Monday, March 20, 2023  |


U.S. on U.K. soil: a world title timeline


This weekend, Errol Spence Jr. will look to follow in countryman Gervonta Davis’ footsteps by returning to the U.S. as champion. The American will challenge Kell Brook for the IBF welterweight belt in Sheffield on Sky Sports Box Office in the U.K. at 6 p.m. and in the U.S. on Showtime at 5:15 p.m ET/PT.

Over the years, British and Irish fighters have enjoyed a healthy rivalry against American boxers. Here we look at each world title bout (a surprising amount) between the rivals that have taken place in some part of the U.K.

We only include the modern era since the WBA and WBC came into being, and more recently the IBF and then WBO; hence Sugar Ray Robinson’s loss to Randolph Turpin wasn’t included. You will see many top American fighters have plied their trade in Britain/Ireland during this time, with mixed results:


Nov. 30, 1964 – Willie Pastrano TKO 11 Terry Downes – WBA/WBC light heavyweight – Kings Hall, Manchester: Former middleweight king Downes made the bold move up to light heavyweight and gave Pastrano a firm examination before the American’s greater size prevailed and he stopped Downes in the 11th.

Sept. 26, 1972 – Bob Foster KO 14 Chris Finnegan – WBA/WBC light heavyweight – Empire Pool, Wembley, London: One of the biggest punchers in light heavyweight history was given all he could handle by the British 1968 Olympic gold medalist before landing one of his trademark one-two combinations to retain his two titles.

March 11, 1975 – John Conteh TKO 5 Lonnie Bennett – WBC light heavyweight – Empire Pool, Wembley, London: Conteh stopped Bennett with minimal fuss in five rounds to retain his titleholder status.

March 20, 1976 – John H. Stracey TKO 10 Hedgemon Lewis – WBC welterweight – Empire Pool, Wembley, London: Stracey took out Lewis in the 10th round in the American’s third and final attempt to win a world title.

June 22, 1976 – Carlos Palomino TKO 12 John H. Stracey – WBC welterweight – Empire Pool, Wembley, London: The younger, fresher Palomino ripped the WBC welterweight title from Stracey’s grasp, coming on late and dropping the defending champion twice in the 12th round to seal the victory.

March 5, 1977 – John Conteh TKO 3 Len Hutchins – WBC light heavyweight – The Stadium, Liverpool: Conteh sent his supporters home happy, easily disposing of Hutchins in three rounds.

June 14, 1977 – Carlos Palomino KO 11 Dave “Boy” Green – WBC welterweight – Empire Pool, Wembley, London: Palomino knocked Green cold with a perfect left hook to the chin.

Sept. 25, 1979 – Maurice Hope TKO 7 Mike Baker – WBC junior middleweight – Empire Pool, Wembley, London: Hope easily turned back Baker to successfully defend his WBC 154-pound belt for the first time.

Nov. 3, 1979 – Jim Watt TKO 9 Robert Vasquez – WBC lightweight – Kelvin Hall, Glasgow: Watt turned back the challenge from Vasquez to retain his strap for the first time.

June 7, 1980 – Jim Watt UD 15 Howard Davis Jr. – WBC lightweight – Ibrox Park, Glasgow: Home advantage was key to Watt’s success, building an early lead over the unbeaten 1976 Olympic gold medalist. Watt held off a late charge to secure the deserved win.

Sept. 27, 1980 – Marvin Hagler TKO 3 Alan Minter – WBA/WBC middleweight – Wembley Arena, London: Hagler had long been known as the uncrowned king. He was able to blitz Minter – the slight pre-fight favorite – in front of a sellout crowd of 12,000 to finally claim the unified middleweight throne in three painful rounds for the Brit.

Nov. 1, 1980 – Jim Watt TKO 12 Sean O’Grady – WBC lightweight – Kelvin Hall, Glasgow: Watt used his considerable championship guile and know-how to stop future WBA titlist O’Grady on cuts in the 12th round.

Jan. 19, 1985 – Donald Curry TKO 4 Colin Jones – IBF/WBA welterweight – NEC, Birmingham: American superstar Curry brought his two titles to the U.K. and fought dogged Welshman Jones in front of a sellout 11,500 fans in the first million-pound gate in the U.K. and also the first world title fight to take place in Birmingham. Curry made the most of his superlative skills, slicing up Jones and forcing the ringside physician to call a halt to proceedings.

Sept. 28, 1985 – Barry McGuigan TKO 8 Bernard Taylor – WBA featherweight – Kings Hall, Belfast: Nearly four months removed from his championship coronation, McGuigan took on his WBA No. 1 contender, American speedster Bernard Taylor. McGuigan pressured Taylor the whole contest before Taylor wilted and retired at the end of the eighth round.

April 30, 1986 – Dennis Andries SD 12 J. B. Williamson – WBC light heavyweight – Picketts Lock Stadium, London: Guyana-born Andries was the underdog but he out-hustled Williamson and take his belt by split decision.

July, 19, 1986 – Tim Witherspoon TKO 11 Frank Bruno – WBA heavyweight – Wembley Stadium, London.: Witherspoon retained his title by stopping Bruno in front of 40,000 Brits.

Feb. 22, 1987 – Lloyd Honeyghan TKO 2 Johnny Bumphus – IBF/WBC welterweight – Grand Hall, Wembley, London: Honeyghan retained his titles by stopping the former junior welterweight beltholder in the second round.

March 4, 1987 – Terry Marsh TKO 10 Joe Manley – IBF junior welterweight – Festival Hall, Basildon: British and European champion Marsh announced himself on the world stage, out-boxing Manley and then stopping him in the 10th round.

April 18, 1987 – Lloyd Honeyghan UD 12 Maurice Blocker – IBF/WBC welterweight – Royal Albert Hall, London: Just two months after beating Bumphus, “The Ragamuffin Man” was back in action, having a much tougher time with Blocker. In a classic boxer vs. puncher encounter, the more experienced Honeyghan prevailed in a back-and-fourth encounter.

Feb. 7, 1988 – Frank Tate TKO 10 Tony Sibson – IBF middleweight – Bingley Hall, Stafford: Four months after winning the IBF crown, Tate, a 1984 Olympic gold medalist, took his title to England and knocked out Sibson in the 10th round.

March 8, 1989 – Duke McKenzie TKO 4 Tony DeLuca – IBF flyweight – Royal Albert Hall, London: McKenzie easily kept his belt, stopping the undersized DeLuca in four brisk rounds.

Jan. 24, 1990 – Orlando Canizales SD 12 Billy Hardy – IBF bantamweight – Crowntree Leisure Centre, Sunderland: Early in Canizales’ championship tenure, the gifted Texan did just enough to keep his IBF 118-pound crown, winning a razor-thin split decision. Canizales granted Hardy a rematch in Texas 16 months later and stopped Hardy in eight rounds.

March 3, 1990 – Mark Breland TKO 3 Lloyd Honeyghan – WBA welterweight – Wembley Arena, London: 13 months after losing his WBC strap, Honeyghan returned and was dropped six times by Breland, who brought home the WBA belt.

March 17, 1990 – Dave McAuley UD 12 Louis Curtis – IBF flyweight – Kings Hall, Belfast: McAuley comprehensively out-boxed the 1976 U.S. Olympian to retain his IBF laurels by a wide decision.

March 22, 1990 – Jeff Lampkin KO 3 Glenn McCrory – IBF cruiserweight – Gateshead Leisure Centre, Gateshead: Lampkin relieved McCrory of his belt, stunning the home fans with a debilitating left hook to the liver, dropping McCrory to his knees where he was counted out.

Oct. 23, 1990 – John-David Jackson UD 12 Chris Pyatt – WBO junior middleweight – Granby Hall, Leicester: The silky-smooth American southpaw kept Pyatt on the end of the jab all night, punctuating the victory with an 11th-round knockdown.

May 9, 1991 – Leeonzer Barber TKO 6 Tom Collins – WBO light heavyweight – Town Hall, Leeds: The Kronk fighter dominated and took out Collins to win the vacant title.

June 30, 1991 – Duke McKenzie UD 12 Gabe Canizales – WBO bantamweight – Elephant and Castle, London: A confident Canizales came to the U.K. but McKenzie boxed out of his skin and won a near-shutout decision to win the WBO title.

April 25, 1992 – Paul Hodkinson TKO 3 Steve Cruz – WBC featherweight – Maysfield Leisure Centre, Belfast: The Liverpudlian was in no mood to let Cruz spoil another Brit’s big opportunity, duly dropping him in the first round before bringing proceedings to a close two rounds later.

April 25, 1992 – Chris Eubank KO 3 John Jarvis – WBO super middleweight – G-Mex Centre, Manchester: Eubank had Jarvis on the canvas in the opening round and finished him off with minimal fuss in the third to retain his belt.

July 25, 1992 – Tyrone Booze KO 7 Derek Angol – WBO cruiserweight – G-Mex Centre, Manchester: Angol and Booze contested the vacant title. It was even on two of the scorecards and Angol was ahead on the third when Booze scored the knockout.

July 25, 1992 Manning Galloway UD 12 Pat Barrett – WBO welterweight – G-Mex Centre, Manchester: Galloway lived up to his moniker, “The Spoiler,” with a comprehensive decision over the game hometown favorite to retain his title.

Sept. 19, 1992 – Chris Eubank UD 12 Tony Thornton – WBO super middleweight – Scottish Exhibition Centre, Glasgow: Eubank edged the “Punching Postman” by close but unanimous decision.

Oct. 15, 1992 – Duke McKenzie UD 12 Jesse Benavides – WBO junior featherweight – Lewisham Theatre, London: McKenzie edged the Kronk-based Texan on two of the scorecards but won comfortably on the third judge’s card to obtain a world title in a third weight class.

Feb. 3, 1993 – Paul Hodkinson TKO 4 Ricardo Cepeda – WBC featherweight – Earls Court Arena, Kensington, London: The heavy-handed Hodkinson kept his 126-pound belt by taking out the Bronx-born Cepeda, who was returning from an 11-month hiatus.

Feb. 20, 1993 – Chris Eubank UD 12 Lindell Holmes – WBO super middleweight – Earls Court, London: Eubank turned back the challenge of the former titleholder by unanimous decision.

Oct. 16, 1993 – Eamonn Loughran UD 12 Lorenzo Smith – WBO welterweight – Kings Hall, Belfast: Loughran gave his hometown fans something to cheer, besting his Chicago-born opponent to win the vacant WBO strap.

Jan. 29, 1994 – Leeonzer Barber TKO 9 Nicky Piper – WBO light heavyweight – National Ice Rink, Cardiff: Piper was giving WBO titleholder Barber all he could handle until he was caught and stopped in the ninth round.

Sept. 24, 1994 – Oliver McCall TKO 2 Lennox Lewis – WBC heavyweight – Wembley Arena, London: Lewis, a 5½-1 favorite, was caught by a picture-perfect right hand to the point of the chin, dropping him to the canvas. Although he rose, he was in no position to carry on and the fight was called off.

Dec. 10, 1994 – Eamonn Loughran TD 4 Manning Galloway – WBO welterweight – G-Mex Centre, Manchester: Loughran was ahead when the fight went to the scorecards after an accidental headbutt brought the fight to an early conclusion.

Feb. 25, 1995 – Nigel Benn KO 10 Gerald McClellan – WBC super middleweight – London Arena, London: Entering the bout, McClellan was priced as a 3-1 favorite. Early signs were that it would be a quick night for the devastating American puncher, but to Benn’s enormous credit, he rose from two knockdowns to stop McClellan, who would tragically never be the same again; he suffered career-ending injuries that have to this day left him in a debilitated state.

Aug. 26, 1995 – Eamonn Loughran TKO 6 Tony Gannarelli – WBO welterweight – Ulster Hall, Belfast: Loughran handily picked apart Gannarelli before dropping and stopping the American in the sixth frame.

Sept. 2, 1995 – Nigel Benn KO 7 Daniel Perez – WBC super middleweight – Wembley Stadium, London: Before cheering for friend and compatriot Frank Bruno from ringside, Benn made a routine ninth successful defense of his crown.

Sept. 2, 1995 – Frank Bruno UD 12 Oliver McCall – WBC heavyweight – Wembley Stadium, London: Over nine years after losing to Witherspoon, Bruno made it fourth time lucky when returned to the same venue to upset McCall, who a year before had shocked Lewis to claim the WBC heavyweight title.

Nov. 9, 1996 – Winky Wright UD 12 Ensley Bingham – WBO junior middleweight – Nynex Arena, Manchester: Long before Wright made a name for himself in the U.S., he plied his trade in the U.K., widely outpointing the heavy-handed but one-dimensional Bingham.

Feb. 8, 1997 Naseem Hamed TKO 8 Tom Johnson – IBF/WBO featherweight – London Arena, London: Hamed’s youth, speed and power proved too much for the long-reigning IBF titlist. “The Prince” dropped the American in the eighth and closed the show to add Johnson’s belt to his own.

May 3, 1997 – Winky Wright TKO 6 Steve Foster – WBO junior middleweight – Nynex Arena, Manchester: Six months after the Bingham fight, Wright returned and beat up on the Commonwealth champ, stopping him in the mid-rounds.

June 28, 1997 – Herbie Hide TKO 2 Tony Tucker – WBO heavyweight – Sports Village, Norwich: Hide won the WBO belt for the second time, dropping former champion Tucker three times in the second round to record the impressive win.

July 5, 1997 – Steve Collins TKO 3 Craig Cummings – WBO super middleweight – Kelvin Hall, Glasgow: In what turned out to be the final fight of Collins’ career, he engaged in a firefight with Cummings — a fireman by trade. Both men were on the canvas in the first round before Collins stopped Cummings in the third.

Dec. 19, 1997 – Winky Wright TKO 6 Adrian Dodson – WBO junior middleweight – London Arena, London: In Wright’s final appearance on British shores, he had too much experience and championship know-how, stopping Dodson on cuts.

March 28, 1998 – Imamu Mayfield KO 11 Terry Dunstan – IBF cruiserweight – Ice Arena, Hull: Mayfield kept his title by dropping Dunstan in the penultimate round and knocking him out moments later.

March 28, 1998 – Tim Austin TKO 2 Paul Lloyd – IBF bantamweight – Ice Arena, Hull: The 1992 U.S. Olympian came to the U.K. to face Lloyd in his first defense and easily brushed past the Brit in two rounds.

April 18, 1998 – Herbie Hide TKO 1 Damon Reed – WBO heavyweight – Nynex Arena, Manchester: Hide easily despatched the hapless Reed in a heavyweight title-bout record 0:52 seconds to retain his WBO laurels.

Nov. 29, 1999 – Stevie Johnston UD 12 Billy Schwer – WBC lightweight – Wembley Arena, London: Johnston showed the difference between a good pro and an elite pro, retaining his title by wide unanimous decision.

June 24, 2000 – Zab Judah UD 12 Junior Witter – IBF junior welterweight – Hampden Park, Glasgow: The more seasoned Judah retained his 140-pound strap in a battle of unbeatens on the undercard of Mike Tyson-Lou Savarese.

Aug. 12, 2000 – Joe Calzaghe TKO 5 Omar Sheika – WBO super middleweight – Conference Centre, Wembley, London: Calzaghe retained his title by easily picking apart the highly touted Sheika. The American was stopped on cuts over both eyes.

Sept. 9, 2000 – Willie Jorrin MD 12 Michael Brodie – WBC junior featherweight – Bowlers Exhibition Centre, Manchester: In a clash of unbeatens, Jorrin edged the local favorite by close majority decision, dropping Brodie in the 10th and claiming the title vacated by Erik Morales.

April 20, 2002 – Joe Calzaghe UD 12 Charles Brewer – WBO super middleweight – International Arena, Cardiff: Both men gave their all in a frenetic action fight but Calzaghe did more than enough to claim the unanimous decision.

Dec. 14, 2002 – Joe Calzaghe TKO 2 Tocker Pudwill – WBO super middleweight – Telewest Arena, Newcastle: Pudwill stepped in at two weeks’ notice to fill in for original opponent Thomas Tate and was easily dispensed of with minimal fuss in the second round.

June 28, 2003 – Joe Calzaghe TKO 2 Byron Mitchell – WBO super middleweight – International Arena, Cardiff: Calzaghe recovered from the first knockdown of his career in the second round to storm back and drop Mitchell, stopping him in the same stanza in a barnburner.

March 4, 2005 – Clinton Woods TKO 5 Rico Hoye – IBF light heavyweight – Magna Centre, Rotherham: Woods wouldn’t be denied in his fourth shot at a world title, stopping the well-regarded Hoye on his feet in the fifth round.

March 4, 2006 – Joe Calzaghe UD 12 Jeff Lacy – IBF/WBO super middleweight – M.E.N Arena, Manchester: In one of the finest performances ever in a British ring, Calzaghe unified the IBF and WBO titles, pummeling pre-fight favorite Lacy for 12 rounds to win a near-shutout decision (“near” only because of a point deducted for punching on the break).

Sept. 15, 2006 – Junior Witter UD 12 DeMarcus Corley – WBC junor welterweight – Alexandra Palace, London: Witter outscored Corley to claim the vacant title after Floyd Mayweather Jr. abdicated.

April 7, 2007 – Enzo Maccarinelli TKO 1 Bobby Gunn – WBO cruiserweight – Millenium Stadium, Cardiff: Maccarinelli bashed up overmatched bare-knuckle fighter Gunn inside the first round to keep his titleholder status.

April 7, 2007 – Joe Calzaghe TKO 3 Peter Manfredo Jr. – WBO super middlweight – Millenium Stadium, Cardiff: Calzaghe barely broke a sweat, stopping the undersized Manfredo in front of 35,000 fans.

July 14, 2007 – Steve Luevano KO 11 Nicky Cook – WBO featherweight – O2 Arena, London: The Robert Garcia-trained Luevano dropped Cook five times en route to stopping the popular local ticket-seller to snag the vacant belt.

May 10, 2008 – Tim Bradley SD 12 Junior Witter – WBC junior welterweight – Nottingham Arena, Nottingham: A then-unknown Bradley came to the U.K. and overthrew the local 140-pound champion. After a quiet start, “Desert Storm” dropped Witter in the sixth and went on to win a split decision.

Oct. 17, 2009 – Carl Froch SD 12 Andre Dirrell – WBC super middleweight – Nottingham Arena, Nottingham: Froch edged Dirrell by razor-thin majority decision to retain his title on opening night of Showimes “Super Six” tournament.

Dec. 5, 2009 – Amir Khan TKO 1 Dmitriy Salita – WBA junior welterweight – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle: Khan ran through the previously unbeaten New Yorker, dropping him three times before the fight was stopped after just 76 seconds.

April 3, 2010 – David Haye TKO 9 John Ruiz – WBA heavyweight – M.E.N Arena, Manchester: WBA heavyweight ruler Haye dominated former titlist Ruiz, depositing him onto the canvas early before getting the stoppage in the ninth.

Feb. 25, 2012 – Nathan Cleverly UD 12 Tommy Karpency – WBO light heavyweight – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff: WBO 175-pound boss Cleverly won a shutout decision against Karpency, who seemed content to go the distance.

Nov. 17, 2012 – Carl Froch KO 3 Yusaf Mack – IBF super middleweight – Nottingham Arena, Nottingham: In a rare gimme defense, Froch took apart the hapless Mack, dropping him in the first before closing the show in the third frame.

March 1, 2014 – Terence Crawford UD 12 Ricky Burns – WBO lightweight – Scottish Exhibition Centre, Glasgow: Rising American star Crawford took to the road and dominated Burns to a wide decision to win his first world title.

Feb. 28, 2015 – Carl Frampton TKO 5 Chris Avalos – IBF junior featherweight – Odyssey Arena, Belfast: Frampton had his way with Avalos to register the first defense of his 122-pound title.

July 11, 2015 – Terry Flanagan TKO 2 Jose Zepeda – WBO lightweight – Velodrome, Manchester: Californian-born Zepeda dislocated his shoulder in the second round and was unable to continue, allowing Flanagan to win the vacant WBO laurels.

Oct. 10, 2015 – Liam Smith TKO 7 John Thompson – WBO junior middleweight – Manchester Arena (Formerly M.E.N Arena), Manchester: Smith recovered from a slow start to break down Thompson with his trademark bodyshots in the seventh to claim the vacant title.

Oct. 10, 2015 – Terry Flanagan TKO 2 Diego Magdaleno – WBO lightweight – Manchester Arena, Manchester: Flanagan scored the most impressive win of his career, dropping Magdaleno three times to retain his title.

April 9, 2016 – Lee Selby UD 12 Eric Hunter – IBF featherweight – O2 Arena, London: Incumbent titleholder Selby recovered from a second-round trip to the canvas to outpoint the Philadelphia native.

April 9, 2016 – Anthony Joshua KO 2 Charles Martin – IBF heavyweight – O2 Arena, London: Joshua walked through Martin, dropping the American twice en route to claiming the IBF belt.

June 25, 2016 – Anthony Joshua TKO 7 Dominic Breazeale – IBF heavyweight – O2 Arena, London: Just a couple of months removed from his title win, Joshua returned to dish out punishment on his fellow 2012 Olympian.

Oct. 15, 2016 – Tony Bellew TKO 3 B.J Flores – WBC cruiserweight – Echo Arena, Liverpool: Local favorite Bellew made quick work of Flores, retaining his strap before calling out countryman David Haye moments later.

Dec. 10, 2016 – Anthony Joshua TKO 3 Eric Molina – IBF heavyweight – Manchester Arena, Manchester: Joshua easily blitzed his way past school teacher Molina in three rounds to retain his IBF title for the second time.

May 20, 2017 – Gervonta Davis TKO 3 Liam Walsh – IBF junior lightweight – Copper Box Arena, London: Davis lived up to his considerable billing and “Tank” moniker, blitzkrieging his way past Walsh after a quiet opening. Davis showed his vaunted power, dropping the Brit and quickly finishing him off. In doing so, Davis snapped a nine-fight American losing run in the U.K./Ireland over a three-year period.


In total there have been 83 world titles between Brits/Irish vs. Americans. 54 have been won by Brits/Irish and 29 have been won by Americans, giving Brits/Irish a 65 percent success rate and the U.S. 35 percent.

In the past decade, the countries have met on 18 occasions and the U.K. holds a 14-4 advantage.

The most successful Brit/Irishman is Joe Calzaghe, who went 6-0 against Americans in the U.K.. The most successful American is Winky Wright, who was 3-0 during his U.K campaign.


Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at