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One Loss Away Preventing Retiring with an Unbeaten Record!

Image: One Loss Away Preventing Retiring with an Unbeaten Record!

By Ken Hissner: There are boxers who, after they lose for the first time and cannot handle it and others who retire from boxing with but one loss. Let’s take a look at two of them.

The first to come to mind to this writer is the former world light and heavyweight champion Gene “The Fighting Marine” Tunney.

Tunney turned professional on July 3, 1915, in a scheduled 10 round bout. He stopped his opponent Bobby Dawson, 1-3, in the eighth round. After 4 wins, he was held to a 10 round draw against KO Jaffe, 2-2.

Ten straight wins followed before another draw with Tommy Gavigan, 23-18-7. In November of 2018, Tunney, due to having joined the Marines, was fighting out of France, going 8-0-1 from November of 2018 through April 2019.

One of those Tunney defeated was Bob Martin, 3-0, of West Virginia in Paris, France, in January 2019, who would go onto a 44-8 record.
In December 2019, Tunney returned to the US, winning a pair of fights and improving his record to 21-0-2. After a winning streak of 11, Tunney defeated Paul Samson Koerner, 12-4-2. At this time, Tunney had his first major opponent in Leo Houck, 134-36-25, who he defeated in back-to-back fights, following with eight more wins.

Tunney defeated Battling Levinsky, 169-42, 34, for the American Light Heavyweight title in January of 1922. Four wins later, he lost for the first time to Harry Greb, 194-10-18, at Madison Square Garden prior to Greb winning the world middleweight title the following year.

In August of 1922, Tunney defeated Tommy “Phantom of Philly” Loughran, 34-4-2. In February of 1923, he won a rematch with Greb, 207-18-10, somewhat disputed, it was reported. In the third fight with Greb, Tunney again won in December 1923.

In July of 1924, Tunney defeated Georges “The Orchid Man” Carpentier, 87-14-5, at the Polo Grounds, in New York. In September of 1924, he again met Greb, which ended in a draw.

In December of 1924, he defeated Jeff Smith 135-27-4. Next fight, he again defeated Greb in March of 1925. In his next fight, he defeated Tommy Gibbons, 97-4-3. That was five fights, with Greb going 3-1-1.

In September of 1926, Tunney won the NBA Heavyweight title over champion Jack “The Mannasa Mauler” Dempsey, 57-4-9, in Philadelphia before 120, 557 in attendance. It would be a year before the return match when Dempsey had Tunney on the canvas in the seventh round but failed to go to a neutral corner giving Tunney another five seconds to recover and retain his title.

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Tunney would have one more fight stopping Tom Heeney, 32-8-5, in July of 1928 at Yankee Stadium in New York. His final record was 65-1-3 with 48 stoppages.

Another heavyweight champion who comes to mind is Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe, who, in October of 1988, lost to future world champion Lennox “The Lion” Lewis in the Olympic finals receiving a Silver Medal.

In March 1989, Bowe turned professional, winning his first seventeen fights before facing and stopping Art Tucker, 17-1-1, in July 1990. That’s eighteen wins in just sixteen months.

In July, he met former world champion Pinklon Thomas, 30-4-1, who he stopped in eight rounds. From this point on, he faced all contenders or former contenders.

Among those he defeated started with stopping “Smokin” Bert Cooper, 22-6, former 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Tyrell Biggs, 19-3, former WBA champ Tony “TNT” Tubbs, 29-2, stopping future champ Bruce “The Atlantic City Express” Seldon, 18-1, until November of 1992 when he finally got a world title fight after posting a 31-0 record defeating IBF, WBA and WBC champion Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, 28-0, in November of 1992.

In Bowe’s first defense, he stopped former champion Michael Dokes, 50-3-2, in the first round. After another defense in a rematch with Holyfield, he lost for the first time by majority decision in November of 1993.

Bowe would go on to meet four unbeaten opponents starting with Buster Mathis, Jr., 14-0, which ended in a no contest. Then defeat Larry “The Legend” Donald, 16-0, stop future champion Herbie Hide, 26-0, and knocking out Cuban and former Olympian Jorge Luis Gonzalez, 23-0.

Then, a third bout with Holyfield, whom he stopped in November of 1995. Following would be a pair of DQ wins over Poland’s Andrew Golota, 28-0, and three more wins ending his career in December of 2008 with a record of 43-1 with 33 stoppages.

There you have it, two world heavyweight champions retiring with but one loss. There have been many who retired with one loss, sometimes career-ending but these two stand out.

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