Jump to content

Barry Michael

Recommended Posts

Barry Michael was one of the best Australian boxers of the 80's and won the IBF super feather title in 1985. Right before that he won the Commonwealth lightweight title. He was a later bloomer who first had an unremarkable career before improving slowly and finally becoming a world champion at 30. Because of that, his world championship reign was not so long but he was one of only four Australian world champions in boxing in the 80's, the other three being Jeff Fenech, Jeff Harding and Lester Ellis.


Like his national rival Ellis, he was born in England, in Watford, Hertfordshire, 2 June 1955. His family moved to Melbourne when he was 2. He dropped his last name Swettenham and from then on was called Barry Michael as he became a boxer. He turned pro at the age of 18, on 18 June 1973. He won his first 4 fights on points and then scored his first knockout in 2 rounds against Dale Doherty. After going 8-0, he lost for the first time on a 6-round decision to Jimmy Brown. On 20 November 1975 he beat Andy Broome for the Victoria State lightweight title by UD10. He later also won the super lightweight version of his title by beating Dave Richards by UD12. He then went to the Philippines to fight the local fighter Nene Jun and lost by a 10-round decision to him. 22 December 1976 he fought for the Australian and Commonwealth super featherweight title against Billy Moeller, losing once again by decision. On 12 August 1978 he won the Australian lightweight title by UD15 against Billy Mulholland. At the end of that year, he was stopped for the first time by Lennox Blackmore of Jamaica, who would later challenge Aaron Pryor for the world title, by TKO 7, in Georgetown, Guyana. He then defended his Australian title by TKO 7 of his own against Blakeney Kid Matthews and then again by TKO 3 against Lucky Matellari. He went to Wales to fight Najib Daho for the first time and dropped another decision to the Moroccan-born Englishman. It was a very close decision, 78-79 1/2. He made 3 more defenses of the Australian title before fighting for the Commonwealth lightweight title against Langton Tinago of Zimbabwe, 6 May 1981, in Festival Hall, Melbourne. He got the best over the Zimbabwean over 15 rounds and could now call himself the Commonwealth champion as well.


He defended the title successfully twice, first stopping Dave McCabe by TKO 7 and then Willie Tarika by KO 10 before losing it on points to Claude Noel, former WBA champion from Trinidad Tobago, by MD15. He then moved up in weight for a while, winning the vacant Australasian National Boxing Federation light welterweight title by TKO 11 against Frank Roopis before reclaiming his Commonwealth lightweight title in February 1985 against the 19-0 Graeme Brooke, winning by a lopsided decision. He then opted to go down to super featherweight to challenge the IBF champion there, the compatriot Lester Ellis. The fight received nationwide tv coverage and was hyped since both guys were considered among the cream of Australian fighters back then and were popular. Lester Ellis was 16-0, 10 years younger and with a nickname like "Master Blaster" looked like the heavier handed of the two. Nevertheless, the older Barry Michael proved to be too seasoned for him and he talked to him all the way through, trying to discourage him and break him down mentally. It must have worked, for he took home a clear unanimous victory and the title of course. It was 12 July 1985 in Melbourne, a date no Aussie boxing fan would forget. Michael made his first defense against the hard-punching South Korean, Jin-Shik Choi, who was 17-1 with 15 ko's. Before the fight, Choi was confident of victory and called Michael too old to beat him. Korean fighters were known for their durability always and Choi had been stopped in 12 rounds in his only defeat so far. Michael surprised everyone when he broke the game Korean down and stopped him by TKO in 4 rounds. Choi came on strong in the second round but Michael's defensive abilities made him avoid many of his blows and he came back in round four to nail Choi with a big left hook which put him down. Choi got up and Michael battered him until the referee stopped it. It was Michael's highest paying fight, 100 K.


His second defense was against the American Mark Fernandez and Barry again won the same way, by TKO 4. He made his third and last successful defense against Najib Daho, his old foe. He went to Manchester to slug it out with Daho and in the end won by UD. Also his fourth defense was in England, at Blazers Night Club in Windsor, Berkshire and his opponent was noone else but Rocky Lockridge, who once held the WBA title. Lockridge was 4 years younger and the best fighter the Aussie had faced. Michael put on a good performance but was in the end outgunned and retired in his corner after 8 rounds. It was 9 August 1987 and proved to be his last fight as he retired at the age of 32 after that. His record is 48 wins, with 15 knockouts, 9 losses and 3 draws. Despite his low knockout ratio, Michael was a good puncher who hit with sharp, clean blows and was a very good defensive fighter as mentioned. After retiring as a boxer he became a promoter and also works as a boxing analyst on tv and in newspapers. In 2014, he was embezzled by his friend for a million Australian dollars. This seriously set him back financially and he said:"He robbed of more from me than I ever got for a fight. It's set me back 10 years. I'm 59 now and I'll be working till I'm 70." He was inducted into Australian Boxing Hall of Fame. He has recently partnered up as a promoter with son of Lester Ellis, Jake.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...