Guillermo Rigondeaux, who showcases his considerable wares against Scouse southpaw Jazza Dickens at Liverpool’s Echo Arena next month, might be the greatest Cuban fighter that ever lived.
The 35 year old double Olympic gold medallist and two-time world amateur champion boasts a perfect 16 fight pro slate that already lists seven world championships and an additional two ‘interim’ title fights.
The man they call ‘El Chacal (‘The Jackal’)’ was last beaten in 2003 and enters a prohibitive 33-1 on to retain his unbeaten status against British champ Jazza but anything can happen in a two horse race.
Glynn Evans reflects on five home grown heroes who felled Goliath.
5) Danny Williams
Okay, ‘Iron Mike’ Tyson was no longer ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ when in July 2004, aged 38, he selected Brixton’s finest to feast on.
But the ear-munching, bone-crunching Brooklynite had still only lost once in seven years – a world title tilt at Lennox Lewis – and was 9-1 on to make short shrift of the South Londoner noted for a notoriously fragile psyche.
Desperate Dan was wobbled and almost gobbled in round one and five points adrift on all cards after three sessions, having been docked two points for ‘transgressions’. But seemingly energised by performing in the same Louisville fairground where Muhammad Ali made his pro debut 44 years earlier, one sensed that Williams had prepared for 10 rounds of war while Mighty Mike had gambled on the fight finishing inside three.
After ten minutes his tank had emptied and in round four Williams connected with 26 unanswered punches to force the referee’s intervention.
4) Kirkland Laing
In September 1982, Jamaica-born, Hackney based Kirk appeared the perfect foil for raging Roberto Duran to shed some rust and sharpen those stone fists between superfights with Wilfred Benitez and Tony Ayala.
The charcoal-eyed, sneering Panamanian was an ex two-weight, future four-weight world champ who’d lost just three of 74 going into this non-title ten rounder at Detroit’s Cobo Arena. Laing, conversely, had twice been relieved of his consciousness by Welshman Colin Jones. ‘Mismatch’ screamed the cognoscenti.
But this was the night that the mercurial Laing gave substance to his ring handle of ‘The Gifted One’. For half an hour, the man who far preferred partying to punching confused and bruised the bully, taking a ten round decision and the gong for Ring magazine’s Upset of the Year.
3) John H. Stracey
[Image credit: Boxing Voice]
One-time Great Britain Olympian and reigning European welter champion Stracey appeared destined to return with little more than £25,000 compensation and some very lumpy features when he challenged legendary champion Jose Napoles, before 30,000 Hispanics at a Mexico City bull ring in December 1975.
The 35 year old Cuban defector – known as ‘Mantequilla (Butter)’ – had triumphed in 15 of 16 world welter title fights in the preceding six years.
And the boy from Bethnal Green would’ve felt a long way from the sanctuary of the East End in round one when a lightening left hook left him on the carpet.
But the 25 year old Cockney bit hard on his shield to weather the ensuing leather avalanche. Five rounds later, the leaden legged champion was trapped against the ropes, defenceless and ‘catching’, prompting the referee to call time on both the fight and Napoles’ career.
2) Lloyd Honeyghan
Master matchmaker Mickey Duff had orchestrated the Stracey and Laing masterstrokes and he completed a memorable hat-trick when the ‘Honey’ monster ruined undisputed welter king Don Curry at an Atlantic City casino showroom in September 1986.
The 25 year old Texan – unbeaten in 25 and fresh off a brutal two round wipe out of Milton McCrory in a WBC/WBA unifier – was commonly regarded as the finest fighter, pound-for-pound, on the planet.
But ‘The Ragamuffin Man’ from Bermondsey refused to buy into the hype. After lobbing $5000 on himself at 5-1, he attacked with disturbing ferocity to carve open Curry’s face and leave him wobbling like a weeble.
After six hugely one-sided rounds, the spanked Yanks raised the white flag and the annuls of British boxing upsets had a new chapter.
1) Randolph Turpin
[Image credit: Daily Mail]
Unbeaten in 85 amateur bouts and with just a solitary (avenged) loss in 131 pro gigs, Sugar Ray Robinson was already perceived the greatest boxer ever and an invincible force when he landed at London’s Earl’s Court to parade his talent against Turpin in July 1951.
Aged just 30, the wonderfully flamboyant Sugarman was clearly far from spent but was on the final leg of an indulgent European tour in which he’d fought half a dozen non-title fights in 41 days.
But that shouldn’t diminish from the achievement of the 23 year old Leamington Licker who capitalised on his youth, hunger, strength and natural awkwardness to beat the unbeatable over 15 unforgettable rounds.
At the close, the 18,000 capacity crowd bellowed out a rendition of ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,’ and the humble Turpin was transformed into a household hero overnight.