Carl Frampton and Lee Selby join Irish and Brit peers in Las Vegas
On Saturday night, WBA featherweight titlist Carl Frampton and IBF counterpart Lee Selby both engage in separate title defenses. Irishman Frampton (23-0, 14 knockouts) and Selby (23-1, 8 KOs), from Wales defend their titles respectively against Leo Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs) and Jonathan Barros (41-4-1, 22 KOs) at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas.
Over the years, many British and Irish fighters have fought in “Sin City,” with a wide array of contrasting results, some outstanding and some disappointing. Here we take a look at how British and Irish pugilists have performed in THE RING magazine/world title fights.
March 16, 1980 – Alan Minter SD 15 Vito Antuofermo, Caesars Palace: Minter won the WBA/WBC middleweight titles by the narrowest of margins in a fight many believed the Italian-born American resident deserved to win. It led to a rematch in the U.K. that Minter won inside the distance.
May 23, 1981 – Wilfred Benitez KO 12 Maurice Hope, Caesars Palace: Benitez dethroned Hope to win the WBC junior middleweight belt by 12th round stoppage and became the first fighter in 43 years to win world titles in three weight classes.
Aug. 13, 1983 – Milton McCrory SD 12 Colin Jones, Dunes Hotel: In their second meeting, McCrory dropped Jones in the opening round and took an early lead before holding off the valiant Welshman’s late relay to claim the vacant WBC welterweight crown.
June 23, 1986 – Steve Cruz UD 15 Barry McGuigan, Caesars Palace: The hugely popular McGuigan – a 5-to-1 favorite – wilted in the 110 degree heat and dropped his WBA featherweight title in the process in THE RING magazine “Fight of the Year.”
Sept. 27, 1986 – Lloyd Honeyghan RTD 6 Donald Curry, Caesars Palace: Honeyghan ripped the IBF/WBA/WBC welterweight titles from Curry – who, at that time, was considered among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world – in THE RING magazine “Upset of the Year.”
Feb. 4, 1989 – Marlon Starling TKO 9 Lloyd Honeyghan, Caesars Palace: Starling dominated Honeyghan to win the WBC welterweight title, dropping the Brit in the ninth round before finishing him off.
Feb. 25, 1989 – Mike Tyson TKO 5 Frank Bruno, Vegas Hilton: After a myriad of outside-the-ring issues that saw several postponements, Tyson retained his IBF/WBA/WBC heavyweight titles. He dropped Bruno in the opening round but was later shaken himself. “Iron Mike” regained his position and stop the plucky Bruno in the fifth.
Aug. 18, 1990 – Nigel Benn TKO 1 Iran Barkley, Bally’s: Benn lived up to his “Dark Destroyer” nickname, dropping the well-respected Barkley three times in the first round en route to stunningly retaining WBO middleweight title for the first time.
May 8, 1993 – Lennox Lewis UD 12 Tony Tucker, Thomas & Mack Center: Riddick Bowe threw the WBC heavyweight title in the trash rather than face Lewis. Lewis was subsequently named champion; he dropped Tucker twice, while besting him over the distance.
Jan. 28, 1995 – Rafael Ruelas RTD 8 Billy Schwer, MGM Grand: Ruelas kept his IBF lightweight belt for the second time and set up a unification with one of the sport’s biggest stars, Oscar De La Hoya, by dicing up Schwer’s face, forcing the Brit to remain on his stool.
March 11, 1995 – Riddick Bowe KO 6 Herbie Hide, MGM Grand: Bowe, was too big (27 pound weight advantage) and skilled for the game but outlassed Brit, who was dropped seven-times, until he surrendered his WBO heavyweight title.
Mar. 16, 1996 – Mike Tyson TKO 3 Frank Bruno, MGM Grand: After serving time in prison, Tyson regained his old WBC heavyweight strap, vanquishing Bruno in three one-sided rounds.
Nov. 9, 1996 – Henry Akinwande TKO 10 Alexander Zolkin, MGM Grand: Akinwande dropped Zolkin in the fourth round and then cut his Russian challenger, two rounds later, before winning on cuts to retain his WBO heavyweight title in the 10th round.
Feb. 7, 1997 – Lennox Lewis TKO 5 Oliver McCall, Hilton Las Vegas: Lewis regained the WBC heavyweight title, stopping old rival McCall in the fifth round in bizarre scenes, which saw the American implode, refusing to fight and mentally breaking down.
Sept. 18, 1999 – Johnny Nelson UD 12 Sione Asipeli, Mandalay Bay: Nelson easily outpointed Asipeli to keep his WBO cruiserweight title on the undercard of Oscar De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad.
Nov. 3, 1999 – Lennox Lewis UD 12 Evander Holyfield, Thomas & Mack Center: The two met again eight months after their first go-round. On this occasion, Lewis edged Holyfield to unify the IBF/WBA/WBC heavyweight belts.
Nov. 11, 2000 – Lennox Lewis UD 12 David Tua, Mandalay Bay: Lewis used his considerable height (seven inches) and reach (10 inches) advantages to retain his IBF and WBC heavyweight titles, keeping Tua on the outside with his jab.
July 21, 2001 – Shane Mosley KO 3 Adrian Stone, Caesars Palace: Stone unsuccessfully challenged Mosley for the WBC welterweight title, getting knocked out in three brisk rounds by a prime Shane Mosley.
Nov. 17, 2001 – William Joppy MD 12 Howard Eastman, Mandalay Bay: Joppy regained the vacant WBA “regular” middleweight title (unrecognized by THE RING magazine), holding off a late charge from Eastman by razor-thin majority decision.
Nov. 17, 2001 – Lennox Lewis KO 4 Hasim Rahman, Mandalay Bay: Lewis gained a measure of revenge retaining his IBF and WBC heavyweight belts, knocking Rahman out cold in the fourth round to win THE RING magazine “Knockout of the Year.”
Dec. 11, 2004 – Vitali Klitschko TKO 8 Danny Williams, MGM Grand: Klitschko turned back the courageous effort of “Tyson Slayer” Danny Williams, breaking him down and stopping his challenger in eight rounds to retain his WBC heavyweight title for the first time.
July 16, 2005 – Oscar Larios RTD 10 Wayne McCullough, MGM Grand: Having given Larios a run for his money five months earlier, McCullough was rewarded with a rematch. However, “Pocket Rocket” was unable to wrest the WBC junior featherweight title from the Mexican and was saved from himself by the ringside physician at the conclusion of the 10th round.
Jan. 20, 2007 – Ricky Hatton UD 12 Juan Urango, Paris Las Vegas: Hatton had vacated IBF junior welterweight belt and Urango had controversially won it. They met in “The Hitman’s” Las Vegas debut and Hatton regained the title in wide – if not exciting – fashion.
June 23, 2007 – Ricky Hatton KO 4 Jose Luis Castillo, Thomas & Mack Center: Hatton – a 2-to-1 favorite – successfully retained THE RING magazine junior welterweight championship, stopping grizzled Mexican veteran Castillo was a debilitating bodyshot.
Dec. 8, 2007 – Floyd Mayweather TKO 10 Ricky Hatton, MGM Grand Garden Arena: Hatton stepped back up to welterweight, where he looked to emulate countrymen John H. Stracey (who stopped Jose Napoles) and Lloyd Honeyghan (who stopped Donald Curry), who, both underdogs, scored huge upsets to win honors at 147 pounds. In the end, in front of a star-studded crowd, Mayweather – the 2-to-1 favorite – picked Hatton apart, punctuating the victory with a 10-round stoppage.
Apr. 19, 2008 – Joe Calzaghe SD 12 Bernard Hopkins, MGM Grand: In Calzaghe’s first foray at light heavyweight, having previously held a portion of the super middleweight title for nearly 11 years, he recovered from a trip to the canvas in the first round to edge a close fight to win THE RING magazine championship.
Nov. 22, 2008 – Ricky Hatton TKO 11 Paulie Malignaggi, MGM Grand: Hatton became the first man to stop Malignaggi, breaking the loquacious New Yorker down to retain THE RING magazine junior welterweight championship, when Malignaggi’s corner pulled the plug a minute into the penultimate round.
May 2, 2009 – Manny Pacquiao TKO 2 Ricky Hatton, MGM Grand Garden Arena: After a reportedly bad training camp, Hatton adopted a “Kill or be killed” mentality and went after the fleet-footed Pacquiao, who was too quick and picked Hatton off at ease, dropping him twice in the first round before ending matters in the second with a perfect left hook to claim THE RING junior welterweight championship.
Dec. 11, 2010 – Amir Khan UD 12 Marcos Maidana, Mandalay Bay: Khan dropped Maidana in the first round with a vicious body shot before the proud Argentinean roared back and gave Khan hell. It wasn’t enough; Khan was given the nod and retained his WBA strap, by narrow but unanimous decision.
July 23, 2011 – Amir Khan KO 5 Zab Judah, Mandalay Bay: Khan’s best Las Vegas performance saw him add the IBF belt to his WBA junior welterweight title, easily out-boxing Judah before a body shot ended matters.
July 14, 2012 – Danny Garcia TKO 4 Amir Khan, Mandalay Bay: Several months after controversially losing to Lamont Peterson, Khan resurfaced against WBC junior welterweight titlist Garcia; Khan was given back his WBA kingmanship days before, due to the previously controversy. After a good start, Khan was caught by a devastating left hook late in the third round that sent him to the canvas. He was down again in the fourth and unable to recover. Referee Kenny Bayless called the bout to a close.
Dec. 13, 2014 – Andy Lee TKO 6 Matt Korobov, The Cosmopolitan: Lee and Korobov met for the vacant WBO middleweight title; the Irishman was getting a boxing lesson until he turned the fight on its head in the sixth round with a Hail Mary of a right hand.
Sept. 12, 2015 – Badou Jack SD 12 George Groves, MGM Grand Garden Arena: Groves recovered from a first round trip to the canvas but couldn’t do enough to unseat Jack as WBC super middleweight champion, dropping a split decision.
May 7, 2016 – Canelo Alvarez KO 6 Amir Khan, T-Mobile Arena: Khan made the bold move to step up to face WBC middleweight titlist Canelo at a catchweight. Despite a solid, early start, the Mexican’s greater firepower finally told in cataclysmic fashion late in the sixth round when Khan was nailed and knocked out cold by a howitzer of a overhand right.
Several notable fights also took place but weren’t included for a variety of reasons.
Marco Antonio Barrera-Naseem Hamed: Although it was widely recognized as being for featherweight supremacy, none of the main titles were up for grabs and it was before THE RING re-established it’s championship policy.
Javier Fortuna-Patrick Hyland was for the WBA interim title and not recognized. Neither of Amir Khan’s fights against Luis Collazo or Devon Alexander were for world titles.
All told, since 1980, British and Irish fighters have fought 34 world title bouts in Las Vegas, going 17-17 in that time.
Lennox Lewis is the most successful Brit/Irishman to have fought in Las Vegas, going 5-0.
We didn’t include Milton McCrory-Colin Jones I because it took place in Reno, Lennox Lewis-Henry Akinwande, which found a home in Stateline or Virgil Hill-Crawford Ashley, who met in Primm.
At Saturday’s venue, British and Irish fighters are a disappointing 3-8 in world title fights.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.
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