James Smith (boxer)

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James Smith
Smith in 2018
Born (1953-04-03) April 3, 1953 (age 71)
Other namesBonecrusher
Height6 ft 4 in (193 cm)
Reach82 in (208 cm)
Boxing record
Total fights62
Wins by KO32

James "Bonecrusher" Smith is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1981 to 1999 and held the WBA heavyweight title from 1986 to 1987.

Early life[edit]

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

Amateur career[edit]

After serving in the U.S. military and working as a prison guard, Smith competed as an amateur boxer, compiling a record of 35–4 [1] before turning professional in November 1981.

Professional 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. 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, where he fought and knocked out Frank Bruno, who was 21–0 (21 KO).

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

Smith came back in 1985, 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 José Ribalta, then dropped a wide 12-round decision to ex-world champ Tim Witherspoon in a bid for Witherspoon's NABF belt.

In 1986 he dropped Marvis Frazier, including breaking Frazier's jaw, but lost the 10-round decision. At this time, Bonecrusher began consulting a psychiatrist. In his next fight he beat 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).

WBA Heavyweight Champion[edit]

In December 1986, while preparing for a fight with Mitch "Blood" Green, Don King informed him at short notice that Tony Tubbs had dropped out of his upcoming challenge to WBA champ Tim Witherspoon, and now Smith would be getting a rematch with Witherspoon. He dropped Witherspoon three times in the opening round, scoring a first-round knockout and winning the WBA title in an upset.[2]

With his victory over Witherspoon, Smith took his place in the heavyweight unification series, an ongoing competition being conducted by HBO and King to crown an undisputed world heavyweight champion for the first time since the retirement of Muhammad Ali. The victory garnered Smith another fight, where he was to defend his belt against newly crowned WBC champion Mike Tyson in a unification contest. Taking place on March 7, 1987, the bout saw Tyson beat Smith to the punch in nearly every round, while Smith resorted to holding to keep himself in the fight. The decision saw Smith lose eleven rounds on two scorecards and all twelve on another.

Final years[edit]

Smith returned to the ring for a few months, taking on Brazilian contender Adilson "Maguila" Rodrigues in São Paulo and losing by split decision.

In 1989, now aged 36, he took on the Jamaican-Canadian Donovan (Razor) Ruddock. Ruddock won by knockout in the 7th round and Smith announced his retirement afterwards, declaring he would pursue politics.

Smith was back in the ring only two months later, KOing journeyman Calvin Jones, followed by 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 WBA Americas belt and a world ranking.

After a year-long layoff he was back, now aged 38, and scored six knockouts. Achievements included 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 Jeff Sims.

Smith 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. Smith 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 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, Smith was decked for his efforts and outpunched 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.

Smith 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 the tournament.

In 1994 Smith 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 with little resistance.

Later that year he traveled to Europe to drop a points decision to German Axel Schulz, and in Denmark he was stopped in 5 rounds due to a cut from a headbutt by Brian Nielsen. Smith was overweight for both fights and his days as a contender dwindled.

He fought on and off for a few more years. In 1998, he traveled to Australia to battle Joe Bugner for the WBF Heavyweight Championship, but had to retire after one round when his shoulder dislocated. The same injury ended a fight in 1999 with former world champion Larry Holmes. After this loss, Smith retired at the age of 46, touting a record of 44–17–1 (32 KOs).

In 1995, Smith helped establish the North Carolina Boxing Commission and served as the 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 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.

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.[3]

Smith is currently working with organizers to establish the Legend's of Boxing Hall of Fame in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.[4]

Professional boxing record[edit]

62 fights 44 wins 17 losses
By knockout 32 7
By decision 12 10
Draws 1
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
62 Loss 44–17–1 Larry Holmes TKO 8 (10), 2:00 Jun 18, 1999 Crown Coliseum, Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S.
61 Win 44–16–1 Dave Slaughter TKO 2 (8), 1:50 Nov 27, 1998 Genesis Convention Center, Gary, Indiana, U.S.
60 Loss 43–16–1 Joe Bugner RTD 1 (12), 3:00 Jul 4, 1998 Carrara Indoor Stadium, Gold Coast, Australia For vacant WBF (Federation) heavyweight title
59 Win 43–15–1 Lynwood Jones UD 8 Feb 25, 1998 The Ritz, Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
58 Win 42–15–1 Troy Roberts TKO 3 (10), 2:36 Apr 11, 1996 University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
57 Win 41–15–1 Eli Dixon TKO 3 (8) Aug 22, 1995 Civic Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
56 Win 40–15–1 Bernd Friedrich SD 10 Mar 25, 1995 Düsseldorf, Germany
55 Loss 39–15–1 Brian Nielsen TKO 5 (8) Oct 7, 1994 K.B. Hallen, Copenhagen, Denmark
54 Loss 39–14–1 Axel Schulz UD 10 Sep 17, 1994 Leverkusen, Germany
53 Loss 39–13–1 Lionel Butler TKO 3 (10), 2:19 Jan 18, 1994 Civic Auditorium, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
52 Win 39–12–1 Lester Jackson UD 3 Dec 3, 1993 Casino Magic, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, U.S.
51 Win 38–12–1 Marshall Tillman UD 3 Dec 3, 1993 Casino Magic, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, U.S.
50 Loss 37–12–1 Daniel Dăncuță UD 3 Dec 3, 1993 Casino Magic, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, U.S.
49 Win 37–11–1 Elijah Tillery TKO 6 (10), 2:51 Sep 14, 1993 Steel Pier, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
48 Win 36–11–1 Andrew Stokes UD 10 Aug 7, 1993 Steel Pier, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
47 Win 35–11–1 Kevin Ford TKO 9 (10) Jun 26, 1993 Steel Pier, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
46 Win 34–11–1 Donnell Wingfield TKO 2 (10), 1:53 Jun 1, 1993 The Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
45 Loss 33–11–1 Michael Moorer UD 10 Feb 27, 1993 Showboat, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
44 Loss 33–10–1 Greg Page UD 10 Jun 26, 1992 CSU Convocation Center, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
43 Win 33–9–1 Danny Wofford TKO 8 Apr 24, 1992 Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
42 Win 32–9–1 Mark Wills UD 10 Feb 15, 1992 The Mirage, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
41 Win 31–9–1 Andre Crowder KO 1 (10), 1:50 Dec 13, 1991 Union Hall, Countryside, Illinois, U.S.
40 Loss 30–9–1 Levi Billups UD 10 Nov 4, 1991 Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S.
39 Win 30–8–1 Marshall Tillman TKO 10 (10), 2:14 Sep 24, 1991 Metairie, Louisiana, U.S.
38 Win 29–8–1 Jeff Sims KO 1 (10), 1:41 Sep 17, 1991 The Palace, Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S.
37 Win 28–8–1 Everett Martin TKO 8 (10), 0:50 Aug 6, 1991 Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California, U.S.
36 Win 27–8–1 Kimmuel Odum TKO 3 (12), 2:37 Jul 22, 1991 Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S. Won vacant IBC Junior heavyweight title
35 Win 26–8–1 Terry Armstrong KO 2 Jun 28, 1991 Salle Leyrit, Nice, France
34 Win 25–8–1 Lawrence Carter TKO 1 (12), 2:28 Apr 28, 1991 Civic Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
33 Win 24–8–1 Mike Weaver UD 12 Apr 4, 1990 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. Won WBA Americas heavyweight title
32 Win 23–8–1 Manoel de Almeida RTD 6 (10), 3:00 Feb 20, 1990 Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
31 Win 22–8–1 Mike Rouse KO 7 (10), 1:42 Dec 14, 1989 St. Joseph, Missouri, U.S.
30 Win 21–8–1 Jesse McGhee TKO 2 Oct 21, 1989 Grady Cole Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
29 Win 20–8–1 Calvin Jones TKO 8 (10) Sep 29, 1989 Athletic Park, Durham, North Carolina, U.S.
28 Loss 19–8–1 Donovan Ruddock KO 7 (10), 2:18 Jul 2, 1989 Cumberland County Memorial Arena, Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S.
27 Draw 19–7–1 Mike Rouse TD 3 (10) Jul 30, 1988 Broadway by the Bay Theater, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Rouse cut from an accidental head clash
26 Loss 19–7 Adílson Rodrigues SD 10 Aug 9, 1987 Ginásio Estadual do Ibirapuera, Sao Paulo, Brazil
25 Loss 19–6 Mike Tyson UD 12 Mar 7, 1987 Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, U.S. Lost WBA heavyweight title;
For WBC heavyweight title
24 Win 19–5 Tim Witherspoon KO 1 (15), 2:12 Dec 12, 1986 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. Won WBA heavyweight title
23 Win 18–5 David Bey UD 10 Aug 23, 1986 Cumberland County Auditorium, Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S.
22 Win 17–5 Jesse Ferguson MD 10 Jun 7, 1986 Hamilton, Bermuda
21 Win 16–5 Mike Weaver TKO 1 (10), 2:29 Apr 5, 1986 Coliseum Theatre, Colonie, New York, U.S.
20 Loss 15–5 Marvis Frazier UD 10 Feb 23, 1986 Memorial Auditorium, Richmond, California, U.S.
19 Loss 15–4 Tim Witherspoon UD 12 Jun 15, 1985 Riviera, Winchester, Nevada, U.S. For NABF heavyweight title
18 Win 15–3 José Ribalta SD 10 Apr 29, 1985 Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York, U.S.
17 Loss 14–3 Tony Tubbs UD 10 Mar 15, 1985 Riviera, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.
16 Loss 14–2 Larry Holmes TKO 12 (15), 2:10 Nov 9, 1984 Riviera, Winchester, Nevada, U.S. For IBF heavyweight title
15 Win 14–1 Frank Bruno KO 10 (10) May 13, 1984 Wembley Arena, London, England
14 Win 13–1 Rahim Muhammad TKO 5 Feb 19, 1984 Hyatt Regency, Tampa, Florida, U.S.
13 Win 12–1 Leroy Boone TKO 4 (10) Nov 4, 1983 Egypt Shrine Temple, Tampa, Florida, U.S.
12 Win 11–1 Walter Santemore TKO 4 (10) Aug 23, 1983 Tropicana, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
11 Win 10–1 Eugene Cato KO 4 (10) Jun 14, 1983 Ramada Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
10 Win 9–1 Lynwood Jones TKO 2 May 10, 1983 Tropicana, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
9 Win 8–1 Lee Cohen KO 1 Apr 23, 1983 New York City, New York, U.S.
8 Win 7–1 Nate Robinson TKO 2 (8), 1:35 Apr 2, 1983 Host Resort, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.
7 Win 6–1 Larry Givens TKO 3 Dec 14, 1982 Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
6 Win 5–1 Lonnie Chapman KO 2 Oct 16, 1982 Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
5 Win 4–1 Chris McDonald MD 8 Sep 11, 1982 Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
4 Win 3–1 Louis Alexander KO 2, 2:37 Jul 31, 1982 Bally's Park Place, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
3 Win 2–1 Mike Cohen KO 2 Apr 22, 1982 Sheraton Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
2 Win 1–1 Ricky Parkey PTS 6 Jan 30, 1982 Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
1 Loss 0–1 James Broad KO 4 (6), 1:07 Nov 5, 1981 Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.


  1. ^ a b c d e Biography of James Smith Archived 2008-12-07 at the Wayback Machine at his charity, ChampionForKids.org
  2. ^ "Tim Witherspoon Vs. James "Bonecrusher" Smith: VHS Classic Rewind". Boxing 101.
  3. ^ "Living Legends Unite to Make a Difference at Ring 10 2nd Annual Fundraiser". Boxing 101. Archived from the original on 2016-04-02.
  4. ^ "Upcoming Events". championforkids. Retrieved 2018-12-03.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
World boxing titles
Preceded by WBA heavyweight champion
December 12, 1986March 7, 1987
Succeeded by