed
him. Jeff followed this with a three round butchering of
rugged Ron Stander.
Jeff kept his name in the headlines serving as Earnie
Shavers sparring partner while Earnie prepared for his bout
with Jerry Quarry. Archie Moore was training Shavers and he
allowed Merritt to spar with Earnie. A couple of vicious
hooks caused the Quarry bout to be postponed, as Earnie’s
jaw was broken. Don King, Earnie’s manager was livid.
Archie was dismissed and Quarry’s trainer Gil Clancy said
something to the effect that Merritt was the kind of guy you
fought for money, not in the gym.
All was going well until March 4th,
1974. Jeff faced old foe Henry Clark. This time Clark
abandoned his usual cautious style and took Jeff by
surprise. Jeff was now the victim of a one round kayo
loss. The defeat put Jeff’s career into a tail spin. It
was almost 2 1/2 years before he would fight again. His
opponent would be tough fringe contender Stan Ward. For two
rounds Jeff out boxed the ponderous Ward, shutting one of
his eyes. In round three the half blind Ward connected and
again Jeff’s chin betrayed him. The bout was soon stopped
and Ward had handed Jeff his ticket to boxing oblivion.
1970's were ruled by the Sheriff . . . .
OF CHAMPS, LIGHTHEAVYWEIGHT BOB FOSTER
Bob Foster (born April 27, 1938) is a
native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA whom many boxing
critics consider to be one of the greatest Light Heavyweight
world champions in history. As an amateur he won a silver
medal at the 1959 Pan American Games. Professional career
Foster started his professional career on the night of March
27, 1961, against Duke Williams, in Washington, D.C.,
winning by a knockout in two rounds. The first 12 bouts of
his career were spent campaigning in the United States'
Eastern coast and in Canada. In his tenth bout, he made his
first of multiple forays into the Heavyweight division, and
suffered his first loss, at the hands of Doug Jones by a
knockout in the eighth round. After two more wins, he went
in 1963 to Peru, where he lost to South American champion
Mauro Mina by a decision in ten rounds at Lima. Three more
fights back in the States resulted in quick knockout wins
for him, and then, in 1964, he made his second attempt at
entering the Heavyweight rankings, being knocked out in the
seventh by future world Heavyweight champion Ernie Terrell.
He finished the year by posting three more knockout wins at
Light Heavyweight, two of them on one night: November 11.
That was the night that Foster's first fight of note as a
Light Heavyweight took place: Minutes after knocking out Don
Quinn in the first round, he stepped up in the ring again
and faced former world title challenger Henry Hank. He beat
Hank by a knockout in the tenth. In 1965, he had five
fights, winning four and losing one. He beat Hank again, by
decision in 12, and lost to Zora Folley, by a decision in
ten, in another attempt at joining the Heavyweight top ten.
In 1966 he defeated Leroy Green in two rounds. By 1967,
Foster, although his attempts to become a top Heavyweight
were being frustrated, was a ranked Light Heavyweight. He
decided to stick to the Light Heavyweight division for the
time being, and he won all seven of his fights, six by
knockout. Among the fighters he beat were Eddie Cotton,
Eddie Vick, and Sonny Moore. After defeating Moore, Foster
was the world's number one ranked Light Heavyweight
challenger. Light Heavyweight champion In 1968, Foster got
his first shot at a world title. At Madison Square Garden in
New York, on the night of May 24, Foster became world
champion by knocking out the also late Dick Tiger in four
rounds. Tiger had been a two time world Middleweight
champion and was defending his world Light Heavyweight crown
(l) vs Dick Tiger in 1968
Then, Foster decided to try on the
Heavyweights once again, and he beat future George Foreman
victim Charlie Polite by a knockout in three. He ended that
year defeating Vick again, and his future world title
challenger Roger Rouse, both by a knockout. In 1969, he
began by rising off the canvas to knock out Frank De Paula
in the same first round and retain his belt. It is believed
that was the first time ever a boxer won a world title fight
in the first round after being floored in that same round.
It is also believed that that fight is one of only two times
that's happened, the second time being in 1984, when Juan
Kid Mesa rose off a knockdown to dethrone world Jr.
Featherweight champion Jaime Garza in the same first round
too. Foster's next fight in 1969 was against Andy Kendall,
whom he beat in four rounds by knockout, to once again
retain the crown. He closed the 1960s with two more knockout
wins. Foster vs Frazier In 1970, Foster made two more trips
to the heavyweights. In the first, he beat fringe contender
Cookie Wallace in six rounds by knockout. This was followed
by a return to the Light Heavyweight division to defend his
title against Rouse. Infuriated by some comments that
Rouse's manager had made before the bout concerning the fact
that even though Foster knocked out Rouse in their first
bout he was not able to drop him, Foster dropped Rouse five
times en route to a fourth round knockout victory. A
knockout in 10 to retain the battle against Mark Tessman
followed, and then he was given the chance to challenge for
the world's Heavyweight title. Facing world champion Joe
Frazier on the night of November 18 in Detroit, he was
knocked out in two rounds. After defeating Hal Carroll by a
knockout in four rounds to defend his crown, the WBA
stripped him of the title, but he kept being world champion
on the WBC. Foster became enraged at the WBA, which
proceeded to have Vicente Rondon of Venezuela and Jimmy
Dupree fight for the world title. Rondon won, becoming the
second Latin American world Light Heavyweight champion
(after José Torres), and Foster set his eyes on him. Foster
went on defending his WBC world title, and he defeated
challengers Ray Anderson, Tommy Hicks, and Brian Kelly. Of
those three, it was Anderson who was the only one to last
the 15 round distance with Foster. Foster vs Ali Foster and
Rondon met in Miami on April 7, 1972, in an unificatory
bout. Foster became the undisputed world champion once
again, by knocking Rondon out in the second round. In his
next fight, he used what many critics have called one of the
best punches in history to retain his title by a knockout in
four against Mike Quarry. He then went up in weight and
faced former and future world Heavyweight champion Muhammad
Ali, in what was legendary referee Mills Lane's first bout
of note as a referee. Foster lost to Ali by a knockout in
the eighth, after being knocked down 7 times.
In 1973, Foster retained his title
twice against Pierre Fourie, both by decision. Their second
fight had a distinct social impact because it was fought in
Apartheid-ruled South Africa, Foster being Black and Fourie
being White. Foster became a hero to South African Blacks by
beating Fourie the first time around, and in their rematch,
the first boxing fight in South Africa after Apartheid
featuring a White versus a Black, he cemented that position
by defeating Fourie on points again. However, as Mark
Mathabane noted in his autobiography Kaffir Boy, South
Africa's black population also felt betrayed by Foster since
he didn't address Apartheid during his time in South Africa.
His last defense as world Light Heavyweight champion came in
1974, when he was dropped by Argentinian Jorge Ahumada, but
managed to keep the title with a draw. After that, he
announced his retirement, leaving the world's Light
Heavyweight championship vacant. Retirement and comeback
Foster had scored a draw against Jorge Ahumada before
retiring from the sport for awhile. Because he did not lose
to a non-Heavyweight champion in the ring, he was still
considered the Lineal Light heavyweight champion. Foster
would go on to fight seven more times, with the first five
as wins and the last two as knockout losses, before retiring
from boxing for good. Life after boxing In his retirement,
the former world champion joined the Bernalillo County
Sheriff's Department and became a detective, where he would
become a well known officer in the Albuquerque area. Later
on, the avid autograph signer was inducted into the
International Boxing Hall of Fame. Foster had a record of 56
wins, 8 losses and 1 draw, with 46 wins coming by knockout.
He was named to Ring Magazine's list of 100 Greatest
Punchers. He was also named to Ring Magazine's list of the
80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years, ranking at #55.
Official professional boxing record 56 Wins (46 Knockouts),
8 Defeats (6 Knockouts), 1 Draw
FIGHTERS OF THE 20TH
OSCAR "SHOTGUN" ALBARADO
He was a hard banger and a crowd pleaser who battled some
of the best welterweights of his era. Eventually he would
move up to 154 pounds and win a world title in that
division. He thrilled crowds in his home state of Texas and
would also become a popular draw on the West Coast. His name
was Oscar Albarado and they called him ” Shotgun “.
Born in 1948, Oscar turned professional in 1966 and
reeled off 25 straight victories. He suffered his first loss
via a decision to the highly touted Hedgemon Lewis in 1969.
He came back in 1970 with two wins over Youngstown, Ohio
veteran L.C.Morgan. Oscar would then drop verdicts to rated
contenders Adolph Pruitt and ” Have Mercy Mr. Percy ” Pugh.
Albarado bounced back with five straight wins including a
decision over rugged Raul Soriano. He was then upset over
ten rounds by Manuel Fierro. In May of 1971 Oscar met then
undefeated Armando Muniz and the two battled to a draw in an
action packed bout. Oscar would then lose a decision to top
contender Ernie ” Red ” Lopez. Albarado would win seven in a
row but in 1973 he was surprised in one round by Dino Del
Cid. Oscar came right back to stop Del Cid in the second
round of a rematch.
In June of 1974 Oscar traveled to Tokyo, Japan take on
world junior middleweight king Koichi Wajima. In a tough
battle Albarado rallied to halt Wajima at 1:57 of the
fifteenth round to capture the crown. Oscar would return to
Japan to defend against Wajima’s countryman Ryu Sorimachi.
Albarado retained his title with a seventh round stoppage.
It was back to Tokyo again to face Wajima in a rematch. This
time Wajima paced himself and fought a smart fight in
regaining his title by decision. There would be no rubber
It would be over five years before Oscar boxed again and
it was obvious he was no longer the same fighter. He did
find himself matched with some pretty good fighters though.
In 1981 he was kayoed by Bobby Czyz and Bernard ” Superbad ”
Mays. In 1982 he was taken out by Louis Arcaries and John
Collins. Finally he was stopped in two rounds by Ayub Kalule
in his last fight.
Albarado ended his 72 fight career with a record of
58-13-1. He scored 43 knockouts. He was stopped seven times
but six of those stoppages came after his five year layoff.
In his prime he was a game and durable fighter with a lethal
TALE OF THE
During his formidable professional career heavyweight boxer
Chuck Wepner was known as the "Bayonne Bleeder". Hundreds of
stitches had adorned his rugged face throughout his career.
After his fighting days were over Chuck has become known to
his legion of fans as the "Real Life Rocky". The inspiration
for Sylvester Stallone's film character Rocky Balboa.
Wepner was born on February 26,1939 in New York. He was the
son of a heavyweight boxer and as an amateur he won the 1964
New York Golden Gloves Novice heavyweight title. He then
turned professional. In his first two years in the paid
ranks he went 4-1-2 losing only to tough Bob Stallings. On
January 7,1966 Chuck met highly regarded prospect Buster
Mathis at Madison Square Garden. Wepner was halted in the
third round. In 1967 Wepner would win the New Jersey State
heavyweight title stopping Don McAteer in the seventh.
Chuck went undefeated in 1968 winning six fights. He beat
Eddie Vick and upset highly regarded Forest Ward. In 1969
Wepner defeated Roberto Davila but then lost to future
heavyweight title challenger Joe "King" Roman. On August
18th he met 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist George Foreman at the
Garden. Chuck was stopped in the third round. Wepner
finished the year by outscoring veteran Pedro Agosto. Chuck
opened 1970 by defeating former world title challenger
Manuel Ramos. On June 29th Chuck would meet former world
champion Sonny Liston. Sonny cut the game Wepner to ribbons
and the bout was ended after the ninth round. Chuck then
traveled to London to meet another future world title
challenger named Joe Bugner. A cut forced Wepner to exit in
As 1971 rolled in Wepner was again badly cut forcing a
stoppage against Jerry Judge. Chuck would then lose his New
Jersey title to smooth boxing Randy Neumann. The two would
meet again in 1972 and Wepner pulled out the decision to
regain the New Jersey crown. This would be the beginning of
an eight bout win streak that would lead Chuck to a crack at
the world title. On June 23,1973 Wepner pulled off a major
upset in Atlantic City winning a controversial twelve round
decision over former World Boxing Association heavyweight
champion Ernie Terrell. Chuck was now rated among the top
ten heavyweights in the world. He solidified his ranking in
1974 by defeating Randy Neumann in their rubber match and
stopping Terry Hinke.
The stage was now set. On March 24,1975 Wepner would meet
world champion Muhammad Ali at the Richfield Coliseum
outside on the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio. Ali had shocked
the world in October of 1974 by regaining the
heavyweight title defeating George Foreman. He was looking
for an easy defense of that title. Although Wepner was
ranked few if any gave him a real chance at defeating Ali.
What transpired that day made Chuck Wepner a cult hero. Ali
won and retained his crown but it was hardly the walk in the
park he expected. Wepner hadn't read the Ali script. In
fact Chuck became the script for Rocky. Despite scoring a
debatable knockdown over Ali in the ninth round, Chuck was
battered throughout the contest. Ali punished Wepner but try
as he might he couldn't put Chuck away. Finally the dead
game Wepner fell in the fifteenth and final round. It was
more from exhaustion then Ali's punches. A true testimony to
Chuck's grit and courage.
After the Ali fight the career of Wepner slowly wound
down. He was cut and stopped by undefeated prospect Duane
Bobick in 1976. In 1977 he dropped a decision to Mike
Schutte. He was then halted in the tenth round by Horst
Geisler. Chuck won two fights in 1978 but the lost a
decision to yet another future title challenger, Scott
Frank. That would be Wepner's last fight.
Chuck retired with a record of 35-14-2. During his career
he met four world champions and five others that challenged
for the crown.
HEAVYWEIGHT ADONIS KEN NORTON
When there is any talk of the greatest
era of heavyweight boxing, the name Ken Norton has to be
mentioned. Ken was a mainstay in the ratings throughout the
1970's and he briefly wore the World Boxing Council version
of the heavyweight title. Norton of course is remembered
most for his famous trilogy with Muhammad Ali.
Norton was born on August 9,1943 in Jacksonville,
Illinois. He was always an exceptional athlete but didn't
turn to boxing until he joined the Marine Corp. He won the
All Marine heavyweight championship three times and compiled
a 24-2 amateur record. After being passed over to represent
the United States in the Pan American Games, Ken opted to
turn professional. He made his debut on November 14,1967 by
halting Grady Brazell in the fifth round in San Diego. It
would be the first of sixteen straight victories for Ken.
During the streak Norton would gain experience beating
veterans like Bill McMurray and Aaron Eastling.
It would all come crashing down on July 2,1970 at the
Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. Norton would meet a lanky
heavyweight from Venezuela named Jose Luis Garcia. Based on
appearance it looked like the muscular Norton would
steamroll his opponent. Garcia though possessed fast hands
and he could bang. In a major upset Garcia took out Ken in
the eighth round. It was back to the drawing board for
Ken would begin to see a hypnotist and this seemed to
work as he rallied to win thirteen straight contests. Norton
moved up the heavyweight rankings with two wins over the
capable James J.Woody. He defeated rugged Jack O'Halloran in
a thriller and stopped the talented Henry Clark. On March
31,1973 Ken would meet former heavyweight champion Muhammad
Ali in San Diego. Ali had failed to regain the heavyweight
title on March 8,1971 against Joe Frazier in the "Fight Of
The Century". Ali was now taking on all comers to establish
himself as the "People's Champion" and entice Frazier into a
rematch. Norton was viewed as just another opponent and Ali
was listed as a 5 to 1 favorite. Ken hadn't read the script
though and he came out and forced the fight. Ali suffered a
broken jaw in one of the early rounds but he gamely fought
on. This day Ken was too much for Muhammad and Norton was
awarded a well deserve decision. Along with it came the
North American Boxing Federation heavyweight title.
Ali and Norton would meet again on September 10,1973 at
the Inglewood Forum. Ali vowed to be in better shape and he
was. Muhammad swept the early rounds but as the bout
progressed Norton came on strong. At the end of twelve
rounds Ali's early lead held up and he won the verdict.
After giving "The Greatest" twelve rounds of pure hell Ken
was given a shot at the heavyweight title. The man in the
other corner would be undefeated George Foreman. The power
punching Foreman had destroyed Joe Frazier in two rounds to
capture the title. At this point in his career George looked
unbeatable. The fight would take place March 26,1974 in
Caracas, Venezuela. After a quiet first round George would
lower the boom in round two. Again it was back to the
drawing board for Ken.
The two fights with Ali still left Norton as a very
marketable heavyweight. Ken came back with a vengeance. He
took apart Boone Kirkman and then in 1975 he scored knock
out wins over Jerry Quarry and former conqueror Garcia. In
1976 he had inside the distance wins over Pedro Lovell, Ron
Stander and Larry Middleton. In 1974 Ali upset Foreman in
the famous "Rumble In The Jungle" to regain the
championship. Now Ken was considered the #1 threat to his
title. Their rubber match took place on September 28,1976 at
Yankee Stadium. After fifteen see saw rounds Ali was given a
highly controversial decision to retain his crown. Norton
was heartbroken but he vowed to get Ali one more time.
In 1977 Ken reinforced his status as the number one
contender by demolishing unbeaten Duane Bobick in one round.
Later in the year he met the crafty Jimmy Young in a World
Boxing Council heavyweight eliminator. The fight with Young
took place on November 5,1977 in Las Vegas. In an extremely
close affair Norton edged Young and Ken was now Ali's
mandatory challenger. In 1978 a fading Ali would lose his
title to unbeaten but untested Leon Spinks in a huge upset.
Spinks was now obligated to defend the title against Norton.
Leon though would opt for a much more lucrative rematch with
Ali. The WBC then stripped Spinks of the title and awarded
it to Norton based on his win over Young. Finally Norton was
Ken's tenure as champion was short lived. On June 9,1978
in Las Vegas Norton would lose a razor close verdict to
unbeaten Larry Holmes in a truly classic battle. Ken would
fight on hoping for another crack at the title. He stopped
classy Randy Stephens in three rounds. Then disaster struck
in the form of Earnie Shavers powerful fists. Shavers
blasted Norton out in one round derailing any hopes of a
Holmes rematch. Next Ken took on rough and tumble Scott
LeDoux. Norton was winning handily but faded after taking a
thumb to the eye. Norton was knocked down twice in the tenth
and final round but hung on until the bell. The fight ended
in a draw. Ken would retire but then come back a year later
to face undefeated Randall "Tex" Cobb. Norton was able to
out box the plodding Cobb and win the decision. Next for
Norton would be the unbeaten punching sensation Gerry
Cooney. There was already a great demand for Cooney to meet
champion Larry Holmes. Norton would supply Gerry with his
toughest test to date. The test ended in the first round as
Cooney scored a brutal knock out. That ended the career of
In all Norton had fifty professional fights. His record
was a very respectable 42-7-1. Ken scored thirty
three knockouts and was stopped four times. He met three
champions in Ali, Foreman and Holmes. He also faced eight
boxers who challenged for the title. He was among the elite
heavyweights for nearly a decade.
1960's and a Light heavyweight named Jose Torres
There was a time in the mid 1960′s that revolved around
who would be Muhammad Ali’s next opponent. The former
Cassius Clay was chewing up and spitting out challengers
with alarming ease. His hold on the heavyweight title was
reaching the point of fan boredom. Few could see any serious
contenders on the horizon.
Then a tremendous boxer-puncher of Puerto Rican heritage
exploded on to the scene. He was really a blown up
middleweight with an extensive and successful amateur
background, but boy could he fight!
He was a thing of beauty to watch. Hands held high in front
of his face in the peek-a-boo style taught to him by his
mentor Cus D’Amato. The flashing combinations, the burning
body shots and his business like command of the situation
inside the ropes. He was quite simply, a fighting machine.
When Jose Torres lifted the world’s light heavyweight title
from Willie Pastrano on March 30, 1965 he was truly great.
Who will ever forget the picture perfect body shot that sent
a pained Pastrano to the canvas Only Willie’s undeniable
gameness kept him the fight until the ninth round.
Almost every conceivable positive boxing adjective was
heaped upon Jose after his stellar performance. Rightfully
so as Jose seemed destined to a bright and illustrious
Let’s go back to Jose’s early pro career. This young man
appeared to have success stamped on his forehead. He turned
professional in 1958 and won all nine of his fights that
year. In 1959 he scored four straight kayos two of which
were over rugged Joe Shaw and talented Al Andrews. He
finished the year by drawing with future welterweight king
In 1960 he stepped up in class and was forced to go the
distance three times. Twice against the clever Randy Sandy
and once versus tough Tony Dupas.In 1961 and 1962 Jose put
together an impressive ten fight knockout streak that led to
his coming out party. On May 26, 1963 Jose took on the
feared Florentino Fernandez in San Juan. Florentino had
unsuccessfully challenged Gene Fullmer for the middleweight
crown in 1961. He was still very much a threat the night he
met Torres. Time would have to wait for Jose Torres.
Fernandez gave him a very rude welcoming to the big time
halting an overmatched Jose in six rounds.
The loss seemed to make Jose even more determined. Less then
five months later he returned to out score Don Fullmer. Jose
picked right back up in 1964 reeling off seven very
impressive wins. Among the victims were Jose Gonzalez,
Wilbert McClure, Gomeo Brennan and a crushing one round
blitz of former middleweight king Carl ” Bobo ” Olson.
Next came Pastrano and the championship. Then a foray into
the heavyweight ranks to cop a verdict over Tom McNeely.
Three solid defenses of his crown followed against capable
challengers Wayne Thornton, Eddie Cotton and Chic
Calderwood. The future seemed vast and unlimited.
Then came December 16, 1966. Where did it all go wrong? It
was supposed to be a routine defense against the respected
former middleweight king Dick Tiger. If a stuffed
welterweight named Emile Griffith proved to be too much for
Tiger in taking Dick’s middleweight title, how could he beat
Jose? Answer? Tenacity, conditioning and a burning desire
and relentless will to win. Jose was just outworked. It was
close and debatable but nevertheless a loss.
The rematch five months later was almost a carbon copy of
the first engagement. Neither fight will go down in the
annals of classic encounters but little did anyone suspect
that Jose only had two more dates on his dance card.
International Boxing Hall Of Fame
weekend in Canasota, New York. Many former boxing greats
entered the ring to have their pictures taken. Jose was
Almost a year after his second setback to Tiger, Jose
traveled to Australia and beat a useful Bob Dunlop. Fifteen
months later he emerged in New York. The colorful but
erratic Charlie “Devil” Green all but knocked Jose out cold
in the opening stanza. Call it guts, pride or whatever, Jose
came out in the second round and he downed the "Devil "for
good. It was high drama but also the curtain call. Jose
Torres would never box again.
What Jose Torres has done in his post boxing career is a
tribute to the man himself. He has established himself as a
fine writer and humanitarian. He is a hero to the Puerto
Rican people and rightfully so. I can give you my account of
what I saw of Jose Torres, the man. It was June of 1998 and
I was attending a fight show during the festive
The photo was taken by Mike Greenhill and I have it in my
office at home. It shows over twenty smiling warriors
enjoying the companionship of their peers. In one corner of
the photo I notice a frail and aged Beau Jack. The now late
former lightweight champion was not in the best of health at
the time. What I see behind him is a man, a caring man who
is not worried about smiling for the camera. I see concern
etched on his face thinking only of watching out for the
once robust champ.
As they say, a picture says a thousand words.
CLEVELAND'S RALPH MONCRIEF ; "THE SPOILER"
Middleweight Ralph Moncrief lost eighteen of 47
fights. Records are deceiving though as you will see
in this article. Born in 1950,Ralph turned
professional in 1972 and won his first three
bouts. He suffered his first defeat in 1973 being
stopped by Detroit's tough Lee Barber. Two fights
later Ralph lost on points to crafty Al Styles Jr.
Moncrief would win six straight including a rematch
kayo over Barber. Then in the first many career
upsets he won the verdict against unbeaten Ernie
Singletary. In his next fight Moncrief took on
another unbeaten prospect Dwight Davison. Ralph lost
on points. He beat journeyman Johnny Heard and then
lost a close decision in a rematch to Singletary.
It's now 1979 and Moncrief outscored hard hitting
Lamont Lovelady. In 1980 Ralph would travel to South
Africa where he would upset Gert Steyn in seven
rounds to gain a world ranking. It was short lived
though as he dropped a ten round decision to the
highly touted and undefeated, Bernard "Superbad"
From here on out Moncrief's career became very
checkered losing to Jean Marie Emebe and James
Kinchen in 1982. In 1983 he lost to Sumbu Kalambay
and in 1984 he was halted by Britain's Mark Kaylor
in London.On November 22,1985 Ralph would meet Eddie
Hall in Cleveland for the Ohio State middleweight
title. Moncrief was the loser in this one.
Three years after his loss to Hall, Moncrief would
score another upset. This time Ralph outpointed
"Diamond" Jim McDonald. In 1989 he was stopped by
the outstanding Mike McCallum but would bounce back
to upset Phillip Morefield. Ralph ended the year
losing to the capable Antoine Byrd. In his only bout
of 1990 Moncrief lost a ten rounder to Marvin
Hagler's half brother Robbie Sims.
Ralph opened 1991 losing to Percy Harris. Then came
Moncrief's marquee victory. Ralph stopped veteran
top contender Michael Olajide. The win paved the way
for some decent paydays and four straight losses.
After being stopped in one round by Bernard Hopkins
and dropping a ten rounder to Lindell Holmes,Ralph
was headed for the boxing scrapyard. Moncrief would
win his last four fights against losing opposition
and then call it a day in October 2000.
Moncrief's ended his career with a 29-18 record. He
scored 15 knockouts and was stopped himself on six
occasions. He met four world champions and eight who
challenged for a world title. He fought in England,
France, Italy and South Africa. Ralph Moncrief was
another from a long list of class fighters to come
out of Cleveland,Ohio.
REMEMBERING HENRY HANK
Henry Hank of Detroit was born in 1935 and began his
long professional career in 1953. In less then two
years he was fighting the likes of Virgil Akins. By
1959 Henry was good enough to mix it up with the
best middleweights and light
heavyweights in the world. Fighting men like
1961 Henry beat Joey Giardello. They met again in
1962 with Joey turning the tables. The rematch was
voted the Fight Of The Year by Ring Magazine for
Other top names on his record are Chic
Calderwood, Dick Tiger and Mauro Mina. Henry also
defeated future heavyweight titleholder Jimmy Ellis.
On October 23, 1963 Henry met Eddie Cotton for the
Michigan version of the light heavyweight title.
Henry lost in fifteen rounds.
Henry would go on to meet Harold Johnson and
Johnny Persol. The great Bob Foster halted Henry in
ten in 1964 and Bob outscored him in a 1965 return
match. Henry would also cross gloves with Roger
Rouse and Heschel Jacobs.
Henry became the “Man” for young contenders to fight
on their way up the ladder. Henry tested tough
upstarts like Mark Tessman, Eddie “Bossman” Jones,
Hal Carroll and Charlie “Devil” Green. In one of his
last fights Henry went ten rounds with the then
unbeaten mammoth heavyweight heavyweight, Claude
Henry’s last fight was a decision loss to highly
ranked Andy Kendall.
all Henry had 97 fights with 62 wins and 31 losses
with 4 draws. He scored forty KO victories. An
impressive record considering the quality of
opposition he faced in his outstanding career. He
was halted only once and that was by the fearsome
Foster. No shame there.
VINCENTE SALDIVAR ; A MEXICAN LEGEND
The 1960's spawned many great fighters. Dick Tiger,
Jose Torres, Emile Griffith, Luis Rodriguiz and
Carlos Ortiz just to name a few. One of the best of
this era was a 5' 3" southpaw from Mexico City named
Vincente Saldivar. He ruled the featherweight
division for three years and then retired. He
decided to come back and two and a half years after
he gave up his crown, he re-claimed it..
boxing legend was born on March 5, 1943.
He started his professional career in 1961 and
quickly showed that he was a budding star. Saldivar
won his first sixteen fights and scored thirteen
knockouts. He suffered his first loss in December of
1962 when he was disqualified in a bout against Baby
The year 1963 saw Saldivar make great strides in the
rankings. He halted the respected Dwight Hawkins in
five rounds. He avenged his loss by stopping Baby
Luis in eight rounds. There was also an impressive
one round win over Eloy Sanchez.
On February 8, 1964 Saldivar captured the Mexican
featherweight title by knocking out Juan Rameriz in
two rounds. He defended the title with a twelve
round points win over tough Eduardo " Lalo "
Guerrero. Then on June 1st Vincente won a very
important bout against future lightweight champion
Ismael Laguna. Saldivar outscored the clever Laguna
in ten rounds.
On September 26, 1964 Vincente Saldivar won the
featherweight championship of the world. He battered
the great champion Sugar Ramos and the bout ended in
the twelfth round with a new champion being crowned.
Saldivar was about to begin a campaign that
eliminated all opposition to his throne. He started
in 1965 by wearing down and finally stopping his
game challenger Raul Rojas in the final round. In
his next defense Vincente turned back the fierce
challenge of Welshman Howard Winstone in fifteen
rounds. These two would get to know each other very
well over the next few years.
Saldivar opened 1966 with a two round kayo over
Floyd Robertson. Next Vincente faced the stern
challenge of Japan's Mitsunori Seki. For the
Japanese tiger, it would be his third shot at a
world's title. He failed in a 1961 bid to dethrone
flyweight champion Pone Kingpetch and in 1964 he was
beaten in six rounds by featherweight king Sugar
Ramos. Seki gave Saldivar all he could handle but in
the Vincente pounded out a decision victory.
Seki and Saldivar would meet again in 1967 and this
time Vincente left no doubt to his claim to the
title ending Seki's challenge in the seventh round.
Next was some unfinished business with Mr. Winstone.
Again the spry and crafty Welshman traveled the
fifteen round distance but in the end he fell short.
The two bouts between Saldivar and Winstone were
close enough to justify a third meeting. This time
Saldivar ruled supreme ending Winstone's dream in
the twelfth round.
With really no one left to seriously challenge
Vincente, he decided to retire. Quickly the World
Boxing Council matched Saldivar's two toughest
challengers, Howard Winstone and Mitsunori Seki for
the vacant title. On January 23, 1968 Howard
Winstone finally got his championship beating Seki
in nine rounds. Howard's stay at the top was short
lived as he lost the title to Spain's Jose Legra in
Finally there was some new blood in the division.
Legra in turn would lose his crown by decision to
Australia's Johnny Famechon. Saldivar still felt he
was the best featherweight in the world so he
embarked on a come back. To prove he was worthy of a
title shot he out fought Legra to win a ten round
verdict. Then on May 9, 1970 in Rome, Italy Vincente
met the champion Famechon. The Aussie was a very
good fighter who had just sent the great Fighting
Harada into retirement with a brutal fourteenth
round kayo. Against Saldivar he was out boxed and
out fought but gamely went the distance. The great
Saldivar was king again.
It all came crashing down in his next fight.
Vincente took on Japan's Kuniaki Shibata. It seemed
like Vincente grew old overnight. At times he boxed
well and punched sharply but at other times seemed
overwhelmed by the force of Shibata's attacks. The
Japanese fighter was very strong and try as he
might, Vincente was unable to hold him off. Finally
it was over. It ended in the thirteenth round. The
reign of Saldivar was over.
Maybe Vincente was not yet convinced he was through
or maybe he wanted to go out a winner. Anyway
Saldivar returned to the ring seven months later and
outpointed the always tough Frankie Crawford. Then
two years later Saldivar again emerged to attempt to
regain his throne. Former bantamweight champion Eder
Jofre of Brazil had won recognition by the W.B.C. as
featherweight champion by winning a majority
decision over Jose Legra in May of 1973. Vincente
would meet Jofre on October 21, 1973 in Brazil. What
looked to be a great match up on paper turned out to
be a bitter disappointment. Saldivar had nothing
left. His great skills had eroded. Jofre was too
strong and too powerful for the shell of this once
great fighting machine. It ended in the fourth round
and so did Saldivar's career. There would be no more
Vincente only had forty fights in his career. He won
thirty seven of them. He was a knockout winner on
twenty six occasions. He was the whole package in
his prime. Pound for pound he was one of the best
fighters in the 60's.
CAREER SHORT OF HEAVYWEIGHT AL "BLUE" LEWIS
The late 60’s and early 70’s spawned an array of fistic talent in
the heavyweight division. From the great champions Patterson,
Liston, Ali, Frazier and Foreman along with Ellis and Terrell to the
parade of bonafide contenders. Almost always among the top
contenders of the day were the names of Chuvalo, Quarry, Bonevena,
Shavers, Bugner, Leotis Martin and Henry Clark. Throw in
a Mac Foster, Boone Kirkman and Chuck Wepner and you get an idea of
the talented mix. Among the elite during this time was a fine
fighter out of Michigan named Al “Blue” Lewis. It is conceivable
that if “Blue” would have boxed in a different era, he may have
become a champion.
Lewis turned pro in 1966 and quickly racked up eight straight
victories that year. He continued to roll in 1967
winning six more. Among his victims were veterans Aaron Eastling,
Willie McMillan and Dick Wipperman. Al’s 14 bout win streak ended
when rugged Bob Stallings in seven rounds stopped him. “Blue”
regrouped in 1968 and he reeled off five more wins, twice beating
Stallings in rematches. He also scored a huge victory stopping
highly regarded Eduardo Corletti in two rounds. People began to take
Lewis seriously as a legitimate contender.
The bubble burst on November 26,1968 when Lewis soared to an early
lead over veteran Leotis Martin but faded down the
stretch, the bout being stopped in the ninth round. Three months
later Al again failed to beat the clever Martin dropping a ten round
Lewis spent the rest of 1969 and 1970 trying to re-establish
himself. He won six straight including a kayo
win over Cleveland Williams. On October 4,1971 “Blue” traveled
to Argentina to meet Oscar Bonevena. He returned with a seventh
round disqualification loss. Many felt that Al was getting the
better of Oscar at the time of the stoppage. His performance against
Bonevena was good enough to get Al a shot at Muhammad Ali. The
former champion was fighting all the contenders trying to eliminate
all of them to force a bout with titleholder Joe Frazier. The
Ali-Lewis content took place on July 19,1972 in Dublin, Ireland.
Muhammad struggled with Lewis before scoring a knockdown in the
middle rounds. Al rallied back but Ali finally ended matters in the
Lewis came back in 1973 beating Charlie Reno but then losing a
surprising verdict to Big Jack O’Halloran. Lewis then scored three
straight kayo victories over mediocre opponents. He then decided to
hang up the gloves finishing with a 30-6 record. Today “Blue” is a
respected trainer in Detroit.
CANADA'S ROBERT CLEROUX . . .
BEAT CHUVALO TWICE.
No doubt the most well
known heavyweight to come out of Canada is George Chuvalo.
For a while Lennox Lewis called it his home and Trevor
Berbick made his mark but George is still #1 in Canada.
Nevertheless there is a very overlooked heavyweight
contender from the 1960's who at one time was closing in on
a world title shot. His name was Robert Cleroux. The fact is
that "Big Bob" had a trilogy of bouts with Chuvalo for the
Canadian heavyweight title. Cleroux won two of those
Cleroux was born on February 23,1938. He
joined the punch for pay ranks in 1957 after winning the
Golden Gloves title in 1956. At 6'1'' and
weighing over 200 pounds,he was a fairly big heavyweight in
his era. He won twelve of his first thirteen contests. Only
a draw with Eddie Vick stained his record. He beat Eddie in
a return go. Vick would go on to fight the likes of Tommy
"Hurricane" Jackson.Chuck Wepner,Jeff Merritt and Bob Foster
twice during his
career. Bob invaded New York's Madison Square Garden in
1959 and suffered his first loss, an eight round decision to
veteran Buddy Turman.
Cleroux would regroup to win nine in a row including a
decision over Willie Besmanoff and a five round kayo against
Roy "Cut-N-Shoot" Harris. In 1960 he won a close and hard
fought split decision over Chuvalo to capture the Canadian
crown. Later in the year he would drop a twelve round
verdict to George losing the title. In between those two
battles, Bob halted Turman in two rounds to gain a measure
1961 was a good year for Robert as he stopped Harold Carter,
Harris again and the hard hitting Alex Miteff. He then won
another split decision over Chuvalo to recapture the
Canadian heavyweight championship.. He defended that title
by knockout over Cecil Gray and then stopped rugged George
Logan in seven. Then Bob hit a rough patch dropping ten
rounders to the highly rated Zora Folley and tough Mike
DeJohn. He then won a close points call against Tom McNeely.
Cleroux followed that with four straight knockout victories
and was again paired with the clever Folley. Zora clearly
outboxed Cleroux and Bob stepped away from the ring for five
When Cleroux returned in 1968 he quickly
won five straight bouts. He then outduked the still
dangerous Cleveland Williams to re-establish himself as a
contender for world honors. In 1969 he whipped Charlie Chase
twice and Bob Felstein. It was now rumored that Bob was
going to challenge Jimmy Elis for the WBA version of the
heavyweight title. In July he met Billy Joiner in a tune up
bout. Joiner,a former Ohio standout amateur boxer and
capable professional fighter upset the apple cart by winning
a ten round split decision. With this defeat Cleroux's hopes
for a title shot were dashed and he retired for good.
In 55 fights Bob posted a very respectable 48-6-1 record. He
won 38 by knockout and he was never stopped.
GREG HAUGEN ; HE DESERVES TO BE
Toughness...Every fighter has a degree of mental and physical toughness.
Some more then others. Even the toughest of the lot won't make it all
the way in boxing without a certain degree of skills. The skills can be
obtained by hours of hard work with a trainer. Skills can be taught. A
trainer can not teach a fighter toughness. Either you have enough
toughness or you don't.
There was a little bulldog of a fighter from the state of Washington who
throughout the 1980's and early 90's was a fixture in the world ratings
at 135 and 140 pounds. He developed some pretty good skills along the
way. His name was Greg Haugen and he was good enough to be crowned a
world champion no less then three times.
Haugen turned pro in 1982 and by 1985 he was making his move in the
ratings. That year he scored wins over Jeff Bumpus, Freddie Roach and
Chris Calvin. It was the Calvin fight that I first remember seeing Greg
fight. It was on ESPN and it seemed to me that Calvin was the favorite
going in. Haugen fought a beautiful fight and stopped the game Calvin in
six. In 1986 Greg halted former world title challenger Charlie "White
Lightning" Brown in one round. Later he defeated rugged Edwin Curet to
claim the NABF lightweight title.
The stage was now set for Haugen to meet clever Jimmy Paul for the IBF
lightweight crown. Paul had beat previously undefeated Harry Arroyo of
Youngstown, Ohio in 1985 to win the title. He had since made three
defenses. He was out of the Kronk stable and he was an astute boxer who
earned the nickname, "The Ringmaster". Haugen never let Jimmy get
started in the fight. His aggression and tenacity won over the crowd and
two of the judges. Haugen walked off with a majority decision and the
In 1987 Haugen made his first defense against a red hot lightweight from
Rhode Island named Vinny Pazienza. These two would develop quite a
history together. In their first encounter Vinny would take the crown
from Greg by a unanimous verdict. All three judges had it 144-141 for
Pazienza. Haugen wanted his title back and in their 1988 rematch Greg
did just that. He won a convincing decision over Vinny to regain the
championship. Their paths would cross again.
Haugen made two successful defenses and then he met 1984 Olympic Gold
Medalist Pernell Whitaker. Try as he might Haugen was totally out-boxed
by the ultra slick southpaw Whitaker. After fifteen rounds Greg left the
ring without his belt. Nevertheless Haugen's career was far from over.
In 1990 Haugen met Paz in their rubber match. This time Paz boxed and
moved all night to win a ten round non title fight.
As 1991 rolled in Haugen signed to meet unbeaten Hector "Macho" Camacho.
Hector was 38-0 and had won titles at 130 and 135 pounds. This bout
would be for the fledging WBO's junior welterweight title. In a
controversial fight.Camacho was deducted a point at the beginning of the
twelfth and final round for refusing to touch gloves. Haugen had dogged
Hector all through the fight. The point deduction cost Camacho the fight
on the judges cards. Without the deduction it would have been a draw.
Instead Camacho took his first career loss. They would meet again three
months later and this time Camacho won a close split decision.
In 1992 the popular Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini decided to return to the
ring. Ray had first retired in 1985 after losing his WBA lightweight
title and then failing to regain it against Livingstone Bramble. Four
years later he came out of retirement to lose a very debatable decision
to Camacho. Now three years later he was returning again. This time to
fight Haugen. The pre fight billing for the bout was "Tough Guys Don't
Dance". It looked to be a great match up on paper but the bout itself
was a mismatch. Haugen almost had Ray out in the very first round. The
game Mancini fought on but Haugen dominated him. Finally Greg ended
matters in the seventh round and with the victory he captured the vacant
NABF 140 pound title.
The win over Mancini proved to be a springboard to a tile bout for
Greg against one of the best fighters of the era. The one and only Julio
Cesar Chavez. The bout was for Julio's WBC light welterweight title. It
took place in Mexico City in front of over 132,000 fans. Chavez had a
sterling 84-0 record going into the bout. To me the outstanding Chavez
had two signature fights in his long career. His eleventh round beat
down of the talented Edwin Rosario and his dominating victory over
Haugen. It was not that Chavez beat Greg but how he defeated him. In
this fight JC just took apart a world class fighter. Chavez may have
been at his peak for this fight.
In 1994 Haugen was halted in ten rounds by former two division world
champion Tony "The Tiger" Lopez. That turned out to be Greg's swan song.
Over the next five years Haugen would go 6-4-1 with one no contest. He
finally hung up the gloves in 1999. His career ledger stands at 40-10-1.
He scored 19 knockouts and was only halted three times. He met seven
world champions. He was truly a "Champ" in his own right.
CLEVELAND " BIG CAT " WILLIAMS
Cleveland "Big Cat" Williams was one of three
gifted heavyweights from the 50's and 60's. Williams, Eddie Machen
and Zora Folley were a trio of hard luck boxers who met tragic
deaths after a career of frustration. Machen who lost a decision to
Ernie Terrell in a 1965 W.B.A. title bout may or may not have
committed suicide. Folley who was stopped in seven by Muhammad Ali
in 1967 died of injuries suffered in a poolside accident.
Machen and Folley passed on several years ago. Williams lived to be
66 before being struck down by a moving vehicle. All three finally
received their title shots long after their prime. One wonders how
they would have made out if they got their chance five years earlier
against Floyd Patterson. To Floyd's credit he did win a twelve round
decision over Machen in 1964, two years after he lost his crown to
Williams began his career in 1951 and won his
first 27 fights, 23 by knockout. In 1954, he suffered a knockout
loss to Bob Satterfield. Cleveland did not box in 1955 because he
was in the Army. When he resumed his career he ran off 12 straight
wins leading him to a match with the feared Sonny Liston. The two
traded bombs until Sonny put over the sleeper in round two. Eleven
months later they met again in another war with Sonny winning in
In Cleveland's next 22 fights he went 20-1-1 with 13 kayos. He lost
a decision to Terrell and he drew with Machen. He scored victories
over Terrell, Wayne Bethea, Alex Miteff, Billy Daniels, and Tod
Herring. This led to a title bout with Muhammad Ali in November of
1966. In 1965, Williams was badly injured when he was shot by a
patrolman during a traffic stop argument. The bullet entered his
stomach doing severe damage. That he was even able to fight again,
is a testimony to his will and courage. The Williams that entered
the ring against Ali was just a shell of his former self. In what
many feel was Ali's best career performance, the champion dominated
his aging rival. The bout was mercifully stopped in the third round.
Cleveland would never again be a major factor in the division. He
lost to Bob Cleroux and and Mac Foster and served as an opponent for
upcoming fighters looking for a name on their record.
I had the
opportunity to see Williams box a decent heavy weight named Ted
Gullick at the old Cleveland Arena. Gullick would meet George
Foreman, Earnie Shavers, and Duane Bobick during his career, but he
was no match for Williams this night. Using a ram rod jab and a
solid body attack, Cleveland outboxed his upstart foe to win a ten
rounder. The consummate professional at work. That is how I'll
remember Cleveland Williams.
He turned professional in 1974 and in a short time he became a
serious contender for the welterweight title. Dave ” Boy ” Green took
England by storm. He won his first 24 fights as he quickly climbed the
ladder. In 1976 he halted Billy Waith in an eliminator for the British
junior welterweight title. Later in the year he stopped Joey Singleton
to win the British title.
1976 continued to be a big year for the busy Green as he defeated
seasoned veterans Ramiro Bolanos and Jimmy Heair. Dave finished the year
by knocking out Jean Baptiste Piedvache to win the European 140 pound
Six months before Green’s win over Piedvache, John H. Stracey the man
who had finally dethroned the great Jose Napoles surrendered the
welterweight title to Carlos Palomino. The drums were now beating for a
match between Green and Stracey. Finally in March of 1977 the two met at
Wembley. This much anticipated fight ended with Green the winner in the
Next up, a shot at Carlos Palomino and the WBC welterweight crown.
This fight took place in June of 1977. What a fight it was. Green was
never one to take a backward step and he forced the action from the
beginning. Palomino was as tough as nails. He was a great counter
puncher. He was also a devastating body puncher as Stracey had found
out. Nevertheless Green forced Carlos to give ground early in the fight.
As the bout wore on Palomino was working his way back in but after ten
rounds it was a very close fight. Then in round eleven, boom and it was
over. One punch left Green out on the canvas. Palomino had retained his
title and Green had taken his first defeat.
Three months later the gritty Green bounced right back to outpoint
the formidable Andy Price. A fighter who held victories over Palomino
and WBA champion Pipino Cuevas. That was the start of a seven fight win
streak for Dave. It all came crashing down in June of 1979 when Green
was surprisingly stopped by Denmark’s Joergen Hansen in the third round
for the European welterweight title.
Dave came back to win two fights and then found himself again
challenging for the WBC welterweight title. Palomino had been out boxed
by the clever Wilfred Benitez in losing his title. In turn Benitez was
halted in the final round by Sugar Ray Leonard who was now the champ. On
March 31, 1980 Green came to America to challenge Leonard. With one of
the most devastating left hooks I’ve ever seen Leonard flattened Dave in
round four. It was a brutal knockout.
It is hard to recover from a loss like that but Green put together four
wins to stay in contention. Finally on November 3, 1981 Green lost in
five rounds to Reggie Ford, a fighter with an 8-7-1 record. It was time
to hang up the gloves.
Green ended his career with 41 fights. He won 37. In all four of his
losses he was stopped. In turn he won 29 by the kayo route. He was a
tough, game and rugged competitor. He was among the best
welterweights in the world in an era when the welterweight division
was loaded with talent.
Green: Where are they now? Eastside Boxing.
MARTY MONROE: THE FORGOTTEN CONTENDER
Back in the late 1970’s and early 80’s there was a
heavyweight out on the West Coast. His name was Marty Monroe.
Marty was from Los Angeles and he turned pro in 1974. In 1976 he beat
another up and coming heavyweight named Randy Mack. In 1977 he defeated
tough Joe Gholston. In 1978 he defeated Leroy Boone.
In 1980 Marty would lose a decision to the rough and rugged Scott
Ledoux. Marty bounced right back with impressive stoppage victories over
Lynn Ball and Eddie ” The Animal ” Lopez. Marty was now a force to be
In 1981 Monroe would meet the streaking Greg Page.
At this time Page
was considered one of the best heavyweight prospects in the game. Greg
proved to be too much for Monroe halting a game Marty in the sixth
That might have been the best performance in the career of Greg Page.
Marty would layoff for two years and then return to win two fights. He
ended his career in 1983 with a very respectable 25-2-1 record. He
sixteen knockouts and was stopped only once.
BOXER'S TALE OF THE TAPE . . .
He may have been one of the best
middleweights to never hold a title. He was a ranked contender for
almost a decade but he received only one title shot. That was fairly
late in his fine career. He fought in the days when there only eight
weight divisions with ONE champion per division. By today's
standards Attilio "Rocky" Castellani would have easily won a piece
of a title.
Rocky was born on May 28, 1927 in Luzerne,
Pennsylvania. He would die in the same town 81 years later. Rocky made
his professional debut on February 14, 1944 fighting to a six round
draw. He would lose his next two fights by knockout. It's very hard to
believe at this point that Rocky would one day become a top contender.
He was tenacious though and he soon began to win more then he lost. He
was stopped in four rounds by Billy Kilroy in 1946.He would only be
halted one more time in his career and that was not until 1952. In fact
Rocky was only defeated by kayo only four times in 83 career battles.
Seeing the competition he faced, that is quite amazing !
Rocky beat Kilroy in a 1947 rematch and then he
made his Madison Square Garden debut against rugged Lenny "Boom Boom"
Mancini. The father of Ray Mancini was a pretty tough guy himself. Rocky
won a decision in this fight. He would defeat Lenny again later in the
year.1948 was a good year for Rocky as he moved steadily up the ladder
with wins over Harold Green, Herbie Kronowitz and clever boxer out of
Niles, Ohio named Sonny Horne.
In 1949 Rocky lost a decision to Charley Fusari
at the Garden. Later though he would defeat the slick Tony Janiro in
Scranton, Pennsylvania. Back at the Garden Castellani lost to the great
Kid Gavilan. Rocky would then put together a ten fight win streak that
would carry him into 1952 and establish him as a fighter to be contended
with. Among his victims were Harold Green, Ernie Durando, Gene "Silent"
Hairston and a rough fellow named Joey Giardello. In 1952 Rocky lost a
controversial stoppage to Durando. He quickly regrouped to defeat Ralph
"Tiger" Jones. He drew with the outstanding Billy Graham and he defeated
another top notch guy in Johnny Bratton. As you can see Rocky ran in
In December of 1952 Rocky made his debut at the
famous but now long gone Cleveland Arena. Rocky would become quite
popular there. That night he defeated a good fighter named Jimmy Flood.
In 1953 Rocky would again defeat Tiger Jones. He would split a pair of
verdicts with highly regarded Pierre Langlois.He then stopped a gutsy
Clevelander named Jackie Keough. Rocky finished the year with a big win
over Philly's Gil Turner.
In 1954 Rocky would win a one sided decision
over Durando. That set the stage for August 20th at the Cow Palace in
San Francisco. Rocky would face Carl "Bobo" Olson for the middleweight
championship of the world. At this point Rocky had been a pro for a
decade and a top contender for a half dozen years. The fight with Olson
was well contested. Bobo was a very good fighter and he is in the
International Boxing Hall Of Fame. Rocky gave a good account of himself.
He had Bobo down in the eleventh. Rocky was down in the twelfth. In the
end Olson retained his title with a few points to spare.
In 1955 Rocky took on the legendary Sugar Ray
Robinson. Ray was on the comeback trail and the winner of this fight
would probably get another crack at the title. It was a very close fight
Rocky floored Ray in the sixth round and had him hurt. Robinson survived
and won a controversial split decision. Again Rocky was on the outside
looking in. In 1956 at the Cleveland Arena Rocky took on Gene Fullmer.
The bull like Fullmer took the early rounds as his strength and awkward
style had Rocky on the defensive. By the middle rounds though Rocky had
figured Gene out and was putting on a counter punching clinic. Still in
the judges eyes it was not enough and again Rocky was on the short end
of a split decision.
From this point Rocky's career began to wind
down. He was still a viable contender but there were two losses to Joey
Giambra. In 1957 Rocky lost to Bobby Boyd and Rory Calhoun and he
decided to hang up the gloves. He put together a sterling record of
65-14-4 facing the cream of the crop. He was a fan favorite at the
Garden, the Cleveland Arena and in Scranton. As a fan you knew, when
Rocky Castellani stepped into the ring, you were going to get your
money's worth. Rocky would become a popular and highly respected fight
I would like to thank Rocky's son David and the
rest of the Castellani family for sharing information and photos of
Rocky. He was loved and respected by his family, friends and the sport
VINCENTE SALDIVAR : A MEXICAN LEGEND
The 1960s spawned many great fighters: Dick
Tiger, Jose Torres, Emile Griffith, Luis Rodriguez, and
Carlos Ortiz just to name a few. One of the best of this era
was a 5'3" southpaw from Mexico City named Vicente Saldivar.
He ruled the featherweight division for three years and then
retired. He decided to come back and two and a half years
after he gave up his crown, he reclaimed it.
legend was born on March 5, 1943. He started his professional
career in 1961 and quickly showed that he was a budding star.
Saldivar won his first sixteen fights and scored thirteen
knockouts. He suffered his first loss in December of 1962 when
he was disqualified in a bout against Baby Luis. In 1963,
Saldivar made great strides in the rankings. He halted the
respected Dwight Hawkins in five rounds. He avenged his loss by
stopping Baby Luis in eight rounds. There was also an impressive
one round win over Eloy Sanchez.
8, 1964, Saldivar captured the Mexican featherweight title by
knocking out Juan Ramirez in two rounds. He defended the title
with a twelve round points win over tough Eduardo "Lalo"
Guerrero. Then on June 1st, Vicente won a very
important bout against future lightweight champion Ismael
Laguna. Saldivar outscored the clever Laguna in ten rounds.
On September 26, 1964, Vicente Saldivar won the featherweight
championship of the world. He battered the great champion Sugar
Ramos and the bout ended in the twelfth round with a new
champion being crowned. Saldivar was about to begin a campaign
that eliminated all opposition to his throne. He started in 1965
by wearing down and finally stopping his game challenger Raul
Rojas in the final round. In his next defense, Vicente turned
back the fierce challenge of Welshman Howard Winstone in fifteen
rounds. These two would get to know each other very well over
the next few years.
Saldivar opened 1966 with a two round kayo over Floyd Robertson.
Next, Vicente faced the stern challenge of Japan's Mitsunori
Seki. For the Japanese tiger, it would be his third shot at a
world title. He failed in a 1961 bid to dethrone flyweight
champion Pone Kingpetch. In 1964, he was beaten in six rounds by
featherweight king Sugar Ramos. Seki gave Saldivar all he could
handle, but Vincente pounded out a decision victory in fifteen
Seki and Saldivar would meet again in 1967. This time, Vicente
left no doubt to his claim to the title, ending Seki's challenge
in the seventh round. Next was some unfinished business with Mr.
Winstone. Again, the spry and crafty Welshman traveled the
fifteen round distance. However, in the end he fell short. The
two bouts between Saldivar and Winstone were close enough to
justify a third meeting. This time, Saldivar ruled supreme,
ending Winstone's dream in the twelfth round.
With really no one left to seriously challenge Vicente, he
decided to retire. Quickly, the World Boxing Council matched
Saldivar's two toughest challengers Howard Winstone and
Mitsunori Seki for the vacant title. On January 23, 1968, Howard
Winstone finally got his championship by beating Seki in nine
rounds. Howard's stay at the top was short lived as he lost the
title to Spain's Jose Legra in five rounds.
Finally, there was some new blood in the division. Legra in turn
would lose his crown by decision to Australia's Johnny Famechon.
Saldivar still felt he was the best featherweight in the world,
so he embarked on a comeback. To prove he was worthy of a title
shot, he outfought Legra to win a ten round verdict. Then on May
9, 1970 in Rome, Italy, Vicente met the champion Famechon. The
Aussie was a very good fighter who had just sent the great
Fighting Harada into retirement with a brutal fourteenth round
kayo. Against Saldivar, he was outboxed and outfought, but
gamely went the distance.
Saldivar was king again.
came crashing down in his next fight. Vicente took on Japan's
Kuniaki Shibata. It seemed like Vicente grew old overnight. At
times, he boxed well and punched sharply, but at other times he
seemed overwhelmed by the force of Shibata's attacks. The
Japanese fighter was very strong. Try as he might, Vicente was
unable to hold him off. Finally, it was over. It ended in the
thirteenth round. The reign of Saldivar was over.
was not yet convinced he was through or maybe he wanted to go
out a winner. Saldivar returned to the ring seven months later
and outpointed the always tough Frankie Crawford. Two years
later, Saldivar again emerged to attempt to regain his throne.
Former bantamweight champion Eder Jofre of Brazil had won
recognition by the WBC as featherweight champion by winning a
majority decision over Jose Legra in May of 1973. Vicente would
meet Jofre on October 21, 1973 in Brazil. What looked to be a
great matchup on paper turned out to be a bitter disappointment.
Saldivar had nothing left. His great skills had eroded. Jofre
was too strong and too powerful for the shell of this once great
fighting machine. It ended in the fourth round and so did
Saldivar's career. There would be no more comebacks.
only had forty fights in his career. He won thirty seven of
them. He was a knockout winner on twenty-six occasions. He
was the whole package in his prime. Pound for pound, he was
one of the best fighters in the 1960s. Saldivar was inducted
into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999.
JOHNSON ; ASK NO QUARTER, GIVE NO QUARTER
One of the most exciting fighters
of the 1970's and 80's was three time light heavyweight king
Marvin Johnson. If ever a fighter lived by the sword and died by
the sword, it was Marvin. He was a rangy southpaw who was
constantly shuffling toward his opponent. His give and take
pressure style created several memorable contests.
Born April 12,1954 in
Indianapolis, Indiana, Marvin would become an accomplished
amateur boxer. He was a three time National Golden Gloves
champion. He also represented the United States in the 1972
Olympics winning a bronze medal.
Johnson turned professional in
1973 and won his first fifteen bouts. Twelve wins by knockouts.
Among his victims were capable fighters like Gary Summerhays,
Eddie Owens, Ray Anderson and Tom Bethea. On July 26, 1977
Marvin went to Philadelphia to meet hometown hero Matt Franklin
(later to be known as Matthew Saad Muhammad). This was for the
North American Boxing Federation light heavyweight title. In an
absolute war, Johnson suffered his first defeat as he was halted
in the last round. Johnson rebounded by winning five in a row
scoring victories against Billy "Dynamite" Douglas and Eddie
Davis. Johnson then traveled to Serbia where he lost an eight
rounder to Lottie Mwale. Marvin returned stateside and outscored
highly regarded Jerry Celestine.
On December 2, 1978 Marvin traveled to Europe and upset Mate
Parlov by a tenth round stoppage to win the WBC light
heavyweight crown. It was now time for a rematch with Matthew
Saad Muhammad. This time though it would be on Johnson's home
turf in Indianapolis. They clashed in April of 1979 and it was
again a war ! Muhammad took everything that Johnson had to
offer. He then put on a rally and stripped Marvin of his crown
in the eighth round.
Johnson was not an ex-champion but not for very long. In
November of 1979 he met long time WBA light heavyweight king
Victor Galindez. Marvin punished the game Galindez until the
fight was stopped in round eleven. Now Johnson had the WBA belt
but just for a short time. In March of 1980 Marvin took a
beating from an in shape and motivated Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.
Johnson lost his title in the eleventh. A year later it looked
like Johnson was out of the title picture for good after losing
to upstart Michael Spinks. Michael had won a Gold Medal in the
1976 Olympics and was streaking toward a world title. Johnson
was to be his first stern test. Spinks knocked Marvin out cold
with a devastating left hook in round four.
Johnson still believed he could become champion again. From 1982
to 1985 Marvin won fourteen straight. This included a win over
Jerome Clouden in a "Closet Classic". Johnson also defeated
Johnny Davis, future champion "Prince" Charles Williams and
Eddie Davis for the United States Boxing Association light
heavyweight championship. Finally on February 9, 1986 Johnson
met the talented Leslie Stewart for the vacant WBA title. Marvin
realized his dream of being crowned the champion again in round
seven as a badly cut Stewart could not continue. In his first
defense Johnson outlasted rugged Jean Marie Emebe to win in the
thirteenth round. Next came a 1987 rematch with Stewart. This
time Lady Luck was in the Stewart corner. Marvin gave up his
crown in the eighth round. It was Johnson's last fight.
Marvin Johnson had nothing left to prove. He was the first to
win the 175 pound title three times. He retired with a 43 - 6
ledger. He won 35 fights by KO. He lost five by the knockout
route. Three men he fought, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Victor
Galindez and Michael Spinks are inducted in International Boxing
Hall Of Fame. Yes Marvin Johnson was a thrilling fighter and a
FIGHTERS OF THE 20th
FIGHTERS OF THE 20TH
FIGHTERS OF THE 20TH