In sad news, it has been reported how former amateur standout and pro heavyweight contender Billy Joiner has passed away. The slick boxer from Cincinnati who faced a who’s who of big names in the 1960s and 1970s was 81 years old. One of the last remaining fighters of a golden age, Joiner was a gifted boxer, both fast, clever and brave.
Though his pro career didn’t reach the heights it should have done, Joiner did face plenty of big names and he could usually be relied upon to give the other guy a tough and tricky night. Not many men could lay claim to facing both Muhammad Ali AND Sonny Liston – twice.
Joiner was an excellent light-heavyweight at amateur level, compiling a fine 86-6 record during which he won both The National AAU title and the Golden Gloves. It was as an amateur that Joiner twice faced Cassius Clay, soon of course to become Muhammad Ali.
Turning pro in August of 1962, Joiner, then aged 24, defeated Julius Dickens via KO at Madison Square Garden in New York. Joiner would win six more on the bounce before being outpointed by Amos Johnson (who had beaten the young Clay in an amateur bout) in a fight that contested the Ohio State heavyweight title. Joiner would then endure a rough spell in which he won just two of his next nine (with three draws).
It was in May of 1968 when Joiner first faced the fearsome Liston. The former heavyweight king was on the comeback trail following his humiliating 1965 KO loss to Ali, yet Sonny was still bad; he could still punch. Joiner was retired after seven rounds. Then, in his very next fight, ten months later, Joiner found himself in the ring with Liston again. This time, using his full bag of defensive tricks, Billy was able to extend the ageing Liston all ten-rounds, dropping a unanimous decision. Liston would fight just four more times.
In his next outing, in July of 1969, Joiner made the trip to Montreal, Canada to take on the highly ranked Bob Cleroux. Joiner walked away with a deserved split decision victory that saw his pro ledger improve to 9-5-3. Cleroux never boxed again.
Unfortunately, Joiner was unable to capitalise on his big win; dropping decisions to Zora Folley, Al “Blue” Lewis and Juergen Blin, whilst being stopped by Mac Foster and Larry Holmes after that. A decision defeat to the heavy hands of Oscar Bonavena in February of 1976 was the last big fight Joiner featured in; although he did face Alfredo Evangelista in 1978, being halted in a round. Joiner returned to go out a winner in 1981, when he boxed his way to a decision over Young Louis.
Joiner retired with a somewhat deceiving 12-13-3(5) record.
Condolences go out to his family and friends.