Joe Bugner: The Most Underrated Heavyweight

Bugner fought Muhammad Ali in 1973 but was ultimately defeated

Bugner fought Muhammad Ali in 1973 but was ultimately defeated

Joe Bugner won (69-13-1, 41 KO’s) may well be one of the most underrated heavyweights over the last forty years. His record speaks for itself. Really you say…

Before you laugh look at the facts. Joe was born in 1950 and turned pro in 1967. He was still fighting well into the 90’s. His record is a who’s who of the heavyweights of that era. He went the distance with Muhammad Ali twice. His second encounter was in a losing effort for the championship. In all he traveled 27 rounds with the “Greatest”. He also went 12 rugged rounds with Joe Frazier, losing a close verdict. Bugner did win decision victories over title claimants Jimmy Ellis and Greg Page. Past his prime, he was halted by future titleholder Frank Bruno.

During his prime he defeated the best that England and the rest of Europe could offer. He met world title challengers like Henry Cooper, Brian London, Manuel Ramos, Ron Lyle, Earnie Shavers, Chuck Wepner, Marvis Frazier, Steffen Tangstad, James Tillis, David Bey and Richard Dunn. He also met several other respectable big men such as Mac Foster, Jose Luis Garcia, Larry Middleton, Eduardo Corletti, Jurgen Blin, Jack Bodell and Jack O’Halloran.

Bugner, who was born in Hungary, boxed out of England and later fought out of Australia. He was tall and well proportioned. He was a smart boxer with a good left jab. He was very mobile for a man his size and he had a pretty fair right cross. He also had a solid chin.

Jerry Quarry was a terrific fighter, but Bugner fared much better against Ali and Frazier than Jerry did. George Chuvalo also went 27 rounds with Ali. He also went the full route with Ellis, Floyd Paterson and Ernie Terrell. Still he was butchered by Frazier and George Foreman.

Gerry Cooney could bang but I don’t believe he ever had the chance to truly mature as a fighter.Tommy Morrison had a good punch and decent skills but no chin. Duane Bobick was a solid puncher, but slow and not very durable. Chuck Wepner was awkward and as game as they come, but he could be easily outboxed. Henry Cooper had a great left hook, but he cut easy and his chin was shaky. Boone Kirkman could punch, but he had no defense. Randy Neuman was a good boxer but a light hitter. Karl Mildenberger was troublesome from his southpaw stance but little else. Ron Stander and Scott LeDoux, like Wepner, were game to core. If courage alone won titles they would have been champs.

Jim Amato

Jim Amato

Feature Writer at MyBoxingFans
Jim is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and is also a member of the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO), which was once directed by Hall Of Famer Ralph Citro, Boxing notables Hank Kaplan and Harold Lederman are among IBRO's members. Jim is on the Publicity Committee for the American Association for the Improvement of Boxing (AAIB) that was co-founded by Steve Acunto and the late Rocky Marciano. He is a member of the Ohio State Former Boxers and Associates and the Trumbull County of Ohio Legends Of Leather, past President the late Sal Marino.Jim is also a former member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
Jim Amato
Jim Amato

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  1. Tony

    Hello tony! Here Question: was it the old fight between Palomino v/s Monos that marked the first time two pro fighters held college degrees? Thanks for your web site.. Rooting for all Latino boxers, the one industry that accepts us as contributors in a tight American enterprises, if you know what i mean. We’re dedicated Americans too.thanks for our freedom..