10 first opponents for future heavyweight champions


We list 10 fighters who greeted future heavyweight kings to the professional ranks

  1. LIONEL BUTLER
    The hard-hitting Butler went from losing to debutant Riddick Bowe in 1989 to securing a WBC eliminator with Lennox Lewis in 1995. He eventually quit in 2010 with a record of 32-17-1 (25).
  2. HOWARD SMITH
    Eight years before he claimed the WBA strap in 1980, Mike Weaver lost to Smith in his first two professional outings. Howard also fought Earnie Shavers and his final tally was a decent 17-2 (10).
  3. TUNNEY HUNSAKER
    Six months before losing over six rounds to Cassius Clay, Hunsaker lasted into the ninth round with former world title challenger, Tom McNeeley. He would retire in 1962 with a respectable 19-15-1 (10) record.
  4. JAMES BROAD
    The talented Greensboro man was 2-0 when he knocked out future WBA titlist, James “Bonecrusher” Smith in his 1981 debut. He retired in 1993 at 23-10 (15).
  5. AL MALCOLM
    Malcolm, who lost to Lennox Lewis in 1989, was a solid professional who couldn’t quite cut it at the top of domestic level. Though he won a Midlands Area belt, he came up short against Gary Mason, Hughroy Currie, Noel Quarless and Michael Murray.
  6. DON WALDHAM
    By lasting into the third round with George Foreman in 1969, Waldham managed to go longer than many of the heavyweight slugger’s future foes. Waldham, 5-5-2, did not fight again.
  7. WOODY GOSS
    Goss was stopped in the opening round by Joe Frazier in 1965 when he refused to stop clinging to the future king after being dropped. He engaged in two bouts with notable heavy, Jack O’Halloran, before walking away in 1969 with a record of 6-5-2 (3).
  8. LUPE GUERRA
    Frank Bruno’s debut opponent mixed with decent company. Guerra, flattened by Big Frank in one round in 1982, also fought (and was hammered by) Leon Spinks, Tony Tucker and Jerry Quarry.
  9. RODELL DUPREE
    After lasting the four-round course with Larry Holmes in 1973, Dupree went on to be stopped by some fighters who would unsuccessfully challenge Larry when he was champ, like Renaldo Snipes and Randall “Tex” Cobb.
  10. HECTOR MERCEDES
    It didn’t get much better for Mercedes after he was steamrolled by young Mike Tyson in 1985. The only other notable name on his 1-10 record is Paul Poirier, who stopped Mercedes in two.



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