THERE isn’t a foul time to speak about world flyweight title fights and champions.
Sunny Edwards defends his title on Saturday on the conventional residence of world flyweight champions, Wembley. There’s something surprisingly old school about flyweight, a division that brings again recollections of nice nights and horrible endings. And lots of motion.
The one-time hero of each seat in that previous constructing was Charlie Magri. He was identified, fairly bizarrely, as Champagne Charlie. He left sufficient of his blood and coronary heart and guts on the canvas within the Wembley ring that there ought to by rights be a blue plaque on the wall exterior. Charlie Bled Right here, that kind of factor.
This flyweight story is just not about little Charlie at Wembley. There’s a brief drive crucial on the North Round to get to Alexandra Palace. It’s 1985 and Magri is within the twilight of a profession that we nonetheless don’t give him full credit score for. He was the boxing prince of sold-out nights on the Empire Pool, to provide Wembley its identify from the time, and the Royal Albert Corridor.
Magri delivered masterful and emotional nights, successful and shedding titles in brawls; Magri may bang and be banged. An enormous 23 of his thirty wins have been by stoppage and each certainly one of his 5 defeats got here early. If you happen to purchased a ticket to see Magri struggle, you’d be out by about 9pm. Magri gained and misplaced the WBC flyweight title there and gained and misplaced in European title fights in that historic ring. How about this: Magri gained the British title in simply his third struggle, simply forty-two days after his professional debut and the weigh-in was on the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Sq.. Magri was an actual star, a bright-lights child.
As an indication of Magri’s potential, have a look at this mad statistic. In 1974, Magri went to Kiev for the European under-21 championships. It was the third version and the earlier two had additionally been behind the Iron Curtain. Little Charlie reached the ultimate, left with a silver. That got here near breaking a monopoly. There have been 11 weights and Jap European boxers had gained all 22 of the earlier gold medals; in Kiev this may be repeated, with the Soviets including seven extra to their outstanding haul of 11. Don’t despair at Bakhodir Jalolov combating as a professional after which placing on a vest to win world novice and Olympic gold, it isn’t new – the shamateur Jap Bloc children have been doing it 50 years in the past.
In 1985, Magri had gained and misplaced his titles. His face was proof of his sacrifices contained in the boxing ring. He was nonetheless an attraction, nonetheless may struggle. In February of that 12 months, he fought for the WBC title for the final time. But it surely was not straight ahead.
The opponent was Thailand’s Sot Chitalada. He had solely fought eight occasions; he had misplaced a world title struggle and knocked out 5 of the seven males he had crushed.
The struggle was made in Charlie’s sports activities store in Bethnal Inexperienced, and it’s richly comedian. And it’s all true, trustworthy.
Magri was nonetheless run and managed by Terry Lawless and his companions within the authorized cartel, together with the promoter, Mickey Duff. Nonetheless, Frank Warren, an upstart on the time, had a suggestion for Magri. A gathering was organized on the store and Magri’s supervisor and coach, Lawless was there, as was Warren and his matchmaker, Ernie Fossey.
The supply was within the area of 40,000 kilos and that was Magri’s second-highest purse. Lawless sulked and refused to speak on to Warren or Fossey. It was slapstick, however the deal was performed. It was good cash and there was no means the cartel was lacking out on that money.
“I needed to ask Charlie to ask Terry and Terry needed to inform Charlie to inform me,” stated Warren. “It went on like that. Nonetheless, we bought it throughout the road.”
I had the identical factor as soon as with Duff on the best way again from a present in Basildon in about 1992. He had banned me, however we shared a elevate. I swear, we talked the entire means with a person known as Ron Boddy working as a translator for the lunacy. Duff finally gained a court docket settlement, and we began speaking. It was solely enterprise, as he advised me.
It’s not the struggle you bear in mind. Magri harm Chitalada in spherical two. It’s a savage and brief struggle; Magri has a really nasty reduce over his left eye. On the finish of the fourth, Lawless pulls Magri out. It was an amazing stoppage. One decide had Chitalada in entrance, the opposite two had it a draw after 4.
“I knew how good he was after which I caught him, I went for him – I needed to have a go,” Magri stated. He did catch him and that’s at all times forgotten. Magri went and had a shoot-out with Chitalada. It was daring, it was silly, it was sensible – it was Charlie doing what Charlie at all times did. He could be a famous person at present.
The actual finish for Charlie Magri and his life and fights on the Empire Pool, Wembley, was the next 12 months. Duke McKenzie dropped and stopped him within the fifth. Amazingly, between the Chitalada and McKenzie fights, Magri went to Italy and gained the European title. Magri was a forlorn determine that evening at Wembley after McKenzie and wanted an arm throughout his shoulders. The followers weren’t there for him, the lengthy highway to flyweight glory was over. Within the damaged dressing room that evening a chilling alternate came about. It’s harsh, however true and captures our brutal sport.
Magri had a blood-stained towel over his head when Lawless sat down subsequent to him. “You’ll must rise up off your arse and exit and get an actual job now.” Wow, that’s chilly. As I stated, there may be by no means a foul time to share a flyweight story.