September 10th 2004 was a seminal night in British Boxing. For the curious, this was the day David Haye learned the priceless lessons only defeat can impart in his stoppage loss to the venerable Carl Thompson. Without a loss at that juncture, one wonders if Haye would have rallied to hit the heights he did. Had the loss come later, it may have been too late for the rededication he employed post-Thompson. It was a memorable event for those in attendance too. My own enjoyment of proceedings was enhanced by a chance introduction to a stalwart observer of the fight game, and now regular on Steve Bunce’s BBC London show, Ron Boddy.
Like so many personalities in the boxing fraternity, from those in the ring, those close to it and those who record the events, Ron was generous with his time. Illuminating me to the potential of under-card enigma Anthony Small and suggesting Haye could be a massive star if they promoted him as a playboy fighter who never trained.
“The papers would love all that”.
But he saved his most animated evangalising for the prospects of an American salvation at heavyweight in which he appeared to have some vested interest. Namely Chazz Witherspoon, the nephew of former title-holder Terrible Tim Witherspoon. At the back of arena he extolled the virtues of Chazz’s right hand, one he suggested was similar in effect to Uncle Tim’s devestating overhand right but was thrown with a “kind of corkscrew” action. By this time Ron was in full flow, offering me a demonstration of how this punch looked while correcting my spelling of a fighters name as I made notes on the under-card action unfolding before us.
It is in such moments that career long affinities with fighters can be born, and Ron nurtured just such a connection between the yet to debut Witherspoon and I.
“He’s no idiot either, he’s a college graduate, a good all-round athlete”.
Now 8 years on the Witherspoon story has never become the best-seller Ron hoped it would. Aged 30, Witherspoon has fought perhaps two world-class fighters among his 30-2 (22 kos) record and yes, you guessed it, the two world class fighters account for the losses. While there is no shame in defeat to Tony Thompson and Chris Arreola, it strongly suggests a ceiling to Chazz’s trajectory in a manner in keeping with those who trod the path before him; Brock, Johnson, Guinn et al, as the great American hope.
At the end of this month, 28th in Atlantic City on the Hopkins v Dawson II under card, ‘Gentleman’ Chazz has another opportunity to post a breakthrough victory against America’s latest heavyweight hope Seth Mitchell, himself fresh off his own breakthrough win against an apparentley unmotivated Timor Ibragimov.
Thanks to Ron Boddy, I’ll be hoping to read of a Witherspoon victory.