Barry McGuigan, nicknamed The Clones Cyclone….is a retired Irish professional boxer from Clones, County Monaghan, Ireland….who became a World Boxing Association featherweight champion. Barry was a fan favorite for Irish and British audiences….as he represented neutrality and peace in a time when Northern Ireland (where he lived) was divided as part of The Troubles. He began his professional boxing career on 10 May 1981 beating Selwyn Bell by knockout in two rounds in Dublin. In 1982, McGuigan won eight fights, seven by knockout….as one of these almost destroyed his career and his life….for when he was opposed by Young Ali on 14 June 1982….McGuigan won by a knockout in six rounds….as Ali fell into a coma from which he never recovered. According to the book The Ring: Boxing The 20th Century….this affected McGuigan so much he was not sure he wanted to carry on as a boxer. He also defeated Paul Huggins and Angelo Licata during this period. In 1983, he won four fights, winning the British Title against Vernon Penprase….including his first trip to fight outside Europe…when he beat Samuel Meck by a knockout in six in Ontario, Canada….before getting his first try at a European titlein November against Italy’s Valerio Nati….who defended his European Featherweight belt versus McGuigan in Belfast….and McGuigan won the crown with a knockout in the sixth round. He then became the number one Featherweight challenger in the World Boxing Association (WBA). In 1984, he won six bouts, all by knockout….among the fighters he beat were former world title challengers Jose Caba and Felipe Orozco….then he beat contenders Paul DeVorce and Charm Chiteule….and retained his British and European titles against Clyde Ruan….and the latter belt against Esteban Eguia to keep his chance at a World Championship attempt alive.In 1985, McGuigan met former world featherweight champion Juan Laporte…the fight you get to see in this video….winning by a decision after ten rounds…..and following one more win….a defense of his European Title against Farid Gallouze….he finally got his world title try when the long reigning WBA featherweight champion, Eusebio Pedroza of Panama….came to London to put his title on the line at Loftus Road football stadium…..where McGuigan became the champion by dropping Pedroza in round seven and winning a unanimous fifteen-round decision in a fight refereed by hall of fame referee Stanley Christodoulou. McGuigan and his wife were feted in a public reception through the streets of Belfast that attracted several hundred thousand spectators. Later that year, he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year….becoming the first person not born in the United Kingdom to win the award. When he retired permanently from boxing….his record was 32 wins and 3 losses, with 28 wins by knockout. In January 2005, McGuigan was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame
Juan LaPorte is a former professional boxer who was born in Guayama, Puerto Rico….moving to New York at a young age….where he grew up into a pretty well known contender….but one that many boxing critics didn’t consider to be material to become a world champion earlier in his career. LaPorte built a number of wins….combined with 1 loss….including a 7 round knockout of Jean Lapointe….but was still an unknown when given his first chance at a world championship on December 1980 in San Antonio, Texas…..where he met legendary Mexican world Featherweight champion Salvador Sánchez…..as he made Sanchez work hard and won a handful of rounds…..however, he lost to Sanchez by a 15 round unanimous decision. Laporte then fought future world champion Rocky Lockridge in 1981 at Las Vegas….scoring a second round knockout to become the United States Featherweight champion….giving LaPorte a second title shot….this time by WBA world featherweight champion Eusebio Pedroza in 1982….losing a close and controversial split decision. The fight was so close that WBC president José Sulaimán decided to give Laporte a rematch vs Sanchez for the World Boxing Council’s world title….but this rematch wasn’t going to happen…cuz Sanchez died in a car accident the morning of August 12, in Mexico City. Then, the WBC decided to put Laporte vs. Colombian Mario Miranda for the vacant world title in a fight held at Madison Square Garden in NYC. Laporte dropped Miranda in the eighth round and Miranda quit on his stool before the start of the 11th….and Juan LaPorte….the tough kid from New York who couldn’t figure to become a world champ versus the legendary champions of the day….had indeed become a world champion. Laporte defended his title twice….against Ruben Castillo and Johnny De La Rosa….then lost it to another Puerto Rican world champion….the legendary Wilfredo Gómez.
In 1985, he went to Ireland, where he lost a ten round decision to future world champion Barry McGuigan…..as seen in its entirety in this video. In 1986, LaPorte fought Julio César Chávez at the Madison Square Garden….and many thought LaPorte deserved the 12 round decision that night….but he lost. His career went on and off after that day, and in 1989, his son died in a drowning accident. Laporte buried his title belt along with his son. Upon hearing this, Sulaiman sent him a new world title belt to show him support and respect from the boxing community. Laporte lost another disputed decision….this time to former world Jr Welterweight champion Billy Costello in 1999 and then finally retired from boxing.
It is this lil ole Chiweenie sportsphile’s opinion that the period from the mid-1960’s to the mid-1990’s was the golden age of boxing….for there were great champions everywhere in every division of boxing….and Juan LaPorte’s career is living proof….for although he is not considered legendary….he fought all of the legends of his weight class from Salvador Sanchez….to Julio Cezqr Chavez….to Eusebio Pedroza…..to Wilfredo Gomez….to Billy Costello….to Barry McGuigan….and took every one of the to a decision.