This past weekend saw boxing fans around the world tuning in for Sergio Gabriel Martinez' title defense against Martin Murray. Originally the bout was scheduled for a late started though on the night it was brought forward by 2 hours due to a nasty storm that saw the ring, and the fans around it getting soaked. The setting wasn't great for a fight and with it being Martinez's first fight in Argentina in over a decade it certainly left a damp feeling for all those in attendance.
With the bout being televised on Boxnation we were just waiting for a mention of the now infamous bout between Jimmy Carruthers and Chamroen Songkitrat though sadly "boxing expert" (I use that term very lightly) Steve Bunce managed to not only not name the bout but also declare it occurred in Australia. Bunce however was wrong, the infamous bout took place in Thailand way back in 1954.
Going in to the bout Carruthers (then 18-0, 11) was the world Bantamweight champion and had been since beating Vic Toweel back in 1952. His challenger was Chamroen Songkitrat (then 6-1-1, 2) who was at home in the
National Stadium Gymnasium, Bangkok, Thailand.
Prior to the bout there had been a really serious storm (one that one would have made the fans in Argentina think twice) though over 60,000 people had made their way there in the hope that Songkitrat could become the first ever Thai boxing world champion.
Sadly for the fighters the storm had left the ring more like an ice rink than a boxing ring with the boots likely to slide on the canvas. Instead of calling the bout off Ring magazine founder Nat Fleischer, who had been invited there by the ruler General Pichai suggested that the bout should be fought barefooted.
The fighters not only had to fight barefoot but also experienced the nightmare of the light bulbs above them exploding and raining shards of glass on the two fighters in the ring.
Despite the genuinely awkward conditions Carruthers would retain his belt, then soon afterwards announce his retirement. Sadly his retirement lasted just 7 years before an ill fated comeback saw Carruthers scoring 1 win and losing 4 bouts as his record fell to 21-4 (13).
For Songkitrat, who put up a genuinely solid challenge despite the lack of experience he would fight on though lose in 3 of his subsequent 5 bouts including title bouts with Robert Cohen and Raton Macias before retiring in 1958 with a record of 8-5-1 (2).
This bout, to this day, still remains the only world title bout in the history of "the gloved era" to have been
Like Carruthers, the bout, in horrid conditions, really did suggest that it was time for Martinez to hang them up, hopefully, for the sake of his legacy he makes the right decision here.
Some fights demand a rematch and some rematches demand a rubber match. We've seen it with great trilogies such as Ali v Frazier, Ali v Norton, Ward v Gatti, Barrera v Morales, Zale v Graciano and Patterson v Johansson. Other fights however don't deserve rematches, much less a series of 3 bouts, one such case was between "king of the 4 rounders" Eric 'Butterbean' Esch and Harry Funmaker (who we need to say has a genuinely fantastic name).
Esch and Funmaker met for the first time back in 1998 fighting for the IBA Heavyweight title over the course of 4 rounds. In that bout Esch claimed a decision to move his respectable looking record to an impressive 37-1-1 whilst Funmaker dropped to 9-10.
The two men then fought a rematch in 2000 with Esch again claiming the victory via a decision in a 4 round contest. This saw Esch moving to an even more impressive looking 61-1-2 whilst Funmaker again fell to a losing record as he dropped to 14-15.
Amazingly despite the fact Esch had gone 2-0 against Funmaker someone thought it was a brilliant idea to have them meeting for a 3rd bout in 2009, 11 years after their first battle (which was actually televised on ESPN). By then Esch had seen his record fall to 77-7-4 and he had lost 4 of his previous 9 dating back over 4 years! The "Bean" wasn't just on the slide but he was also well over 40 and had been all but forgotten by boxing fans who had thought the affable and rotund fighter had retired.
Of course it wasn't just Esch that had aged and Funmaker himself was 46! In fact Funmaker had been out of the ring for nigh on 4 years and had only fought once in 6 years!
Amazingly Funmaker managed to avenge his losses to Esch as he claimed a split decision over the the popular but much forgotten "Butterbean" who had by now lost the appeal of being a bit of a "side show freak". Sadly the growing trend of fatter Heavyweights had presumably ruined the Butterbean gimmick and Esch would fight just once more as a professional, losing to Curt Allan in 2012 before retiring (hopefully for good) with a record of 77-9-4(58).
Funmaker, like Esch would fight until January 2012, in fact Funmarker managed a nice little string of wins before losing to Billy Wright in a PABA Heavyweight title bout (some how Funmaker qualified for that, not sure how) before retiring with a record of 19-18-0-1 (6) calling an end to a career that had started way back in 1989.