A RICH FISTIC HER­ITAGE

Rob­bie Davies would have been so proud of his son

Boxing News - - YESTERDAY’S HEROES - Miles Tem­ple­ton

LAST week, I had the plea­sure of wit­ness­ing a real tough scrap be­tween Rob­bie Davies Jnr and Glenn Foot. The two con­tested the va­cant Bri­tish su­per-light­weight ti­tle and although their styles clashed a lit­tle, it was a hard bout from start to fin­ish.

Glenn is the lat­est in a se­ries of hard men that Sun­der­land has pro­duced, Jack Casey and Billy Hardy be­ing pre­vi­ous no­table ex­am­ples.

Davies has a more di­rect line to the rich fistic her­itage pro­duced by his home town, Birken­head. His fa­ther, Rob­bie Davies, was a stand­out per­former back in the 1970s. Rob­bie sadly died last Au­gust. He was a proud man, and rightly so, for he had a lot to be proud about with his box­ing ca­reer.

As an am­a­teur Rob­bie won bronze at the 1974 Com­mon­wealth Games, los­ing out to hard-punch­ing Ugan­dan, Lot­tie Mwale, in the semi-fi­nal. Mwale will be best-re­mem­bered for his one-round vic­tory against Tony Sib­son in 1978. Davies also com­peted at the Mon­treal Olympics and at the 1977 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships in Halle. He usu­ally com­peted at su­per-wel­ter­weight and he was the beaten fi­nal­ist at this weight in both the 1973 and 1975 ABA fi­nals. Mov­ing up to mid­dleweight in 1977 he fi­nally be­came ABA cham­pion, beat­ing Del­roy Parkes and Mike Shone in a round apiece to claim the ti­tle.

Rob­bie turned pro­fes­sional in 1977, hav­ing be­come dis­il­lu­sioned with the am­a­teur game. At 27 he was a late starter as a pro­fes­sional and he knew that in or­der to achieve any­thing at all there was no time to hang about. An ar­ti­cle in Box­ing News that year made it quite clear what was ex­pected of him: “Even so early in his ca­reer Rob­bie Davies is car­ry­ing a lot of re­spon­si­bil­ity – the sur­vival of pro­fes­sional box­ing on Mersey­side.” Broth­ers Mike and Charles Atkin­son had re­opened the old Liver­pool Sta­dium and Rob­bie was a big part of their plans. Although there were some bright new faces around, no­tably Joey Sin­gle­ton, Joe Lally, Chris Glover, Greg Evans and Carl Speare, it was Rob­bie who had the army of sup­port­ers and who could be re­lied upon to pro­duce real ex­cite­ment in the ring, for he was an out-and-out banger.

In his third con­test Rob­bie was top­ping the bill at the Sta­dium, such was his abil­ity to shift tick­ets. He dis­pensed with lo­cal ri­val, Boo­tle’s Joe Han­naford, in four bru­tal min­utes with ref­eree Wally Thom stop­ping the ac­tion af­ter Han­naford had been punched to a stand­still. Thom him­self was a main part of Birken­head’s fistic roy­alty, hav­ing reigned as Bri­tish, Euro­pean and Em­pire wel­ter­weight cham­pion dur­ing the 1950s. Af­ter four quick wins Johnny Heard was brought over from Chicago to pro­vide Rob­bie with a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence and the Amer­i­can nar­rowly pipped Rob­bie on points.

The Liver­pool fans, in true sport­ing spirit, gave Heard a great re­cep­tion at the end of the con­test, in which Heard had to climb off the can­vas to gain his win. Davies then re­turned to his pre­vi­ous form, beat­ing five men in­side the dis­tance on a trail that led di­rectly to an elim­i­na­tor for the Bri­tish su­per-wel­ter­weight ti­tle. In the last of these vic­to­ries he beat lo­cal ri­val Joe Lally in a tear-up that had the ca­pac­ity crowd on their feet. It was a typ­i­cal Davies per­for­mance, with hard-punch­ing from both men cre­at­ing the sort of en­ter­tain­ment that the fans wanted to see.

Rob­bie then came un­stuck in his big­gest fight, be­ing out­pointed by wily Cardiff cam­paigner, Pat Thomas, in a fight that was close un­til the last round. Rob­bie was sent to the can­vas four times in the 12th and Pat emerged vic­to­ri­ous.

Af­ter this Rob­bie’s ca­reer went into de­cline and, although his bouts con­tin­ued to en­ter­tain, age was catch­ing up with him. He quit in 1980 fol­low­ing two con­sec­u­tive knock­out de­feats. While it lasted, his ca­reer was hugely en­ter­tain­ing and I look for­ward to watch­ing his son’s ca­reer progress. His fa­ther would have been so proud to see him be­come Bri­tish cham­pion.

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