A RICH FISTIC HERITAGE
Robbie Davies would have been so proud of his son
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.