THE RAGGAMUFFIN LLOYD HONEYGHAN
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Lloyd Honeyghan was born in St Elizabeth, Jamaica on 22nd April 1960. He learnt his boxing in Bermondsey’s Fisher Club, after his family moved to London as a youngster.
Honeyghan represented England as an amateur and won the London championship, before turning professional under the guidance of Terry Lawless. On 08th December 1980 he outpointed Mike Sullivan, who was also making his debut, over six rounds.
In January 1983 he outpointed Lloyd Hibbert over ten rounds in a British title eliminator. Two months later he picked up the Southern Area British welterweight belt, which was also a final eliminator for the British title when he knocked out Sid Smith in the fourth round. He finally challenged Cliff Gilpin for the vacant British title on 05th April 1983, winning a twelve round points decision, after suffering a knockdown in round two.
In January 1985 he knocked out future IBF light-middleweight champion Gianfranco Rossi, in the third round for the European crown, before splitting acrimoniously with Lawless.
Under new manager Mickey Duff, Honeyghan also added the Commonwealth title to his British and European belts by defeating Saint Lucia's Sylvester Mittee, who resided in London, via an eighth round TKO.
One victory later he challenged undisputed welterweight champion Don Curry on 27th September 1986. Th champion turned pro at the tail end of 1980, stopping Mario Tineo in the first round. In his twelfth contest he took the North American Boxing Federation title by defeating Bruce Finch in the fourth round.
Curry added Marlon Starling's United States Boxing Association belt to his NABF title with a twelve round split decision. Curry's record improved to 15-0 (11 KO's) while Starling dropped to 25-1 (16 KO's). In his next bout he outpointed South Korea's Jun-Suk Hwang, by scores of 148-140 and two cards of 146-139, for the vacant WBA welterweight title on 13th February 1983.
In February 1984 he faced Marlon Starling again, winning a fifteen unanimous decision, to add the IBF crown to his WBA belt. Six more victories, which included a visit to Britain, where he defeated Welshman Colin Jones in four rounds at the NEC in Birmingham, he added Milton McCrory's WBC championship to his collection to become the undisputed welterweight champion of the world.
Curry was seen at the time as the only credible opponent for undisputed middleweight champion Marvin Hagler. Many feared for Honeyghan's welfare, but the Londoner was defiant, saying “I ain’t scared of no man, I’ll bash him up.”
Honeyghan was so confident in his abilities that he backed himself to win by placing £25,000 on himself. Six rounds later Curry retired on his stool. His nose was broken and needed twenty stitches on a jagged gash over his left eye; in fact he looked like he’d been mauled by a cornered beast.
He defended the crown by stopping Johnny Bumphus in round two, out pointing future WBC welterweight champion Maurice Blocker and needed only 45 seconds to dismantle the dangerous Gene Hatcher in Marbella.
In 1986 Honeyghan relinquished his WBA belt in a stand against apartheid rather than defend it against South African Harold Volbrecht.
He lost the WBC championship to the Mexican Jorge Vaca via an eighth round technical decision, due to a clash of heads that caused a cut to the challenger in October 1987. He was also stripped of the IBF title as the Vaca fight was scheduled for twelve rounds, instead of their mandatory fifteen.
Honeyghan criticised his manager Mickey Duff after the defeat, with Duff retaliating “There’s nothing in our contract that says we have to like each other.”
With an all out assault Honeyghan regained the WBC title with a third round knockout, avenging his October loss to Vaca in March 1987 at Wembley Arena, London. He defended the belt against Yung-Kil Chung, keeping the belt after a fifth round TKO, as the challenger was unable to continue after being hit low by Honeyghan.
The following February Honeyghan travelled to Las Vegas and surrendered the green belt to Marlon Starling in nine rounds. He suffered nerve damage to his face in the early rounds. “Every-time he me it was like cutting me with a knife,” he said.
August 1989 saw the former champ win an unanimous ten round decision America's Delfino Marin. The victory set up a world title challenge to WBA welterweight champion Mark Breland in March 1990.
Breland went 110-1 as an amateur and lifted the welterweight Gold medal at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. He turned pro in the November of that year. He won sixteen fights in a row, with eleven stoppages and in his seventeenth paid contest took the vacant WBA welterweight title with a seventh round TKO victory over Harold Volbrecht.
He lost it in his first defence to Marlon Starling in the eleventh round, Two victories later he challenged Starling again, this time drawing a twelve rounder. Another two wins saw him challenge Seung-Seoul Lee for the vacant WBA belt. He became a two-time champion after a first round TKO.
Against Honeyghan the champion was making defence number four. At one press conference Honeyghan stated “Mark is such a nice guy, it’s a shame I have to beat him up you know.”
Breland, having a reach of 77ins meant that the challenger had to press the fight and force his man onto the back foot. Honeyghan started out quickly and missed with some arcing shots that Breland calmly stepped out of range. The challenger began to look uncomfortable as Breland let his left jab go. As he tried to get in close, he walked onto a left lead that caught him on the right side of his mouth, cutting his legs away from him. It didn’t look like a devastating punch, but it had an immediate effect on Honeyghan’s confidence.
The challenger backed off and tried to jab at distance, but with him leaning back from the waist he played right into the tall champion’s hands. Breland pushed him to the floor in the second then dropped him with another left lead. Honeyghan took an eight count and was immediately in trouble as the champion shook him off and floored him before the bell rang.
After 9 seconds of the third Honeyghan found himself on the canvas again. Staring defeat in the face he rose and bravely continued, trying to roll with the punches and get back into the contest. Breland knew he was in no danger and went for the finish, downing Honeyghan twice more, before referee Julio Alvarano applied the three knockdown rule, 45 seconds into the round, meaning that Breland could return to the United States as WBA champion.
Honeyghan was cruelly booed out of the ring by the British fans. But in his darkest time took defeat graciously and without excuses. He never boxed for a world title again.
Honeyghan didn't box for the rest of 1990, but returned to the ring as a light-middleweight on 10th January 1991, beating Mexican import Mario Olmedo in the fourth round due to a cut right eyebrow. He won his next five bouts through 1991 and 92, going the eight round distance once.
In January 1993 he won the Commonwealth light-middleweight title, stopping Mickey Hughes with a cut to the champions's nose in round five. On 26th June 1993 he travelled to Atlantic City and faced former IBF lightweight and WBA light-middleweight champion Vinny Pazienza.
Pazienza had his man down in the third round and finally in the tenth round Honeyghan's corner had seen enough and threw in the towel. At thirty-three it looked like it was all over for the former world welterweight champion, but Honeygahn returned to the ring on 02nd November 1993, stopping Steve Godwin in the sixth round.
His final bout took place on 25th February 1995, on the same bill as Nigel Benn's ill fated title defence against Gerald McClellan at the London Arena. Dodson competed in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games and was unbeaten as a professional in eleven contests. At twenty-four he was ten years younger than Honeyghan.
A solid left in the opening round from Dodson had Honeyghan's legs betraying him. He didn't go down, but used his experience to survive the first three minutes. Honeyghan improved immensely in the second round as he outboxed the young southpaw, landing some good right hands too. Honeyghan boxed with his hands down towards the end of the round Dodson had him pinned on the ropes, snapping the former world champion's head back. Referee Richard Davies intervened, ending Honeyghan's glittering career in the process.
His record stands at 43-5 with 30 knockouts.
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