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Unpopular champions: William Guthrie


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Finally, I am back with the third part of this series! William Guthrie...if you mention this name to someone who follows boxing today, most likely you will get no response, a blank expression. Very few could tell you that this guy was actually a world champion in the 90's, briefly. Guthrie became a world champion mostly because of one factor: he was promoted by Don King, whose dirty games made IBF strip then-current champion Dariusz Michalczewski and then let Guthrie fight for it. However, even King could not keep Guthrie on the throne very long and he was then brutally dethroned by Reggie Johnson. This is the story of William Guthrie, another UNPOPULAR CHAMPION!

Known as "KO King", Guthrie was born in St. Louis (not Philadelphia, as Boxrec incorrectly states) on 17 January 1967. He was the 1985 Golden Gloves middleweight champion as amateur. He stands 6'1 tall (185 cm) and has a reach of 74 inches (188 cm). Even as amateur, Guthrie was a part of the notorious St. Louis drugs scene and was kicked off the 1988 Olympic team for failing a drug test. He relocated to Palm Beach Gardens in Florida later on, as a pro. His first pro fight happened on 1 May 1989 and he won it by TKO 2. Guthrie soon showed himself as a hard hitter, thus earning the moniker "KO King". His first 9 fights didn't go past 3 rounds. On 8 November 1995, he won the IBF USBA title against Richard Frazier, by way of KO 4. Next year, he stopped the former contender Ramzi Hassan by TKO 6 and thus ended his career. 

In June 1997, after Dariusz Michalczewski had triumphed over Virgil Hill and thus won the WBA and IBF titles from him, IBF stated that the Polish champion had to fight their no.1 rated fighter, William Guthrie, within 90 days or he would be stripped. Michalczewski's promoted Klaus Peter Kohl then stated "Guthrie is Don King's man and we don't want to do any business with him." It was obvious King had pulled the strings and made IBF issue such a statement. This of course resulted in Michalczewski being stripped and IBF title declared vacant. Guthrie then got to fight for it against Darrin Allen, who was a former super middleweight and an unremarkable fighter. The fight was staged at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, CA, 19 July, and Guthrie easily stopped Allen by TKO 3 after knocking him down three times in the third round. He was now the champion and was considered a dangerous challenger to Roy Jones jr. 

However, before he could get that far, he fought the former middleweight world champion Reggie Johnson in his first defense, 2 February '98 at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville. Johnson, shorter by 3 inches but a lot more clever, was ahead on all scorecards after 4 rounds, despite getting a point deducted for a low blow, when he nailed Guthrie with a tremendous right hook to the chin. Guthrie fell down unconscious and had to be taken out on a stretcher. So ended that fake glory. In his very next fight, 9 May '99, he faced Michael Nunn and was soundly dominated and stopped in 7 rounds by TKO, early in the 7th round that is. He continued fighting as a cruiser, but lost his only relevant fight to Ravea Springs by TKO 11, in a fight for the vacant WBO NABO title, 7 February '02. Guthrie continued fighting until 2007, but lost once more on points to Marlon Hayes and never fought a relevant fighter again. His final record is 35(4)-4-3. 

William Guthrie was a fighter who simply wasn't worthy of being a champion and the way he became that was by the dirty tricks of his promoter. However, his ill gotten gains were soon taken away from him and he was exposed as nothing but a puncher with very limited skills and also a rather weak chin, since Reggie Johnson was never known as a very hard hitter and this would be his only ko victory in a big fight at 175. His dishonest past with drugs also puts a dark cloud over Guthrie's name. In the end, even Don King could not save him. I hope you enjoyed my presentation.


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