A rare treat on ITV4 last night, Jim Rosenthal and Barry McGuigan hosted a wander down memory lane. Using footage from ITV’s impressive archives, action from Hagler v Hearns, Mark Kaylor, Benn, Eubank, Tyson and Hamed were inter-spersed with ‘talking head’ contributions from Colin Hart, John Rawling, Duke McKenzie, a very nervous Ron Lewis from the Times and most treasured of all, Reg Gutteridge. I miss Reg’s wisdom on the mic. However, for me, the biggest thrill was being reminded of Michael Watson’s excellence.
His clash with Benn was sensational, and much of it was shown last night. I’d forgotten just how technically good Watson was, how fit, gritty and skilled he was. Quite rightly, Benn and Eubank always steal the plaudits due to their rivalry which was both legendary and very real but Watson is undervalued as their contemporary. Not only did he stop Benn he was also robbed in the first Eubank contest before the ill-fated rematch in which Michael suffered terrible injuries.
In that rematch he was outboxing, outworking and out-thinking Eubank once more, dropping him in the last. Of course, Eubank miraculously climbed off the floor to land the punch that won him the vacant WBO Super-Middleweight belt but sadly inflicted permanent damage on his opponent.
Within all that, he also took a prime Mike McCallum eleven rounds before being stopped. A terrific fighter Michael Watson, a fact often over-looked because of the tragic conclusion to his professional career.
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