Best British boxers that never won a world title after Mitchell retires
Lee Gormley | February 12, 2016
British boxers that failed on world title front
Having enjoyed an esteemed professional career which spanned 12 years in the ring, Romford-born fighter Kevin Mitchell announced his retirement from the sport with immediate effect, subsequently cancelling his scheduled European title bout.
The talented 31-year-old compiled an impressive record of 39-4 during his time as a pro, including 29 wins by knockout, and secured both British and Commonwealth titles as a super-featherweight in 2008.
Although, after two failed attempts at a lightweight world title and a double of unsuccessful interim strap bids, Mitchell recently decided to call time on his long-standing career and hang up his gloves.
“I’ve had a good think about it over the last week and I’m happily retired now. I was in the gym on Friday and I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t enjoying my bag work or my gym work,” stated the Londoner.
“I came in to the gym on Monday and said to my trainer Tony Sims that I didn’t fancy it and that I’m going to call it a day.
“I was on the punchbag and not enjoying it. Normally I love the punchbag but I really didn’t have it in my heart any more to train and go at it.
“I like to think I was an exciting fighter that gave the fans value for money. I don’t think they make fighters like me anymore; fighters that put it all on the line every time they fight.”
Following Mitchell’s retirement, Coral outline talented British boxers that shone but ultimately failed to reach the world title-winning heights.
Mitchell himself was unable to conquer the final hurdle in his otherwise glittering career, having failed to overcome both compatriot Ricky Burns in 2012 and Jorge Linares last year for respective lightweight belts.
The much-liked Briton suffered a fifth-round stoppage at the hands of Ismael Barroso for the WBA interim strap last December and it turned out to be his final outing before retirement.
There are plenty more Brits ready to make their mark on the world title stage this year, with Liverpool’s Stephen Smith 7/4 to overcome Jose Pedraza for the IBF super-featherweight and add another piece of silverware to his family’s ever-growing list of honours.
Widely regarded as the best British boxer during the post-war era to have never clinched a world title, Herol ‘the Bomber’ Graham was a devastating southpaw, winning his first 38 professional bouts.
Graham would go on to fight for world straps twice at middleweight and once at super-middleweight, first losing a close split decision defeat to McCallum, with points deducted for low blows ultimately costing him.
In his second attempt, the Nottingham-born fighter lost out to Julian Jackson in another tightly contested match-up. After a four-year absence from the ring, Graham returned to action to challenge Charles Brewer for his IBF super-middleweight belt in 1998, but was stopped in the 10th round, before retiring.
During an era which only had one world champion in each division, British fan favourite Henry Cooper never stood a chance, though was still involved in high-profile bouts with greats such as Floyd Patterson, Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali.
The Londoner is still remembered fondly for his knockdown of a young Ali, then Cassius Clay, before being stopped by the sport’s most legendary figure in the fifth round.
Cooper, nicknamed ‘Our Henry’ never realised world title dreams but is one of only three sports stars to have been awarded Sports Personality of the Year on two occasions and the only boxer to be granted a knighthood.
Dave Boy Green
Dave Boy Green’s initial attempt at the WBC welterweight crown came against Carlos Palomino in 1977, but was stopped in 11 rounds, suffering his first plummet to the canvas in his career.
‘The Fen Tiger’s’ final challenge for the welterweight crown happened in 1980 against the holder and sporting icon Sugar Ray Leonard, but was on the receiving end of a vicious KO, with the referee deeming it too dangerous for him to continue the count.
With only two minutes remaining in his rematch with Chris Eubank Snr, Michael Watson became victim of one of the worst boxing tragedies in decades.
As he was leading on all three scorecards, Watson was caught by an uppercut and spent 40 days in a coma, undergoing several brain surgeries and suffered partial paralysis, but inspirationally battled back to survive.
The heroic Londoner had three world title shots, losing to Mike McCallum and Eubank Snr before that almost-fatal stoppage in 1991, and is undoubtedly one of the best British fighters to never earn a world title.
The final fighter on our list is still vying for world champion status but has faced four agonisingly unsuccessful title contests, with his most recent heartache falling to Arthur Abraham last year fuelling talk of retirement.
Although, the St Helens competitor has put his previous hurt behind him and is still aiming to realise his dream, having earlier called for a domestic dust-up with George Groves, despite an unsuccessful world title draw with Felix Sturm, and defeats to Gennady Golovkin, Sergio Martinez and Abraham.