Back in the 1980s, Doug DeWitt was one of the toughest, most durable middleweights around. The hardened warrior from Yonkers was not that hard to hit, but he sure was hard to hurt, much less knock out. DeWitt, who was the very first WBO middleweight champ, was stopped on occasion, four times in fact. Yet two of these stoppage losses came when “Cobra” was past his best.
In his prime, only Jose Quinones and Sumbu Kalambay managed to halt Doug (both stoppages coming as a surprise). Yet monster punchers, technicians and fellow tough guys such as Thomas Hearns, Robbie Simms, Don Lee, Milton McCrory and Matthew Hilton failed to put a dent in DeWitt.
Becoming an actor after hanging up the gloves, DeWitt, who finished with a 33-8-5(19) record in 1992, was kind enough to speak with this writer as he recalled his career a while back.
On the Hearns fight:
“I’d probably have to say Hearns was the hardest puncher I ever fought. His power was totally different to anyone else I ever faced. I didn’t even see Tommy’s punches coming – he had great speed and timing, he really did. He really shook me in the third round of our fight; I got a little bit cocky and I heard a ‘Whack!’ I was on Queer Street for a while!”
On sparring Marvelous Marvin Hagler:
“When I sparred Hagler the first time, I was just a kid. Then I sparred him again in 1983, for his fight with Wilford Scypion. We did five rounds a day for two weeks. I’d say we did around 70 rounds in all. I learned so much and picked up so much from working with Hagler – and I myself was in my prime the second time we sparred. I knew his style and that’s why I have so much regret about that fight never happening for me.”
On his two battles with Hagler’s half-brother Robbie Simms:
“The first fight with Simms still hurts and stays in my head today! I had a contract with Bob Arum for a fight with Hagler. As long as I beat Simms, I’d get Hagler. And I blew it. I got unfocused and I’d been inactive. The second fight with Simms was hard as well. I sprained both hands in the early rounds. Simms always gave me nothing but a tough time.”
On his big win over Matthew Hilton:
“The fight with Hilton, that was my first defence as [WBO] champion. And Hilton was a top guy, who was 30-1-1 at the time, with 24 knockouts. That fight was on a big card, the George Foreman-Gerry Cooney card. There were 16,000 people there that night. I shone in that fight, even if, truth be told, I was already past my peak then. But that’s probably the only fight of mine where I really put it all together.”
On his loss to Nigel Benn:
“Benn had good power. At the time, I never really knew how good he was. I slugged it out with him, which was pretty foolish of me. And again, I was past my peak by then. I still dropped him, but he came back and he got me. I had a good career, but I should have had a great career.”