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Boxing – 1986 – HBOs Larry Merchant Provides The Story And Career Highlights Of Champ Tony Tubbs

Tony Tubbs (born February 15, 1958) is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1980 to 2006….and held the WBA heavyweight title from 1985 to 1986.  Tubbs made his professional debut on June 14, 1980 with a first-round knockout of Bruce Scott….then after 11 fights, he fought fellow undefeated prospect Clarence Hill on August 7, 1982 by winning a ten-round unanimous decision….after which he out-pointed Jimmy Young, who had defeated George Foreman, on April 10, 1983….then he was signed by Don King….and began rising up the rankings while appearing on several King undercards.  On March 15, 1985, he faced future WBA Heavyweight Champ James “Bonecrusher” Smith in a WBA title eliminator….which Tubbs won by a unanimous decision….while taking his record to 20-0 with 15 knockouts.  

On April 29, 1985, Tubbs challenged Greg Page for the WBA Heavyweight Championship….after he and Page had fought seven times as amateurs….with Page winning six of them….but for their only meeting as professionals…..Tubbs won by a fifteen-round unanimous decision….then on January 17, 1986, Tubbs made his first title defense against former WBC Heavyweight Champion Tim Witherspoon…..when Tubbs weighed-in at 244 pounds (111 kg)….which was 15 pounds more than he weighed for the Page fight….and he lost a very close the title by a fifteen-round majority decision. Tubbs and Witherspoon had a rematch scheduled for December 12, 1986….but Tubbs pulled out of the fight and was replaced by Bonecrusher Smith….who knocked Witherspoon out in the first round. Tubbs said he had an injured shoulder….but promoter Don King accused Tubbs of trying to get more money.  On March 21, 1988, Tubbs challenged Mike Tyson for the Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship….when after out-boxing Tyson in the first round, Tubbs was knocked out in the second.  On November 21, 1989, Tubbs out-pointed top contender Orlin Norris, winning the North American Boxing Federation title….however, Tubbs tested positive for cocaine…. and Tubbs was stripped of the title and the victory was changed to a “no contest”.  On April 20, 1991, a 34-year-old Tubbs lost a controversial ten-round decision to future Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion, Riddick Bowe…..when the general consensus in the media was that Tubbs had easily outboxed Bowe. On August 8, 1992, Tubbs was upset by Lionel Butler in a first-round knockout….then Tubbs came back to out-point future WBA Heavyweight Champion Bruce Seldon and the undefeated Alexander Zolkin….but then suffered another first-round knockout to clubfighter Jimmy Ellis.  In December 1993, Tubbs took part in the one-night People’s Choice Heavyweight Tournament in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi….where he knocked out Willie Jackson in the first round….and won three-round decisions over 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Tyrell Biggs, Jose Ribalta, and Daniel Dăncuţă to win the tournament.  Depending on pay-per-view revenue, he had a chance to win $1 million…..but was paid $170,000.

From 1994 to 1997, Tubbs went 3-3 with one no-contest. He retired but came back in 2002. He lost two of his first three comeback fights, but then won his next five, including a win over 18-0 Brian Minto. His last fight was a six-round unanimous decision over clubfighter Adam Smith on November 4, 2006…..and Tony Tubbs ended his 26 year professional career with 47 wins with 25 by knockout and 10 losses…..as he like so many other heavyweight during The Golden Age of Boxing  from 1964 to 1995….was truly an outstanding boxer who just got lost in the myriad of legendary heavyweight boxers during his time.

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