Remembering Eddie Perkins
Remembering Eddie Perkins
By Antonio Santiago, Doghouse Boxing (July 30, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
By Antonio Santiago, Doghouse Boxing. - A few weeks ago, more specifically during the Danny Garcia - Amir Khan slugfest, it came to my attention that the fight was being dedicated to the memories of, among others, Eddie Perkins. Sad to say but in today’s age of the internet, Sportscenter and the 24 hour news ticker, that is the only place where I have heard of the death of this member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Now, when Archie Moore died……well, Perkins hasn’t even been mentioned by ESPN’s Friday Night Fights telecasters, and I know because I watch that show religiously.

Perkins, who died on May 10th, at age 75, suffered from dementia and diabetes. He had accomplished in boxing many times over what others have done. His record in professional boxing reads at 74-20-1, with 21 knockout wins, but behind those numbers is the fact that Perkins fought everyone in his era, everywhere around the world. Perkins was a world traveler, and he fought (in order of fights having taken place) in Mexico,  Venezuela, Italy, France, the Philippines, Japan,  Jamaica, Canada, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Ecuador, England, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Australia and Germany. He also fought in his adopted home-state of Illinois as well as in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Ohio, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Indiana, New Mexico, Louisiana, Nevada, Hawaii, Arizona and Colorado during his career. One wonder is why he was never able to fight at New York, because he would have probably filled even the Madison Square Garden to capacity. And Delta Airlines must be thankful that they did not have their frequent flier program when Perkins was active, because the way he flew to so many places, he’d flown for free with them many, many, many times.  It should be also noted that in some places like Illinois, Arizona, Mexico, Austria and Venezuela, to name but a few, Perkins fought so many times that he could have been considered the home fighter.  

And the quality of opponents in Perkins’ record is just as amazing. Managed by all time great and former world Featherweight champion Johnny Coulon, Perkins faced 16-1-1 Norman Johnson in his first bout, on December 27th, 1956 in Milwaukee. Fighting a guy with only one loss in 18 bouts in your debut!! Gee!! Yet Perkins showed promise already, going the 6 round distance with Johnson. Five fights later, Perkins faced 12-0 Solomon Boyson, also losing by decision in six.

Perkins learned on the job and as his opponent’s quality improved, so did his showings. After losing to 10-0 Cecil Shorts by ten round decision, he cut Shorts short by a second round knockout in their rematch. Next, he outpointed Frankie Ryff, knocked out Baby Vazquez, lost to Lahouari Godith by split decision, outpointed Paul Armstead and Hilario Morales, and then he lost to Alfredo Urbina, considered one of the greatest Mexican fighters to never win a world title, by a knockout in seven, in what marked his debut at the country of Juarez, Cantinflas, Chespirito, Veronica Castro and “JC Superstar” Chavez. Perkins proceeded by beating Larry Boardman. He next crushed 11-1 Chico Rollins in six rounds, beat Paolo Rossi, knocked out Joey Lopes in seven, and defeated Gene Gresham, who was 27-1-1, before losing to pesky LC Morgan by decision.

In 1961, Perkins ventured to Caracas, Venezuela, where he upset local favorite Carlos “Morocho” Hernandez, 20-0-3 at the time, by ten round unanimous decision., Hernandez would later become Venezuela’s first world champion and he and Perkins were not done yet.  But after a win over Mauro Vazquez in Mexico, Perkins traveled to Italy to receive his first world title try, a crack at the world Junior Welterweight title the great Duilio Loi had taken from the also great Carlos Ortiz. The first but between Perkins and Loi is remembered for being, in fact, so boring, that the referee stepped aside once and did pantomime imitating a matador killing a bull, to the public’s amusement. That aside, the 15 round draw the fight ended up being must have tasted a bit like victory to Perkins since the fight was held at Loi’s home turf. Except that Perkins still had no belt for that “moral triumph”. Two more wins included one over Mel Middleton, and then Loi and Perkins rematched, once again in Italy. This time, Perkins was a bit more aggressive and he became world champion by beating Loi by a 15 round unanimous decision. Loi, ohne of the most underrated fighters in boxing history, had a record of 114-3-8 and so he received a rematch with the new champion, and Perkins lost to Loi in their third and final installment by a close decision in 15 rounds. It should be noted that each of the Perkins-Loi fights took place at Loi’s hometown of Milan. Loi retired as the all time great he was, and Perkins faced that tough little man who fought everybody himself, Angel “Robinson” Garcia, beating him by decision at Paris, and then he fought Roberto Cruz, the hard hitting Filipino who had won the world Junior Welterweight title from Harold Gomes, the man who conquered the championship left vacant by Loi. On June 15th, 1963, Perkins became a world champion for the second time by defeating Cruz by unanimous decision in 15 rounds at Manila, Philippines.

Perkins retained the title against fighters of the quality of Joey Limas, Yoshinori Takayashi and Bunny Grant, who was attempting to become Jamaica’s first world boxing champion, before losing it to Hernandez, who in turn used his title try to become Venezuela’s first,  in a rematch of their ten round bout of 1961. He knocked Limas out in ten and outpointed Takayashi and Grant before being defeated by Hernandez on points. Perkins then faced Jose “Mantequilla” Napoles, losing by decision in ten at Chihuahua, Mexico. He beat Kenny Lane, lost to Lennox Beckles, outpointed Adolph Pruitt and lost to the great defensive fighter, fellow IBHOF member Nicolino Locche in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

More wins followed against Pruitt and Angel Garcia, before he twice faced Joao Henrique. The Brazilian top level fighter, drawing in ten and losing a close decision to him. Lion Furuyama, Clyde Gray and future world champion Pedro Adique then joined the growing list of notables beaten by this flying bug of a fighter. Having lost a rematch to Bunny Grant, Perkins went to Austria, where he put 27-2-1 prospect Johann Orsolics in his place by knocking him out in four, before traveling to my nation  of Puerto Rico and outpointing the smooth future world Welterweight champion Angel “Cholo” Espada over ten rounds at San Juan.

As if that was not enough, towards the end of his career, Perkins had the double achievement of twice defeating the ferocious and younger Armando “Mando” Muniz by decision in California. Muniz was a Latin and Los Angeles favorite who gave Carlos Palomino and Jose Napoles hell in four abortive world title tries. Perkins then  lost to Rocky Mattioli, before retiring with three more losses.

As incredible as it might sound, with all those great names put together, in his career, Perkins was only stopped once in 95 bouts!!!  

A champion like him, deserves to be always remembered! Here’s to you, old champ and may you rest in peace!!

(Note: I would like to dedicate this article to the 12 people who lost their lives in the Aurora, Colorado, theater massacre. Jonathan Blunk, 26, Alexander Boik, 18, Jesse Childress, 29, Gordon Cowden, 51, Jessica Ghawi, 24, John Larimer, 27, Matt McQueen, 27, Micayla Medek, 22, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6, Alex Sullivan, 27, Alexander C. Teves, 24 and Rebecca Wingo, 32, all also deserved to be remembered forever. May you all also rest in pace and remember that we will never forget you).

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