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Old 06-10-2012, 08:06 PM   #1
Senor Pepe'
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Default Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

Wayne Bethea

Labeled 'Mr. Opponent' by his manager, Bobby Gleason of New York.

The 6' 0" 200 lb. New York Heavyweight looked like he was going to make some
'waves' in the Heavyweight Division, but some losses in 1955 set him back.

But in 1956, several 'upset' victories over;
May............(W Dec 10)...Ezzard Charles
September....(TKO 5).......Joe Bygraves
November....(W Dec 10)...Howie Turner

Put the 24 year-old Wayne Bethea at 13-4-2 (6 KO's), and earned him a #10 Heavyweight ranking.

Back-to-back 'Split-Decision' losses to 'highly regarded' Zora Folley in (11/56) and (1/57) did not
hurt his ranking. Zora later said that Bethea was 'the toughest bastard' he ever fought.

In 1957, '3' impressive Decision victories over - Jeff Dyer, Bert Whitehurst and Paul Andrews got
him back to 16-6-2, and moved Wayne up to the #7 Heavyweight.

In September 1957, 197 lb. Wayne lost a 'hard-fought' 10-Round Decision to the 'super talented'
#3 Light-Heavyweight, 181 lb. Harold Johnson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

But, Wayne bounced back in his next bout in January 1958, with an impressive Decision over
'big' Young Jack Johnson, improving to 17-7-2.

In April 1958, Wayne was matched with the 'Cuban Heavyweight', hard-punching #8-ranked Nino Valdes.
After out-boxing the 'lumbering' Cuban early, Valdes came on strong and floored Wayne in the 7th Round,
enroute to a 'Split-Decision' win. The 'knockdown' was the difference in the bout.

Despite the loss, 26 year-old Wayne Bethea 17-8-2 (6 KO's) still maintained a Top 10 Heavyweight ranking.

Looking for an August 6, 1958 'opponent' for Charles 'Sonny' Liston for a Heavyweight bout at the Chicago Stadium,,,,,

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Old 06-11-2012, 07:34 AM   #2
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Default Re: Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

Wednesday Night - August 6, 1958

New York Heavyweight, 'Mr. Opponent' Wayne Bethea will test 'Bruiser Heavyweight'
Charles 'Sonny' Liston.

The 6' 0", 204 lb. 'sturdy boxer' is durable, and has been in the ring with some
good punchers, and has stood the test of absorbing hard punches. Bethea
has compiled a record of 17-8-2 (6 KO's), while facing some of the tougher
Heavyweight contenders (ie; Zora Folley, Young Jack Johnson and Nino Valdes)

Bethea, not a particularly hard-puncher, relies more on his boxing ability, which
inclues; good footwork, combination punching and defense. With only '6' knock-outs in his
'28' bouts, Wayne scares no one with his power punch. But, despite his lack of power, Bethea
is an aggressive fighter, who likes to pressure his opponent by getting inside to smother the
other fellow's punches and limit their impact, while scoring with his own short punches to the body.

The 26 year-old New Yorker, is the #9 Heavyweight, and will be a stern test for the 'burly' Mr. Liston,
who now resides in Chicago (formerly from St. Louis).

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Old 06-11-2012, 10:31 AM   #3
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Default Re: Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

When entering this bout,,,on August 6, 1958

The 6' 1" 205 lb. Sonny Liston, looked 'sleak and moderately' quick.

In this bout, Sonny may have been at his 'quickest' in both hand and foot speed.

Depending on his age, (listed at 26), but in reality age 31. Sonny may have never
looked more awesome.

Though Wayne Bethea was durable, and regarded has having a 'granite chin' -
he still was an absorber (reputation for getting hit).

And 'slow-handed' Nino Valdes did drop him in his previous bout, 4-months earlier.

Wayne Bethea {1958}

[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]

vs. Sonny Liston

After a 'even' first 30-seconds of the opening round, Sonny Liston lands a counter right-hand over the
left guard of Wayne Bethea, which crashes against his jaw. Bethea is stunned, and Sonny tears into
him with a 'two-fisted' assault.

With Bethea reeling, Sonny unloads with a 12-punch attack, and drops Bethea with a hard right,
and then a wide-sweeping left hook at the 0:41 mark. Bethea crashes to the seat of his pants,
and rises up at '4', but is obviously dazed.

Aftet taking the full '8' count from referee Bernie Weismann, Sonny moves in, and is looking for the
'finisher'. Bethea tries to fight back, but is met with another hard barrage, then with Bethea
stunned again, Liston rips a brutal '7-punch' assault which sends a 'defenseless' Bethea
staggering toward the opposite side of the ring. Referee Bernie Weismann wisely stops the
bout at 1:09 of Round 1.

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Old 06-11-2012, 11:11 AM   #4
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Default Re: Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

Following the 'disatorous' defeat to Sonny Liston,,,,,,,by a '1st Round' Knock-out
in only 1:09,,,,,,,on August 6, 1958 in Chicago.

Wayne, comes back, 6-months later, with '2' wins over "Baltimore Club-fighters',
* 2/59...(KO 10)........Warnell Lester (14-3-1)
* 3/59...(W Dec 10)...Rudy Watkins (15-14-1)

Which upped his record to 19-9-2 (7 KO's)

On May 22, 1959

Wayne takes on 'hot-n-cold' Argentinian Heavyweight, 24 year-old Alex Miteff 17-3-1 (9 KO's) in
Madison Square Garden. Miteff, who now lives in America, was the #6 Heavyweight in 1957, but
'upset' losses in 1957, 1958 and 1959 dropped him out of the Top 10.

Though Wayne fights well, he is out-muscled by the stronger Miteff, and loses a Unanimous Decision
(L Dec 10).

The loss drops Wayne to 19-10-2 (7 KO's), and out of the Top 20 Heavyweights.

Wayne Bethea, at age 27, calls it quits, and semi-retires for 1-year.

But, in June 1960, at age 28, Wayne Bethea returns, to Detroit, Michigan - to take on undefeated
prospect George Moore 10-0-0 (8 KO's). Moore was the 1955 National AAU Heavyweight Champion,
and is a 'highly regarded Heavyweight'.

In the 10-Round Heavyweight bout, the 217 lb. 'Detroiter' bulls his way to a 'Hometown Split-Decision Win'
over the 'scrappy veteran opponent'.
By controlling all of the early rounds with his size and strength, George Moore builds up a solid lead.
But, Wayne Bethea rallies some over the last '4' rounds with short body punches, to close the gap
on the young and tiring Heavyweight.

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Old 06-11-2012, 06:32 PM   #5
amhlilhaus
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Default Re: Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

nice write up, I liked the quick and to the point descriptions of the bouts, where he was at that point. could do something like that for a lot of fighters.
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Old 06-11-2012, 09:40 PM   #6
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Default Re: Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

amhlilhaus,,,,,,,Thank You Sir

Bobby Gleason, the Manager for Wayne Bethea, labeled him 'Mr. Opponent.'

Usual fee, of $2500, which was not too bad in 1960, for an opponent.

Tuesday Night - July 26, 1960

Attendance; 1500

28 year-old, 208 lb. Wayne Bethea travels to the Pailisades Rink, In McKeever, Pennsylvania
to face local veteran, 32 year-old Heavyweight, 'The Pittsburg Phantom' - Art Swiden.

Art Swiden is at the end of his career. A Pittsburg-area club-fighter, who has posted a
30-17-2 (9 KO's) record. The 6' 1" 190 lb. veteran, still can box a little, but does not
possess much of a punch.

For '3' Rounds, 'The Pittsburg Phantom' makes Wayne Bethea look slow, as he jabs
and counters the New York Heavyweight with ease.

In Round 4, the light-punching Swiden floors Bethea, with a counter right-hand and
short left hook. Bethea is not hurt, but he is also not the 'tough' fighter he once was.

Over the next '6' rounds, the Pittsburg veteran jabs and counters the rushes from the
slow and 'slightly pudgy' Bethea, and cruises to an 'easy' (W Dec 10) victory.

Wayne Bethea falls to 19-12-2

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Old 06-12-2012, 04:25 AM   #7
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Default Re: Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

Nice recap !
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Old 06-12-2012, 06:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

After a quick win on August 10, 1960 (KO 5) over 'cannon-fodder' Ike Thomas in
Hamilton, New York,,,,,,,

Wayne hits the local New York Boxing Gyms, as a 'paid' sparring partner.

The 28 year-old, now a 'Journeyman-Opponent', at 20-12-2 (8 KO's) is now
more-or-less, a 'record-padder' for any up-and-coming' prospect.

Monday - December 5, 1960

Up-start Chicago Heavyweight, 21 year-old Ernest 'Ernie' Terrell 19-2-0 (10 KO's) is
looking for a 'worn-out' veteran to add to his building record. The 6' 6" 195 lb.
rail-thin boxer, is the Illinois Heavyweight Champion, and is on the verge of breaking
into the Top 20 Heavyweight ranks.

A bout is set scheduled for the Marigold Gardens, an outdoor arena in the North Side
of Chicago. It is the North Side's premier boxing and wrestling arena, where a crowd
of 2500+ usually attend the Monday-Night events.

The opponent, New York Heavyweight Wayne Bethea, is a 'pudgy' 212 lbs. on his 6' 0"
frame. The 195 lb. Terrell, is a string-bean, with minimal muscle-mass.

In the early going, it is 'tall' Ernie who uses his long left jab to score and keep the
stronger veteran away. But, with each passing round, Bethea is able to get closer
and closer, and starts to score with good body shots, which slows the Chicago-prospect
down to a stationary target.

By Round 7, Terrell is not moving, and Bethea starts landing harder punches, which
wobble the gangly prospect. Wayne, sweeps the last '3' Rounds, by mauling Terrell into
the ropes, and scores with short chopping punches, as Terrell is on the
complete defensive.

Wayne Bethea scores an 'upset' and wins by 'Split-Decision'.
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Old 06-12-2012, 07:55 AM   #9
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Default Re: Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

This thread really puts d Liston and post Marchegiano era in (good/realistic) perspective . Young Jack Johnson , Wayne Bethea as top 10 heavyweights . And they deserved their ranking in that awful era . Bethea really is 1 of Liston's biggest wins , I couldn't grasp it in d past but i do now due 2 this thread . Does it make me respect Liston more ? no . It only reinforces my previous opinion / impression on that era , a shit era . Winning a decision over a 35 years old Ezzard Charles , whom was far from a monster heavyweight even in his best days should not have been considered as n upset even then , after all , Charles' age was known as well as his other performances near that age .
And then on top of it all , "top contender" Ernie Terrell loses what seems 2b a justified decision 2 a faded never was that much Wayne Bethea . Later Terrell would become 1 of Ali's top victims during his "prime" , when Ali cheated but still failed 2 stop him .

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Old 06-12-2012, 08:15 AM   #10
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Default Re: Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

Frank 2x,,,

Correct,,,,,,,though I am a big Charles 'Sonny' Liston fan,

The ''knock-out" victory over Wayne Bethea,,,,,,,,over-blown a bit.

Wayne, was durable yes, but he was slow and had 'no' punch. And yet, at 6' 0"
205 lbs. he was considered one of the 'bigger heavyweights' in the late-50's.

He was, a much quicker fighter from November 1955 thru January 1958, where he
went 11-3-0 (3 KO's), with his only Decision losses coming to the streaking
25-year-old Zora Folley (2x) and #3 Light-Heavyweight Harold Johnson.

But, by early 1958, the 26 year-old soon fell into that non-aggressive 'Journeyman-Opponent' role.

The victory over 'string-bean' Ernie Terrell in 1960, did show how poor the Top #11 thru #20
Heavyweights were at that time.

I would liken Wayne Bethea to that of maybe,,,,,,,,,,,,, Johnny Boudreaux.

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Old 06-12-2012, 12:14 PM   #11
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Default Re: Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

December 19, 1960

The 28 year-old Wayne Bethea, now becomes 'Mr. Travelling Opponent', as he heads
out to the northwest, to Portland, Oregon - to tangle with the #3 Heavyweight, 'Fast Eddie' Machen 34-3-1.

Bethea, hangs tough, as he battles '10' good rounds with arguably the best 'pure'
boxer in the Heavyweight Division.

'Fats Eddie' Machen, scores a 'solid' (W Dec 10) over Wayne, by winning '7' out of 10 Rounds.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

One-month later, in January 1961, Wayne Bethea 21-13-2 (8 KO's) finds himself in Omaha, Nebraska
as an opponent for 'local upstart' Heavyweight, 'The Golden Boy' Billy Nielson 4-0-1 (4 KO's).

The 28 year-old New York Heavyweight, schools the young and strong Omaha Heavyweight,
by taking him into 'deep waters' and batters the exhausted 'Golden Boy' into a 'bloody mess'
and stops him by a (TKO 7).
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Riding an impressive win, Wayne shoots over to Houston, Texas in February 1961 -
to take on 'Knockout-Artist', #9 Heavyweight - Cleveland 'Big Cat' Williams 48-4-0 (40 KO's).

The 'Big Cat' opens up early, and attempts to flatten the durable Bethea, as he lays
left hook after left hook on the veteran 'plodder. By Round 4, Williams settles down, and
scores from long range with left jabs, building a soild lead on the scorecard.

Bethea, starts his typical late-fight rally in Round 8, and scores with good body punches
while trying to pin Williams down. The New Yorker scores with good 1-2's over the last
'2' Rounds, but again, it is 'too little too late', as Cleveland Williams wins a 'convincing'
10 Round Decision.

Wayne Bethea, falls to 22-14-2 (9 KO's).

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Old 06-12-2012, 01:27 PM   #12
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Default Re: Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

The obvious 'certification' that Wayne Bethea was now a 'full-fledged' 'Journeyman.

March 27, 1961

Spokane, Washington

The now 29 year-old Heavyweight, at 206 lbs. was turning into a 'lumbering plodder'.

Bethea's opponent, 21 year-old Kirk Barrow, a 6' 0" - 183 lb. boxer-puncher with a
record of 21-4-1 (11 KO's).

Kirk Barrow's claim to fame, the Pacific Northwest Light-Heavyweight and Heavyweight
Champion.

Primarily a Light-Heavyweight, the Spokane boxer will occassionally fight Heavyweights
at 185 lbs.

Kirk Barrow uses Wayne Bethea as a 'sparring-partner' as he beats a steady tatoo of
jabs into the 'slow' Heavyweights head. Barrow, scores with solid shots in Rounds 4 and 5,
bloodying Bethea's mouth.

Bethea tries to make a go of it in the 'middle rounds', but the 'speedy' Barrow uses his
footwork to say out of harm's way. Kirk Barrow picks up the pace over the slowing
Bethea, and scores easily over the last '3' rounds, for an 'easy' 10 Round Decision win.

{Scorecards; 97-92 / 98-93 / 98-95}
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:37 AM   #13
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Default Re: Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

nice article. i'd like to ask where you get your information from? my great uncle, larry closson, was wayne bethea's trainer. we called him uncle bud when I was a kid. I remember him vaguely. he was pretty old back then, and I was too young to pick his brain. I would've loved to talk to him about boxing. I always wondered what gym they trained out of, what other fighters he trained, how he got his start in boxing, and anything else about him and his boxing and training careers...
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:49 AM   #14
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Default Re: Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

Quote:
Originally Posted by lilburley View Post
nice article. i'd like to ask where you get your information from? my great uncle, larry closson, was wayne bethea's trainer. we called him uncle bud when I was a kid. I remember him vaguely. he was pretty old back then, and I was too young to pick his brain. I would've loved to talk to him about boxing. I always wondered what gym they trained out of, what other fighters he trained, how he got his start in boxing, and anything else about him and his boxing and training careers...
He's posting as Il Duce on the boxrec forums right now.
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Old 03-29-2013, 10:05 AM   #15
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Default Re: Wayne Bethea 'Mr. Opponent'

I love these old time articles of these past forgotten fighters.Thanks.
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