DANIEL DUBOIS and Joe Joyce go head to head in an all-British heavyweight clash in Westminster on Saturday.
Here, our boxing expert selects five of the most memorable all-domestic blockbuster heavyweight championship fights he has covered for SunSport.
HENRY COOPER vs JOE BUGNER
(March 16, 1971, Wembley Arena)
Our ’Enery, a national institution, had held the British heavyweight title — on and off — for more than 11 years and was defending against a young man just three days past his 21st birthday.
Bugner never allowed Cooper to land his feared left hook, affectionately known as ’Enery’s ’Ammer,
After 15 close rounds at the Empire Pool — later renamed Wembley Arena — ref Harry Gibbs caused uproar in the sell-out 10,000 crowd of mostly Cooper fans, when he raised Hungarian-born Bugner’s hand in victory.
It was a highly controversial decision but I thought Gibbs was spot on, which didn’t endear me to Henry or his delightful Italian wife Albina.
That sparked a feud between Cooper and Gibbs that lasted 26 years.
Gibbs felt remarks Cooper made in his book questioned his integrity.
He sued Henry for libel and won a public apology plus £1,000 damages.
Harry said: “I will always be sad that a decision given honestly after such a close fight has led to so much controversy and bitterness.”
Everyone who knew the pair of them was delighted when they buried the hatchet in 1997 — shaking hands at a charity dinner two years before Gibbs died.
JACK BODELL vs DANNY McALINDEN
(June 27, 1972, Villa Park)
Jack had been knocked out in his previous two fights and McAlinden suffered the same fate three months before he challenged Bodell for his British and Commonwealth titles.
So the winner was hardly likely to cause world champion Smokin’ Joe Frazier sleepless nights.
The main interest was whether McAliden — from Newry but Birmingham-based — would become the first Irishman to be a British heavyweight champion.
McAlinden wasted no time turning the fight into the kind of brawl you would normally expect to see on the cobbles once the pubs had closed.
He smashed Bodell to the canvas three times in round two and in less than five minutes it was over.
Danny boy had made history and his Northern Ireland fans invaded the ring to carry him shoulder-high back to the dressing rooms.
JOE BUGNER vs RICHARD DUNN
(Oct 12, 1976, Wembley Arena)
Five months earlier Dunn had been knocked out in five rounds when he was out of his depth while taking on Muhammad Ali for the world title in Munich.
But that didn’t deter the fans and Wembley again put up the sold-out notices as people flocked to see if the likeable Yorkshireman could add Bugner’s European crown to his British and Commonwealth titles.
The 10,000-strong crowd did not have to wait long to find out.
Just six seconds after the opening bell Dunn walked into a Bugner right cross and he was flat on his back on the canvas.
Bravely he beat the count but it was obvious Dunn had been badly hurt and the end wasn’t far off.
Twice more he hit the floor and it was all over in just 2min 14sec.
GARY MASON vs LENNOX LEWIS
(March 6, 1991, Wembley Arena)
This was the classic match-up and it really captured the imagination of the fans.
Mason, unbeaten after 35 fights, was the British champion and Lewis had just won the European title, boasting a 14-0 record.
Jamaica-born Mason was the slight favourite and this was Lewis’ first serious test against a man who was ranked world No 4.
The exciting opening rounds were pretty even but Lewis’ accurate jab brought a horrific swelling beneath Mason’s right eye which was closing rapidly.
Through rounds five and six Mason could not see Lewis’ punches coming and he was taking atremendous punishment.
So it was no surprise that 44 secs into the seventh round referee Larry O’Connell was forced to step in to rescue brave Mason to save him from being knocked out and give Lewis the win.
Londoner Lennox said: “I will never forget Gary’s bravery at the end of our fight.”
Lewis proved conclusively he belonged among the top ten contenders.
Seven fights later he was crowned Britain’s first world heavyweight champion since Bob Fitzsimmons 95 years before.
Mason was tragically killed in 2011 when a van knocked him off his bike in South London.
He was just 48. Lewis was one of the 1,000 mourners at his funeral.
LENNOX LEWIS vs FRANK BRUNO
(October 1, 1993, Cardiff Arms Park)
On a cold and drizzly night at 1am 26,000 fans saw the first world heavyweight championship battle between two British fighters.
Lewis was making the second defence of his crown against the most popular fighter in the country and the majority of the crowd were willing him to victory having seen him knocked out by Mike Tyson and Tim Witherspoon in his two previous attempts to claim the title.
The build-up was toxic as the two men clearly didn’t like each other.
The atmosphere was made worse when Lewis publicly called Bruno an Uncle Tom — implying he had betrayed his heritage.
Lewis was bitter because he could never understand why Bruno was idolised by the fans when he was champion of the world.
Lennox was 1-4 favourite but for the first six rounds Bruno boxed beautifully — outjabbing Lewis, looking very comfortable and confident.
But soon after the start of the seventh Lewis hit him with a right-hand beauty on the chin and Frank, as he always did when hit and hurt, completely unravelled.
He never recovered from that blow and was out on his feet.
With Lewis raining powerful punches at his unprotected head referee
Mickey Vann had no option but to step in save Bruno from being seriously hurt.
Anyone who would have predicted two years later Bruno would beat Oliver McCall to become heavyweight champion of the world at the fourth attempt would have been laughed out of the room.
Source: Read Full Article