Aaron Pryor

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Aaron Pryor
Statistics
Nickname(s) The Hawk
Rated at Light Welterweight
Height 5 ft 6 in (168 cm)
Reach 69 in (175 cm)
Nationality American
Born (1955-10-20)October 20, 1955
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Died October 9, 2016(2016-10-09) (aged 60)
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 40
Wins 39
Wins by KO 35
Losses 1

Aaron Pryor (October 20, 1955 – October 9, 2016) was an American professional boxer who competed from 1976 to 1990. He was a two-time light welterweight world champion, having held the WBA title from 1980 to 1983, and the IBF title from 1984 to 1985. Additionally, he held the Ring magazine title from 1980 to 1983, and the lineal title from 1983 to 1986.

Pryor was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996, and in 1999 was voted by the Associated Press as the world's best light welterweight of the 20th century.[1]

Amateur career[edit]

Pryor, nicknamed The Hawk, had a record of 204 wins and 16 losses as an amateur. He won the National Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Lightweight Championship in 1973. In 1975, Pryor again won the National AAU Lightweight Championship and a silver medal at the Pan American Games, losing in the final to Canadian Chris Clarke.

Pryor beat future champion Thomas Hearns in the lightweight finals of the 1976 National Golden Gloves, but lost to Howard Davis Jr. at the 1976 Olympic Trials. Pryor participated as an alternate in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

Professional career[edit]

Pryor turned professional on November 11, 1976 with a second-round knockout of Larry Smith, for which he made $400. A few days later, Pryor signed a managerial contract with Buddy LaRosa, owner of LaRosa's Pizzeria. He was also trained by Raymond Cartier.

Pryor fought eight times in 1977, winning all but two by knockout. The only two fighters who lasted the entire fight with Pryor that year were Jose Resto and Johnny Summerhayes, each losing by an eight-round unanimous decision. After the fight with Summerhayes, Pryor won 26 fights in a row by knockout. It was one of the longest knockout streaks in the history of boxing.

In his last fight of 1979, Pryor was pitted for the first time ever against a former or future world champion when he faced former WBA light welterweight champion Alfonso "Peppermint" Frazer of Panama. Pryor knocked out Frazer in the fifth round, advancing his fight record to 20-0 with 18 knockouts. After defeating Fraser, Pryor entered the World Boxing Association rankings.

On August 2, 1980, Pryor faced two-time world champion Antonio Cervantes of Colombia for the WBA light welterweight championship. His purse was $50,000. The fight took place in Pryor's hometown of Cincinnati and was nationally televised by the CBS network. Pryor was knocked down in round one, but he rose and knocked out Cervantes in round four to become champion. He made his first title defense on November 22, 1980, knocking out Gaetan Hart in the sixth round. Pryor made $100,000 for the fight.

In December 1980, Pryor rejected an offer of $500,000 to fight Sugar Ray Leonard for the WBC welterweight championship because he wanted more money. When the WBC raised the offer to $750,000, he rejected that as well.[2] Pryor signed to fight WBC light welterweight champion Saoul Mamby in a unification bout for $1 million. The bout was tentatively scheduled for February 7, 1981. However, the fight fell apart when the promoter, Harold Smith, disappeared amid allegations that he was involved in a $21.3 million fraud against Wells Fargo National Bank. Smith, whose real name was Ross Fields, was later sentenced to ten years in prison after he was convicted of 29 counts of fraud and embezzlement.[3][4]

Pryor was then offered $750,000 to fight Roberto Duran in April 1981, but Pryor turned it down because his new attorney told him not to sign anything until he worked out a new contract with manager Buddy LaRosa. By the time they worked out a new agreement, the chance to fight Duran was gone.[5]

On June 27, 1981, Pryor knocked out Lennox Blackmore in the second round. He then defended the title against undefeated Dujuan Johnson on November 14, 1981. Johnson knocked down Pryor in the first round one, but Pryor came back to stop Johnson in the seventh round.

Pryor knocked out Miguel Montilla in the twelfth round on March 21, 1982. His next title defense was against the undefeated Akio Kameda of Japan. The fight took place on July 4, 1982. Once again, Pryor was knocked down in the first round but came back to score a sixth-round knockout.

Pryor signed to face Sugar Ray Leonard for the undisputed welterweight championship in the fall of 1982 for $750,000. But before fighting Pryor, Leonard first had to defend his title against Roger Stafford in Buffalo, New York on May 14, 1982. The Sunday before that bout, Pryor was driving to Buffalo from his Cincinnati home to taunt Leonard and hype their planned bout. Pryor heard on his car radio the news that Leonard had suffered a detached retina in his left eye and the fight was off. "I pulled off to the side of the road and I cried," Pryor said. Leonard retired six months later.[6]

Bouts with Alexis Arguello[edit]

On November 12, 1982, Pryor defended his title with a fourteenth-round TKO of Alexis Arguello before a crowd of 23,800 at Miami's Orange Bowl and a live HBO audience. The fight, dubbed The Battle of The Champions by promoter Bob Arum, was eventually named the Fight of the Decade by The Ring.

Pryor made $1.6 million while Arguello was paid $1.5 million. Arguello, a 12-5 favorite, was attempting to become the first boxer to win world titles in four weight divisions.

The end of the fight was controversial. Arguello landed a punch in the thirteenth round that seemed to stun Pryor, and despite trailing on two of three scorecards, Arguello had things tilting in his direction. Between the thirteenth and fourteenth rounds, HBO's microphones caught Pryor's trainer, Panama Lewis, telling cutman Artie Curley, "Give me the other bottle, the one I mixed."

It seemed to revive Pryor. Coming out quickly for the fourteenth round, Pryor landed a barrage of unanswered blows before referee Stanley Christodoulou stopped it. Arguello collapsed to the canvas near the ropes, where he lay for several minutes.

[7][8]

On April 2, 1983, Pryor knocked out former WBC super lightweight champion Sang-Hyun Kim in the third round.

Pryor had a rematch with Arguello at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 9, 1983. Pryor made a career high $2.25 million and Arguello made $1.75 million.

Panama Lewis had his license revoked after he removed the padding from the gloves of Luis Resto before his fight with Billy Collins Jr. on June 16, 1983. Pryor hired Richie Giachetti to train him, but they had a falling out. Two weeks before the Arguello rematch, Pryor brought in Emanuel Steward as his trainer.

The rematch was not as competitive as their first one. Pryor dropped Arguello with a right cross in the first round and again with a left hook in the fourth. Pryor put Arguello down for the count in the tenth round.[9]

After the fight, both Arguello and Pryor announced that they were retiring from boxing.[10]

Short-lived retirement and return[edit]

Pryor's retirement didn't last very long. In March 1984, he announced that he was going to fight again. "I never really retired. I just rested," Pryor said. "I vacated the title because the WBA insisted I defend it every six months." The newly formed IBF immediately recognized him as their world champion.[11]

Shortly before Pryor made his comeback, his proposed multimillion-dollar fight with WBA lightweight champion Ray Mancini fell through when Mancini was knocked out by Livingstone Bramble on June 1, 1984. "Aaron Pryor actually cried," Said Bob Arum. "I saw the tears."[12]

On June 22, 1984, Pryor defended his IBF title against Nick Furlano in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Pryor knocked down Furlano twice in the first round, but was unable to finish him. Pryor won by a lopsided fifteen-round unanimous decision. Furlano became the first boxer in 27 fights to last the entire fight with Pryor.

Pryor defended his title against future IBF light welterweight champion Gary Hinton on March 2, 1985. Pryor won by a fifteen-round split decision. He got off to a sluggish start but came on strong in the second half, winning five of the last seven rounds on the cards of judges Frank Cairo (who voted for Hinton) and Phil Newman and all seven on the card of judge Lawrence Wallace. Pryor dropped Hinton early in the 14th round with a right to the chin.[13]

Drug abuse and comeback[edit]

By the mid-1980s, Pryor's life had become consumed by drugs. In December 1985, Pryor was stripped of the IBF title for failure to defend. "[14]

After 29 months out of the ring, Pryor, insisting he was now clean from drugs, attempted a comeback. He fought welterweight journeyman Bobby Joe Young in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on August 8, 1987. Pryor was a shell of his former self and was knocked out in the seventh round.[15]

On December 15, 1988, Pryor scored a third-round knockout of club fighter Hermino Morales in Rochester, New York.

In April 1990, Pryor was ordered to undergo two years of treatment for drug abuse. Pryor entered a no-contest plea to a charge of possessing illegal drug paraphernalia, a pipe used for smoking cocaine, which was found in his car after he was stopped by the police in Cincinnati in September 1989.[16]

Pryor next fought Darryl Jones on May 16, 1990 in Madison, Wisconsin. Jones, who had a record of 13-13, was knocked out in the third round.

Before the Jones fight, Pryor had surgery to remove a cataract and repair a detached retina. After the surgery, Pryor was denied a license to fight by the states of California, New York and Nevada. The Nevada state medical report declared Pryor to be legally blind in his left eye. His vision in his left eye was 20/400. With corrective lenses, the vision improved to 20/70. The State of Wisconsin gave him a license after he agreed to sign a waiver releasing the state from liability for any damage he may suffer in the fight.[17][18]

Pryor's last fight was on December 4, 1990 in Norman, Oklahoma. He knocked out unheralded Roger Choate in the seventh round. Pryor's career ended with a record of 39-1 with 35 knockouts.

Pryor finally kicked his drug habit in 1993 and remained drug free until his death in 2016.[19]

Pryor was inducted into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame in 1996.[20]

Aaron "The Hawk" Pryor was voted as the Greatest Light Welterweight in boxing history by the Houston Boxing Hall Of Fame in 2014. The HBHOF is a voting body composed entirely of current and former fighters.

Professional boxing record[edit]

Professional record summary
40 fights 39 wins 1 loss
By knockout 35 1
By decision 4 0
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
40 Win 39–1 United States Roger Choate TKO 7 (10), 1:44 Dec 4, 1990 United States Sheraton Hotel, Norman, Oklahoma, U.S.
39 Win 38–1 United States Darryl Jones KO 3, 1:15 May 16, 1990 United States Masonic Temple, Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
38 Win 37–1 United States Herminio Morales KO 3 (10), 1:32 Dec 15, 1988 United States Community War Memorial, Rochester, New York, U.S.
37 Loss 36–1 United States Bobby Joe Young TKO 7 (10), 0:29 Aug 8, 1987 United States Sunrise Musical Theater, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.
36 Win 36–0 United States Gary Hinton SD 15 Mar 2, 1985 United States Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Retained IBF and lineal light welterweight titles
35 Win 35–0 Canada Nick Furlano UD 15 Jun 22, 1984 Canada Varsity Stadium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Retained IBF and lineal light welterweight titles
34 Win 34–0 Nicaragua Alexis Argüello KO 10 (15), 1:48 Sep 9, 1983 United States Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Retained WBA and The Ring light welterweight titles;
Won vacant lineal light welterweight title
33 Win 33–0 South Korea Kim Sang-hyun TKO 3 (15), 0:37 Apr 2, 1983 United States Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Retained WBA and The Ring light welterweight titles
32 Win 32–0 Nicaragua Alexis Argüello TKO 14 (15), 1:06 Nov 12, 1982 United States Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida, U.S. Retained WBA and The Ring light welterweight titles
31 Win 31–0 Japan Akio Kameda TKO 6 (15), 1:44 Jul 4, 1982 United States Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. Retained WBA and The Ring light welterweight titles
30 Win 30–0 Dominican Republic Miguel Montilla TKO 12 (15), 0:42 Mar 21, 1982 United States Playboy Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Retained WBA and The Ring light welterweight titles
29 Win 29–0 United States Dujuan Johnson TKO 7 (12), 1:49 Nov 14, 1981 United States Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. Retained WBA and The Ring light welterweight titles
28 Win 28–0 Guyana Lennox Blackmoore TKO 2 (15), 0:58 Jun 27, 1981 United States Hacienda, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Retained WBA and The Ring light welterweight titles
27 Win 27–0 Canada Gaétan Hart TKO 6 (15), 2:09 Nov 22, 1980 United States Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. Retained WBA and The Ring light welterweight titles
26 Win 26–0 United States Danny Myers TKO 3 (10), 0:57 Nov 1, 1980 United States Hara Arena, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
25 Win 25–0 Colombia Antonio Cervantes KO 4 (15), 1:47 Aug 2, 1980 United States Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. Won WBA and The Ring light welterweight titles
24 Win 24–0 United States Carl Crowley KO 1 (10), 2:15 Jun 20, 1980 United States Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
23 Win 23–0 Colombia Leonidas Asprilla TKO 10 (10), 2:00 Apr 13, 1980 United States Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
22 Win 22–0 Dominican Republic Julio Valdez TKO 4 (10) Mar 16, 1980 United States Jai-Alai Fronton, Miami, Florida, U.S.
21 Win 21–0 Chile Juan Garcia KO 1 (10), 0:28 Feb 24, 1980 United States Tropicana Las Vegas, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
20 Win 20–0 Panama Alfonso Frazer TKO 5 (10), 2:40 Oct 20, 1979 United States Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
19 Win 19–0 Dominican Republic Jose Fernandez KO 1 (10), 0:55 Jun 23, 1979 United States Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
18 Win 18–0 Canada Al Ford TKO 4 (10), 2:29 May 11, 1979 United States Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
17 Win 17–0 United States Freddie Harris TKO 3 (10), 2:55 Apr 27, 1979 United States Convention Center, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
16 Win 16–0 United States Norman Goins KO 9 (10), 2:45 Apr 13, 1979 United States Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
15 Win 15–0 United States Johnny Copeland KO 7 (10), 1:42 Mar 16, 1979 United States Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
14 Win 14–0 United States Marion Thomas KO 8 Jul 18, 1978 United States Hara Arena, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
13 Win 13–0 United States Scotty Foreman TKO 6 (10), 2:15 May 3, 1978 United States Convention Center, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.
12 Win 12–0 United States Al Franklin TKO 3 (10), 2:58 Mar 10, 1978 United States Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
11 Win 11–0 United States Ron Pettigrew TKO 2 (8), 2:18 Mar 1, 1978 United States Hara Arena, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
10 Win 10–0 United States Robert Tijernia TKO 2 (10), 2:25 Jan 16, 1978 United States Convention-Exposition Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
9 Win 9–0 United States Angel Cintron TKO 3 (8) Nov 11, 1977 United States Convention-Exposition Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
8 Win 8–0 Canada Johnny Summerhays UD 8 Oct 7, 1977 United States Convention-Exposition Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
7 Win 7–0 United States Melvin Young KO 4 (6) Sep 3, 1977 United States Drawbridge Inn, Covington, Kentucky, U.S.
6 Win 6–0 Puerto Rico Jose Resto UD 8 May 7, 1977 United States Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
5 Win 5–0 Colombia Isaac Vega KO 2 (6), 0:48 Mar 26, 1977 United States Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
4 Win 4–0 United States Nick Wills KO 1 Mar 12, 1977 United States Lincoln Heights, Ohio, U.S.
3 Win 3–0 United States Harvey Wilson TKO 1 (6), 2:04 Feb 1, 1977 United States Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
2 Win 2–0 United States Larry Moore TKO 3 (6) Feb 1, 1977 United States Convention Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
1 Win 1–0 United States Larry Smith TKO 2 (6), 2:04 Nov 12, 1976 United States Convention-Exposition Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. Professional debut

Death[edit]

Pryor died on October 9, 2016 after suffering from heart disease.[21][22]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Amateur boxing titles
Previous:
Norman Goins
U.S. lightweight champion
1973
Next:
Hilmer Kenty
Previous:
Curtis Harris
U.S. Golden Gloves lightweight champion
1975, 1976
Next:
Samuel Ayala
World boxing titles
Preceded by
Antonio Cervantes
WBA light welterweight champion
August 2, 1980 – January 1984
Stripped
Vacant
Title next held by
Johnny Bumphus
The Ring light welterweight champion
August 2, 1980 - October 26, 1983
Retired
Vacant
Title next held by
Kostya Tszyu
Vacant
Title last held by
Wilfred Benítez
Lineal light welterweight champion
September 9, 1983 – 1986
Vacated
Vacant
Title next held by
Julio César Chávez
Inaugural champion
awarded title
IBF light welterweight champion
June 22, 1984 – December 1985
Stripped
Vacant
Title next held by
Gary Hinton