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Forgotten Warriors: Frank Nicotra


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Frank Nicotra was for a while the European champion at super middleweight and he knocked out James Cook to win that title and then stopped Ray Close, who previously only had one loss, in his only defense of it. His career ended rather suddenly and he only suffered one loss as a pro, on points. 

Nicotra was born 24 October 1965 in Saint-Martin-d'Heres in Isere, southeast France. He stands 184 cm or 6 and a half feet tall and fought from orthodox stance. He turned professional on 23 October 1987 and won his first fight on points. In his 18th fight, he defeated the former contender from USA, Irving Hines, by TKO 6.  After going 27-0, he was given a chance to win the European title against the Jamaican-British James Cook, who had defeated Mark Kaylor and Tarmo Uusivirta previously to defend it. The fight happened in Vitrolles, France, on 3 April 1992 and Nicotra sensationally knocked Cook out in the first round and thus became the European super middle champion. Exactly 3 months later, he would defend the title against the very solid and tough Northern Irishman Ray Close, who only had one loss on points previously, which he avenged. Nicotra was again impressive as he became the first and only man to stop Close in the pros, winning by TKO 8 in Pontault Combault, France. 

What happened after that is unclear, but Nicotra was either stripped or vacated the European title. His next fight on 30 October, only 3 months after the Close fight, was against John Jarvis, who had previously fought Chris Eubank and Darrin Van Horn, unsuccessfully. Nicotra won on points after 10 rounds. Next year on 25 March, he experienced an upset loss against Antoine Byrd of USA, a solid but unspectacular fighter, losing on points in 10 rounds in Amiens, France. Nicotra then fought to a draw against journeyman Melvin Wynn in an 8-rounder. He seemed to have suddenly deteriorated as a fighter and after only one more fight on 26 October '95, which he won by TKO 6 against a nobody, he retired from the sport, aged 30. He had been inactive throughout 1994. His record is 31 wins, 1 loss and 1 draw, with 18 knockouts. 

It is really a mystery what happened, after two impressive wins Nicotra just seemed to lose his "mojo". It seems that after his retirement, he started working in the French film industry as a director, screenwriter and actor and has made several films. He has also done well as a businessman and opened several restaurants, a bar and a nightclub. He has also trained Maxime Beaussire, who in 2017 won the European light middle title. It may be that his mind simply wasn't focused enough on boxing and that his other extracurricular activities made him abandon it so soon. Whatever the truth, for a brief while, Nicotra really looked like a viable world title contender and one of the best European super middleweights.

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