David "Bomber" Pearce
David “Bomber” Pearce was ranked number seven in the World heavyweight rankings and number one in the WBA Cruiserweight rankings.
David “Bomber” Pearce known as the ‘The Welsh Rocky’ was one of a quartet of exciting British heavyweights in the 1980s, along with Frank Bruno, John L. Gardner and Noel Quarless, who held out the possibility of a future British heavyweight World champion. David “Bomber” Pearce held the Welsh & British Heavyweight titles and fought for the EBU European Heavyweight Title all before the age of 23. In all, he won 17 (13 KO) of his 21 professional bouts, losing 3 with 1 drawn. He also won 2 (2 KO) of his 3 unsanctioned boxing bouts.
David “Bomber” Pearce was seen as the first real Cruiserweight from Great Britain, but due to the BBBoC reluctance to recognise the division he was unable to fight for the WBA Cruiserweight title in 1983 after signing the contracts with Promoter Morgans Palle. Subsequently the BBBoC recognised the Cruiserweight division in 1985, one year after Pearce was forced to medically retire. David Pearce was voted in the Ring Magazine top ten of unluckiest boxers never to win a World Title.
David “Bomber” Pearce defeated a number of top heavyweights, by knockout, during his career, including Mal Tetley, Bobby Hennessey, Winston Allen, Denton Ruddock, Theo Josephs, Larry McDonald, Ishaq Hussain, Dennis Andries, Gordon Ferris, Albert Syben, Neville Meade and John Tate.
The tragedy of David “Bomber” Pearce is he was medically retired when just entering his physical prime at the age of 24.
David Pearce, born in Pillgwenlly, Newport, Gwent, was one of nine children: seven brothers, six of whom boxed professionally, and one who was a professional dancer, and two sisters. He boxed out of St Joseph’s ABC in Pillgwenlly, Newport and coached junior and senior boxers at Alway ABC in Newport before his death. Soon after his final unsanctioned boxing fight in 1994, in California, Pearce became seriously ill, in later years developing epilepsy. There was no specific evidence that this had been brought on by repeated blows to the head, but he immediately retired from boxing on medical advice. He died seven years later, at the age of 41, due to SADS (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome). The South Wales Argus described him as “Newport’s most famous boxer.” Around 2,500 people attended his funeral in Newport at Stow Hill Cemetery.
David Pearce suffered two setbacks on his road to the British title. A disputed early stoppage loss to Neville Meade when still 20 years of age and a controversial loss to Big John Rafferty the ABA English Champion. Pearce had knocked down Rafferty four times in the fight before he was disqualified in the third round for punching after the referee had called break (This caused a riot in the crowd as supporters had believed David Pearce had been severely wronged).
David Pearce fought and stopped Dennis Andries, the future three times WBC World light heavyweight World champion, in round seven. Dennis Andries went six years before being stopped again, this time by Thomas Hearns in the tenth round.
David Pearce, challenged and vowed to avenge his loss to Neville Meade to win the Welsh and British heavyweight titles from Meade who had won his last seven of eight fights by KO.
David Pearce won the Welsh and British heavyweight boxing titles in September 1983 at the St David’s Hall against Commonwealth Gold Medalist and British heavyweight champion Neville Meade; Although the Welsh heavyweight title was won on the night, the prestigous title had to be relinquished by Pearce, due to his commitments of becoming British heavyweight champion.
David Pearce is noted for boxing in the last 15-round British championship bout, as the contracts for the bout were finalised before the new 12-round format was introduced.
David Pearce earned a draw with EBU Champion Felipe Rodriquez, Felipe Rodriquez has a statue erected in his hometown of Vilaxoan. Pearce also knocked out the former EBU Champion Albert Syben in one round at the Royal Albert Hall.
David Pearce secured a for the prestigous EBU European heavyweight title after earning the number one ranking. Pearce was up against it from the start after damaging his hands in training, this led to no sparring before the biggest fight of his life. Upon arriving in France, he did not have a hotel room and had to sleep on a park bench the night before the fight. The fight was scheduled to take place in Limoges in the hostile indoor arena in a 20ft ring, booked by the promoter as the largest possible boxing ring to allow Lucien Rodriquez to box on the back foot and keep away from Pearce.
On the night the referee would break the fight up from the first to the eighth round anytime Pearce was on the attack and had Rodriguez in any sort of trouble. However even though Pearce was up against he took everybody by surprise and took the fight to Lucien Rodriguez, the long-standing European Champion. Rodriguez took a knee in the third round for a standing eight count and was twice knocked down in the 8th round by Pearce. Both counts in round 8 were over 10 seconds, which were captured during the live footage. The most experienced judge scored the fight 114-115 and the referee score card read 114-115. Some observers, felt Pearce was unlucky not to get the verdict due to the two infamous long counts and the ref not stopping the fight due to Rodriguez badly cut eye. It was Pearce’s aggressive style throughout the fight which led to the Frenchman suffering a severe cut across the eye.
Reg Gutteridge stated the following day; “Pearce won the European heavyweight title twice last night” in reference to the long counts.
Steve Bunce said; “If the European heavyweight title fight had taken place in London, or Cardiff then Pearce would have been Champion.
David “Bomber” Pearce was one boxing referee decision away from being mandatory challenger to fight Larry Holmes for the WBC heavyweight World title as Lucien Rodriquez had done in 1983. In doing so Pearce would have been the first Welshman since Tommy Farr to fight for the heavyweight World title.
Lucien Rodriquez was quoted in the French press as saying that Pearce had been “the toughest man he had faced in his boxing career”. “He had an iron chin, and what ever I hit him with, he would just keep coming after me”. “David Pearce had devastating power and did what two World champions couldn’t do” (Larry Holmes & Micheal Dokes in reference to being knockdown heavily by David Pearce).
David “Bomber” Pearce’s family were awarded the EBU heavyweight boxing belt and a letter signed by the president and secretary of the EBU board at the unveiling of the bronze statue in his honour. On receiving an honorary championship title he became the third boxer after Joey Giardello and Ruben Carter.
Pearce made efforts from 1979 to 1984 to fight cruiserweight champions such as ST Gordon, Mate Parlov, Marvin Camel, Ossie Ocassio and Bernard Benton who were WBA and WBC cruiserweight champions. Unfortunetly for Pearce the BBBoC would not sanction a cruiserweight world title bout in the UK or recognise Pearce as a champion if he travelled to the United States of America.
David Pearce defeated Dennis Andries, in a WBA cruiserweight eliminator via a 7th round KO in 1982. Pearce then defeated Micheal Johnson in a final eliminator to earn the opportunity to fight for the WBA cruiserweight title.
David Pearce was also made WBC cruiserweight number one.
Eventually David “Bomber” Pearce was given the opportunity to fight for the World title. Pearce signed contracts with promoter Morgan’s Palle, to fight the winner between Ossie Occasio v John Odihamibo for the WBA Cruiserweight title.
Then tragedy struck as Pearce’s boxing career was cruelly cut short due to medical reasons three weeks later.
David Pearce took a fight with Percell Davis on two days notice, even though he was a shadow of his former self due to financial difficulties he had faced during his seven year medical and legal fight against the BBBoC. However Pearce still showed tremendous heart and was courageous in defeat. The referee stopped the fight in Rd 8 with Pearce still on his feet. The American TV commentators stated they had not seen such bravery in a boxing ring.
David Pearce later had a second wind and decided to train for 6 months in his final comeback in America after his unprepared previous trip to the states. David “Bomber” Pearce knocked out Mary Konate, and John Tate, in 1 and 3 rounds respectively, in unsanctioned bouts in Bakersfield, California in 1994. This was reported by Mr John Francis of the South Wales Argus.
David “Bomber” Pearce ran up the steps of the Newport Transporter Bridge as a training aid.
David “Bomber” Pearce gave away at least 2 stone (28 lb; 13 kg) to most opponents during his career.
David “Bomber” Pearce weighed exactly the same weight as Johnny Nelson when he fought Dennis Andries, Pearce’s KO of Dennis Andries was 15 years earlier.
David “Bomber” Pearce won two heavyweight ‘Prizefighter Tournaments’ during his career.
David “Bomber” Pearce sparred 20 rounds with Commonwealth heavyweight champion Trevor Berbick in the lead up to Pearce’s British Heavyweight Title fight. This included a knockdown of Berbick in 1983, Pearce was Trevor Berbick’s number one challenger to the Commonwealth heavyweight title. Trevor Berbick decided not to defend his title against David “Bomber” Pearce.
Joe Bugner was floored by David “Bomber” Pearce during a sparring session, before a potential bout with Pearce for Bugner’s comeback fight. This resulted in Bugner’s management choosing Eddie Neilson as an opponent.
Lennox Lewis spoke highly of David Pearce and his fighting style for competing on the World heavyweight stage as a small cruiserweight. David Pearce sparred with Lennox Lewis, in the lead up to Lennox Lewis becoming British heavyweight champion.
David “Bomber” Pearce retired due to an abnormality on the brain something he was born with, he was subsequently offered a contract to fight Lenny McLean, the guvnor in a Heavyweight Unlicenced British Title Fight, David signed the contract but Lenny McLean declined to fight Pearce.
Bartley Gorman offered to fight David Pearce, for the unlicensed British Heavyweight Title for £25,000. Gorman had huge respect for David “Bomber” Pearce and believed him to be the best fighting man in Great Britain at the time. Gorman, said if he had won the fight he would have fought for the world bare knuckle title. In his memoirs of an undefeated Bare Knuckle Champion of Great Britain and Ireland, “King of the Gypsies” that Gorman used the phrase “if he won.”
Paul Sykes stated that Pearce was the toughest and most ferocious fighter he ever sparred with whilst sparring at the Waterloo Gym, Pilgwenlly.
David Pearce was good friends with Diana Dors and Alan Lake, who supported him in his first round KO victory over the Belgian three time European heavyweight boxer Albert Syben
Pearce was ranked as high as number seven in the WBA heavyweight World rankings before his career was cruelly cut short.
David “Bomber” Pearce was due to fight Buster Douglas in Columbus, Ohio, USA but was pulled out whilst warming up in the changing room on three hours notice Donnie Long, replaced Pearce on the night.
David Pearce vs Leon Spinks was called off on 24 hrs notice at the Exhibition Centre, Coconut Grove, Florida, USA. and Jose Ribalta stepped in even though contracts were signed.
David Pearce was medically retired in 1984. This was something he disputed, until after his last semi – professional boxing bout in 1994. The Reason for the dispute was David had been given a clean bill of health and a confirmation letter from a Harley Street Neurologist Consultant stating, “He was at no greater risk, than any other professional boxer”
Davis “Bomber” Pearce came 2nd in the BBC Wales sports personality of the year in 1983.
Steve Lillis, boxing journalist and co-presenter of Box-Nation, voted David ‘Bomber’ Pearce in his top ten most underrated British boxing champions (Lonsdale Belt Holders) of all time of all weights.
“Pearce is all action, he is a great crowd pleaser, he comes in flinging punches, cross armed in defence a lot like Rocky Marciano used to and boy does he throw them” “He certainly does unleash them” “He is a born fighter” – Reg Gutteridge – During the EBU heavyweight title fight against Felipe Rodriquez, at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
“Pearce has won the fight and Pearce has gone berserk, he can hardly believe it!” “23 year old David Pearce, the Bomber they call him from Newport and he has bombed Ferris out of the British heavyweight race!” “Well that was one of the most savagely, raw, attacking performances we have seen from a British heavyweight in many years. That’s a little bit like the old days of Dick Richardson and he came from Newport too”! – Reg Gutteridge. Post – David Pearce, British heavyweight final eliminator at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
“I have never trained so hard in all my life. That was for my father, the people of Newport and also for myself”. – David Pearce, after his British heavyweight title fight at St David’s Hall, Cardiff.
“Pearce won the European heavyweight title twice last night” in reference to the two long counts and the Frenchman’s cut eye. Reg Gutteridge reporting on the European heavyweight title fight the next morning.
Frank Maloney said of Pearce: “They dont make them like him anymore! Pearce would have fought anybody”.
Terry Lawless said to Frank Bruno at Ringside after David Pearce’s first round KO of Albert Syben: “That left hook would have knocked out any fighter in the World”.
Lucien Rodriguez said: “Pearce did what two heavyweight World champions couldn’t do” In reference to not being knocked down in his fights with world heavyweight champions Larry Holmes and Michael Dokes.
Dick Richardson said: “David should have gone to London, he would have been a superstar. He is the most exciting heavyweight we have seen in many years”.
Joe Erskine said: “David Pearce could be the biggest puncher we’ve seen come from Wales”
Noel Trigg said: “What a punch, Pearce is one of the greatest natural born fighters ever to come from Great Britain”.
Michael Dokes named David Pearce “The Welsh Jack Dempsey” whilst sparring under the tutelage of Angelo Dundee.
Bimbo Pearce said of his brother: “He would have been unstoppable at cruiserweight”.
Eddie Avoth described Pearce as: “One of the greatest Welsh fighters we have produced”.
Robbie Regan said: “He was the most avoided fighter in the heavyweight division”.
Steve Sims said: “What a left hook! He is sorely missed and Newport’s own Rocky”.
Andy Gerrard said: “his power was truly unbelievable, he was a pound for pound king in his own time. For me he was the biggest puncher in Welsh boxing history”.
Charles Bronson said: “Dave Pearce was a legend, a true hard man of British boxing”.
Craig Kennedy British Cruiserweight title challenger said “David Pearce is an absolute inspiration, I just wish I got to meet him”.
Lee Selby IBF World featherweight champion said “David Pearce was one hell of a fighter”.
Johnny Nelson, former WBO cruiserweight World champion, said “Thank god he wasn’t around when I was World champion, he was a right handful” Nelson also said “Pearce was ahead of his time” – In reference to the cruiserweight division being active in the United States and not being active in the United Kingdom until 1985.
Spencer Fearon said “David Pearce was a fantastic warrior, he was so rugged and powerful”.
Steve Bunce said “In any other era David Pearce would have been a World star.” “If the European heavyweight title fight had been in London or Cardiff, Pearce would have been champion”.
Welsh boxing historian Gareth Jones said “In my opinion David Pearce would have been dominant in the cruiserweight division very similar to how David Haye was with the ability to move up due to his World Class durability and punching power”.
Frank Warren said “He boxed an American for me in a cruiserweight eliminator and drew for the European heavyweight title against Felipe Rodriguez, the panther at the Royal Albert Hall, David was a tough, hard, Welshman and a nice guy”.
Steve "Sammy" Sims
Steve “Sammy” Sims is a Welsh former professional boxer. A great character who held the British featherweight title in 1982 and the Welsh Area super-featherweight title from 1985 to 1986. He also challenged for the European featherweight title in 1983.
Steve “Sammy” Sims ‘Newport’s own Cinderella Man’ made his professional debut in June 1979, defeating Selvin Bell in a points decision (PTS). He suffered his first loss in his following fight, a fifth-round technical knockout (TKO) to Erig Roganesi. Sims fought frequently in his early career, fighting 14 times by November 1980, recording a 7–7 record. During this spell, he defeated future British bantamweight title holder Davy Larmour and suffered a defeat to another future bantamweight champion, John Feeney.
Following defeat to Feeney, Sims embarked on the longest unbeaten run of his career. He recorded a draw with Vernon Penprase in December 1980 before defeating him in a rematch six months later. He fought Jimmy Flint in October 1981. Flint entered the fight with a 27–2 record but suffered a knockout(KO) defeat to Sims, who went on to record a third straight victory by defeating Belgian Jean-Marc Renard. When Patrick Cowdell vacated his British featherweight title in 1982, Sims was offered a fight against Terry McKeown for the vacant belt. The pair met in September 1982 in St. Andrew’s Sporting Club. Sims knocked McKeown down in the 12th round, with his opponent falling out of the ring. The referee began a ten count against McKeown who re-entered the ring on one knee as the referee reached ten, leading to Sims being declared the winner. McKeown unsuccessfully protested the call as he believed there to be a 20 second count as he had gone out of the ring. This was to no avail and Steve Sims became the first Welshman to win the title since Howard Winstone in 1966. Following his victory, Sims was set to face Barry McGuigan in his first title defence, being set to receive £7,000 for the bout. However, the temporary retirement of Cowdell resulted in Sims being nominated to face undefeated Italian Loris Stecca for the vacant European featherweight title. Sims ultimately chose to vacate his British title to take the fight against Stecca. Sims lost the fight to Stecca by TKO and went on to lose three of his next four fights, including one to the future Commonwealth champion Lester Ellis. He moved up to super-featherweight in 1985 and defeated Steve Cleak for the Welsh Area title at his new weight. He also successfully defended the belt against Tony Borg. He unsuccessfully challenged Robert Dickie for the British featherweight title in 1986 and fought in two more bouts before retiring.
Steve Sims was a great friend of heavyweight boxer David “Bomber” Pearce and they often trained together on the hills of Beechwood Park with Pearce’s dad and trainer Wally Pearce.
After retiring from fighting, Sims opened a Boxing Club in his hometown of Newport. He also set up Sammy’s Community Hub in Alway. A documentary of his community work, entitled Boxing in the Blood, was premiered in his hometown in 2015. Steve is a fitness fanatic and promotes health and wellbeing within the City.
John Michael Basham (1890 – 7 June 1947)
John was a Welsh boxer who became British and European champion at both welter and middleweight. His professional career spanned over 20 years, from 1909 to 1929, and after being stationed in Wrexham through military service, he fought most of his bouts in nearby Liverpool.
Johnny basham had a full boxing career and was defined not only by his successes, but also through the death in the ring of opponent Harry Price, which saw Basham face manslaughter charges, and his four KO losses to Ted “Kid” Lewis during his boxing career.
Johnny Basham was born in Newport in southern Wales in 1890. However he is more well known for fighting out of Wrexham and Liverpool. His first professional fight against Boxer Ryan on the 18th October 1909, fought at Campbell Bannerman Hall in Newport. The six round fight only lasted until the third when Basham took the match via a knockout. He followed this win with a series of regular contests throughout 1910, mainly taking place in Newport or the surrounding areas of Wales. These were against fighters with limited experience, and his results were patchy, having won three, lost three and drawn one by June 1910, including losing to Fred Dyer, the Singing Boxer on Dyer’s debut. Only one match is recorded for the second half of 1910, his first fight outside Wales, when he beat Jim Ashen in the first round at the Frank Gess’ Pavilion in Gloucester. Basham began 1911 with a draw with Young Walters in Pontnewydd on 6 February. No other bouts are recorded until August, but Basham then undertook a heavy schedule of fights, taking in nine matches in the second half of the year. Basham only lost one of the fights, of which three were fought in Wrexham in north Wales, and two in Liverpool.
In 1912 Basham joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers and was stationed at Hightown Barracks in Wrexham. Over the years he rose through the ranks and achieved the rank of Sergeant. His move to north Wales resulted in most of Basham’s fights now occurring either in Wrexham or across the border in Liverpool. Several of his fights were fought at Hightown Barracks or in the Poyser Street drill hall, Wrexham. Of the thirteen matches recorded in 1912, he lost just one, losing to Matt Wells on Boxing Day when he was knocked out in the seventh of a fifteen-round contest.
During the first half of 1913 Basham experienced a dip in form, losing three and drawing one of the first seven fights. The last of these contests was the first of three consecutive fights against Frank Madole. Basham lost the first encounter with Madole via technical knockout before winning the second by the same result and then taking the third fight on points. He later drew against Tom McCormick at Liverpool Stadium before a win over Will Brooks at the American Skating Rink in Cardiff.
Basham was next scheduled to face South African fighter Harry Price in Liverpool on 21 August 1913. The fight, held at Liverpool Stadium, was scheduled for fifteen three-minute rounds, and in a hotly contested encounter both men traded heavy blows from the start. The Grey River Argus recorded the fight being even up to the ninth, but in the tenth round Basham landed with a left hook that put Price down for a count of nine. Price recovered but in the eleventh he was knocked down again, but when he landed his head made “violent contact with the boards of the ring”. Price failed to rise and doctors entered the ring and had him sent to hospital in an unconscious state. Price died the following morning. After the fight Basham was arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm, and Price’s subsequent death led to a manslaughter charge. Basham gained public sympathy for his plight, and he was acquitted when the magistrate in charge of the investigation concluded that the fight had been conducted “fairly and sportingly”.
Two months after the Price fight, Basham was back in the ring and finished 1913 with a string of four wins. He began 1914 with a strong win, beating future welterweight champion Albert Badoud by points on New Year’s Day. He followed this up with wins over Young Nipper, Dick Nelson and Henri Demlen before fighting for the first time at the National Sporting Club in London, beating Sid Stagg. A win over Gus Platts back in Liverpool led to Basham’s first title fight, a contest against Johnny Summers for the British Welterweight belt. Summers, originally from Yorkshire, was a far more experienced boxer with over 140 fights behind him and had held the title in 1912. The bout, fought at the National Sporting Club, was scheduled for twenty rounds; but in the ninth round Summers was stopped via knock-out, giving Basham his first major title.
Basham was awarded the Lonsdale Belt on 21 December 1914 at the National Sporting Club after winning it from Johnny Summers becoming the first outright winner of the welterweight version of the belt.
Basham’s career as a professional fighter slowed during the First World War, with Boxrec only recording 13 fights for Basham during the war period. Basham was posted as sergeant physical training officer in the British Expeditionary Force in France, making competitive fighting difficult. Basham was one of a group of fighters, known as ‘The Famous Six’, who were an elite corps of Army Physical Training Instructors under the command of Captain Bruce Logan. The other five men were Jim Driscoll, Jimmy Wilde, Bombardier Billy Wells, Pat O’Keefe and Dick Smith. At the London Opera House in March 1915, Basham won a 15-round fight “on points” against Matt Wells. In May 1915, Basham fought against Summers in a non-title fight at Liverpool Stadium. The fight went the distance with Basham being given the decision on points. In May 1915 the National Sporting Club arranged Basham’s first defence of his welterweight title, his opponent being Tom McCormick who had held the title briefly in 1914. The twenty round fight lasted until the thirteenth when Basham stopped McMormick through a technical knockout. Basham knocked out Dan Roberts during the seventh round at a 13 August fight in Liverpool. On 22 October 1915, a fight was arranged for the vacant EBU (European) welterweight title between Basham and Swiss fighter Albert Badoud. Basham has fought Badoud twice previously, both ending in wins for the Welshman, but in the title encounter Badoud stopped Basham through a ninth-round knockout.
In 1916 Basham defended his British title for the second time, again at the National Sporting Club in Covent Garden, facing Scotsman Eddie Beattie. The match went as far as the nineteenth before Beattie was stopped via a technical knockout. Basham fought sporadically throughout the rest of the war years, mainly in Liverpool. Basham won over Sid Burns in May 1917 in Holborn, London. In December 1918, Basham beat private A. Tierney at the British Empire and American Services Boxing Tournament held at the Royal Albert Hall.
On 27 January 1919, with the war behind him, Basham was again invited to the National Sporting Club where he beat American fighter Eddie Shevlin, who was introduced as the U.S. Navy’s Welterweight Champion, after 15 rounds. Basham won on points, and after beating Kid Doyle in February, he was called for a rematch at Covent Garden against Shevlin, where Basham again won with a points decision. He followed this with a draw against American Augie Ratner and then a win over London fighter Willie Farrell on 22 July in Liverpool, which opened up another shot at the European Welterweight title.
Albert Badoud had successfully defended the European Welterweight title in August 1919, against Frenchman Francis Charles, but by the following month he had vacated the title, which allowed both Charles and Basham to contest the welterweight belt. The fight was arranged for 2 September at the Olympia in London and was scheduled for 20 three-minute rounds. The bout went the full distance, with the result going to Basham on points, making him the European Welterweight Champion.
In November 1919, a contest was arranged between Basham and Matt Wells, who had knocked Basham out when they met in Swansea in 1912. At stake were Basham’s British Welterweight title and Wells’ Commonwealth Welterweight title, which he had taken from Tom McCormick in an encounter in Sydney in 1914. Basham won the fight on points, making him the British, Commonwealth and European Welterweight Champion. He then successfully defended his Commonwealth belt from a challenge from Australian Welterweight champion Fred Kay, before facing former World Welterweight Champion Ted “Kid” Lewis on 9 June 1920. Lewis, who had three months prior taken the vacant British middleweight title, challenged for all three of Basham’s belts, in a contest held at the Olympia in Kensington. The more experienced Lewis won the contest in the ninth through a technical knockout (from cutting Basham’s lip), taking Basham’s titles.
Five months later, Basham was given an opportunity to challenge Lewis for the British and European titles he had lost in their first encounter. Contested at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Basham lasted until the nineteenth round when he was knocked out by Lewis. By 1921, Lewis had moved up to Middleweight, and Basham responded by doing the same. Gus Platts, a Sheffield fighter who had beaten Basham in Cardiff in 1911, was the present holder of both the British and European Middleweight titles, having won them respectively from Tom Gummerand Ercole de Balzac earlier in the year. Basham was allowed the first challenge for the two titles and faced Platts on 31 May 1921 at the Royal Albert Hall. The twenty round fight went the full distance and Basham was awarded the contest on points, becoming the new British and European Middleweight champion.
Basham held the Middleweight titles for less than five months, losing both to his arch-rival “Kid” Lewis when the two met in October 1921. Again Basham was unable to last the distance, being stopped by technical knockout in the twelfth. Basham never challenged for a title again and he ended his career with a series of losses, being knocked out by World Champion Mike McTigue and a points loss to fellow Welshman Jerry Shea. Basham came out of retirement in 1929 to face “Kid” Lewis, but for the fourth time he was stopped within the distance.
Johnny Basham, was known for frequenting the Newport Docks pubs during the War years showing his Lonsdale Belt to the visiting US soldiers so they would buy him a drink. Basham reportedly suffered from “cauliflower ear”, or thickening and enlargement of his left ear, in his retirement due to trauma from boxing. Basham died on 7 June 1947, aged 56.
Dick "The Milk" Richardson
Dick Richardson (1 June 1934 – 15 July 1999) was a heavyweight boxer from the Maesglas area of Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales. He was a dashing heavyweight who mixed with the stars and brought a touch of theatre to the dour British boxing scene in the mid 1950’s and early 1960’s. The Welshman was one of a quartet of big men in along with Henry Cooper, Joe Erskine and Brian London, from the Britain boxing scene at the time.
He was born Richard Alexander Richardson but was known as Dick. He was a big heavyweight, standing 6 feet 4 inches (191 cm) tall and weighed about 14 stone 8 pounds (204 lb; 94 kg). He had a few amateur bouts before being called up for his national service in 1953. Richardson served in the Royal Army Service Corps where he became boxing champion. However he was beaten in the inter-services boxing championships by Brian London, later to become British heavyweight boxing champion, and fighting under his real name of Harper. He turned professional in 1954, being managed by Wally Lesley and trained by Johnny Lewis at a gym in Blackfriars, London. In September 1954, he lost his first professional bout on points against Henry Cooper’s twin brother, George, fighting under the ring name of Jim Cooper. He avenged this defeat in March 1955 with a technical knockout in the second round. Richardson began to build up an impressive list of victories, many of them inside the distance. In May 1956 he fought fellow Welsh heavyweight, Joe Erskine, in the Maindy Stadium, Cardiff, in front of 35,000 fans. Richardson lost on points. He next fought the Cuban, Nino Valdes in December 1956, but was forced to retire in the eighth round. In October 1957, Richardson, was easily out-pointed in a bout against Willie Pastrano. His career appeared to be faltering when he was beaten by Henry Cooper in September 1958, by knockout in the fifth round and also lost to Joe Erskine on points in June 1959.
However, in March 1960, he was surprisingly matched against the German boxer Hans Kalbfell, for the vacant European heavyweight title. He had previously beaten Kalbfell in four rounds, in Porthcawl, and went on to win this bout by a technical knockout in the thirteenth round.
Richardson also won a return bout against Hans Kalbfell, in February 1961, gaining a points decision. Richardson won the next defence of his title, in February 1962, this was against the German, Karl Mildenberger, by a controversial first-round knockout.
Richardson’s fourth defence of his title was in June 1962, against the hard-punching Swede, Ingemar Johansson. Richardson was paid handsomely but was subsequently knocked out in the eighth round. Richardson’s last fight was in March 1963, when Henry Cooper defended his British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles against him at Wembley. Richardson was knocked out in the fifth round.
Dick Richardson most famous bout was against Brian London, in Porthcawl, winning by a controversial technical knockout in the eighth round due to a cut. This result provoked a brawl, when London’s father and brother started fighting, with the Richardson’s brothers coming in to defend Dick. The London’s invaded the ring to protest that Richardson had used his head to open a cut on his opponent as this tactic had been used previously by Richardson.
Richardson retired rich at the relatively early age of 30. Dick Richardson manager Wally Leslie had protected and looked after Dick Richardson during his boxing career and made sure Dick had earned more money than any other British boxer at the time. Dick married Wally Leslie’s daughter and they ran a small chain of butcher shops in Surrey.
Richardson offered advice to Newport heavyweight David Pearce. Dick believed if David Pearce had signed with a promoter from London he would have become a World heavyweight champion. David Pearce would not leave his father due to his loyalty but surprisingly Pearce went on to be ranked number seven in the heavyweight World rankings and number one in the cruiserweight world rankings by his retirement at age 24.
Richardson died from cancer on 15th July 1999, aged 65. He was married to Betty Richardson with one son, Gary and one daughter Lyn, from which he has six grandchildren.
In his 47 professional bouts, he won 31 and lost 14. Two of his bouts were drawn.