by Green Machine
It was tournament boxing. It wasn’t the Golden Gloves or the Olympics, and it wasn’t today’s Prizefighter, though it was just the same. After a failed attempt by Don King to put together a mega-tournament between the world’s top heavyweight prizefighters had floundered, the plan went through, only in a different form.
What we ended up with was “The People’s Choice World Heavyweight Superfights”, a 16-man, one-night tournament of heavyweight boxing filled with past-their-prime names, up-and-comers, and complete rookies. It all went down at Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, December 3rd, 1993…on pay per view, of course.
The moniker “People’s Choice” came from the fact that seven of the 16 fighters were fan chosen via 900 number. Of course, turmoil and last minute replacements are common in boxing and that was the case here too. For starters, Leonsio Bueno, at the time a 1-0 pro out of Dominican Republic had visa issues. Not knowing until the last minute that Bueno was a no show, Shane Sutcliff was yanked from the stands as a replacement. Sutcliff hadn’t trained a lick. Before losing his first bout of the night, Smokin’ Bert Cooper was served process papers (related to promotional issues) that were erroneously served to Bert Sugar first. Only in boxing.
Despite being bashed by the media (Wallace Matthews headlined “Sport of Boxing Committing Suicide with a Smile”), the night of three rounders wasn’t too bad and the show lasted a bit over four hours, airing the round of 16, quarter, semi and final bouts with a short intermission at the half way point.
Despite being referred to as a glorified toughman contest, it was anything but. Most of the bouts were enjoyable and those that weren’t…well, they were only three rounds long anyway. Sports Illustrated called it “Attack of the Killer Tomato Cans”, but I’m sure the guy who thought up that headline never had to face the possibility of fighting four heavyweights in one night.
The People’s Choice World Heavyweight Superfights
December 3, 1993
Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
*fighters records reflect bouts before the tournament
James Bonecrusher Smith (37-11-1, 29 KO’s) former WBA titlist
Lester Jackson (5-1-1, 2 KO’s)
Tony Tubbs 34-5-1 NC, 20 KO’s) former WBA titlist
Willie Jackson (10-1, 10 KO’s)
Marshall Tillman (13-9-1, 12 KO’s)
Jason Williams (pro debut) brother of Jeremy Williams, released from prison just two months prior, where he learned to box.
Jose Ribalta (32-10-1, 24 KO’s)
Derek Williams (19-6, 14 KO’s) former EBU & Commonwealth titlist
Dan Dancuta (8-1, 5 KO’s)
Derrick Roddy (13-0, 11 KO’s)
Shane Sutcliff (8-1, 5 KO’s)
Paul Rocky Ray Phillips (15-1, 14 KO’s)
Tyrell Biggs (25-6, 17 KO’s)
Evgeny Sudakov (3-0-1, 3 KO’s)
Craig Peterson (19-5-1, 7 KO’s) former Australian titlist
Bert Cooper (31-11-1 NC, 26 KO’s) former NABF cruiser & heavyweight titlist
Round of 16
Bonecrusher Smith W 3 Lester Jackson
Tony Tubbs KO 1 Willie Jackson
Marshall Tillman W 3 Jason Williams
Jose Ribalta W 3 Derek Williams
Dan Dancuta TKO 1 Derrick Roddy
Shane Sutcliff DQ 3 Paul “Rocky Ray” Phillips
Tyrell Biggs W 3 Evgeny Sudakov
Craig Peterson W 3 Bert Cooper
Dan Dancuta W/O Craig Peterson (Peterson removed from tourney by Dr. after being asked “where are you?” he answered, ”Australia”
Tyrell Biggs TKO 2 Shane Sutcliff
Tony Tubbs W 3 Jose Ribalta
Bonecrusher Smith W 3 Marshall Tillman
Dan Dancuta W 3 Bonecrusher Smith
Tony Tubbs W 3 Tyrell Biggs
Tony Tubbs W 3 Dan Dancuta
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