With James DeGale and George Groves, giving British boxing it’s latest bitter rivalry. We take a trip down memory lane to look back at some past heated confrontations between British boxers.
Henry Cooper v Joe Bugner – March 1971
Bugner’s controversial win over Henry Cooper at Wembley in 1971 was for British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight titles. Bugner took the referee Harry Gibbs verdict by half a point, sending Nations hero Cooper into retirement.
It took Cooper and the British public many years to get over it and Cooper didn’t speak to referee Harry Gibbs for a long time after.
37 years of bitterness came to an end as two proud warriors settled their differences with a hug and a handshake. Henry Cooper and Joe Bugner have barely spoken since their infamous British heavyweight title fight at Wembley back in March 1971.
Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno – World Heavyweight Title, October 1993
The fight was the first time that two British-born boxers had fought for the world heavyweight title, although Bruno had questioned how British Lewis really was, as he had won a gold medal for Canada at the 1988 Olympic Games as an amateur. Bruno described Lewis as “…not British”, but said “It’s about boxing. I’m sick and tired of his pretenses. He calls himself champion. He acts like he’s a Sugar Ray Leonard or a Willie Pep or a Joe Louis”, and that “Nobody cares about Lennox Lewis in Britain.”
To counter the Bruno claim that he was “not British”, Lewis said, “What was I supposed to do? Not follow my mother to Canada?”, “Look, I’ve fought more British fighters than that guy has. He makes a fool of himself, dressing up in girls’ clothing on television”. Lewis called Bruno an “Uncle Tom”
Nigel Benn v Chris Eubank
Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank fought at middleweight and super middleweight around the same time (1985-1997), and became rivals on both the domestic and world boxing scene. Benn won his first 22 consecutive bouts by knockout, earning the moniker ‘the Dark Destroyer’.
Eubank was the cocky, flamboyant upstart who began calling out Benn after his tenth bout. The rivalry grew, with both men swearing that they would knock the other man out. The British public began to demand the fight to be made. BESTOFBRITISHBOXING
Naseem Hamed v Steve Robinson – WBO featherweight title September 1995.
Naseem Hamed had been blowing his way through the featherweight division before going up against Welsh world champion Steve Robinson. Naz had rattled the quiet man of boxing Robinson in the build-up and had become the villain in the tense weeks before the fight.
The Prince went on to stop Robinson to claim his WBO featherweight title in Cardiff, Wales, Hamed that night was unstoppable and supremely confident and dominated Robinson, taunting him throughout administering a vicious beating. Hamed’s superb footwork and reflexes were on display as he kept Robinson on the end of his lethal left hand, and bobbing and weaving to make Robinson miss with his swinging shots. Hamed showed no mercy on Robinson and ended the rivalry in the 8th round.
James DeGale v George Groves – 21 May 2011
The war of words were rife between London rivals, British super middleweight champion James DeGale and commonwealth champion George Groves, who were to clash at the O2 Arena on May 21 in one of the most eagerly anticipated domestic fights for many a year.
The two former Dale Youth ABC stablemates, who were matched together as amateurs in 2006, when Groves beat two time ABA champion (2004 and 2005) DeGale to win the ABA title himself that year and then DeGale surpassed all amateur gongs by winning a Gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
The heat was white hot in the final days of the build-up and fans were split on who would be victorious, but the common prediction was that DeGale would be just too good for Groves…. tbc.
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