Lee Groves

Ten notable U.S. vs. U.K. welterweight title fights

 August 13, 1983 – Milton McCrory W 12 Colin Jones II, Dunes Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

While the combatants remained the same, the circumstances couldn’t have been more different. The scene moved approximately 450 miles southeast to Las Vegas and instead of the air-conditioned Convention Center, McCrory and Jones were forced to wage war in the Dunes Hotel’s parking lot. Although the ring was covered by a canopy, the temperature still reached 105 in the shade and was even higher for the unprotected spectators.

Both men entered the ring with troubled minds. Although McCrory declared his injured right hand fully healed, skeptics remained. Also, McCrory struggled to make the championship limit and more than a few witnesses thought that bar on the scale rested on a number slightly past the announced 147. As for Jones, he argued with manager Eddie Hearn about the size of his purse. Once the opening bell sounded, however, both men were all business.

It was apparent that McCrory was determined to stand his ground and use his long jab to keep Jones at bay instead of with his feet. With less than 20 seconds remaining in the opening round, a short left hook to the chin dropped Jones for the first time in his pro career and the second time in his boxing life. Jones smartly took most of the count before rising because the damage – both physically and mathematically – had already been done.

As was the case in fight one, McCrory controlled the action for most of the first five rounds. Any questions about the state of his right hand were answered quickly as he landed solidly with nary a flinch or grimace. Jones dutifully marched in but his efforts were either blocked or sailed wide of the target. Meanwhile, even the widest and most telegraphed of McCrory’s punches managed to sneak past Jones’ guard.

Another Fight One pattern re-emerged in the sixth as Jones finally gained some sense of rhythm and started to land a few of his vaunted hooks to the head and body. This time, however, McCrory responded not by running away but by firing back in combination. Four speedy rights sliced through Jones’ gloves and a subsequent bouquet of blows served to stop Jones’ momentum for the time being.

The seventh round proved to be Jones’ high watermark as a lethal hook sent McCrory careening toward the ropes and a set of cluster bombs had the American in desperate trouble. The 400 Welshmen at ringside nearly screamed themselves hoarse as a shotgun jab caused McCrory’s legs to totter dangerously. By round’s end, it looked as if Jones was going to produce another inspirational late-round surge.

In round eight, McCrory executed what Steward called “leg boxing” and unlike the first fight in which he appeared unsure and ragged, McCrory was smoother and more proactive. Jones amped up the pressure in round nine and, at points, he succeeded in disturbing McCrory’s concentration but once again, the American recovered enough to pick his spots and score his share of points. In the last 30 seconds, however, Jones fired a compact hook that propelled McCrory into the ropes. McCrory responded by slapping on a vice-like clinch that had an exasperated Jones grimacing in frustration.

McCrory once again regained his equilibrium in the 10th and felt comfortable enough to try switching to southpaw. That piece of strategic folly was quickly reversed after Jones stunned him with a hefty right lead. The 11th featured plenty of give-and-take that made it difficult for the judges to pick a winner while the 12th may have been the single best round of the series in terms of two-way action. Both men stood at ring center and expended every remaining bullet in their chambers; McCrory fired more of them while Jones’ connections boasted a higher caliber.

Once again, the decision was split but this time, there was a winner. Angel Tovar saw it 114-113 for the Welshman but he was overruled by Anselmo Escobedo (115-111) and Ray Solis (115-114), who scored it for the winner and new champion, Milton McCrory.

While McCrory reveled on the shoulders of his handlers, Jones melted into the arms of his manager and shed bitter tears. For him, 24 rounds and nearly half-a-year’s worth of effort were, in the end, for naught. History, however, will tell a different story because Jones and McCrory ended up producing one of the most action-friendly – if underrated – two fight series in welterweight title annals.

 

Around the web