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Forgotten Champions: Gene Hatcher


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Gene Hatcher was somewhat of an unlikely champion, because he at first experienced a couple of losses in his first couple big fights, but progressed to win the WBA light welter title in 1984, in what was then named the upset of the year. He then later lost it in an unlucky way-due to a cut, in his second defense, fighting away in Italy. Hatcher would later humiliatingly get stopped in only 45 seconds in a title fight against former undisputed welter champ Lloyd Honeyghan and would never regain his stature. His nickname was "Mad Dog" and he was otherwise known as a tough guy (that Honeyghan loss was his only true ko loss) who could hit, was very game but not too polished, as he also lost on points to some crafty boxers like Tyrone Crawley and Frankie Warren. He was however always dangerous, as Johnny Bumphus got to experience personally. This is the story of the Texas Mad Dog, Gene Hatcher.

 

His real name is Ronald Hatcher Jr. and he was born on June 28 1959 in Fort Worth, Texas (a twin city of Dallas). Hatcher first boxed as amateur and won the 1980 AAU championships as a welterweight. He became a pro next year in April and early on it went well for him, as he went on to decision former WBC super feather champ Alfredo Escalera in 10 rounds in his 12th fight. After winning two more, he faced the Philly southpaw Tyrone Crawley (who would later go on to challenge Livingstone Bramble for WBA light title) and the fight was in Atlantic City, October 17 1982. Hatcher lost a close majority decision to the more polished and lankier Crawley. Next year on February 25, he won the ESPN light welter title by stopping the no-hoper Romero Sandoval by a TKO 5 in Las Vegas. He then rematched Escalera on June 16 but this time lost to him by another ten-round decision. He made one defense of his ESPN title by beating Joe Manley, a future IBF-champion, by UD12, and thus scoring his first pivotal victory, on November 12 same year. Because of that victory, he received a shot at the WBA title held by Johnny Bumphus-Bumphus at 6 feet tall was an extremely tall 140-pounder and he also could hit and was tough and game. The fight happened on June 1 1984 at Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo and after 10 rounds, Bumphus was ahead on all cards, on two of them by 6 and 7 points even, when in the 11th, he was sent down by a big left hook from Hatcher! As he made the count, Hatcher lunged at him and once again sent him down briefly as Bumphus held on for dear life. After a short follow up against the ropes by Hatcher, the fight was waved off by the referee. It was named Upset of the Year by The Ring. Suddenly, the Mad Dog from Fort Worth was a world champion!

 

After this spectacular championship inauguration, Hatcher was given a tough opponent in his very first defense-the Argentinian brawler Nestor Ubaldo "Uby" Sacco. Sacco was not a freak of nature like Bumphus-he was a shorter fighter, a regular junior welter, who hit well and was well coordinated and moved well. And of course, like most Argentinians-he had a chin. They faced off in Fort Worth on December 15 and after a hard fought 15 rounds, Hatcher was proclaimed the winner by a split decision. Because of the closeness of the bout, a rematch was then mandated, but this time it was held in Italy (Sacco's heritage was Italian), Campione d'Italia, Lombardia, July 21 '85. Hatcher didn't seem to be in a good shape and Sacco was clearly the better fighter in the first 5 rounds, as he kept hitting Hatcher almost at will and in the 5th briefly sent him down with a combination. Tough guy Hatcher got up and proceeded to fight. He had some success in the next couple rounds, but he suffered a bad cut over his eye and it kept bleeding worse and worse, until the fight had to be stopped in the middle of round 9. Result: a TKO-victory for the challenger. Unfortunately, there would be no third fight and Sacco himself lost the title in his very first defense to Patrizio Oliva-an Italian from Italy, ironically. This was seemingly the last fight at 140 for Hatcher, which might have been a part of why he looked so poor in the Sacco-rematch. On October 24 '86, he won the minor WBC Continental Americas title at 147 by stopping Darryl Anthony (the only guy who beat Mark Breland in the amateurs) by a TKO 11 in Atlantic City. However, he did return once more to his old division to fight Frankie Warren, 22-0 at the time, but that proved to be a bad idea, as he lost clearly by UD to the polished Warren. He also again suffered a bad cut and his ear also bled. Warren was cut too however. And then came the Lloyd Honeyghan-debacle. He suddenly became the challenger of Lloyd Honeyghan, who was undisputed champion but by then had vacated the WBA title out of protest. They fought in Marbella, Spain, of all places, August 30 1987 and Hatcher was down not long after the bell and then got stopped against the ropes after 45 seconds, as mentioned above. He then collapsed and remained on the canvas for several minutes. Despite that, he kept on fighting and first won 2 minor fights, before fighting Aaron "Superman" Davis, who soon would become the new WBA-champion, on September 14 1989. Hatcher dropped a wide UD10 to the naturally bigger and fresher Davis. And then, in his next fight on March 15 next year, he surprisingly got stopped by the 7-3-2 Anthony Williams by a TKO 7 and decided it was time to call it quits.

 

He did come back 3 years later however and won 3 more fights, all low-level, before finally retiring in 1995, with a record of 32 wins, 23 by ko, and 7 losses, 3 by ko. Gene Hatcher was a true warrior and was as tough and gritty as they came, but had a tendency to cut obviously and that marred his career, costing him his world title among other things. He didn't have a very long career or a long prime, but he still achieved quite a lot during that relatively short space of time. Today he is known only by the true lovers of the sweet science and its history, that is why he is a FORGOTTEN CHAMPION!

 

Hatcher_gene.jpg

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--- 100% Blood and Guts, Boz.

 

Looks like Gerrie Coetzee's twin bro, yup!

 

Yeah, same mustache! :laugh: Really a tough cookie, no doubt. In that second Sacco fight, he was getting so much leather and that cut was bleeding badly, yet he didn't want it to be stopped. Balls of concrete.

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My father and I went to the Honeyghan fight! It was due to take place on a Saturday night but it absolutely emptied down so it took place the following night. The venue was a bullring which felt a bit weird if appropriate bearing in mind the result.

 

I think Marbella was chosen due to it being the height of the holiday season for brits and, to be fair, that's why we were there.

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My father and I went to the Honeyghan fight! It was due to take place on a Saturday night but it absolutely emptied down so it took place the following night. The venue was a bullring which felt a bit weird if appropriate bearing in mind the result.

 

I think Marbella was chosen due to it being the height of the holiday season for brits and, to be fair, that's why we were there.

 

Thank you for sharıng that.:wave:

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