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Lou Del Valle-Honey Boy

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Known in the boxing annals primarily as the first guy to knock Roy Jones jr down, Lou Del Valle was a solid light heavyweight who also briefly held the WBA title he took by stopping the solid Eddy Smulders, in 1997. After losing to Jones jr on points, he would try to reinvent himself as a cruiserweight, after also failing to recapture his title against Bruno Girard in two close fights. He is one of very few Puerto Ricans to hold a world title above 168. Here is his story. 

Born on 13 July 1968 in Long Island City, New York, Del Valle was known under the boxing alias “Honey Boy”. He stands 6 feet tall and has a reach of 74 inches and fought from southpaw stance. This made him difficult to read and predict his punches, for orthodox fighters. He fought as amateur first and in 1989 fought Kirk Johnson (future heavyweight contender) in a USA vs Canada Dual Meet, losing to him by first round stoppage. “Honey Boy” turned pro in 1992 and won his 22 first fights, 15 by ko, before landing a shot at the WBA title, which was then held by the marvelous technician and fellow southpaw, Virgil Hill. The fight was held in Engelstad Arena, South Forks, North Dakota, 20 April 1996. Del Valle gave Hill a worthy challenge, but ultimately lost with the score of 113-114, 112-116 and 114-116. LDV then had one fight at cruiserweight against Ken McCurdy and easily won by TKO2 against overmatched opponent, before returning to 175 in his next fight. 

After winning three more fights, he was given a chance to win the vacant WBA belt, which had been stripped from Dariusz Michalczewski, who had previously taken it from Hill. He had to go to Germany to fight the former European champion, Dutchman Eddy Smulders, who had a record of 34-1, that lone loss coming against Fabrice Tiozzo. On 20 September 1997 in Aachen, Lou Del Valle became the world champion when he impressively won by TKO8. That would remain Smulders’ last loss. He then landed his biggest fight ever, a unification against the WBC champion and no.1 fighter in the division-Roy Jones junior. Del Valle had previously been Jones’ sparring partner, in 1995. The fight commenced on 18 July 1998 at Madison Square Garden and Jones dominated it and cut Del Valle over the left eye with an accidental headbutt in round seven, but in the next round the incredible happened: Lou first threw a straight right and then a left which hit Roy on the head as he was backing away and down he went, for the first time in his career! However, he got up and proceeded to dominate with his superior speed, reflexes and skills, but Del Valle lasted the distance. The scores were 119-108 and 118-109 twice. Del Valle made 850 K while Jones took home 2 million. 

He again fought for the vacant WBA title on 4 August 2001, but in Marseille, France, against the home favorite, the slick and lanky Bruno Girard. The fight ended a split draw, with each guy getting the decision from one judge and the third judge scoring it a draw. The decision was considered controversial in USA and WBA agreed, therefore a rematch was made, but again in France, 13 July 2002. Yet again, after the fight went the distance, the result was controversial-a split decision for Girard. That was Honey Boy’s last fight at 175 and he was inactive for 2003 before returning in 2004. He first won three fights on points, before fighting Zack Page on 20 October 2006 and losing by UD10. He also lost his next fight away in Denmark, on 14 September next year, to the local favorite Johny Jensen, by UD12, with the WBA Intercontinental title on the line. It was now clear Lou was not the same fighter anymore and moving up to a higher weight class had not done him good, as he was not big for a cruiser. 

He scored his last victory on 31 January 2008, besting the 6-6-1 Newton Kidd by SD8, before again losing to DeLeon Tinsley by UD8 on 18 July same year. His last fight happened on 31 October 2009, against former super middleweight, the 6’2 Joe Spina. The fight ended a majority draw after 10 rounds. Now aged 41, Lou Del Valle wisely retired with a record of 36 wins with 22 ko’s, 6 losses and 2 draws. He has never been stopped and it seems he was never dropped either, yet he dropped the probably best fighter in the world back then-that’s not a bad legacy! 

His sister Melissa was also a professional boxer and a respectable one, retiring with a record of 30-6-1. She fought under her married name Salamone most of her career and her alias was, fittingly, Honey Girl. Lou Del Valle was a world class boxer but his career took off just when Jones jr was dominating that same division, so he could never last too long as champion. His two fights with Girard, who was definitely world class, furthermore prove his worth. At 175, he was a puncher, but at 200, obviously he didn’t have that much power. He is still remembered today mainly for his knockdown of RJJ, but his career was more than just that. 


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