World heavyweight boxing interest a reminder of yesteryear

This past Saturday, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Briton Tyson Fury recorded a seventh round technical knockout (TKO) victory over American Deontay Wilder to retain his lineal belt and capture the World Boxing Council (WBC) crown.

At present, Fury stands tall, alongside fellow countryman Anthony Joshua who has the other shares in the world heavyweight title kingdom. Joshua holds the World Boxing Association (WBA) – Super, International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Organization (WBO) and International Boxing Organization (IBO) titles.

He and his camp claim the “unified” status, while Fury is satisfied with the lineal tag (having beaten an undisputed champion, Wladimir Klitschko).

There is a rematch for Wilder, pending, if he finalizes arrangement for the same within 60 days. Whatever the case, whether it is Fury/Wilder, a third time, or a Fury/Joshua match, the world heavyweight division is exciting once again.

Watching Fury win rather easily on Saturday and digesting the major influence the heavyweight division now has on the boxing world, the scenario evoked memories of yesteryear in The Bahamas, when heavyweight boxing was the most popular aspect of Bahamian sports.

Indeed, this was the case. Ardent observers of the national sporting fraternity over the last three decades would not be able to connect with a vibrant heavyweight boxing environment. Yet, heavyweight boxing was once the rage in this country.

During the 1960s, when Cleveland “KO” Parris reigned supreme; upon his retirement, when three-time champ Leonard “Boston Blackie” Miller and “Baby Boy” Rolle exchanged ownership of the crown; from the late 1960s into the 1970s throughout the era of Bert Perry, who was a two-time heavyweight king; the return from New York for several fights by Wendell Newton; the time of Bob Freeze; the Bahamian heavyweight boxing division was a big draw. Only the Ray Minus Sr./Cassius Moss encounters, and the coming on stream of Everette “Elisha Obed” Ferguson were comparable during that period.

Ernie Barr stepped up from the light heavyweight division, as did Rolle before him, and created additional excitement.

The Parris dominance; the wars between “Boston Blackie” and Rolle; Perry’s trilogy with “Boston Blackie” and the big losing clash with Rolle; the “Boston Blackie”/Wendell Newton episodes; Freeze’s time at the top; coincided with matches against foreign opponents, the likes of Carl Baker, Johnny Hudgins, Willie Johnson, Bobby Lloyd, James Summerville, Stanford Harris and Willie Johnson.

It made for a glorious era of heavyweight boxing.

Today, while there is a buzz in the world heavyweight division because of Fury, Joshua and Wilder, it’s the exact opposite here in The Bahamas. There are only our aging champion Sherman “Tank” Williams (47) and Jerry “Big Daddy” Butler (39) active as heavyweights.

Williams has never defended his local title. He still has a lot left, though, and a match with Butler could ignite the Bahamian heavyweight division, if only for a short period. At the very least, the build-up to a Williams defense against Butler would be a reminder of the old days when “Boston Blackie”, Rolle, Perry and their peers thrilled local audiences.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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