Let?s turn back the clocks??
With the highly anticipated clash between David Haye and Tyson Fury now set for 28th September at the Manchester Evening News Arena, I?d like to take time out to recall another clash of two titans of the British heavyweight scene.
Back in 1987, a certain Frank Bruno was establishing himself as a world title contender, making great inroads into a second world title fight after losing to Tim Witherspoon, back in 1986.
Bruno had been lined up to face Trevor Berbeck, at Wembley, but an injury to his potential opponent put pad to that fight. With the need to keep active a priority, the wheels were set in motion for a fight to take place that would see the much-loved Bruno take on a fighter who, courtesy of taking the British heavyweight crown off of Henry Cooper, back in 1971, had never received the adulation he thought due to him from the British public, Joe Bugner.
Making a foray into Boxing for the first time, Barry Hearn did the deal that would see the two pugilists go face to face in a contest to be held at White Hart Lane (Tottenham?s ground) on October 24th.
In the weeks head, Bugner did his best to promote the show, dismissing Bruno?s credentials and hinting that he?d stop the youngster in the first round. Bruno, meanwhile, remained his normal confident self but without sinking into the trash-talk philosophy of his opponent.
Come the night of the fight I, along with some 40,000 others, crammed into the famous stadium and waited for what was a highly-anticipated bout. Bugner entered the ring in a white gown adorned with the gold and green of his adopted Australia whilst Bruno, resplendent in his familiar red gown, entered the ring to tumultuous cheers with the Union Flag flying high in his corner..
Once the introductions had been gotten over with and the ring cleared of everybody except the referee and the two pugilists, the action began. The first round saw Bugner rush at Bruno, appearing to use his head to unsettle his opponent. Flurries of punches were exchanged and both boxers continued to throw punches after the bell had sounded, as the pre-fight hype appeared to boil over.
Rounds two and three saw Bugner?s head prevalent again but Bruno, working behind a very effective jab; starting to make his punches count. By the end of the round, Bugner was having trouble catching Bruno and the younger man looked to be getting on top.
The next four rounds saw Bruno continue to get the better of his older opponent and with Bugner bleeding from the nose and all the talk turned to whether Bruno could stop a man very few had previously done with only Ernie Shavers springing to mind.
Round eight was to be the pivotal round in the fight, once again Bruno was forcing, in the most professional of ways, the fight and as the end of the round a flurry of punches, accompanied by a push, saw Bugner slump to the canvas. As he arose, Brunorained more punches down on the struggling Bugner and just before the bell sounded his corner threw the towel in, although the official records show that John Coyle, the referee, had stepped in to save Bugner from more punishment.
Bugner, in his after-fight interview, praised Bruno for his performance and is quoted as having remarked, about a future contest with Mike Tyson
?Bruno?s punch could upset Tyson. He certainly punched harder than I thought he could. I hope he smashes Tyson?s face in??
As it turned out, when Bruno did get to challenge Tyson, that punching power Bugner had commented on saw Tyson rocked in the first round but Frank, regrettably, stood off his man and didn?t take the opportunity he?d created and the rest they say is history with Tyson stopping Bruno later in the fight.
Heavyweight Reflections ? Bruno v Bugner (1987)
Let?s turn back the clocks??