19.08.06 - By Ellen Robertshaw: Over the years, most British heavyweights have come under attack from the press, both at home and abroad, because they were not considered any good. Only the truly great Lennox Lewis and Bob Fitzsimmons seemed to escape these scathing attacks.
Article posted on 20.08.2006
One such fighter who always got a hard time was none other than the fighter we are going to have a look at now, Frank Bruno (40-5, 38 KO's). Now, Frank always seem to get a torrid time of it from the press. He was considered by many as the "only black man with no rhythm" or just plain "rubbish." These remarks are a little unfair to Bruno, to say the least, so lets have a look back at Bruno's career to see why I think he deserves a break.
In 1980, Bruno first displayed his potential when he won the ABA Championship, despite being only 18-years-old. Bruno turned Professional in March 1982, defeating Lupe Guerra in the 1st round.
In December, 1982, Bruno had his 10th Pro fight, knocking out Gilberto Acuna in the 1st round. (Side Note: only Ronald Gibbs, Bruno's 4th opponent, had managed to last longer than two rounds, when he extended Bruno to the 4th round.
In October, 1983, sees Bruno have his first "test" against the tough Floyd "Jumbo" Cummings. Things almost go horribly wrong, as Bruno gets clobbered, and wobbles, before stopping Cummings in the 7th round. This turned out to be Floyds last fight. Also, note that Tim Witherspoon failed to stop Floyd.
Bruno racks up his 21st straight stoppage win when he TKO's Juan Figueroa in first round.
Unfortunately, disaster strikes, as Bruno tastes defeat for the first time when he gets clouted by James "Bonecrusher" Smith in the 10th round of a fight he was winning easily. With the fight firmly in hand, all Bruno had to do was make it through the round and he would have won the fight.
October, 1885, Bruno, fighting in his 27th pro figh, wins a battle for the European heavyweight title, in blasting out Anders Ecklund in just four rounds. Strange, though, that Bruno never fought for the British title. I see that as a big mistake in retrospect. In March, 1986, Bruno knocks out the former WBA champ Gerrie Coetzee in the 1st round, after clubbing Coetzee with a devastating right hand. "Frank hit me and the lights went out" said Coetzee afterwards. Please note that Coetzee had fought in much better company than Bruno had at that point.
Surprizingly, Bruno never bothers to defend his EBU title, however, and instead, takes on "Terrible" Tim Witherspoon for the WBA heavyweight title in March 1986. In a very competitive fight, with Bruno trailing slightly, he was stopped in the 11th.
October, 1987, bruno takes on Joe Bugner. This was a much hyped affair. Joe was an Australian citizen by that time, and well past his best, however he was still the best his country had to offer, and he lasted 8 rounds before he was stopped.
February 1989 sees Frank have a crack at the then undefeated Mike Tyson for the Undisputed heavyweight championship. Oh dear! Despite definitely rocking Tyson in the first, he was stopped in the fifth round of a fight he was losing badly anyway.
Five fights later and he is after the title again, this time though its against fellow Brit Lennox Lewis. It was clear these two disliked each other which made for a great fight. Frank was superb that night in Cardiff. He gave Lennox all he could handle, often beating him to the jab, before Lennox finally decided to step it up a gear and got rid of Bruno in the 7th round
of a fight many saw Frank as edging. Either way, it was very close indeed.
In Bruno's 44th fight, after 3 straight KO wins, he finally lands the big one, outpointing Oliver McCall (yes, the same guy who laid out Lennox Lewis) in a pretty one-sided fight, but to be honest, I was biting my nails until the final bell sounded. To his credit, Bruno had finally done it.
Sadly, Bruno had to defend against Mike Tyson. As Bruno entered the ring, he looked absolutely petrified, and seemed to be shaking in his boots. For me, bruno lost the fight right then and there, as he wasn't ready for Tyson, andhe showed it by taking a frightful beating before being stopped in the 3rd round in March 1996.
Okay, then, so was Bruno as bad as most of people say? Definitely not, in my opinion. Frank Bruno only lost to good fighters, ones that could punch very hard. For example, James "Bonecrusher" Smith went on to become a World Champion, Tim Witherspoon was a World Champion, as were Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson.
Bruno's good points were his wonderful left jab, one of the best you could ever see, and his sleepy time right hand, which had coma written all over it.
On the downside, however, Bruno had poor ring movement, and a defence that was, for the most part, non existent. He didn't see to have a clue about how to clinch when hurt, (a little like Tommy Hearns, when he was stopped by "Sugar" Ray Leonard. Hearns, however learned from this). He lacked stamina. He seemed to train for strength, rather than endurance, when you need both. Frank didn't have a poor chin, though. I mean, in all the fights that he was knocked out, he never truly got knocked out. Like I just mentioned, had he known how to hold when hurt, he would have been a much better fighter.
So, was Frank Bruno a great fighter? Definitely not. He was good, at best, but certainly not the waste of space most columnists and so-called fans labelled him as. Oh, and as for his mental problems, he appears to be back on track now. God bless, Frank. You came to fight and were loved by millions, me included.
I hope you enjoyed my article.
You can email be at firstname.lastname@example.org