Both of these boxers featured in this IBF junior middleweight title fight……Buster Drayton and Matthew Hilton were world champions…..and both were two more “really good” boxers during the golden age of boxing from 1964 – 1995…..who both deserve the recognition and shrine that I am building to each of them in my boxing section of Imasportsphile…..for it concerns me that like so many other “really good” and even “great” boxers of this awesome era in boxing history….these guys will be forgotten and buried deep in the annals of boxing history….so, I want to shed light on their talents and their careers.
Buster Drayton is an American former boxer….who won the IBF world title at junior middleweight (154lb)….as Drayton turned pro in 1978….and won the vacant IBF junior middleweight title with a decision win over Carlos Santos in 1986.He defended the belt twice before losing it to Matthew Hilton the following year…..as seen in this video herewith. In 1988 he took on WBA light middleweight titleholder Julian Jackson….but was defeated via TKO in the third round.The South Philadelphia fighter’s final professional record was 40-15-1, with 28 KO’s.
Matthew Hilton is a Canadian former boxer from Montreal, Quebec….and one of the four brothers from the fighting family Hilton….who started boxing professionally in early 1983….while living along with his father/trainer and other family members in a nomadic lifestyle….moving from place to place in a “movable home trailer”….for it was tough growing up for Hilton….but he transferred that toughness to the ring….and although Hilton had decent boxing skills for a brawler….he preferred to press forward….back up his opponents….and detonate his punishing left hooks and powerful overhand rights. Two of the big names he faced in his rise to stardom were former 3-time world champion Wilfred Benítez and former world middleweight champion Vito Antuofermo….who both fell victim to his devastating KO power.
He won the IBF junior middleweight title….bringing Canada its first world boxing title since the 1940’s with a 15-round unanimous decision over defender Buster Drayton on ABC in Montreal, June 27, 1987….as this fight was named KO Magazines “TV Fight of the Year” for 1987. He made one defense on the Tyson vs Biggs under-card on HBO in October of that year by busting and bruising up a totally outclassed Jack Callahan before the referee called things off after two rounds. His next fight was an exciting non-title bout on ESPN in the middleweight division against Paul Whitaker of New Orleans….who was knocked down and brutally battered by Hilton before being KO’d in the fourth round. Matthew then apparently had the upper hand in the early going in his next defense….a November 1988 match-up with Robert Hines on Showtime….where after knocking a bloodied Hines down twice….he let Hines back in the fight, and Hines steadily hammered a very tired and not very well prepared Hilton in winning a come-from-behind 12-round unanimous decision….after which Hilton would be champ no more. Hilton admitted after the fight that he had sustained rib injury during training for that fight (Between rounds, Hilton could be heard telling his father that he couldnt throw his left hand). Matthew later rebounded with a lackluster (though controversial) draw against Fermin Chirino, a bout in which many felt that Matthew had won by a 10-round unanimous decision, followed by two more exciting bouts against journeyman Tim T. Williams (on ESPN)….whom he KO’d in round 10….then against Tennessee toughman Knox Brown….who had only previously been down at the hands of John Mugabi….but was again floored by Hilton in a 10-round decision victory on the USA Network. His last crack at a title was on the Foreman vs Cooney under-card in January 1990….when his eyes were again swollen shut by the punches of defending WBO middleweight titlist Doug DeWitt.
This time, though he fought gamely, Hilton was the loser not by decision but rather by 11th round TKO when his father had seen enough and did not let him fight the last round. Hilton’s eyes were both completely closed. His cutman only had ice to unswollen the eyes which ended to be ineffective. Because of that fight, he suffered from a retina injury which followed him for his next few fights before forcing him into retirement. He will receive many unsuccessful surgeries for his eyes. His career began to sputter during the 1990’s, and, partly due to the various troubles plaguing the Hilton family, Hilton never was really able to regain his championship-level caliber. He said he’s never been as much motivated for training after he won the IBF’s belt against Buster Drayton.
Any way you cut the pie….this was one heck of a fight between two “really good” boxers during the golden age of boxing….as this fight and these fighters deserve being recognized for their talents and skills in the ring.