In sad news, it has been reported how Keith Mullings, the former WBC 154 pound champion, has passed away at the young age of 53. Boxing trainer Gary Pippa broke the sad news via social media, writing how Mullings was found dead this morning. There is no word yet on the cause of death. Tributes have been coming in from those people who knew Keith and knew what a tough, honourable fighter he was.
It was back in December of 1997 when Mullings, a huge underdog, shocked Terry Norris to take the WBC crown. Born in Jamaica and fighting out of Brooklyn, Mullings had a small number of amateur fights, he served in the army, during the Gulf War, and he went pro in 1993. Back in 2018, this writer was afforded the opportunity to speak with Mullings, 16-8-1(11).
“I was a 10/1 outsider in that fight with Terry Norris,” Mullings recalled. “Norris was THE man. He was the pound-for-pound best in the world at the time, whereas I had suffered some split decision losses and they looked at me as though the fight was swayed in his favour in a big way. The thing is, I had sparred Roy Jones Jr a whole lot, and he always told me he wanted to see me fight Norris. He always told me, my style would beat Norris. I told Roy that after he left the 154 pound division, I set my sights on Norris.
“Every time I trained, on the bag, everything, I had Norris’ face in my eyes. By the time I fought him I had fought Norris a thousand times already! He tried to intimidate me, at the final press conference, we were nose to nose, forehead to forehead, and there were ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the crowd. Bob Arum had to break us up. I tried to shake hands but Norris turned his back on me. The Brooklyn bad boy came out and I shoved him and he stumbled. I knew then he was mine.
“He made me raise my level [in the fight]. He made me raise my game, a whole lot. It takes a great fighter to bring out the greatness in you. He came at me at a blazing pace. I had to keep tight, be defensive, and I invested in body work, to slow him down. I threw short punches up close, hooks and straight rights. I had to wear him down.”
Mullings got the TKO win in the ninth round. One retention followed, against Davide Ciarlante, before Mullings lost a majority decision against Javier Castillejo. Among the other big names Mullings fought were, Raul Marquez, David Reid and Winky Wright.
Our condolences go out to Keith’s family and friends.