The Memory Bank: Part Eighteen

By Ted Sares on November 13, 2012
The Memory Bank: Part Eighteen
Anyone familiar with Ovill "The Upsetter" McKenzie’s history knew that this was his destiny.

What made these fights memorable? They were all upsets—most major—and each was perpetrated by a Jamaican-born or Jamaican-by-ancestry fighter…

“The harder they come the harder they fall.”—Jimmy Cliff

Jamaica is known for great reggae singers, wonderful and hard-working people, fantastic cuisine, beautiful beaches, and an interesting bobsledding team. While boxing is no longer an active sport, the tiny island nation has had a hand in producing (either by birth or by parentage) a disproportionate number of very notable boxers. As Jamaican boxing expert and essayist Scott Neufville puts it, “The world has seen many great Jamaican fighters. The world has watched as they have pummeled champions, broken gladiators and stood proud above fallen warriors. But the world has not known they were Jamaican.”

Jamaica has produced several fond boxing memories for me; the following are just a few:

The Upsetter

Ovill “The Upsetter” McKenzie was 14-9 when he entered a Prizefighter Tournamament on May 19, 2009. The day after, The Upsetter’s record would match his nickname as his mark moved to 18-8; he had won the Prizefighter cruiserweight title held at Earls Court Arena in Kensington, London with four straight astonishing upsets over heavily favored opponents. However, anyone familiar with Ovill’s history knew that this was his destiny. You see, Ovill McKenzie was born in Jamaica (though he calls Derbyshire in the UK his home).

Ovill has since become the reigning Commonwealth light-heavy champ and on November 8, 2012, he stopped, albeit prematurely, heavy hitting but chinny Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli, and has emerged as somewhat of a force in his division.

Jamaican Upsets

Beginning in 1980, Jamaican boxers pulled off a series of monster upsets that caused serious boxing fans throughout the world to take notice. Trevor Berbick’s 1980 frightening ambush KO of Big John Tate in Montreal set the stage for four more shockers.

In a truly stunning upset in Detroit, welterweight Kirkland “The Gifted One” Laing (43-12-1) beat legendary Roberto Duran in 1982. However, Laing could not capitalize and was waxed by Fred “The Pumper” Hutchins in his very next fight in Atlantic City.
In an equally shocking turnabout, welterweight champion Lloyd Honeyghan, nicknamed “Ragamuffin Man” due to his Jamaican roots, defeated heavily favored American Donald “The Cobra” Curry in 1986. The Cobra would never be the same, while the Ragamuffin Man would go on to finish with a fine 43-5 record.

1993 produced two humdingers. The first involved notable amateur fighter, Michael Bentt, former WBO heavyweight champ, who knocked out heavily favored Tommy Morrison (38-1) in 1993 in an incredible first-round upset. This shocker came in Tommy’s home state of Oklahoma no less. The thing about Bentt was that he was a very fine amateur fighter, but Morrison’s camp had done a terrible job researching his amateur record. Had Bentt (only 10-1 at the time) not suffered a career-ending and life-threatening injury in his fight against Herbie Hide in1994, there is no telling how far he could have gone.

The second 1993 stunner involved the great Simon “Mantequilla” Brown, WBC and IBF welterweight titleholder, who KO’d heavily favored Terry Norris for the WBC light middleweight title in Ring Magazine’s “Upset of the Year”. Enough said.

Kingston native Richard “The Destroyer” Hall was stopped by Roy Jones Jr. in 2000 and then by Dariusz Michalczewski in 2001 and the again in 2002 both times in Germany. Despite these three batterings, he came back to “destroy” equally exciting Julian ‘Mr. KO” Letterlough by second round TKO in 2003.

Jamaican-born Glen Johnson’s eye-popping KO of Roy Jones Jr. in 2004 remains chillingly indelible as it showed a now vulnerable Roy stretched out for far too long a time.

One final Jamaican-related memory that won’t soon go away (though I wish I could erase it) involved Jamaican Richard “The Alien” Grant (19-13-1) who beat tough James “The Harlem Hammer” Butler in 2001. After, the fight, Grant approached the troubled Butler to hug him in a gesture of good sportsmanship but instead was sucker punched in the jaw. Butler was then arrested, convicted, and sent to jail. The unsuspecting Grant suffered a broken jaw. Butler would go on to infamy.

What made these fights memorable? They were all upsets—most major—and each was perpetrated by a Jamaican-born or Jamaican-by-ancestry fighter.

Ya mon!

The Memory Bank: Part One
The Memory Bank: Part Two
The Memory Bank: Part Three
The Memory Bank: Part Four
The Memory Bank: Part Five
The Memory Bank: Part Six
The Memory Bank: Part Seven
The Memory Bank: Part Eight
The Memory Bank: Part Nine
The Memory Bank: Part Ten
The Memory Bank: Part Eleven
The Memory Bank: Part Twelve
The Memory Bank: Part Thirteen
The Memory Bank: Part Fourteen
The Memory Bank: Part Fifteen
The Memory Bank: Part Sixteen
The Memory Bank: Part Seventeen
The Memory Bank: Part Eighteen

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Ovill McKenzie TKO2 Enzo Maccarinelli

Roberto Duran vs Kirkland Laing (Upset of the Year 1982)

Lloyd Honeyghan vs Donald Curry (Full Fight)

Tommy Morrison vs. Michael Bentt

Terry Norris vs. Simon Brown I (Highlights)

Richard Hall - Julian Letterlough

johnson ko's jones

"The Harder They Come" Jimmy Cliff

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  1. the thresher 01:46pm, 11/15/2012

    Tache, Ovill has lost two to Bellow who seems to have his number, but Ovill is one of those who seems to have 9 lives.

  2. the thresher 01:45pm, 11/15/2012

    B Red, no, he is from one of the Islands, but with his hair and snake, one could easly mistake him for a Ganga man.

  3. B Red 12:56pm, 11/15/2012

    Great article Ted. Isn’t Livingston Bramble from Jamaica if I’m not mistaken.

  4. The Tache 12:31pm, 11/15/2012

    I’m sure I saw Ovill McKenzie in an entertaining fight with Tony Bellow not too long ago. Looked like he had Bellow out cold early on but seem to remember he was stopped himself later on. Good scrap though.

  5. Tex Hassler 01:08pm, 11/14/2012

    I saw the Grant vs Butler fight. I also saw the police get into the ring and take Butler away and rightfully so.  He should have been banned for life.
    Jamaica is small but has produced some good fighters.

  6. the thresher 06:04am, 11/14/2012

    Ovill McKenzie’s TKO over Enzo Maccarinelli was grossly premature. Horrible call by an otherwise very capable referee.

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