James Smith (boxer)

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James Smith
Statistics
Real name James Smith
Nickname(s) Bonecrusher
Rated at Heavyweight
Height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Reach 82 in (208 cm)
Nationality American
Born (1953-09-17) September 17, 1953 (age 60)
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 62
Wins 44
Wins by KO 32
Losses 17
Draws 1
No contests 0

James "Bonecrusher" Smith (born September 17, 1953) is a former boxer who was, between December 1986 and March 1987, the WBA heavyweight champion, losing the title in his first defence. He was the first heavyweight champion with a college degree.

Early life[edit]

Smith was born in North Carolina. After graduating from high school in, he attended James Sprunt Community College in Kenansville, North Carolina, earning an associate's degree in Business Administration in 1973.[1] Two years later, he earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.[1]

Amateur career[edit]

After serving in the US military and working as a prison guard, Smith competed as an amateur compiling a record of 35-4, before turning professional in November 1981, at the late age of 28.

Pro career[edit]

He lost his first fight against James "Broad-Axe" Broad, a world class amateur and qualifier for the 1980 Olympics who was 2–0 as a pro. The fight was broadcast on ESPN, and Smith had come in at short notice and was not in great shape, looking out of depth against the skilled Broad. Smith was dropped in 4 rounds with body shots, and counted out.

The following year Smith upset future cruiserweight world champion and southpaw Ricky Parkey, then 2–0 as a pro, by winning a 6 round points decision. After scoring two knockouts, Smith followed up the Parkey win with another upset, an 8 round points decision over Chris McDonald, who was 8–0–1 as a pro and had been a top amateur. He went on to score nine straight knockouts, before traveling to the UK in 1984 to fight a world title eliminator against the hard hitting undefeated British prospect Frank Bruno, who was 21–0 (21 KO). Once again Bonecrusher would throw a spanner in the works. Having been outboxed with relative ease by Bruno for the first nine rounds, he unleashed a salvo of power punches to KO Bruno in the tenth and final round, and qualified for a world title shot. The fight showed all his strengths and weaknesses — he couldn't box with the best, but had a great chin and world class power in his both hands.

In November 1984 he fought the long reigning Larry Holmes for the IBF heavyweight championship. Holmes had a record of 45–0 and had won eighteen straight world title fights. After rocking Holmes several times, a waning Smith was stopped on advice of the doctor in the 12th round, due to a bad cut. He again was behind on points.

Smith came back in 1985 relegated to fighting on Don King undercards. He lost a 10 round decision to 19–0 amateur star and future world champ Tony Tubbs in an eliminator, won a 10 round decision over 18–1 Cuban contender Jose Ribalta, but then dropped a wide 12 round decision to ex-world champ Tim Witherspoon in a bid for Witherspoon's NABF belt.

1986 started no better as he dropped Marvis Frazier, also breaking Frazier's jaw, but still lost the 10 round decision. At this time Bonecrusher began consulting a psychiatrist. In his next fight he demolished hard-punching ex-world champ Mike Weaver in one round. He followed it up with two 10 round decisions over Jesse Ferguson (14–2) and David Bey (15–2), arguably his most important decision wins.

In December 1986, while preparing for a fight with the erratic Mitch "Blood" Green, Don King informed him at short notice that Tony Tubbs had dropped out of his upcoming challenge to reigning WBA champ Tim Witherspoon, and now Smith would be getting a rematch with his former conqueror, his second world title fight.

Knowing of Witherspoon's mental weariness and lack of passion due to a never ending legal war with King, and with a million dollar shot at WBC champ Mike Tyson looming for the winner, Smith came out fast. He dropped the usually durable Witherspoon three times in the opening round, scoring a shocking first round knockout and winning the WBA title.[2] After the Bruno fight it was the second biggest win of his career.

In March 1987 Smith put up his WBA belt against Tyson's WBC belt in Las Vegas, Nevada as part of a unification tournament. Tyson tried to throw bombs, and Smith held excessively, losing nearly every round in a boring fight. However it was in the final 30 seconds of the fight that Smith finally decided to let his hands go. A desperation right hand seemed to freeze Tyson, yet it was too late. Smith lost his world title on a wide points decision. The loss also had professional damaging consequences with Tyson's then manager Jim Jacobs who refused to put Smith on any future Tyson undercards.

Career end[edit]

He returned to the ring for a few months. He took on Brazilian contender Adilson "Maguila" Rodrigues in São Paulo, but dropped a very controversial decision.

In 1989, now aged 36, he took on the young power-punching Jamaican-Canadian Donovan (Razor) Ruddock. Smith's own punch power was still evident as he decked Ruddock hard in the 2nd round, but seemed to punch himself out trying to finish Ruddock, who was a crafty survivor. The next few rounds saw Smith tire, as Ruddock's youth and power overwhelmed him, knocking him clean out in the 7th round for the full 10 count. Ruddock would go on to become a star and feature in several high profile fights. Smith's career appeared to be over. He announced his retirement after the loss and said he would now pursue politics.

Smith was back in the ring only two months later, KOing journeyman Calvin Jones jaw and followed up with three more knockouts before being matched with former victim Mike Weaver in a battle of hard hitting ex-champs. This time Smith was resigned to having to win a dull 12 round points decision over Weaver, although he did score a knockdown in a brief moment of excitement. He also earned the superfluous WBA Americas belt, and a world ranking.

After a year layoff he was back, now aged 38, and scored six knockouts, including a notable 8 round knockout of the cement-skulled journeyman Everett (Bigfoot) Martin (who had just taken George Foreman the distance), and a first round knockout of equally hard hitting ex-contender Jeff Sims.

However he lost his world ranking and all his momentum in November 1991 when he dropped a shocking 10 round decision to club fighter Levi Billups who had a patchy 15–5 record. Smith looked under-prepared as he was banged around and generally outhustled by Billups. He rallied to knock down the underdog in the 9th, however it was too little too late.

Still active in 1992, now aged 39 and with a 33–9–1 record, Smith regained some credibility with a 10 round decision over Mark Wills. His old agitator Don King gave him another opportunity on one of his undercards and matched him with fellow aging warhorse Greg Page, in a battle of two ex-champs. In the opening round Bonecrusher tried to rush Page as he had done Witherspoon, however was decked himself for his efforts, and was outpunched easily by Page over the 10 round distance.

In 1993 Smith lost to undefeated southpaw and #1 contender Michael Moorer. The paying audience jeered the two passive fighters through to the 10 round finish, where Smith lost a lopsided decision.

It seemed at this point Smith was boxing now purely for the payday. He competed in the One-Night Heavyweight Tournament in Bay St Louis (not included in the official record, counted as show), where a group of heavies of varying quality would fight a series of 3 round fights with the winner being awarded one million dollars. He beat Lester Jackson and Marshall Tillman, before losing in the semi-final to Romanian prospect Daniel Dăncuţă. Smith's old buddy Tony (TNT) Tubbs eventually won.

In 1994 he was matched with power punching Tyson-lookalike Lionel Butler, who was highly ranked and on a red hot string of knockouts. Smith collapsed in 3 rounds, having offered little resistance.

Later that year he traveled to Europe to drop a points decision to German Axel Schulz, and then Denmark where he was stopped in 5 rounds due to a cut from a headbutt, courtesy of Brian Nielsen. Smith was overweight for both of these fights, and his days as a contender were definitely over.

He fought on and off for a few more years. In 1998 he traveled to Australia to battle fellow relic Joe Bugner for an obscure belt, but had to retire after one round when his shoulder popped out. The same injury ended a fight in 1999 with yet another aged fighter, old buddy Larry Holmes. After this Smith finally saw sense and hung up the gloves, aged 46 and with a record of 44–17–1 (32 KOs).

In 1995, James helped establish the North Carolina Boxing Commission. He served as its first chairman.[1]

Life after boxing[edit]

Smith became an ordained minister in 1996[1] and dedicated his life to helping young people stay clear of crime and drugs. Three years later, he retired from boxing.[1]

In 2004 Smith started the non-profit organization Champion For Kids Inc. to provide scholarships to high school students.

Smith began working as a recruiter and the Director of Intramural Athletics for Sandhills Community College in June 2005.[3]

He now works for the Working Families Party in New York City.[citation needed] He now lives in Myrtle Beach South Carolina.

Deeply committed to helping impoverished fighters, Smith was a guest at the Ring 10 Veterans Boxing Foundation 2nd Annual Fundraiser in 2012 where he expressed his support of initiatives to better provide for those in need.[4][5]

Professional boxing record[edit]

44 Wins (32 knockouts, 12 decisions), 17 Losses (7 knockouts, 10 decisions), 1 Draw [1]
Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Loss 44-17-1 United States Larry "Easton Assassin" Holmes TKO 8 18/06/1999 North Carolina Fayetteville, North Carolina, United States
Win 44-16-1 United States Dave Slaughter TKO 2 27/11/1998 Indiana Gary, Indiana, United States Referee stopped the bout at 1:50 of the second round.
Loss 43-16-1 Australia Joe Bugner RTD 1 04/07/1998 Australia Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia WBF World Heavyweight Title. Smith could not come out for the second round due to a shoulder injury.
Win 43-15-1 United States Lynwood Jones UD 8 25/02/1998 North Carolina Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
Win 42-15-1 Canada Troy Roberts TKO 3 11/04/1996 Canada Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Referee stopped the bout at 2:36 of the third round.
Win 41-15-1 United States Eli "The Prophet" Dixon TKO 2 22/08/1995 North Carolina Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
Win 40-15-1 Germany Bernd "Kojak" Friedrich SD 10 25/03/1995 Germany Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Loss 39-15-1 Denmark "Super" Brian Nielsen TKO 5 07/10/1994 Denmark Copenhagen, Denmark
Loss 39-14-1 Germany Axel Schulz UD 10 17/09/1994 Germany Leverkusen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Loss 39-13-1 United States Lionel "The Train" Butler TKO 3 18/01/1994 Nebraska Omaha, Nebraska, United States Referee stopped the bout at 2:19 of the third round.
Win 39-12-1 United States Lester Jackson UD 3 03/12/1993 Mississippi Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, United States
Win 38-12-1 United States Marshall Tillman UD 3 03/12/1993 Mississippi Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, United States
Loss 37-12-1 Romania Daniel Dăncuţă UD 3 03/12/1993 Mississippi Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, United States
Win 37-11-1 United States Elijah "Phoenix Steel" Tillery TKO 6 14/09/1993 New Jersey Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States Referee stopped the bout at 2:51 of the sixth round. Tillery retired after fight.
Win 36-11-1 United States Andrew Stokes UD 10 07/08/1993 New Jersey Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States 99-87, 99-88, 96-90.
Win 35-11-1 United States Kevin Ford TKO 9 26/06/1993 New Jersey Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win 34-11-1 United States Donnell Wingfield TKO 2 01/06/1993 Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States Referee stopped the bout at 1:53 of the second round.
Loss 33-11-1 United States Michael "Double M" Moorer UD 10 27/02/1993 New Jersey Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States 92-98, 91-99, 93-98.
Loss 33-10-1 United States Greg Page UD 10 26/06/1992 Ohio Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Win 33-9-1 United States Danny Wofford TKO 8 24/04/1992 North Carolina Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
Win 32-9-1 United States Mark Anthony Wills UD 10 15/02/1992 Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States 96-94, 99-91, 96-94.
Win 31-9-1 United States Andre Crowder KO 1 13/12/1991 Illinois Countryside, Illinois, United States Crowder knocked out at 1:50 of the first round.
Loss 30-9-1 United States Levi "The Terminator" Billups UD 10 04/11/1991 California Inglewood, California, United States 91-98, 91-98, 94-96.
Win 30-8-1 United States Marshall Tillman TKO 10 24/09/1991 Louisiana Metairie, Louisiana, United States
Win 29-8-1 United States Jeff Sims KO 1 17/09/1991 Michigan Auburn Hills, Michigan, United States
Win 28-8-1 United States Everett "Bigfoot" Martin TKO 8 06/08/1991 California San Francisco, California, United States Referee stopped the bout at 0:50 of the eighth round.
Win 27-8-1 United States Kimmuel Odum TKO 3 22/07/1991 California Inglewood, California, United States IBC Junior World Heavyweight Title. Referee stopped the bout at 2:37 of the third round.
Win 26-8-1 United States Terry Armstrong KO 2 28/06/1991 France Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Win 25-8-1 United States Lawrence "Poncho" Carter TKO 1 28/04/1991 North Carolina Raleigh, North Carolina, United States Referee stopped the bout at 2:28 of the first round.
Win 24-8-1 United States Mike "Hercules" Weaver UD 12 04/04/1990 New York New York City, United States WBA Americas Heavyweight Title. 118-109, 117-110, 118-107.
Win 23-8-1 United States Manoel De Almeida RTD 6 20/02/1990 New Jersey Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States Almeida did not come out for the seventh round.
Win 22-8-1 United States Mike "Big House" Rouse KO 7 14/12/1989 Missouri Saint Joseph, Missouri, United States
Win 21-8-1 United States Jesse "The Tank" McGhee TKO 2 21/10/1989 North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Win 20-8-1 United States Calvin "Concrete" Jones TKO 8 29/09/1989 North Carolina Durham, North Carolina, United States
Loss 19-8-1 Canada Donovan "Razor" Ruddock KO 7 02/07/1989 North Carolina Fayetteville, North Carolina, United States Smith knocked out at 2:18 of the seventh round.
Draw 19-7-1 United States Mike "Big House" Rouse TD 3 30/07/1988 New Jersey Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States Rouse suffered a severe cut from an accidental headbut and could not continue after the third round.
Loss 19-7 Brazil Adilson Rodrigues SD 10 09/08/1987 Brazil Sao Paulo, Brazil 96-98, 97-98, 100-91.
Loss 19-6 United States "Iron" Mike Tyson UD 12 07/03/1987 Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States WBC/WBA World Heavyweight Titles. 106-120, 107-119, 107-119.
Win 19-5 United States "Terrible" Tim Witherspoon KO 1 12/12/1986 New York New York City, United States WBA World Heavyweight Title. Witherspoon knocked out at 2:12 of the first round.
Win 18-5 United States David "Hand Grenade" Bey UD 10 23/08/1986 North Carolina Fayetteville, North Carolina, United States 98-92, 98-91, 97-92.
Win 17-5 United States Jesse "The Boogieman" Ferguson MD 10 07/06/1986 Bermuda Hamilton, Bermuda 96-96, 98-94, 97-95.
Win 16-5 United States Mike "Hercules" Weaver TKO 1 05/04/1986 New York Latham, New York, United States Refree stopped the bout at 2:29 of the first round.
Loss 15-5 United States Marvis Frazier UD 10 23/02/1986 California Richmond, California, United States 95-96, 93-97, 95-96.
Loss 15-4 United States "Terrible" Tim Witherspoon UD 12 15/06/1985 Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States NABF Heavyweight Title. 109-119, 109-119, 109-119.
Win 15-3 Cuba Jose "El Nino" Ribalta SD 10 29/04/1985 New York Buffalo, New York, United States
Loss 14-3 United States Tony "TNT" Tubbs UD 10 15/03/1985 Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States 93-97, 93-97, 93-97.
Loss 14-2 United States Larry "Easton Assassin" Holmes TKO 12 09/11/1984 Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States IBF World Heavyweight Title. Referee stopped the bout at 2:10 of the 12th round.
Win 14-1 United Kingdom Frank Bruno KO 10 13/05/1984 United Kingdom Wembley, London, United Kingdom
Win 13-1 United States Rahim Muhammad TKO 5 19/02/1984 Florida Tampa, Florida, United States
Win 12-1 United States Leroy Boone TKO 4 04/11/1983 Florida Tampa, Florida, United States
Win 11-1 United States Walter Santemore TKO 4 23/08/1983 New Jersey Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win 10-1 United States Eugene Cato KO 4 14/06/1983 South Carolina Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Win 9-1 United States Lynwood Jones TKO 2 10/05/1983 New Jersey Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win 8-1 United States Lee Cohen KO 1 23/04/1983 New York New York City, United States
Win 7-1 United States Nate Robinson TKO 2 02/04/1983 Pennsylvania Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States Referee stopped the bout at 1:35 of the second round.
Win 6-1 United States Larry Givens TKO 3 14/12/1982 New Jersey Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win 5-1 United States Lonnie Chapman KO 2 16/10/1982 North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Win 4-1 United States Chris McDonald PTS 8 11/09/1982 New Jersey Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win 3-1 United States Louis Alexander KO 2 31/07/1982 New Jersey Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win 2-1 United States Mike Cohen KO 2 22/04/1982 South Carolina Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Win 1-1 United States Ricky Parkey PTS 6 30/01/1982 Tennessee Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
Loss 0-1 United States James "Broad Axe" Broad TKO 4 05/11/1981 New Jersey Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States Referee stopped the bout at 1:07 of the fourth round.

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Tim Witherspoon
Heavyweight boxing champion (WBA)
1986–1987
Succeeded by
Mike Tyson