1980sBoxingDr. Ferdie PachecoHeavyweight BoxingMarv AlbertNBCSportsWorld

Boxing – Heavyweight Bout – James “Quick” Tillis VS Marvis Frazier


James Tillis is a former professional boxer….known as “Quick” for his fast hand speed….who challenged for the WBA world heavyweight title in 1981….but was defeated by fifteen round unanimous decision to Mike Weaver….as this fight would become famous for trainer Angelo Dundee imploring Tillis to do something, asking the fighter….”Do you want to be a bum all your life?”  In June 1982, Tillis came off the floor to outpoint the hard-hitting legend Earnie Shavers. He blew that momentum only a few months later….being upset by late substitute (and future world champion) Pinklon Thomas. In November 1982, Tillis fought former amateur rival Greg Page for the USBA Heavyweight title. He knocked Page down, but again tired and was the victim of an eighth-round knockout loss. Page would go on to win the world title. Tillis was the first man to go the distance with a prime Mike Tyson in 1986. He holds notable wins over Ron Stander by TKO 7 in 1980….and the hard punching Earnie Shavers by ten round decision in 1982.

Having scored four wins, Tillis challenged future two-time world champion Tim Witherspoon in September 1983, for the vacant North American Boxing Federation title. Tillis was shockingly bombed out in one round, apparently slipping on a wet spot in the ring as Witherspoon hit him. After the fight, Tillis’ trainer Angelo Dundee left him and advised him to retire….as he had just suffered his third defeat in thirteen months. Tillis got a new team and put together four wins in 1984, before challenging Carl Williams in a world title eliminator. Having decked Williams twice in the opening round, Tillis tired and was outpointed. In 1985, under the guidance of trainer Drew Bundini Brown, he fought Joe Frazier’s son and top contender Marvis Frazier. In a recurring theme, he had Frazier down in the second round, but again ran out of gas and was outpointed. A few months later, he traveled to South Africa to fight hard-hitting ex-champ Gerrie Coetzee. Tillis lost a unanimous decision, but sent Coetzee to hospital with stitches and missing teeth.

Marvis Frazier is an American former professional boxer who fought in the heavyweight division….who is best remembered for two fights….which unfortunately were both first-round knockout losses to champion Larry Holmes (a TKO) in 1983 and a rising Mike Tyson in 1986 (a KO). Pitted against Holmes after just ten pro bouts (all victories), Frazier’s camp touted his speed and youth as significant advantages over the champion. During the first minute of the fight Frazier dropped his hands to his sides and playfully moved his head back and forth while taunting Holmes…an ill-advised behavior against an experienced veteran….whereby just 2:06 in….Holmes floored Frazier with a long right hand….knocking him down and taking an eight-count and got back up. Dazed by the blow, Frazier was a sitting target and Holmes followed up….appealing for the referee to step in as he pummeled the younger man on the ropes. Finally, the referee stopped the bout with just a few seconds left in the first round….awarding Holmes a technical knockout. Many in the sports press criticized father/trainer Joe Frazier for changing his son’s style from that of an out-fighter (which brought Marvis success as an amateur) to an in-fighter….which many thought did not suit Marvis.

After his loss to Holmes, Frazier continued to fight and won his next six bouts, including victories over future world cruiserweight champion Bernard Benton….heavyweight contenders Jose Ribalta and James “Quick” Tillis….as seen in this video….and then came a fight with future champion James “Bonecrusher” Smith. With the exception of a first-round knockout in his first fight after losing to Holmes, all of Frazier’s fights went the full ten round distance with him winning unanimous or majority decisions in each fight. This set up the fight with the 24-0 Tyson….which was broadcast live from Glens Falls, New York by ABC. Frazier quickly proved to be no match for the future champion as Tyson came out firing. Fifteen seconds into the fight, Tyson scored with a huge uppercut that knocked Frazier senseless and hit him with a combination as Frazier slumped to the canvas unconscious. Referee Joe Cortez started to count while looking at Frazier, but immediately waved off the fight once he saw that Frazier was out cold. The bout only lasted thirty seconds, which proved to be Tyson’s quickest knockout of his career. Recalling the fight in later years….Marvis Frazier conceded that he had underestimated the young Mike Tyson….who had not yet won the first of his world titles. “Tyson was just another guy who was going to be a statistic. Yeah, that’s what I thought. I threw a jab and that’s all I remember.”  After Tyson, Frazier did not fight for a title again. After nearly a year away from the ring following the loss to Tyson, Frazier returned to fight twice in two months, winning both of his bouts over journeymen fighters. He won his final fight against Phillipp Brown in 1988, retiring with a career record of 19-2.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button