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Buster Drayton


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One of those fighters that were popular and appreciated while they were fighting, but who soon faded into oblivion after retiring, Buster Drayton was a fine junior middleweight who captured the IBF title, defending it twice, and beat some very good fighters. Despite having 15 losses on his record, most of them were on points and against good or great fighters. Drayton was a tough and hard hitting slugger who liked to mix it up and defeated boxers like Davey Moore, Carlos Santos, Mark Kaylor, Duane Thomas, Clint Jackson, Said Skouma and John Jarvis, losing to the likes of Terry Norris, Julian Jackson, Matthew Hilton, James Kinchen and Lindell Holmes.


Born in Philadelphia March 2 1952 as Moses Buster Drayton, he began his boxing career as the sparring partner of Marvin Hagler. He first took up boxing in the Marines. He started his pro career in late 1978 with a 4-round draw against Charles Carey. He then reeled off 7 victories before taking part in a tournament in Atlantic City in the fall of 1980. He first advanced to the semi-finals where he fought Curtis Taylor, but after initially being declared the winner on points, the decision was overturned by the New Jersey commissioner Bob Lee and declared a no contest, and then a rematch was ordered. Taylor however refused to fight Drayton again and so Buster advanced to the finals where he lost to Kevin Perry by TKO3. After losing three more times, all on points and last time to Lindell Holmes, he took on the unbeaten Kronk prospect Duane Thomas, a future WBC champion. It was April 29 1982 at Sands Casino Hotel in Atlantic City when Drayton the underdog surprised everyone by handling Thomas his first loss, by TKO 7. On October 30 he took on the great technician, the Congolese-Italian Sumbu Kalambay, and dropped an 8-round decision to him. He then once again made a big upset when he stopped the Olympic champion Clint Jackson on May 12 next year, knocking him out with a single punch in the second round.


After dropping a couple more decisions, to Mario Maldonado by SD10 and Fred Hutchings by UD10, he again got on the winning track and first stopped the South African champion Gregory Clark by TKO3 and English contender Jimmy Cable by KO1 before going to England to fight their great middleweight hope, Mark Kaylor, May 13 1984 on Wembley. Drayton was a late replacement for both Frank Fletcher and James Green but once again produced the upset when he dropped Kaylor in round 3 with a right hand and again dropped him twice before the fight ended in round 7. After winning 7 straight fights, he dropped a very close decision to James "The Heat" Kinchen, curiously fighting in York Hall, London, April 14 1985. He then went back to America and among others stopped John Jarvis by TKO 6. Jarvis would later challenge both Chris Eubank and Darrin Van Horn for their world titles. And then finally, the 34-yearold Drayton got a crack at the world title when he was matched against Carlos Santos of Puerto Rico for the vacant IBF title. The fight was in Meadowlands Arena, New Jersey, on June 4 1986 and since Drayton was based in Jersey, he was the home favorite. Wether it influenced the judging or not, after 15 completed and hard-fought rounds, Drayton emerged as the winner by way of majority decision and could thus finally lift that big belt. He had one non-title fight above the 154 limit before facing none else than former WBA champion Davey Moore in his first defense. It took place in France, Juan-les-Pins, August 24, and was a slugfest from start to finish. After 9 even rounds, the scorecards were split, with one having the champion ahead, one the challenger and the third even. Drayton then landed a hard right which hurt Moore and as he retreated to the ropes, reigned blows on him for almost a minute before the fight was over in round 10. He made one more successful defense against Moroccan Said Skouma and stopped him the same way in a fight in Cannes, March 27 1987.


He then went to Canada to defend against the new rising star in the division: Matthew Hilton. Hilton was still 21, 14 years younger than Drayton when the two met at the Forum in Montreal, June 27 1987. Hilton had fast feet and a good punch and dropped Drayton in the first round. Drayton got up but found it hard to keep up with the younger man and in the end lasted the distance but lost by a wide decision. That was the end of that unlikely champion. Buster won one easy fight before fighting for the WBA title against Julian Jackson, the hardest puncher of the division. Drayton showed no fear and went toe to toe with Jackson, who was also 8 years younger. He paid for it when he was first put down in round 2 and then knocked out in round 3 with a big left hook. He had been hit with several hard shots before that and the two exchanged wildly entire fight. That was 1988 and next year he dropped a 12-round decision to the young Terry Norris, then still an up and comer. Drayton was now 37 and after getting stopped by TKO 8 by a non-rated fighter called Brinatty Maguilon at the end of that 1989, he retired. He came back in 1991 but his career was not going to take off now and he fought unknowns before losing his last fight in 1995 to Derrick Rolon, a semi-relevant fighter back then, by UD12. His record is 40 wins with 28 ko's, 15 losses and 1 draw. In 2012, he returned to the ring once more for an exhibition bout against a fellow police officer. Drayton was a policeman outside the ring and in 1988 appeared in the movie "Homeboy" with Mickey Rourke, playing his sparring partner. Art imitating life, one might say, as that was how he got his first break.

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