TOO often British champions have been figures of fun for some fans. How often have you heard the words: "He can't fight," from ringsiders.

Perhaps some proud Lonsdale Belt owners were forgettable. But, there have been plenty more who didn't deserve criticism.

Here are ten under-rated domestic champions who warrant more credit for their achievements.

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PRINCE RODNEY (31-9-1) British light-middleweight champion 1983-86

VERY few people took Huddersfield's favourite fighting son seriously after losses to Steve Hopkin and Charlie Malarkey was followed by a horrible one round KO at the fists of Herol Graham in 1981. Like most Yorkshiremen he rose to the occasion when it came to fighting Londoners.  Jimmy Batten fans thought Rodney was at the Royal Albert Hall to make up the numbers in their light-middleweight title contest in November 1983, but the cockney was hammered in six rounds. A  first round sensational win over another Londoner,  Jimmy Cable followed, but Rodder's reign ended when he ran into Chris Pyatt. He boxed just three more times and quit in 1990 after losing a cruiserweight clash against Terry Dixon.

 

JOHN L GARDNER (35-4) British heavyweight champion 1978-79

TOO many people who know little about boxing dismiss John L because of his violent four round defeat to Mike Dokes in June 1981. At that time Dokes was unbeaten in 21 contests and the most feared heavyweight prospect in the world that was yet to discover a passion from crack, crack and more crack! At British and European level  Gardner was the daddy. He beat Billy Aird to win the title and Wembley's Empire Pool was packed to the rafters when he stopped feared Yorkshire con Paul Sykes in six rounds, a night where every gangster from north of Watford turned up. People also forget about Gardner's brilliant win against Lorenzo Zanon in Lombardia, Italy in November 1980 to become European champ. He also chinned Ossie Ocasio who became WBA cruiserweight champion in his next bout.

 

Julius Francis

JULIUS FRANCIS (above) (23-24-1) British heavyweight champion 1999

OKAY Big Jules seemingly hit the deck every time Mike Tyson's right hand got within an inch of his chin in their Manchester circus fight in January 2000, but don't hold that against the Londoner. When he became British champion he was in as cannon fodder for unbeaten Pele Reid and hammered him. He followed that with upset wins over Danny Williams and Scott Welch, no mean feats. The Woolwich warrior also gave Axel Schulz and Zeljko  Mavrovic problems. He did lose his last 14, but by that time the ambition had been knocked out of him.

 

BRIAN ANDERSON (27-9-3) British middleweight champion 1986-87

BRIAN was one of the first successes to emerge from Brendan Ingle's all conquering Wincobank gym. Nobody gave him any easy touches beating men like Eckhard Dagge, Emmanuel Otti and Gratien Tonna on his travels. Anderson captured the domestic title in 1986 knocking out fearsome puncher Tony Burke, but was stopped by Tony Sibson in his first defence. Like many Ingle fighters he has been a success after boxing.  He retired at the age of 26 after the Sibson defeat and studied at Huddersfield Polytechnic. In 2006 he became Britain's first black prison governor when he became boss man at Doncaster prison.

 

 

ROY GUMBS (26-12-3) British middleweight champion 1981-83

WHAT a shame the Tottenham boxer is best known for losing a five round thriller to Mark Kaylor at Alexandra Palace in September 1983. Dig the ruck up on You Tube and you'll go back for more. Gumbs won just nine of his first 19 contests and was ridiculed when he made the most of Kevin Finnegan's retirement in 1981 and won the 11st 6lb crown stopping Eddie Mills. Defences against Eddie Burke and Glen McEwan showed he was for real before he beat Jerry Holly to become Commonwealth champion.  Gumbs returned to his birth place St Kitts in 1988 where he owns the Monkey Bar and Restaurant at Frigate Bay beach.

 

DAVID PEARCE (17-4-1) British heavyweight champion 1983

HE will go down in the record books as the last man to win a scheduled 15 round British title fight. The Newport bomber took the title when he avenged a previous KO loss against Neville Meade, stopping his fellow Welshman at St David's Hall, Cardiff.  In March 1984 he dropped Lucien Rodriguez twice in a European title challenge, but lost a dodgy verdict. Just 12 months earlier the Frenchman had gone the distance with Larry Holmes in a WBC title fight.  Pearce lost his licence because of brain abnormality in the mid-eighties. Pearce's final years were marked by epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease. The man from a family of seven boxing brothers died in May 2000 at the age of 41.

 

JIMMY REVIE (38-9-2) British featherweight champion 1969-1971

HAD the Stockwell southpaw been campaigning today he would have been good competition to lads like Lee Selby. The undisputed king of Manor Place Baths in the late 60s and early 70s was often scoffed at because Alan Rudkin who he defeated by a ?? point in his first defence at the Royal Albert Hall was only a bantamweight.  Punters also think of his losses to Vernon Sollas, Jim Watt and Charlie Nash in 1975 and 76. By that stage Revie was washed up. People forget he defeated Sollas in their first meeting.

 

GARY COOPER (16-9-2) British light-middleweight champion 1988

WHEN the Hampshire traveller outpointed Welshman Michael Harris for a brief reign as Lonsdale belt wearer, Cooper had been a professional for a decade and harshly considered a journeyman. His first defence saw him run into Gary Stretch and he failed to cash in losing on points. Like Revie, he would have been more than a match for most in the British 154lb division today. How good was he? His final fight in March 1990 was a points win over future champion and world title challenger Ensley Bingham.

 

Dennis Andries

DENNIS ANDRIES (above) (49-14-2) British light-heavyweight champion 1984-86, British cruiserweight champions 1995

THE Hackney Rock's crude style used to have fans roaring with laughter at ringside, but the joke was eventually on them! His age was always a puzzle and too many it was a bigger mystery when he outpointed Tom Collins at the Lyceum Ballroom on London's Strand to become British champ. Within two years he waltzed to the WBC light-heavyweight title beating Yank marine JB Williamson. He defended against Tony Sibson before being hammered by Thomas Hearns in March 1987. Andries then quit Greg Steene's camp and joined Hearns at the Kronk and became WBC champion on two more occasions and was involved in a famed trilogy with Jeff Harding which the Aussie won 2-1

 

Peter Oboh

PETER OBOH (right) (14-5) British light-heavyweight champion 2003-04

BIBLE thumping Oboh had plenty of people shouting for him, but no promoter would let their fighter near him. He battered Neil Simpson to win the title and in his only defence walked down Andrew Lowe in May 2004 before relinquishing and quitting boxing disillusioned. No credit was ever given to the Lagos born southpaw who was robbed when he stepped up to heavyweight and fought Scott Welch. He also defeated good fighters Ole Klemetsen and Elvis Michailenko. He was a seriously under-rated boxer!