BRUCE SELDON: The Atlantic City Express Rolled Into Town
Bruce Seldon may not have been the most decorated heavyweight champion ever, nor the most well-known. But he is a heavyweight champion who was born and raised in Atlantic City, and that, in and of itself, makes him unique.
Seldon’s amateur career was not overwhelming; in fact, he had only 24 bouts, winning a New Jersey state title in the super heavyweight division (over 201 pounds). He turned pro in October 1988 with a first-round KO of Joel McGraw, and he quickly picked up the reputation of being a sound fighter with a lot of talent and an educated left jab. And the results came. One of his early fights was an eighth-round TKO over southpaw Jerry Jones, who had knocked out Michael Bentt in one round just a year before, and another was a second-round stoppage of undefeated Tom Sandner that was televised on ABC.
Along the way to building an 18-0 record, Seldon beat war horses like David Bey, Ossie Ocasio and Jose Ribalta, but in his biggest career test, in April 1991, he ran out of gas and was stopped by Oliver McCall (who would one day win the WBC title) in the ninth round. His next fight after that would be especially disastrous, as he was blown out in one round by Riddick Bowe, who was unbeaten at the time and on his way to a heavyweight championship.
In terms of his viability on the world level, that opened up a lot of questions about Seldon and sent him back to square one. And along the way he had to sustain yet another defeat, a decision to Tony Tubbs, but he then reeled off seven straight wins to put himself into position for a shot at the vacant WBA (World Boxing Association) title against Tony Tucker, as George Foreman had been stripped of his belt. Tucker was the #1 contender, who Foreman chose not to fight, and Seldon was #2.
In that particular fight, which took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in April 1995, Seldon built a small lead on the scorecards, using the left jab with great effectiveness, and Tucker’s left eye began to shut. The referee, Mills Lane, stepped in and stopped it after the end of the seventh round, as Tucker and his corner protested vehemently. Seldon dedicated the fight to his former trainer, Carmen Graziano, and now he had a share of the heavyweight crown.
Truth be told, Seldon was an unremarkable heavyweight champion. He did defend successfully in an entertaining fight against Joe Hipp in August of ’95, but there was no getting by Mike Tyson, who was already the WBC champion (having beaten Frank Bruno) and knocked out Seldon in a minute and 49 seconds. The loss, which was tainted to some because it did not look like Seldon got hit very hard, sent him into retirement, but the events of the evening sent rapper Tupac Shukar into a shooting death on the Las Vegas Strip, and that news overshadowed the fight that night.
Seldon did not fight for eight years, and during that hiatus he was found guilty of statutory rape and had to do some time. He returned to boxing in 2004 with wins over journeymen Otis Tisdale and Lenzie Morgan, but he was set back by losses inside the distance to Gerald Nobles and Tye Fields, who had a combined record of 56-1 when he fought them. Then he sat out again until 2007, but after three wins he was stopped by Kevin Johnson in five rounds. His last fight to date was a ninth-round KO loss to Fres Oquendo for the NABA (North American Boxing Association) title in 2009, which brought his record to 40-8 with 36 KO’s. Atlantic City’s own heavyweight champion is currently working with his son, Isiah Seldon, who is an undefeated pro fighter in the super middleweight division.