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Howard Eastman


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Likely the best British middleweight of the early 2000's, Howard Eastman was a talented and skilled boxer with power, but his problem was that he started getting big fights when he was already in his 30's. In other words-it took him too long to get to world level. He had a long career, fighting for 20 years in all. He unsuccessfully challenged the undisputed world champion Bernard Hopkins in 2005 and before that had a crack at the WBA title against William Joppy. Although he performed admirably in both fights, it wasn't enough and Eastman had to settle with being a British, Commonwealth and European champion.


Born Howard Anthony Eastman on 8 December 1970 in New Amsterdam, Guyana, he relocated to Battersea, London and would later adopt the moniker "Battersea Bomber". However, he had a rough youth and was for a while homeless, which made him enlist in the Royal Fusilliers battalion of the British army and take part in the Gulf War in 1991. He was a sparring partner for Chris Eubank and gained a reputation as a heavy puncher in the gyms. He turned pro in March 1994, dispatching John Rice in 1 round. His progress was slow however, as many top middleweights in Britain avoided him due to his reputation as a hard hitter. He had to wait for 4 years to fight for the British title, which he did on 30 November '98 against Steve "The Viking" Foster. At Bowler's Exhibition Centre in Manchester, Eastman halted Foster by TKO 7 to win his first significant title, having won the minor British Southern Area title before. On 6 March next year he won the vacant IBO Inter-Continental title by TKO 3 against Jon Penn. He also won the WBA Inter-Continental title by TKO 7 against Roman Babaev. In July 2000 he also beat Akhmet Dottuev, the Russian who had previously challenged Julio Cesar Vasquez for the WBA 154-pound title, by corner retirement in 4 rounds, defending his WBA Intercontinental belt. His first significant victory came against Sam Soliman, who would much later win the IBF title. The fight was in Bethnal Green, London, on 16 September that year and Soliman, a tough cookie, gave Eastman a close and hard fight, but Eastman prevailed with the score of 117-114 in the end, from the referee and the sole judge Larry O'Connell. Eastman promised Soliman a rematch since the fight had been very close, but it never happened. With that, Eastman became the Commonwealth champion, since Soliman was making his first defense of that title.


He now had the BBC (British) and Commonwealth titles and set his sights on winning the European one as well. That happened when he faced Robert McCracken, then one of the best middleweights in the country, who was just coming off his first loss in a WBC-title fight against Keith Holmes. Like against Holmes, McCracken would be stopped late. The fight was at the Conference Centre on Wembley, 10 April 2001 and Eastman ended it with a right uppercut which sent McCracken down in round 10. Although he got up at the count of 4, the referee decided he was unable to continue. Now a threefold champion, Eastman only had one title left to win-the world one. He was matched against William Joppy, who previously held the WBA title, for the same title which was now vacant after Bernard Hopkins got promoted to Super Champion. It was Eastman's first in USA, at Mandalay Bay in Vegas, 17 November 2001, on the same card as Lewis-Rahman II. 32-0 Eastman did better than expected against the favored Joppy and even though he knocked Joppy down in the final seconds of the fight and hurt him several times before that, it wasn't enough. Two of the judges scored it for Joppy, 115-112 and 114-112 while the third had it even, 113-113. Eastman thus lost by a majority decision. He went back to fighting at home and recaptured the European title in January 2003 by corner retirement in 3 against Christophe Tendil of France. He then defended all three of his titles against Scott Dann and after losing the first two rounds, he connected with a right to the jaw which sent Dann down and then finished him off after he rose with an uppercut to the jaw in the third round. It would be Dann's last loss and only the second one in his career. He also beat Hacine Cherifi by RTD8 and Sergey Tatevosyan by UD12 in defenses of the European title. And then came Hopkins.


Bernard Hopkins held all 4 major titles and was p4p one of the best fighters back then. They faced off on 19 February 2005 at Staples Center in LA. It was Hopkins' first fight since knocking out Oscar De La Hoya, which would be his last knockout victory ever. The rugged and tough Eastman gave Hopkins as good a fight as any of his previous challengers since he became a world champion, but it wasn't enough as he was in the end outboxed and lost by the scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 119-110. One of Hopkins' closest fights in very long. Eastman was now pushing 35 and that fight pretty much spelled the end of him as a serious force. He lost his next fight to unbeaten Arthur Abraham, which was in Germany and for the WBA Inter-Continental title, by UD12. He was then stopped for the first time in his career by Edison "Pantera" Miranda, 24 March 2006 in Hollywood, Florida. Eastman was first hurt in round 5 by two overhand rights but bounced back in round 6 and hurt Miranda with an overhand right, before Miranda turned it up in round 7 and stopped Eastman on his feet with a barrage. Eastman failed to answer the punches and the fight was over at 2:33 of the round. He rebounded by recapturing the British belt in December of that year against Richard Williams, by KO12. On 20 April next year he beat Evans Ashira, former Joe Calzaghe-challenger, by UD12 to win the Commonwealth title back as well. He then lost a close fight to Wayne Elcock, one of the best middleweights in UK back then. Elcock outhustled the older Eastman to win by a very close unanimous decision, 28 September 2007. After losing another decision to up and comer John Duddy, Eastman relocated to Guyana and began fighting there.


In July 2008 he won the Guyanese title by MD12 against Denny Dalton and then defended it against former welterweight WBA champion Andrew Lewis by SD12 in October. He then suffered 6 losses in row, also getting stopped for the second and last time by Kirt Sinnette of Trinidad and Tobago, by TKO8 in 2011. He then amazingly went down to welterweight (!) and took part in the Jamaican version of The Contender, stopping Derrick Spencer in 2 rounds and beating Kevin Hylton by UD6 before losing in the final by UD8 to Tsetsi Davis, 18 July 2014. Eastman was now 43 and chose to retire. His record is 49 wins with 38 ko's and 13 losses. Howard Eastman was a capable and talented fighter who was popular in Britain because of his aggressive and exciting style and knockout ability. Had he been given his first world title fight earlier, who knows what would've happened. His performances against Joppy and Hopkins were still good enough to gain him respect of boxing fans worldwide. He was always recognizable with his characteristical golden beard and his long armed, sinewy build.



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