MUSTAFA HAMSHO: If Not For Marv
By Jim Amato: He may have been the second best middleweight in the world in the late 1970’s through the mid 80’s. The ” Hagler Era “. he was twice defeated by the Marvelous one in title fights but no one other then Hagler could seem handle him.
Mustafa Hamsho was born in Syria in 1953. He turned professional in 1975 sometimes fighting under the moniker of Rocky Estafire. He lost his first pro fight in Binghampton, N.Y. to Pat Cuillo. After eight bouts it
would have been hard to foresee Hamsho as a future contender as his ledger stood at 4-2-2. Mustafa would go on to win his next 27 bouts and firmly establish himself as a legitimate title threat.
Contenders Rocky Mosley Jr., Bobby ” Boogaloo ” watts, Irish Pat Murphy, Leo Saenz, the talented Wilfred Scypion, Rudy Robles, rugged Curtis Parker and former champion Alan Minter were among Hamsho’s victims during the streak.
Finally on October 3, 1981 faced Marvin Hagler for the middleweight championship. Marvin was a sharpshooter on this night and he sliced up the well muscled, southpaw Hamsho. Only Mustafa’s grit and gameness kept him in
the fight until the eleventh round. Marvin had cut him to ribbons and the bout was stopped.
Mustafa would regroup and win six in a row. He would again defeat the dangerous Curtis Parker. He would also pull off two minor upsets that put him back to the top of the division. In 1982 he would dominate the upcoming ”bright, white and polite ” Bobby Czyz. In 1983 he would manhandle former welterweight and junior middleweight king Wilfred Benitez. Those victories would put Mustafa back in the ring with Hagler.
On October 19th, 1984, three years after their first meeting Hagler and Hamsho traded leather again. This turned out to be one of Marvin’s career best performances as he blasted out the usually durable Hamsho in three rounds.
Over the next few years Hamsho would win four straight over average opposition. In 1987 he met future light heavyweight champion Don LaLonde and has clearly outpointed. Two fights later he lost in the first round to
future champion Graziano Rocchingiani. In 1989 he survived a first round scare to stop Wesley Reid in five rounds. That was his final bout.
Hamsho retired with a very formidable record of 43-6-2. He was strong and awkwardly effective from his left handed stance. He was not a big puncher but he was always in terrific condition. He was able to score twenty seven knockouts throughout his career. A solid case can be made that Mustafa Hamsho was keeper of the gate to Marvin Hagler’s throne and that is meant as the highest compliment.