Sometimes Big Records Do Not Mean Big Success in Boxing
By: Ken Hissner
There have been some “built up records” in boxing, especially at the start of boxers careers and all of a sudden the roof falls in when they have to fight a real opponent.
Lamar Clark, 43-3 with 42 by knockout from Cedar City, Utah, was 41-0 and he knocked out Kenneth Hayden, 0-4. Then the roof fell in in his last 4 fights. Of those 41 fights there was only one opponent with a winning record and one with an even record. Then 27 making their debut and probably not even amateurs let alone decent ones.
Clark made his debut in January of 1958 and had 29 fights that year. He had 10 fights in 1959. His first loss came in April of 1960 when his opponent Dominican Bartolo Soni’s, living in New York City’s record was introduced at 14-2-1 though www.boxrec.com shows it as 12-2-1. Clark was 42-0 entering the ring at Weber High school Gymnasium, in Ogden, Utah. Soni stopped Clark in the ninth round.
In June of 1960 Clark took on former 1956 Olympic Gold Medalist Pete Rademacher, 6-3-1, and had a 72-7 amateur record after winning the Olympics. The fight was held at Derks Field, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Rademacher would stop Clark in the tenth and final round.
In March of 1961 Clark would knockout Chuck Wilburn, 6-12-4, in two rounds at the Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Following this one Clark in the following month met another Olympic Gold Medalist named Muhammad Ali, 5-0, at the Freedom Hall, in Louisville, Kentucky and was knocked out in two rounds.
Don “The Man of Steel” Steele, 45-6 with 44 knockouts was from Mobile, Alabama. He won his first 41 fights with seven against debuting fighters and three with winning records. He would travel to Copenhagen, Denmark, and at the K.B. Hallen. His opponent was Denmark’s Brian “Super Brian” Nielsen, who was 38-0. The referee was Steve “Double SS” Smoger and one of the judges was former boxer Pete Podgorski, both from the US. The other two judges were from Sweden and Finland. At stake was the IBO Heavyweight title. Nielsen knocked out Steele in the second round.
It would seventeen months before Steele returned to the ring and was fighting for something called the IBF/USBA Northeastern Regional title. His opponent was Richie “The Bull” Melito, 23-1, of Flushing, NY, who stopped Steele in the third round.
Including these two losses Steele was 4-6 in his last ten fights including getting knocked out by the 1988 Olympic Gold medalist Ray “Merciless” Mercer the future WBO Heavyweight champion at the Silver Star Casino, in Philadelphia, Mississippi.
Speaking of Nielsen, who ended his career at 64-3 with 43 knockouts was 49-0 when he lost for the first time. He had stopped future and past world champions including Tony “TNT” Tubbs, James “Bonecrusher” Smith, and in his forty-ninth fight stopped “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon. He also defeated by decision another world champion in Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes.
Nielsen had tied the record of former world champion Rocky Marciano and was about to break it in June of 1999 when he took on Dicky “The Raging Bull” Ryan, 47-4, from Omaha, Nebraska. Ryan had been knocked down in the fourth round but came back to deal Nielsen his first defeat stopping him in the tenth and final round.
Nielsen would go onto win his next thirteen fights including a decision over Ryan when he took on former world champion “Iron” Mike Tyson, then 48-3, and was stopped in the sixth round.
Nielsen won his next two fights by decision and ended his career in May of 2011 getting stopped by former world champion Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield in the tenth and final round. Holyfield, 43-10-2, also retired after this fight. 63 of Nielsen’s 67 fights were in Denmark. It’s not often that two fighters retire after fighting one another.