Alameda, California (EastBayDaily) — “The Last Great Contenders,” written by Richard Poche, is an encyclopedic collection of contenders from the heavyweight division in the 1970s.
“I’ve always had a fondness for that time period in boxing history,” Poche said. “It was a lot of fun to research these fighters.”
The book contains profiles of over 50 boxers who fought during what many consider the most competitive era in boxing history.
“I didn’t include any profiles of the champions of that time period; Ali, Foreman, Frazier, or Holmes,” said Poche. “Enough has been written about them so it wouldn’t be entertaining for someone to read rehashed material. I wanted to write about the contenders who were on the cusp of making it to the big time. There were a handful of fighters who were ‘could haves’ and ‘should haves’ that were only one punch away.”
The book showcases bio pieces and promo pictures of boxers that have been long forgotten.
“Remember that cable t.v. was a rare luxury back then,” Poche continued. “A lot of these boxers had to establish a local following as not everyone could be showcased on network television. Guys like Boone Kirkman, Duane Bobick and “Florida” Al Jones aren’t remembered by the casual boxing fan of today. But back in the 1970s they were huge local heroes and drew very large crowds.”
Present day heavyweight championship fights now take place almost exclusively overseas. “The Last Great Contenders” celebrates an age where that would be unthinkable.
“Boxing fans in the seventies would have difficulty believing a future with Europeans being the dominant force,” Poche adds. “Euro fighters were stepping stones back in the day. They’ve caught up to us.”
The following fighters are profiled in “The Last Great Contenders” Pedro Agosto – Puerto Rican Champion Billy Aird – Clubfighter out of the UK Rahman Ali – Brother of Muhammad Ali Ibar Arrington – Steel chinned ex-Navy champion Jody Ballard – Sparring partner of the greats Duane Bobick – The most unduly criticized fighter of the era Rodney Bobick – Sparring partner for Ali, died in car accident Oscar Bonavena – The decade’s answer to Ricardo Mayorga Johnny Boudreaux – Fleet footed fighter out of Texas Joe Bugner – Big Hungarian fought Ali and Frazier back to back George Chuvalo – Granite jawed Canadian was never knocked down Henry Clark – San Francisco heavyweight who was California champion Dino Denis – Popular Massachusetts stick and mover Tony Doyle – Was considered Utah’s best boxing prospect Jim Lee Elder – Up and coming slugger who died from a brain tumor Lou Esa – Giant former bouncer out of Florida Mac Foster – Ex Marine who won 24 straight by knockout Jose Luis Garcia – Venezuelan slickster who ate himself out of contention Terry Hinke – Heavy left hooker who was Foreman’s sparring partner Morris Jackson – Boxer/puncher out of Nebraska Scrap Iron Johnson – The ultimate trial horse Florida Al Jones – Giant Miami prospect hampered by a hand injury Leroy Jones – Good boxer forced to retire because of detached retina Boone Kirkman -Popular draw out of Washington state Scott Ledoux – Minnesota brawler who always gave his best Alvin Blue Lewis – Detroit tough guy Pedro Lovell – Popular Argentinian who fought out of L.A. Ron Lyle – Denver slugger who gave Foreman hell Danny McAlinden – Aggressive Irish brawler Humphrey McBride – The decade’s answer to Butterbean Jeff Merritt – Brutal left hooker who was knocked out by drugs Larry Middleton – Army champ who played spoiler Fili Moala – Power punching Tongan Randy Neumann – Renaissance minded boxer who was a writer and model Wendell Newton – Bahamian sparring partner for the champs Ken Norton – Always gave Ali fits, the premier contender of the decade Jack O’Halloran – Giant (6’6”) slugger who suffered from a pituitary illness Jerry Quarry – One of the most popular fighters of the era Charlie Reno – Crafty but overweight clubfighter Young Sanford – Chicago journeyman managed by Redd Foxx Mike Schutte – Hard hitting South African they called “Tank” Earnie Shavers – Arguably the hardest hitting heavyweight of all time Mircea Simon – Romanian defector had brief pro career Howard Smith – One of the best out of Los Angeles Ron Stander – Engaged in gore fests with Frazier and Norton Paul Sykes – Psychotic jailbird out of Britain Mani Vaka – Free swinging Polynesian Stan Ward – Powerfully built Sacramento heavyweight Chuck Wepner – No fighter shed more blood Roy Williams – A rough character out of Philly Jimmy Young – Fought brawn with brains
“The Last Great Contenders” retails for $19.95 and is available at the Poche Pictures website at http://www.pochepictures.com/lastgreatcontenders.html