The Case for Steve Collins in the Hall

steve collins09.03.07 - By Matthew Hamill: Maybe it's my imagination, but Steve "The Celtic Warrior" Collins seems to have been forgotten by those who cast votes at the boxing Hall in Canastota. Let's examine this Dubliner's record and see if we can uncover the reasons.

Record: As an amateur, he won he won 26 Irish titles at junior heavyweight, light-heavyweight and middleweight before moving to and turning professional in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986 where he was trained by Bostonian Freddie Roach. He also worked out of the Brocton boxing gym of the Boston-based Petronelli brothers who trained his idol Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

Steve was a road warrior having fought in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, Northern Ireland, France, Italy, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, The Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey and in and around the Boston area.

He won his first 16 professional bouts fighting out of the Boston area. His final professional record was 36-3 with 21 ko's.

Style: The quintessential professional, he was an extremely tough, seasoned, iron-chinned, determined and talented fighter who had long paid his dues training in the Boston area. Not flashy, he was an "in your face" and hard working fighter who punished opponents with his heavy hands. His signature was his ability to sap his opponents' strength and will to resist by using an incoming style throwing accurate hooks and crosses in never-ending combos. He is considered to be one of the toughest pound-for- pound fighters of the late 90's having never been stopped in his high profile career.

Level of opposition and Chronology: Steve fought at an extremely high level. Among his early victims were Sam Storey (for the Irish Middleweight Title), rugged Tony Thornton and Kevin "Killer" Watts (for the USBA Middleweight Title.) He lost to Mike McCallum in 1990 for the WBA Middleweight title in a close fight I attended, but rebounded with 5 straight victories including wins over tough Eddie Hall and Dan Morgan. He then lost a razor thin and controversial MD to Reggie Johnson and a close UD to Sumbu Kalambay.

A discouraged and relatively unheralded Collins finally won the WBA Penta-Continental Middleweight Title in 1993 by ko win over South African Gerhard Botes. A year later he garnered the WBO Middleweight Title by a KO over the very capable Chris Pyatt, 42-3, in South Yorkshire, England. The Irishman would go on to win 15 straight to close out his career (the last 5 by stoppage). More importantly, during this streak, he fought and beat Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn twice. Benn, who had been though a savage war with Gerald McClellan, quickly got the message that his punching power was not good enough to stop concrete-chin Collins. Due to some brain scan issues, Steve fortunately found himself stepping into Ray Close’s shoes to meet Chris Eubank and he proceeded to beat the great English fighter twice. By the time he accomplished this remarkable feat, he was the reigning W.B.O. Middleweight champ, a fact still overlooked to the present day.

In all, he would successfully defend his new Super Middleweight title eight times retiring in 1997 after a TKO win over Craig Cummings, 34-2, in 3 rounds. He had begun his career in 1986 with another 3 round tko over one Julio Mercado in Lowell, MA. Amazingly, he had book-ended his career with 16 wins in the beginning and 15 at the end.

One of his great regrets was to have never fought Roy Jones Jr. In fact, he is reported to have stated that he had spent so long chasing Roy, money was no longer an important factor and he would fight him in a phone box in front of two men and a dog. However, his attempts to get Roy into the ring ended when he collapsed during a training session. Medics told him to hang up his gloves for good and he did. He retired to Northern Ireland and has maintained a reasonably low profile. Maybe this is the reason he has been overlooked by the Hall.

Not unlike Eubank, Watson, and Benn (and Minter and Sibson before them), Steve Collins was one hard man. Hopefully, he will be inducted into the INTERNATIONAL Boxing Hall of Fame some day.

Article posted on 09.03.2007

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