|Boxing Down Under: Australia’s Rich Pugilistic History Part 2
By Ken Hissner (May 7, 2008) Doghouse Boxing
Barry Michael would come to Melbourne, Australia from the UK at the age of 2. He would turn pro in 1973 and run up an 18-2-1 record before challenging Billy Moeller (29-9-3) for the Commonwealth and Australian super feather titles losing a 15 round decision in 1976. He would move up in weight suffering losses to Argentina’s Juan Jose Gimenez (56-5-4) and fellow countryman Jeff Malcolm (38-16-9) but keep going until he won the Australian light title from Billy Mulholland (33-8-2) in 1978. In 1981 he would win the Commonwealth title stopping Zimbabwe’s Langton Tinago (59-12-3) while
later losing it to former WBA lightweight champ Claude Noel by split decision in 1982. He would move up to light welter defeating Frank Ropis (34-8-4) for the Australian title.
In 1984 Michael went to Indonesia against Muhammed Juhari and got a draw in 12 for the OPBF lightweight title. This caused a riot in the ring after his cornermen complained about the decision. He followed up with wins over Juan Arroyo (21-2-1) of Puerto Rico, and previously unbeaten Graeme Brooke (19-1), again for the Commonwealth light title. In July 1985 he defeated fellow countryman and IBF super feather champion Lester Ellis (16-1), over 15 rounds.
In 2 defenses in Australia he stopped South Korea’s Jin-Shik Choi (17-1) in 1985 and the American Mark Fernandez (17-1-1), in 1986. He went to the UK and decisioned British champion Najib Daho (30-18-1), of Morocco. His next fight would be a year later in the UK, losing to American Rocky Lockridge (40-5), the former WBA super feather champion, not being able to answer the bell for the 9th. His record was 48-9-3, 15 KO’s.
Jeff Malcolm, of Cowra, fought from 1971-2002, starting at 15 and finishing at 46. Among his many titles were Australian and Commonwealth light welter, IBC, PABA, WBF and WBA Fedelatin welter champ.
He defeated Michael, Moeller, and Mulholland, while losing to Hector Thompson (67-7-2), Pat Leglise (23-1-1) and in his only world title bout to American Manning Galloway (46-11-1) for the WBO welter title in 1991. He would win his 100th fight stopping Sam Aukuso in Australia. He took his 17-0-1 win streak into his final bout in Manila losing to Fernando Sagrado (17-4-1), career ending fights for both. Malcolm ended up 100-27-11.
Hector Thompson, from Brisbane, turned pro in 1970 and won the Australian light welter title in 1971 beating Leo young (25-9-2). In 1972 he fought to a draw with Tongan Manny Santos (30-7-2) of New Zealand while on a 22 fight win streak. In a rematch defeated Santos for the Australasian light title. He defeated Ghana’s Joe Tetteh (44-22-6) for the Commonwealth light welter title. In 1973 he was stopped in the 8th by WBA lightweight champion Roberto Duran (35-1) in Panama. Thompson won 10 straight after this fight including American Jimmy Heair (36-1) and former WBA light welter champ Alfonso Frazer. He would get one more shot at a title in Panama losing to Antonio Cervantes (73-9-3) for the WBA light welter title due to cut eye stoppage. Thompson would retire in 1980 with a 73-12-2 record.
Charkey Ramon, born in Gulgong, residing in Sydney, won both the Australian and Commonwealth light middle titles. Ramon turned pro in July 1970 going 15-0-1. He defeated Eddie ‘Mardi’ Manuela twice. Manuela, 5 days later beats Fred Etuai (9-2) of Samoa who 6 weeks later upsets Ramon by an 8 round decision having a 10 pound weight advantage. This would be the only loss on Ramon’s record over 35 fights.
For Ramon 9 wins later, he captures the Australian light middle title from Paul Lovi (14-3-2) with a 3rd round knockout ending Lovi’s career in June of 1972. Ramon knocked out Eddie Tavui (4-0) who had knocked out Tony Smith, who had drawn with Ramon. Ramon knocked out Tavui. Several fights later Ramon stopped Pat Dwyer (33-8-2) of the UK in the 8th round to win the vacant Commonwealth light middle title in Oct 1972.
The following March Ramon beat French champion Jacques Kechichian (22-4-2) in New Caledonia over 10 rounds. Kechichian had gone the distance with former world champ Emile Griffith and 4 months after the Ramon bout would win the European title. This would be Ramon’s only fight outside of Australia. Then Ramon’s stopped Italian born, Donato Paduano (33-5-1) of Canada in the 11th of a Commonwealth defense.
Next he stopped in 6 Don McMillan (29-17-5) who had just stopped Alan Minter handing him his first loss. Minter would later become WBC and WBA middleweight champion.
It would be 8 ½ months before his next and final fight on May 31, 1974 stopping Mexican born Manuel Fierro (16-5-1) of the USA in the 7th. It was Ramon’s 19th straight win and 14th by knockout. His record was 33-1-1, with 21 knockouts.
Lester Ellis would hold numerous titles, but none better than the IBF super feather title. Though born in England, he came to Melbourne, Australia and became the amateur bantam champion. He turned pro that same year in 1983 winning his first 14 straight including the Commonwealth super feather title with a split decision over previously unbeaten John Sichula (14-1-1) of Zambia. This won the IBF title bout in February of 1985 by a split decision over South Korea’s champ Hwan-Kil Yuh (25-1-3) in Victoria.
Ellis had his first defense 2 months later against Filipino Rod Sequenan (43-9-3) whom he stopped in the 13th. Just 3 months later he lost to fellow Victorian, Barry Michael (44-8-3) by decision over 15 rounds. He would move up to the lightweight division defeating American Marvin Garris (8-2), stablemate of Charley “Choo Choo” Brown. Then at the end of 1985 in a rematch with Sichula he was stopped in the 4th round. He won the Australian lightweight title 5 fights later defeating Dale Artango (18-1) by 6th round knockout in 1987. The following year he won the Australian light welter title over Pat Leglise after flooring him twice in the 5th round. At the end of 1988 he won the Commonwealth title stopping Robert Harkin (12-3-1) of Scotland.
Ellis had his 13 bout win streak stopped by Steve Larrimore (14-2) in 1989. He won the vacant WBF welter title in 1993 stopping American Rocky Berg (60-34-2). He was beaten by 1 point to former IBF feather champion Calvin Grove (44-5) who had just stopped Jeff Fenech. He won the IBO light welter title in 1994 stopping Al Coquilla (22-8-3). In 1995 his weight jumped up to 150 and he won the vacant IBO light middle title over Eric Alexander (10-5-1). In 1996 he got his rematch with Grove as a lightweight and was stopped in the 4th. Some 6 years later he makes a comeback at 163 getting stopped by Anthony Mundine in 3. Ellis was 41-8 with 28 knockouts.
Jeff Harding, Sydney, won the WBC light heavy title in 1989. Turning pro in 1986 he won his first 14 bouts, 11 by knockout, including the OPBF light heavy title over Doug Sam (21-4) by 5th round stoppage. He stopped South American champion Jorge Juan Salgado (36-17-6). Then his win over Argentine’s Nestor Giovannini (27-3-2) propelled him into a WBC light heavy bout. In June 1989 he stopped Dennis Andries (34-7-2) in the 12th and final round in Atlantic City for the WBC title in just his 15th fight.
It would be 14 months before the rematch. Harding won 3 non-title bouts in Australia in the mean time. The title bout would take place in London with Andries regaining the title by majority decision. Andries vacated the title to move up to cruiser. In June 1992 Harding stopped the former WBA super middleweight champion Christophe Tiozzo (30-1) of France, in the 8th in France to regain the WBC light heavy title.
Harding, in a rematch, decisioned the American USBA champion David Vedder (15-10-3), who had lost in a title bout with WBA champion Virgil Hill in 1990. In July of 1994 in his last bout Harding lost to former WBA light middle and middle champion Mike McCallum (46-2-1) by decision in North Dakota. His record was 23-2, 17 knockouts.
Two of the countries favorite brothers were Guy and Troy Waters. Both fought for 3 world titles and always gave the fans something to cheer about. Troy, though a year younger, turned pro first in 1984 winning his first 5 fights before being sent off to Seoul, South Korea to fight In future IBF super middle champ Chul Baek (35-1, 35 KOs) for the OPBF light middle title. All Baek’s wins were by stoppage, but Waters managed to do the 12 rounds. In Waters next fight he won the Australian title over Paul Toweel (22-2). Several fight later he won the Commonwealth title putting UK’s Lloyd Hibbert (19-3) into permanent retirement in 4. In his 16th fight and on a 9 fight win streak he goes to Italy losing to Gianfranco Rosi (46-3) for the IBF light middle title. His second attempt at a world title came 6 wins later losing to WBC light middle champ Terry Norris (34-3) in 3. Just 2 fights later he loses to Simon Brown (40-2) in Las Vegas by majority decision. Next he defeats Mexican champ and former WBC welter champ Jorge Vaca (54-13-1). He then wins 6 straight including American Lonnie Beasley (27-3-2) and loses in a WBC eliminator match to future champion Felix Trinidad in the 1st. He ended his career stopping Ambrose Mlilo (17-4-1) to finish at 28-5, with 20 knockouts.
Older brother Guy turned pro in 1985 giving up 22 pounds fighting for NSW cruiser title in a losing effort. He wins both the Australian and OPBF light heavy titles in his 5th fight. In his 12th wins Commonwealth title over Willie Featherstone (19-4-1) in 1989.
Just like his brother, he gets a world title in his 16th bout losing to Dennis Andries (38-8-2), conqueror of Jeff Harding, for the WBC light heavy title in 1991. In his next bout he defeats former WBA champion Leslie Stewart (29-7). In 1993 in the US he loses to WBA champion Virgil Hill (37-1). In 1997 he wins the WBF title over Gavin Ryan (13-4). In 1999 he gets his 3rd and final title bout with the Cuban Juan Carlos Gomez (23-0) being stopped in the 6th in Germany. His final record was 25-7-1, 11 knockouts.
Today, Sydney’s Jeff Fenech may still be the most popular Aussie boxer. As a member of the 1984 Olympic team he won 2 bouts before losing. In his 5th fight he stopped Wayne Mulholland (20-7). Just 6 ½ months and 6 wins as a pro he would stop Japan’s Satoshi Shingaki (8-1-1) on April 26, 1985 for his IBF bantam title in the 9th round. This was the 3rd fastest a fighter won a world championship, in just his 7th bout.
Fenech gave Shigaki a rematch and stopped him in the 4th. In his next defense he would defeat previously unbeaten American Jerome Coffee (26-1). The next opponent in a non-title bout was former WBC bantam and future super bantam champ Daniel Zaragoza (28-3) whom decisioned. Then Steve McCrory (11-0-1) the gold medal flyweight of the 1984 Olympics would get stopped in the 14th. Fenech would then move up in weight.
Fenech won the Australian feather title over Tony Miller (19-2-1) and stopped the previously unbeaten Samart Payakaroon (14-1) of Thailand for the WBC super bantam title in May of 1987. In his first defense he stopped American Greg Richardson (22-2). Next would be Mexico’s Carlos Zarate (66-2), Fenech winning by technical decision after 4. Fenech had won all the rounds but suffered a bad cut.
In 1988 Fenech won the title in his 3rd weight class over WBC feather champ Puerto Rico’s Victor Callejas (24-1) in the final round, well ahead on points. He won by knockout in his next 2 title defenses over Trinidad’s Tyrone Downes (28-5) and American Georgie Navarro (17-2). He decisioned Mexico’s Marcos Villasana (49-6-3) who had just fought a draw for the WBA feather title. He would move up to super feather winning a WBC eliminator bout with Mario Martinez (48-5-2) by decision in 1989. It would be 7 months before he fight for the first time outside of Australia traveling to Las Vegas and fighting WBC champ Azuma Nelson (34-2) to a draw. Most observers thought Fenech deserved the decision. He would beat the South American champion Miguel Angel Francia (32-9-6). With the rematch with Nelson set for Melbourne in March of 1992. For 7 rounds they fought on even terms per the judges with Nelson scoring a 8th round stoppage in what Ring Magazine voted the upset of the year in 1992.
After a 15 month lay-off, Fenech was stopped by the former IBF feather champion American Calvin Grove (43-5) in 7, while ahead on the scorecards. After 2 wins in the next 3 years he made a bid for the IBF lightweight title losing to South Africa’s Philip Holiday (27-0) in 2. His final record was 28-3-1, 23 knockouts. In 2002 he was inducted into the International Hall of Fame and World Hall of Fame. Fenech has served as trainer for world champions Mike Tyson, Lovemore N’dou, Danny Green and Vic Darchinyan.
e-mail Ken at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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