1977-03-05 John Conteh w rsc 3 (15) Len Hutchins, The Stadium, Liverpool, England - WBC

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1977-03-05 John Conteh w rsc 3 (15) Len Hutchins, The Stadium, Liverpool, England - WBC. Referee: Sid Nathan. Both men started confidently, but before the opening session ended heads accidentally came together leaving the challenger with a badly gashed left eye. The second round saw Conteh (175) at his best, stabbing in solid left jabs followed by heavy rights, and Hutchins (173¾), who was beginning to be taken apart, was unable to match the power. Going after Hutchins with a vengeance in the third, Conteh battered his man with solid blows from both hands before a terrific left hook to the jaw had the American down. Up at around ‘seven’ it was clear that Hutchins was not fit to fight on and the referee wisely terminated the contest after 1.05 of the round had elapsed.

Conteh forfeited the WBC version of the title in May when he withdrew from a scheduled defence against Miguel Angel Cuello less than a week before the contest was due to take place. Luckily, Jesse Burnett, a man who had lost narrowly to Victor Galindez and beaten Australia’s Tony Mundine, was able to take Conteh’s place at short notice. It was thought that the prime reason for Conteh pulling out was due to him requiring better safeguards over his purse money and the matter went to London’s High Court as a matter of some urgency. The result was that the BBBoC were instructed to do everything in their power to stop the WBC from dethroning Conteh, although the Court had no powers to place an injunction on the WBC.

While the winner was told he would have to defend against the European champion, Mate Parlov, within 90 days, the fight eventually being contracted for 1 October, Conteh’s once glittering future lay in shreds. There seemed to be a jinx on Cuello v Parlov, as a succession of injuries suffered by the champion forced repeated postponements, which pushed the date on to January 1978.