There are few things more disadvantageous than an away day in boxing. It is hard enough when it involves going to another city to fight a home town favourite, let alone to another country. When you add a world title on top of that then the unfavourable odds are ratcheted to another level.
Some fighters make a career out of never travelling out of their own backyard for this very reason. Old boxing sages will tell you that on the road: only a knockout or a stoppage will do. A journey to the judges’ cards is famously unreliable when in the intervening 12 rounds, the local support has enthusiastically cheered every half-blocked shot and misdirected swipe from their local favourite.
British fighters in general can build their own case for having had an especially hard time of it. From the “fake news” recollections of Tommy Farr being robbed against Joe Louis or poor old Don Cockell being continually roughed up and fouled by the street corner tactics of Rocky Marciano. What was a one-sided ninth round stoppage in a US ring could easily have transpired into an early DQ victory for the Londoner had the fight been held on the other side of the Atlantic.
With this in mind British Boxers takes a look at some of British boxing’s most successful and memorable away days:
Ted “Kid” Lewis vs Jack Britton (Boston, August 1915)
Britain’s P4P great Lewis and the man known as the “Boxing Marvel” both enjoyed outstanding careers in which they opposed each other a quite remarkable 20 times. Although, perhaps not entirely surprising when considering that they fought almost 400 professional contests between them. The majority of the bouts were subject to the “no decision rule” and thus the statistical history is dependent on the vagaries of newspaper decisions and the divergent views of ringside journalists.
The welterweight title fight at Boston Armory marked only the second contest between the two warriors. Six months earlier Lewis had dropped a newspaper decision over ten rounds in New York. Despite, Lewis only being 21 he entered the ring with 138 victories already on his record.
In a hard fought encounter Lewis collected the verdict over 12 rounds. He would go on to lose the title the following year against Britton, reclaim it again in 1917, only for his old foe to finally have the last word and snatch it from him permanently two years later.
Ken Buchanan vs Ismael Laguna (San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 1970)
The Edinburgh lightweight must hold a strong claim to being Scottish boxing’s greatest of all-time. Or at least occupying the top two alongside Glasgow’s brilliant but flawed flyweight genius, Benny Lynch. Buchanan’s journey to Puerto Rico to take on Panamanian Ismael Laguna, marked only his second fighting foray outside of the UK. The earlier trip ending with a loss of his unbeaten record amid a narrow and contentious points loss in Madrid to Spaniard Miguel Valazquez, for the vacant European title.
Laguna was defending his WBA title for the second time, after securing the crown six months earlier via ninth round stoppage of Mando Ramos.
In a no holds barred battle, where neither of the judges could find more than a round difference between both fighters, Buchanan triumphed via split decision. Using his jab well the Edinburgh man fought with a strong engine and threatened to overwhelm his Panamanian opponent in the championship rounds. It was this work-rate in the closing section of the fight that proved integral to Buchanan getting the nod.
Buchanan went on to capture the WBC version of the title the following year against late replacement Ruben Navarro. Before, losing his title against Roberto Duran at Maddison Square Garden in 1972.
John H Stracey vs Jose Napoles (Mexico City, Dec. 1975)
Popular East end welterweight John H Stracey had cleared up everything at a domestic and European level prior to challenging the legendary Jose Napoles for his WBC championship belt. This was to be the legendary champions 88th and final appearance as the referee stopped the contest on cuts in the sixth.
In the 11th defence of his title, the 35-year old champion floored Stracey with a left hook in the opening round only for the Englishman to climb of the canvass, compose himself, negotiate the round, and proceed to deliver a high intensity battering to the Mexico based Cuban.
The fight took place in the open air pressure cooker of the Mexico City bullring, with few pre-fight observers giving Stracey even a glimmer of hope of returning triumphant. As Stracey grew in confidence, including scoring his own knockdown, the fiercely partisan crowd rained down bottles and any other debris that they could find into the ring.
The man from London’s Bethnal Green went on to successfully defend the title once, before being stopped midway through the 12th, in a bruising encounter with Carlos Palamino six months later.
Alan Minter vs Vito Antuofermo (Las Vegas, March 1980)
Crawley’s Alan Minter took on New York based Italian Vito Antuofermo under the bright lights of Cesars Palace. In the second defence of his title, following an earlier draw against Marvin Hagler, the undisputed middleweight championship of the world was on the line.
In a match-up of contrasting styles the upright Minter used his jab to probe the brawling Antuofermo. Despite, suffering a disputed knockdown in the 14th round, the man known as “Boom Boom” picked up the verdict on the judges’ cards. A split decision that was hotly contested by the now ex-champion and many ringsiders.
However, any doubts as to the validity of Minter to call himself champion were dispelled just three months later as he battered Antuofermo to defeat in eight one sided rounds at Wembley. The title was then surrendered before the year was out amidst beer cans and riots as Marvin Hagler unwound the Englishman in three one sided rounds.
Lloyd Honeyghan vs Donald Curry (New York, Sept. 1986)
After securing the triumvirate of British, Commonwealth and European honours the previous year; Honeyghan was matched with Donald “The Lone Star Cobra” in Atlantic City. Honeyghan’s task appeared hopeless against an unbeaten opponent that was rated as a P4P superstar. With the undisputed welterweight title on the line many bookmakers considered the outcome to be so predictable that they deigned to even open up a market on it.
The champions build up to the fight had been horrendous as his camp descended into acrimony and managerial disputes. Subsequent, rumour has it, that Curry wished to pull out of the defence due to being short of condition and struggling to make the weight. However, nothing can detract from Honeyghan’s success in what The Ring classified as their “Upset of the Year” for 1986. A victory that was secured when a battered and badly cut Curry declined to come out for the seventh round.
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