Lee Groves

10: Greatest light heavyweight title fights

6. May 15, 1976 — Rand Stadium, Johannesburg — Victor Galindez KO 15 Richie Kates I

 

Setting the Scene: The ferocious “Leopardo de Moron” was making the fifth defense of his WBA belt and was already putting together an admirable reign. After stopping Len Hutchins to win the belt stripped from John Conteh, Galindez twice turned back perennial contender Pierre Fourie by decision as well as Jorge Ahumada (W 15) and the unbeaten Norwegian Harald Skog (KO 3). The 32-1 Kates had also beaten Fourie (W 10) to earn his first title opportunity and his victims included Hutchins (W 8), Roger Rouse (KO 5), Don Fullmer (W 10) and veteran Jimmy Dupree (KO 1).

What Happened: Kates controlled the first two rounds with spearing jabs and well delivered rights while Galindez unsuccessfully tried to rough him up. The fight’s signature moment happened one minute into the third when a massive accidental butt opened a gaping wound over Galindez’s right eye. An enraged Galindez clutched at his eye and an army of photographers, thinking the fight was over, rushed toward the champion’s corner. Referee Stanley Christodoulou cleared the ring and, for the first time, applied the WBA’s newly adopted “no foul” rule, meaning an injured fighter received a five-minute time-out to recover. After that, the fight either continued or became a no-contest.

The lengthy rest — and the situation’s urgency — energized Galindez while Kates was thrown off his game. Galindez dealt with the cut by flicking his head, brushing blood away and even wiping his face on Christodoulou’s shirt. A searing right uppercut floored Kates in the seventh and in the 10th and 11th the champion pinned Kates to the ropes and dished out merciless punishment. Kates somehow soaked it all up and even managed a brief rally. In the fight’s waning moments, Galindez’s triple hook put Kates down and out. The time: 2:59 of round 15.

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