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Puncher from the Past: 'Irish' Joey Archer

Joey Archer.

“IRISH “ Joey Archer
Born 11 February 1938in New York City
Record: 49 fights, 45 wins (8 by KO/TKO), 4 losses (all points- 2 split decisions 1 majority decision)

Turned Professional : November 1956
Beat: Tony Dupas (twice), Don Fullmer, Jose Gonzalez, Mick Leahy, Denny Moyer, Blair Richardson, Victor Zalazar, Farid Salim, Rubin Carter, Holly Mims, Dick Tiger, Sugar Ray Robinson,
Lost To: Jose Gonzalez, Don Fullmer, Emile Griffith (twice)
-1956 2 fights both won on points
-1957 10 fights 10 wins all in New York and all 4 or 6 rounds
-1958 8 fights 8 wins 4 in New York, 1 in Florida and 3 in Texas
-1959 6 fights 6 wins. Moved up to ten round level. Two wins over experienced Tony Dupas.
-1960 3 fights 3 wins over modest opposition
-1961 1 fight won a majority decision over Don Fullmer
-1962 3 fights won 2. Lost on a split decision in June to Jose Gonzalez ending Archer’s winning run of 31 fights. August scored a unanimous points victory over Gonzalez. November floored and outpointed Mick Leahy.
1963 5 fights won 5. Beating Denny Moyer, Canadian Blair Richardson, Argentinians Victor Zalazar and Farid Salim all by unanimous decision. October took a split decision over Rubin Carter
-1964 5 fights 5 wins including victories over Holly Mims and Dick Tiger both split decisions
-1965 3 fights won 2. November floored and outpointed Sugar Ray Robinson in Robinson’s last fight. December lost a split decision against Don Fullmer.
-1966 July lost a majority decision to Emile Griffith in a challenge for the WBA and WBC middleweight titles. Scoring was by rounds at 9-5 and 8-7 for Griffith and 7-7 with tied rounds excluded
-1967 January again challenged Griffith for the WBA and WBC titles losing a unanimous decision on scores of 8-6 twice and 8-7
Archer then retired at the age of 28!

If skill alone was enough to win a world title Archeer would have been a champion. He was a classy boxer, great balance, great movement, good hand speed and an ace tactician with a sturdy chin. His Achilles heel was his lack of power with only 8 of his 45 wins coming inside the distance. He had a great following within the Irish fans in New York as they turned out in to see him fight at the MSG and St. Nicks but less committed fans were looking for something more. Perhaps that lack of a vital spark explains why his first scheduled ten round fight only came after 21 wins and that first ten round fight was in Houston. His 1962 loss to Gonzalez came after he had been inactive for sixteen months due to a knee injury and was badly cut over his right eye in the fight. He revenged that with a unanimous decision over Gonzalez two months later and then put together an impressive run of victories over good class opposition. In October 1963 he took a split decision over fearsome Rubin Carter. Two months later Carter floored Emile Griffith twice and stopped him in the first round and it was Carter who got to challenge Joey Giardello for the WBA and WBC titles. After taking a split decision over Holly Mims in February 1964 Archer found himself fighting in New England and Virginia against moderate opposition instead of at the MSG against fighters such as Sandro Mazzinghi or Nino Benvenutti. He was finally called back to the MSG in October to face former champion Dick Tiger and won a split decision to cement his place as No 1 in the ring Magazine ratings. There was still no sign of a title shot and in 1965 he found himself on the road in Patterson where he only just edged out Johnny Torres and in November in Pittsburgh where he floored and outpointed the great Sugar Ray Robinson in the last fight of Sugar’s twenty-five year career. There was a banana skin waiting for him in December when he lost a split decision to previous victim Don Fullmer. What a strange sport boxing is After beating fighters such as Carter and Tiger Archer could not land a title fight. Seven months after losing to Fullmer and without having another fight he was back at the MSG in July 1966 challenging Emile Griffith for the WBA and WBC middleweight titles. Griffith retained the titles on a majority decision which was so close that with one judge having it 7-7 in rounds and another 8-7 for Griffith just a one round swing on those two cards would have seen Archer crowned champion and many saw him as the winner in the fight. Archer had earned a second chance. He lost a unanimous decision to Griffith in their return fight in January 1967 but again it was very close with two judges going for Griffith 8-6 and the third by 8-7. Archer then declared he was retiring. No one believed him. Griffith had lost the titles to Nino Benvenutti in April 1967 with Griffith winning the titles back by beating Benvenutti in September and Benvenutti rebounding the beat Griffith in March 1968. Insiders were so convinced Archer would return that he was even on the cover of Ring Magazine in November 1968 with an article covering his options when he returned but Archer was the man who never returned.

He had done a little TV work whilst still active, owned land in Florida, tried his hand at the cattle business and he and his brother Jimmy owned a couple of clubs in New York. He was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame (Not the better known International Boxing Hall of Fame) in 2005 and as far as I know is still alive and well in Florida

About the Author

Born in Scotland, Eric Armit started working with Boxing News magazine in the UK in the late 1960’s initially doing records for their Boxing News Annual and compiling World, European and Commonwealth ratings for the magazine. He wrote his first feature article for Boxing News in 1973 and wrote a “World Scene” weekly column for the magazine from the late 1970’s until 2004. Armit wrote a monthly column for Boxing Digest in the USA and contributed pieces to magazines in Mexico, Italy, Australia, Spain, Argentina and other countries. Armit now writes a Weekly Report covering every major fight around the world and a bi-weekly Snips & Snipes column plus occasional general interest articles with these being taken up by boxing sites around the world. He was a member of the inaugural WBC Ratings Committee and a technical advisor to the EBU Ratings Committee and was consulted by John McCain’s research team when they were drafting the Ali Act. He is a Director and former Chairman of the Commonwealth Boxing Council. Armit has been nominated to the International Boxing Hall of Fame the past two years (2019 and 2020) to which he said, “Being on the list is an unbelievably huge honour.”

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eric Armit.

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