Remembering Alex Miteff

Paul McCreath: I have always liked heavyweights and back in the fifties when I started to really follow them closely one of my favorite fighters was the Argentine slugger Alex Miteff. In those days we were lucky enough to get boxing on national TV twice every week, usually Wednesdays and Fridays. One of the regulars that every fan got to know well was Alex. He appeared many times over about a 5 year period..

Born in Santa Fe in Argentina, Miteff was an outstanding amateur. In 140 bouts he lost only 3 times with 11 draws and 126 wins. He turned pro in 1955 and after only one fight in his home country moved to New York where he became an immediate favorite at the old St.Nicholas Arena and Madison Square Garden. Standing 6 foot 1 inch and weighing in at a little over 200 pounds he was a big man for those times. Today he would probably be a cruiserweight. His style was quite aggressive and relied on a strong body attack.

After only 8 pro bouts he was matched with the veteran trial horse Archie McBride at the St.Nick and came away with a 10 round decision .He followed that with a 10 round win over the German fringe contender Willi Besmanoff who entered the bout with 51 pro fights under his belt. Alex was on his way as a top prospect although he had only 10 fights, all wins at this point and he was still only 22 years of age. 4 fights later he faced contender Big Mike DeJohn in his hometown of Syracuse.Mike who had far more experience and a 34-3-1 record upset the Miteff applecart by scoring a first round KO. Fans who want their young favorites to jump in the deep end early should keep this in mind. It often happens when young guns are rushed before they are ready.

It didn't take Alex long to get back on track.3 fights later he outpointed the highly ranked Cuban Nino Valdez in 10 at the Gardens then followed that with a 10 round draw against the rising young Canadian slugger George Chuvalo in Toronto. Alex would go on to face most of the best in the division over the next 4 years. He never won a title and he lost a few more than he won, especially towards the end of his career but he did achieve the astonishing distinction of fighting no less than 20 fighters who were rated at one time in The Ring's top 10. In the annual ratings of 1961 seven of the top 10 fighters all fought Alex Miteff at one time or another ! Wouldn't it be nice if the fighters of today were that brave?

Among these top fighters that Alex defeated were Willi Besmanoff, John Holman, Harold Carter, Wayne Bethea and Alonzo Johnson twice. He also stopped former cruiserweight champion Monroe Ratliff in 4 rounds. He lost but went all 10 rounds with the likes of Zora Folley, Eddie Machen, Henry Cooper, Billy Hunter and George Chuvalo in a rematch. Alex was stopped by Muhammead Ali, Cleveland Williams, Bob Cleroux and Jerry Quarry in an illadvised comeback bout in 1967. His final record was an unimpressive 26-13-1 with 16 KOs but most of the defeats came late in his career when he was clearly past his best. He was stopped 8 times, mostly near the end and more often than not on cuts which bothered him a lot through many of his fights. He was not noted for his great defense but rather his willingness to mix it up with anybody. By the time he was 26 years of age he was pretty well finished as a top fighter probably because he was rushed too fast early on and had a lot of very tough fights.

You have to wonder if a little more caution when he started might have brought a longer career and more successful results.

Alex will never be considered an ATG but we could sure use a few more like him today. Although he was as tall as many heavies are now he never weighed more than 213 pounds for a fight and usually was under 205. Present day heavyweights please note !

If anyone has any information as to whether Alex is still around I would like to hear anything you know.

Article posted on 07.01.2009

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