JEFF FENECH: "THE THUNDER FROM DOWN UNDER"

Updated: Aug 7, 2019


Jeff Fenech


Jeff Fenech was born on 28th May 1964 in St Peters, New South Wales, Australia and was the sixth child of Maltese immigrants. He was a delinquent tearaway, but channelled his aggression into boxing. A zest for learning and hard work were his keys to success, plus trainer Johnny Lewis, polished his boxing style and channelled all that determination. Fenech represented his country in the 1984 LA Olympics. After getting robbed in the quarter finals he turned professional on 12th October 1984. He stopped Bobby Williams in the second round in his home town of Marrickville, New South Wales and the rise of the 'Marrickville Mauler' was launched..

In his third bout he knocked out Junior Thompson to win the vacant super-flyweight Australian title, at the end of November 1984. Two contests later he took on Wayne Mulholland for the New South Wales State and the vacant South Pacific & South Seas bantamweight championships. Mulholland's corner threw in the towel whilst the referee was counting him out in the fifth round at the start of February 1985.

In fight number seven and just twenty-four rounds as a pro under his belt he challenged Satoshi Shingaki for the IBF bantamweight title on 26th April 1985. He took the belt after TKO-ing his man in the ninth round, bringing his record to 7-0, all stoppages.


A young Jeff Fenech

Just under two months later he made his first defence against the Filipino John Matienza, who boasted a 12-1 record. Fenech retained the crown with a sixth round TKO. In the July he stopped Liverpool's John Farrel in the ninth round in a non title fight and the following month TKO'd former champ Shingaki in the fourth.

He then moved up to featherweight and won his tenth straight stoppage victory in a row against the American Kenny Butts in round two. On 02nd December 1985, thirteen months after turning pro, he took on the unbeaten American challenger Jerome Coffee (26-0) in defence of his IBF crown. It was the first time he had to go the distance to win and after fifteen rounds was announced as the winner by unanimous decision.

In his next contest he moved up to the super-bantamweight division and faced the Mexican Daniel Zaragoza, Going the full ten rounds to inflict defeat number four on the Mexican's record. Fenech dropped back down to the bantamweight division to defend his IBF belt for the third and final time on 18th July 1986. He faced the unbeaten American Steve McCrory, winning by a fourteenth round TKO.

He didn't box again until April 1987, where he took on fellow countryman Tony Miller, for the Australian featherweight title. After twelve rounds Fenech was awarded the national title after an unanimous decision.

On 08th May 1987 he challenged WBC super-bantamweight champion Samarat Payakaroon. The title holder from Thailand had an unbeaten record of 14-0 (8 KO's). Fenech attacked his opponent from the openning bell. The challenger had to get off the canvas after a first round knockdown to eventually wear down the champion before the referee Arthur Mercante stopped the action in the fourth round.

In the July Fenech took on the much smaller Greg Richardson to retain the belt with a fifth round knockout. In October he made his second defence of the super-bantamweight crown against Carlos Zararte, the former WBC bantamweight champion. After a clash of heads in the fourth round, which cut Fenech, the contest went to the scorecards and the unbeaten Australian kept his title with a technical decision.

Fenech ended the year with a first round knockout over Argentina's Osmar Alfredo Avila. In March 1988 he challenged Victor Callejas for the vacant WBC featherweight title. Fenech knocked down the Puerto Rican in rounds three and eight before stopping him in the tenth round. Tyrone Downes was next for the three weight champion, but he stopped his man with a fifth round TKO.

On 30th November 1988 he put the green belt on the line against the American Georgie Navarro, winning again by a fifth round TKO. He started the new year with a twelve rounds points win over the tough Mexican Marcos Villasana, breaking both hands in the 118-109 (twice) and 117-109 decision.

Fenech next fought in November 1989, facing Mario Martinez in an eliminator for the WBC super-featherweight title. He had to get up from a sixth round knockdown to win by an unanimous decision and announced his retirement shortly after the contest, citing hand trouble.

He returned to the ring on 19th January 1991 against Canada's John Khalbhenn via a fourth round TKO. He next challenged the African great Azumah Nelson on 28th June 1991. The WBC super-featherweight title fight took place at the Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas on the Mike