History of WBC Heavyweight Champions: Fight Facts, Stats & More

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NEW YORK (Jan. 7, 2015) – In the most anticipated heavyweight fight in the United States in a decade,WBC Heavyweight World Champion Bermane “B. Ware” Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KOs), a Haitian native fighting out of Las Vegas, will make his first defense against the confident, undefeated knockout specialist Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (32-0, 32 KOs), of Tuscaloosa, Ala., in the explosive main event of a televised tripleheader on Saturday, Jan. 17, live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. 
 
Below are some facts and stats on the WBC Heavyweight World Championship:
 
When Stiverne knocked out Chris Arreola on May 10, 2014, he became the first Haitian-born prizefighter and 22nd boxer overall to capture the WBC Heavyweight World Championship.
Wilder, if triumphant, would become the first undefeated American heavyweight to capture a world title since Riddick Bowe won the WBC, WBA and IBF titles in 1992.

Wilder also would become the 13th U.S.-born boxer to win the WBC title and the first since August 2006.

Hasim Rahman was the last American to hold the WBC belt.  The last American to hold any version of the heavyweight title was Shannon Briggs, who captured the WBO title in November 2006 and lost in his first defense.

At six-foot-seven, Wilder would join Vitali Klitschko as the tallest WBC Heavyweight World Champion; the tallest heavyweight world champion was seven-foot-tall Nikolai Valuev, a former two-time WBA belt-holder who is also the heaviest (323 pounds) world champion in history.

The initial nine WBC heavyweight champions were from the United States, beginning with Sonny Liston, who in July 1963 became the first WBC champion.  Following Liston were Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Leon Spinks, Ken Norton, Larry Holmes, Tim Witherspoon and Pinklon Thomas.

On Nov. 22, 1986, 20-year-old Mike Tyson of the U.S. became the youngest ever to capture the heavyweight title when he knocked out Trevor Berbick, who had defeated Thomas.

Other WBC heavyweight champions from the U.S. include James “Buster” Douglas, Evander Holyfield, Bowe, Oliver McCall and Rahman.

The only Jamaican-born boxer to become the WBC champion was Berbick, who also was the first heavyweight outside of the U.S. to capture the WBC crown.

There have been two WBC heavyweight champions from England — Lennox Lewis, three different times and Frank Bruno.

There was one fighter from Ukraine, Vitali Klitschko, who held the WBC belt on two occasions, one fighter from Russia, Oleg Maskaev and one from Nigeria Samuel Peter.

Lewis is the only three-time WBC Heavyweight Champion. He made 14 successful defenses in his stints as champ.

Ali, Foreman, Tyson, Klitschko and Rahman were two-time WBC heavyweight champs.

Ali (two tenures) made a total of 19 successful title defenses.

Holmes, with 16, had more successful title defenses than any one-reign champ; Klitschko had a total of 10, Ali had nine WBC world title defenses two separate times; Tyson, Lewis and Klitschko retained the title nine times once.

Interestingly, the feared Liston had zero defenses of the WBC heavyweight title, the same number as Spinks, Norton, Witherspoon, Berbick, Douglas, Bowe, Bruno and Peter.

Two boxers were stripped of the WBC title – Spinks (March 1978 for failing to defend against mandatory challenger Ken Norton and Bowe (December 1992 for not making a mandatory defense against Lewis).

The WBC title was vacated twice (Holmes in December 1982) and Tyson (in September 1996).

Two boxers retired as WBC Heavyweight Champions, Lewis in February 2004 and Klitschko twice, in November 2005 and December 2013.
With the exception of Liston, all the U.S.-born WBC Heavyweight Champions were promoted at one time by Don King.

Stiverne-Wilder will be 135th WBC Heavyweight World Title fight; 95 of them have taken place in the U.S., including 40 in Nevada (WBC heavyweight title fights have emanated from 20 different countries). Overall, this will be the 300th WBC title fight in Nevada.

Forgotten Legends: Freddie Norwood

By: Steve Gallegos

During his heyday, nobody brought the heat better than “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler. He fought with an aggressive, take no prisoners kind of style that made for some classic battles. Anyone synonymous with Marvin Hagler had to be a special fighter and that was the case with former featherweight champion FreddieLil HaglerNorwood. Norwood was similar to Hagler in many ways. He sported a shaven skull and inside the ring he was a southpaw who was an offensive machine. He loved to come forward and put together hard combinations to the body and head without much fear of what was coming in return.

Norwood was born and raised in Saint Louis, MO which has a well known legacy for boxing as it produced three heavyweight champions in Sonny Liston and the Spinks brothers, Michael and Leon. Norwood would turn pro in August of 1989 and would go 26-0-1 with 18 KO’s over the next eight years, which included a win over future, long time super bantamweight champion Vuyani Bungu. It was in 1997 that the boxing public began to take notice of Norwood. On 07/13/97, Norwood would make his national debut on CBS, taking on tough and rugged journeyman Darryl Pinckney. It would be one of the last bouts fought on CBS in the 1990’s. Prior to the bout, the legendary trainer and commentator Gil Clancy highly praised Norwood and felt he should be in line for a world title.

Inside the ring, Norwood dominated Pinckney in spectacular fashion as he won a 10 round unanimous decision. During the post fight interview, he called out Vuyani Bungu, who was a super bantamweight titleholder at the time. Norwood would follow this performance up with another exciting performance over Agapito “Cyclone” just one month later. He then called out another Jr. featherweight champion in Junior Jones. The major titleholders at 122 and 126 lbs weren’t responding to the challenges called out by Norwood, however he would finally get a shot at a world title when he faced former super bantamweight titleholder Antonio Cermeno.

They met on 04/03/98 at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, Puerto Rico and it was for the WBA featherweight championship. Norwood dominated Cermeno from start to finish as he won a lopsided unanimous decision. After nine long years, Freddie Norwood was finally a world champion. He would make his first defense of the title just two months later on ABC’s Wide World of Sports as he would dismantle very tough Nicuraguan challenger Genaro Rios in eight rounds. After the KO victory, Norwood began calling out “Prince” Naseem Hamed, saying “Come on Princess, let’s fight”. Hamed didn’t answer the call, so Norwood continued to fight on as he successfully defended his title four times over the next year.

Norwood would then make his HBO debut in 1999 as he took on future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico. They met on 09/11/99 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, NV. On paper, this fight was guaranteed to be a barn burner, however it was far from it. The fight was a rough, ugly “stinker” in which neither fighter really got anything going. The end result was a controversial, unanimous decision win for Norwood. “Lil Hagler” bounced back at the start of the new millenium with two impressive defenses of his title over unbeaten challengers Takashi Koshimoto and Julio Pablo Chacon.

On 09/09/00, Norwood took on Derrick “Smoke” Gainer on a big Pay Per View card at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, LA. Norwood was unable to make the contracted weight for the bout and it was one of the first times that a title was lost on the scales. Inside the ring, the fight was an all action slugfest that had just about everything from knockdowns to low blows. The referee Paul Sita made some unusual calls as he administered counts for low blows as well as counting during an instance when both men went to the canvas while tying each other up. Norwood would lose by 11th round TKO in unusual fashion as Gainer put Norwood down with a series of low blows after Norwood hit him with a series of low blows.

After this bout, Norwood began having legal troubles outside the ring as he was arrested and charged with both kidnapping and assault. He would remain out of boxing for six years and would make a comeback in 2006 going 5-3 from 2006-2011. His record as a professional stands at 43-4-1 with 23 KO’s. Who knows what could have happened in those six years he was away from the ring. Could he have bounced back and won more world titles and faced off with the likes of Marco Antonio Barerra, Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao? Instead all we are left with is the memories of a very tough and skillfull fighter who didn’t live up to his full potential.

Norwood vs Marquez

Beyond the Ropes: Floyd Patterson

By: Heath Harlem
Follow Heath @PittGrad0214

Credit: Dan Weiner—Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Many fight fans and non-boxing enthusiasts (thanks to his recent TV reality shows, movie roles, and his Broadway shows); know the story of Mike Tyson. The juvenile delinquent out of Brooklyn, NY who found boxing, became mentored by the great Cus D’Amato and went on to become the youngest heavyweight champion ever. Following the success there was a fall from grace without D’Amato by his side. However, he was able to put much of that fall behind him by resurrecting his life after his boxing career. While Mike was D’Amato’s last protégé, in the 1950’s and early 1960’s it was Floyd Patterson who was D’Amato’s protégé. Patterson was a former juvenile delinquent who like Tyson, found boxing and went on to become the youngest world heavy weight champion. Like Mike, Patterson left Cus (by his choice vs. Tyson leaving D’Amato by way of his death) leading to controversy and a downfall in the public’s eye before he was able to turn his image around after his boxing career.

Born on January 4, 1935 in Waco, TX Floyd Patterson was the youngest of 11 children. When Floyd was still young, the family relocated to Brooklyn, NY. Floyd quickly found trouble in Brooklyn and he was constantly involved with the law for truancy violations and theft. Do to his delinquency he was sent upstate to reform school at Wiltwyck School for Boys. Patterson spent 2 years at the school and later in life he credited his time at Wiltwyck to changing his life for the better. Following his time at Wiltwyck He attended New Paltz High School. In high school Patterson blossomed into an all-around athlete, staring in football while boxing under the guidance of legendary trainer Cus D’Amato out of the Gramercy Gym. Quickly Patterson dominated the amateur ranks under the watchful eyes of D’Amato. Floyd used a unique fighting style nicknamed the Peek A Boo Style by the press (keeping the hands covering the fighters face before unleashing punch patterns of 3 2 3 (body head body) or 3 3 2 (body body head), that was developed by Cus D’Amato. This fighting style along with his athleticism provided him with amazing success. When he was 17 in 1952, only three years into his boxing career, he won the middleweight title at the NY Golden Gloves, United States Championships and also captured the Gold Medal at the Summer Olympics in Helsinki.

The Olympics capped off an impressive amateur career and soon following, Patterson turned pro and began fighting in the Light Heavyweight division following a plan designed by D’Amato for Floyd, with the goal to have him ultimately fight in and become world champion of the Heavyweight Division. Floyd’s pro career started without a hitch and he won his first 13 fights at light heavyweight until he suffered a defeat to former light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim in his 14th pro bout. Maxim, who had wins in his career against Sugar Ray Robinson and Irish Bob Murphy won a controversial decision. The loss to Maxim hardly derailed Patterson’s plan to become World Heavyweight Champion. Floyd went out and won the next 17 fights before facing former Light Heavyweight Champion Archie Moore on November 30, 1956 for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship. Patterson overmatched the older and more experienced Moore, and won the championship by scoring a knockout victory in the fifth round at Chicago Stadium. With the win, Patterson became the youngest World Heavyweight champion in boxing history at 21 years 10 months of age. In addition he also became the first gold medalist to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Patterson defended his title four times over the next two and a half years with ease before he faced Ingemar Johansson of Sweden at Yankee Stadium on June 26, 1959. This fight turned out to be the first of what ultimately became a three fight trilogy and was the start of one of the greatest rivalries in boxing history. Patterson who was not on his game during the fight, lost via TKO in the third round when his corner finally stopped the fight following the seventh time he was knocked down. After the defeat Patterson did not fight for one year and finally returned to the ring on June 20, 1960 for a rematch with Johansson at the Polo Grounds in New York City. The 2nd fight with Johansson was named by Ring Magazine as fight of the year and Patterson won this rematch via a fifth round knockout. With this win he became the first person ever to regain the Heavyweight Title. On March 13th, 1961 Patterson faced Johansson for the third time and final time, with all three of the fights being consecutive fights for both fighters. During the first round of the rubber match, Patterson hit the canvas twice and Johansson was knocked down once. By the sixth round Floyd had worn down his opponent and future friend and retained his title by knocking him out.

Patterson defended his title for a final time on April 12, 1961 in Canada against Tom McNealy winning via an easy fourth round knockout. From 1959 through 1961 Patterson was tempted to face Sonny Liston. Liston the great heavyweight was managed my known organized crime members and Cus D’Amato wouldn’t allow Patterson to face any fighter with ties to organized crime. D’Amato had been growing frustrated with organized crime’s influence in the fight game (ultimately leaving New York City and becoming a somewhat recluse in Catskill; New York due to a riot in Madison square Garden after his fighter lost by what many felt was a fixed decision) drew a line with sand and Patterson over this issue. Ultimately Patterson fired Cus D’Amato and agreed to fight Liston. Later in life Patterson shared that not only was D’Amato against him fighting Liston, so was the NAACP and President Kennedy. They were fearful that if Liston could defeat Patterson and become World Heavyweight Champion, due to Liston’s organized crime ties, it could set the civil rights movement back. Despite all of the objections, Patterson entered the fight with Liston as a huge betting favorite on September 25, 1962. The crowd at Comeskey Park was stunned when Floyd Patterson was knocked out 2 minutes and 5 seconds into the first round. Floyd lost the World Title and would never again be able to regain it. Due to the quick knockdown many fight fans in America questioned whether there was a fix in place to setup a more lucrative rematch the following year as well as a big payday against the sport’s books due to Patterson being the overwhelming favorite. They did have a rematch on July 22, 1963 in Las Vegas. Patterson was knocked down 3 times in the first round and only lasted 2 minutes and 10 seconds. Due to the accusations of the fixed fight, the split with Cus D’Amato so he could fight those with unethical ties and the poor performance in the fights with Liston, the public began to sour Patterson and no longer saw him as one of the countries great athletic heroes.

After the two fights with Liston, Floyd continued to fight at a high level winning his next five fights including a twelve round unanimous decision against George Chuvalo on January 2, 1965 that was named Ring Magazine Fight of the Year. After a tune up fight in May of 1965 in Sweden (where Patterson was extremely popular due to the trilogy of with Johansson) Patterson was given the opportunity to win the World Heavyweight Title for a third time in a match against Muhammad Ali. There was a lot of bad blood leading up to their fight on November 22, 1965 as Liston who was against Black Muslims refused to call Ali by any name other than his birth name of Clay. This upset Ali and he took it into the ring with him. While calling Patterson “Uncle Tom” and asking him over and over “what’s my name” Ali beat Patterson to a pulp. Though he was dominating the fight and inflicting a high level of pain Ali refused to knock Floyd out, wanting him to suffer as much as possible. Finally in the 12th round the fight was mercifully put to an end. The attitude and performance demonstrated by Patterson in the lead up and during the Ali fight added to the souring opinion the public was taking towards Floyd Patterson.

Following the ugly defeat to Ali, Patterson continued to face top level competition winning his next 3 fights including a 4th round knockout of Henry Cooper in London, England in 1966. Patterson then fought Jerry Quarry to a draw on September 6, 1967 and four months later lost via a close majority decision in the rematch. On September 14, 1968 in Sweden, Patterson faced Jimmy Ellis for the WBA Heavyweight Title, the final time that Floyd Patterson would fight for the World Championship. Patterson fought a competitive fight, knocking Ellis down but ultimately lost via referee’s decision. Following the Ellis fight, Patterson scored nine more wins in his next 9 fights facing inferior competition. On September 28, 1972 Floyd Patterson stepped in the ring for the final time to face Muhammad Ali in a rematch at Madison Square Garden. Ali dominated the fight, ultimately winning via TKO in the 7th. Without an official retirement announcement at 37 years of age Floyd Patterson, the youngest man and first ever Olympic gold medalist to win the Worlds Heavyweight title quietly left the fight game.

Over time the public’s opinion of Patterson changed as he fell deeper into retirement. Floyd stayed active in retirement. He tried his hand at acting and he also turned to training fighters. Floyd had moderate success as a trainer, with his most notable students being his adopted son Tracy Patterson and Razor Ruddock. Floyd also became a chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission. Following their legendary trilogy, Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johansson became close friends and they traveled regularly to visit each other. They both stayed in great physical shape and together they competed in the Stockholm marathon in 1982 and 1983. As time passed and the public got to see Patterson in his active retired life, they were able to put the memories of the Liston and Ali fights behind them and once again remembered how great of a talent Floyd Patterson really was. In 1991 Floyd was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame as part of the Hall of Fame’s second ever class.

At the end of his life Floyd Patterson suffered from Alzheimer’s and prostate cancer and ultimately passed away on May 11th, 2006. Like the more recent Mike Tyson, Floyd Patterson was a troubled kid from Brooklyn who was mentored by the great Cus D’Amato. Under D’Amato’s watchful eye Patterson captured the sports world’s attention by becoming the youngest World’s Heavyweight Champion. Patterson was a dominating fighter and like the more well-known Tyson, fell from the top of his game when D’Amato was no longer mentoring him through life. Like Tyson, Patterson was able to move past those bad experiences in his post fighting career and that allowed the public to look back and appreciate the talent that he was and all that he was able to accomplish.