Lee Groves

10: Notable Philadelphia title fights

9. August 7, 1982, Spectrum — Dwight Braxton KO 6 Matthew Saad Muhammad II, WBC light heavyweight title

 

Setting the Stage: Nine months earlier Braxton stopped “Miracle Matthew” in 10 punishing rounds, bringing down the curtain to one of history’s most melodramatic title reigns. This rematch happened only because Saad claimed a quick six-and-a-half pound weight loss hindered his performance and promised a return to his boxing roots would reverse the result. Saad indeed looked better in stopping Pete McIntyre in seven while Braxton notched a sixth round TKO of Jerry Martin five months earlier to retain the belt.

What Happened:In what commentator Barry Tompkins labeled “a horrific mismatch,” Braxton feasted on the shell of Saad. The ex-champ’s body was impressively chiseled but this fight proved the talent that propelled him to the Hall of Fame had been scattered in rings ranging from Indianapolis to Atlantic City to McAfee, N.J. to Halifax and San Diego — the sites of his 10 title fights.

Saad did his best to execute his jab-heavy fight plan but within a minute Braxton was reaching him with absurd ease. A right wobbled Saad with a minute to go in round two and an eight-punch volley capped by a long left dropped the ex-champ in the third. Braxton’s compact bursts chipped away at Saad’s legendary constitution, which finally crumbled in the sixth. A precise hook-cross-hook sent Saad backpedaling across the ring, setting up a 16-punch explosion that cued referee Carlos Padilla to jump between them.

Braxton — who at 29 was 17 months older but thousands of miles fresher — led by seven, eight and nine points, further illustrating the fight’s lopsided nature. This bout only was memorable because it confirmed that Saad was on the decline and consolidated the arrival of a new, bright and exciting star in Braxton, who, as Dwight Muhammad Qawi, joined Saad in Canastota.

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