Late-Spring Buffalo Trip Spelled Trouble For Mancini, Bumphus


By Lyle Fitzsimmons

It was our first time at a live fight card … and the end of a pair of eras.

When old pal Phil MacDonald and I hopped in my dad’s Chevy Caprice for a trip from hometown Niagara Falls to the Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo 34 years ago this week – this Friday, to be exact – the consensus around town leaned more toward prolonged reigns than title-shifting storms.

The city’s first major boxing show in decades was intended as a dual showcase for high-profile incumbents and TV staples Johnny Bumphus and Ray Mancini – “Bump City” and “Boom Boom” – against less-accomplished suitors Gene Hatcher and Livingstone Bramble.

Hatcher and Bramble were just recognizable enough for cameos on ESPN and entertaining bluster at mid-week press conferences, but neither had measured up in the ring to a bejeweled pair that entered with 51 wins and four title defenses in 52 fights.

Hatcher’s biggest pre-Bumphus moments had been a pair of losses – to eventual lightweight title challenger Tyrone Crawley in Atlantic City and longtime 130-pound champion Alfredo Escalera at Madison Square Garden. And Bramble, though he’d lost just once in 22 fights, had beaten little better than the Kenny Bogners and Rafael Williamses of the world.

The purses reflected the pre-fight contrasts in significance, with champions Mancini and Bumphus making $1 million and $175,000, respectively, while sacrificial challengers Bramble and Hatcher received the comparable pittances of $125,000 and $75,000.

But within a couple hours, the castes dramatically changed … financial and otherwise.


Far ahead on scorecards through 10 rounds, Bumphus abruptly ran short of gas in round 11 and was on the losing end of a controversial stoppage by referee Johnny LoBianco at 2:35.

Michael Katz, then of the New York Times, described it this way:

“As hurt as he was, Bumphus, now 22-1, was not finished fighting. He went after Hatcher and even local policemen were needed to restrain him. ‘I would like to apologize to the public for my actions,’ he said afterward. ‘I was upset. The fight should never have been stopped.’ While Bumphus was chasing Hatcher, Lou Duva, Bumphus's 62-year-old manager, went after LoBianco. John Branca, the New York State Athletic Commissioner, later said there might be disciplinary action against Duva and Bumphus.”

The melee did nothing to change the result and the Duva-groomed southpaw never again held a title – in fact lasting less than four minutes in a challenge of welterweight Lloyd Honeyghan in his final pro fight less than three years later. Hatcher fared little better, winning and losing the WBA 140-pound title in two bouts with Argentine veteran Ubaldo Sacco within 13 months of coronation, and also falling to Honeyghan at 147 pounds – in just 45 seconds – six months after Bumphus’ failure in 1987.

In fact, Hatcher dropped five of 15 fights before retiring in 1995.

As it turned out, the main event never really came close to chalk.

An accomplished counter-puncher, Bramble continually exploited Mancini’s porous defense and sliced up the Ohioan’s face before registering the TKO and snatching the WBA lightweight crown little more than 90 seconds into round 14. Nevertheless, Mancini was dubiously ahead on two cards at the time of the stoppage – 124-123 and 125-122 – while a third had Bramble up, 126-121.

This time, Katz wrote:

“At the end, he was standing helpless, his hands at his side, his nearly closed eyes seemingly looking for help. But not even his big heart or the judges' benevolent scoring could save Ray (Boom Boom) Mancini tonight. Livingstone Bramble, who raises fighting pit bull terriers, fought like one and scored a dramatic 14th-round knockout of Mancini to win the World Boxing Association lightweight championship.”

Bramble performed a similar bloodletting en route to scorecard supremacy in a rematch nine months later in Reno, but managed just one more defense – against Crawley – before a second-round KO by Edwin Rosario violently ended his reign in 1986. A lapse into prolonged mediocrity followed his title change; with Bramble playing out a 16-25-2 string over 43 fights until calling it quits in 1997.

The first Bramble fight snuffed out a big payday against Hector Camacho, who looked crestfallen at ringside in Buffalo as his would-be payday fizzled. As it turned out, Mancini never won again, eventually dropping a vacant WBO title try against Camacho via split decision long past its sell-by date in 1989, and retiring for good after a seventh-round loss to Greg Haugen in 1992.

He was voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2014.

“(Camacho) was a terrific fighter, but I felt in 15 rounds I'd break him down, I'd wear him down and eventually catch him. And he didn't have a great chin, so I thought eventually I'd get that chin,” Mancini told me years later. “We had basically come to an agreement with Camacho, but the WBA said if you don't fight Bramble we're going to strip you. When we talked about it the first time, it should have happened back then.”

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

This week’s title-fight schedule:

IBO cruiserweight title -- Baku, Azerbaijan
Kevin Lerena (champion/No. 6 IWBR) vs. Roman Golovashchenko (Unranked IBO/No. 17 IWBR)
Lerena (20-1, 9 KO): Second title defense; Second fight outside of South Africa (1-0, 0 KO)
Golovashchenko (19-1, 17 KO): First title fight; Twelve straight wins by KO/TKO (30 total rounds)
Fitzbitz says: The champion is a skilled southpaw who’s elevated himself to a world-class level, but the vibe here is that the rugged Ukrainian will simply be too much. Golovashchenko in 8 (60/40)

Last week's picks: 3-0 (WIN: Shiro, Ancajas, Yafai)
2018 picks record: 37-17 (68.5 percent)
Overall picks record: 958-321 (74.9 percent)

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.

Tags: boxing image  
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Pakutu93 on 05-29-2018

[QUOTE=nycsmooth;18814124]He was the darling of the press because of his style with his head first defense and no way he is a Hall of thing fighter it's a disgrace to the guys at did get in the hood deserve it…

Comment by NachoMan on 05-29-2018

[QUOTE=nycsmooth;18814124]He was the darling of the press because of his style with his head first defense and no way he is a Hall of thing fighter it's a disgrace to the guys at did get in the hood deserve it…

Comment by nycsmooth on 05-29-2018

He was the darling of the press because of his style with his head first defense and no way he is a Hall of thing fighter it's a disgrace to the guys at did get in the hood deserve it…

Comment by clemenza on 05-29-2018

Bramble was at his best that night, Everyone knows that Ray was not the same fighter after the Kim fight, but i still think he beat Camacho

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (4)
Top Headlines Dorticos on Masternak: I See a Man With KO Written on His Face Dogboe vs. Navarrete Set Down For Lomachenko-Pedraza Manny Pacquiao: Adrien Broner Fight is Next, January 12 or 19 Mayweather Believes He Can Get $200M Guarantee For Khabib Scott Harrison Begins His Comeback on December 8 Canelo, Oscar De La Hoya, DAZN Discuss New Mega-Deal Jessie Vargas Hopes To Return To The Ring By March Tevin Farmer: The Gervonta Davis Fight Won't Make Or Break Me Luis Ortiz Manager on Possible Hearn Deal, Status of Return Kautondokwa Warns: Andrade is Facing a Real Executioner! Sugar Ray Leonard: Joshua-Wilder is a Fight Made in Heaven Bradley Skeete Reacts To Talk of Gary Corcoran Clash Canelo's Deal With DAZN is 11 Fights, $365 Million Guarantee Iain Butcher vs. Ukashir Farooq For British Title on Nov. 30 Arum: Nobody Sees Al Haymon or Talks To Him - It's Not Normal! Dereck Chisora Inks Management Deal With David Haye Exciting Card Scheduled for the WBO Convention in Panama Farmer: I'm Still Learning on The Job Every Day, It's Just Scary Canelo: Mayweather Should Return The Right Way - Fight Me! Jason Moloney Confident of Shocking Emmanuel Rodriguez Canelo: I'm Taking a Big Risk Entering Fielding's Comfort Zone Juan Heraldez-Maynard Allison Set For Mayweather Card, 10/27 Photos: Canelo, Rocky Fielding - Size Each Other Up in NYC Marcus Browne Arrested, 3rd Domestic Incident Since December Miguel Berchelt vs. Miguel Roman - Undercard Revealed Wilder Manager To Hearn: After Fury Fight, We Can Talk Joshua DAZN To Stream Canelo-Fielding Card, Future Canelo Fights Dmitry Bivol: I Want To Unify All Four Belts Like Usyk Did Tevin Farmer To Gervonta Davis: Enough Talk, I Want You Next! Dmitry Bivol vs. Jean Pascal is Confirmed For November 24, HBO Crawford vs. Spence - CompuBox Head To Head Analysis Khabib's Dad Wants Mike Tyson, Loma Sr. For Mayweather Bout Crawford-Benavidez ESPN Show Averaged 2.245 Million Viewers Mark Heffron To Vie For Vacant British Belt, Welborn Vacates Jarrell Miller Moving Forward With Plan To Win WBA 'Regular' Belt Crawford Frustrated at Times; "I Don't Get the Credit I Deserve" Arum: Mayweather Wouldn’t Have Gone For KO Like Crawford Kautondokwa's Promoter Expects Saunders To Bounce Back Zolani Tete Hopes Mayweather Sr. Will Provide Boost in WBSS Johnny Garton Expects a Real Fire Fight With Gary Corcoran

Latest Active Forum Threads