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Crawford Ashley-Chilling Punch


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One of the best British super middleweights and light heavyweights of the late 80's and 90's, Crawford Ashley was known primarily for his punching power and his height of 6'3 or 191 cm, which back then was extraordinary for those divisions. He managed to win the European and Commonwealth titles at 175 and has also fought for the world title at both 168 and 175, unsuccessfully. He was known for his cocky and extremely confident public persona, but in the ring against the very best, he most often failed to live up to that. 

Born 20 May 1964 in Leeds, his real name is Gary Crawford. His boxing alias was "Chilling", probably because of his high ko percentage. He came from a racially mixed background, being partly of Afro origin. Because of his racial background and the rough environment of Leeds back then, his father made him take up boxing at the age of 7. According to his own words: "At the age of seven, I had to go to the gym three times a week or I couldn't play out. Because I was mixed race, my dad thought because of the world we lived in then, I would have to be able to defend myself." He eventually grew into a 6foot3 puncher who turned pro in 1987, fighting at as high as 182 pounds in his first fight. He won his first two fights by quick ko, then lost the third on points to Glazz Campbell. He scored 3 more ko's before losing to Johnny Nelson in a cruiserweight fight, by PTS8. He was stopped for the first time against hard-hitting journeyman Blaine Logsdon, 28 March 1989 in Glasgow; both guys went down in the first round before Crawford got stopped in the second by TKO. 

Later that year, on 31 October, he had his first significant win when he stopped Carl Thompson by TKO6 to win the British Central Area light heavy title. This was Thompson's first loss after going 8-0. In his first defence of the title, he stopped fringe contender Brian Schumacher by TKO3. He then vacated the title in order to move down to 168 and challenge the reigning European champion, Graciano Rocchigiani of Germany. Rocchigiani or "Rocky" as he was known in Germany, had a perfect record of 30-0 and was a good technician and not much shorter than Ashley at 6'2. They fought at Philips Halle in Dusseldorf, Germany, 28 February '91 and Ashley lost by SD after getting a point deducted-without that, the result would be a draw. He then went back to 175 and stopped Roy Skeldon by TKO7 to win the British title, 25 July. He defended it twice, the second time avenging the first loss to Glazz Campbell by TKO8, before fighting for the European title against the tricky Yawe Davis in Italy, 23 September '92. The fight ended a draw after 12 rounds. 

He once again chose to go back down to 168 in order to fight the reigning WBA champion Michael Nunn, 23 April '93 in Memphis. It turned out to be a bad call, as Ashley was dominated and was put down twice in the fifth and three times in the sixth round before the fight was over. For his next fight, he went all the way up to cruiserweight, even tho he came in at 179 1/2, fighting the 191 pound Dennis Andries on 29 January next year in Cardiff. He didn't do well and got a beating, having to retire after round 4. He rebounded on 11 November that year to beat Nicky Piper by a rare decision, unanimous one, to win back the British title, again fighting in Cardiff. He then got another world title shot, this time at his preferred weight class of 175, against Virgil Hill, the WBA champion. He naturally had to go to his home state of Montana, the town of Primm, and they fought on 1 April '95 at Buffalo Bill Star Arena. This time, Ashley lasted the distance, but was unable to solve Hill's tricky southpaw style and lost by wide scores.

After that, he had 6 lower-level fights before fighting for the European title and finally winning it, by KO3 against Roberto Dominguez of Spain. It was on 1 March '97 at Everton Park Sports Centre in Liverpool. For his first defence on 31 May, he went to Alfortville in France to beat Georges Warusfel by majority decision. He then defended again at Alexandra Palace, Muswell Hill, against the hard-hitting Norwegian Ole Klemetsen, 4 October same year. He was very confident before the fight but suffered one of his worst losses when he was down in round 2 and stopped at the very end of the round, on his feet. He then won the British title for the third and final time by TKO2 against Monty Wright on 14 March next year and then on 26 September he won the European title again by UD against Mohamed "Joe" Siluvangi, who had defeated Klemetsen previously. On 13 March '99 he took on Clinton Woods in an "all-Yorkshire" fight for the British, Commonwealth and European titles, in Manchester. Woods was younger by 8 years and his up close slugging style eventually got the better of Ashley's long-armed punching and boxing and Ashley's corner threw in the towel at 1:38 of round 8 after he had absorbed too much leather.

He had one fight at heavyweight after that, beating the journeyman Shane Woollas by TKO4, before choosing to fight at cruiserweight. He won one fight there against Lee Swaby (who was the first man to knock out and beat Enzo Maccarinelli) on points in 8 rounds, before fighting the South African up and comer Sebastian Rothmann for his WBU title, 8 December 2001 in Dagenham. The 37-yearold Ashley was simply not a match for the 27-yearold Rothmann and was once again stopped by KO8. He realized then it was time to quit and finally hung em up. His record is 33 wins, with 28 ko's, 10 losses and 1 draw. He has one of the highest knockout percentages of all famous British boxers, but because of his high number of losses, Boxrec has it at 63.64 %. 

During his peak career, he wanted to fight his idols Mike McCallum and Thomas Hearns, but those fights never materialized, to his great disappointment. About his power, he said: "I didn't punch hard, I punched fast. It just had to be a snap. Your arm has to lock out. We were taught on the bags not to punch at them but through them." He indeed always had a lanky build, which is why he never seriously attempted to fight at heavyweight and why he never had many fights at cruiserweight either. He was also recognisable with his trademark ponytail and thin goatee. Ashley had enough talent to tangle with the best out there, but obviously not enough to beat them. He still had a pretty good and long career, spanning 14 years. And that was the story of Crawford "Chilling" Ashley!



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