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Forgotten Champions: Lee Roy Murphy

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  • Forgotten Champions: Lee Roy Murphy

    He was the IBF cruiser champion between 1984 and 1986 who was known for some dramatic late round stoppages. Lee Roy Murphy was a talented fighter with a good amateur background or pedigree and he ended his career as a heavyweight. The 5'11 Murphy was a tough and hard-hiting fighter who had a good stamina. He lost his title rather unexpectedly against Ricky Parkey, whom he was expected to beat. This is his story.

    Born in Chicago, 16 July 1958, Murphy grew up in the Windy City and won four Intercity Golden Gloves championships between 1977 and 1980, one at 165 and three at 178 pounds. He also won the 1979 light heavy Golden Gloves and qualified for the 1980 Olympics, but in vain, as USA boycotted the Moscow-hosted games. His brother Ken Murphy was also a professional fighter who fought against Fabrice Tiozzo for the WBA cruiser title in 1999. Lee Roy turned pro in October 1980. He went 20-0 with 17 ko's before he fought against the reigning IBF-champion Marvin Camel, 6 October '84 at MetraPark in Billings. The taller and more experienced Camel was ahead on the scorecards when the fight was stopped because of cuts sustained by the champion and thus, the challenger from Chicago won by TKO14. He made his first defense against fringe-contender Eddie Taylor and won by TKO12 after being ahead on the scorecards. His second defense would become legendary for its' drama; he took on the Zambian Chisanda Mutti, who was based in Germany and was a top contender. Mutti also had a height and reach advantage. The fight happened 19 October '85 at Stade Louis II in Monaco. Murphy was down in round 9 and behind on the scorecards in a thrilling war, but Mutti tired in round 11 and Murphy dropped him with a right. In round 12, both fighters connected with their right hand and both fell down! In a scenario reminiscent from "Rocky II", Murphy was able to beat the joint count but Mutti was not and thus Murphy retained his world title by TKO12! In his third and last successful defense, Murphy knocked out the lightly regarded Dorcy Gaymon by KO9, 19 April '86 in San Remo, Italy.

    And then came the downfall. He once again went to Italy to defend for the fourth time against Ricky Parkey. The fight was in Palazzo Dello Sport in Masala, 25 October '86 and Murphy must have been in bad shape, for he was completely dominated and then stopped by TKO10 by the unremarkable but solid Parkey. Interestingly enough, Parkey would then go on to make his first defense by stopping Chisanda Mutti by the same result Murphy stopped him, only in less dramatic fashion. It might've been problems making the then-190 pound weight limit that were to blame for this fiasco. Any which way, Murphy moved up to heavyweight soon thereafter. In 1987 however, he had one more fight at cruiserweight, but was dominated by the legend Dwight Muhammad Qawi and lost by a TKO6. His greatest achievement at heavyweight was knocking out Alfonzo Ratliff (himself a former world cruiser champion) in 4 to win the Illinois State title, 26 June '89. In his next fight, he lost a decision to then-rising contender Johnny Du Plooy of South Africa, fighting in Du Plooy's country. After losing to Mike Evans on points in March 1991, he retired. He came back in 1998 and won two more fights before calling it quits. His record is 30 wins, 23 by ko, and 4 losses. It seems both his ko losses could be contributed to problems with making the weight. Lee Roy Murphy was a capable fighter, no doubt, and the fact that he didn't get stopped as a heavyweight is pretty impressive. His fighting nickname was "Solid Gold".