Former WBA heavyweight champion Mike Weaver, who today celebrates his 69th birthday, sure has some fascinating story to tell. A former marine who served in Vietnam, Weaver took up boxing whilst serving his country (Weaver enjoys telling the story today of how, when getting into an argument with a fellow marine over a song he wanted to play on the jukebox, he flattened him – Weaver only finding out later how the guy was the Marine Corp boxing champion).
After a rocky start, which saw Weaver take fights on short notice, losing three of his first four outings, Weaver began to take the sport seriously. Sparring with Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton (who gave Mike his “Hercules” nickname), the 22 year stepped up in class. Further losses came, but eventually, showing incredible determination and an ability not to quit, Weaver got his big break.
A 1978 KO win over the dangerous Bernardo Mercado (Weaver says Mercado was the hardest puncher he ever faced), saw Weaver get a shot at heavyweight ruler Larry Holmes. The fight of June, 1979 is one of the underrated heavyweight battles, Weaver pushing Holmes hard until being sensationally felled by a brutal Holmes uppercut, Weaver stopped in the 12th. Weaver had shown his worth.
The famous KO Weaver scored over John Tate in March of 1980 is the stuff of legend: Weaver, hopelessly behind on points, stunned Tate and the crowd with an inside left hook that starched the defending WBA champ with mere seconds remaining in the fight. Weaver defended his belt with wins over Gerrie Coetzee and James Tillis, before more bad luck struck; Weaver being stopped ludicrously prematurely by the referee in his fight with Michael Dokes. The 1st round TKO Weaver was the victim of was widely condemned. As too was the drawn verdict that was handed in after 15 hard rounds in the rematch. Indeed, Weaver never got too many breaks during his long career.
Weaver fought on after being robbed in the Dokes sequel, losing in a title shot against Pinklon Thomas in his final world title fight, but occasionally picking up a notable win (such as his 1986 KO over an up-and-coming Carl Williams). Weaver fought on until 2000, ironically enough losing to Holmes in a rematch in his final fight.
Weaver’s final record reads a non too impressive-looking 41-18-1(28). But as any fan of Weaver knows, these numbers do not come close to telling the full story.
Happy birthday, Champ.