Ten-Count for Terry Downes

By Robert Ecksel on October 6, 2017
Ten-Count for Terry Downes
“You can play a game of tennis for a lark. But you can’t have a bloody lark at boxing.”

Downes decisioned 41-year-old Sugar Ray Robinson in 1962. “I didn’t beat Sugar Ray,” he said. “I beat his ghost…”

“I ain’t saying we fighters are professors, but give us a little bit of savvy.”—Terry Downes

Former middleweight champion Terry Downes, Britain’s oldest world champion, passed away peacefully in his sleep today. He was 81.

The Paddington Express was born in Paddington, London, England, on May 9, 1936. At the age of 16 and a capable amateur, Downes moved with his parents to the United States. Two years later he enlisted in the Marines where he served and boxed with distinction, and where he embraced the American style of fighting.

After competing for the U.S. in the 1956 Olympic trials, he returned to England and turned pro in 1957.

Downes won the vacant BBBofC British middleweight title in 1958 and the Commonwealth (British Empire) middleweight title 14 months later.

After decisioning former world champion Joey Giardello in October 1960, Downes, in his first shot at a world title, was TKO’d by reigning and defending middleweight champion Paul Pender in January 1961.

Six months later they fought a second time and this time Downes TKO’d Pender and was crowned new middleweight champion of the world.

The rubber match took place at Boston Garden seven months later and Pender won a close decision to reclaim the crown. Then he promptly retired.

Downes won his next seven fights, including a decision over 41-year-old Sugar Ray Robinson.

“I didn’t beat Sugar Ray,” he said. “I beat his ghost.”

In November 1964 Downes moved up in weight to challenge light heavyweight champion Willie Pastrano, who retained his crown via 11th round TKO.

It was Downes’ final fight. His record was 35-9 with 28 KOs.

“How can you change two blokes fighting, eh?” he said. “They can’t do nothing except fight. There are only so many ways to hit each other. They ain’t got ray guns or nothing. The will to win matters so much.

“With boxing you can’t mess around. You can’t be a bit of a fighter. You can be a bit of a football player or a bit of a cricketer. You can play a game of tennis for a lark. But you can’t have a bloody lark at boxing.”

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Terry Downes vs Joey Giardello

Pender Beats Downes In World Middleweight Championship (1962)

Downe's Up Top (1962)

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  1. C.H. 04:40pm, 10/08/2017

    Back then the referee was the only arbiter, at the final bell the English ref would walk over to the man he chose as the winner and lift his hand in victory. Giardello, of course, lasted to the end…Rest in peace Champ Terry Downes, you were one tough guy…c.h.

  2. Hideki Tojo 10:10am, 10/07/2017

    Taking nothing away from Terry may he rest in peace but guaranteed Giardello was injured earlier in that fight….must have been pretty bad if he couldn’t finish out the last round. Looked like he was sleep walking throughout any damn way!

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