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Tony Sibson did it the hard way

Tony Sibson did it the hard way

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Leicester's Former British commonwealth and European middleweight champion, Tony Sibson became acknowledged as a British boxing favourite with the fight fans, who were always entertained by Tony's hard working style that complimented his quick combinations and power while accompanying good boxing ability. It could be suggested by many (me included) that Tony's style grew into the mould of a very good box fighter, with a powerful left hook.

Tony didn't shy away from a slugfest, if this was required, and he was involved in some highly publicised fights as he climbed up the rankings punching his way to domestic championship level, while earning an impressive start to his professional career by winning 24 of his first 25 fights, with 1 draw before suffering his first loss to African boxer Lottie Mwale - who himself became the commonwealth and WBC international light heavyweight champion, later in his career.

Tony didn't waste time and was back to winning ways in his next fight, reeling off a hatrick of wins before being on the wrong end of a point’s loss to Manchester's, Jamaican born, boxer Eddie Smith however in a rematch the following year Tony earned a ten round decision, to gain revenge.

Sibson was knocking on the door for the British middleweight championship and challenged Frankie Lucas for the belt that was vacated by Alan Minter, who later became the WBC and WBA world middleweight champion by defeating the rugged Italian American, Vito Antuofermo over in Las Vegas. Although, the 21 year old Tony was tagged the underdog in this fight he came through a brutal contest to win by TKO in the 5th round and the young Sibson had the Lonsdale belt wrapped around his waist, as the proud champion . After winning the domestic middleweight championship Sibson added three more wins to his career before he defended his title against the popular and much loved British boxer Kevin Finnegan, Tony was on the wrong end of a fifteen round decision.

Sibson then hit exceptional form and was a consistent winner, stringing together an impressive fourteen wins on the bounce, along the way Tony won the Commonwealth and European middleweight championships and if anybody observed Tony's career - this had to be the best form of his career and catapulted Tony into world title contention.

Before Sibson’s win against Minter the fight had grown into a highly anticipated dual and to many a mouth-watering prospect that included a clash of rivalry between two exceptional fighters, Minter was considered to be in the twilight of his career, while a hungry Sibson was the young up and coming contender. In a highly charged atmosphere created by a packed auditorium in London the fight took place with Sibson winning in the third round by TKO.

Before Sibson’s press for a world title he defended his European belt and was challenged by Italian Nicola Cirelli, in London and ‘Sibbo’ knocked out the contender in the tenth round. This win along with outstanding form earned him a potential shot, at the world middleweight title held by the formidable American, Marvellous Marvin Hagler. However, before this fight could take place Sibson had unfinished business against the American contender, Dwight Davison who was from the fighting city of Detroit. Dwight was also looking for a shot at Hagler, so an official eliminator took place between both boxers in Birmingham, England. Tony won the contest via point’s verdict over twelve rounds to become Haglers next challenger .The British fighter had finally punched his way to world championship level.

‘Sibbo’ flew ‘across the pond’ to America and spent a short time in the build-up to his challenge doing some training, unfortunately, Tony could not do any roadwork because of severe snow so he used a large basketball styled hall to run around to keep himself ticking over, with the harsh weather conditions outside .

The fight with Hagler took place in Massachusetts where Hagler was based.

During the challenge Sibson gave a sold account of himself gaining respect from many in the crowdbut Tony’s brave and gameperformance was not enough to trouble a composed confident champion and by the sixth roundMarvinhad worn ‘Sibbo’ down by landing solid shots forcing ‘Sibbo’ to touch down for the first time in the fight , after a standing eight count was receivedby referee, CarloPadilla the fight continued before Tony hit thecanvas for a second time and after rising, the Brit momentarily, appeared out on his feet while wobbling around drunkenly with each step turning his back on the fight- influencing the refereeto stop the contestand put an end to Sibson’s brave but out-gunned challenge . Tony had also suffered a cut to the left eye in the fight.

Later a battered and bruised Tony was drinking what appeared bottled water while in the changing rooms and the defeated fighter said he trained like an animal lived like an animal but accepted it was not enough; this reflected how good a champion Hagler actually was.

After a rest from boxing taking a few months out Tony's next opponent was the young up and coming boxer ‘Irish’ John Collins, of Chicago who had a solid record with 29 wins to his credit . Many of Collins opponents were knocked out so he could bang a bit, it was anticipated there would be a win for the younger Collins, after Tony’s brutal loss against Hagler, with Tony's hunger possibly reduced. However, we also had to consider the quality of opponents Collins had faced when compared to Sibson’s, whoon paper mixed in better company and of the two fighters he was the most experienced boxer Collins had faced and hewas stepping up in class forthis fight.

The 6 foot 1 inch, Collins towered over the much shorter, stocky Englishman, who looked in good shape, ‘Sibbo’ managed to force Collins back in the first round and near the end of the round unleashed powerful looking combinations that had John in trouble, on the ropes, eventually he fell to the canvass and while the ref was counting the bell rang to end the round saving Collins, from a possible first round defeat . In the he second round Sibson displayed a sharp jab and once again hurt Collins who fell to the canvas for the second time, he managed to beat the count and Sibson, instinctively, sensed the finish and like a lion pouncing on its prey caught Collins - forcing him onto the canvas for the third time. Referee, Rudi Battle had seen enough and saved Collins from further punishment as he tried to stay on his feet before falling into the corner after his legs disobeyed him , Referee, Battle called a halt to the fight in the second round . Sibson stunned the Atlantic city crowd with this impressive victory.

Another win followed for Sibson before travelling stateside to fight ‘Dangerous’ Don Lee, once again the fight was in Atlantic City, New Jersey - the venue Sands Casino. This was a slugfest of a fight as Lee was known as ‘banger’ and a good switch hitter while also much taller than Sibson, at 6ft 2. The first round saw lee take a left hook that invited him to the canvass, Lee taking his time to rise waiting patiently on his knees as the referee counted and as soon as Lee raised to beat the count the bell ended the first round. Lee switched to southpaw and this seemed to settle him into the fight, a bit more, and in the third round Lee dropping ‘Sibbo’ for a count, he rose only for Lee to smother him with leather and once again forced Tony to the canvas, this the second knockdown Sibson had suffered, as the fight continued Lee stalked his foe unleashing punches at what appeared a flat footed Sibson who seemed to be still recovering from the second knockdown. Tony stumbled into the ropes and almost onto the ring apron, the referee giving a standing eight count as Tony was hurt. There was no three knockdown rule in this fight otherwise it would have ended - Sibson suffered a cut to the eye that was reminiscent of the fight with Hagler. In round eight, Lee was hurt and had to take a standing count from Referee, Tony Perez, after a heavy shot wobbled Lee. Sibson moving forward looking for the finish walked onto a punch that suddenly dropped him to the canvass, after beating the count the referee waved the fight off with ‘Sibbo’ in no condition to defend himself, this concluding a really tough encounter between both punchers . Sibson commented after the fight he believed that the fight was stopped prematurely.

‘Sibbo’ went on to fight in Paris and was victories against French boxer Louis Acaries, fighting for the European middleweight championship .Lining up another domestic affair between himself and the highly rated Mark Kaylor, of West Ham ,Tony winning the fight on a unanimous verdict.

Three more wins followed for ‘Sibbo’ before he stepped out of his weight category to challenge Dennis Andries, for the WBC light heavyweight title and the British light heavy title. Sibson was down three times in the ninth round ending the contest by TKO.

After almost a year without a fight - Tony stepped back down to his natural fighting weight and challenged defending champion, Brian Anderson, for the British middleweight championship ,Tony dethroned Anderson to win the fight by TKO in the seventh round .

Tony took a third shot at world title level by fighting for the IBF middleweight belt, in the opposing corner was talented American, Frank Tate who was coming into the fight with a 21 and 0, 12 by knockout record. Tony was at the wrong end of a TKO loss that was his last fight before deciding to hang the gloves up. After the fight, Tony said he won everything but not quite the world title but his record is riddled with high quality opponents, throughout his career and he can be very proud of his achievements in a fine and successful career.

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