The Case for Steve Collins in the Hall

By Ted Sares on October 10, 2011
The Case for Steve Collins in the Hall
One of Steve “Celtic Warrior” Collins' great regrets was to have never fought Roy Jones Jr.

Steve Collins was an extremely tough, seasoned, iron-chinned, determined and talented fighter who had long paid his dues…

First in a Series of Five

Maybe it’s my imagination, but Steve “Celtic Warrior” Collins seems to have been forgotten by those who cast votes at the IBHOF Hall in Canastota. Let’s examine this Dubliner’s record and see if we can uncover the reasons.

Record: As an amateur he won he won 26 Irish titles at junior heavyweight, light-heavyweight and middleweight before moving to and turning professional in Massachusetts in 1986 where he was trained by Boston-based Freddie Roach. He also worked out of the Brockton gym of the Petronelli brothers who trained, among others, his idol Marvelous Marvin Hagler. He won his first 16 professional bouts fighting out of the Boston area. His final professional record was 36-3 with 21 KOs.

Level of opposition: Extremely high.

Chronology: Among his early victims were Sam Storey (for the Irish Middleweight Title), rugged Tony Thorton, and Kevin “Killer” Watts (for the USBA Middleweight Title.)

He lost to Mike McCallum in 1990 for the WBA Middleweight Title in a close fight I attended in Boston. He then rebounded with five straight victories including wins over tough Eddie Hall and Dan Morgan. He lost a razor thin and controversial MD to Reggie Johnson and a close UD to Sumbu Kalambay.

WBO Middleweight Title

A discouraged Collins finally won the WBA Penta-Continental Middleweight Title in 1993 by KO win over South African Gerhard Botes. A year later he garnered the WBO Middleweight Title by a KO over the very capable Chris Pyatt in South Yorkshire, England. He would go on to win 15 straight to close out his career (the last five by stoppage). More importantly, during this streak, he fought and beat Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn twice each. Benn, who had been though a grueling battle with Gerald McClellan, quickly got the message that his ferocious punching power was not good enough to dent the concrete-chin of Collins. Due to some brain scan issues, Steve found himself stepping into Ray Close’s shoes to meet Chris Eubank and he proceeded to beat the great English fighter twice. By the time he accomplished this remarkable feat, he was the reigning WBO Middleweight champ, a fact still overlooked to the present day.

In all, he successfully defended his new Super Middleweight title eight times before retiring in1997 with a TKO win over Craig Cummings, 34-2, in three rounds. Curiously, he had begun his career in 1986 with a three-round TKO over one Julio Mercado in Lowell, MA. He book-ended his career with 16 wins in the beginning and 15 at the end with the final TKO as icing on the cake.

The quintessential professional, Steve was a global road warrior having fought in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, Northern Ireland, France, Italy, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, the Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey and in and around Boston. More to the point, he was an extremely tough, seasoned, iron-chinned, determined and talented fighter who had long paid his dues training in the Boston area. He was considered to be one of the toughest pound-for-pound fighters of the late ‘90s having never been stopped in a high profile career.

Roy Jones

One of his great regrets was to have never fought Roy Jones Jr. He is reported to have stated that he had spent so long chasing Roy, money was no longer an important factor and he would fight him in a phone booth in front of two men and a dog. However, his attempts to get Roy into the ring ended when he collapsed during a training session. Medics told him to hang up his gloves for good and he did. Steve retired and now reportedly lives in England.

Though he has pretty much maintained a low profile, he did appear in the film Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels directed by highly successful Guy Ritchie. Hopefully, this is the not the reason he has been overlooked by the Hall, but then I can’t think of any other.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Chris Eubank v Steve Collins I Part 1/5

Chris Eubank v Steve Collins I Part 2/5

Chris Eubank v Steve Collins I Part 3/5

Chris Eubank v Steve Collins I Part 4/5

Chris Eubank v Steve Collins I Part 5/5

Steve Colins Vs Nigel Benn #1 (rounds 1&2) WBO Super-Middleweight - Jun 96

Steve Colins Vs Nigel Benn #1 (rounds 3&4) WBO Super-Middleweight - Jun 96

Steve Collins vs Nigel Benn 2 - 1/2

Steve Collins vs Nigel Benn 2 - 2/2

Boxing: Steve Collins v Craig Cummings

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  1. Francis Hegarty 07:31pm, 12/06/2016

    Hi Guys, I respect all your views as regards Steve Collins but I was a fan of his and seen many of his fights including the 2nd Eubank fight in Parc Ui Caoimh Cork City,Steve dominated this fight and also won the first fight clearly and as for the Benn fights and the excuses,Collins would’ve beaten him most times as he was too strong.I can back my arguments up by facts and form and say in my humble opinion that Michael Watson was the best fighter of the trio of Himself,Benn and Eubank.When all four of the above boxer’s were fighting in their prime,Steve Collin’s was US mIddleweight champion and had only 16 pro bouts when he faced the future legend Mike Mc Callum,who beat him in a close call,Collin’ who was only a novice at the time gave The Body Snatcher all sorts of problems and would admit not long after,that he would not like to face that man again.While this was going on Stateside,Watson stopped Benn in a classic and beat Eubank in their first fight but was ripped off by the judges,the second fight between the pair was more clearcut until that ferocious uppercut by Eubank which ended poor Michael Watson’s career.Inbetween all of the above,Michael Watson, a seasoned pro who had beaten a cracking,devastating Nigel Benn,fought Mike Mc Callum in the states and was stopped and this was after the Collins fight.If you look back and draw a strict line between the above fighters going through Mc Callum,all the indications were there that Collins was going to throw a spanner in the works once he left America.To conclude my analysis of the above fighters I will easily admit that Collins was not the prettiest or the most markettable of boxers but boy was he tough and had a chin like granite and honestly think that Roy Jones Jnr’s handlers done the right thing given this man a wde berth as he’d have given him loads of problems and maybe a beating also.

  2. Will Mc 03:15am, 10/20/2016

    Collins was a top top fighter. 2 of his 3 losses were controversial and it would be inconceivable nowadays to put a 16 pro fight novice in against the likes of Mike McCallum. He was never stopped and his 3 losses came in title fights.

    It’s unfortunate that Collins doesn’t get the credit he deserves. You always hear people come up with a myriad of excuses - some claim he lost one of the Eubank fights and when you challenge them they can’t recall which one he apparently lost. The ‘Benn was finished’ claim doesn’t wash either - the same detractors that said Benn was finished after Malinga are the same people who said Benn was finished before he fought McClellan and looked what happened in that fight.

    A fight against Jones would have cemented his legacy beyond any doubt but Jones ducked Collins. Collins called him continuously and climbed into the ring in Pensacola after a Jones fight live on HBO and called him out again.

  3. David S 06:54pm, 01/20/2015

    Benn was finished after the Mclelland fight so Steve fought him at the right time and although Eubank was only 29 I feel he was never the same after the second Watson fight because after he put Collins down in the first fight I personally think pre Watson he would have finished Steve off but he stood back and let him get back into the fight.
    No doubt Steve was a very very tough man but talk of him going into the hall of fame is ludicrous

  4. Paul Mc 09:32am, 06/13/2013

    Thanks for the eloquent response, very insightful and in retrospect it makes a lot of sense.

  5. Liam 09:28am, 06/13/2013

    Paul MC,

    I think (actually i know him and from his lips to gods ears im paraphrasing him) the reason steve relocated to england, was nothing to do with him hitting a plateau in the states, but everything to do with Benn Going over there beating dewitt, destroying Barkley and bringing the titles back to UK. Sparking off a long run of british super middleweight supremacy. He simply followed the belts and the money. So I think it’s a bit unfair to criticize collins for being a true World Champion by chasing after the belts and fighting all over the world.

  6. Dara 01:59pm, 08/06/2012

    Collins will go down as an all time great. The only ever Irish 2 weight world champion. His 3 losses away from home were robberies. You could not KO Stevie with a steam truck

  7. Mark 10:08pm, 10/23/2011

    Collins was 2 years older than Eubank when they fought. Eubank was “28” so to say he was past his best is premature. Collins went after Jones Jnr to arrange a fight on several occasions. Jones Jnr (& his mgmt team) chose not to fight Collins, so you can draw your own conclusions.

  8. Olan Long 04:27pm, 10/23/2011

    Collins should most definitely be considered.. The argument is often made and is done so below that Collins fought Eubank and Benn when they were out of their primes. Punching power is the last thing a fighter looses. Both fighters hit Collins with their best and failed to trouble him. Collins never ducked anyone. No one ever did him any favours. He was a true hard man of boxing!

  9. Paul Mc 08:11am, 10/17/2011

    I still think Collins career was all about timing.  Question I can never get past is why did he relocate for fights in the UK at that particular time?
    I think that the bottom-line was that he’d gone as far he could in the States in the fights with McCallum, Johnson and Kalambay…he was viewed as a tough contender who fell just short of the highest level.
    He then reinvents himself in the UK for big money fights with Eubank and Benn, who absolutely were on the way out. Eubank was scraping home with bad decisions every other month against Close, Rocchigiani etc. Benn had been thumped into “retirement” by Sugarboy Malinga…points often overlooked by Collins fans.
    That’s the real reason the fight with Jones Jr never happened…wins over a faded Benn and Eubank weren’t enough to overcome the impression he’d left in America.
    And I still say he ducked Calzaghe.

  10. The Welshman 06:52am, 10/11/2011

    Yes Ted i believe there is a case for Collins induction, whenever i have a few beers and arguments with my boxing pals inevitably the subject of induction into the “HALL” will arise and of course which brits should be considered,  i think the general opinion this side of the pond on who should be inducted goes something like this Hamed-Benn-Eubank-Conteh-Collins,(not necessarily in that order) of course i realise Collins is not a brit. but a proud Irishman born and bred in the republic, Joe Calzaghe has not fought for almost three years so he will be an absolute certainty very shortly, but yes coming back to your article i for one would have no complaint whatsoever if Collins got the nod someday soon.

  11. raxman 02:11pm, 10/10/2011

    i can’t say i ever took to collins ted. somehting about that style of falling in behind your punches to clinch, hit and hold etc, i see that as kind of cheating. well maybe not cheating but certainly not proper boxing. maybe its coz i was a eubank fan - style wise eubank just wasnt a good match for collins. its a shame that calzaghe fight didnt happen coz i reckon a young joe throwing 1200 punches in the fight would’ve been enough to beat him. i also think a younger Benn would’ve done better. and having said that does anyone actually think that roy jones would’ve been trouble by collins - my feeling is that the no stoppage feat would be no more if he’d fought jones jnr at 168

  12. TEX HASSLER 12:18pm, 10/10/2011

    Just the fact that he beat Benn and Eubank not once but twice each,  makes a solid statement as to how good Collins was. Benn & Eubank were exceptional punchers and fighters who were very tough men. It is sad that Collins did not get to fight Roy Jones. A lot of good fighters have been looked over and Collins is one of them. Thanks for reminding us of this, Mr. Sares.

  13. "Old Yank" Schneider 10:54am, 10/10/2011

    I liked Collins a lot.  His two-pair with Eubank and Benn is a high enough hand to win him induction—it’s about as high a two-pair as we ever get to see in boxing—let’s call it kings and jacks!

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