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Who is Jamaica's No 1?

Published:Sunday | December 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Michael 'The Body Snatcher' McCallum. - File
Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters. - File
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The Body Snatcher vs The Axeman - McCallum a hard act to follow

Leroy Brown, Sunday Gleaner Writer

As Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters, the World Boxing Associa-tion super featherweight champion continues to climb to the top in boxing's firmament, there has inevitably been a comparison between his achievements and those of the boxer who is now regarded as the most successful Jamaican boxer ever, Michael 'The Body Snatcher' McCallum, a former many-time world champion.

McCallum excelled as both an amateur and a professional. As an amateur, he won gold medals all over the world. He was Jamaica's leading medal winner in the Caribbean, won gold medals in the Central American and Caribbean Games and the Commonwealth Games; won silver at the Pan American Games and was favoured to win the gold medal in the middleweight division at the Moscow Olympics in 1960, before coming down with appendicitis just days before the start of those games.

Walters also had a stellar amateur career, but his exploits were confined to the Caribbean. He was Jamaica's top amateur for many years, and was named the outstanding boxer in the Caribbean Amateur Boxing Association championships on two occasions.

Record comparison

No one is talking about their exploits as amateurs, however. What is being compared is how the record of Walters matches up with that of McCallum at this point of his career. It is a very interesting comparison.

Walters now has 25 fights, compiled over a period of six years, and has won them all, 21 inside the distance. He became a professional and had his first fight on August 2, 2008 in Panama. His first opponent was Estaban Ramos and they fought over four rounds. Walters came out victorious with a unanimous points decision.

He then went on to have five successful victories inside the distance by knockout and technical knockout (TKO). Another decision followed against Ovidio Mojica. What was interesting in that fight was that he was knocked down for the first time in his career in the fifth round, but came back to floor his opponent in the next round, and went on to win on points.

In his 13th fight, he fought for
the WBA Fedelatin featherweight title against Carlos Manuel Reyes and
won on points. He had four successful defences of that title, and then,
after 21 fights, all of which he won, he fought Daulis Prescott from
Colombia for the vacant WBA featherweight title, here in Jamaica. He won
the title by way of a seventh-round TKO, had two successful title
defences, then challenged Nonito Donaire for the WBA featherweight super
title. He won that title with a devastating sixth-round TKO victory,
flooring Donaire in round three and then finally in round
six.

The Body Snatcher

McCallum was
known as 'The Body Snatcher' because he threw punches to the body
relentlessly. He was not a one dimensional fighter, however, as he had a
very good jab, and his right and left hooks and uppercuts won him many
fights.

He started his career as a professional on
January 14, 1981, in Las Vegas, Nevada, against Rigoberto Lopez, and
knocked him out in four rounds. He went on to have a phenomenal streak
of victories inside the distance, stopping his first 14 opponents,
either by knockout or TKO.

Impressive
record

His impressive record, and especially the
knockout power that he possessed, put him in line for a world title
fight, and on October 19, 1984, he fought Sean Mannion for the vacant
WBA light middleweight title at boxing's Mecca, Madison Square Garden in
New York, United States. He, too, fought for and won his first world
title after previously winning 21 fights. After 25 fights in four and a
half years, his record, like that of Walters, was 25 wins, no losses,
with 21 victories inside the distance. This is a remarkable
coincidence.

McCallum went on to do great things. He
won other world titles in the middleweight and then the light
heavyweight division, beat some of the best fighters in the world, and
scored some of the most dramatic knockouts, the most notable being that
over Don Curry, in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 18, 1987. This is
catalogued as one of the great knockouts in boxing history. He had his
last fight on February 22, 1997, a loss to James Toney, and was admitted
to the International Hall of Fame in 2003. His record is 49 wins 36 by
knockout, five losses and one draw.

He won Jamaica's
Sportsman of the Year Award in 1978, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989 and
1990. He also received the National Honour Award, the Order of
Distinction, Officer Class, for his sporting
achievements.

Walters is still chasing his first
Sportsman of the Year award, and is definitely the favourite this year,
after his two dramatic title fight victories against Vic Darchinyan and
Nonito Donaire. Michael McCallum is undoubtedly a hard act to follow,
but there is no doubt that Walters will be making a bold bid to match
his records.

McCallum was known as 'The Body
Snatcher' because he threw punches to the body
relentlessly