By: Ken Hissner
How many times do boxers fight in a small facility and become world champions and “forget where they got their start?” IBF World Super Middleweight champion Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer was “the exception!”
Turning professional in August of 1989 on a Peltz Boxing show Brewer won his debut at the legendary Blue Horizon in North Philadelphia. “Due to a knockout Brewer’s 4 rounder aired on USA Network,” said Peltz. Ron Katz of Top Rank saw this fight and signed Brewer to a promotional contract. He would go onto win his first fourteen bouts of which two were at the “Blue” and a dozen in Atlantic City, NJ. He would then run into a southpaw “spoiler” named Robert Thomas and lost back to back split decisions. This writer at one time well after this period of time put Thomas into several matches as his “advisor”. Eight of those fourteen wins were by stoppage. After losing those decisions to Thomas Top Rank dropped him. Brewer would go onto win eight straight by stoppage. It all started with stopping fellow Philadelphian Willie Harris, 21-1 and later Mario Munoz 14-0 among those eight wins. J Russell Peltz signed Brewer starting with the Harris fight.
“He was an aggressive big puncher with a wide-open style combined with a questionable chin, which made his fights exciting and a Philly crowd pleaser. Evidently like fans in Argentina and Denmark, where the local fighter NEVER loses, Philly fans were smart to the max and had no problem with the visitor winning, so as long as he did it in style. That’s how out-of-towner fighters like Billy “Dynamite” Douglas became huge local draws. So with Brewer, fans could rely on a good action fight, and one with the drama of an opponent always having a “puncher’s chance.” – That quote came from long-time writer Jeff Jowett now with Seconds Out.
Brewer was Ranked No. 6 when his streak was stopped with back to back losses at the “Blue” to Lonnie Beasley, 20-1-1 and Rafael Williams 32-13. Two fights later he lost to Rodney Toney 18-0-2. He would then go onto win nine straight including winning the USBA title over Frank Rhodes, 22-3-3 at the “Blue”. Rhodes was managed then by former Philadelphia Eagle coach Buddy Ryan. “It still rates in my book as the best performance ever turned in by any fighter at the Blue Horizon. It was a terrific shut out if you can imagine a 12-0 bout terrific,” said Peltz.
Two fights later he would defend his USBA title at the “Blue” defeating Greg Wright, 13-1-1. This would lead him to earning a world title fight set-up by his promoter J Russell Peltz. It was June of 1997 defeating Gary Ballard, 22-2-1, when he stopped Ballard for the vacant title that Roy Jones, Jr., vacated in Tampa, FL.
In Brewer’s next fight in his first defense he went “back to his roots” to be the first and only boxer to defend a world title at the “Blue” defeating Joey DeGrandis, 23-3. Next up would be European champion Herol Graham, 48-5, in Atlantic City whom he stopped. In his next fight he went to Germany and stopped USBA champion Antoine Byrd, 31-6-1. On that card would be German Sven Ottke who improved his record to 12-0.
The German promoter must have seen something he liked and challenged Brewer in a title defense against Ottke just two months later. Brewer would lose a disputed split decision. The first loss to Ottke was my fault. I thought the judge from Italy was neutral but was in the bag. US judge George Hill had it 117-111 for Peterson. “The other judges had it 115-113 and 116-112 for Ottke. What a farce,” said Peltz.
It would take eleven months to get a rematch. In the meantime Ottke would win half a dozen fights during that period of time. In September of 2000 the outcome would be the same with Brewer losing by split decision. The US judge had it 116-113 for Brewer.
Brewer would win two of his next three fights and get an opportunity to challenge World Super Middleweight WBO champion Joe Calzaghe, 32-0, in Cardiff, Wales, losing a decision. “It was the only fight under me that Brewer was dominated. He had Calzaghe buzzed late in the seventh round when the bell rang,” said Peltz.
Brewer would then defeat three good fighters in Scott Pemberton, 24-2-1, Etianne Whitaker, 27-8-2 and Freeman Barr, 25-3 and become the No. 1 contender under Peltz. It would be over a year before he fought again and got a title fight. “The contract ran out and he signed with Lou DiBella. Those three bouts earned him a shot at the interim World WBO Super Middleweight title in Germany losing to Mario Veit, 44-1. His next and final bout would be a loss in Copenhagen in April of 2005 ending his career at 40-11 with 28 by stoppage. Per Peltz “Years later I told him God punished him for leaving me for those last two fights. He said “maybe so!”
“He was from the same neighborhood I was from. I knew his mother and father. I started training him at the 23rd PAL. From then on he started picking up everything and was a dedicated kid who came to the gym and did what I told him to do. He had all the heart in the world. He was a real good kid. He never got in any trouble. He won the title and held it for a while. When it was time for him to retire I told him he did okay and to get out while he was ahead,” said Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts.
Knowing Brewer on a personal note he would agree to answer questions for this writer.
KEN HISSNER: You went from fighter to writer after your career was over. You are not only best known to being a world champion but the “only” Philadelphia boxer to defend that title at the Legendary Blue Horizon. Whose decision was that?
CHARLES BREWER: We had a team meeting at Peltz’ office and he brought up the idea of hosting a World championship fight at the Blue. We saw that, it would be the first time in the history of the Blue Horizon, that a reigning, world champion, would be defending their title at the Blue, so that was a plus. History was going to be made by “The Hatchet” of course, the fight was on!
KEN HISSNER: Were Augie Scimecca and Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts (co-managers) in your corner for the most part of your career?
CHARLES BREWER: Augie came on board upon me turning pro in 89’. “Boogaloo” had been my trainer since I was 14 years old.
KEN HISSNER: You would face two boxers that would retire undefeated in Joe Calzaghe at 46-0 and Sven Ottke at 34-0. What was your opinion on both of them?
CHARLES BREWER: Calzaghe, definitely one of the best, gotta give credit where credit is due. He fought the smarter fight in our battle. Ottke? The WORST ROBBERIES I’ve ever experienced in my boxing career. (He would have gotten the decision if it were in the US with Calzaghe. He beat Ottke twice but lost a hometown decision.” – Bobby Watts)
KEN HISSNER: You were 15-2 at the “Blue”. Was that one of or the one favorite place for you to fight?
CHARLES BREWER: Well, not necessarily. Of course I loved the hometown admiration I received at the Blue and that I was becoming a household name there as well, but I wanted to through boxing see the world, and I am ever so grateful, to have traveled internationally through boxing.
KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions and also thank you for so many exciting fights you gave to us fans.
CHARLES BREWER: Thank you…… Boxing Fans, for becoming fight fans of Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer.