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underrated boxers from the past

5539 Views 22 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  ScouseLeader
ones that don't show up in the history logs too often, but may have been unlucky in their careers or just around at the wrong time....add your picks fellas...

i'd like to kick off with holley mims.

i have read that his fight with a prime sugar ray robinson was a very lucky points win for ray and it could have gone either way with him cutting ray too.....he beat (albeit young) future heavyweight champ jimmy ellis...lost to hurricane carter on points but not before flooring carter...lost a very tight decision on paper to dick tiger (one judge had it a draw)...he beat johnny bratton twice...

..after what apparently was a very dubious points defeat, when he was an old fighter at that stage, against joey archer - "That's OK with me, I beat Archer even if I didn't get the decision. But that's an old story with me."

some of that archer fight..

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Seaman Tommy Watson - Geordie boxer who won the British title and fought for a world championship just losing out to Kid Chocolate. He scalped Fidel La Barba though.
There is no footage of him available unfortunately but here is an article I wrote about him:

Born in 1908 and brought up in the Byker area of Newcastle, little Tommy Watson would become the first boxer from the North-East area of England to be crowned a British champion. Tommy would achieve much through his career including fighting some of the biggest stars in the biggest arena's in the world; however he would be plagued with bad luck which would earn him the nickname of Hard-Luck Tommy.

Tommy started boxing at the age of fifteen at Jimmy Britt's Gym, trained by local boxing hero Jim Falcus. He would not make his professional debut until the age of seventeen by which time he had begun a career in the Royal Navy and was fighting under the name of Seaman Tommy Watson. His first fight would be at St. James Hall on the 28th September 1925 against Tom Pinkney in a six-rounder he would win on points.

Tommy spent his first couple of years as an professional pugilist inactive due to his career in the Navy but would pick it up greatly in 1927 when he teamed up with respected managed and former British title competitor Alex Lambert (A man who had been associated with great fighters such as Nel Tarleton, Benny Lynch and Alf Mancini).

Watson would record twenty-eight straight victories before tasting defeat on points over fifteen rounds against George Rose from Bristol. Although beaten, a disappointed Watson would leave the ring to a standing ovation. Tommy would go another twenty-four fights unbeaten (23 wins amd 1 draw - a controversial draw which most people had Tommy winning with ease) before coming up against Rose again at the Rochester Casino.

Tommy had improved a great deal since there last meeting but so had Rose whom had won thirty-four of his following thirty-six contests including a victory over British lightweight champion Fred Webster. The fight was very close but Rose would again triumph, this time over twelve rounds.

Watson's next opponent was the wonder kid of British boxing Nipper Pat Daly. Daly had started boxing professionally at the age of ten and held impressive wins over Bert Kerby, Kid Socks and Dick Corbett, all before the age of seventeen. The fight would be a classic, keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats. Watson put Daly down twice in the second round and again in the third only for Daly to rally back in the mid-rounds. With the score cards fairly close Watson's relentlessness would catch up with Daly in the tenth round forcing the referee to send Daly back to his corner at the beginning of the eleventh and call the fight in Watson's favour.

This classic encounter persuaded manager Alex Lambert that Watson could be a star in the boxing world and shortly after the Daly fight Watson bought out his discharge from the Navy.

In defeating Daly, Watson had pushed his claims of a shot at the British championship but he would have to go to battle with some of Britain's top boxers at the time to earn the bout. One of these would be another local hero Benny Sharkey, they would fight each other three times in what was hailed as the Battle of Byker and also advertised as for the Featherweight Championship of the North. Sharkey had mixed it with and beaten some very good boxers such as Emile Pladner, Phineas John and former world bantamweight champion Teddy Baldock.
The first fight between the two Geordies would be fought in heavy downpour at Brough Park forcing the referee to order sawdust be thrown across the ring in the fifth so that the boxers could stay on their feet. Watson would be a comfortable winner on points in all three fights.

Watson would also be involved in a trilogy of wars with Sunderland based Scot Dougie Parker. Parker was known for his big punching and would certainly trouble Watson over the course of their fights. Watson was a worthy points winner in the first two fights leading to an excellent third encounter when both men were on the brink of a British Championship match. Parker would put Watson on the canvas three times only for the Seaman to determinately pursue Parker dropping him twice in the eleventh round forcing his corner to throw in the towel.
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STW cont.

In this period of his career Tommy would also claim victory over Belgian champion Francois Machtens, Irish champion Jack Garland, Scottish champion Peter Cuthbertson, Welsh champion Ginger Jones and highly rated Frenchman Julian Verbist. His only defeat from March 1930 until May 1933 would be at the hands of Dom Volante. Watson, diagnosed with tonsillitis, flu and an abscess of the ear refused to call of the fight with Volante who was a very good boxer and had beaten sixteen champions in his career. Watson would pay heavily seeing the canvas six times before his corner retired him.

Watson's impressive run would finally earn him a shot at the British featherweight championship. His opponent would be Nel Tarleton, a Liverpudlian who had earned a reputation by beating a line of top competitors and had drawn with ring legend Panama Al Brown just months before this fight (Remarkably Tarleton did this with a ruptured spine muscle, revealed after the fight).

They would fight over fifteen rounds at The Stadium in Liverpool, Watson would show tremendous work rate in a very close fight which went the full distance (Watson cutting Tarleton's eye in the fifteenth). Watson's hand would be raised at the end and the Geordie fans would raise the roof as Lord Lonsdale presented Tommy with the Lonsdale Belt making him the first boxer from the North-East of England to win a British championship.

Tommy would set his sights on world glory and hoped to fight Kid Chocolate in America for his world featherweight championships. Watson set sail for America only to be told that all foreigners must first prove themselves in the states before being granted a shot at the champion. Watson had to go through the rigmarole of having to impress a judging committee behind closed doors in two-round sparring sessions with several fighters.

Although upset that a fighter of his calibre would have to go through such ridiculous measures he agreed and was granted the title fight only for Chocolate to be deported from the US as he did not have a permit for visiting from the Department of Labour (Chocolate had fought their twenty-five times previously without being asked for this permit). The fight was again on the back burner.

Undeterred in his pursuit for world glory Tommy agrees to fight former world flyweight champion and Olympic gold medallist Fidel La Barba in an eliminator for the world featherweight championship. La Barba was a class act and had beaten world champions such as Frankie Genaro, Jimmy McLarnin and even Kid Chocolate in a non-title match.

The fight would take place at Madison Square Garden in front of over 11,000 spectators in what would be the first appearance of a British featherweight champion in an American ring for over twenty years. La Barba started fast putting Tommy on the mat in the first round but Watson clawed his way back punching La Barba into the ropes in round four. Although close in the early rounds Watson vicious work rate won him many of the latter rounds and he cut Fidel's left eye in the eleventh.

When the bell ended after the twelfth Tommy's hand was raise and the New York fans all cheered their new hero. Watson would arrive back in Newcastle to a thunderous reception as if he had won a world title.

Eligio Sardinas Montalvo (Kid Chocolate) was a Cuban sensation and is still classed as one of the greatest ever fighters too this day. Watson would have his work cut out if he was to beat the Cuban who had only been beaten by a handful of boxers all of whom were considered top world level boxers (Jack 'Kid' Berg, Fidel la Barba, Toni Canzoneri and Battling Battalino).

There was 14,000 fans awaiting Tommy Watson to see if he could beat Chocolate at Madison Square garden on the 19th May 1935 and none would leave disappointed after a brilliant fight. Chocolate would use his boxing skills wisely whilst looking to land his big left whereas Watson used his in-fighting style going to the body trying to break Chocolate down.

Watson saw the canvas in the tenth round being caught with a left hook but was straight back to his feet. He would catch the Kid in the twelfth with a big right that buckled the Cubans knees and bloodied his lips but stood off and gave him time to recover. It was all square going into the fifteenth and final round and in the end the judges felt Chocolate had done enough to retain his championships.

There were many who disagreed with the verdict including Watson, who never one to complain told close friends and family after he retired that he thought he was robbed. The fight earned Watson a lot of praise including of former world heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey who labelled Watson a great fighter. Kid Chocolates manager Luis Gutierrez also stated that his boy had taken more punishment in that fight that in any other to date.

Tommy's bad-luck continued after the fight when the promised re-match fell through along with other big fights against the likes of Panama Al Brown, Toni Canzoneri, Tommy Rogers and Jimmy Walsh, all for various reasons. Watson would keep him self busy whilst waiting for a another championship bout by winning several big fights against the likes of Dave Crowley, Johnny Cuthbert and Billy Gannon. He would also make a defence of his British title beating Scotland's Johnny McMillan over fifteen rounds.

A win over the current British bantamweight champion Dick Corbett would lead Watson to his second defence against old rival Nel Tarleton. In another close fight Watson was ahead going into the thirteenth round when an unintentional head butt by Tarleton badly cut Tommy, stunning him and leaving him with blood gushing down his face. Tarleton would take the last two rounds narrowly earning him the fight an dethroning Watson of the belt.

Watson would spend the rest of his career fighting as a lightweight and entering an elimination contest to challenge Jack 'Kid' Berg for the British title. Tommy would get to the final by beating Tommy Spiers, Frankie Brown and revenging a controversial loss to Sonny Lee (Watson was disqualified in the first bout for a supposed low-blow).

Before the final Watson would face-off with Freddie Miller, the American who was ranked as the number three pound for pound fighter in the world. The fight would see both men down several times with Miller taking the decision after ten rounds. A re-match was signed and a month later they would go at it again.

The first round saw both men go toe to toe with Watson winning the round, when they came out for the second Watson set the pace high putting Miller on the back foot but Miller had timed Tommy and when he got his chance he caught Tommy with a terrific left hook which put the Seaman on the floor for the full count.

Watson's next fight was the final eliminator for the British Title against George Daly. Again bad luck would strike and Watson would be cut badly by accidental clash of heads in the opening round forcing him to fight practically blinded for the remainder of the eight rounds, whereby the fight was stopped due to the cuts.

Watson would retire after the fight at the age of twenty seven claiming he had had too much damage done to his eyes over the last few years and did not want to risk his sight. In retirement Watson would become a referee and manage several bars. He served as a Petty Officer Physical Training Instructor during world war 2 and continued to do lots of work for charity, as he had done during his career.

Watson's final record shows 122 fights in total, 112 of which were victory's including nine defeats and one draw. He will be remembered as a great British champion who was unlucky not to be given the decision for a world championship. Tommy Watson came up against three fighters from the International Boxing Hall of Fame beating Fidel La Barba and taking Kid Chocolate and Freddie Miller to the wire losing close decisions.
Also take your pick from the murderers row guys: Burley is known and to the hardcore's I suppose Holman Williams, Lloyd Marshall and possibly Cocoa Kid are as well but Bert Lytel, Elmer Ray, Jack Chase, Aaron Wade and Eddie booker hardly get the time of day. Bivins is underestimated as well although he wasn't officially in the group and is probably more known than the rest:



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Thanks mate, it took some time and research so glad people like it:good
Yeah I think so as-well Flea, out of the murderers row lot he gets bigged up the most but I think Bivins and Marshall were both better with Holman and Cocoa closing in. I've heard some good arguments for some of the other guys as well esp. Lytel but I haven't done enough study on them to make a solid judgement.

He seems to be the poster child for the guy that didn't fully get his chance but Bivins and Marshall both surpass him in my eyes and are worthy of much more hype. I think the lack of video footage for all of them does not help anybody's cases though which is a shame. There are a lot of fights I'd love to see between the lot of them.
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