BRITISH boxing legend Alan Minter has died aged 69 after a long battle with cancer.
Minter is assured of an honourable place in British boxing history because he was the undisputed world middleweight champion and one of the sport's stars of the 1980s.
Minter died yesterday in a Guildford hospital.
He was crowned middleweight champion of the world when he outpointed Vito Antuofermo in Las Vegas in March 1980.
It was a hotly disputed split decision.
British referee Roland Dakin, by awarding Minter 13 of the 15 rounds, caused an almighty row with the Antuofermo camp.
It led to an immediate re-match at Wembley three months later.
This time there were no arguments as the Crawley southpaw overwhelmed the Italian-American stopping him in the eighth round.
Unfortunately Minter's reign lasted just another three months when he lost his crown against Marvin Hagler, then relatively unknown in this country.
Unfortunately the fight will always be remembered for the wrong reasons.
In just over seven minutes Hagler's flashing fists cut Minter's face to ribbons.
With Minter bleeding profusely from deep gashes over both eye the fight was stopped midway through the third round which provoked Alan's fans – many of them National Front supporters – to disgracefully bombard the ring with beer bottles and other debris.
Hagler couldn't celebrate winning the world title and receive the acclaim he deserved as he had to be given police protection to get safely back to his dressing room under a further missile attack.
I shall never forget one of those charming hooligans yelling at Marvin's wife: "I hope your husband gets cancer".
I first got to know Alan at the 1972 Munich Olympics when he was robbed of a gold medal – his German opponent got a hometown decision in the quarter-final leaving him with a consolation bronze.
He was British, Commonwealth and European champion before winning the world title and his trilogy against Kevin Finnegan – he won all three 15 round battles – were minor classics.
He retired at 29 after being stopped by Tony Sibson and will be remembered for being the kind of fighter who always gave the paying customers value for their money.
His son Ross said yesterday: "Dad was extremely proud of being undisputed world champion and I was always very proud when I was out with him to see how popular he was with people long after he had retired."
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