Milton McCrory Recalls His Fine Ring Career: “I Did My Part For Kronk”

By James Slater - 08/25/2023 - Comments

Known as “The Ice Man” during his 1980 to 1991 pro career, Milton McCrory was part of the legendary Kronk gym in Detroit. The famed gym, with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward at the helm, produced classy boxer/punchers such as Tommy Hearns, Hilmer Kenty, Duane Thomas and McCrory

When looking back at those great days, McCrory has both bitter and sweet memories. An amateur standout who had “a hundred something fights,” McCrory, with Steward guiding him, soon rose to prominence in the pro ranks. When the legendary Thomas Hearns left the 147 poind division behind him? “The Hitman” declared how he was leaving the division in the capable hands of his friend and stablemate.

In March of 1983, when he was just 21-years-old, McCrory fought Welshman Colin Jones for the vacant WBC welterweight title.

“Both Colin Jones fights were very tough,” Milton says with a smile. “He [Jones] had a whole lot of experience over me. He was three years older than me and he wasn’t concerned at all by the fact that I’d had all the amateur fights I’d had. I wasn’t able to out-skill Colin Jones – he had a real tricky peek-a-boo style, a great defence. I was just a kid then (laughs). Also, I’d broken my right hand in my [July 1982] fight with Roger Stafford. I never ever regained full confidence in the right hand after that; and I became a left-hooker.

“The first fight with Colin Jones was a draw and the second fight (in August of 1983) was real close as well. He broke my nose in the second fight, and ever since that fight I had trouble with my nose! It bled a lot in fights and that affected my breathing. So I can thank Colin Jones for that! He’s actually a great guy – we met up in Canada about 3 years ago. Back when we fought, we never said one word to each other – not one word!”

It’s abundantly clear McCrory has nothing but respect for Jones, calling him by his full name each time he refers to him. The two 12-rounders under his belt, “The Ice Man” was now a “world” champion. Four retentions followed – over Milton Guest (“a great moment, as that first defence proves you are a real world champion”), Gilles Elbilia, Pedro Vilella and Carlos Trujillo – before a huge unification fight came against WBA/IBF ruler Don Curry.

His hand and nose issues aside, McCrory says he had outgrown welterweight by the time he met “The Lone Star Cobra” in that massive fight.

“I really should have moved up before the Curry fight. I was twelve-pounds overweight nine days before that fight. I actually had two non-title fights before that fight, and I weighed 152-pounds. Today, they have day-before weigh-ins, and if I’d had that, I’d have won. But Curry stopped me in the 2nd and then I did move up.”

A good win over Doug DeWitt followed, before McCrory was stopped on cuts in the 10th-round of his challenge of WBA light-middleweight champ Mike McCallum. For this fight too, McCrory has an excuse for losing.

“I took that fight on just two weeks notice. McCallum wasn’t a big puncher and he never hurt me. But I had a nose bleed and I went down to get some air in the fight. I couldn’t breathe properly and I was getting tired. I’d gotten the better of McCallum when we sparred at Kronk and I thought I’d beat him. But I just got tired. That was probably my last great fight.”

McCrory says it was easy for him to walk away when he did, after two wins, in 1991.

“The thing is, I never really liked boxing. I got into it when a lot of friends got into boxing. But when those friends, guys like (former WBA bantamweight champ] Jeff Chandler retired, it was hard for me to carry on. It’s hard walking away when you’re a champion, because you want to keep that prize for as long as you can. But by that time [1991] I’d accomplished my goals.”

Retiring with a fine, 35-4-1(25) record, McCrory feels he did enough to be considered for The Michigan Hall of Fame. Often overshadowed by the legendary “Hitman,” Milton, his memory and his overall health seeming to be fine, says there was a time when he was headed towards becoming a KO star like Hearns.

“I’m not sure [if] they’ll put me in The Hall of Fame [in Canastota], but I definitely did enough to go into The Michigan Hall. At one time, I was 17-0 all by KO, and I was gonna be the next Tommy Hearns! Back then I was just a kid compared to Tommy, and my broken right hand set me back quite a bit [as far as scoring KO’s]. But I did my part for Kronk and I’m proud of my career.”

YouTube video