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Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Monday, 8 April 2002 16:54 UK

8. Colin Jones

By Sean Davies

Highlights: Colin Jones' two fights against Kirkland Laing

The welterweight from Gorseinon was taken into the Eddie Thomas stable and moulded into a fighter worthy of succeeding Howard Winstone and Ken Buchanan.

Jones possessed a knock-out punch in either hand, making him a threat at any level of the game.

Colin Jones

He came to prominence in a British-title clash with Kirkland Laing at Wembley Conference Centre in 1980, a classic confrontation between boxer and puncher.

Champion Laing dominated for nine rounds, before Jones connected with a right to the jaw - Laing's gum shield ended up in the third row, and its owner nearly followed.

A devastating finishing salvo ended the bout, the 'Gifted One' stopped when helpless on his feet, leaving Jones the new champion at the age of 21.

The Welshman claimed five more wins, adding the Commonwealth title to his collection when stopping Mark Harris, before a rematch against Laing at the Royal Albert Hall in April 1981.

The fight followed a near-identical pattern, Laing rattling up the points until the ninth.

Jones relentlessly pursued his prey, eventually connecting with a stunning left hook, a punch so decisive that there was no need for a follow-up, Laing counted out.

The Welshman was given a shot at the WBC title vacated by Sugar Ray Leonard.

He had to travel to Reno on 19 March, 1983, to meet the undefeated Detroit 'Ice Man' Milton McCrory, the fighter America had marked as Leonard's natural successor.

Jones was a huge underdog at the Convention Centre, but the Welshman set the pace from the outset.

"That was the best I ever fought and the best I ever felt," said Jones.

"I could have fought anyone in the world that night, and the tremendous backing from so many Welsh fans - most of them coal miners - gave me great heart.


"I kept plugging away, but credit to McCrory, he took some great shots and just kept going to build up a bit of a lead.

"Round nine was always a favourite of mine in every fight, so I raised it there and caught him with some superb shots.

"I thought it was going to be my day, but he survived and came out fighting in the 10th like a new man.

"I didn't know what to expect at the end, but I knew that a draw was a great decision for us, I knew we could come back and have a re-run."

That rematch came just five months later, on 13 August at the Dunes Hotel, Las Vegas.

"It was close to midday, outdoors in Las Vegas - obviously the heat was going to affect us more," said Jones.

I'd never lost any title fight I'd contested since the age of 11, so to hear the negative verdict for the first time was a bitter pill to swallow

Jones on the second McCrory fight

"But no excuses, I'd been out in Vegas preparing for four weeks before the fight."

The heat - soaring over 100 degrees fahrenheit - certainly affected Jones' father Raymond, who was working as a commentator for BBC Wales.

He dashed to ringside from his son's changing room, and proceeded to burn his mouth on the lip microphone that had been left exposed to the blazing sun!

Still, Colin Jones' confidence was high, but he had the worst possible start.

"I always liked to feel my way into a fight and to smoulder for the first few rounds," said Jones.

"But when I was doing that in the first he clipped me with a fantastic left hook after feinting the jab - and I was down.

Colin Jones and Eddie Thomas after Milton McCrory defeat

"Realising I was behind on points I thought that I'd better get flowing a bit quicker, so I kicked in the seventh round instead of the ninth.

"It was a great round for me, but again credit to McCrory, he survived the storm.

"I then managed an exceptional round nine and - as far as I was concerned - he was gone.

"I came out for the 10th ready to fire on all cylinders, only to be astounded that he'd recovered again and was able to fight as he did."

Jones' heroics proved insufficient as he dropped a controversial split decision.

"It would sound like sour grapes for me to say I thought I won - I didn't, and that's it," said Jones.

"I'd never lost any title fight I'd contested since the age of 11, so to hear the negative verdict for the first time was a bitter pill to swallow."

Jones did get one more shot at a world title, against Don Curry in Birmingham in 1985.

But by then the Welshman was past his peak and no match for the fast-rising Curry, who cut and stopped Jones in four brutal rounds to leave him as one of Wales' finest boxers never to wear a world title belt.

see also
Wales' pugilist princes
15 May 09 |  Boxing
Wales' greatest US fight nights
25 Mar 08 |  Boxing
Wales' boxing history in photos
24 May 09 |  Boxing
Wales' boxing world champions
25 Mar 08 |  Boxing
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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